Well, that’s what Richard Branson says. He wants to help build a new breed of entrepreneurs who want to do more to help people. So rather than just keep pushing in one direction I want my business to develop. To do this successfully, how I operate as a small business owner has to come from the heart. I have to believe it. So I had to identify my core values – my code to work by.
Following on from the thought “ people buy from people “ … and in my attempt to give you an insight into Cai Graham – the person … I felt that telling you about the following exercise would give you a glimpse into … um – me.
In the task to get my business on track and to target to the right market ( blimey it all sounds to calculated ) I was given a list of potential core values ( see below ) and was asked to highlight the ones that mattered most to me.
Politics, Knowledge, Relationships, Simplicity, Training, Family, Effectiveness, Status, Integrity, Money, Quality, Security, Faith, Customer Satisfaction, Fame, Respect, Recognition, Consistency, Value, Trust, Excellence, Tradition, Innovation, Fun, Precision, Balance, Power, Honesty, Loyalty, Service, Improvement, Courage, Charity, Learning, Empathy*
* Those that I have underlined were the words that stood out to me.
A lot of these words do have significant importance in any given situation. But to label them as a core value was quite tricky. From this initial selection I was then asked to narrow down the values and this exercise was repeated a number of times.
I was finally left with a list of the 5 most relevant words that reflected my approach on a daily basis and therefore the way that I would run my business.
My final five were : Integrity, Empathy, Fun, Family and Trust.
INTEGRITY : for me, means doing right by others. My Granny always said, “Do as you would be done by.” I desperately try to adhere to this piece of advice on a daily basis. I try to treat people kindly, aiming to be honest and transparent in all my dealings with anyone both personally and professionally. People respond to this openness. Acting with integrity builds trust, and this in turn builds relationships.
It’s important to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before making a judgement. We don’t always get the most rational client or supplier, colleague or friend – but we have to remember that there could be alot going on their world at the minute. If I can make their day a little bit better – then surely that’s a good thing – right ?
EMPATHY : as I understand it, means agreeing or relating to the feelings another person has regarding a given situation or individual.
It’s not easy to have your photo taken – I appreciate that. But to fully empathise I have made sure I regularly get in front of the camera. I have recently arranged a Boudoir shoot for myself – this is totally out of my comfort zone. But for me to photograph boudoir sessions effectively and sensitively I need to have experienced the emotions that many of my boudoir clients say they experience. Those of nervousness, anticipation, low self-esteem ( in many cases ) and excitement.
I am a Mum, I know what it’s like having kids. We have a rollercoaster of emotions from : ”It’s Time To Grow Up Now” to “Please Please Don’t Grow Up So Fast.” So I know the importance of capturing the photos of a new baby, and of recording the milestone moments of our little ones growing up. More recently, I also understand the feelings of sadness and nostalgia when our teenagers spread their wings and leave home for the first time. These emotions are true and have to be captured in our photographs.
I was a bride ( a long time ago ). I know the stress and the anticipation involved in preparing for ( as some brides view it ) potentially the biggest day of their lives so far. I have to understand how crucial it is that the invitations are in the right font size and that the napkins are the right colour. So much preparation has gone into creating this fabulous day. Also, being sensitive to the fluctuating emotions of the day, those of happiness and uncertainty – including the fact that the bride’s family could be at loggerheads and the groom’s maiden aunt is partial to the odd sweet sherry. It all matters.
FUN : I have to inject FUN into all of my shoots. For me, the portrait sessions are all about the Cai Graham Photography ‘Experience’. I want people going away having had a great day and feeling good about themselves. Looking forward to receiving their photos – knowing that they have had a great time and that I brought out the best in them. And with FUN comes relationship building.
That’s why – my shoots are not strictly limited to an hour. I like to spend time chatting over a coffee and understanding what the client wants and what makes them tick. Whether I am giving the children time to get used to me – little ones don’t like strangers in their house and bigger ones – lets face it cannot be bothered. Or when I am giving the Boudoir clients time to relax by having their makeup applied professionally. Everyone should feel special before, during and after my shoot.
Corporate clients are often pushed for time – but I also feel that spending a little extra time getting to know them helps them to feel more at ease. This will be reflected in the images which are likely to be used on websites and marketing material. I think that it’s so important for the professional to be able to say – “Yes – this looks like me – but it also shows who I am.”
In fairness this list of might change ever so slightly, from time to time depending on the circumstances.But there are two core values that are unwavering for me.
Notably FAMILY and TRUST.
FAMILY : for me is non-negotiable. My family is my bedrock. They are my driving force and my soul. The only thing that matters to me above all else is the health and happiness of my family.
This is my "Motley Crew"
TRUST : requires a little more explanation. I feel that TRUST actually encompasses many of the words included on the list above. From trust comes honesty and loyalty, and, I believe that without trust you have no respect and integrity.
“Without trust – there is nothing.” ~~ Anonymous
For further information, to make an appointment for your photography consultation or to check on current availability, please feel free to contact Cai Graham Photography using the Get in touch page.