Commercial and editorial photographer Graham Jepson recently made the move across the globe from rainy London to sunny Sydney, Australia. When asked why he said, "I strongly believe that whatever you do for work, to remain fresh and engaged, there must be some sort of advancement and transition. The idea of a fresh start appealed to me."
Today, with customers coming in from both Sydney and London, Graham's long list of clients includes British RED, The Sydney Magazine, Home Beautiful, New Idea, as well as commercial portrait work for AusPost, M&C Saatchi, P&O Cruises, Bell Pottinger, Proctor & Gamble and Warner Bros.
Initially, Graham's path to photography came from a bit of bad luck. In 1991, he graduated in the middle of a deep recession when jobs for sociology majors were few and far between. "Since there wasn't much else to do, I started taking picture after picture, mostly street photography in Sheffield where I was based," Graham says. "After a while I thought that I might actually consider doing this for a living, so I went for an interview for a cruise ship photography company and got the job."
But Graham soon realized that cruise ship photography was not his calling. He started shooting for local papers and moved to London in 1996 to work on National papers shooting news. As time went on he picked up more assignments shooting for newspaper supplements, portraits for magazines, and interiors for the property sections. "After a while I dropped shooting news and just concentrated on the portraits and lifestyle pieces. Standing around waiting for something to happen (which you often do in news) had gotten pretty old for me."
Today, Graham has launched a full-time commercial and editorial photography business, www.grahamjepson.com, and uses PhotoShelter to connect with his clients both in Sydney and London. "I signed up for PhotoShelter back in 2007 because it looked like a great solution both for image organization and delivery system to help my business run smoothly," Graham says. "And since I signed up, I've also seen a huge improvement in my SEO. Now I rank higher on search engines and that's key to getting noticed by potential clients."
As part of his daily workflow, Graham continues to use PhotoShelter as a joint portfolio and image delivery system and a powerful back-up system. "The most fantastic thing about PhotoShelter is that when you deliver and share images, you are also sharing your portfolio site, it's all in one seamless package."
Now in Australia, Graham shoots mostly for interior magazines, as well as for features in Weekend supplements, in addition to business publications. "I'm in my early days here in Sydney, so working with magazines is one of the best ways to break into the market here and get noticed. Getting your name out there is really important for any photographer." To help get his foot in the door in a new location, Graham also worked hard to secure an agent. "Having an agent in a new place has helped immeasurably. It is someone who can point you in the right direction and to the right people."
To help his business thrive, Graham also keeps up a good track record with new and old clients. "I'm happy to say that once I start shooting for a client, they generally re-book me. I am not a very showy photographer, and I think clients like that." And although he's no longer based in London, Graham still gets royalties from work he's done with clients in the past. "I really advise photographers to hang onto their copyright and image selling rights if they possibly can," Graham says.
So in addition to word-of-mouth referrals, how does he market his brand to keep revenue coming in? Graham relies on email marketing to get the word out to his network, although he's sure not to overdo it. "I like to send out emails, particularly after a successful shoot or publication comes out with my work. I believe a successful email should be newsworthy; if you have something to talk about that will get your clients excited and also remind them that you're still around."
Alongside his dedicated emails, Graham likes to think of his marketing efforts as "old school." "I like to follow up on the phone with contacts and try to secure a meeting to present my work," he says. "I find face-to-face meetings are important in businesses. I think it helps the client size you up quickly and vica-versa!"
Graham also relies heavily on his iPad to help showcase and present his work to potential clients. "I have been using my iPad to show clients my work, as opposed to a full printed portfolio. Doing it that way is cheaper, easier, and faster for me to tailor my work for prospective clients." Graham also updates his Tumblr blog, which he integrated into his PhotoShelter site. "My blog is a great way to regularly show everyone what I'm up to. It works really well for me."
To help his business grow, Graham also takes advantage of all the business and marketing resources PhotoShelter has to offer. "I do like the guides and other photographer support items that PhotoShelter creates. Some are very inspirational and really get me thinking on ways I can improve my business!"
So what's around the corner for this new Sydney resident? For starters, he's still getting his bearings in his new home and in some sense, starting all over again. "My main job at the moment is promotion, especially to agencies. I am pushing for advertising work and that is the direction I'd really like to go in."