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Interview with Colin of CIA Photography
1. Tell us the background to establishing CIA Photography
It all started over seven years ago, working full time with Polaroid in research and Design and part time with another photographer at weekends. I built up my skills and started shooting some weddings as an assistant and then to actual ones on my own. When I was made redundant from Polaroid it really was a logical step, and one I have never regretted.
2. Who are the people involved in CIA Photography?
Well, Colin Allison to start! It really is a family run business, with a little bit of support from everyone. I am chiefly involved with the client meetings and actual photography. I have some amazing support in the from of Henry, Frank and Granville, and now we are a team of four photographers. My father does a huge amount of work, including hand assembling albums, logistics (postage really!) but we do prefer the personal touch of hand delivery where possible. My wife seems to have taken over the role of media and advertising and my poor mother deals with the accounts. Throw in a lovely four year old daughter who wont put her Vtech camera down and it is easy to see why we are a family outfit!
3. What makes CIA Photography different from your competitors?
Some core beliefs that a lot of photographers seem to ignore. Quality is fundamental to my business beliefs. For our wedding couples this means :
- fantastic coverage with no set hours,
- unlimited photographs,
- no proof marks,
- CD of all images fully processed and corrected
- Stunning Italian Storybooks (with our own wee twist!)
But more so, I offer a great day for not just the couple but the guests too. I love having guests snap a picture that I have setup, it make them feel part of the day. This has always been a complaint about the “traditional” wedding photographers, not allowing guests to take photographs. I also find that if they are included for family shots when it comes to the bridal pictures, they give you a little bit of respect to work your magic, and everyone ends up with a great day and great shots!
4. What have been the main achievements and challenges since establishing CIA Photography?
One of the worst is entering in with no real knowledge of how to run a business. Advertising was a major issue, costing so much but wrongly targetted. If you do not have a mentor then it really is a trial and error task. Thankfully, we quickly learned and had some great assistance from experienced professionals and it seems to be working! Better still, we are now helping other local business with similar challenges with our directory www.yourweddingatlochlomond.co.uk. It is different from others, as it is run purely to support the new and established wedding industry in and around Loch Lomond for free! We've also expanded into event management (wedding shows) through another business www.ciaevents.co.uk
5. Who or what inspires you?
The kind words from Bride and Grooms who are delighted with their albums or images. Better still are the recommendations from these couples who have enabled CIA Photography to continue growing year on year.
6. Do you cover solely weddings, or do you undertake other photography?
I have a full range including Portraiture, Boudoir, Commercial, Schools and anything that is a bit different! We have had some fantastic commercial customers (Like McGhees) to provide product launch shots of a new range of Curry Pies! You should have smelled the studio after that event!
We’ve also been regularly asked to photograph local wedding venues and have had our work featured in television adverts and magazines. We’ve photographed quite a few well known faces and undertaken some charity work.
7. Can you tell us about a memorable wedding you have shot?
Old cliché here but no weddings are the same, and no wedding I can think of was not memorable for some reason or event. That is the great thing about weddings, there are some many variables and different people that it never falls into an “ordinary day”.
8. Can you give our readers a price guide for your photography?
Yes, we offer an amazing range of products but here are our current favorites. A digital package from £395, or a stunning Italian storybook with an aluminum cover, 30 pages and CD/proofs for £650. Or to cover everything an Italian Storybook with 50 pages, CD/Proofs/ two parents books for £1000. In today’s climate we have a package for any budget, but at great quality.
9. What are your plans for the future?
CIA Photography continues to grow - we have so many bookings that I've had to expand my team to three photographers. I have started personally developing my skills as well, I now have a mentor and I am keenly working towards my BIPP and SWPP qualifications.
10. How can our readers get in touch with you?
Every way, find us on the web at www.ciaphotography.co.uk, Facebook - CIA Photography, Twitter @cia_photography or good old fashioned phone on 01389 605173