What is your DWF Username? LukeGow

What is your Full Name? Luke Thornton Gow

What is your business Location? Our main gallery is based in Newcastle, just a short reach from the Hunter Valley, in NSW Australia. We also have two “creative outposts” in Sydney and Perth.

What is your website URL? www.somethingbluephotography.com.au

What’s your facebook page URL? www.facebook.com/somethingblueau

Was there life before photography or has this been a lifelong passion for you?
I was raised with the smell of Developer, my Dad being a darkroom printer, and my Mum a hand-colourer. Growing up, there was always a camera nearby.

When it came time to choose a career though, I was far more interested in nerdy endeavours, and went down an Electronics/I.T. route. Ironically, after completing my trade, I ended up working with a wonderful company specialising in large format photographic printers. I rode the wave of the early days of colour profiling, and was able to share my knowledge with some awesome artists and photographers who were kind enough to let me pick their brains in return. My photography improved and evolved, and I remain ever thankful to those people.

How did you become a professional photographer?
I found the passion of the artists I had worked with inspiring. They considered their work as their legacy. I questioned what my own legacy might be and reassessed if I was still passionate about electronics, or whether my passion instead lay with meeting genuinely interesting and positive people. After some soul searching, I set about transitioning to more creative pursuits… by the end of the first year, I was happy and poor simultaneously.

What’s been your biggest business challenge? How have you faced that challenge?
I think the biggest ongoing challenge that faces all businesses is making sure they stay profitable. At the end of the day, if the business is not self sustaining, then neither is the ability to produce beautiful and satisfying work.

Initially, in version one of my business, Luke Gow Photography, I did everything myself.I was chief, cook and bottle wash. It was a constant balancing act, and in busy times it was reflected in either the level of service I could provide, or in the profits.

With the self imposed brief of producing high quality work, providing unsurpassed service at every step, and making the business sustainable, the way forward was clear. I needed to stick to what I was good at, and employ others who were experts at the bits that I wasn’t.

This cued a full rebrand of my business when we relaunched as Something Blue Photography & Cinematography.

Today, we have learnt the value of specialising, and only shoot weddings. We employ eleven people including, photographers, cinematographers, a gallery manager, a retoucher, an album designer, and a book binder. My role in the business has changed substantially, but I love the challenge, and still get to spend a substantial amount of time looking through a viewfinder.

What’s the most effective way you’ve found to market/advertise your studio?
Perhaps predictably the most effective marketing is always word-of-mouth. People always love to share when they had a great experience… and best of all it’s free.

With advertising spends though, it’s essential that you track the results constantly.

In our business, over the last 12 months, print advertising (bridal magazine) costs have increased substantially, and yet yield far less results than they ever have previously. Not surprisingly, clients finding us through the web and social networking is markedly up.

If we needed a photographer today why would we book you? What makes you unique?:
We are experts at everything we do.

Our Gallery Manager, Valentina, started out as a “Something Blue Bride”. She’s a delight to be around and understands the process from both sides of the fence. Our clients appreciate her expertise.

Our dedicated pro-retoucher wields a Wacom like a weapon, and takes the work to exciting new levels, that would be uneconomical for a photographer to replicate.

Our album designer is a guru ! Her album layout just won us the 2012 Wedding Photobook of the Year in the highly contested Momento Pro awards.

Our bookbinder ensures that our albums are like no others and is forever discovering beautiful new paperstocks and endpapers that amaze our clients.

Our cinematographers are not photographers dabbling in the world of moving pictures. They are all extensively trained in the art of cinematography and ooze a real passion for their craft.

And finally, our photographers are awesome ! They all shoot candidly, but make the work their own by being given the reigns to explore their own style. When you can match a client to a specific photographer in terms of both personality and style, everybody wins.

A happy aside of working with multiple photographers can also be better availabilities for couples and ultimately scope for more bookings. It also builds in a level of insurance should someone get sick (or break a leg, as our photographer Bridget did earlier this year when playing netball.)

What is the one item used in your shooting or editing workflow you can’t live without?
My team.

What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

Recognise that you can learn as much from the dud images as you can from the awesome ones.

How do you use the DWF and what has it done for your business?*

Being time poor, I don’t get to actually post on DWF anywhere near as often as I would like to, but I also remain hopeful that I can change that this year. I genuinely believe that by viewing the threads daily, my finger stays on the pulse of the industry.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would have a sidekick called Strong Caffeinated Beverage Man who would supply with unending coffee.

Despite having this sidekick however, my super power would be able to handhold 1/15th of a second without shake.

Want to know more about Luke Gow? Check him out here, or jump on the forum with a free trial here!

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