Nicholas "Nico" Goodden is a London based urban photographer and cinemagraph maker. His work has been featured in publications such as the Huffington Post, The Phoblographer, World Photo Org. He has a strong focus and understanding of social media and was featured twice in the past two years in global social influencers lists. Nico regularly works with top brands on projects covering stills photography but also creating micro video content for social media.
How did you get in to photography?
Like most people I have always loved taking photos, back when it was film only and then transitioning into the digital age, but it was nothing too serious. I guess a certain set of circumstances got me to buy a more advanced camera and I started looking at my photos more closely asking myself each time how I could take a better photo the next time. One day you realise youíve made it a serious hobby.
Did you have a photography education or are you self-taught?
I am self-taught, although itís not as black and white as that. Anyone today claiming to be self-taught has somehow read articles online, thatís a form of education.
What type of work do you do and how do your clients use your work?
I create a lot of content for social media for brands. I shoot urban/street photography mostly for pleasure. I am the founder editor of the Street Photography London collective and blog www.streetphotographylondon.co.uk I recently was commissioned by Match.com to create a series of street portraits of Londoners to be used on their Instagram. Otherwise, most of my clients commission me for micro video content. I produce cinemagraphs, timelapse and lots of short video loops for social media. They grab attention fast and create more engagement than their still counterpart. I have created cinemagraphs for clients including Adidas, Sky Sports, Campo Viejo Wines and Peugeot.
Cinemagraphs are big in your work at the moment. How did you get in to these?
I love being creative. Some people are happy being a wedding photographer all their life and thatís something I respect, just not something for me. I am a trained chef, I was a techno (vinyl) DJ for 10 years, I dabbled with some stone sculptureÖ I love to experiment, lifeís too short. So going back to your question, I thought creating London cinemagraphs was a natural progression/addition to my photography without having to cross over to shooting videos.
Your web page talks about seeing these as a novelty that will eventually wear out. How are you keeping ahead of the game?
Itís a simple fact that anything new is always at its most interesting when it appears. Cinemagraphs are a powerful medium in their very own right but like any medium, some people create pretty average stuff. Once the novelty wears out, only the best will stand out. Thatís why I work hard at keeping as you sayÖ ahead of the game. That means thinking as a photographer first. Itís no point making a cinemagraph if the only interest is a bit of movement. Instead if you create an outstanding composition, tell a story, mix with exciting techniques such as adding timelapse in themÖ then you stand out. Thatís why top brands want to work with me on their micro video content, as I deliver pretty fresh stuff which stands out and brings their brands to life.
Do you do any pure photography commercial work?
Yes lots. When you run a photography business you have to make sure you donít put all your eggs in one basket and offer clients a range of services. I shot stills for Match.com, Street Feast, British Fashion Awards 2013, Olympus, etcÖ My street work is appealing to brands as I shoot real life, real people. People want to relate to a brandís message, itís more easily achieved with my style of photography than heavily photoshopped images which we all know link in no way to real life.
You also write articles. How does being a writer fit with your overall portfolio of commercial skills?
I like to share my experience/journey with other photographers, so my articles I hope can help others. For example one of my more recent blog posts was about running a successful photography business. On the other hand it also can give my clients an insight into my process and my values, hopefully offering added assurance that Iím the guy they should work with. If you donít write nowadays and expect to market your work by the quality of your photos only, youíll struggle.
Do you see video as a threat to photography or just another opportunity for the flexible photographer?
Video is big, thereís no denying it. But itís different and as you say, if photographers become a little more flexible theyíll thriveÖ if they stay stuck in their old ways, itís not going to appeal so much to clients.
You have a huge following on social media. How does this fit in to your business marketing?
Itís crucial. I focus on social for many reasons. I can share valuable info on photography with others keen to learn. It helps me network and I actually get to meet a lot of people I meet on social networks. And of course itís a great way to show your work to the world. 50% of my following is UK based and it should be since itís my market.
What do you think has given you an edge to achieve your success running a business?
I was lucky to have worked in luxury hospitality from a very young age, I left home at the age of 14. So by the time I started photography at the age of 30 I had already 16 years experience working in customer relations and sales and marketing. I know how to look after my clients I guess and how to market myself.
What do you think are the challenges for people looking to start a career in photography right now?
Be prepared to work hard. If you really love it, it wonít feel like work. Thereís no secret, running a photography business means youíll not only need to create top work again and again but also have to become great at marketing, sales, customer service, accounts, Seo (Search Engine Optimisation), web developmentÖ all the essential parts of your business. Whilst some sit on their sofa waiting for clients, I never stop creating new exciting work.
What was the best bit of career advice you were given?
Mistakes happen, itís what you learn from them that matters.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone on the bottom of the photography career ladder?
Be your worse critic. Donít expect people on Facebook or Instagram to say your work is rubbish as theyíll mostly only say itís ďawesomeĒ.
Only you can truly look at your work and think ďhow can I make it better next time?Ē Keep doing that and youíll produce work thatís better and better which people will eventually want to hire you for.
All images are © Nicholas Goodden and used with permission.
Nicholas' website: www.nicholasgooddenphotography.co.uk
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