Please tell us about yourself, your background, and your main photography specialty.
I try not to specialise too much, I’m mostly an urban photographer focusing on London but I practice street photography anywhere. I also have a big interest and love for nature so wildlife and macro photography inspire me.
What are all the components of your online presence now? (personal site, social media, other profiles)
My website (since 2010) is the core of my online presence, my blog attracts large volumes, a big part through search, supported by social media mostly Twitter and Instagram. The rest is too time-consuming for me to be able to focus on it.
Months of work relaunching my photography blog + writing educational photography posts to help others. If you want to learn more about photography, it's a great place to start.♥️📷 LINK 👉 https://t.co/Ct2sNYBKNV #photography #learnphotography #londonphotography pic.twitter.com/eYZdkkT9zh
— Nico Goodden – Photography Blog (@NicholasGoodden) February 2, 2021
How do you balance photography work between commercial/assignment and personal projects?
It’s all interwoven. I try to focus on my personal projects first, these usually attract commercial work.
I try to let people find me rather than beg for work. That results in work I feel chosen for because of my personal photography.
What has been your business’s biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Getting work is a challenge always, so to overcome it I work relentlessly publishing new content to attract more visits.
Meanwhile, I also try to get my work published as much as possible to raise awareness. I try not to panic and remain confident, positive vibes and mental attitude are key.
You reap what you sow.
Where is the photography industry going, in your opinion? And what can photographers in your niche do to differentiate themselves?
It’s increasingly competitive due to the democratisation of photography through mobile phones. I think the days of a photographer thinking they can survive on only one niche are past.
I try offer a variety of services, from dating profile photography, to events, commercial work for brands, etc… Even website design, social media tutoring… Teaching…
You’re well known for creating awesome “moving images” (cinemagraphs and time-lapses). Why do you enjoy creating them, and why should other photographers embrace this idea?
I used to enjoy creating them, not so much anymore. I’m returning to pure photography. Cinemagraphs and timelapse mean too much time in front of a computer post-processing… not enough out shooting.
They are fun don’t get me wrong but these days like many things, people have caught-up, many produce sub-par stuff and brands would rather pay near to nothing and have poor quality video loops which don’t loop well or aren’t well executed. I see it over and over again, brands posting cinemagraphs and I tell myself “Oh dear… You should have hired me…”
At what point in your career did you start using a website and what effects did the websites have on your business so far?
I launched my website in 2010 very early on in my career, 2 years after I began shooting.
I knew my photography needed a dedicated home for credibility. IG is nice but a website is what tells people you mean business.
What social media platforms do you use, and how do you find time to manage these accounts? How have they helped your business so far?
They help a lot but again, I think it is unwise to focus only on them, they can change their algorithm overnight and seriously mess-up your engagement. A website is more reliable even if you still rely on Google’s algorithm, I find it more fair.
What role does your blog play in your business? Has it helped you in any way?
Absolutely key to it. It attracts thousands of readers weekly. It is what gives me the ability to share my voice to those who want to hear it.
I try to inspire and educate budding photographers. I’ve given up trying to appeal to pros as often they are too set in their ways to truly want to learn and more often than not they will find a way to be negative.
How do you manage your time to write for your blog regularly?
I write fast. I try publish twice a week. I make time since if you don’t, it sends Google signals that you’re not really a good blog for people to follow.
It’s at the moment the number one thing I do, focus on my blog. This is what brings me business and gets my name seen.
How difficult was it to get featured in popular magazines as you did?
It is difficult since all photography magazines are highly solicited by many talented photographers. So you need solid work and an ability to network and reach out to people in a polite way, getting your message across quickly (as people are in a rush). It’s an art for sure!
You spend years first building a reputation, a social media following, a top-quality portfolio (thousands of hours shooting go into it)… and then eventually you can start leveraging this.
You start with one. Then you tell the next that the previous published your work… hopefully they will think “if the other published you, your work must be worth looking into at least”
Your site offers prints (including signed ones) and gift cards. What’s your experience with selling them and what feedback have you received from customers?
Print sales are not an area I focus too much energy on. I sold hundreds of prints and I am very grateful to my clients but the reality is people don’t hang photos on their walls that much. Take me for example… I’m not the best ambassador for photography as I’d rather hang a painting than a photo, any day!
Many photographers are looking to transition more from services to products (calendars, books, workshops, photo tours, etc.) Do you plan on creating such products? Why or why not?
I am considering publishing a book to celebrate a decade shooting. I just need to find time and decide if I waste time approaching publishers or DIY it…
Workshops also, why not. It all goes back to the fact I am only one dude. So do I want to do all these things unsuccessfully or do I reduce my services to those I enjoy the most and that pay the most. I’m trying to make a living so it’s an important consideration.
Focus on joy and good margins.
What is your least favorite aspect of managing your photography business?
Accounts. I absolutely hate accounts.
What inspires you? (now, in the industry)
The one thing I really am inspired by is helping others. I have seen more and more people sending me incredibly supportive messages telling me that I have somehow inspired them, or also many students write to me saying they study my work for their GCSE, A-Level or at Uni.
What could be more inspiring than inspiring others?
It’s humbling and makes me want to be a better person. Win win!
What do you think are the qualities of an effective photography website?
- The value a visitor gets out of it. My photography blog offers free educational posts asking for nothing in return.
- Speed of it (which I struggle with since photos are heavier than words).
- Ease of use and how attractive it is in its design.
In your experience, what mistakes are people usually making on their photography sites?
- Thinking it should all be about the photos.
- Not being detached enough so they make it look how they would want, not how others would. Understanding people is key to this aspect.
- Talking about themselves at the third person. I think I’ve managed to 99% avoid it. I mean… how many photographers have a team justifying that?
What website metrics do you track and what informed decisions do you take based on them?
Page timings are key, I optimise this all the time.
Bounce rate to, I’m successfully reducing it. I also increase time spent on the website usually through making it easy for people to want to click one more page, and another… and another…
What are your plans for improving your site and growing your photo business in the next year?
I think I’m ok for now, I just spent 6 months revamping it. More focus than ever on the blog and with more traffic, I’m in talks with advertisers.
It’s a good website to advertise due to high traffic and quality of content and the fact I never intend to have too many advertisers. So whoever advertises with me will be visible and not lost in a sea of competitors.
Quick-fire round (shorten answers as much as possible):
What was your first camera?
A Kodak brownie I think
What’s something you’re still actively learning or struggling with?
I struggle with the negativity in photography. People, instead of supporting others and being encouraging, seem to be keen to negatively criticise others’ work. Be kinder people.
What’s one thing you’re deeply proud of — but would never put on your résumé?
My food. I cook better than I photograph.
What are 3 interesting things in your fridge, right this moment?
- Miracle Berries (they make everything taste 100x more sweet).
- Homegrown chillies
- Home-made chutney from our tomatoes and chillies
Name a favorite author and a non-existent book you’d love for them to write.
It’s too controversial. Sorry… :)
Great having you on ForegroundWeb, thanks for taking the time. Where can people get in touch with you if needed?