Today I’m chatting with Becky Harley Photography about her business journey. Becky has been in my world since 2016 and I have loved watching her business evolve and adapt over the last 6.5 years.
Today she is open and honest about her photography business – the good and the bad! We talk about getting her business set up, starting a family and adapting her business as she grows her brand photography offering. If you need some inspiration – whichever point in your journey you are at – Becky’s story will help.
Find out about Becky’s brand photography:
Find out about Becky’s wedding photography business:
Want to work with me just like Becky did? See how you can work with me here: https://beccapountney.com/workwithbeccapountney/
Becky: And I still get inquiries and bookings and my SEO is still good because of that work that I put in. Then like those things that you can do will serve you further down the line. You know, that’s like evergreen kind of marketing that you can do.
Becca: I am Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you are listening to The Wedding Pros who are Ready to Grow podcast.
I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting to one of my favorite people in the wedding industry, Becky Harley. Becky is an incredible wedding and branding photographer, and you are going to love her. I first met Becky back in 2016 where I dropped into her Facebook inbox and invited to her to a networking event.
She came along and has been in my world ever since. I’ve watched her business expand, her confidence grow, and since we first met, she’s become a parent to two gorgeous children too, and had to navigate how that impacts life and business. You are going to absolutely love hearing from her and we’ve got so much to talk about.
Becky, welcome to the podcast.
Becky: Hello, I love the introduction.
Becca: You are just the loveliest person. I’m so pleased to finally have you here on the podcast. So let’s start by going right back to the beginning. So when did you decide to become a wedding photographer? How did that happen? Yeah, tell us the story.
Becky: Well. Let me just, Put my time traveling head on and try to remember what happened.
so basically I, when I went to university and did a a degree, that was great fun, but didn’t really lead me anywhere obvious. I studied the ancient Romans, so that was great. I got to go to Rome and get pissed a lot, but not so much in the way of like actual, let’s, let’s do this as a career. And so when I left university, I did some volunteering for charities and stuff and ended up working.
For charities because that’s what I knew how to do and I needed to pay some rent. So that’s what I was doing. I did that for four years and I was always sort of thinking, oh, what? This isn’t really what I like. I mean, it was great. A lot of people want to work in charity and it’s, it was an amazing place to work, but, It wasn’t like what I always wanted to do, and I didn’t really know what I always wanted to do.
And so I was just kind of thinking about things I could do, like, where can I go next? What can what, what am I good at and what can I, what can I apply my skills to? And I got married and I thought, Hey, weddings are fun. I’d had kind of a vague idea that I might like to explore being self-employed because I knew I wanted to have a family and I thought that that would be.
You know, Hey, I’ll be at home. I’ll be able to look after the kids and work. I’ll come on to that later. So, yeah, I, I kind of want thought about being self-employed and didn’t really. How to make it happen. But I got married, my wedding present from my other half was a camera, an SLR camera, and it was really the first time I ever picked one up.
I’d always been the one to take photos in places when we went out or on holidays and stuff, I took loads of pictures but had never really explored kind of taking it to the next level. So I did, and I did some training with other photographers, shadowed other photographers. I did loads of second shooting.
Some training to help me with the basics, like getting the website set up, thinking about how to do wedding fairs and like kind of photography specific stuff rather than kind of wedding industry. Like broader wedding industry stuff and just like worked really hard, like I was working all my evenings to kind of build this little business up.
Went part-time in a, in a role and quickly realized that I’d already checked out of that world. And so very quickly left that part-time role and kind of dived straight in. I did the National Wedding Show in 2016, beginning of 2016 I think it was, or maybe it was the end of 2015. No, it must have been the beginning of 2016 and I had 10 weddings book for that year and I thought, you know what?
I’m sure. I’m sure I can make it work. And so I, and with the time that I then had, I focused on my business and then it just kind of grew from there. And now, now we’re quite a far, we’re way down the line from that point.
Becca: Yeah, absolutely. So you did that classic thing of getting married yourself and realizing the wedding industry looks fun to work in.
I feel like that’s so many people’s story. And then you started building it. Alongside your actual job, at what point did you realize you needed to actually quit your job and go full-time? Because that’s the bit that people find scary People are worried about leaving the safety of employment and going into self-employment.
So how did you make that decision? How did you make that leap and get over that fear?
Becky: If I’m completely honest with you, my hand was slightly forced because the job that I was working in as part-time were like, you’re not really working on this job, are you ? They were like, I, I basically didn’t get through probation on that because I just wasn’t really there.
I wasn’t interested. Like I wasn’t, they, they kind of had hired me hoping that I would do X, Y, Z. Like hold my hands up. I just, I wasn’t in my head, I was already on the path to doing, being self-employed, and I was only planning on being there for a short while. And then we had a conversation and they said, look, you know, you’re clearly not focused on this role.
And I said, yeah, you know what? I’m not so let’s call it a day. So my hand was forced slightly there. It was scary, but in a way it was the best thing that could have happened because I probably would’ve sat. You know, oh, maybe I’ll, maybe I’ll leave like after this date or after that date or whatever. And you know, I think having made that decision to leave my full-time role and go to part-time was already taking that step.
I already had, I think when I left my full-time job I had probably like maybe five or six weddings booked in for the following year, and so it was, it was just really freeing. Being part-time in the first instance was really freeing because I was able to spend, you know, actually sit, sat at home and was able to work.
But on my business, rather than having to feel like I was, you know, guiltily having, you know, looking at, looking at my other stuff on my phone, on my laptop and stuff, and I should have been focused on my old job. So, yeah, it was, it is a scary thing, definitely. But it, it definitely helped having that kind of little push.
Rather than having to fully jump .
Becca: Yeah. And everything happens for a reason. So we can look back and we can thank them for not putting you through your probation because it meant that you had to go ahead and absolutely grow your business. Yeah. Now I know this is an area that people didn’t be there anyway,
Well, there we go. It’s the right decision. This is an area that people struggle with though, and I’m sure there’s some people listening right now who are right on the cusp of think. Do I jump or do I stay? Should I go part-time? Do you have any advice for them? What should they be doing? What should they be thinking about making that decision?
Becky: I think it’s really important to have a think about your numbers and have a plan, because I think that was something that I’ve always sort of struggled a bit with with my business. I’ve, I’ve sort of been like, yeah, I’ll be all right . And I just kind of, you know, I think having a real hold on your numbers and having a real hold on how you’re gonna reach that goal and setting yourself goals is a really important way to help you get to that point.
And I think, I do think at some point you just have to take the leap because. There’s always a reason not to, or like, oh, there’s, you can always think, oh, I’ll delay it to this point. I’ll delay it to that point when this happens or when that happens. And like, as you know, like if you keep putting things off forever, then you’d always find an excuse not to do it.
And I think it’s, it is, it is such a difficult thing to do, but I think if you can kind of think about when I get to a certain number of bookings, like that will give me X amount of money. Work out your expenses and make sure you are not just like throwing money away at different stuff that you don’t need necessarily need to invest in, then it can really help you to kind of see how the kind of the numbers work out.
And the thing is for me, like I’m, I’m fortunate that I’m not the sole breadwinner in my, in my house. And I, I’m very aware that if, if I had been, it might well be a very different story cuz you know, when you’ve got a mortgage to. Going self-employed is gonna be a huge thing. We had a secured a mortgage on my full-time salary and so I felt quite comfortable that changing my kind of input to that, to that at that time wouldn’t have like rocked the boat too much.
So I’m fortunate that that is in, in not my situation and it did help. But I think if you are really able to do the sums and kind of make sure that those contributions aren’t. Be affected, or you know, what? You need to know what like you are spending on a month to month basis and how it’s gonna kind of balance out.
So, and also just to have a plan of like, not just like, this is how many bookings I’ve got now, but like, how am I gonna grow? What do I need to, like, what money do I need to make per month and how am I gonna make that happen? I mean, obviously let’s cross fingers that you don’t get stuff like a pandemic thrown your way because obviously
that can complicate matters somewhat. The wedding industry is tricky because obviously like if you need to make money next week, if you take, if you go out and try and book a wedding for next week, obviously in some, depending on what you’re offering it, it might be easier to do that. But like for me as a photographer, if I said I need to make some money next, next week or next month.
I can take a, maybe a couple of bookings if I market myself, but that actual money isn’t then gonna come in for another year. So if you are maybe a wedding photographer, you could think about other stuff that you might be able to do alongside to kind of help keep that income coming in. Yeah.
Becca: Definitely the numbers are so, so important. You should have a grip on your numbers. Everyone’s situation is gonna be very different, and they need to look at their own situation. One mistake I see people make is they say, I need to be matching my salary before I can quit and go self-employed. And actually, that isn’t always the case.
You need to look at your expenses, but that’s not necessarily the same as your salary. And there may be some sacrifices that need to be made, but as long as you can afford to live and do the basics. Then that’s the number you need to be working on as well. Also, I had a great, episode earlier on with Hannah Rose Weddings.
If you haven’t ever listened to that, go back and listen to it because she did quit her job the week before the pandemic. And it’s a really interesting story about how, because she’d made that decision, how she then had to find other ways to make it work.
Becky: Mm, definitely. I think it’s why, like what, for me, I was working in London so I could already factor out all of my tran, my transport to London every day.
Like just because like you are taking that leap, there are some things that you might then not be able not have to pay as much for, you know, like my commute into London was a several thousand pounds a year that suddenly didn’t have to happen. So it made it you. Just things to think about. It’s not just like your expenses are always gonna be the same.
Becca: Absolutely. Okay, Becky, so let’s move forward a little bit in time to that moment where I dropped into your Facebook inbox. So I was holding an event in Hertfordshire networking event, and I decided to just. Randomly search the internet for people in the local area in the wedding industry. I came across Becky.
I dropped her a message and invited her along to my event, and you came. So my question is, why did you come when the stranger dropped into your inbox, and how has coming to that event that day had an impact on your business?
Becky: Wow. I really have to think, but I do remember getting your message and being like, oh, this is exciting.
I suppose the first thing was that I was excited someone had found me from Google , so that was always good. It meant my search, my searching stuff was working. I think I, at the time, like if, if you dropped, randomly dropped into my inbox now I think it might be a quite different story because obviously now I’ve got two small children and I can’t really.
As much time as I might have otherwise done, you know, flitting off to go to some networking events and stuff. But at the time I was kind of fairly new to the area, um, fairly new to the business and so I was like, yeah, I’ll go and say hello to people. I’d already found out that that venue, cause it was a Coltsfoot country retreat, wasn’t it?
And I’d already found that venue and thought, oh, that’s nice and close. That’ll be an interesting venue to sort of see if I could work out or to see if I could get in with, and yeah, I just, and I think also I’d been contacted by some of those, you know, those breakfast networking things where you get plumbers and all sorts in there.
And I think I’d sort of, I’d heard people saying that that wasn’t necessarily the best way to go, but I’d, this sounded a lot more up my street basically. Plus there were nibbles and. Wine? I think so. what’s not to love.
Becca: Absolutely. Well, I think you are very brave because again, that’s another hurdle that people get stuck at.
They think, I couldn’t go to that. I can’t turn up somewhere on my own. I can’t go to this networking event. And actually, You can. You did it, you met some great people and I’m glad that you came that day because we’ve been friends and you’ve been in my world ever since and it’s been wonderful to watch you on that journey.
You met some great people there that I know you still work with today, so it’d be just great to hear really how being part of that network, meeting people in the industry collaborating, how all of that has had an impact on your life and your business.
Becky: I think it’s so important. Friends in the industry and people that you can kind of talk to, even if you don’t necessarily end up working with them all the time.
It’s just nice to have kind of those touchpoints or, or to be able to recommend people across the industry as well. And also like people in your own industry, I think it’s really important to get to know and, and trade ideas with because if you were working in any industry or in an office job, you. Peers who did the same job as you, and there wouldn’t be a competition around it, you’d all just be doing the same job and you’d have those people to talk to.
And you know, the kind of network of people to even just to have a bit of a moan to, you know, like, oh, I can’t believe this has happened to me today, blah, blah, blah. . I think that’s so important when you are self-employed because it can be so lonely to be sat at a desk by yourself or you know, at a dining table by yourself in front of a laptop and feeling like you’re just plugging on.
But what’s, you know, what’s happening? Is anything really, what is this really working? Am I doing the best thing? And I think having a network, You know, to help you kind of work through that is a really important thing. I had huge imposter syndrome when I came to your networking events. Like I, I was like, I can’t, you know, people think I’m rubbish.
Everyone’s there much better than me. They’re all much more experienced. They all know each other. Who, who am I gonna talk to? And even now, like I still don’t like love turning up. I mean, I love turning up to your events, but like there’s a lot of people that I don’t know there still because having kids of out the loop, I don’t get as involved in the Facebook group and stuff as I used to cuz I just don’t have the the capacity to do it.
And so I think. That I still feel like, oh, everybody knows each other. No one’s gonna wanna talk to me. You know, I, I won’t know what to say. Maybe I’ll just pop along and have a quick drink and then go home, you know? And I think just getting out the door is always the hardest bit. I think when these things, you just, it’s easy to talk yourself out of going.
It’s harder to talk, talk yourself into going. So if you book something and you book it and you think, yeah, I’ll go, and then as closer you get to the time you’re like, oh, maybe it’ll get canceled. Or maybe I won’t have to go. Maybe I’ll find that I’m busy. And it’s really easy to talk yourself out of going to these things, but it’s so important to go and to have a network and to have conversations with people in the same industry as you because you can just feel like, oh, an island floating around with no, nobody to help you or no one to talk to.
So I think it’s made a huge impact to me personally because you know, I used to have a lot of people that I would go for drinks with and stuff after work when I worked in London and have that kind of social connection. And a lot of that now might be digitally, like via social media and networking groups and stuff.
Having the face-to-face stuff is really important too, in terms of like working with people in, in who I’ve met through you, Becca, I’ve, I’ve done like the styled shoots. I’ve recommend people, people recommend me. I do, I do lots of branding work for some people that I’ve known for years. From your, your staff, so it’s, it’s kind of vast really.
The, the reach that you are like you doing that has had. You know, it takes a lot of, you know, from your point of view to stand up and say, yeah, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna put my head my name, forward to be the person to rally everyone. So I suppose we all need to thank you as well, Becca. Could you do a brilliant job of that?
Becca: Thank you. I appreciate that. And funnily enough, I think back, and I think I had huge imposter syndrome. Who was I to just drop into random people’s inbox and invite them along to event. But again, I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I didn’t talk myself out of doing that because some amazing connections have been made.
And one thing I love about your story as well is you said when I invited you to that event, you’d heard of that venue and you thought maybe it would be somewhere that you wanted to have a connection with. And since then, you’ve shot numerous weddings at Coltsfoot country.
Becky: I have shot a lot of weddings at Coltsfoot Country retreat.
Absolutely. It does help that. It’s like 10 minutes away from my front door. But yeah, it’s a lovely venue and you just have to, it’s like I sometimes think, you know, if you don’t, just a, if you don’t ask then you don’t get, and sometimes like if you just, I mean you just go and talk to people and then, and then it, you kind of, the conversations lead.
You know, one thing leads to another and you end. Further down the road and, you know, making, I’ve got quite great, like, good connections with that venue now. Like they know who I am and they know that my work is good so that they, so they trust me for. Coming along and recommending me and stuff, so it’s good.
Becca: As you know, I love a good connection and one of my favorite quotes is a simple hello could lead to a million things, and you never know where that conversation might lead either immediately or down the line in the future. Now, as I mentioned, Becky, Since we’ve known each other since 2016, you’ve gone through some huge changes in your business and in your personal life.
You’ve had two children. And I think one thing that we just don’t talk enough about is what it is like becoming a parent and being self-employed. And there are some great benefits to it. As you talked about earlier. It can be a great way to be at home more. And one of the things I love is being able to go and pick my kids up from school, but we.
Also paint it as this rosy picture because it does change things. And you did say you went from being someone who could flit around and go to networking events to having these small children at home. So how has that impacted your business? How have you navigated through those past few years?
Becky: I don’t really know, Becca, to be honest with you, , I’d done it on a, on very little sleep and very little time.
I mean, my daughter, my first child was much easier in terms of the sleep. She was brilliant. I, she used to go down for her nap for two hours, sudden solidly in the middle of the day and I’d just sit and edit and work and stuff. It was great. But I think so, I think, well, I mean, most people are a little bit naive when they go into having their first child, I think.
like, you know, you’re gonna not have as much sleep, you know, you’re not gonna have as much time. But I remember thinking, oh, it’s fine. I’ll just kind of put a playpen down and she can just play while I’m working. . That’ll just be, I’ll be brilliant. It’ll work really well. I think I was fortunate that I’d had a couple of years of business pre-children, so I had a couple of years to really try and lay some foundations to my business and to kind of get some processes and things in place that would work for me.
The years that I was perhaps less active. So as an example, I blogged. Loads and loads in the first few years of my business and I still get inquiries and bookings and my SEO is still good because of that work that I put in then. So I think that was, I was really fortunate and I didn’t necessarily do it with that in mind, but looking back now, like those kind of things that you can do will serve you further down the line.
You know, that’s like evergreen kind of marketing that you can do that’s never gonna, like those blogs still are still there and they still pop up. Every now and then I get. Hits to my website from certain blogs I’ve written about certain topics that people find me. So that’s really good. I, again, not probably quite naively, just thought.
Yeah, well I’ll just, just keep shooting weddings with kids. It’s fine. So in 2018, I had my daughter, she was born in May, which is obviously just the kind of the beginnings or like the early part of the wedding season. So I didn’t have to shoot loads when I was pregnant, which was good. I did have a good pregnancy, so that was also good.
I went back a bit early too. She was two and a half months old, which was not, I mean, she was late, so it wasn’t meant to be three months, but she came two weeks late. So it ended up being, she was very little and it was all quite overwhelming. And towards the end of that year, I really started to struggle because I had a lot of work and no time and no sleep, and it was hard and I really did struggle.
So with my second child, I kind of made that choice that I didn’t want to work as much. I wanted to reduce my amount of weddings, not put so much pressure on. Enjoy maternity leave if there’s such a thing when you are self-employed. And then the pandemic happened , so I decided when I found out I was pregnant just before the pandemic, I thought I’m gonna have, I’m only gonna do 10 weddings in 2021 cause my son was due at the end at November.
So obviously out of wedding season, which was handy, um, but then the following year I knew was gonna be busy. So I, I thought I’m gonna do, gonna do 10 weddings across the year, across the whole year, and that’ll be nicely spaced out and I’ll be able to not put too much pressure on myself and not make the mistakes that I made the first time.
But then obviously because of the pandemic, everyone from 2020 moved to 20 20, 20 21. And so at one point I had 30 weddings in the diary instead of 10. And I was like, well, I dunno what else. I dunno what to do about this. I’ll just have to just manage obviously the pandemic extended beyond, you know, Beyond when people might have expected or anyone really expected when people started rebooking weddings in 2020.
So I didn’t kind of properly go back to weddings until June of that year, but I still did 22 when I was only planning on doing 10. My son was a bit older when I went back, which was easier, but he didn’t sleep, so that was harder. , you just have to kind of do what you have to do. Like I was fortunate that, you know, I have a very supportive other.
I was fortunate that I could afford to have a day where we paid a child minder to come into the house and sit with the kids downstairs, cuz at that time my daughter was not at school. She was only three. So I just had to make the time when I could, when I could get the time, I outsourced as much as I could, and I just accepted I was gonna take a hit on profitability and just called in favor, favors and called in help.
It was, it’s just impossible to do otherwise. Again, like I didn’t have the best mental health through that time. But then I don’t think anyone did really through the pandemic and the, the kind of, the repercussions that were placed upon the wedding industry in, in particular. But, you know, now they’re a bit older.
It’s still a struggle. It’s still a, you know, like I, I, only enough, the first time this year I’ve actually sat and properly like made myself set myself some goals for income and for, you know, bookings and stuff because I’m, I’m sort of, I’m working on expanding other sides of my business other than weddings and so into branding and perhaps into families as I get a bit further down the line.
But I, I worked all this out and I was like, great, I need to do this many bookings and do this is when I’m doing my marketing and I’m gonna do this, this, and this. And then I looked at my diary and I was like, well actually I only have one full day that I can work a week when my kids are out of the house until five o’clock.
Like, that’s the only day I. To, to do this work and it’s all very well saying I can book a branding shoot every week, but I need also need to edit that branding shoot and I need to edit the weddings I’m doing at the weekend. So I just need, it’s still a struggle and it is still. It’s difficult to manage and it’s, I think obviously, again, because I’m not the main breadwinner in our family, like my, my work ends up becoming like not the priority.
So if the kids are off school and sick for any reason or if there’s an inset day, then that’s my working day that gets eaten into, and that’s understandable. You know, we have to pay the mortgage and it’s, and mine sort of takes the backseat and I dunno if that’s just being a well woman or, you know, being a mother like, like you just have to.
Take the hit a little bit and that is sometimes really frustrating. But I have a fantastic other half who does a, like loads with the kids as well and you know, he’s always with them at the weekends when I’m working and stuff. But it is a daily struggle and just have to kind of pick what it is I’m gonna do.
And like, there’s a lot of the, maybe the networking or the training and stuff that, you know, that you have so much fantastic training that I’m just not able to take advantage of because, you know, I, I just don’t. The time I have to kind of really, really try not to get myself off my plan of the week when I’ve got stuff to do.
Becca: And I think when you’re short of time though, I do think that it makes you be more efficient with your time because when you have all the time in the world, you can fritter it away. But I learned very early on when my children were very small, I had such a short amount of time that I had to make the most of every minute, and I became incredibly efficient with the time that I had because I had no other choice.
I think as well as self-employed, business owners, we are very resilient. We make it work, we do crazy things like work late at night sometimes, or you know, working while children nap and all that kind of thing. We’re very resilient, but I also think we can make ourselves feel guilty. We put way too much pressure on ourselves, and I was having a conversation just yesterday about how we can feel guilty that we’re not involved enough in our business, and then we feel guilty that we’re not involved enough with our children and we’re in this constant.
Cycle of feeling guilty about it and actually everyone’s feeling the same. And I think sometimes we do just need to take that pressure off a little bit. And if you are listening to this now, and I know there will be people listening who feel like they’re right in the middle of that juggle where they’ve got toddlers at home, maybe they’re listening to this while they’re trying to do other things as well, and they feel like their head’s half in business and half in with the children.
My encouragement to you is it does get easier. I mean, Becky, when we first met, I was pregnant with my second child, she’s now six, and I’ve been through that really tough juggle. I know it is mad that she’s now six, but now both, I don’t believe she’s six. Both my children are in school and all of a sudden I’m finding, okay, I can actually breathe again.
Now I can actually get my focus back. And actually some of those things that I. Have the time to focus on over the last five or six years I can do now, and it’s okay. And so if you are listening to this and you feel like I’m just in the middle of this right now, give yourself a break and realize it’s not forever.
It will get easier. And there will be things that you may have to neglect in your business now that you can come back to in a few years time and start to.
Becky: I did some marketing, I did a quick marketing training with somebody recently, and she talked about having a a for now plan and a a later plan. So having, you know, ideally I would be blogging every week and I’d be, you know, doing X, Y, z, all these different marketing activities and this big marketing campaigns, and I’d push this and I’d push that and I’d, you know, do a Christmas deal and I’d do what, whatever.
And, but actually you can write that down on. Later plan. And as long as you’ve got a finale plan of what you can manage, then you can start to add those bits from that other plan in to make it your later plan, if that makes sense.
Becca: Yeah, absolutely. Now, one of the things you’ve been growing over the last few years, Becky, alongside your wedding photography, is your branding photography business.
And I know that’s something that you’re looking to do more of, especially as your children start to get older and go into school. And you are actually one of my branding photographers, most of my brand. with Becky and I love working with Becky. So I just wanna chat a little bit about brand photography with you for a second.
So if people are listening and thinking, I don’t really even know what this brand photography is all about, or why it matters, like just tell us a little bit about it.
Becky: Well, branding photography, I, I really love it and I sort of started doing it by accident, I think. Because when I first started in, you know, working in the wedding industry and, and having this like networking and stuff, obviously as a photographer, you know, photographers are very fortunate in that we are very content heavy.
We have a lot of photos that we can share and stuff that we can put on Instagram and, you know, we can show our work because our work is stuff that is, it is not a physical product that we have to, you know, like a bouquet of flowers or, you know, like a DJ booth or you know, DJ music or whatever. It’s lends itself perfectly to, to sharing content as a wedding photographer.
And I started to kind of obviously sharing stuff with people that I was meet, like I was working with and I was meeting and stuff. And then that led a little bit onto doing some branding photography and then doing some stalled shoots as well. Like I started. Trying to make sure that I was taking pictures of people with their stuff as they were setting up and stuff.
So I ended up doing a bit of branding photography from quite early on and then people started asking me to, you know, to, oh, I really need some content, you know, of me doing this or, so just some photos that I can share of myself, you know, when I’m, you know, it’s really important to have your face in your business and I think people, when people start to realize that, you know, first of all, I think sometimes people, when you’re launching a business, you’re like, oh no, I don’t.
I don’t like putting my face out there. I don’t like having, I don’t like having my picture taken. Like I don’t, you know, my product is my product and then I’m just kind of behind the scenes. And I think when people start to realize that actually, especially on social media, Having, putting yourself out there as the face of your brand is like, so important, especially in the wedding industry.
I think as well, it like people really kind of cotton onto the fact that, you know, I, I personally, if I share a picture of a wedding, I guess quite a lot of lights, it’s fine. Quite a lot of engagement. If I put my face on my, my grid, the, you know, so you know, when you do your best night at the end of the.
And sometimes just like I’ve, if I’ve shared pictures of myself throughout the year, most of it just ends up being my face . So, because people love to see the person behind the business and they love to see you being yourself and being honest and being like putting yourself out there and I suppose being a bit vulnerable, like I think it’s just like a really, really vital part to your business, especially in our industry.
And so branding photography, like has been fantastic for me in. Networking more and meeting lots of more people, but also meet like meeting other people outside of weddings as well, like meeting other small business owners and learning from them as well. I absolutely love working with small business owners and small teams and entrepreneurs and like helping them to collect, communicate what it is they’re trying to get across to their, to their audiences.
It’s just like such an important thing to put your yourself forward and to put your, your face to your business. I think, I mean, the other side of branding photography also as well as just putting your face out there is that having high quality imagery of your product and your work is like, there’s just no replacement for it.
Like you can take some pictures on your phone of what it is you’re selling, but like a high quality image just makes everything look like it completely elevates your. So if you have a website where you’ve got like a mismatch of photos from, and it’s difficult as well for other suppliers in the wedding industry because if you work with a variety of different photographers and you’ve got a variety of different photographic styles on your website, that can be a little bit confusing or off-putting and it might not fit your brand.
Properly. And so having a brand shoot really can just make everything really cohesive and really communicate to your audience what it is you are about and what you are selling them and how you want your brand to be perceived as well. So there’s just like, it, it’s, it can be a bit overwhelming I think, initially when you first start a business because you need to have imagery, but you don’t necessarily know where to get it from or how to get it.
And I think that brand photos are like a vital. Of anyone’s business from the get-go because it can really show everyone exactly what it is that you are offering in the best way.
Becca: I totally agree, and I think it’s an area that people neglect of, an area that people don’t feel that they need to invest in.
And actually it can have a huge impact on your brand quality, on your brand style, on your engagement, on just the way that people perceive you. And I think it’s really, really, I. But I also know people are gonna be listening to this and thinking, that sounds awful. I don’t wanna be in front of the camera.
I don’t wanna have my picture taken. This is just cringey. What would you say to those people? How do you give people confidence to know that actually it’s okay.
Becky: Well, I mean, I work with, I mean I, I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone really ever who said, yeah, I’m totally cool with having my picture taken.
I love it. It’s brilliant. , I think everybody from my wedding clients to my branding clients. Has that. And to be honest, me as well, when I have cause I have branding shoots periodically as well with other photographers, it’s awkward, isn’t it? Having a picture taken. You just suddenly, like, you go from sitting, chatting to someone and then a second a camera comes out, you’re suddenly like, okay, right now, now, now this is being documented.
And how do I, how am I sitting? What do, where am I, what do I do with my hands? What, like these things on the end of my arms, why did, where do I normally put them? Like, do I sit like this or do I sit like this or do I look over it? And it is just, it’s suddenly you suddenly have this. Everything’s running in your mind and you’re thinking about it all and like, and it makes you feel super.
I think it all stems from like when you are at school and you sit and have your school photo taken, and maybe your parents have been sat and done your hair perfectly and they’re like, write your school photos this day. So make sure you don’t mess up your hair and make sure you smile properly and make sure that you, you know, don’t like.
Mess up your uniform. And then you go and you are sat there all day waiting for your photos, and then you finally get your chance to go and have your photo taken on. Your classmates are lined up at the other side of the room and watching you, and then there’s someone with a big camera and a big light, and it’s like, oh, and a funny background.
And you have to sit there and then you have to smile and then make hope that you know it. It makes the grade and like that’s just the opposite of what a branding photo shoot is like. Like for me, I. Primarily love to try and like get to know people when I’m taking their picture rather than just being like, hi.
Right. Let’s take some pictures. Okay. Right. Thanks. Bye. It’s very much a kind of collaborative process. I really wanna learn about people’s businesses and what they are hoping to achieve from their photos and how they want their brand to be perceived by people who, their target audiences and the kind of message they’re trying to convey.
And I also think that, People think they don’t like, they don’t photograph well, just haven’t been photographed by the right photographer because they just are, everyone is photogenic because everyone is like a real person. And I think that as soon as that real person is just relaxed enough to like smile naturally rather than small, like, oh, I’m having my picture taken and have that kind of, that barrier initially, then I think everyone is photogenic.
People can, everyone can look good in front of the camera. They just need to be relaxed enough to feel comfortable . And that’s what I aim to do on a brand shoot. I think usually by the end of a brand shoot people are like, actually, this isn’t so bad. This is quite fun.
Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And I definitely recommend to people to use the same photographer a number of times for your branding images.
So as I said, me and Becky have been working on my branding images for the last few years and we’ve had a number of shoots together. And I remember back to my first branding shoot and. Uncomfortable I found it and how awkward I found it. But actually the more we’ve done it and the more we’ve worked together and the more we’ve got to know each other and what works the better and better the pictures have got.
And one thing I’ve learned as well for myself is actually you don’t have to do branding shoots. That match everybody else’s branding shoots. And you can bring a bit of personality into it. So one of my favorite shoots we’ve done was when we went to Winter Wonderland in London, and I’ve got pictures of me on the carousel and drinking mulled wine.
And I absolutely love those pictures because they’re fun and they are me and they bring me to the front. And actually, yes, we need some pictures of me sitting at a computer and they’re always important. But if you can bring your personality into your image, It just makes so much different, doesn’t it?
Becky: Oh, absolutely.
Absolutely. And I think one of the, so one of the processes that I go through with all of my clients for branding is that I ask a lot of questions about the brand and who it is that you are talking to and what you want them to see and think and feel when they look at your imagery. So whether that’s pictures of you or whether that’s pictures of your product like that, all of that informs how.
We can think about the shoot and how we can style the shoot, where we might go, what we might focus on. You know, I work with a number of different clients who have different requirements and over a different kind of, over, over periods of time when I do multiple shoots, like we can kind of say, right, what worked last time and, and what do you want more of?
And we can really tailor it to what people need. I always like, I also do kind of like quick shoots where we have just like a, cuz not everyone needs a full suite of images. Like sometimes people just need like a couple of pictures of them to kind of put out there on their social media or put on their websites like, this is me, this is who I am.
And so like I do such shorter shoots for that as well. I think that’s also like, Really important and valid cuz some people might think, oh I don’t need like a full, like a day’s worth of photos cuz that’s a lot of content. But yeah, like a short shoot as well is a really good way of just kind of refreshing your images and giving you a little bit of that kind of more authority I suppose.
Like and, and also just really communicating, like you say, like your personality as well, like. A lot of the, you know, the standard kind of brand photo is like, let’s sit in a, in a coffee shop with a, with a mug of coffee and, and like with a laptop . And that’s kind of great. If you’ve not, you know, if you’re starting out and you are the first sort of foray into brand photography, having that is really important.
Like, that’s a good kind of base to start with. But like you say, it’s really, you know, we can go to you. Different locations like we went to. Yeah, like say we went to like winter wonderland. I’ve done like themed kind of ones around the seasons. Often like having a wander around London is a great idea to kind of get some different backdrops and stuff.
So it is like, you can, and in London actually, you can get all kinds of, you can do something that’s a bit more classy, like walk around in Mayfair, like the fancy streets or you can go somewhere it’s a bit more grungy, like shortage. I did a shoot in Hampton New Wick, which is awesome. There’s loads of cool graffiti there and stuff, so, There’s just like a huge variety of things you can do to really like bring your personality out.
But that’s something that I can kind of, I collaborate with people on to try and work out what the best thing to do is.
Becca: Yeah. There’s so much more to it than just getting someone to take your picture. It’s not the same thing. And the other thing is, for me, the seasonal shoot thing has really worked out well for me because we had a year where we did different seasons of photos and you don’t think about it, but actually, Those pictures of me in a winter coat, I can’t use them in the summer.
No one wants to see a big winter coat in the summer. And vice versa, when I’ve got my sunglasses on or my summer clothes on, I feel like I can’t really use them in the winter. So if you have got the money to invest in photos, I do recommend getting some done at different times of the year so that you can then use them for years to come.
And I do still go back and use some of the images even from two, three years ago that we took, because they’re still great images and I can use them at different times of the year. So if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about a branding shoot, Definitely look into it. Definitely find the right person that is willing to work with you, and I will make sure I share all of your details, Becky, in the show notes as well.
So if people do wanna reach out to you and talk to you about the branding shoots they could have with you and the different things you offer, all the information will be below. Now we have talked for ages. We’ve been all around the houses. Becky, I’ve absolutely loved this conversation. But before we draw it to a close, there’s one question I always end every podcast with, and that is, what’s the one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own business?
Becky: I was thinking about this and there’s so many things. I think for me, I was thinking about it. I think the mantra, or is it a mantra, I don’t know. Done is better than perfect and I think that I, you just have, sometimes you just have to say, right, this is good enough for now. Right. Done doing something now and then perfecting it later if you have to or if you need to, is much better than.
Faffing about and tweaking this and tweaking that cause it’s not quite perfect and you can waste a lot of time. And so since I’ve started trying to apply that to my, to my things I’m doing or things I’m getting out like, you know this Instagram post, well maybe I should just reword that or maybe I should reword this.
Actually done is like I’m out there is better than perfect, like tweaked. So within an inch it’s life and fiddled around with for hours and hours. It’s wasting time when you could be doing other things. So yeah, I think my , my dad also said J F d, I just do it. I think that’s quite an important thing that I sometimes think, right?
If I’m, if I’m faffing around with something, you know, you just need to get it done. Just get it out there and then move on to the next thing that’s gonna help you and your business and move you forward.
Becca: Absolutely. I’m a huge believer in Done is better than perfect cuz you can always go back and improve it in the end.
Becky, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for being so open and honest and sharing with us. If people wanna find out more about you, about your wedding photography, about your branding, photography, or just chat to you in general, where’s the best place for people to find you?
Becky: Well, generally I’d say website wise is always good.
If you wanna just have a little nosy. So my branding photography website is Becky Harley Creative dot Co dot uk. My wedding photography website is Becky Harley photography dot code uk. I’m also on Instagram at Becky Harley Creative at Becky Harley photo for my wedding, my wedding photography. Find me on Facebook and everything.
I don’t do Twitter, so don’t look for me there. But, I’m in the usual places.
Becca: Fabulous. And like I said, I’ll make sure I link to everything in the show notes. Do go and reach out to Becky. She’s very approachable. She even replied to that first message from me back in 2016. So if you’ve got questions, if you wanna talk to her about branding or just hear more about her journey, just drop into inbox and I’m sure she’ll be happy to chat to you when she’s got a moment to spare.
Becky, thank you for your time. Thank you, Becca. I love that conversation with Becky. Isn’t she great? So much. Great insight, and I’m glad that she was able to be so honest with us as well. If you’re thinking about a branding shoot, definitely reach out to Becky and chat to her. As I said, I’ll use her myself, and she’s incredible.
I’ll see you next time.