When Tim Bilsborough and Gabrielle O’Hare got together to form Eposure, it was to address what they saw as a readily filled gap in the market – a good quality, reliable resource for businesses to find local photographic professionals. And they didn’t have to look far to find the perfect web developer.
Internet directories are nothing new but, as anyone who has used them knows, they vary in quality and reliability. There are also plenty of places where photographers can place their portfolios online; they’re popular with photographers, but how many potential clients would wade through them on the off-chance of a prize find?
Tim, who has been in photography for most of his working life (not necessarily behind the lens) had become frustrated by the absence of such a trustworthy one-stop source of locally sourced talent (photographers, retouchers, stylists and art directors), so he joined forces with marketing expert Gabrielle to form Eposure. Since being online was central to Eposure’s business model, finding a good web developer would be their first challenge. The job wouldn’t be just about building a functioning site, but also creating the buzz that would give the site enough momentum to take off with.
Nextdoor-but-one to Eposure’s container is the one inhabited by our longest-serving inmates, Project:Simply. The tenants had, inevitably, bumped into each other many times before, exchanging small-talk and chatting about their businesses; eventually The Eposure Two agreed that they should formally approach P:S to talk about their less than simple project. The first proper meeting between Tim, Gabrielle and P:S’s Christian Hill assured both parties that they could do business together, so they shook hands and set about simultaneously building the site from scratch and laying those foundations. In this case, that involved creating and marketing a pre-release Facebook campaign, building relationships with photographic professionals and creating a blog linked to appropriate networks, among other forward-looking actions.
Interestingly, for a web developer that’s strongly associated with SEO and PR, Project:Simply’s activities on this job were much more focused on the site build itself (no real surprise when 50% of Eposure is thoroughbred marketing talent). Instead of taking an off-the-shelf platform, P:S and Eposure agreed that for a unique site, a fresh build was required, and that is how they progressed. At meetings, Tim and Gabrielle would request site functionalities and Christian would suggest refinements and improvements, and the site progressed milestone-by-milestone. The final sign-off took place a few days ago and the site went live last week.
Although the site build and publicity were the largest jobs in terms of time taken, an important task was making sure the site and concept had any legally problematic elements sealed up. For that Eposure looked the other way down the Avenue to Ward Hadaway, the solicitor whose IP office is based here in The Sharp Project. One of the key areas where problems could have arisen is the handling and use of copyrighted material, in particular that owned by the members themselves. Eposure knew that photography professionals would be concerned with copyright, and they also wanted to let users know that Eposure were contractually obliged to honour users’ copyright, and would not use their work for their own publicity without formal agreement. Ward Hadaway eased Eposure through all such legal matters, so it shouldn’t become a headache later in their evolution.
Thanks to the alliance of expert pre-launch marketing and a solid – and, it must be said, beautiful – website, the Eposure site launch could not have been more encouraging. Straight away, photographic professionals were signing up to the service and uploading their portfolios, while potential clients were checking in to eye up the talent. A 30-day free trial for interested parties is an effective, time-served way to attract interest, and it seems to be paying off; landing work via the site will be a pretty good way of persuading people to start paying for inclusion on it.
A Delicate Balance
So what of this close-quarter collaboration that The Sharp Project seems to foster? Both parties saw it as a positive thing, as long as it’s managed professionally. If Eposure had popped round every five minutes to check progress or to talk about their latest idea, progress would probably have been slow. It’s important to maintain some distance, trying to stick only to scheduled meetings where possible, and trusting each other. (As there’s no place to hide, particularly in these glass-fronted containers, trust is certainly given a helping hand. If a supplier had missed a deadline and you spotted them hanging out, playing darts, chewing the cud, you might have a few questions to ask.)
It’s inevitable that friendships will develop between tenants, particularly in this self-selecting kindred spirit bubble. So can doing business threaten those bonds? Again, there was agreement that it does create a professional distance between acquaintances, and friendship would definitely be tested if things were going badly. But would it be any different to a friendship between two people from different departments within a company? Probably not.
A week after going live, Eposure is continuing to attract new members and inquirers as news of its launch spreads throughout the profession. Tim’s and Gabrielle’s job is now to keep it updated, maintained and marketed, and if their performance thus far is anything to go by, it’s going to be another successful tenancy.
Here is the finished Eposure site. It’s well worth a look if you use photographers, retouchers, stylists or art directors … or if you are one!