Who really stands out to you on LinkedIn? I recently came across Sheffield business and branding photographer Doug Banks and was really impressed by his approach to talking about his work. I always find myself engaging with his posts and photography, he's got me captured! So I invited him for a virtual brew to find out more about him and I couldn't wait to interview him for my blog. Read on to find out where his interest in photography began, how he's improved his skills, what approach he takes to find new work, and at the end he asks you a question to think about.
Where did your interest in photography begin?
It's a good question that I've not really thought about before. I've always been a visual person, a visual learner, and inspired by pictures. So photography was something that came to me pretty naturally. I was certainly inspired at around 12 years old by my cousin who was a photographer for the Skateboard magazine RAD at the time. I was also into skateboarding at that age, so he was pretty much my hero. He gave me some black and white images from the world champs in Munster 1991 which I thought were very cool!
How have you learnt about photography and improved your skills since then?
I've had a bit of formal training, spent an afternoon with a guy who trained some of the National Geographic photographers which was really insightful. But mostly it's been from reading magazines, seeing what others have been doing, and looking into how they have created certain effects. More recently I've been learning using youtube videos. Having said that the best way to learn is to get out there and experiment.
What's it like working as a branding and business photographer?
The work has been really interesting so far, I've done photography for a wide range of different businesses. Maybe one day I'll specialise in a specific niche of business branding photography, but for now am very much enjoying the variety. Meeting people and learning about their specific business journeys, and the challenges within their business is interesting, then trying to communicate their stories through images to essentially enhance the quality of how their business looks to potential customers and clients. As well as making sure that their personality or personalities with bigger teams, shine through.
Who experiences change in their lives as a result of what you do?
Having a comprehensive library of consistent high quality professional images really does have the potential to be hugely impactful for a business, if the images are implemented alongside the appropriate marketing strategy. Part of my work is very much a business consultancy role too, to give some suggestions on how the images might best be used too.
As a side note it's nice when someone who is really quite camera shy at the beginning of the shoot, is really comfortable at the end, and lets their true personality come out in the images. There are some strong metaphors that could be drawn here with this sort of mini breakthrough.
What approach do you take towards finding new people to work with?
It's mostly through networking and relationship building. It's amazing how sometimes that coffee you had with someone you met 2 years ago then materialises into working together, or they refer you to someone they know needs what you offer. I think sometimes businesses maybe focus too much on the vanity metrics of social media, when developing more high quality relationships to build the whole know, like and trust element could be a more effective method, especially when first starting out.
When do you make time for your personal projects/interests?
On holiday, or when the weather looks dramatic, I'm always on the look out for an impressive landscape to capture. One of my silly goals I've set myself is to get an image in National Geographic. So that will probably involve the continued journey of getting out into big landscapes and impressive nature type stuff.
What question would you ask someone who is thinking about making a career change into photography but is worried about turning their hobby into a job?
Ok this is tough one, as the worry is very much a natural thing to feel. If you weren't worried that would in some ways be more worrying. :-) It would be something along the lines of how much passion do you feel for photography? Who do you think you can help with the type of photography you want to do? Where do your interests and knowledge lie?
Alongside Doug's photography business, he also organises a multi-stage trail race linking some of the very best trails and parkland Sheffield and the has to offer. Check out Round Sheffield Run which will have both a winter and a summer edition next year and listen to this podcast episode of Front Runner Radio to find out more about it from Doug.
Finally, if you have any comments on this post or if you would like to be interviewed by Sarah, please email firstname.lastname@example.org