Email Etiquette and Do you have it?

Being a content creation agency that specializes in photography and video, you can imagine that we get a lot of emails, and send a lot of emails. Most of the time we are dealing with agencies or creative roles within corporation as our point of contacts, these are professional positions that operate in the M-F 9-5 usually. So when it comes to communication, email is usually the go to medium. Why? Because emails have the benefit of creating accountability and defining expectations without any loose ends, at least they should. Phone calls can often lead to “he said” “she said” scenarios, where as emails can be looked back upon and it can be clearly determined what was said. Some will argue the phone is best, and it certainly might have some pros associated like immediate answers, personality, and tradition. In my option, the email still trumps the phone, at least in a professional setting where there’s often a few cooks in the kitchen and projects have multiple channels that they travel through. That being said, here are a few tips for email etiquette from my experience that enable success for all involved.

  • Reply - not tomorrow, not later, but as soon as you can. And if you can’t reply because you are not enabled to do so yet, send an update with when you might be able to answer the question

  • Respect - if someones taken the time to send you an estimate, long note, or an invoice, have some respect and get back to them.

  • Contact Information - make sure you have a signature at the bottom of each email. No one wants to hunt for your contact details when they need them most

  • Keep it to the point - if it needs creative input or brainstorming, save that for a call or meeting. Only include the information that is required to get to the next step. Peoples time is valuable, so don't waste it

  • Details - Make sure you include all the details the person needs to be enabled to follow through on your request. Don't ask how much something will cost if you haven’t even told them what they need to do. Best way is to paint a picture. Not litterally, figuratively! If someone can’t imagine what you need, then you’re either not including enough details, or you need to follow up with a call.

  • USE IT CORRECTLY - Last but not least, use your email if you have one. Check it during your operating hours often, daily, hourly, before you leave for the day. And if you’re going to be away from it, there’s something called Auto-Reply that can notify others you’re away.

Cannabis is Legal Now and We're Happy that We Contributed ;)

We’ve been shooting for our good friends at Aphria for a little over a year now and we’ve been patiently waiting for legalization to take effect before we could share some of the great work we’ve been doing for them. Not long ago we got the opportunity to do the product photography for 2 of Aphria’s recreational brands, RIFF and Solei.

Here are a few shots from the shoot. And a special collage for all the Bud fans out there looking for a sweet Cannabis wallpaper for their desktop. Which nug is your favourite?

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Content Production Studio Right Here in SoHo London Ontario

I’ve been telling people for a while now that we don’t take photos here at Gotham, we make them! But what does that actually mean? A lot of people think that just because you have an expensive camera you can call yourself a photographer, but if that were true than every one who owns an expensive knife will call themselves a chef. And we all know that’s not true. If you own a Ferrari, are you a race car driver? What if you own some stocks? Does that make you an investment advisor?

On more than one occasion we’ve been asked to “just bang off a few shots” and anyone who says that knows absolutely nothing on how impactful content is created. Keyword is CREATED. If you’ve worked with a photographer in the past that said “ya, I can just go for a walk with my camera and bang these out for you” then I’ve got news for you, they’re not a photographer.

Whether you are a photographer or a cinematographer, if you’re good then you use light to tell your story. The film noir period in Hollywood was famous for using light to tell stories, only light. And that’s the key to making a great photo. Using light and composition is key. Here at Gotham Studios, we do that. That being said, if you don’t need something special, or you’re expecting us to “just bang them out” for you, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Here at Gotham we are Content Creators ready to produce your next piece, just don’t tell us it doesn’t need to be special or we’ll send you home ;)

Another TV Commercial in the books - Ice River 30 sec - aired on Fishing Television

We create a lot of great content here for our clients, photos, time lapses, youtube videos, HR videos and lots of talking heads. But every now and then we get to work on something a little bigger, a little better, a TV commercial.

This time we got to work for Matrix Four and Ice River Springs water, the water in the green bottle. It’s green because it’s made from 100% received plastic, and it’s the only one of it’s kind. Something that we here at Gotham really appreciate.

It aired on TV in the summer on the Fishing Channel. Check it out! And be sure to check out their website for the pour shot banner we made as well.

Branded Content... It's been around since 1937!

The time is 1937 and one parent was usually staying at home raising the kids, looking after the home, and missing out on the world of advertising, therefore not being influenced. So what did media do back then? They created something called a “soap opera” and it aired on radio at first before moving to television in the 50’s. The stories had nothing to do with soap, but they were sponsored by soap companies that aired their commercials during breaks. The stories were all interesting dramas that lured viewers in with character development and tense scenarios that kept viewers coming back for more.

Today that audience has evolved, but what hasn’t changed is the way we need to reach an audience that isn’t paying attention. With ad blocking gaining popularity, and cable television soon retiring, brands are struggling to find the right platforms to sell their products.

Some brands are looking into the past to create the future, and there’s something very important we can all learn from soap operas. They were never trying to steal your attention for 30 seconds, they created content that people wanted to watch, literally. Soap operas received what we call today as Fandom. The viewers wanted more, and nearly 80 years later and soap operas are still here.

To all the agencies out there listening. You have the clients, you understand marketing, ad spends, graphic design, branding, and SEO. But what you might not understand is story telling, at least not as well as we do. Here at Gotham Studios we’ve been creating content for the last 5 years and are experts in great stories. Let us help you find the story that works with the brands you’re working with. Let’s work together and create something your brands’ clients will actually WANT to see, instead of being forced to watch. Doesn’t make more sense?

A great example of this is a web series called Carmila. Branded content that got the attention of millions of viewers and is now turning into a feature film. It was created by an agency called Shaftesbury for their client U by Kotex. A show about teenage girls, one of which is a vampire, living together and facing teenager problems. If this doesn’t remind you of the soap opera example above then you’re missing the big point here. The point is standard advertising doesn’t work anymore. Give your audience what they want, something they will search to watch rather than something they will have to wait 5 seconds for to skip.

Take a look at this sizzler for a character by the name of White Widow that we created here at Gotham. Imagine a web series about her that was sponsored by your perfume client, or your sunglasses client. The possibilities are endless, and every client/brand will have one of 12 Brand Personalities, and the content has to align with it. Let us help with you that.

Commercial Photography at it’s Best

One of the things that we do best here at Gotham Studios with the talented team of photographers is Commercial Photography. By offering photography, it really makes a full service production company. Most just offer video and pre-production services, and they tend to reach out for any still images they need, or they just not do them very well. At Gotham Studios we still specialize in both, video and photo - we will never forget that our roots started in photography, hence why we always say our stuff looks so good because we have an understanding of light. Light isn’t just something that shines in your eyes or comes in through your window in the morning, it’s a science, it’s made of matter, and here at Gotham we know how to manipulate it. 


Today we would like to present you with this collection of the year’s best in show, our favourite commercial stills. Enjoy!

Is 2018 the Year of Product Photography and 360 Videos?

It sure seems that way! In 2017 Gotham Studios saw a huge increase for demand in video content. This year we are seeing a large increase in demand for Product Photography. With the economy not getting as bad as people said it would, organizations are still seeing the potential in selling products. With the growth of online sales growing stronger and stronger every year, and with more online buying platforms becoming more popular, even more people are turning to the web to do their shopping. Even local grocery stores are now offering an online buying experience. And that’s the keyword there “experience”. In order for the online shopper they need to be able to a) find your product and b) have a great experience buying it - that means no unanswered questions. What better way to do that than a great looking image of exactly what they’re buying. 

Since Gotham Studios specializes in details, and high impact visuals, it’s a no brainer that London, Toronto and other southwestern Ontario organizations are turning to Gotham Studios to get their products photographed. Our workflow and attention to detail makes it an easy decision for an organistion to go with us vs attempting to do it in house. We can ensure that you will receive exactly what you imagine, in a timely manner and of course looking it’s best.

Here is a cool 360 Product video we did recently and some super glossy containers.

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Yum yum gimme some! Our favourite Food Photography and Video of 2017

2017 was a huge year for food for us. We went from specializing in food to becoming masters of the craft. Our surface collection grew from a dozen surfaces to nearly a hundred. We had over 50 food shoot days in 2017. Ask any photographer and they’ll tell you that’s an incredible milestone to achieve. 2018 has been no different, there just might be bit more video, as it’s tending to be on the rise for social media use.

It’s no longer just food companies that want food content, marijuana / cannabis producers are also using food to showcase their products as food is a common way of enchanting the ingestion of the cannabis oils, or profiling flavonoid and terpenes in the strains.

We’re very proud of our food photography and we couldn’t have done it without the amazing help of our chefs, Josie and Christie from Cork+Board . This collection is our favourites from the food photography we did in 2017-2018. Enjoy! And be sure to ZOOM IN

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Hey OCS! Check out this Cannabis Video!

With legalization less than a month away in Canada, everyone is excited about buying their first bud online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. However, they haven’t told anyone yet just how it will all work. A recent study showed that majority of Canadians still have no idea where they will be buying their weed from. Sounds like the OCS needs an explainer video. We hope that you come to us OCS, because we got your back. We’re familiar with the industry and video is one of the things we do best. So OCS, if you’re listening, it’s not too late to make a Cannabis “How To” video.

Here’s a compilation video we made with some our favourite marijuana content. Enjoy!

And if that’s not enough, check out our vimeo page to see all of our videos.

How to create Bitcoin and Blockchain Content?

Blockchain brought us a the infamous ledger, a technology that allows us to transmit secure transactions between 2 points with no interference of another party. A technology being used for documents, currency exchange as well as many other formats. At Gotham Studios we like to stay on top of all the latest and greatest, and when it comes to Bitcoin and Blockchain, the question everyone’s asking us is how do you capture something that doesn’t exist physically? Our answer may shock you, but it’s nothing unfamiliar with us. We are often in situations where we need to show something that’s not really there. How do you show fear? Love? Hunger? How do we capture confidence in a person? We are storytellers, and Bitcoin is just that, it’s a story, it’s a lifestyle, it’s about the environment more than anything. Sure we could try to find a golden coin with some circuit boards imprinted on it just like all of the other companies are using to represent the technology, or we can create a moment, a scene, something showing a little more lifestyle that clearly represents the era that we are living in. A time of of disrupt, a time of change, a time of revolution. This is what the technology means to us and this is how we plan on capturing it.


Are 360 videos the next BIG THING on Social Media?

A new type of content is becoming popular in the social media world, they're called 360 videos, or as some people call them VR videos.

So what is a 360 video? 360 is referring to 360 degrees, or a full circle and it means that you are watching a video that is capable of showing you the entire field of view in every direction. That's why it is also commonly referred to as a VR video because it emerges the viewer into the environment of the film maker. 

This is about as immersive as content can get! It allows you to look around in every direction and see everything in a room, a field or in some cases even the sky. There are no limits to where these 360 videos will take us.

So why does social media like it so much? A typical video allows you to enjoy it staring at a screen, where as a 36o video allows to grab the screen by the horns! You can move the screen in any and every direction and see what's going on. Not only is this immersive, but it's also interactive. Both qualities that social media is hungry for. You can even take VR videos to the next level but putting your phone inside of a VR headset and be truly immersed in the content. 

360 videos can be used to show off a space, immerse your audience into an event or for investors  to see your facilities without any travel from afar. 


Why are We Canada’s Leading Cannabis Photographers?

Canada was the first entire country in the world to accept marijuana’s healing properties and institute a nationwide Medical Marijuana program. Later this year, on October 17th 2018, Canada will be the first entire country to accept Cannabis recreationally as well. This means that our country is about to introduce an entirely new industry, this means huge money in the creation of new products, marketing and content creation. 

Gotham Studios is now working with 2 of Canada’s licensed producers in creating gorgeous cannabis content, that puts us in the lead and we only hope on expanding that list. We are currently involved in:

  • Cannabis flower/bud and strain photography 
  • Investor Material
  • Greenhouse and Facility 
  • Cannabis Lifestyle 
  • Trichome and Macro Cannabis Photography
  • Executive Portraits
  • Product Photography (Bottles, flower, buds, packaging, etc)

We are familiar working in greenhouses and growing facilities across Canada. Our experience with Cannabis runs deep at Gotham Studios and we have ambitions to become one of Canada’s Best Cannabis Content Creators. 

Watch our new Cannabis/Marijuana Promo video highlighting some of our favourite Cannabis content we’ve made over the last year.

Thank you to our Clients for Trusting Gotham Studios with your Photography and Video Production Services ;)

We all know that time can fly by, and when you are running a small business, it can zip by even faster. That is why today we wanted to take a minute to thank all of our clients from this year thus far, as well as our clients from the previous years. This idea came to fruition after we made some updates to our website. It's true, we don't visit our own website as much as we'd like to, and it's true that we can get so deep in our clients' needs that we put our own on the back burner. Not today, today is all about saying thank you. You've included us in your projects and invited us in into your community, you made Gotham Studios a part of your business. Maybe we did some food photography for you, maybe we helped produce your marketing teams videos, maybe we helped you brainstorm some ideas for next year. Whatever the case might be, we can't express our gratitude enough. We work hard at maintaining our 5 stars on Google and this requires us to make sure that every clients' needs are met and even exceeded. So one more time, thank you for your support, the referrals, the opportunities and of course the business. We look forward to wrapping up this last quarter and continuing to serve you all in 2018. 

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Part 3: A Guide to your Content Marketing

Plan to Place:

Have a communication and content schedule prior to the launch of your campaign. Looking at the data you gathered on your target audience, determine the best ways to reach them. Typically, this could be through blogs, community forums, or social media.

When drafting your content campaign consider the following:

  1. Post to your Social Accounts: The days prior announce to your following of the new, amazing content you are about to release. Ensure these posts build hype, and try to craft them to encourage new following. After publishing your content ensure that it is viral worthy. Include prominent share buttons, popular hashatgs, or ask your online influencers to share.
  2. Send a Newsletter to your email list: Notify your email subscribers of your published content. Don’t just send a quick message, but put some thought into it. Use appeals in your subject line, emphasize words with capitals, write a short and sweet blurb, and include calls to actions.
  3. Blog about it: Leverage your Blog! Your blog is an excellent means of getting people to return to your website, as long as you continue to update it with great new content.

You may also consider the following for paid marketing strategies to promote your content, such as

  1. Advertising in Social Media: Depending on where your audience is congregated you can create split ad campaigns in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. identifying which ads are performing the best. Also, based on the performance and popularity of posts, you may consider paid boosting.
  2. Native Advertising: Consider submitting your work to online advertorials who will how promote your content to their readers and following.

Part 2: A Guide to your Content Marketing

Creating Great Content

When deciding on the type of content you want to share consider whether or not the benefits are clearly outlined, is the content something that your audience will engage with, share, return to see? Is it professionally written, visually designed, and have a benefit that your user can leave with.

Probably the most important part of your campaign is the quality you are sharing. Your content is the core of all your marketing efforts, so in order to receive engagement you need something that speaks value. Get your marketing materials done by the professionals! Poor content leads to poor marketing, which in turn leads to poor sales. Having your marketing materials done by creative talent means you can leverage beautiful, rich content. Such content will drive traffic to your website, increases engagement, credibility, and showcase your brand at its best!

A Guide for your Content Marketing

Often, after a company or individual hires on a photographer, videographer or studio to create their marketing materials they find themselves at a loss of what to do with it. Having quality marketing content is key to making memorable and lasting first impressions, but if you don’t know how to promote it than your content may not drive its full value.

Over the Next couple days we will be providing some tips and tricks to help ensure you are getting the full impact of your content. Our first post, part one, will focus on research and planning stage. Part two will discuss content creation, and part 3 will delve into launching your campaign.

Part 1: Knowing your Customers, Keywords, and Goals

Know the Audience You Want to Reach:

            Take a look at your data. See who typically follows your website, blogs, social media feeds, and identify the type of followers engaging with your content. Take a look at your mailing list and subscribers, customers reviews, who is giving your company referrals, and any other database information you can leverage. After you gather the data see what you can learn. What are the demographics (such as age, gender, ethnicity), education levels (high school, college diploma, graduate degree), employment industry (marketing, law, mechanical engineering, etc.).

However, knowing the demographics of your audience is only half the battle. You also need to gather behavioral data. Learn what topics your audience is trending, what they follow, what motivates them, there needs, desires and interests. Gathering such data will allow you to understand your audience and create content they want to see. 

Keyword Research:

Learn what keywords your potential buyers, clients and customers are using. You can discover keywords and phrases through online resources:

  1. Google Trends: The resource allows you to get an inside look into Google’s Database of searches.
  2. Google Keyword Planner: For this you will be required to set up a Google Adwords account; however, you do not need to pay to use the planner. The planner can be a great tool for gathering statistics on certain keywords and phrases. It will populate search volume, competition (how many people ranking for the same keyword), and average bid per keyword.
  3. Google Autocomplete Search: Google’s auto complete predictions can help you identify what people search for. The search queries that appear as you type reflect the most common phrases people are searching for.

You may also want to use social listening platforms that track keywords and phrases across the web. Platforms like HubSpot, Hootsuite or Sprout Social can give you insights on the key phrases typically getting used by people you want to reach.

Use these words when writing your content. Place them in your headers and upper body paragraphs so Google will find them. Further, include them in your image alt tags, category tags and meta-descriptors.

Determine your Goal:

Decide on what you want to get out of the campaign, and then determine the purpose of content. Is it sales focused, or to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to generate new email subscribers, increase following and engagement, drive traffic to your website, or improve your ROI? Based on the goals you set, you want to design your content pieces in a way that will meet your objective. For example, if you are trying to generate more email subscribers consider write informational articles, how to guides, or blog posts that have an “opt-in” message attached to each piece. If you are trying to increase social following plan out hashtags that your audience uses. Tools such as RiteTag or Tag Board can help you discover trending tags to ensure your posts get scene.