New Year’s Eve, 2019 – full of optimism, positivity and a bottle or so of prosecco. Each year begins the same way: “2020 is going to be amazing, better than the last!”
Little did we know…
January was cold, quiet, a bit slow, as January’s are; although we came into the year with plenty of projects to get stuck into, with lots more on the horizon. Moving into February and one by one – Brendan, Ciara, Dennis – arrive in the UK in storm form, belying their friendly-sounding names, and give us a taste of what 2020 might whip up for us. Although no-one knew what was in-store.
Once lockdown finally hit us in London, we had lost plenty of work across the events side of our business. We were actually due to leave our photography studio in London and go on a cruise to a number of cities, putting some high-end promotional videos together to advertise the onboard cuisine. As disappointed as we were, it wasn’t a huge shock. But one by one, all events dropped away. Our last distant memory outside of our photography studio in London was at International Women’s Day, and by that stage we were all giving elbow handshakes due to the threat of COVID-19.
In fact, our last big project squeezed in just days prior to lockdown.
We’ve all been in the same boat though, haven’t we? Whether you’re a photography studio in London or another business entirely, we’ve all lost work. Some of us have bounced back easier than some others, and some have had it so tough that they haven’t bounced back at all, which is heart-breaking. We had a pretty solid plan to look after our team and our finances throughout London’s lockdown, and largely it worked. We made a pact internally to be there for our team and our clients. We gave away a lot of free work to help clients advertise to the seemingly expanded online audience, and gradually the acknowledgement that you had to do more in order to stand out from your competitors saw us book in lots of new business for our photography studio in London across the board. Events aside now, bookings for food & drink, beauty & cosmetics, products and crowdfunding projects at our photography studio in London went through the roof. As soon as we were responsibly able to we were able to start working our way back up the gears.
Our planning then changed from the survival of our business and our photography studio in London, to recovery, and with the ever-increasing demand for both our video production and photography services, recovery turned to growth. In a very short space of time, we had created a new staff position and hired Kelly to the team at our photography studio in London – which then left us with one big decision. Do we take on a new property and move out of our current photography studio in London, or continue to work remotely? Working remotely is always a mixed bag, as more people than ever can now attest to. Part of the problem for us is that we have kit to store, we need room for lighting and cameras, and there’s no way to replicate the camaraderie that you get from working in the same space if you’re all in different places. There are some huge benefits to home-based working, and we’ve always encouraged taking days to work from home when people want them, but longer term we need a home. To be a photography studio in London, you still need a photography studio in London!
After viewing a few spaces, the building that we took on for our new photography studio in London Waterloo stood head and shoulders above all options. It needed some work, but we wanted to put our own stamp on it anyway. We’ve added a kitchen, plenty of colour, plants and nice furniture. It’s not often you can find this much space in London to live from, so we’ve all enjoyed making our mark and contributing to the design and layout.
The reception area has been turned into a kitchen and breakout space, with a breakfast bar, storage and oven to accommodate food shoots and recipe video and photography work. The breakfast bar looks directly into the studio shooting space as well, but it’s perfect for a chat over a coffee or just some time out to breathe.
At our new photography studio in London the shooting space itself is large, with huge windows down one end which catch the light beautifully for anyone wanting to shoot with natural light, although we’ve also put blackout blinds in too so that we can offer full control when we need it. Room for extra tables to hold props or products, clothing rails for fashion shoots; the flexibility of the design of the space at our new photography studio in London Waterloo is great. We’re now putting Colorama backgrounds in too, so clients will be able to order in background colours for full length video recording and photography.
The big meeting table at the other end of the studio is earmarked as a shared space at our photography studio in London – for those who are shooting, editing, project planning to be able to have a nice open place to sit and chat, or hold meetings when needed without needing to leave the photography studio in London where their project is taking shape. This also makes the overall space very suitable for events and meetings, which we’re keen to be able to hire out when COVID restrictions allow.
On the topic of COVID, we were very mindful of putting in paper towels rather than reused hand towels, sanitiser is placed in every room, and we’ve made sure that ventilation is good too. Everything gets regularly cleaned down, and we’re being as respectful of our responsibilities to the wider issue as we can – so we’re confident that our new photography studio in London is as COVID-secure as the old one was.
The beauty of our space as a whole is that as well as our new photography studio in London we also have a second ‘wing’ where we do all of our administration and video editing. In part of this side of the building we also have two separate rooms: the Lab and the Snug. The Snug is the slightly larger of the two and is earmarked for meetings, although while we’re busy this has doubled up nicely as a third shooting space as well as somewhere dedicated to organising products and props. The Lab allows us to offer product shooting space without needing to add a studio hire fee. This space gives us that important continuation of service for our smaller clients or those on tricky budgets who may have projects that don’t require a full studio but where we would still need lighting control. Previously, we’ve visited clients directly, or shot in living rooms and kitchens to help avoid additional studio fees. This helps us to keep those huge benefits for a large portion of our client base. It also means that we don’t immediately have to alienate those who do have limited abilities to spend from being able to work with us. For me personally, this is crucially important.
Another important note worth making is that moving to our great new photography studio in London does not signify an increase in our pricing, and in many ways we’re actually saving our clients money as we’re able to offer our studio fees at a cheaper rate than comparative spaces in London.
What the move to a new photography studio in London Waterloo does for us as a company is boost our ability to take on bigger projects with greater flexibility and to offer more. The visual quality along with our quality of service for both our photography and video production work will increase. For our team, this is a huge statement of intent as much as it is for our clients. What we’re now able to deliver to our small team who have stood by us throughout our growth is a wonderful workspace with all the facilities a professional photography studio in London needs, somewhere that people want to arrive in the morning, and inspiring enough to work in.
In the current unease and uncertainty that COVID has caused and continues to loom over us, many would say we’re crazy to add to our overheads at this time. Quite the opposite – this space gives us grounding, safety and our own little bubble that we can do everything better within.
Steven Mayatt, Creative Director
“Fun, innovative and unflappable. Pocket Creatives are great to work with – whether it’s finding the perfect lighting for trifle to capturing GoPro footage on a whisk, they always approach every situation with a steady yet game-changing attitude. I see the whole team as trusted creative partners to make great content together.”
Kitty Aldis, River Group
“I have been working with Steven and the brilliant Pocket Creatives crew for 3 years – in fact since they started out. They have captured in excess of 100 recipes, produced 7 videos including 2 crowdfunding campaigns, their work, professionalism, and commitment to client satisfaction second to none. What’s more is how they have developed, evolved and grown in creativity, experience, and inspiration.
On a personal front the individuals in the team have to most wonderful personalities – an absolute joy to work with!”
Tanya Robertson-Lambert, Tanya’s Just Real
“I worked with Steven and his Pocket Creatives team to create a recipe video, and I couldn’t recommend their services enough! From the ideation stage, through to filming and editing the finished product, at every stage, the whole team were first-class, going above and beyond to create a compelling, high-quality recipe video that generated heaps of engagement. I would definitely work them again.”
Ben Cullen, OLIO