Written by Bethany, PA to Luke Granger
Growing Our Business
Towards the end of 2019, Luke and I had a number of discussions on how we planned to grow our business during 2020. Well, it's safe to say we certainly didn't expect a global pandemic to come along, but we have done our best to not let that get in the way of our plans. We are proud that we have diversified our business through such a difficult time and as we go into a new year are looking forward to what 2021 will bring.
Here is a little overview of how 2020 has been for us, we wish you all a happy & healthy 2021!
The Calm Before The Storm
Our 2020 started off fairly quietly in regards to photography projects which was actually a bit of a blessing. I continued working hard on growing our new Luke Granger Photography website, whilst Ops Manuals UK (our other company) was also relaunched. Luke was kept on his toes with drone related work but we also managed to squeeze in a few home improvements and days out as a family too.
Luke turned 30 so we treated ourselves to an amazing visit to The Cave Hotel in Canterbury, staying in their bridal suite. This was a fantastic choice as we have since become their recommended wedding photographer; who says you can't mix business and pleasure? You can read about our visit here.
Photographing Community Projects
As we offer such a wide range of services, it can be hard to make others aware that we are so much more than just a photography business. We are proud to have built lots of community connections this year, donated prizes, pooled resources and generally supported good causes. We split our fee from Big Issue between vendor Rob and a local food bank as we wanted to support the wider community.
Being a family run business, there are times that we can go days without seeing anyone else (and that was before Covid) so we felt that joining the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce would be a fantastic opportunity to meet with other likeminded people.
It's great to hear others discuss their work with such passion as well as collaborate on projects with other members whilst showcasing our own services too.
Then Covid Happened...
North Kent 3D Face Shields
Alongside a handful of other hobbyists in our local area and councillor Kelly Grehan, back in April a group called "North Kent 3D Shields" was formed. Our mission to produce and distribute vital PPE for key workers during the country's first 2020 lockdown was a huge success and we are proud to have been key players in the project.
It was such an unusual time for everyone, however being able to raise £11,000 to produce over 10,000 shields certainly kept us busy. The project made front page of the Kent Messenger newspaper, we were mentioned on the radio and went on to donate the remaining funds to others. Certainly a memorable moment for us this year.
Appreciating Family Life
Although a six month countrywide lockdown was a huge disturbance to the world, we are grateful that it gave us 3 whole months extra with Jessica. At aged 8, Lukes daughter usually spends just the weekends with us but without needing to go to school she stayed alternate weeks so we made some amazing memories together as a family.
Although we certainly don't miss the homework meltdowns, we are so grateful that we were able to cram in so many fun activities; Picnics in the park, bike rides plus an awful lot of baking and crafts happened this year. We are thankful that we have all stayed happy and healthy whilst enjoying taking life at a slower pace for a while.
Online Training & Development
Some of our readers may not know this, but since 2018, Luke has taught a wide range of business development training sessions, primarily to those within the aerial (drone) industry. Although our initial 2020 plans had to be altered, the power of Zoom helped Luke teach throughout and after Lockdown; making him busier than ever.
Online editing webinars, sales and marketing sessions and 1:1 sessions, were all available for others to help grow their own businesses from the safety of their home.
Our biggest success was an alternative version of last years successful Congested area course which Luke converted to a theoretical session; allowing clients to learn and interact from home. We aim to continue using Zoom in 2021 to interact with our clients across the country, it certainly is an efficient system.
Documenting Progress For New Build Homes
Our work documenting the progress of some major property developers has continued even throughout lockdown as it's certainly not work that can be completed from home. Although paused for a short while, the construction industry has been back in full swing for some time and the developers we work with are always keen for us to visit.
Since lockdown, their buyers are more engaged than ever with our work and are understandably keen to see their homes being finished. Using drone photography to document the progress of a new housing development has so many benefits and this is now our 5th year of offering this service.
Returning to Property Photography
With Covid-19 interrupting most of our wedding bookings, we are thankful that there are different avenues of our businesses that we can turn our attention to. Luke previously worked in the Estate Agency industry for over 10 years, both as a Branch Manager and a professional property photographer. Although the last couple of years he has taken a step away from the industry he has still kept his toes in the water when clients request so is certainly the right man for the job if you need a property photographed.
Since June 2020 there has been a huge rise in demand for property photography and videography in Kent and we are now regularly working with some fantastic agents. We are pleased to offer 360 tours, property videos, photographs and floorplans and visit homes of all sizes.
Landscape & Nature Photography
For Luke, the love of photography started as a hobby so he is always keen to keep the passion alive. Landscape photography is a fantastic way for him to practice and experiment with his photography skills and this year he has included animals and insects within his work too.
Back in the June, Luke supported the Wise Owl Birds of Prey Rescue by attending a photoshoot and in the Autumn, we visited Richmond Park to see the amazing deer. With socially distanced walking tours of London and exploring The Yorkshire Dales also completed, we didn't miss out on travelling completely this year but we are hoping to visit more of the UK in 2021.
Commercial Photography & Videography
As the world reopened we soon began juggling a number of different projects and it has been great to be involved with so many different industries. Commercial photoshoots and 360 tours for a number of local retail businesses, live streaming a family funeral to Uganda and working on some projects for high profile TV Shows have all been memorable projects.
Locally, we have completed some work for the team at Springhead Park Primary School; as they opened their new school in September we completed headshots for the staff and have since created a video welcoming new families to the school. The children all seem so happy in their new environment and certainly keep us well entertained when we visit
Wedding Photography in Kent
As a wedding photographer based in Kent, it's quite hard to be told all of your bookings are postponed but our hearts go out to all of our couples who have had to juggle their plans this year. We are grateful that we have rescheduled each and everyone of our couples to new dates in 2021 or 2022 and look forward to celebrating with them all soon.
October saw us photograph a beautiful autumnal wedding at Chilston Park Hotel for the lovely Jane & Mike. With a wedding party of 15, it was such an elegant and intimate wedding and we had a fantastic time at our first covid wedding.
We have seen an increase in requests for small weddings and have therefore launched two new packages, The Pure Collection & The Simplicity Collection to meet the demands of our customers. If you are planning a small wedding and need a photographer, do get in touch. Heres to many more celebrations as we move into 2021!
Employing Our First Apprentice
Since I joined Luke Granger Photography full time last year, we have seen a huge growth in our business (Don't worry Luke, I won't take all the credit!). Although I am actively involved with most of our projects, it may surprise you to know I don't understand half of the settings on a camera and probably never will.
As we expand, Luke needs more practical assistance and therefore we have recently recruited Alex to join our team. 18 year old Alex will be studying as an apprentice, earning a qualification alongside working on different photography projects with us. He has already settled in well and is keen to help grow his own skills whilst working with us here at Luke Granger Photography.
Design & Printing Services
During Lockdown our wide format printer unfortunately decided to play up, which prevented us from being able to offer our fine art photographic printing service for quite some time. Thankfully we are now pleased to have a brand new printer up and running and have relaunched Bethany Lauren, our dedicated printing business.
Offering pretty much any marketing products you can think of, we intend to continue to grow our workshop this year and already have a whole host of happy clients.
2020 has seen us launch our very first photo calendar which features a selection of landscape and cityscape photographs. We are pleased that sales have been successful as the profits will be donated to charity and we are planning to release a nature edition for 2021. We have also donated gifts and photoshoots to a number of different Christmas Raffles to help local charities such as Demelza Hospice Care for Children.
After such a strange year for everyone, I arranged amazing treats for our wedding couples from small business Sweets In The Post plus Christmas cards and calendars for some of our commercial clients. It's always nice to acknowledge our appreciation to our clients and I love spreading some festive cheer at this time of year. I even made sure the Postman was thanked for his hard work this year with a bottle of wine!
So Where's Next For Luke Granger Photography
The plans for 2021 are pretty simple really; to continue to grow and strengthen our businesses whilst seizing any opportunities that come our way.
We have plenty of weddings booked which will mean lots of new venues and content coming your way. If Covid allows, we are also planning to attend a selection of wedding fairs which are always a great opportunity for us to meet couples on their wedding planning journey. The demand for our property photography services looks as though it will continue to strengthen and as always we are happy to turn our hands to a whole range of photography projects. With Alex on board, we hope the extra pair of hands will speed up our processes whilst allowing us to maintain our high standards.
We have two business trips to Italy planned for 2021, alongside trips to Yorkshire and Scotland, plus hopefully a family holiday to The Lake District in July. As we primarily work from home, we find travelling to new places really refreshing so these trips mean so much to us. Travelling is always an ideal opportunity for us to find inspiration and get those creative juices flowing whilst we enjoy exploring along the way.
So let's all say goodbye to a very strange 2020 and hope that 2021 brings us all plenty of success and joy.