Monthly Archives: August 2011

What’s in My Camera Bag

I don’t usually have a ‘camera bag’ full of stuff, generally I just take my camera & one lens (which has recently been my trusty 50mm f1.4), but since I shot a friends’ wedding last week I had everything neatly packed up.

Hama Tripod - I got this last week, I’m not a massive tripod user (I had a borrowed one from Adam’s granddad before now) so hadn’t really felt to need to upgrade. At £17 though, this is an absolute gem! it’s light enough to carry around which makes a massive difference from the one I was using at home.

Battery charger – just incase, I have an extra full battery in the bag, too.

Tamron 55-200mm - a neat little macro lens, I bought this for my trip to Australia a few years ago. It’s a cheap lens at just around £100, but for someone who rarely needs to use that kind of range it works well. Here’s a photo I took with it on my old 400d in Australia.

Tamron 17-50mm – I got this as a replacement of my first kit lens for the 400d. It’s a good walk-around lens if you need that extra range. I used this for group shots at the wedding, and they’ve come out really nice and sharp. It’s a nice sturdy build, too, unlike the kit lens. I also have a lens hood for this one in the bag.

Canon 18-55mm EF-S kit lens – The new kit lens, I got this with my 550d out of pure curiosity. I had the old kit lens for the 400d and it never really impressed me, this lens is different though, it has a couple of new features. I still don’t use it very much, I prefer my 50mm and my tamrom 17-50mm, but it’s always there incase I need it.

Also in the bag I have a spare 16GB memory card, a few filters (polarizing, UV) at various sizes and my spare battery. Oh, and my remote!

The camera I used to take it was my trusty 550d and my 50mm f1.4 (a lens that I love more and more each day!), this is my usual set-up and what most of the photos are taken with.

Hoep you all have great weekends :D

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Adding More Strings to Your Bow

Well, hello! This post is the first in a new series of weekly posts that will share advice, tips, real life stories, and whole host of other helpful things related to running a successful small business or freelance empire. The response to ‘Working for Yourself Week‘ was wonderful, and it seemed a shame to leave it at just a week! I’ll be sharing my own experiences of running a small business and working as a freelance web designer. If you’d like to get involved with a guest post, or if you’re a small business owner who wants to share their experiences through an interview, then please get in touch :)

It’s been just under two months since I started being my own boss but I’ve been running my small business for a good few years now and have had time to get used to the whole ‘being in charge of your destiny’ thing. One of the most important things I’ve learnt during those years which has proved itself invaluable these past few weeks is the collection of a broad skill set.

When it comes down to it you’ll probably only spend 50-60% of your time on your ‘trade’, the rest of the time will be spent on supporting activities. Here’s a break down of my average time:

I don’t think I’ve even covered all the random bases in the 10% areas there, but it at least gives you an idea on what you need to do when you run a business. It’s very easy to think that once you’re working for yourself that you’ll have 100% of your time to devote to your trade, but in reality there’s just so much more to do!

You’re your own PR person (at least until you can afford for someone else to do that for you!), your own accountant (again, until you’re bringing in the big bucks), your own receptionist, project manager, copy writer etc. etc.

But! Don’t worry, it’s fun!

No, really! It is! The amount of satisfaction you get from firing out several invoices is amazing, and hustling for new business is quite a thrill. Okay, so book keeping is a little BLAH, but once you’ve shot down a whole month of invoices & receipts you can reward yourself with something you enjoy (even take the afternoon off.. woah!).

You’ll need to add a lot of strings to your bow to make your business a success, and at times it can be a little challenging, and frightening, but the rewards are full of awesome. I mean, how many people get to say ‘I work for myself’?

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Recipe Wednesday: King Prawn & Baby Tomato Pasta

You thought I was going to skip a week again, didn’t you? I know… I missed last week, but what with the hecticness that was our London trip I just couldn’t fit it in!

Alas, this recipe should’ve been posted last week, it was what we had for Adam’s birthday meal at home (can’t be galavanting to fancy restaurants on a freelancer’s pay schedule..!). We were mooching around the supermarket looking for something ‘special’ and failing, when I spotted some king prawns and suggested this meal. It’s a favourite of ours that we usually have Adam’s Dad make, so all credit for the recipe go to him (and perhaps moxies in Canada.. which I think is where this recipe actually originated).

Ingredients

Tagliatella pasta
King Prawns
Baby tomatoes
Garlic
Olive oil
Parsley
Fresh ground black pepper
Rock salt

The beauty of this recipe is in the simplicity, there’s no messing around or even any measuring of ingredients (to a degree… I mean, don’t drown yourself in oil or spend £20 on prawns for two people).

I’ve left the ingredient quantities purposefully blank, it’s more of a ‘to your own taste’ style recipe. We used around 250g of king prawns, and around 15 baby tomatoes for 2 people.

Cook your pasta as per packet directions, in the mean time slice your garlic thinly & fry in some olive oil until softened. Halve your baby tomatoes and add them to the pan, fry until they just start to go smushy. Add your king prawns now if they’re raw, and cook until they’re pink, otherwise wait a few minutes for more tomato smushiness and then add cooked king prawns, fry until they’re heated through.

Toss this mixture in with the pasta, adding more olive oil, black pepper and rock salt at the same time. Finish with a good handful of fresh chopped parsley. And you’re done!

Delicious! You can finish off your servings with more fresh parsley if you want, you know, if you’re feeling cheffy.

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Liberty London Open Call

Last week ended with a sort of hectic whistle-stop trip to London, we headed down at a ridiculously early time on Friday morning and spent a wonderfully sunny day wandering around Kensington, Hyde Park, visiting the V&A and taking in some of the sights.

The main reason for the London trip was the Liberty Best of British Open Call on the Saturday. I’d signed up for the event in April, booked our tickets and sorted out a cheap night at the Hilton in Paddington (Pro tip, lastminute.com do great ‘secret hotel’ deals where you can get a swish hotel for around £95/night).

Now, being honest about it, I wasn’t holding out much hope of making it through to being actually stocked in Liberty, but there’s always a chance, right? And it’s these chances that make your business grow, you just have to take them and make the best of them! However, when we were last in London we noticed that Liberty had a room where Finest Imaginary jewellery would’ve sat quite nicely. It was full of trinkets and reasonably priced gifty things, so what the hell, there was definitely scope for my things to be stocked!

However, when we went and took a look around the store on Friday we noticed that room had been changed.. erk!

I’d been working towards this event, too, getting new packaging sorted out, creating a sort of press-release style introduction, making big considerations about my branding & prices. If anything, having this event to work towards has made my really consider where I want to take my business and what I need to do to get there!

I joined the queue at 9am, the doors didn’t open until 10am and yet I was still approximately 250th in the (already wrapped around the building) queue. Crazy! Adam stayed with me until we got to the point of going inside the building and up the stairs. It was thrilling to see how many people had come along, and all the different things that they had (homewares, artwork, jewellery, handbags, stationery).

The queue was pretty intense, I think that Women’s Accessories had the largest number of people so other ‘areas’ kept getting pulled out of the queue early. I ended up being seen at around 14.30pm I think, something like that anyway… We got ushered into a holding area where we signed up ready to be called when the panel for our items was available. I’ve got to say, all the Liberty staff did an amazing job! They provided refreshments (I had a vitamin water!) and the event was very well organised.

I met with just one person, other panels had 2-3 people but I think they were trying their hardest to get through the Women’s Accessories so had split some of the panels up. I wasn’t too nervous, the whole time I’d just been telling myself that it is what it is, there isn’t really anything I could’ve said to ‘sell’ my products… really, they should sell themselves! The person I met was very gracious and liked my jewellery, but, as I’d thought, said that since the room where I’d seen them being had gone that there was no natural place in the store for them any more. The only other jewellery section in Liberty at the moment is a place for very fine jewellery, definitely not what my things are!

So there you go, definitely an interesting Saturday! I plan on visiting the open call next time but with different products that would fit in with the store, you never know :)

Top Tips!

  • Scope out the store beforehand, had I been able to visit the store a few months ago then I’d have realised that the room had gone and would’ve had chance to take some of my other items instead – c’est la vie!
  • Be organised. You only have 3 minutes with the panel, don’t spend 2 of those minutes getting all your crap out of a suitcase. I took two of my new packaging boxes but had my jewellery in clear plastic grip seal bags so I could just have them out on the table in a few seconds.
  • Take business cards! Not only do you need to give Liberty one if they want to stock your products, but you’re in the queue with people who might be really interested in you..!
  • Get chatty, you’re in that queue a LONG time so ask what other people have brought, how they’ve been preparing etc.
  • TAKE WATTTERRRR! Jesus, it gets warm on those stairs!
  • Spiel-schmeel. I didn’t prepare a 3-minute-lecture on Finest Imaginary products. Hell no, that’s not what my brand is about. I winged it, and for me it’s definitely the best way. If I’d had to memorise some speech or other and ended up forgetting a sentence and getting flustered, well, that’d be dull…
  • Don’t get down hearted if you don’t make it, the chances of getting through to the next round are crazy. Take it in your stride, make the best of the experience and don’t forget that you can only fail if you stop trying.
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More photos from the junk market

I didn’t realise that the open market in our town had it’s ‘junk’ market on a Saturday, too! I’ve missed my lunch time wandering around of the Tuesday market, so it was nice to have a look when we were there this weekend. One stall had loads of jars filled with shells, very strange! I didn’t buy anything, I was tempted by some wall plates though, but I’m looking for some to repurpose (a small DIY project) and they were all too decorated for that task! I was also kinda tempted by the owl figurines shown below, we don’t have anywhere to put that kind of thing at the moment though (we need shelves, lots of shelves).

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