All change at Lovegrove ~ News

May 26, 2020 | News | 8 comments

All Mapped Out

It was just after Christmas that I hatched a plan to restructure my operation, rebuild or replace all of my websites and set up the replacements for a 4 year and 5-month run.

I have the opportunity to ‘retire’ on this day in 2024 and although I’ll definitely still be shooting personal projects and travelling. I will decide at that point if I want to continue running the workshops and adventures.

I have had several business consultants over the years and they have always emphasised the endgame. “Start with the end in mind.” “Work towards your exit strategy.” “Know where you are going so you can get there efficiently and on time.” I’ve taken that advice on board and I now have a plan. A strategy and the means to make it happen. My current business coach is Julie Christie of TIB and is highly recommended.

So, don’t panic. You have at least 4 years of fabulous Lovegrove workshops and road trip adventures to look forward to and I’d love to share these experiences with you.

I have ‘retired’ before from Broadcasting and twelve years later from Wedding Photography. Big changes are exciting.

Merge and Simplify

It was back in September 2015 that my websites last got revamped: prophotonut.com, passionphotographyexperience.com, lovegroveshop.com, lovegroveportraits.com, lovegrovephotography.com, leather-portfolios.com and lovegrove.lighting. Some sites have gone already, some will survive as stand alone websites and some will merge.

I currently have lovegroveadventures.com as my key website with prophotonut.com on the wings sharing the menus and styling. These two will merge at some point so that they share the same URL. That will be stage two. I have also recently added scatterflash.com to my portfolio.

lovegroveweddings.com went as soon as we retired from wedding photography. Lovegrovephotography.com became an online portfolio featuring over 1000 photographs from my personal collection once I had retired from photographing portrait clients too. This body of work has attracted a steady stream of visitors and I’m creating new galleries on lovegroveadventures.com to take over that role. The new galleries will look like this. Navigate through the shots using the arrow keys or click and drag. You will see retina ready pictures plus a caption and exif data for each shot. Every photograph has its own URL too so it’s perfect for SEO apparently.

The new Lovegrove Logos

The new branding for Lovegrove Adventures and Scatterflash. The minimalist custom designs are by Luke Knight. I’ve always steered clear of beige in my life but I think it is quite calming here. I’m the sort of person that knows straight away if I like something and Luke is a great designer in tune with my ideas.

Website Systems, Themes and Editors

I started my research for the ideal website platform when I needed a one page website for scatterflash.com. I knew its function would be to sell, educate and inform photographers about Scatterflash. I was being bombarded with adverts for Squarespace and Wix at the time but after a lot of research, I decided against both of those platforms in favour of lesser known Shopify. I was glad with my decision. The site came together in about a day and it works really well without much maintenance. The E-commerce system is fabulous and knock spots off Woo Commerce for shipping rates, inventory management and fulfilment etc.

lovegroveadventures.com was initially built on the Napoli theme and used WPBakery Page Builder. I really couldn’t get on with it and it was that combination that forced me to make all of these changes. I hadn’t blogged for 6 months because of the terrible editor interface. I don’t do coding and I don’t like having to refresh a preview in another window in order to check each and every change that I make. What I need is a true WYSIWYG editor.

 

I was envious of some Square Space users but I knew I needed the flexibility of WordPress. My vision for the custom gallery and lightbox was key to everything. I had a plugin re coded to give me exactly the look that I wanted. It was effectively the best bits of two plugins merged into one. With this in mind I researched editors and themes and finally decided on DIVI for both. It took a bit of learning but now I can get creative without the need to geek out.

I think my favourite plugin is Slider Revolution 6. It was quite a steep learning curve for me but it is so professional. It’s a bit like Final Cut Pro or Photoshop; daunting at first but very capable.

The final cog to get sorted out was a hosting company. Bluehost proved to be incompetent on every level and I needed to switch quickly to a decent hosting provider to get my sites back up and running. I went with Skystra in the end and wow! those guys know how to look after a client and how to provide a decent service. 10/10

Workshops and Adventures

With all the changes that have been going on I’ve kept my focus on workshops and adventures. These make up the most exciting part of my life and they keep my enthusiasm for photography at the forefront. What I’ve managed to do for 2020 is to reschedule all my events into the last part of the year.

They start with this super trip to Fuerteventura in September with Terez as our model. Spain has said it will open for business on the 1st of July so we should be fine to go by September. If you have not been on one of my workshops then this is a great starter event. I have three places left.

The jewel in the Lovegrove workshop series is undoubtedly the annual trip to Tuscany. This year we will be there from the 7th to the 12th of September. Checkout our fabulous villa here.

Tuscany workshop

Finally for 2020 I have my workshop in Venice. This is scheduled for 8th to the 10th of October and I’m fully expecting the city to be quiet. Venice will be amazing without the cruise ships tourists flooding in. I can’t wait! We’ll be shooting with flash creating magazine grade fashion images over the three days.

Venice workshop

2021 plans

2021 is going to be a full on year of workshops for me. I will start them off with an epic road trip in California called Deserts & Gold Dust I’ll be there in October this year finalising the route as we wind through Death Valley and locations including Mono Lake. We’ll be shooting in the old gold mining ghost towns and capturing the stars at night too.

After my USA adventure will come a road trip exploring the Iberian Peninsular. We’ll do a circular route starting and ending in Madrid taking in the most spectacular locations that I’ve found in Spain and Portugal over the years.

Italy will feature too as always and I fully expect to be running a Tuscany workshop plus maybe an event in the south taking in Matera.

I aim to publish my full schedule by November this year so sign up for our Newsletter here to receive news and updates as they happen.

Where do you want me to run workshops? Use the comments section below to let me know where I should go next. I’m always open to new ideas. Leave me a comment, question or suggestion below.

8 Comments

  1. Mike

    What plug in are you using for your new galleries?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Mike,

      I’ve had it custom coded using a Modula base and the styling has been written for me so I can use exif and captions in a unique way.

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply
  2. Mike Rooke

    Good luck Damien – there are moments in life when we feel the need to sum things up, to take stock of ourselves, of our victories and disappointments. To check if our aspirations remain the same, or in which ways they have changed.

    Sounds like you’ve got there. You’ll leave a big gap. Four years, eh? That time will fly by. My betting is you’ll make the changes quicker than you think.

    I’ll buy your first new book!

    Best wishes – Mike

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Mike,

      You are spot on. I’m so excited for this season to start for real in August. Once it starts I won’t have time to think :)) I’ll be going from Belgium to Switzerland, then Spain and Fuerteventura. Then Tuscany, Venice. Then I’ll be on a USA road trip through the deserts of Nevada and California and finally New York in November.

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Best regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  3. Michael Thornton

    Hi Damien,
    You are far too young to retire, you will resent the boredom.
    The overseas trips are the ideal solution to keep up your interests in photography and enjoying life.
    If the trips were not so expensive I would love to join you. I normally book photographic working holidays myself in city centres to keep the cost down as revenue from Stock libraries is much lower these days, it hardly covers the cost involved.

    As for new places for you, Iceland is a fantastic location, I have been twice, May/June is a good time before the hoards arrive. Both times I have hired a car and travelled around the whole island, its easy to find super locations.

    If you are interested, I have some pictures on my website – michaelthornton.printscapes.com – just choose a Gallery and browse

    Best regards
    Michael

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Michael,

      When I say ‘retire’, I mean stop running workshops and move on to new things. I would love to shoot for myself without having to earn an income from it. To create bodies of work that can hang in a gallery or shoot more books.

      I’ll never accept boredom in my life. So there are no worries there ;) I’ve already ‘retired’ from wedding photography and broadcasting so I’m quite used to moving on.

      I do love shooting workshops though because the pressure is certainly on to deliver and the planning has to be top-notch. This combination usually yields excellent results.

      It will be a gentle transition into the world of personal projects and 1:1 tuition.

      I remember back in 2010 when Julie and I retired from shooting weddings on number 400. People thought we were mad because it was such a cash cow. Looking back on those times now I can confirm it was a perfect decision for us and at the right time too.

      Quit and move on while on a peak is my aim and I’m guessing that will be in about four years, maybe a bit longer, but at least I’ll have some options then.

      Perhaps five years after that I’ll be known as a photographer who publishes books and has exhibitions etc. Rather than the educator who runs workshops teaching lighting.

      My photographic journey is in its 5th Stage right now and there are many more to come for sure :)

      Kindest regards,

      Damien

      Reply
  4. Chris Elliott

    Have you reached your peak? If not carry on! Chris elliott

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks, Chris.

      You are spot on. I’m still on a learning curve with photography and have a lot more to offer my workshop clients for sure. I’ve not reached my peak yet :)

      A lot of people in this world retire from work to concentrate on their hobbies. As my work embraces my one main hobby, photography it’s a little bit different for me. At least in 4 years time, I will be in the fortunate position to have choices.

      I’ll always be taking photographs, that’s for sure. I have a book that I want to make called TANGO. It will be shot on location in Argentina and I’m guessing it will need a couple of months to shoot. This is the kind of project that I want to be able to fit into my schedule.

      We’ve had some great adventures together and I hope that continues :)

      Best regards,

      Damien

      Reply

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