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Ian Hatch

Ian Hatch

Mentor & Founder of MOFOTO
Ian Hatch, Owner of HatchBox Photography Ltd / founder of MOFOTO (Facebook Social Media Group for our Industry) based in St Ives, Cornwall, UK, started working at a high street photographer business in Gloucester in September 1990. That company was ironically called The Photographer Ltd. The company did the usual studio shoots and a few weddings and also a small line in local school photographs. Ian worked as an office junior initially but quickly took on the office manager position with a partially sales role. It became apparent that there was an opportunity to expand the schools part of the business and as part of the sales team for he helped grow the company exponentially to servicing 1500 schools annually between 1990 and 1998.

Ian helped sell the business to Tempest Photography in August 1998 when the Gloucester company went into receivership. Tempest being the largest school and nursery photography company in the UK asked Ian to relocate to St Ives, Cornwall to join the senior team at the companies headquarters. So in August 1998 he set about helping merge the £5 million pound acquisition into the Tempest operations over the next few years. In the early 2000’s he was also key to the integration of Tempest two national businesses. St Ives was the key and profitable operation and there Cardiff branch which was a mutually separate business with family ties was fully integrated in the St Ives operations. Tempest has dominated the UK school and nursery photography market for over 50 years and in its day was a family orientated and family run business that had a good reputation for delivery good pictures to homes all over the UK. Throughout his career with Tempest spanning 23 years Ian rose to the position of Head of Sales and was involved in many projects throughout that time. He supported and worked with Acquisitions, Graduations Photography, Gowning, Military Photography as well as the launch of Yearbooks and a Hoodies business. As well as running a small team of direct sales people, Ian was also responsible for the national meetings, held annually across the UK presenting to, and providing support and guidance for over 350 photographers up and down the country. It is these relationships and connections formed over many years that give Ian a great oversight into this unique niche market reported to be worth over 120 million pounds. Ian said “ the market has changed so much over the last 20 years cloudy blue backgrounds to white and bokeh, single head and shoulder poses to multiple poses and images outside and from film to digital, I am just too young and missed out on the switch from black and white to colour, but it was close”

Although it seemed Ian may work for Tempest indefinitely, it was in 2021 just after the pandemic was nearing some kind of normality that he was made redundant at age 55. He decided after a number of colleagues had suggested it was a good idea, to set up an active Facebook social media group. He named it MOFOTO (there is a story there too) and its aim is to support and assist everyone from seasoned pros, to small operators, fledgling businesses and startups in the School & Nursery photography industry. Unsure where to go next but with 31 years of experience he set about putting a school photography business together locally in Cornwall. Is it wise to set up a rival business to the largest school photography company in the UK when you live 5 miles from their head office – undaunted by this November 2021 he did his first school. Overwhelming feedback meant that his new company HatchBox Photography was a welcome alternative here in west Cornwall and as of January 2024 he now had 50 schools in the local area in only 2 years and growing fast . Ian said “Being able to make decisions for yourself has been the most invigorating part of my new journey. I felt totally institutionalised before and the most frustrating part about working for someone else is getting something done or bringing something to the market without pushback or negativity.

It was around 7 years ago Ian was looking at augmented reality technology and was trying to find a way to help the industry innovate and offer new products. It is only during 2022 that he developed and delivered Moving Memories, an augmented reality product that brings images to life for parents. They offer Primary School Leavers across Cornwall Moving Memories where each child is photographed (and videod 10-15 seconds) and when a parent buys a print or package the images will come to life. My clients scan a QR code then hold a mobile over the image and watch it come to life - amazing. I use a workflow designed to make this a worthwhile innovation and to stand out from the usual school photography companies.

Ian is now speaks on the worldwide circuit about this product and also offers workshops and masterclasses on how to grow your business in the school and nursery photography space.