If you’re in the market for a stunning wedding photographer or needing some professionally styled commercial photography, then you can look no further than our guest today Leah Ladson, she does the lot with personality, flair and of course, coffee! Her business, Leah Ladson Photography is taking off in leaps and bounds with a combined social media following of close to 4K. So how does Leah engage digital media to help her in business, and what advice does she have for other businesses?
Could you tell us a little about your business, Leah Ladson Photography?
I started off taking wedding photos. I shot my first wedding in 2008 I think it was. I have been going for about eight years. I have always done weddings and family portraits , but it wasn’t until about 12 months ago when I decided to step into the commercial side of things, and it’s just gone a little bit crazy since then. I specialise in wedding, families, commercial, product, and social media photography. So you have said that your business has been established about eight years, how did you get into photography? I’ve Just always loved it. I can remember back to being, about 10 and I used to blink my eyes and pretend I was taking photos. So I think photography chose me to be honest. Sounds corny but it has just always been something I’ve loved doing and something I’ve always done, whether it’s a hobby or a job.
It is good when you can turn that hobby or passion into something you can do for work.
Yeah, it has been one of those things too, because you start off as a hobby you start taking photos of your own family, and I have been able to safely grow it without having to quit my day job. I have always had a part-time job as well, but then I've had the time on the side to be able to grow it until I've been confident enough to quit my old job which I have only just done in April this year.
So describe your ideal client? If you had your choice, who would you love to work with?
My clients vary so much, I have wedding clients, and families and commercial work and until recently weddings have always been my favourite, favourite thing. But in the last 6 to 12 months I've really enjoyed the commercial side.
In a way I love working with people who respect my creativity and trust me, and basically trust me to do ‘my thing‘.
I love getting feedback and getting a brief finding out exactly what peoples creative goals are, weather it's for a wedding or a business. I think the people that really respect you are the ones that are best to work with. They have that confidence that you know what you're talking about that you will deliver a good end product. It is my job but it is also my art. So people that respect that would be my ideal client.
So with your business and social media and online marketing, how important is that for the growth of your business?
Hugely important, especially with the commercial side of things, as I said I only started doing commercial shoots 12 months ago and that has essentially grown from Instagram and Facebook. That type of work has grown my network on those two platforms in particular ten-fold, and I have met so many awesome people and businesses, from them you meet more people and so on and so forth. For me it is hugely important to keep that going and build that network of businesses and friendships too.
How many hours a week would you say you dedicate to putting into your social media?
A lot, for me it's quite simple to get the content, I know a lot of people struggle with content and that's one area I don't struggle with because I'm the photographer. So I am lucky in that regard but I post on Instagram 3 times a day and even coming up with captions and the wording to go along with the photo, most of the time it just rolls off the tongue, sometimes you’re just stuck there like ‘what do I even say about this thing?’ There is always that side that takes time as well making sure you have your hashtags right. Admittedly, I spend more time on Instagram than Facebook. But I kind of realised in the last couple of months that Facebook is where my weddings and families come from, Instagram is where my commercial leads come from so, I need to start putting a bit more back into Facebook.
That’s interesting so you have two different markets, on two different platforms.
Yes, a large part of my commercial market is the makers, the people who make stuff and they don't necessarily need to be in Bendigo. So I get products sent to me from all over Australia, just posted to me and I then I’ll take the photos and send it all back. Whereas with wedding and family clients there is a more personal touch needed, especially weddings. People want to meet me and make sure we click, I think that's a huge part of your wedding day if you don't click with the wedding photographer. You're spending literally all day with them, you need to feel so comfortable with them, so that’s hugely important. So Facebook has always been the platform for weddings and families. I get alot more interaction from them. Instagram seems to be more for the product photography and commercial side of things for me.
Well you are doing an amazing job and I love your Instagram Stories. If I don't see an Instagram Story from you every time I log on I feel disappointed! It’s just a really nice way to really connect, because it is such a spur of the moment thing, or a ‘Behind the Scenes’ look and you get to see what you're doing and get a real feel for the work you do.
Yeah I'm the same I like to see ‘Behind the Scenes’ posts too. I am very aware that I will always want to keep it business related as much as I can, and I guess people like seeing ‘Behind the Scenes’. For me it's just normal, like showing how to Photoshop a mozzie out of a photo, or fix a wedding photo where someone has blinked, for me it's just normal, but I get this feedback from you and other people saying how awesome that is, like that one Instagram Story in particular I got some messages saying ‘What tool did you use on Photoshop?, that's amazing.’ And I'm just like, ‘Well.. it's just the eraser, just copy and paste.’ So it's nice it just gets that bit of extra interaction and a more personalised interaction rather than just likes and comments, I tend to get a bit more genuine interaction and conversation flowing in private messages.
What about having a responsive website. How important do you think that is with your business today?
Really important, and that’s actually something I need to work on. I like the layout of it, but it needs a lot of improvement. For me, my biggest issue with my website is because I have such a variance in customer, weddings and family I guess would be one, and commercial and product would be the other. So knowing what do you do on your landing page to make it interesting for either? That’s my biggest challenge, being interesting enough to both to keep looking. So for example if I posted a wedding photo on Instagram, are my commercial clients going to be thinking, "oh she’s posting more wedding photos, that doesn’t interest me." And stop following me. Or lose interest in me and vice versa. If I am posting too much commercial imagery, are my wedding clients going to think, “she is not into weddings?” I quite like the layout of my new one but it is not functional in the way I need it to be. And it’s not personalised enough, I need better galleries that would be the main thing for me the main focus of my website is portfolio based. People want to see the type of work I do, so I need to work on my galleries.
Do you get many enquiries from your website, or more from social media?
Social media. I get probably one or two enquiries a week. Either wedding or commercial, not so much family.
Is there anything that really stands out for you as a challenge to manage your social media?
Time. Having the time to do it. Also, just being real I think, but it is a challenge to think in the back of your mind to keep it real. So I’d say just having the time to be able to manage it and reply to questions and that sort of thing. But in saying that, I absolutely love it.
So what advice would you give to other people in your position? Maybe a year ago, starting out, what would you say to them?
I think you need to believe in yourself. I don’t think you can have your own business if you don’t have confidence. And I would also suggest finding a person or a group of people that you can use as a sounding board, use for advice, use to whinge, not necessarily a mentor, but just a group of people or person who understands what you are going through. What your daily challenges are, and can relate to you.
Do you have any suggestions?
Well you can always go to ‘Girls from the Go’ there is a really wonderful group of women in business in Bendigo and they are so extremely generous with their knowledge and advice, their time to help other people with problems. Just an awesome bunch of women, they are just a cool bunch of people to hang out with and talk to. I have made a lot of really, really good friends from starting that group. So go check it out. Go check it out, #girlsfromthego
So what would you say is your biggest achievement in your business so far?
I don’t know, it’s always really gratifying to get interstate clients who are willing to send their products to you. I guess I would say my clients, the client base that I have and the relationships I have made with business and families and people. Those relationships are really important to me. Creating myself a group of friendships and relationships that outlast our business relationship.
Where do you see Leah Ladson Photography in 12 months?
Hopefully I’m still booked out! That’s a really good feeling and problem to have being booked out so far in advance. Longer term my goal is to have a studio space in Bendigo that could be hired out to others. My ultimate is to have an office and studio space in town that would be seen as a creative hub, I would absolutely love to do that.
So there you have it, interested in checking out Leah Ladson from Leah Ladson Photography? She can be found here
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