Sammy Southall Photography – 20 Years in Business
On Monday the 21st September 1998 Sammy Southall Photography opened for business. On Monday 24th September 2018 we were 20 years old.
This all followed me having enjoyed a couple of years in retail (Thanks to Istead Audio Visual in Worcester) selling high-end audio equipment and cameras, whilst running a mobile disco company at the same time. Then 8 years as a professional DJ, 6 of those years working in Jersey and in large European Night Clubs.
Next, I served a full 16 years in my dream job at Radio Wyvern, on-air as the first breakfast DJ and then in most of the on-air daytime slots as well as being Head of Music and programming for many years. I enjoyed nearly all my time at Wyvern but come August 1998 it was time to move on and follow my next dream.
For years I had said, ” If I ever leave the radio I would love to be a full-time photographer ” and that’s just what I did. I left Wyvern Mid-August 1998 I immediately flew to Thailand for a 3-week break (with camera in hand) On my return I bought some lovely new cameras – Joined the Master Photographers Association and signed up for a “ How to start your own business” course run by Worcester Chamber of Commerce.
Having had some business cards printed I went about trying to get people in front of my lens. These were a challenging 6 months, my first success and saving grace was a promotion I signed up for being run by the MPA in association with the Sun and News of the World Newspapers. Families had to save up 7 coupons over the course of the week, 6 from “The Sun” and 1 from the old News of the world. This would entitle them to a free family portrait shoot and one 7” x 5” print.
I was one of the few photographers in Worcestershire and The West Midlands who offered the deal and amazingly over 60 families responded to the offer between then and Christmas. I was pretty overwhelmed and certainly learnt my trade fast – nearly everyone who came for their “ free “ family portrait bought extra prints or framed wall art – everything had been shot on real film – I then had slides made of the film and would project the slides for people to see and buy their images. Most people spent around £100 to £150, one family from Stourport spent over £500 and the business was up and running.
We went on to diversify into Wedding Photography, (we covered 398 weddings before giving them up and getting our weekends back in 2011) Makeover and Boudoir Photography, Pet Photography and a little product and commercial photography along the way.
We soon joined a national group of photographers “The Click and Fresh Group” and are still with them – they ran national portrait and makeover promotions in Magazines and Newspapers, partnered with big brands to offer low cost or free portrait sessions and went on to be a major player in the gift experience market such as Red Letter Days. Today we are a buzzy & busy little studio with lots of work from our websites and from portrait experience vouchers.
In the last 20 years, we (My wife Jane joined me in the company in 2006) have shot well over 3,500 Family Portrait, Makeover and Boudoir photography shoots and have enjoyed this time immensely.
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has trusted us with their photography over the last 20 years.
Love from Sam & Jane