Top Pro Interview: “Bark is the Holy Grail – a lead producing system that works!”

Brian Wilcock always wanted to be a professional photographer. But, for much of his life, fate led him down a different path.

He was inspired to enter the charity sector when his son became disabled, and spent 12 years working for the learning disabilities charity, Mencap. So it wasn’t until 2005 that he finally had the opportunity to fulfil his lifetime ambition and become a full time wedding photographer.

Today, his company Imagination Creative is one of the most popular wedding photography services on Bark – and he’s booked over £17,000 in new business in his first eight months with us.

“I have booked 17 jobs worth a total of £17,237”

Brian first discovered Bark in February this year. Although he was initially wary because of bad experiences with lead generation companies in the past, he eventually decided to give us a try.

“When I realised that Bark had a different system that involved detailed information for individual clients I decided to give it a go,” he explains. “I’m certainly glad I did.”

Brian Wilcock at a wedding photography job he booked through Bark! 

He adds: “At the time of writing I have booked and collected deposits for 17 jobs worth a total of £17,237.”

When he secured his first job through Bark, Brian was pleased our service had succeeded where so many others fail.

Having worked in sales most of his adult life, he says he can appreciate the value of a system that finds genuine customers looking for your services.

“It was refreshing and encouraging to feel that I may finally have found a viable source of lead production,” he explains. “I think my favourite thing about Bark is the quality of the information received for each potential client.

“As the requests are obviously completed by the client individually, it tends to be more accurate than other agencies I have tried.”

Brian currently still uses traditional methods to find new photography clients. But, if his current rate of success continues, he says he can foresee a time when Bark becomes his sole source of business leads.

A bride and groom stare into each other’s eyes – photo by Imagination Creative

As such, he highly recommends Bark to any wedding photographer who might be thinking about giving us a try.

“Any established photographer will have tried a number of ways to find that Holy Grail – a lead producing system that works,” he says. “My advice would be to forget all the failed methods you’ve tried in the past and give Bark a try, because this one actually does work and you won’t regret it.”

Start hearing about customers in your area today, free

Bark is fast becoming the UK’s leading platform for businesses seeking new clients in a wide range of industries – from photographers to personal trainers, tradespeople and more.

With over 600 different categories to choose from, businesses of all shapes and sizes can find new customers quickly and easily with our service.

Join our network of 80,000+ registered businesses today and we’ll start alerting you to new customers completely free of charge – so you can see firsthand how easy it can be to secure new business with Bark.

Click the link below now to claim your free Bark account and start growing your business with Bark right away.

Start growing your business with Bark today


How to hire a great photographer for your next event, festival or party

Event photography is about more than just turning up to things on time with an expensive camera. If you want a pro who can do your event justice, you need to know they have the skills to get the job done right.

“Hiring a professional photographer for an event is vital in my opinion,” says Bark pro Sorcha Bridge. “If you want lasting photographs from a ‘once in a lifetime’ event like a wedding day, you want the job of recording those precious memories to be in the hands of a professional.”

To discover what qualities you should be looking for when hiring a local event photographer, we spoke to Sorcha about what it takes to capture great moments on film.

find photographers

“I shoot a wide range of people-based photography,” Sorcha says. “I find with event work the key is to be very present and aware of what is going on around you, so as not to miss any key moments!”

Hiring a great event photographer is easy with Bark!
A shot for music promotion company Tsumi 4 – photo by Sorcha Bridge

Photography has been a lifelong passion for Sorcha. But for years she prioritised raising her children as a single mother – and has only relatively recently started pursuing her dream job with help from services like Bark.

“I feel now that the missing piece from the puzzle was photography for me,” she explains. “But having the wisdom I have now with age might have been what was needed to make this work.”

She says the thing that separates covering events from other kinds of photography is that it’s much more difficult to plan and produce everything in advance. As a result, a good event photographer needs to be constantly ready to capture an image at a moment’s notice.

SBP-Brighton-Fringe-festival-2016-12 (1)
Live music at Brighton Fringe Festival 2016 – photo by Sorcha Bridge

“I love shooting music events and festivals, there are plenty of fantastic opportunities for creativity shooting performers and live music,” she says. “Preparation is key to making sure everything is covered correctly. Know the running order, do walkthroughs, have meetings prior to know and understand what the client is trying to achieve – plan, plan, plan!”

She adds: “You also have to be quite confident and ‘ballsy’ when directing large groups of people or jostling with other photographers for space at music events.”

When deciding on a photographer cover an event, Sorcha says you should start by taking a look at each pro’s portfolio to view their work and make sure you like their respective styles.

A snapshot of Brighton University's bohemian nightlife – photo by Sorcha Bridge
A snapshot of Brighton University’s nightlife – photo by Sorcha Bridge

Once you’ve found a couple of people whose work you like, you can start considering other factors like budget and availability. But, for Sorcha, one particular consideration stands head and shoulders above everything else.

“Personality stands for everything, in my opinion, especially when shooting someone’s wedding – an incredibly intimate event working closely with individuals,” she explains. “I work hard to make people feel comfortable in front of the camera.”

With Bark, finding the right photographer for your next event is easy. We’ll do all the legwork to find available pros in your area, so you can select the one that’s the best fit for you. Place a photography Bark today to get multiple quotes from local pros, fast and free.

find photographers

Why you should hire a photo booth for your next corporate event

Everyone knows that photo booths are a great alternative to traditional photographers at weddings and anniversary parties. But for household brands like Dolby, Listerine and Adidas, they can also be powerful promotional tools.

Modern photo booths are kitted out with a host of marketing features that, with a little bit of creativity, can be a great way to promote your business at any corporate event. To find out exactly how some of the world’s largest companies do it, we spoke to Martyn Doherty from leading photo booth hire company, The Photo Cabin.

“Corporate photo booth hire is quite a broad area,” Martyn explains. “It covers anything from conferences in the day, as a sort of breakout thing for people to do, to work parties, product launches, festivals, fashion weeks – literally any kind of corporate event you can think of.”

get quotes button 2

Companies including Adidas, Listerine, PayPal, Nokia and more all make use of photo booth hire services at big corporate events – and right now, Martyn is working with Dolby at the Ministry of Sound to promote their latest clubbing collaboration.

“They’ve got the world’s first nightclub surround sound that they’ve just installed, so everything has to be remastered from stereo to Dolby Atmos,” he explains. “At every event they’re doing, they’ll have a photo booth there to help promote this night. So they’re doing animated GIFs, data capture and stuff like that.”

Having a photo booth present at the Ministry of Sound will create yet another way for people to enjoy themselves on these immersive new club nights. But the marketing benefits go way beyond the booth itself.

Adidas hired The Photo Cabin to help them cover Milan Fashion Week
Adidas hired The Photo Cabin to help them cover Milan Fashion Week

“Data capture’s probably one of the most requested things with corporate photo booth hire,” Martyn says. “The most common way is just capturing an email address. So the user can just email their photo to themselves, they type it in and we can capture it that way.”

“On Facebook upload, we can also get your name, age, current city, date of birth, email address,” he adds. “Depending on the user’s privacy settings, you can get basically everything.”

get quotes button 2

Letting people share their photo booth pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is also a great way to boost your brand’s social media presence. This approach worked wonders for Adidas when they commissioned a custom photo booth for the last Milan Fashion Week.

“At Milan Fashion Week [Adidas] were targeting certain famous people outside venues, getting them to come over and have their photo taken,” Martyn says. “They were getting like 40,000 ‘likes’ when they uploaded the pictures online.”

Listerine enjoyed similar success with their photo booth campaign at the 2014 Isle of Wight Festival, generating over 130,000 Facebook impressions in just three days.

Listerine generated nearly 140,000 with their photo booth at 2014's Isle of Wight Festival
Listerine generated nearly 140,000 Facebook impressions with their photo booth at 2014’s Isle of Wight Festival

“From 400 digital prints, the number of impressions was something like 140,000,” says Martyn. “The ROI for essentially what’s an advert to be seen that many times is huge.”

“But also, it’s not just an advert,” he adds. “It’s going to be kept on that person’s Facebook profile forever, because they’re tagging their friends to it and they’ve liked it.”

By simultaneously letting you capture valuable data about your customer base and boost your online presence through photo sharing, photo booths really are a promotional tool like no other. But it’s not just the world’s biggest brands that are using them to promote their business and attract new customers – soon, you could be too.

Place a photo booth hire Bark today and we’ll find a great photo booth hire company for your next corporate event right away.

get quotes button 2

Top tips to clear away those post-freshers blues

It’s so easy to get caught up in the joys of freshers week after the stress of getting to university and the nerves of meeting new people. And after all, fresher’s week is a time to relax and find your feet. But when the freshers cloud of cheap vodka and dodgy kebabs begins to fade, it can be hard to re-adjust and know what to do with yourself. Here are some tips to help clear away those post-freshers blues and get yourself going for the year ahead.

DJ set
About last night…

Quick off the block: It’s tempting to miss your first few classes – you’re exhausted from your first week and probably suffering from fresher’s flu. However, these first classes give out a lot of information and if you fall behind now, it’ll mean missing a lot of nights out later in the year. Try and make as many as possible and if you absolutely have to miss one then e-mail your lecturer to try and get some information.

Explore: It’s pretty safe to assume that most of your fresher’s experience took place in a kitchen, some questionable dark clubs and the local chicken shop. So get out and explore the area you’re in! Go for brunch, join a local sports team or get rid of all those fresher’s toxins with a nice spa day and massage. As an added bonus, you can get discounts for so many of these activities at the freshers fare!

Class Of University Students
Reminder – lectures are what you’re here for!

Supplement: It’s nice to have some down time, but remember you’ll never have this much free time again. You’ll probably regret it if you don’t make the most of your spare time at uni – so take up something on the side of your studies. Whether that’s photography or another language, broaden your horizons and you never know when it might come in handy.

Don’t feel trapped: Many students will spend freshers with their flatmates – mainly because this is easy and can help them feel more secure. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with these people for your entire life or even until third year – you can find friends in your classes or societies too. Do try and keep your flatmates on side though, you do still have to live with them and you don’t want to end up in a passive aggressive notes-on-the-butter stand off! 

Get some kind of routine: Okay, so we’re not going military style but try and get something of a schedule. Nobody wants to be left with a 3000-word essay to write the night before it’s due with a hangover, all our plates to clean and a massive pile of washing (cleaners don’t tend to fit in to the student budget – although for the lazy of you, we can help with finding a cleaner!) It is inviting to “forget” about tasks like this, but they are all part of university life, and getting on top of them can make the difference between grades.

Change course: Don’t be afraid to switch subjects – it’s better to do it early than to find yourself going into 3rd year with a course you hate. Do give things some time to settle though, as you might start to enjoy the course once you get into it. If this is on your mind go and speak to your advisor, head of department or even the careers department – all of whom are well placed to comment.

Budget: The most talked about – or the most ignored subject for students. Blowing all your money during freshers may seem like a great idea, but when you’re eating 18p instant noodles along in your room for the three months you might regret it! Many students do go into their overdraft so try and find one with no interest, but also thinking about getting a part-time job. It’s a great way of meeting new people and exploring the town a little more, and can help you make ends meet. 

 instant noodle
Trust us. You’ll regret it

If you’re looking for different opportunities of chances to learn new skills why not check out to get help from professionals in your area?

For more tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

From Go Pro to going pro – how to start up as a photographer

With the recent surge in photo-sharing apps, the introduction of selfie sticks and smartphones ramping up their camera specs – look no further than the new iPhone 6S’ 12-megapixel count and 4K video recording capabilities – it’s never been easier to capture the moment and snap away.

eBay saw searches for selfie sticks rise 700% ahead of Christmas 2014
eBay saw searches for selfie sticks rise 700% ahead of Christmas 2014

But what if you want to take it up a gear? Helping you to make the move from amateur to professional, portrait photographer David Harrison offers his top tips on entering the industry.

  1. Finish what you start: Whether it’s uploading the best pic of your day to Instagram or getting a print made, it’s all too easy to snap away and never have a ‘finished ‘image. Keeping going and putting in that extra bit of effort will make it all worth it in the end when you have the perfect picture.
  2. Keep busy: Motivation is key. Never put pressure on yourself to overdo it, but do make sure you keep busy and have a range of options to work on – this will make the experience more fun! It will also give you a stack of pictures to add to your portfolio.
  3. Be passionate: Photograph what you know, what you love, what you care about and what you have access to. This will make the whole process much more enjoyable, and help you with points 1 and 2. You are unique and so is what you see, so show it!

    Okay, I'm ready for my close up...
    Okay, I’m ready for my close up…
  4. Network, Network, Network: Important in so many aspects of life – tell everybody what you are doing and, most important for your line of business, show them. You will be surprised how many people will have something you can help them with, and you may even learn something new. The more your work is out there, the more opportunities will come your way.
  5. Keep the day job! Good photography takes time. Nobody is a pro straight off the bat and – as always in life – there’s a lot to learn. If you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, start it off as a hobby, learn different skills, techniques and most of all, have fun! In this way you can enjoy your photography, while learning the right skills and making the contacts to take it to the next level.

    As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect
    As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect

Feeling inspired but not sure how to make sense of your shutter speed, aperture or ISO? Why not have a look for photography lessons near you? Or, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and ready to use your skills commercially, customers are requesting all manner of photography services on, from event photography to wedding photography and even pet photography. Why not
register with us today?

For more tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

September is the new January… improve yourself and your skills with

Forget New Year, September is the perfect time for new beginnings. Summer has been and gone, the days are getting shorter, the evenings are getting darker and the air is cool as winter slowly sets in.

There’s something different about September, which makes it more of an annual turning point than January. September sees the start of a new academic year, and even though the team have been out of school for quite a while, we always feel a sense of renewed determination and eagerness as September sets in. We think of September as a clean slate, a time of self-evaluation and a time to start a new project. With that, we’ve put together the top ways to improve yourself and your skills this September – all with the help of!

Learn a language

Have you ever thought about learning a second language? Learning another language not only opens your mind and teaches you about different cultures, it also makes you stand out in a competitive job market where skills are key; think amazing job opportunities and salary increases! Need more convincing? Research the cognitive benefits. Many physiological studies have noted that the brains of bilingual people operate more efficiently than single language speakers, particularly in the areas of decision-making, multitasking and memory. Find French lessons, German lessons, Spanish lessons or even Chinese lessons, you’ll at least have some fun bragging rights by the time you become fluent!

Find language lessons
The world is your oyster!

Conquer the fear of public speaking

What’s your greatest fear? Do Spiders scare you? Are heights not your thing? Do you avoid deep water like the plague? All of the above are amongst the top 10 greatest fears across the world, but what was number one in the USA? You guessed it – public speaking! As Jay Leno once said ‘I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy’. If you’re one of those people who can’t stand the thoughts of speaking in front of a group, then take the fear into your own hands and find public speaking lessons this September – you won’t regret it!

Find pubic speaking lessons
Get ready to take the mic!

Channel your creativity through photography

Are you Instagram crazy, a filter fanatic so to speak? Did our latest photography blog inspire you to unleash your inner photographer? Search for photography lessons this September and go from amateur to pro. From shooting to editing, this is a fantastic creative outlet to explore before the year is out. You’ll have your own studio before you know it…

Find photography lessons
Channel your creativity through photography

Protect and empower yourself with self defence

Feeling empowered is a great feeling, particularly when it comes to safety. I’m sure many of us would like to feel safer on our streets as we go about our daily lives. The numbers of people, especially women, taking the necessary steps to feel more secure is increasing. Self-defence classes are popular, as students can learn how to predict, prevent, identify and avoid violence. When we think of self-defence we immediately think of just martial arts, but the crucial difference is that self-defence combines situational awareness into the mix. Find the self-defence classes which teach you the skills you need to keep yourself safe in this big bad world!

Find self defence classes
Be prepared, protect yourself!

Dance like no one’s watching!

Looking for an activity that is good for personal fitness and is enjoyable at the same time? Get your dancing shoes on! Creativity is one thing that dancing can provide that regular gym exercises can’t. As Contanze Mozart once said: “Dancing is like dreaming with your feet”. This type of exercise is also both aerobic and anaerobic, so you will always get a full body workout. Whether you like ballroom dancing, tap dancing or hip hop dancing, there’s a genre for everyone. Side step to to find the best dance lessons in  your area.

Find dance classes
Express yourself through dance

We hope we have motivated you to improve your skills this September. If none of the above are for you, then browse our lessons and training page for more inspiration. Let us know which one you choose and remember; Orange is the New Black, Tuesday is the new Thursday, and September is the new January.

For more top tips, why not check out our other blogs?

The Top 5 Photo Apps to Download Now!

Set the scene – It’s the 90s. You’re just back from your 2-week holiday in Spain, booked through your trusty high-street travel agent. Spain was beautiful – the sun was splitting the rocks, the food was to die for and the drinks were flowing. Thank god you bought a trusty disposable camera to capture the memories! When you arrive home you will develop your pictures, put them into an album and share them with your friends and family over a cup of tea…

A must have for a 90s Summer holiday
A must have for a 90s Summer holiday

My, how times have changed! We’re more likely to find a travel agent online, to book our trip at the click of a button. We’re also bombarded with imagery daily. People communicate by capturing immediate experiences and moments as photos and sending them directly to their network of friends all over the world, using social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Digital cameras and mobile phones with built-in cameras have been popular for a long time now. Nowadays we also have the added benefit of high spec cameras and sophisticated photography apps, which can be used while on the go. Not everyone is a skilled or talented photographer, but we can at least try to be!

With thousands of photo apps available, it can be difficult to know the best ones to use. How can you make the most our of your smartphone’s camera? What’s on trend? And more importantly – what will help you get the most likes on Facebook? Whether you’re looking to shoot, edit or share with the world, we’ve compiled a list of photography apps you need to download now!

  1. Facetune

Create a selfie Kim Kardashian would be proud of with this photo-editing app! As per the name, this app allows you to tweak photos of your face, whether you want to hide your blemishes, whiten your teeth, disguise your wrinkles or hide bags under the eyes. It’s really easy to use, and Facetune even provide more than 20 in-app tutorials to help you make the edits look natural. Don’t overdo it though! A little tune up is fine every so often, particularly after a long night on the tiles. But remember your friends have met you in person…

Facetune your blemishes!
Facetune your blemishes!
  1. Instagram

So you’ve got your outstanding #selfie… but where are you going to share it? If you haven’t already hopped on the Instagram bandwagon, you need to do so as soon as possible. Instagram is a photo and video focused social networking service, which allows you to share your life through visual content. Instagram say they “imagine a world more connected through photos”, and that’s exactly what they have achieved. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for a staggering $1 Billion and according to recent data released by the social giant, there are now over 300 million people on Instagram each month – including all the celebs – Taylor Swift, David Beckham and Barack Obama to name but a few. There is also a hashtag functionality, which allows you to browse and follow according to your interests. What will your #PicOfTheDay be? One day you could be insta- famous – better get those modelling lessons in!

Become a filter fanatic!
Become a filter fanatic!
  1. FrameMagic

Already on Instagram but want to enhance your #InstaExperience? Then download FrameMagic. FrameMagic allows you to compile your favourite photos and videos into one single artwork; be it a photo collage, video collage or video slideshow. A picture says a thousands words, so why not try 5 pictures in one! It’s really simple to use, with a variety of layouts, colours and patterns to choose from. The creative possibilities are endless, and your piece of work can be easily shared across a variety of social networking sites. Leave the actual picture framing to the experts though. Creating for Instagram and creating for above your fireplace are too different things…

  1. Retrica

Many photo sharing apps have a filter function available, which essentially allows you to enhance colours and tones to customise the photo how you please. Filters are a big hit on Instagram, but the range of filters available is limited. If you’re a filter fanatic, then you need to download Retrica. From 70s inspired themes to a regular black and white, Retrica has got over 100 to choose from. You can even use real-time filters, where you can preview how your photo will look before you even take it. Simple!

Make your photos pop!
Make your photos pop!
  1. Snapchat

There is no app more instant that Snapchat. Users can take photos, record videos, add captions and drawings and send to a defined list of recipents, and even set a time limit for how long recipents can view the snaps! Other functions within the Snapchat app allow you to create your ‘Story’ which can be viewed by your friends for 24 hours* and also the ‘Discover’ feature; a storytelling format which allows you to explore stories from a variety of world-class leaders in media, including Sky News, Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed. We’re tipping this one to become bigger and better as the time goes on… watch this space.

*Note: when you’ve had a few too many at a party, step away from Snapchat. You don’t want to feel like you were the hired clown entertainment the next day…

Did your favourite app make our list? Or maybe you’re feeling inspired to create your own app? Remember, “the best camera is the one you have with you”. Try out the apps we suggested and share the images with us on Twitter – we’re @barkteam. Let your creativity do the talking!

For more top tips, why not check out our other blogs?