Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hidden costs when quoting for photography work

aka Why there's no such thing as a "quick 30 minute photography job"

I've had this in my drafts folder for a while, but it's about time it saw the light of day. Prompted by a enquiry from a twitter follower a few weeks ago about a photo job he was asked to take on, and whether it was worth doing for the amount of money the client was offering.

I also received an email from a photographer who has landed her first paying client and she asked me about pricing for a photography job and what was a reasonable rate.

Great questions! And one I struggled with when I was first starting out.

Setting your pricing for any service you provide requires a some thought.

Nearly every photography job is different and some will be much simpler than others. Here are some things you may wish to take into account before you quote!

Your thinking and planning time

You will be drawing up a quote around your client's request

Maybe you like to work on a drawing board of ideas. Perhaps you might want to do some research and get inspiration

If it's a new working environment, you might need to research the best settings for your camera or even pre visit the location

There may be exceptions to this. For example, with photojournalism work you can be thrown into several completely new environments during the course of the day and you will probably be required to wire over your images pretty sharpish.

Your consultation time

This could be done via email, phone or in person where you will be answering questions and depending on the nature of the work, making suggestions to your client. Some clients may wish to meet up with you first. Some may want you to visit the location prior to the day you take the photos.

Your travel time & petrol & parking fees
How far are you happy to travel?

When do you introduce mileage costs?

Is there free parking available? What are the parking charges like? How long will you be using the car park for? Car parking fees can vary a lot.

The time you spend taking the photos!

Let's not forget that part!

Photo selection and editing

Again, this will vary from job to job, and what you are photographing. If it's an all day job then chances are you will have a lot of photos to go through. You need to set time aside for selecting the best images for your client, and the editing time. There may also be occasions when you have to deliver the images immediately and there will be no time to edit, so that will obviously take less time.

Photo delivery

How are you going to deliver the photographs? online (uploading time) or disc (time, disc cost and postage) prints?

Unfortunately there are not hard and fast rules regarding fees. When you take all of the above into account there is no such things as 'it'll only take 30 minutes'. This is from early experience; events can over run, people can turn up late etc.

When you send your quote to them, detail everything that is included such as consultation, such as travel, parking, petrol, the taking of the photographs, image selection and processing, and delivery method.

And also work out your terms and conditions. Please do. It can feel funny do that at first, but it's for both your benefits. A few things you might consider putting into your terms and conditions:

Delivery time of photos. When will the client receive the photographs. The same day, next week, within a month?

How they will be delivered?

Payment terms and conditions.

Will you take a deposit to sure the booking?

What will happen if the client defaults on the payment?

Sickness - what happens if you can't attend?
Cancellation - what happens if the client cancels?

You might also find this National Union Of Journalists guide to digital costs useful,  ie wear and tear of your expensive equipment.

London Freelance has a lot of information here regarding; negotiating rates and rights, day/base rates, digital pricing, contracts and paperwork, copyright, tracking down pirates, and other resources, plus pricing recommendations.

You may find my post on when to work for free worth a read.

Good luck! Happy snapping :)
Say hello on Twitter: @karenstrunks :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Weight loss and many new frocks to rock!

I took a trip down Weight Loss Lane at the weekend, and I still can't believe how far I've come.

Since I began to lose weight at the start of August 2010 I kept a weekly record of my losses and gains.

Ignore the green line
My original goal was to lose 40lbs, but I had to break that down, 7lbs, 10lbs, 1 stone, 20lbs etc. Forty pounds seemed like such a lot!

But I did it, pound by pound. Some weeks I lost, some weeks I gained, some I stayed the same. But looking back I never swayed. I didn't go off track even once. After resisting losing weight for so long, I really enjoyed the challenge once I got started!

Once I had lost 40lbs I was able to set a new goal of 50lbs and I achieved that at end April this year.

I'm still keeping a track on my weight every week. Here's my chart since April. I've managed to maintain my weight loss and even dropped to around 133lbs (9st 7lbs) recently, albeit briefly!

I'm half considering setting myself a new goal of staying around 133lbs, making a total weight loss goal of 55lbs.

I can't tell you how much better I feel being unburdened of every one of those 50lbs! I'm still feeling the benefits and adjusting to the change.

When I saw this photo that was taken at the Nokia Pitch & Win day I was like, "Wow, is that me?!" I still have trouble recognising my new figure!

50lbs weight loss!

For comparison, this photo was taken in June last year, about two months before I began losing weight at around 188lbs (13 stone 6lbs)

I've mentioned before how much easier it is to buy new clothes and enjoy shopping again. That novelty hasn't worn off!

I thought when I got to my goal I would go on a made shopping spree for a new wardrobe, but that hasn't really happened. I've just bought the odd few dresses here and there.

Last Friday I picked these cuties up.


But the Saturday before that I rediscovered Ebay!

And I had myself an Ebay night!

And got very carried away.

What a buzz!

I did try and formulate a plan though, and decided I didn't want to spend more than £5 per dress and that had to include postage and packing too.

And after a few tips from my twitter friends, I only placed my bid in the very last few seconds. This worked really well and I won about 90% of the dresses I bid on. There's a tip for you!

One Saturday night and about £126 later and I had 'won' erm......26 dresses!! Which makes the average cost of a dress £4.84 (inc p&p). I figured even if only half the dresses were a good fit, I would still be doing well in fitting out my wardrobe!

And of course, the excitement didn't end there. All last week my letter box was flowing with parcels!

Here are a few of the dresses I bid on. Many were new with the labels still on them. Out of the 26 dresses, 5 were too small. I ordered a size 12 in everything and hoped for the best.

I love my new wardrobe! I've still kept the best of my too-big clothes with the intention of one day getting them taken in.

I also received my first piece of mail addressed to @karenstrunks! This amused me greatly.

It was from Cougar Drinks who sent me a few samples of their energy drink to try out.

They say, "Cougar is the world's first  Well Being Energy Drink exclusively for women. Designed to complement a busy lifestyle - giving a boost during a hectic day."

I'm a woman. I have a busy lifestyle. I need a boost during hectic days! Let's give these a try!

The black bottles are a double shot and the white bottle is the original. I cracked the black bottle open on Saturday morning. It was a very dull, grey, rainy day and I was feeling pretty lethargic. All I can say is this drink packs a punch! I didn't even drink the whole bottle! Just a few sips. I was soon raring to go after a lazy start to the day.

They come in Berry flavour and are very sweet and have ingredients such as blueberry, cranberry, green tea, caffeine, aloe vera and noni (which I hadn't heard of before). If you like energy drinks, I'd give them a try.

In other news, I've not been feeling quite my usual positive self in the last few days. The cause? Toothache! :(

I've been suffering (not in silence, if you see my twitter stream) and after a visit to the dentist, I have been told I have an abscess. I'm now taking antibiotics. I don't do being ill very well at all. I hate anything that slows me down. I love being super productive all the time. My super sharp focus has gone a bit blunt. With not enough doing, I've had too much time to think about life, the universe and all that stuff ;)

I know in a few days I'll be back on full form again, and I can't wait!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

You've got to be in it to win it! Nokia Pitch n Win event

Well, I was in it, though I didn't win it. But I was selected as a finalist!

What am I talking about?

Nokia's Pitch & Win event with a prize of £25,000 development funding and support for a Nokia app.

When I heard about this opportunity I really wanted to go for it on behalf of the 4am Project. I've been thinking for a year or so about an app to support/compliment the project as an addition to making it even easier for people to take part. Not everyone carries a camera with them all the time, but nearly everyone has their phone with them thus allowing for more impromptu photo moments at 4am....

I submitted my application with my ideas for an app and kept my fingers crossed. Soon after I got the news that I/4am Project had been selected as a finalist! Whhhoooo!

Eight finalists were invited to the Pitch n Win day. As you can guess, we all had to pitch (in front of each other) and at the end of the day Nokia and the selection panel would select the winner.

I haven't got any technical knowledge about app building and so I teamed up with another finalist, Anna Powell-Smith. Anna is a whizz in many areas including app building. Just take a look at one of her projects, The Domesday Map, an online copy of the Domesday map. Amazing! We put our heads together and came up with A Plan.

The day itself, held on 22nd June, consisted of a full agenda. It was held at Zellig, the sparkling new addition to the Custard Factory in Digbeth.

The morning consisted of interesting keynote talks from the judges; Andy Cameron who is the Interactive Creative Director at the advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy, Greg Merten who is Nokia's Head of Developer Relations in Western Europe, David Tomson, the found of Ludometrics, and Sten Selander who is the Business Development Director at Nordic Game Programme.

With a break for lunch and a hour to perfect our pitches, it was on the with show in the afternoon! It was a great opportunity to hear other finalists app ideas and hear about their work. There was such a diverse mix!

I didn't feel too nervous come 4am Project pitch time with Anna, my only concern being able to stick to the strict 10 minute time slot. We did. Whew!

After all the pitches were in the panel went off to deliberate. In the meantime, us pitchers had a photo opp and a drinks reception with a chance to mix, meet and mingle.

About an hour or less later, the judges were back with their announcement. Naturally I wanted the 4am Project to win, but it was not to be.

The prize went to the very deserving Alison Smith from Pesky People!
"Pesky People harnesses digital media, content and social networking to profile, challenge and change the lack of inclusion and access for Disabled and Deaf people."
Alison's app idea is brilliant and I can see how it won! It's called Go Genie and it helps disabled and deaf people (and their family and friends) research access to places and plan trips to such places as the cinema, bars, restaurants, theatres, supermarkets, you can read more and watch a video about it here. Congrats Alison!! :)

Even though the 4am Project didn't win on this occasion, the Pitch N Win day was worth attending, it was a great experience and a chance to hear some really interesting key note talks too. A big thank you to Anna for joining forces with the 4am Project. I think we made a great team!

So, the 4am Project app idea is on hold again. For now. Until the next opportunity comes along. It's definitely something I would like to explore at some point for the project! :)

Say hello on twitter! @karenstrunks

Monday, 11 July 2011

Video. I've been meme'd! Answering questions on life, love, death and more!

I was meme'd by Kathryn Ashcroft, (who had been meme'd) so here I am answering the big and little questions about life, death and love!

I thought I would do it in a video form, just for quickness really. And yes, I know I've pronounced meme wrong! ;D

Some of the questions that I answered....

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
When were you happiest?
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Aside from property, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?
What's your favourite smell?
What is your most treasured possession?
Where would you like to live?
Who would play you in the film of your life?
What is your favourite book?
What is your most unappealing habit?
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
What do you owe your parents?
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
What or who is the greatest love of your life
What was the best kiss of your life?
What does love feel like?
What is the worst job you've done?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
If you could change one thing from your past, what would you change?

And more....!

So, there you have it. A bit more about Karen. How apt! :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

My first busines class flight! Cairo bound with British Midland International

Sponsored by

I've written about my Cairo experience and my Four Seasons experience, and today it's all about my first Business Class experience!

When I found out I was flying with British Midland International I immediately had a look at their website to see if they did a business class service, and then proceeded to keep my fingers crossed. I was so excited when the news arrived that me and Nicky would be flying business class!

I have never flown anything other than economy before, and have always longed to see what it's like behind the curtain that divides the economy class section from the business class section.

I'm going to tell you all about it!

My journey from Birmingham began at 5am with a 2 and half hour coach trip to Heathrow Airport. We quickly found the BMI Premium Check-in area. This area was sectioned off, and a member of staff was there to greet us. There was the bonus of no queues too! And even if there had of been some people ahead of us, there were some comfortable looking chairs nearby to take the weight off. As you can imagine, check-in was quick, friendly and efficient. Great start!

Once we had gone through Heathrow's security, I had a quick glance in some of the duty free shops, but I was really keen to check out BMI's business class lounge as I was starting to feel a bit tired and hungry from my 2am start to the day.

There were two staff members who welcomed me to the lounge.

It was a huge area with lots of seating and rooms. For example, there was a room that was perfectly set up for using laptops with plugs on the desks. All through the lounge there were comfortable chairs and settees and coffee tables.

There was quite an array of food available for breakfast; cereals, yogurts, fruit, hot rolls, and pancakes for example. Having a suspected wheat/gluten allergy, I asked a member of staff if I could just have bacon and eggs. Within minutes I received a plate that was loaded with rashers of bacon and scrambled eggs, far more than I could eat with the best will in the world!

Nicky arrived after doing some duty free shopping, grabbed some breakfast and said that she was feeling tired too (she hadn't slept at all the night before!).

But there's no need to worry about finding a place to catch forty winks in the business lounge, they have thought of everything and have provided beds, complete with a bedside table and table lamp!!

The beds are in a quiet area of the lounge and are partitioned off by curtains, affording a little bit of privacy.

There wasn't much time to snooze though as our flight was soon called. It was running about an hour late, but that was no problem in such accommodating surroundings.

Passing the time in the business lounge is so much more pleasurable, not only are there the comfortable chairs/settees to relax on, there's an array of magazines and newspapers to read, and several tv's to watch. Or you can take a seat at the bar and enjoy watching the planes take off and land through the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the runway. Of course, with free wifi you can stay connected and catch up online too.
I made a little Qik video and streamed live from the lounge. It's a bit shaky but hopefully it will give you a bit more of a view of the area and what's on offer.

And then the mega exciting part of the trip - it was time to board the plane!

We took our places in the large leather seats. Not only is there the extra legroom that you would expect, but we were in the emergency exit aisle so we had even more room!

No sooner had all the passengers boarded then we were given a choice of drink. Champagne, orange juice or water. Um.....champagne please! Cheers

Soon after take off we were handed menus. And some more champagne. And a little gift box which I got super excited about!

I selected the poached pears, fresh figs and yogurt to start.

For my main course, I chose scrambled eggs, steak and lamb. Both dishes were equally nice and I really enjoyed them. As you can see the presentation was great too.

The 5 hour flight passed quickly chatting to Nicky, reading, and watching films. I selected The Rite, which is a pretty silly film about priests and the battle against evil starring Anthony Hopkins, but I really enjoyed the 2010 remake of Brighton Rock.

Another glass of bubbly? Oh, ok then!

The descent began and I caught my first glimpse of the River Nile. Excitement started to build up again. One of the flight attendants tried to help us see the pyramids, but we were sitting on the wrong side of the plane (on the left) and the seat belt sign was on, but I was happy enough with this view knowing I'd be seeing the pyramids soon.

It was so nice to feel so looked after on a flight. I can see why people chose the business or first class option. The whole experience was very comfortable and relaxed and it was a lovely stress free beginning of my short holiday to Cairo.

Thank you for such an amazing experience BMI!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Five star luxury at Four Seasons First Residence Cairo

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When British Midland International told me I'd be staying in the Four Seasons in Cairo, it was all I could do to not jump around with excitement! The Four Seasons?! Five Stars?! Yes!

I'm all for luxury, but just don't enough of the finer things in life as often as I'd like. This was going to be a REAL treat.

There are two Four Seasons hotels in Cairo, the Nile Plaza and the First Residence (on the River Giza) which we stayed in

The 5* experience began when me and Nicky arrived at the airport and were greeted by our Four Season driver. He took our luggage and walked us to an air conditioned BMW. Waiting for us in the car was some chilled water and refreshing lemon scented towels. And it's these little touches continued throughout our stay.

We got our first taste of Cairo traffic on the hour's drive from the airport. I enjoyed just taking in all the new scenery along the journey. When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by the assistant manager who swiftly took care of our bags and showed us to our rooms.

Thoughtfully, they had given me and Nicky rooms next to each other. My breath was taken away as we were given a tour of our accommodation. I've stayed in some nice hotels before, but this was another level!

Hand written welcome card: "Dear Ms Strunks, Welcome to Four Seasons Cairo at the First Residence. Have a memorable stay"

I wasn't sure what do it first! So of course I made a video giving a tour of my room!


The next thing I wanted to do was get online. The Four Seasons do charge for wifi. If my memory serves me correctly it's $20 (usd) for 24 hours for one device, or $30 (usd) for up to four devices and super speed. We had the first option complimentary and I found it fast and efficient for general internet use. I think the super speed would be useful if you wanted to connect more than one device and had a lot of uploading/downloading to do.

So, within minutes I was tweeting away! Yay.

Well stocked fridge, snacks, and complimentary water

Room Service Menu

Suggested jogging routes with measured distances

View over River Giza towards Tahrir Square

After a day of travelling, and grabbing a bite to eat and a few drinks, I was ready for sleep.

I've got to tell you about my bed!!

It was perfect. Do you know that lovely feeling you have when you get into a bed, and it's so comfortable and you think 'bliss' and have a smile on your face as you fall to sleep? That. But x10! I LOVED the bed.

The next morning me and Nicky made our way to breakfast armed with our cameras. This was not just any type of breakfast. This was something else! 

Of course there was breakfast cereal, and fruit and yogurt and such like - and even with those items there was a huge choice. But there was so much more. Countless types of bread. Savory traditional Cairo dishes, and sweets. Meat and dips. Fresh local honey comb. Fish. Spices. Vegetables. Whatever your heart desired for breakfast there was something here that would satisfy it.

This is a very big hotel. It has (I think) 17 floors. It has a shopping mall. Several restaurants. A Spa. Pool. Casino. Bars. If you were so inclined, you really needn't leave the hotel at all. Everything you need is at your disposal.

The opulent corridors and indeed, every room, had the most amazing fresh flower displays!

Of course I was drawn to the red flowers! ;) Thanks to Nicky for taking the photo!

At every turn there was more splendor. I was in love!

This is the shopping mall. Three tiers of shops surround an open restaurant.

Of course, we had to make use of the pool too! Nicky dived straight in and cooled down. I relaxed under the shade of an umbrella.

I've been totally bowled over by this hotel. They have earned their 5 star rating for a reason.

They second guess and meet their guests needs. Even things you didn't know you wanted or needed, they provide without prompt. More fresh fruit for your room? There it is. Running low on bottled water? Don't worry, the fridge has already been stocked up. You must be hot from exploring the city? Here's a refreshing lemon scented towel. You need directions to a restaurant? No problem, here's a map and directions in Arabic for the driver. We'll even ring the restaurant and book your table for you. All these seemingly small gestures went towards making a relaxed and stress free stay.

Not only does the hotel offer luxury surroundings and accommodation, but the staff were second to none. They were friendly, attentive, efficient, and went that extra mile.

I can not fault anything about my stay here, and I have been thoroughly spoiled!


Thank you to the Four Seasons and BMI for a stay and trip of a lifetime!

Coming up -  my business class flight :)

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