Our language, actions & dress code in our business is all part of our business branding people see

September 01, 2017

A business headshot image of myself,  that reminds me when my mom use to say I must put on better clothes, so people know you are someone Pitney, hence the birth of 2 or 3 piece suit and tie, until the rebirth of Walter James Photography.


Everything was about Branding, and to me in going forward, Branding was wearing “All Black” with my business name and logo on fleeces, and polo shirts for me and those who worked with me. 


At the end of the day, people may not remember your name but they will remember your brand and how you make them feel, along with our branding, comes the type of language we use with our clients and what we ask them to do in order to capture an image.


I have blogged already about the sleazy photographers behaving badly on model photo shoots that everyone should stay away from.


Those who know me well, they will tell you that my style of Event Photography has a touch of "soft porn" to it, probably a touch of the rebelliousness of an untapped part of my secret personality, after leaving or turning my back on my spiritual calling of my Ministry.



To the point of some people referring to me in jest, as the dodgy photographer with whips and handcuffs.  Many people will carry a briefcase with documents or sandwiches, fruits, and a drink, but in my case, my brief case contains whips and handcuffs, of various colours along with rose petals, candles, a kitchen fire lighter and an empty bottle of brute magnum champagne, strawberries and mistletoe, and balloons at times.


In my time as an Event Photographer, I have experienced about 3 jobs that were more than successful financially, but had some issues with them.


The first one was at a 5 Star Hotel in Manchester, a very well supported Black Tie affair, that appreciated my style of photography, that would encourage well dress people on the floor doing poses that were fun and a little risky for some of the ladies, who were very conscious of their church Pastors watching them having fun, since, for many it was the first time for a long time, many of them have had a professional portrait done before.



This particular event will always have its memories because of the money we made from some very nice people, along with a wicked tooth ache, that meant my second photographer and computer operator had to leave the event to buy me some pain killers, along with drinks and sandwiches, since were not fed at this event. 


Interesting I wonder if the pain came on due to the nature of the church people I was working with or was it just one of those things?


My second event, was of interest not just because we did well financially and the new friends we met, but it was a job that came with opportunities which would have allowed us to work in Dubai for a ladies charity and providing the same service that Walter James Photography was being known for.


Our attitude was that every job we did, should open the door to the next job, and this job we were so excited about until my colleagues received an email from the event organizer about some complaints that were an issue.


I was upset on reading the emails because even for sheltered church ladies, they would have heard a lot more undiluted language on some of the British soaps or tv programs unless they did not watch Tv.


The problem was, many got caught up in the moment, and the following day on viewing their images, some felt that they were showing too much chest or shoulder along with the banter being used, so crazy since at the time they all went along with it, as well as spending money on their images. 


As a Photographer who learnt his lighting technique on naked bodies in the days of my film training, It was laughable, for a grown women to remove her shawl off her shoulder so that the images could be captured and then feel guilty the day afterwards, for me this was a bit silly when the same poses were tried and tested so many times over and over again.


The third event was another church charity fund raising event at one of Birmingham's highly respected 5 Star hotel.


That was more than successful, but again had its drama, when a lady who was not feeling very well, became very unwell when I was busy documenting the event with flash photography, that sadly triggered of a small epileptic fit.



For that reason, from that day on, I always made sure who ever is doing the announcements or house keeping rules for an event, I would also remind them to tell everyone in attendance, that Walter James Photography was also working at the event and may be using flash photography and if it was an issue to inform me or my team members.


To any outsider, it was another successful event until my images appeared on my website, and it generated conversations with those who did not attend the event but took issues with those who did attend and what they were wearing.


Sadly we found ourselves having to remove images captured from the event from my website temporarily, while one of the event organizers came to my business unit to sensor images captured,  whereby about 100 images were removed.


It was uncomfortable, even know reliving the moment, and being told if some of the well dressed and respected women,  wanted those type of images they should book me and have those images taken in their bedrooms.


You may find some of my experiences laughable but at the same time we all have to learn that Language or the way we speak to people really matters, and one set of clients will not always be as tolerant as another set of clients, especially those who are church goers, whose appreciation and understanding of simplest things or banter in life is a bit different from the rest of us.


Sometimes we have to deal with third parties who complicate our innocent language and good intentions or what we say or do in getting the poses we want to be captured at an event.


Just like the grandmother who messed up an over £500 portrait sale, when her granddaughter who had no problems in parting with over £500 on framed images, which for what they were, was a drop in the ocean compared to companies like national chain photography companies at the time, Olan Mills, and Venture Studio.


To maintain our daily business brand in the marketplace it is important that we and those who may work for us even on a casual basis, are completely aware how important good quality customer service is in any business.


Which may start with how the language we use and how it is interpreted as being acceptable or not. 


Sometimes when trying to get a client to put their body or hands in certain poses, communicating our vision for the image you want to capture does not always work, and in my case, I will either demonstrate the pose or I would physically put their hands or body into the desired position.


As a rule, I will always ask before I put my hands on anyone in order to demonstrate the pose, however, on a busy event I would just make the pose happen, which has never really been an issue until I was pulled aside by former Court Judge and Barrister Constance Briscoe at a Black Police Charity Event.


She brought to my attention that my actions while doing my job could be interpreted as an offense in law, from that day on, I have never made any attempt to help a client see the pose of my vision unless I asked them first.



So yes the language we use in our business and our actions with other people, along with our corporate dress code and the delivery or the execution of our style of photography, including those who work for us is all part of our branding we share with our customers.


However, there are times when an Event Organiser will dictate the dress code, especially at high profile black tie events for you and those working with you, that may not  be part of your brand image normally.  


Like on one occasion at the Commonwealth Awards at the ICC in Birmingham, being fully dressed in a shirt and tie and a suit is not me anymore as an Event Photographer, since the way I work means I sweat badly, which would stop me doing my job. So after a discussion with my team members, they dressed up while I remained in my corporate company dress code.


Please note some images of myself below, in the early days of my journey, as well as some images of a small sample of my Event Photography and behind the scene collages of my journey including props that were often used with a lot of fun.


Walter JamesWalter JamesWalter James Photography


Walter JamesWalter JamesWalter James Photography



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