What Bookish Photography Taught Me About Business.


There is a Different Way to do Business

A really odd thing happened the other day, which really got me thinking about how we do business. Bronte had written a blog post and in it she had mentioned our business Bookish Photography and several publishers she has worked with. Someone left her a comment suggesting she was over exaggerating , saying maybe she had taken a few photos for publishers but not the amount she was suggesting because if she had, wouldn’t she be telling the world about it?  My first thought was about how the patriarchy tries to bring down young girls who try to succeed – it was a male who left the comment. My second was a swear word and my third was wow, how interesting.

Instagram changed the way I think about business

For over a year I have hung out on Instagram and the pace of life, business, marketing and selling is so different. It’s gentler, slower and much more considered and it has changed me. If I go to Twitter now I only spend a few minutes because it just feels like people shouting at you about how wonderful they are, caring not that you are even a human. Facebook leaves me cold; here people still do the same as twitter but vaguely disguise it, which seems even more disingenuous.  I have become intolerant to all the internet marketing and content marketing; I just can’t take it anymore, it makes me skin crawl and I can smell it a mile off. So I stay on Instagram where I know I will see interesting, thoughtful content and I won’t be sold to in a creepy, underhand way. Nearly everything I have bought in the last year has come from a connection on Instagram. It is a different way of being in the world and one that the next generation are all for.

I understand the lure of internet marketing

But I understand why people get sucked into that content/internet marketing model I really do, even I did. For some it works, for some it doesn’t. But what I know is that you can’t sell business-to-person as you do business-to-business and most of these so called brilliant marketing models are created by people making money selling their stuff to other business. I’m not a person who hates the word selling or marketing, in fact I love them and when I want to be I am really good at them. However, what I am is someone who can no longer take being sold to, shouted at and treated as a lead, and if that is your gig then that is fine, I’m not saying you are wrong but I am saying please stay away from my front door.

There is another wave coming

But if like me this style leaves you a little icky, I’m here to say that there is another wave coming and there is another way to do this.

Bookish Photography

Let me tell you the story of Bookish Photography, which according to the comment on the blog we clearly must be exaggerating about as we don’t shout enough. It was one of those rare moments where something you love meets an opportunity . It started last April and to date we have taken over 1000 marketing photos for publishers and worked on over 60 projects with about 7 big publishers. We did the majority of this without a Facebook page, website, Twitter or Instagram account, in fact we had nothing. We have these things now but only for the last couple of months and pretty much none of our work comes through these channels. We grew by just doing the work, getting better at the work and grabbing every opportunity we could.

It started by speaking up

It started when Bronte was working for a publisher on work experience. At that point we had being running a Bookstagram account for about 5 months and it was growing and we were getting better and better at taking pictures, but it was just for fun. Whilst there, Bronte got mistaken for a photographer who was supposed to be taking a picture of some books. She told them she wasn’t the photographer but could take book photos. They didn’t quite believe her, but sent her home with a book to take a photo of. We did, she took them back and they were blown away. A conversation ensued, she showed them her Instagram account and she left with a freelance job to take their pictures. Books kept arriving and we kept taking pictures and we got better and better. A few months passed and we started getting e-mails from other publishers, which pretty much all went the same;

“I saw the work you did for xxx, could you do the same for us?”

Show your work

And that is how it grew and pretty much still grows; people see our work, love it and want one of their own. We were too busy to shout about it or start a webpage and I remember some weeks where the queue of books waiting to have their picture taken was so high that we thought we would never get through them. Could we have grown quicker if we had created a strategy and reached out to more publishers? Probably. Could we have grown bigger if we had shouted louder and at the top of our voices? Maybe. But at any point did we want to? No we didn’t. May we one day? Who knows? There has been something special and organic about the way Bookish Photography has grown; it’s more like raising a child than growing a business. It has never felt difficult, never felt that we were pushing and never felt icky. We know what differentiates us; we grab every opportunity and we do the work. Maybe that is the new way of doing business, or at least I hope it is, because I for one just can’t tolerate the old way. Just because we believe it is the way to make money, or just because someone tells us that is the way, doesn’t mean it is. For every person who has grown their business that way successfully I can show you many more who have not.

There is another way. Oh and in case you are wondering, did I reply to that comment I mentioned in the beginning? Yes I did, I wrote something like what a curious way to look at life and people.

And if you need more inspiration, I highly recommend this book Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered