Saskia Nelson started the practice of Dating Photography while thinking about the striking commercial imagery she saw while working in the TV world in London.
She realized that if she could create photographs of men and women with colorful backdrops and practicing interesting hobbies, she could help them attract more potential dates.
Listen to her episode now:
Read her interview now:
Alice: Okay, perfect. Saskia, welcome so much. I’m so excited to have you on the podcast.
Saskia Nelson: Thanks, Alice. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I’m really moved that you invited me on. Thank you.
Alice: Yay! Can you tell us where you’re calling in from today?
Saskia: Yeah, so I actually divide my time between London and Spain. So at the moment, I’m in Spain and we live near Valencia. So yeah, it’s kind of a really nice lifestyle I suppose.
Alice: Yeah, that sounds amazing! How did you decide to do this dual city thing?
Saskia: Well, when I met my boyfriend, he had a house in Spain, and I had one in London, and so we kept them both. And then when I believe I’ve left by Saturday for like hmm eight, nine years. So I’ve been working offline for nine years and now he started working remotely as well. So yeah, we thought well, if we’re both working remotely and then actually with COVID, as well. It made it a lot easier being able to just take yourself off and because you couldn’t see anyone anyway, so yeah, probably, that’s when we seriously started to do it was during lockdown.
Alice: Wow, that’s amazing.
Saskia: But yeah, with Brexit, There are rules to follow about when and how but you know, we make it work.
Alice: Yeah, so it’s like if it’s rainy in London you can just like head over to Valencia.
Saskia: Exactly! So that’s pretty much all the time. Nah I’m kidding. But yeah, we try and do it that way.
Alice: Amazing, and you mentioned, “Hey Saturday”. So, for all of our listeners Saskia started, “Hey Saturday”, and can you tell us what it is?
Saskia: Yes. So “Hey Saturday”, my nine-year-old, baby now is a business I started up that is at the core. It’s a dating photo agency. The first dating photo agency in the world. The aim of it really is to kind of visually capture people in a way that tells their story, that kind of provides a snapshot about who they are and, you know, their lifestyle, their vibe, their passion, and their interest.
We try and create a set of images that tell people who this person is what it would be like to date them, what it would be like to hang out with them, and what it would be like to be in a relationship with them. So that is kind of, in essence, what we’re trying to do, throughout our dating photo shoots. We dubbed them, the happiest photo, shoots on Earth because we try and make them really super fun and to try and bring people out of themselves and get them into really kind of feeling who they are. And let themselves go and just be who they are on camera.
Alice, I know you have to shoot in New York with our lovely Allison, and your faces are just fabulous, I had to say absolutely love them, your personality just showed through and it didn’t surprise me at all when you hit me and said, “Oh, do you want to be in my podcast?” as I “Oh yes, she is so that kind of person like outgoing, and devacious[?], and cool [inaudible] and a podcast host. And, yeah, I mean that all shown through from your photos and fabulous.
Alice: Oh my gosh. Thank you. Yes, it was so fun. I was really nervous because usually, I’m like, you don’t see me on this podcast, and then also, like, I’m a theater director as well. So I’m more behind the scene as opposed to like, [crosstalk] in front. So it’s a little weird. I just had to think about it…
Saskia: Just like a duck’s.
Alice: Yeah. I was like, What if I directed myself? Like what would I wear as my costume for this?
Saskia: I love that! And did that help?
Alice: Yes. It did. Actually. I was like, okay. This is my costume for like when I work out, this is my costume for when I hang out with my friend.
Saskia: Exactly! That’s kind of like Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce where you’re like, I’ve got to put myself out there and this is not how I normally roll. So I’m just going to put on this outfit and just feel this vibe and get out there and do it. I love that.
Alice: Yeah, but I think there was something. So like I was telling you before this, I felt so confident doing it, like going through a terrible breakup right before this. Then heading into your photoshoot of like, “Yes! I am fierce! I’m great!”. Then your photographer Allison just made me feel so welcome and like okay to like feel a little crazy and zany.
Saskia: Yeah, I mean that’s a big part of the experience I think, is kind of a lot of people when they come to us, you know, their dating situation isn’t ideal. They’re not coming to us because they’re coming from, a perfect single life. They usually come to us because they’re feeling a bit low. They’re fed up. They’ve just been through a divorce or breakup. They’re not feeling great about themselves.
And we want the photoshoot to be part of that transformation stage where it’s like, this is where I was now turning into this like really cool, strong, powerful, sexy, awesome, vibing, like, awesome person. I want to take that energy, put it in my photoshoot and then take it out on the date. It’s really important to see the photoshoot as it’s launchpad, for your new dating life as well. And it’s a very important part of the journey, I think. I think before the photoshoot like, we encourage everyone to really sit down and just pause and go at it, right. Okay, who am I? What do I want to say about myself? What is it that makes me stand out from other people? What do I love about myself? What matters to me? All those things are so important, and if you don’t figure that stuff out before you go dating, then you’re kind of a bit lost and you end up losing yourself and dating anyone, and you kind of take on their kind of personality almost, or fit in with who they are.
But it’s really important that you figure out who you are, what you want, what you’re about, what you stand for and then you know, you can go out there and date with this kind of confidence in terms of what you’re about and then you’re kind of interviewing them. It’s not like, “Oh, I need to fit in”, and that’s really important that you know, this is about you. What you want is that, finding the person that’s going to be with you for X amount of time. Hopefully, forever. So the most important thing you’re gonna do in your life. Let’s face it. There is nothing more important than finding your person, in my opinion.
Alice: Oh, yeah. Well, I thought that was really helpful. How you gave us the questionnaire beforehand. So “Hey Saturday” sent out a questionnaire of like, who are you? What are five things you like? I can’t remember the other questions, but it really made me stop and pause like you were saying and think about like, “Oh, who am I, and what do I want to convey with this picture” that says a thousand words because we’re just all swiping and like looking at the first picture that we come across of a person, how can you take photos, that represent, who you are, which I think is so successful with “Hey Saturday”?
Saskia: That’s exactly it. You’ve got so much to say in your powerful first photo, you know, first few photos. That if you don’t stop and think about it, well, what do I want to say? like your photos, they’re communicating so much information to other people. And if you don’t think about what that is, they could be communicating all sorts of things that aren’t really like on your side, you know, like that you have hemorrhoids cream up in your bathroom, but you know, when you got a big pile of dirty washing in the bedroom. You know, you need to really think “Okay, what messages do I want to be telling people and sending out to the dating world?”
And, you know, when we’re dating, we’re like aspirational, you know, we are, you know, we’re not sitting around like showing the Netflix version of ourselves in our sweat pants. We’re showing the kind of like first date version. So it’s kind of being aspirational in that, as well thinking. Well, what do I want to communicate about who I am when I’m dating, you know, at the start of my dating life, and the rest of my life as well, but definitely the kind of, you know, you’re thinking with an aspirational, you know, that life’s good.
Alice: I definitely looked like the best I will ever look, in those photos. I mean, I will try my best but like I had a girlfriend who’s a makeup artist, she came over, but it was part of the experience of just like, she helped me get ready and I felt so confident going out and taking those photos. So, yeah, I think so.
Saskia: That’s so important. I always say this to my clients, make the same effort that you would on a really important hot date. So, you know and that’s different for everybody. But for a lot of people, it’s really taken the time. So, you know do your makeup, get your hair done, buy a hot new outfit, you know, all that stuff. Yeah, girl.
Alice: Yeah. Amazing.
Saskia: You know it’s all part of the experience. Outside you want to be in your fave[?] or the way you wanna be when you go on a first date. You want that kind of energy and vibe. So, yeah. The process should be good fun, you know, and I suppose, that’s what I was trying to create with “Hey Saturday”. One of the most important elements. I think you get that vibe when you visit our website or our social media channels. Is that like we’re kind of fun with a little bit tongue-in-cheek[?] but it’s about fun. We’re about color, bold color. Bold photos bring as much personality as possible and but really, it’s about the fun and that’s why we have photographers like Allison, they’re really chilled, fun, laid-back and really kind of help bring people out of themselves. So yeah, it’s a fun experience.
Alice: Yeah, really. It really was. And, can you please tell me like, how did you get this idea? How did this percolate and how did it start?
Saskia: Well, I did online dating for about nine years. So I met my boyfriend. Yeah, that’s kind of what it looks like, I mean on and off, you know. It wasn’t just like on the apps constantly. And this is, we’re going back quite away next. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a while now, but I did it for a long time. So it’s a big part of my life and at the beginning, I kind of hated it, you know, like the up-and-down drama of it all. I was like “Ugh. What am I doing?” and then I kind of figured stuff out and I set boundaries for myself and then it started to come quite enjoyable. However, I still wasn’t like finding my one but I was at least enjoying the experience.
But while I was doing that, I was also working at Sky TV in their coms department, and one of the things I noticed about Sky was how they, now this is how the idea was formed. How they market well, advertised certainly back then anyway, and they would use like their adverts that use one, massively powerful, kind of bold, colorful image, and then they might have three words with it, like, “Believe in Better”. Yeah, so it’s a beautiful image, colorful and bold, and just stunning, and then believe in better underneath and it would be like, wow. Okay, that would visually kind of impress people. And I thought to myself, wow, imagine if you could do something like that, but with your dating profile. You would actually be able to start attracting more interest to your profile.
But process visual information like 60,000 times faster than the written stuff. So the more you can visually intrigue somebody through, you know, with your photos, then you’re going to get their attention, rather than having a few shit photos and lots and lots of writing, that’s not going to work. So the idea kind of came to me through from that originally, it was about just having a, you know, creating a set of really bold images that made people look really good. They’re really beautiful. High quality is very important because who wants to look at a blurry, dark, you know out-of-focus images when you know, you look at another profile and it’s this beautiful, bold, bright, you know, high-resolution image. But you know which profile you’re going to click on right?
Alice: Oh, yeah.
Saskia: Yeah. And now that we actually live in a visual age. Now we live in the Instagram age, it’s even more important, you know, what you look like online matters so much and it’s that kind of the visual aspect is so important. So I was kind of ahead of myself a little bit, ahead of the times in that respect I suppose because Sky is ahead of the times, and that was where I got the idea from. But then, it obviously translated really well as we went into the Instagram, like, just taking over everything and reels and, you know.
Okay. Actually, it’s really important now and so, yeah, when I think, when I started, “Hey Saturday”, it was kind of people, like their clients coming to me. So this is like nine years ago, the clients coming. We’re like your early adopter types, people who would get on Apple, like you know years ahead of everyone else and they’d be like, yeah, this sounds like a really good idea, and then gradually it just became everyone going. Oh, yeah, I know, obviously, I need new photos and now it’s like you start dating and you’re like, oh God, I need some photos, right.
But like, when I started, it was quite…no one Googled it. It was an alien thing and so yeah, I think because I was working in the kind of creative area, it really helps on give me that idea, I suppose. When I started it, I Googled dating photographers. It just wasn’t a thing. So I feel kind of a little bit proud of myself and for starting something new. And it’s kind of like in the scheme of things. It’s not, you know, I’ve seen what some of your other guests do and it’s kind of like, okay. It’s not going to change lives and then it’s like–
Alice: Well, it is! It’s already changed my life. I think.
Saskia: Yeah, it can change lives but not in a life-changing way. You know, but now in a life-saving way. But in like making your life, like this much better place.
Alice: Fuller! More confidence. Like, loving yourself.
Saskia: Yeah. So important. Definitely.
Alice: And so you started in London and then you’ve moved on to all over the UK and as well as the New York. Can you talk a little bit about expanding?
Saskia: Yeah, I mean, yeah started in London, and then it became obvious. It’s starting to take off a lot. And so I just started doing my favorite cities around the UK.
Saskia: That I knew you would fit the vibe like brightens really cool Manchester’s like, you know, got this whole cool thing and Edinburgh. And so yeah, we kind of in all, you know, the major cities that I know and love.
And then I was, you know, how small the world is when you’re online. I am, I was kind of in touch with all these dating experts, coaches, and matchmakers in the US and predominantly a lot of them were in LA and New York, they still are. Yeah, that sounds great. But you know and then I was like hmm. Actually, there was a market for it. There’s still no one doing it over there like, you know, why not?
And so I decided to give it a go. So yeah, we’ve got photographers in LA and New York. So and that’s been happening since about 2015. So New York was 2015, LA a little bit later, I think? So yeah, that’s really exciting. And I love it and I’m going to both cities later this year. I’ve been for well since long before COVID. So yeah, I’m excited to go back and get married actually in New York.
Alice: Yay! Oh my gosh. So did you use, like your bright colors and your photos for your own dating app to find your now-husband?
Saskia: No, I didn’t.
Saskia: Yeah, because, I kind of like found him before I started the business.
Alice: Great. That’s even better.
Saskia: Actually his photos were so bad that I do joke that he was the one who gave me the idea.
Alice: That’s incredible. I know. You see, like some, really bad photos. Like I see like the bathroom selfie a lot like with the toilet. You’re like, I don’t want to see that.
Saskia: It’s the worst.
Alice: Instant no
Saskia: with a word with themselves.
Alice: Yeah, the like bodybuilder one. Instant no
Saskia: Yeah, totally bathroom selfies and gym selfies. And yeah.
Saskia: It’s like a fish one. Men with fishes. That’s so big and embarrassing.
Alice: Oh Yeah. Or men like hugging a tiger or something. I always see men with tigers.
Saskia: Yeah. Seriously. Like, what the heck? It’s insane.
Alice: Where do you even find the tiger?
Saskia: And also, what are you saying about yourself? It’s kind of like I am all man. I don’t know. So funny.
Alice: Yeah, that’s instant no.
Saskia: I’m so masculine. I hug tigers. It’s a bit mad.
Alice: It’s really. So Saskia, what are the top five things that we should be doing with our dating photos?
Saskia: Oh, okay. So, you need to have them, so if you’ve got poor quality photos by that, the pixelated they are dark, a lot of them are in neutral colors, they’re just low-res, you need to get rid. So the first step is to get high-quality photos because high-quality photos attract high-quality dates. Low-quality photos attract hookups and the like, as you can imagine.
So, you kind of have to put yourself in the mindset of, you know, if well as yourself, which would I choose? Well, I choose the high quality over the low quality if I’m looking for a serious relationship. So it’s just kind of like having common sense, I think a lot of the time. And then what else, be the only person in the shots. So all these groups shots and you know, like group shots are the worst. I mean, I have to face blindness so they are a nightmare for me anyway and but lots of people do have face blindness so it is an issue.
But also you’re making things hard for people with group shots. So, you know, ask. Because if they have to look and find out who or which one you are, then they could either look at your friends and go “Oh, I don’t like their friends. Hmm. No I’m not gonna.” you know go in there. That’s likely or they could look at your friend and go. “Oh, she’s hot”, you know another barrier in the way. And then also you’ve got the issue if you use someone from the opposite sex that can create a negative feeling within the person looking. and they might be like “Who is that person? Are they going to be in there?” like, you know, this stuff. So, just lose everything else and just have photos of yourself.
And lots of people ask about children, why have photos with their children? That’s one of the sins that my own boyfriend did. But no, I don’t think dating apps are the place to have photos of your children. I think, you know, I’m not a mother myself, but I wouldn’t want my children being on dating apps, you know, it’s kind of inappropriate really. So, you know, I think the time to show people photos of your children is on the first or second date when you’re feeling the vibe and it’s like, “hey, do you want to see? You know, I’ve got kids. Do you want to see what they look like?” Not and, you know, and even worse is using someone else’s children because I’m pretty sure other people don’t want you pimping out their kids all day. To put it bluntly, you know, so that’s a No-No.
And then faces with dogs are good though? Cats are a little bit dodgy.
Alice: Yeah, who wants a cat?
Saskia: Yeah, I mean, you know and then another good photo is a talking point picture. So that’s the photo where people go, “Oh, what’s happening here”. So it could be anything. It could be you doing a yoga handstand in the middle of the park or it could be, if you have a guy with a kind of saber thing, but it’s actually like a martial art pole. It could be any fun and think we’ve even had someone with a black eye. Well, not sure about that, but I don’t know.
Alice: Well I don’t know if I’d swipe on that one.
Saskia: No. And then the most important one is having a [inaudible] photo because that attracts 75% more attention than any other photo. So if you’re into any kind of sport or movement or dance, bring that into it because you’re going to attract someone with that. So those are my tips, to keep it short or you can see my reels on Instagram where I post a lot about them.
Alice: Yeah, that’s awesome. Looking good. I feel like I was like doing the mental checks. Like, “do I look like that?”
I think I got it.
Saskia: Oh yeah. You got it. Don’t worry, you’re good.
Alice: Yeah. Okay. I just want to know, like what has been your craziest story of taking these photos? Have you had like very strange experiences? I need to know.
Saskia: Try not to be judgmental. So I mean the beauty of this, is that everyone is very, very different and everyone, you know, and people who kind of put themselves out there and bring their crazy stories with, you know, we welcome that. It makes you stand out from others. It’s you telling your own personal story. So I love that.
But I would say, there was one client, a lady, a lovely lady actually. And she put her stuffed parrot, a dead stuffed parrot. And we had to find a way to clearly get a photo. You were fantastic. I loved you. But I did. Yeah. That was challenging like bringing in a stuffed dead parrot into your photoshoot. Well, yeah. We do. We don’t have any. We won’t judge, no judgment there. Yeah, you can, you know, well, you know, within reason, yeah, we try not to judge, but yeah, there have been a few crazy things. But the stuffed parrot was really tricky. I would say.
Alice: Yeah. Do you want a cracker?
Saskia: Yeah it was challenging.
Alice: That’s amazing. Wow. Yeah, I was really questioning like, “what should I bring as my prop” because as a theater director, I have like the weirdest things at my house, like, I’ve been spotted like carrying like a 100 pink plastic flamingos on the subway at one point.
Saskia: Oh my God
Alice: Like the strangest things. So I was like, oh, maybe this. And then, I was like, calm down Alice. They should know you first.
Saskia: Yeah. Maybe. A hundred pink flamingos, I mean that would be an amazing photo. I do like the idea that…and you would probably get a lot… that would be your talking point pick I think
Alice: Yeah, I should do that. Now, I’m thinking about it. Yeah. Next time.
Saskia: You could have brought it.
Alice: Yeah, just hauling it on the subway. Yeah, and one of our, the thing that we always ask on this podcast is what is your definition of womanhood?
Saskia: Oh, yeah, you know, I’m from I’ve never been asked that before in my life. So that’s yeah. I like it. That’s your question. That’s um, I would say that womanhood is not about like the biology, or the gender, or the physical body, or the clothes, or you know, femininity. It’s more about what’s underneath like the power house, the mindset, you know, who you are underneath I would say. It’s, it’s a visual mind, I suppose.
It actually made me think when I think of myself. I think of myself in terms of rage. Yeah, so I just had an interesting kind of thought process. But yeah, it was an interesting question. Thank you for that. [crosstalk]
Alice: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you. And then I’m just curious. What’s next for “Hey Saturday” you’ve expanded across the world. Well, what do you have for the future? What’s going on?
Saskia: That is a great question because I think the world is obsessed with growth, right? Yeah. Businesses and growing and stuff like that. And I’m obsessed now since COVID pandemic was personal growth. And so, I am at a stage with “Hey Saturday” where I’m happy with the level that it’s at and the number of photographers that we’ve got, and I’m not going to keep expanding or anything. Although I have spent time thinking about it.
But what I want to do more of because you know, a woman in her 50s, I want to spend more time enjoying my married life and traveling and things like that, while working on my passion, which is “Hey Saturday” and also creating. During the pandemic, I started painting and now I started doing work on the iPad and I’m illustrating stuff as well. So I’m yeah, I’m like becoming an artist beyond just photography. So I’m really excited about that.
But however, with “Hey Saturday” the next step will be at some point pivoting into video, probably, so that’s something that’s I’ve already started thinking through and how that might work, because I think the way the world is going at some point, we’re going to tip into video dating but not like, it was in the 80s. Not that I’d expect you to remember that, Alice, but first, some of us remember video dating in the 80s, especially in America.
It was really bad, but I think, I think video dating probably will start with gen z, and then it will you know, it’s going to be something at some point in the future. Where you have little video clips, but do the same. I know, that do the same as our photos, like just capturing kind of energy, vibe, personality, lifestyle, spirit. All that sort of stuff and that’s something-, I think would be our next pivot looking at how would we do that? How can we do that? Especially on a kind of photoshoot style.
Because obviously, a lot of people are going to be really not used to doing that, and I don’t really get a struggle. So, I think that kind of big pivot probably, but I will work that around my personal life development and growth and travel and “Hey Saturday” with where it is at now. So, yeah, that’s what’s next. I think.
Alice: Wow! Saskia. That sounds amazing. I think that’s great that you’re just figuring out your personal growth. Because you have an amazing business right now and like started it from the ground up 10 years almost and so that’s awesome.
Saskia: Yeah I know
Alice: That you can start to just work on yourself and, getting married. That’s amazing. Also, you said woman in your 50’s, I really thought you were in your 30s. So no clue.
Saskia: Oh God Alice. I love you. Thank you. That’s too kind.
Alice: That’s just awesome, and I really hope that I have found someone before the video dating becomes a thing, or I’ll just be like “Saskia, help me!”
Saskia: Yeah. Just come back if you need us. Yeah, I hope so too Alice. You will, with your amazing photos.
Alice: Well, Thank you.
Saskia: You have to let us know how you get on.
Alice: Yes. I definitely will. And Saskia, how can people find out about “Hey Saturday”? How can they use your service? How can they look up everything about you guys?
Saskia: Yes, so we’re just heysaturday.co on the web, or we are on Instagram, which is @heysaturday.co. So, I’m Sneezy[?] and I’m on Instagram, dropping tips and lives and things like that. So yeah, you should find out everything about us and we got a really easy booking platform as well. So we could do that. Actually, if your listeners wanted to book, I can do 10% discount for your listeners and I can drop you a code. Yeah, that’s not a problem.
Alice: Oh my gosh, that would be awesome. Cool.
Saskia: Yeah, no problem.
Alice: Well, thank you so much, Saskia. This has been amazing to get to talk to you.
Saskia: Yeah, it’s been so much fun. I really appreciate you inviting me on. It’s so lovely to connect with the client in this way, a former client, you know, that’s really nice. But I really appreciate it. And I’m glad you had a great experience with us.
Alice: Well, it was awesome. Yeah, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve told all of my friends.
Saskia: Aww. Love you, Alice. Thank you. Now you told everyone on the podcast!
Alice: I know! Yeah, well, thank you.