Three ways to freshen up your small business’s web presence

Three ways to freshen up your small business’s web presence

The new year is always a time for clearing out for me.

Decluttering and starting to clean up the house after all the decorations are taken down and the dust is suddenly very visible.  People everywhere are making changes, freshening up their homes, and their lives.

So now feels like a great time to take a look at a few things you can do if you have a small business (or have a web presence in any way, as a blogger or entrepreneur) to freshen everything up

Here are three things to consider sorting out to get the year off to a good start:

1)  Your ‘about’ page.  

I rewrote my about page a few months ago, and I’m pretty happy that it still feels ‘right’ for me!  But if you read your ‘about’ page and don’t feel it suits your brand, or it feels a bit bland, or you don’t actually have one yet (gasp!) then these resources might help you.

  • If you want someone to hold your hand a bit more with fab prompts and fill-in-the-blank ideas then Alexandra Franzen is your girl.  You’re bound to be drawn to at least one of her 5 ways to write your ‘about’ page!

2) Your mini bios.

These could be the bios that you use for your twitter or instagram accounts, or the bio that sits on your website side bar, like a micro ‘about me’ page!

This is something I do want to work on – I’d like to get a bit more personality into my website mini bio!

I’ll be referring to this article from Design your own lovely blog, which has quite a few examples for inspiration.

3) Your profile photo.

Well obviously I was going to mention this!

I really love the profile picture that I use at the moment.  It’s here on my website, over on my blog (This Glorious Life) and on all my social media accounts!  But, it was taken a few years ago now, so I think it might be time to get back in front of the camera!

If you need a headshot and/or some portraits of just you for your web presence then I really do recommend you invest in having some done professionally.  I wrote a blog post about three reasons why you should have professional portraits taken for your small business a few months ago, which you should go and read!

Get in touch with me if you think my style will work with your business and personality and you’d like to discuss booking a ‘you, actually’ session with me.

So, there we are, three things you can do to freshen up your website and social media accounts for the new year.  I bet you’re feeling like a new you already!

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A family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

A family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

When you book a photo session in Swansea with me, one of the first things I’ll do is send you a questionnaire to fill out.

It’s a wonderful way for me to start getting to know you, and to learn about the personalities of everyone who’ll be part of your session.  It sparks conversations via email that help us plan your perfect photo shoot.  And I absolutely love it because it means, by the time we meet properly to take your photos, I already feel like we know each other and that we’re on our way to being friends!

That’s definitely how I felt at this session with Louise and her lovely family.  Before the session Louise was able to tell me a bit about her girls, and how they might not be too keen on sitting still to have their photo taken, which is fine with me!

I love sessions where the children just do their thing!  It lets them relax enough to reveal their personalities which results in gorgeous, authentic portraits.
The best part about this session though?  Getting the whole family in front of the camera together, which wasn’t part of Louise’s original plan.  She initially told me she only really wanted photos of the girls, but by the end of the session we had a chat and I (quite passionately I think!) told her how important I think it is for us parents to exist in photos for our children.  Those family portraits will be a real gift to the girls in the future.

Louise had some lovely words to say about their session and the family photos we ended up taking:

I honestly loved the whole experience. Madeline felt like an old friend by the end of the session. She took time to get to know my family and to make us all comfortable. So much so, she got me to get in front of the camera too, something which I had initially been against. I absolutely cherish the family images from that day as they reflect the wonderful experience we all had”

Interested in discussing a family session?  Get in touch here; I’d love to get to know you and your family!

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Happy new year!

Do you have a word or focus for this year?  I’ve seen lots of bloggers and business owners sharing posts over the last week or two, about the word they’ve chosen as their inspiration for 2016.

At this time of year the focus is often on self-improvement – getting more organised, getting fit, achieving a better balance of work and home life.  So I nearly went for a word like ‘balance’ or ‘focus’ for my year, hoping it would help me clear my head and perhaps feel on top of things a bit more!

But then I thought about it some more.  

I thought about the kind of life I want to live, and the kind of life I want for my family.  And, yes, life would be lovely if we were more organised and if I were more focused on the activity at hand.  But what would truly make life better, is more joy!

I want to clear out all the things from my life that make me feel cross, or sad, or just bleugh.  I am taking Marie Kondo’s message to heart and seeking to just keep things that spark joy!

Sometimes I think we can feel that it’s superficial, or selfish maybe, to seek joy.  To make joy a huge priority in our lives.  As if there are far more pressing issues to be considered.  And yes, there are many things going on in the world that are horrifying and heartbreaking.

But standing up in the face of that, and choosing joy?  Choosing not to be defeated by the world.  Choosing to be furiously happy instead?

Surely that’s a good way to live your life.

I had a look back at some of the portrait sessions that I had the absolute pleasure of shooting here in Swansea last year, and was so happy to find that the number one emotion I got from them was joy.

I saw happy, laughing faces shining from my screen.

I saw love, and I saw joy.

One of the reasons I love having my portrait sessions on location around Swansea (rather than in a studio) is that I think it’s much easier for people to relax and really enjoy themselves when they’re in a place they love, like the beaches of Swansea bay and Gower, or a beautiful green space like Singleton Park or Clyne gardens!

When you’re in a place you love, with people you love, you can’t help but be happy!

If you’d like to have a brilliantly happy photo session of your own this year, please do give me a shout, I would so love to share some joy with you!

Not ready to book a session yet?  How about letting a little joy into your inbox for the time being via my newsletter!

My word for 2016 – joy!
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3 reasons you should have professional portraits/headshots taken for your small business

You only have to venture out to the Uplands or Marina markets in Swansea to get a taste of some of the amazing small businesses, sole traders and entrepreneurs that are thriving here.

Local food producers, jewellery makers, artists, craftsman, the list goes on.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of people putting themselves out there and going for their dreams.

If you’re one of these people, working for yourself, or if you’re still toying with the idea of taking the plunge then you’ll already be aware that, really, YOU are your business.

You are what makes the business special and what makes people want to buy your products or your services.  So you want to make sure that you are represented in the best possible way.

This is where professional portraits/headshots come in.

Here are my top 3 reasons why you should have some taken:

1)  People buy people.

Yes, they buy the thing that you’re selling, but really, they’re buying YOU.  So it’s a great idea to have photos that really show the true you, on your social media pages and on an ‘about’ page on your website.  People will naturally tend to feel like they know you better if they see a photo of you, rather than just a logo, especially if the photo captures your personality.

I use the Beloved technique in my solo portrait sessions, which results in brilliantly authentic photos.  Your personality will shine through in your photos, which is just what you want when you are your business.

2)  People are busy.

They might not have the time to read all about you and your business, they might just scan your website for the information they need.  But they will see your headshot photo.  When you think that your profile photo might be all they use to form an impression of you, then you see the importance of making sure it’s a great quality photo that shows you at your best!

3)  People use short-cuts and make assumptions.

We might not always be aware of it, but we do make judgements about people from what we see and read about them.  If people see a photo of you that’s blurry, or obviously cropped from a picture of a night out, they may well make assumptions about you and how seriously you take your business.

Yes, you want the photos of you to show your personality, but you need them to also show that you take care over what you do and what you put out into the world.

So, take a few minutes and have a look at the photos of yourself that you’re using on your social media pages and on your website.  Are they recent?  Do they really reflect who you are?  Are you happy to have them represent you and your business to the online world?!

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then maybe it’s time to get some new, professional portraits taken.

Get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss a session!  I’d love to get to know you and provide you with photos to be proud of for your business.

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Photography tip of the week – freeze the action

Photography tip of the week – freeze the action

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that kids are fast.  From the moment they start crawling they’re off, across the room faster than you can say “oh God we need to baby-proof”.

What you might find is that the photos you take of your speedy little things end up just being, quite literally, a bit of a blur.

Which leads me to my photography tip of the week – freeze the action!

This tip requires you to take a small leap of faith and take your camera off ‘auto’ mode.  But it’s ok, we’re not jumping far; just to the ‘sports’ mode.

On most cameras this mode is represented by a running man figure.

The most important factor in freezing motion in photos is the camera’s shutter speed.  With a fast shutter speed the movement will be frozen and you’ll get nice, sharp images.  If you have a slower shutter speed you get motion blur in the photos.

When you select the sports mode on your camera it automatically sets a faster shutter speed for you, meaning you’ll be more likely to be able to capture your kids when they run around like crazy!

If you want to take a bit more control of your camera you can try the shutter priority mode which lets you adjust the shutter speed for yourself and then the camera adjusts the aperture for you to maintain good exposure in the photos.

Give it a go!  Next time you’re at the park and your children are running about, get your camera into sports mode and see what difference it makes to your photos!

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Introducing ‘You, actually’ – solo portrait sessions in Swansea.

Drumroll please….

….I’m really excited to announce a new addition to Madeline Littlejohns Photography – solo portrait sessions!

I’ve named these solo sessions ‘You, actually’, because that’s what they’re all about – you!  

They’re for individuals who want a portrait session that’s all about them and that results in photos that truly reflect who they are.

I’ll be writing more in-depth blog posts soon about how amazing these sessions are for all sorts of different people and situations.   But for now, here’s a quick list of who they might appeal to:

  • Small business owners
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Arty folk – jewellery makers, artists, crafters (anyone really, who creates things to sell online and in person)
  • Pregnant women who want photos of just them and their gorgeous bumps.
  • Anyone who wants natural, authentic photos of themselves, to share with family, for their social media profiles, or maybe for online dating profiles!

Whatever your reason for booking a solo portrait session with me in Swansea, the end result will be the same – beautiful, natural photos that show off the best of you – no awkward, fake ‘camera’ smiles here!

Here’s what you’ll get when you book a session:

  • A pre-session consultation, where we’ll discuss what it is that you want your photos to say about you and what part of your personality you want to shine through.  We’ll also discuss the perfect location for your session, and what you might like to wear.
  • A one hour, on-location portrait session.
  • The very best of your images edited and shown to you in an online gallery so you can choose which ones you would like.
  • 10 digital files for you to share and print however you like.

These sessions are currently priced at £90.

If you’d like to discuss booking a solo session, please get in touch!

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A fun Beloved family portrait session in Swansea

A fun Beloved family portrait session in Swansea

How’s this for something to brighten up a wet Autumn day!

These photos were taken back in the summer, at Heol Las park in Swansea.  I absolutely love the amount of parks we have here in Swansea, they’re perfect for family portrait sessions with busy, can’t-sit-still, full of energy children!

These two were so much fun and were raring to go when we met at the park.  After a play on the swings and roundabout we headed out to find a spot for some of the Beloved games that I had up my sleeve!

As luck would have it, there was a gorgeous patch of wildflowers that was just perfect.  Did you see all the wildflowers all over Swansea this year?  They were just beautiful, and made me smile every time I spotted a new place full of them!

This portrait session though really was all about the children; Mum and Dad wanted to capture this stage of their lives, how they’re growing up and how they interact with each other, and they were great at just being themselves in front of the camera.

If you’d like some gorgeous, happy photos like these of your family please get in touch to discuss a session.
We’ll work together to chose a location that will work best for you and base the session around your children’s personalities so you can relax and not worry about them ‘being on their best behaviour’!  Look at the photos above – this is all about the fun!
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Flashback Friday – rainy day newborn portrait session in Llantwit major

Flashback Friday – rainy day newborn portrait session in Llantwit major

I’m finding it very hard to believe that this family/newborn portrait session look place a little over 3 years ago!
In a gorgeous wooden lodge in Llanwit major, we hid from the pouring rain and took these gorgeous photos.
To this day these photos are some of my absolute favourites, which makes me all the more excited to be heading back to Llantwit Major this weekend for round 2!  Yep, this lovely threesome is now a family of four, after welcoming a new baby boy recently.

Look out for those photos in the next few weeks!  In the meantime you can see all the photos from this session here and here!

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Photography tip of the week – use the rule of thirds

Photography tip of the week – use the rule of thirds

This week’s tip focuses on one of the first rules of photo composition – the rule of thirds.

I’ve written before about stopping and thinking a bit before you snap a shot of your family, and it really does help to make your photos so much more visually appealing.

When you’re taking a photo of a single subject, think about how you compose the photo before you take it.  The natural instinct is often to place the subject right in the middle of the photo.

Instead of doing this, imagine your frame being split into thirds and try to place your main subject on one of the lines, like in this example below.  Some cameras actually have a setting that puts a grid over the image you see as you take the photo, which is a really useful feature!

What you want to do is place your subject on one of the lines on the grid, and if you can get a key point of interest on one of the intersections then even better!

So, in the photo above the little girl is placed in the right-hand third of the image, and her eyes are placed right at the point where the lines intersect.  In portraits we tend to want to draw the focus to the person’s eyes, and placing them on the intersection here really helps to pull our attention to them.

Of course, there are loads of instances when it works really well to place your subject right in the middle of the frame.  But the rule of thirds is a key rule of composition for a reason – it really does make images more appealing and interesting!

Go have a try, and please do share your photos with me on my Facebook page, I’d love to see them!

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New pricing structure – Beloved portrait photography in Swansea

The weather is definitely shifting here in Swansea, Autumn is on its way!  I don’t know about you but I always feel like making changes and having a bit of a fresh start at this time of year.

Something about the new school year makes it feel like a perfect time to review things and shake things up a bit, like a more relaxed version of the resolutions we all make on January 1st. 

So I’ve been reviewing the way I do things in my photography business.  

I’m a huge believer in the importance of taking photos of ourselves and our loved ones.  I also feel it’s incredibly important to actually print and display those photos, and I strongly encourage you to let me take care of ordering prints and wall art for you after your session to make sure your images are the very best they can possibly be!

But, I also know that you want to have your photos as digital files so that you can share them on social media, email them to family that live far away and maybe create your own photo books and calendars to give as presents.

So I’ve created 3 simple session options, ranging from the fabulous full Beloved experience to a fun little taster session, so there’s something for everyone!  

You can read all about the 3 options on my ‘about pricing’ page, so head over there now to get all the information!

I’m really excited about these changes and am looking forward to providing beautiful images to more couples and families in Swansea to keep, print and share with their loves ones.

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