Category

Running a Business

We’re Hiring a Studio Manager

StoriesHiring-studiomanager

When I first started out my business as a photographer, I used to do everything. Handle enquiries, shoot, edit, deliveries… even handcrafting albums myself! That was 10 years ago, and thank God I have the entrepreneur husband who told me that I was foolish to take on everything myself. Now I have a team of wonderful people who are committed to the brand, love each other (I hope!) and who have taken a load off my back.

I am so grateful to have people to bounce off ideas with, celebrate when we score an international job, and lament to when the going gets tough. So now, we’re looking for someone to come alongside us as our Studio Manager / Personal Assistant. This could be a part time role (a few work hours on weekdays, occasionally on weekends) or a full time position if it is combined with multiple roles (eg social media manager, writer, videographer… you get the idea – surprise us with your superpowers!).

Job Scope

  1. Handling enquiries via phone, email, social media sites (Facebook, Instagram) and following up with potential enquiries.
  2. Work with our online systems and handle admin work like bookings, invoicing and issuing contracts. Be technologically savvy.
  3. Following up with clients on shoot requirements, payments, setting up meeting dates, handling their final deliverables and making sure we deliver on time.
  4. Dealing with back end vendors.
  5. Keeping Grace sane and up to date when her memory fails her (poor memory runs in her family, so she needs to write everything down or someone to remind her to do things!)
  6. Being the ‘face’ of Stories as the primary contact person other than Grace… so this is a huge role to fill!
  7. Other than Stories, handling other projects like assisting to manage our corporate enquiries, kombi rental and rental of studio space to external parties.

So, if you think you are up for the challenge and have the qualities that will make us super duper efficient, please apply here. Do state if you are interested in a full time / part time role. We look forward to hearing from you.

Reflections: Photography as a Lifestyle and Business

It’s 2am and I lie awake in bed, one of those nights where my thoughts lead me to my work, life and my general state of happiness as a person. It’s been 10 years since I started this journey as a photographer, and in these past 10 years, I’ve explored many areas of photography – from travel to documentary, posed portraits vs candid photography, learnt about studio and natural light, thought about diversifying my work to get various sources of income, and then thought about finding my niche so that I can get the type of clients that I really like.. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to grow my team, spending more time with my family yet running this business that I love and thinking about my retirement plan when my body is too weak to shoot.

These past 10 years, I’ve also felt insecurities as a photographer – not knowing if I am on the right path, feeling envy when others are successful, worried about how to move forward in this business.

How I wish there was a blueprint in running a successful photography business.

Many of the lessons I learnt while running this business was built on trial and error. I have swayed to the left and to the right over the years, and now, I think it’s time to go back to the start.

What drew me to photography in the first place?

I just love capturing life. 

People intrigue me. Everyone is so different and yet, the human emotions of love, joy or sadness connect us. I love photographing human connections – that moment when a child looks trustingly at his mother, when the father of the bride cries as his little daughter is finally getting married, that laughter shared between life-long friends.

This thought comes through again and again – keep doing what you love and you’ll excel in it. But it also takes a lot of work. On days when I am not shooting, I am trying to learn something new – reading about ways to improve my business, looking at Pinterest to find new inspiration, signing up for workshops  and trying out different genres of photography just to upskill myself.

So 10 years on, I am still learning and doing what I love. It’s what keeps me going.

GT1_916120160501 - Steamboat Makan-21

5 Business Lessons as a Photographer

businesslessons-photographerIt’s amazingly my 9th year of running my photography business, officially as a Sdn Bhd / Private Limited (those freelance days were too carefree to count!). It’s a Monday today, and all my staff are not in the office, as we usually take the Mondays off after a weekend wedding shoot to rest and recuperate. I decided to stay home and do some work here too, in between cuddles with my 15 month old son who is growing up too quickly.

On days like these, I take time to think about the business and how we can grow moving forward. Being a natural worrier by nature, it takes extra effort on my part to surrender my business to God and trust Him to bring it forward. Ever since the GST was implemented last year and everyone cut down on their spending, the economic situation has been down. Together with my entrepreneur husband, we’ve diversified our businesses and also made hard decisions to focus when the time is needed.

I don’t consider myself an expert, but here are some thoughts that I have gathered in my years as a full time photographer and mother running a business:

ONE. Outsource – As an artist, one of the pain points I had was actually running the business. I hated doing anything related to accounting (though I did go through some years of basic accounting in school). I know of many photographers who have done jobs but failed to send invoices, only to realise a few months later, that they didn’t get paid for it. So I suggest finding people who are really good at what they do, pay them to do it, and then you can focus on the parts that you love, creating art!

TWO. Marketing is Everything – One of the first things my husband wisely said to me when I first started out… “You can have a website, but if no one can find it, then you’ve already failed in your marketing.” For me, the easiest way to start marketing myself was through my blog and Facebook. I set aside a budget so that I can boost posts when needed. I also started networking with people who are not already in my own usual social circle, like meeting new mothers at playgroups. Start small, start somewhere.

THREE. Don’t Put Yourself Down – There will be days when you feel down. It will come. You will doubt yourself and wonder why you ever started a business in the first place. Just keep your head up, and try to be as optimistic as you can. Pray. Talk to more people. Keep on blogging. Think of new ideas. Don’t give up too quickly.

FOUR. Innovate – Since there are obviously so many photographers in the market, I have to think of ways to innovate my business. How can I be remembered? What can I do that is different from the rest? Can I think of new ways to do old things? One thing I started doing in recent years was approaching baby stores to sell my photography packages to new mothers. I received quite a few enquiries and sales through this method, which was great!

FIVE. Take Time Off – When you run your own business, it’s pretty much on your mind 24 hours a day. I find it really hard switching off, and sometimes catch myself rambling about some random work issue to my husband before  I doze off at night. It’s ok to take a break once in a while and recharge your creativity. When you feel tired physically, just do something totally different the next day. Read a new book. Exercise or travel. Cuddle with your kids. I find that when I am recharged this way, I am a much better person, which eventually leads me to become a better photographer.

20150925_FAMILY_PORTRAITS_ALEX_GRACE_115Alex and Grace while on holiday in Bali. 

Merry Christmas from all at Integricity

The past few weeks have been filled with wedding and family shoots as everyone takes advantage of the holiday season to get some portraits done or get married! I have so many photos to share from the past few months but sadly, have been delayed in getting them posted online. 2015 has been a good year for us despite the implementation of the GST affecting everyone’s spending. Together with the team, we have photographed 45 wedding couples and 101 families. I thank God for an amazing team as always, spear headed by the ever awesome key people at Stories… Weiming, Jamie and Chi Yin. Not forgetting others like Diane, Nigel, Johan, Delvin, Choo Cherk and our latest intern, Hui En.

Do view our Facebook or Vimeo page for the latest updates in our work! In the meantime, our group of companies, Integricity, wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

MerryChristmasIntegricity2015

By the way, have a look at some really cool DIY Christmas gift ideas in a jar at this site! Have a great holiday, everyone!

On the hunt for adventure!

It’s been 4 years and 4 months since the ever bubbly Diane stepped into the Stories studio, making it a really happy place to work. Everyone who has been through the Stories door as a client (or potential!) over the past 4 years have met Diane in some way or another. Either through the phone, email or in person. So it’s really sad that we bid her farewell today as she embarks on a new adventure in her life. She’ll be heading to New Zealand for a few months to work there doing the YOLO thing before mid life crisis hits (just kidding!). :)

Well Diane, we do wish you a wonderful adventure ahead and the office will definitely feel a lot quieter without you around. No more bursting into random songs, lame jokes or just sharing a story or two over the table. You’ve made my life so much easier the past 4 years and have been such a pillar for me. I appreciate all those nights you worked late and those weekends when you came into the office on your own, just sorting out shoots or some paperwork.

Your dedication to your work and to people really speaks volumes and it is a testimony of your desire to do things with excellence even though at times, it was really hard to achieve. I am sorry if I have been hard towards you in the past. I pray that you will discover God’s path for your life (and life partner!) as you seek Him the next few months.

A post would not be fun without photos, so here’s a slideshow we did recently for our dearie Diane.

Diane from Stories on Vimeo.