Friday, 27 May 2011

Set Building... Or some things are just best done in a studio...

Some wiser photographer than me once said " is 95% preparation and 5% creativity..." We can all argue as to the correct percentage split, as it depends on what aspect of photography we are involved in, but the principal is correct. To be prepared leaves you free to concentrate on being creative with the subject you are shooting...

We get asked to tackle some complex projects at the studio and building room sets is pretty high on the list. In this case we did this job sometime ago but as part of preparations for a couple of new projects... shh don't ask, or this blog post will self destruct... we have produced a video which shows some of the basics behind the process. As you'll see preparation is the key.

We had a very specific idea of what we wanted the pictures to look like. It was agreed with the client building a set was the only way to ensure that vision would become a reality. Too often, the outcome of a photo shoot can be left to chance. Hoping the lights will fit in the room, or that the walls will be the colour you want, or that there won’t be an ugly picture on the wall.  

There are a million little things like this which have an effect on the outcome of the final image... something clients can often not appreciate when they suggest you shoot in the showroom or customers home! Do you cross your fingers and hope the location you are shooting happen to have colours and furniture that go with the concept you have in mind, or do you prepare all these details before hand? Guess which is less stressful...

With 12 large, heavy, expensive marble and stone fireplaces to shoot there was just no possibility of shooting these on location... either in the client's showroom which had limited space or in customer home's... which might have some very dodgy decor! The only solution was building, lighting and propping a sequence of room sets.... so out with the hammer, the screwdriver, the timber and the paint... not to mention the flooring...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Weddings, Parties, Stag Do's, Hiking Holidays and your Business Profile

I was invited to speak last night to a group of local businesses at Darlington Business Club, as part of a presentation on social media. I was following Claire Mitchell of 19Marketing, the group Chair, who spoke about social media, what it meant and how it could form part of each and every business marketing plan.

I was there to share some examples of why everybody should think carefully about the images they use... particularly as a "Profile Image".

I didn't need to say much just pull a few "horrors" from that well known professional networking link site... business owners and directors using party pictures holding large drinks complete with fruit and umbrellas... the works! Then there was the commercial director of a large insurance company using his hiking holiday picture... complete with shorts! The marketing and advertising executive pictured on holiday, slumped in an airport chair looking bored, bored, bored! ( I know that feeling! ). Perhaps the one Profile Image which brought the house down was the web development director pictured acting the monkey up a tree!

You only have to think of the number of images that hit you on a given day, and how efficient you are at making subconscious assessments based on image content and style to realise the full implications. We all do it everyday... so what does your image say about you?

Perhaps as photographers we could all blame the rise of the "IPhone-O-Matic mug shot machine" but really I think it comes down to the fact that often business people don't realise the audiencesuch images will reach through any of the social media platforms.

Indeed I've heard from others that some companies are actually using employee I.D.badge photos as avatars for their Twitter folks, on Facebook pages or LinkedIn Profiles... Talk about being "penny-wise and pound-foolish!"

Having said that a quick trip to the local "omnipresent"supermarket is guaranteed to raise a smile... just look at the Customer Service Board with pictures of the Manager, Head of Vegetables, Baker etc... seriously they expect us to buy our food from them... yikes!

My part of the evening finished with an audience question on Copyright and Photography... foolish, foolish... I had to warn the audience that I had "form" on this subject and they'd best be prepared not to see family and friends for days... the last time I got into that subject myself and an interested group were the last one's in the bar and I don't think the glazed expressions were "liquid induced!" It was really interesting to see that the creatives in the room knew the score, but some of the other businesses represented didn't realise what was right and wrong.

Anyway it was a great experience, many thanks to Claire for the invitation and just to "keep this photography" below are a few portraits created for my clients...