Say Cheese! A day in the life with Nick Cole

Business Storytelling Photography
Nick Cole from Nick Cole Photography editing client photos

Nick was recently interviewed about his business and was asked about a typical day.

How do you start your day Nick?

Coffee is definitely my guilty pleasure to start the day! I’ll grab a strong black coffee alongside a healthy breakfast as I have to fuel my body correctly for the day ahead. Once breakfast is over, no two days are the same.

And then how does your business day go from there?

My business day usually begins the night before, depending on what’s planned in the diary.

If I have a shoot arranged then I need everything packed and ready to go. This includes the camera, back up batteries, lenses, memory cards, lights, stands and soft boxes.

It’s a compact set up that fits in the back of the car and gives me the flexibility to photograph on location.

There’s also the most important thing – the shoot planner which is my checklist. I will have it put together well before the shoot, working alongside the client to get everything in place. On the whole the shoot planner doesn’t change much, however I like to allow some flexibility on all shoots. Being able to react to opportune moments is an essential part of the creative process.

Is it not as simple as saying cheese and clicking the button?

If only it was that simple!

Many of us get used to taking OK photos on our phones these days, but creating photography for a commercial brief is very different.

We can’t afford to just get lucky with the photos we take, we’re creating images to meet a client’s brief, so we need to be confident we’re able to deliver to their expectations.

There’s a lot to consider before you even think about getting the camera out and clicking the shutter button, let alone the edit afterwards.

A great example would be a recent shoot at a vets practice. The photo shoot was with local business, Chalkland Vets. I’ve worked with Chalkland Vets a couple of times before and I know the team and their brand pretty well now. It’s a friendly, well-run, fast paced environment. There’s pet owners with their animals waiting in reception, vets heading off to surgery, receptionists taking calls and animals in all shapes and sizes all over the place!

Alongside that I need to meet the people I’ll be photographing.  The equipment needs to be set up, the camera settings checked, the lighting adjusted and then we can get on with the shoot.

At Chalkland Vets some of the consulting rooms are quite small. So I need to think about creating enough space for the lighting, choosing the right lens for the space, and also making sure the lens captures the scene as I’ve visualised it.

The equipment is important, but once I’ve started to photograph I use techniques to help my clients forget the kit is there. I need to be confident the equipment will work, so I can focus on building a rapport as I guide them through the shoot.

How long does a shoot take?

I mainly work with clients on a package basis – where the focus is delivering the outcome that meets their brief. The time spent on the shoot is only one component to factor in.

We’ve already spent a lot of time beforehand planning and preparing for the shoot, so we’re all clear and can refer to the shoot planner on the day.

In many ways the shoot itself is the least time consuming element. A shoot can vary from 2 hours to 8 hours in the day, it really depends on the shoot requirements.

I recently did a headshot project, with over 100 staff to be photographed. This might sound easy, but a shoot like this requires a huge amount of planning with the company involved to make ensure everything runs smoothly.

What challenges and opportunities do you face?

Challenges are often related to weather or the light. In the UK the weather can be unpredictable, if we’re outdoors we need to consider back up plans too.

Recently I took a group shot of 100 people for an IT firm. It was November and cold outside. The forecast was meant to be clear, but on the day we had heavy fog. There wasn’t any space to photograph 100 people indoors so we set the shot up beforehand, added some artificial lighting and took the shot quickly before the lens misted up and everyone started shivering! Working efficiently and drawing on my experience is essential in these situations.

Occasionally the challenge is actually getting the perfect shot. Much of my work revolves around people, be that business owners, team members or even animals. Some people can freeze when they see the camera, so I have to carefully guide them, a skill I have honed over the years.

How do you get time to edit in your day?

Based on workload, the studio will be handling a number of jobs, and for the majority of our larger clients I will be editing the images.

Each image needs to be considered and a decision made whether it stays or is cut from the final set. With some shoots there can be more than 500 photos, so choosing the final selection is a critical part of the process.

Many people think the edit is easy and you can easily photoshop images. Most of the editing work is done in Lightroom and Photoshop is only used for more complex edits.

If I have done my job right then the image will be pretty close out of camera, and my editing will focus on local exposure adjustments (known as dodging and burning), colour grading and cropping to enhance the final image.

One of the final steps in the edit is preparing the image for its planned use. Preparing an image that’s intended for print is very different to one that will be used on a website.

On a typical day, I could easily be on a shoot in the morning and editing in the afternoon or evening. I like to make a start on the images while the shoot is still fresh and find this helps me visualise the final look of the photos.

How does your working day finish?

When I’m photographing I like to take a quick look at the images and get a feel for the shoot. Once it’s  done I’ll move on to the preparation for the next day. Staying organised is essential when there are so many moving parts to keep a handle on.

People who know me and my background know I’m detail orientated and that comes through in my planning. I like to know I’m prepared and ready for anything that could happen, it just comes from experience.

What about after work, what does life look like?

Photography is my business, but I still love the opportunity to take a few photos on holiday. It’s relaxed and I’m not working to a client brief, so I can experiment a little.

I’m a business photographer and have never been drawn to landscapes. People fascinate me, so it is not unusual to see me capturing an old fisherman fixing his nets on the Cornish coast – that picture really does tell a story.

Cooking from scratch helps me relax, and I love preparing Indian and south east Asian food, which stems back to a year I spent travelling around Asia in my 20’s.

Outside of that walks in the mountains, time with friends and family, and getting out on my bike in the countryside are great times.

Are you ready to elevate your business storytelling photography?

Book a complimentary consultation call with Nick at a time that suits you.

Montage with three images showing Nick Cole Photography working behind the scenes