Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Phlock Live


Phlock Live Photography Conference

I’m thrilled to announce that next year I will be joining a number of my colleagues in the Family Photography business to share our skills at Phlock Live, a new photography conference in Manchester in the UK.

Phlock Live is the brainchild of wedding photographer Laura Wood and her sister Sarah who decided to create a three day immersive workshop for women in photography.

Based around the idea of community over competition the conference will bring together photographers from around the globe, both established professionals and also those who are just starting out in this exciting industry and, through workshops, talks, and networking, create a platform for everyone to learn new things and pushes their work to the next level.

I’m thrilled to be a part of it. For years I have been a regular attendee (and speaker) at the biggest conference for social photographers in Europe – the SWPP – which is held in London each year and is always a wonderful event. But, as is often the way with these events there is a big wedding focus. It’s lovely to be part of something that features more family photographers and will be pushing the boundaries of my chosen genre.

Where and When is Phlock Live taking place?

Phlock Live is taking place in Manchester in the UK in March 2020. It’s the week after the Photography Show at the NEC, for those of us who are familiar with the annual photography calendar and is taking place on 20th-22nd March.

Phlock is based in the Midland Hotel (but for those of you who are thinking of coming, there are a lot of cheaper accommodation options nearby, the Premier Inn is just around the corner). The Midland looks like a fabulous venue and I’m looking forward to spending three days there soaking up the atmosphere and learning new things.

Over three days there are forty speakers talking on topic as diverse as Freelensing, Birth Photography and SEO. Options will range from small group sessions to large talks and each speaker will be giving their talks on each day so it will be possible to see all the talks you are interested in. Evening networking events will mean there will be opportunities to chat at the bar and ask more questions over a beer or two.

Why go to conferences such as Phlock Live?

Photography conferences such as Phlock Live are an investment for photographer and I’m often asked if these events are worth it. In my experience I’d say a resounding yes, they aren’t cheap but what you learn will mean you can make your money back threefold and the connections and friendships are priceless. While there are wonderful online communities now, nothing beats meeting people in real life.

When I started out as photographer back in 2003 there were big online communities and like many of my contemporaries, I learnt so much on the Digital Wedding Forum. But things really came into focus when I met my peers at the SWPP conventions. Sixteen years on, many of my closest friends and colleagues are people I met at these events.

From early tentative meetings, saying hi to the person sat next to me in a seminar or chatting at the bar, friendships were made that have helped me to grow my business, we have built our careers together.

I believe that getting to know your peers is invaluable in an industry where we mainly work alone. Having friends that you can call on to ask questions or advice and even, in some circumstances, ask to cover for you. Luckily it isn’t such an issue for family portrait photographers but for wedding photographers (and, like many people I started out shooting weddings) you need to know your competition as if something happens and you can’t attend an event you need someone who can step in at the last minute and shoot the wedding for you. Over the years I’ve photographed four weddings at very short notice when the photographer couldn’t attend, you can’t plan against a broken leg.

It’s more than emergency cover though, it’s help, and encouragement, and support. It’s laughter and sharing stories and working on images together, looking through each other’s portfolios, finding patterns and developing styles. Over the years the photographers I met at those first events have all evolved their business in such different directions – I photograph families in black and white with a natural style, my talented friend Yvonne specialises in photographing small weddings in London registry offices, Suzanne, the first person I met at the first conference I went to, has a thriving wedding and portrait business based from her beautiful family farm in Scotland. All our work is different, and all have benefitted from the friendships made at these photography events – community over competition at its best.

Trade show

Apart from meeting your colleagues and attending talks then there will also be a small trade show at Phlock Live. A number of carefully chosen brands will have stands and will be available to answer questions and demonstrate their products.

I’m thrilled that Light Blue Software, which I use to run my business, will be exhibiting at Phlock Live in Manchester.

Light Blue Software is business management for photographers, the system on which my business depends, and which was written by my talented husband Tom. Over the years Light Blue has developed to be the leading photography management software in the UK and has happy customers all over the world.

Because running a successful photography business is not all about taking pictures. It’s also about keeping on top of your admin, about accounts and finance and marketing. If you are interested in seeing Light Blue in action at Phlock Live, then visit Suzanne who will be there to give demonstrations and answer questions over the three days. She will also be with me in the bar in the evenings and, as a successful wedding, portrait and commercial photographer herself will, I’m sure, have much to share.

Secrets of a Successful Family Photography Business

And so to my talk – what will I be speaking about at Phlock Live photography conference?

My talk is titled ‘Secrets of a Successful Family Photography Business’ and will be an hour-long session that will include a presentation and time for questions.

I’ve been running my business since 2003 and over that time I’ve learnt so much both as a photographer and also a business owner. I’ll be sharing some of the most important lessons to help others improve both their businesses and their photography.

I’ve always believed that photography and business go hand in hand, and you need to work hard at both to be successful. Like many creative people I just want to concentrate on the images, always challenging myself to take better pictures and create the very best work that I can for my clients. It’s what I love and why I became a photographer. But, as we all know, this comes to nothing if you can’t pay your bills at the end of the month and so creating a sustainable and profitable business is important too. Most importantly, the more streamlined the business side of things, the happier your clients will be, it’s win-win all round.

My first love will always be the pictures, taking images, processing them and creating wonderful albums and wall displays for my clients. Over the years I have developed my style and I work hard to improve my work year on year. I’ll be talking about creativity and how to develop your style ensuring that your work gets better and better as time goes on, essential when working with returning clients year after year.

I’ll also cover the scarier bits, the bits that often creative people like me find hard. I’ll talk about marketing and sales and pricing and how getting to grips with these areas of your business is good for you and also for your clients.

Combining photography and business in my talk, as in my day to day life, I hope that there will be something for everyone from those who are in the fledgling days of their photography careers to those, like me, who have been working full time in this amazing profession for over a decade. It will be in informative and inspirational event.

Find out More

I hope that this sounds interesting to my photographer followers and it’s easy to find out more. You can sign up for the Phlock newsletter and buy tickets on their website. They have an active Facebook page and an Instagram account that is filled with inspiring pictures and interesting stories. Scheduling goes live in October when you will be able to choose your classes to follow your interests and ensure that you get the most out of this incredible and innovative new photography conference.

For those of you new to my work, you can find out more about my Family Photography here on the website and see more about previous talks and events I’ve been part of on my Press page.

I hope to see you there. If you have any questions ping me an email or DM me on Facebook or Instagram, it’s going to be a brilliant few days.