Author: solutionary

Watching the Creative Live broadcast, How to Be a Commercial Photographer, last night. They used more lights than you can imagine to create an image of an expensive-looking bottle of liquor. Just the inspiration I needed, which presented an opportunity to try something similar with just a single light to get a bottle of liquor to sing. It’s harder than I expected – simply finding a suitable bottle can be a challenge but if I’m going to complete this week’s Project 52 assignment entitled “Being Exceptional” ( Discussion Page / Project 52) and, then I’m going to have to stretch my abilities a little further.

So six of liquor shots later….

with two white foam-boards, some help from my assistant, a ten second timer and by hand-holding a large softbox, here are the images before processing.

Liquor - BTS for Assignment 15: Becoming Exceptional

Once uploaded to the computer I was not too impressed; the lighting was not as I envisioned with a not-too-straight horizon and the camera had moved between shots. Nevertheless, let’s see what we can do to recover this as I do not have time to retake plus my assistant has left for the day.  There again, I do like the backlit image.

A few hours of Photoshop has helped me to almost reproduce my original vision.

Lighting the Liquor

I wonder if this type of lighting would even be achievable without Photoshop.

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Ken came to visit for Sunday Dinner this weekend and brought along his Nikon camera. I’d promised we would do a shoot using flash.  I’m not that good a teacher but it’s a great way to self-learn when you try to explain what and why you are doing something. Drinking too much Jack Daniel’s does not help!  Anyhow, before we opened the bottle of Jack Daniels’s, we did get numerous shots with all types of lighting arrangement.

After packing away the equipment and uploading the images to the computer it soon became apparent that we had missed a few elements of the image – Photoshop to the rescue again along with some new-found tips from the recent Creative Live broadcast How to Be a Commercial Photographer.  Here’s the final image.


jack daniel's - JM Does JD

 

We also had a little time for me to take a quick snap of one of my favourite aftershaves. A little over-processed but hey, so is the scent 🙂

Rough Diesel

 

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The following tips will help guide you towards getting a great headshot. There is also a downloadable eBook where I shares a wider range of advice – see the link at the end of this article to better understand the process of getting a great headshot.

Great Headshot Tips

1. A professional headshot delivers value.

Whether you are an individual or part of a large organisation, you are the face of your business. A compelling portrait gives you a competitive edge while ensuring that you are immediately recognised during meetings. Remember, it is not only about your appearance, this is about you representing your brand.

2. Connect with your audience.

A great headshot is a key component in representing your trustworthiness. It is often quoted that body language accounts for 55% of our communication; in a photograph this is distilled into your pose and facial expression. Consider what you want your headshot to tell your audience.

3. Identify where you need to use a professional headshot.

There are many reasons you may want an image of yourself, here are a few suggestions:

  • Social media profile images for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. (hyperlinks)
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Your business website
  • Professional forums and discussion boards
  • Personal branding
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Resumes
  • Comp cards and tear sheets for actors and models
4. Recognise what you really like.

Search the Internet, magazines and newspapers for the style(s) of portrait you prefer. Make sure to share these images with potential photographers to set expectations and to expedite the planning process (link to helpful tools and resources here).

5. Set the scene.

Your session can take place indoors or outdoors; in the studio, at a specific location or even within your workplace. Think about whether you want to be pictured in your working environment or for you to stand out against a simple background; it all depends on the mood you want to convey.

6. Take time to find the right photographer for you.

Just like any important purchase, do your research first. Get online and review a selection of portfolios to discover which photographer’s style meets your needs. It is important to note that some photographers are known for their particular style.

7. Get to know your photographer.

Always ask for a free consultation before you commit to buy. This will give you an opportunity to meet the photographer in person, work through your ideas, get your questions answered and to understand how they will work with you.

If you found these tips useful then you will want to download my free eBook “The Headshot eBook – A Guide for Clients”, which is packed full of helpful information including advice on choosing an appropriate wardrobe, details to clarify with your photographer, what to expect before, during and after your session, some links to useful tools and resources, plus a whole lot more.

Download the eBook

Great Headshot

This week, I had the good fortune to work with Mari…

…the owner of a fabulous showroom of unique, high-quality, restored furniture. You may have noticed I said “with” and that’s exactly how I like small business photography to be; I was working with the client to a common goal. We worked together on the ideas, we worked together to dress the sets and we discussed the future… together. A partnership is motivating for both parties and the results are far more likely to meet the customer’s expectations. Mari is a wonderful creative and restores all of the furniture on-site in the attached workshop. Small Business Photography Here are some of the behind the scene images. working with the client - BTS for Customer Photo Session working with the client - BTS for Customer Photo Session working with the client - BTS for Customer Photo Session working with the client - BTS for Customer Photo Session Other than furniture, there are plenty of other interesting items that proved very useful for dressing the set. working with the client - Customer Session For our next shoot, we are looking forward to introducing some models to create more lifestyle images. Not only will this add some scale, it will add fire to the buyers imagination. working with the client - Customer Session

Small business photography is about working with you within your budget and often at your location.

It’s a partnership, where we meet in advance of the session. This provides me an understanding of your business and your values and gives us time to sketch out ideas and set our expectations before the day of the shoot.

Combining a taste for vintage port wine with the challenge of bottle photography.

The first step is to create the lighting that best suits the subject. The choice of colour, shape and design of these bottles have been carefully developed by the producer. Therefore, in bottle photography, it is essential to pay attention to detail and show off the embossed motif and labels; these are fundamental to the identity of the brand.

These are vintage port wine bottles that were originally dirty, scuffed, scratched and just plain old. Many had damaged and misaligned labels as well as creased foil tops/capsules. When photographing new products, it is often possible to choose the best looking bottles. Not so in this case; here there is a limited choice with often only one example available.

Here is an example of the before and after images – drag the slider to the left and right to preview.

 

It is important to me to photograph each bottle as best I can. With all bottle photography, I regularly take two or three images and then merge them together after the session, during post-processing. Conversely, this helps to minimise the time required to bring them to a state that could be perceived as better than new.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of port wine then I recommend a visit to Porto. An excellent and reasonably inexpensive city break destination where you can visit one of the many port houses, such as Graham’s, for a tour and wine tasting session.

I am available to photograph your products, and as much as I enjoy it, not just wine! I produce images for all types of product and business, which can be as simple or as creatively adventurous to suit your needs.

You can contact me directly by telephone or by completing my contact form to schedule a consultation.


Based in High Wycombe (UK), supporting local, national and international customers.

Photograph some high heel shoes! Now, how hard can that be?

I immediately called my fashion-conscious daughter to provide a selection of her favourite heels.  I soon realised the design and construction of shoes present a far more complex subject than I had anticipated.  The intricate combination of shape, line, curves, and material pose a demanding but ultimately fascinating challenge.

High Heel Shoes BTS

High Heel Shoes Behind the Scenes

To get the image looking just right, required a more complicated lighting set-up then I would typically use. Introducing a number of speedlites to complement the studio strobes is a great way to add and quickly adjust the fine details with a wink of low-powered light as required.

Red High Heel Shoes Shoes

Dorothy’s Dance

Hanging High Heel Shoes

Suspend

Adding a splash, introduced a few new challenges. As a glass tank reflects, it’s no longer an easy process to place a light. Also, it was crucial not to water damage these expensive shoes.  Problem solving hat on…

High Heel Shoes Tank bts

High Heel Shoes in Tank – Behind the Scenes

The extra effort paid off…

High Heel Shoes Splash

Disruption

Photographed as part of a Project 52 assignment

I strive to be the best I can…

…and then I push myself a little further!
I have found that there are few shortcuts to self-improvement. For the majority of us, we become an expert through study, practice, good old-fashioned hard work and hopefully, enjoying what we do. One way to help move forward, is to draw upon the knowledge of current and past masters of photography. In this, I am afforded a glimpse of the world from a different perspective, rich with experience.

To gain this insight, I have embarked on an eight week portraiture study. This is no usual watch and learn, this is hands on and get on with it affair, led by my good friend Don Giannatti. My aim is to take elements of what I learn to incorporate into my own photography, to get away from the safe haven of the ‘go to’ lighting set-up, camera angles and poses, to offer my customers that something extra, to step up the level of quality.

These first two weeks of portraiture study have been spent with Skrebneski and Karsh. I have been pushed hard into new territory and the speed of discovery has been breathtaking! Here’s a sample of my journey so far.

Victor Skrebneski

Portraiture Study

 

Portraiture Study

Victor-Skrebneski-Study-03

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf-Karsh-Study

Yousuf-Karsh-Study-2

Yousuf-Karsh-Study-3

Next on the portraiture study agenda is Sarah Moon, she will certainly put me, my thought processes and skills to the test!  Then we move onto what I would describe as the more traditional photography found in the work of Peter Lindbergh. When something is this enjoyable how can it be labelled work?

The Art of Dining Out

As a photographer, I am keenly interested in how images help persuade me when, where and how to spend my hard earned cash.

I travel on a regular basis and I like my food. Unfortunately, the two rarely mix well , so I’m continually searching for great locations for dining out. If practical, I’ll ask a friend or colleague for a referral and often, I’ll brave searching my favoured online advisers. Once I have my dining out shortlist, I almost always visit each restaurant’s website to get directions, check the menu and scan the prices so that I won’t be too surprised when presented with the bill!

So why do I choose one restaurant over another?

In order of preference, I would say…
1. Value for money
2. Perception of quality (Referrals/Reviews/Website)
3. My food preference
4. The location

Of course, everyone’s priorities differ! With that in mind, I have included links to several relevant articles that I found interesting and I hope you will too.

40 Tasty Restaurant Websites to Inspire You
Since the main content of a restaurant is their food – or at least it should be – there is no better thing to do than show beautiful images of the food…

An Excellent Series of Marketing Articles
From “Strategies to Help Google Find Your Restaurant” to “How to Incorporate Your Restaurant Website into Your Customer’s Experience”

The Art of Food Photography
They say a picture paints a thousand words. But it can also tempt the appetites of millions of hungry customers…

Restaurant Marketing: What Do You Need?
This is the second article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your restaurant and make it a success.

Triggering Taste Buds Through Imagery
Considering the incredibly competitive nature of the restaurant industry, maintaining a steady flow of foot traffic can be a tall order, especially since the dining experience begins long before a customer walks through a restaurant’s doors.

Restaurant Statistics
Find out some interesting (and not so interesting) stats about the restaurant industry, you may be surprised!

We were recently commissioned to photograph a Church Architect for a business portrait. The setting was a prestigious Grade 1 listed church located in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The church receives many thousands of tourists, pilgrims, and architectural enthusiasts throughout the summer and dates to the 13th and 18th century. The Church Architect maintains the fabric of the structure and is designing the first extension in over 250 years.

Collaborating with Joshua Harrison of  Cohanim Architecture was a pleasure, allowing me the latitude to create these amazing images. As a result, I was able to convey the passion and responsibility Mr Harrison feels for his clients in his profession.

It is a privilege to photograph one of the oft unsung heroes who help maintain England’s rich and beautiful heritage.

Business Portrait Headshot

To me, an outstanding and memorable business portrait is one that integrates you with your working environment. It sounds obvious, but I regularly see the opposite, which only enhances the honour I feel each and every time that I create a business portrait that clearly tells my clients’ story.

Business Portrait Full Length

Achieving the right balance between business portrait and business environment is crucial…

…and the set-up requires the delicate use of studio lights to take advantage of the ambiance of the natural light. Consequently, the resulting portraits will look as if they are naturally lit.

Business Portrait Behind the Scenes

Certainly, having such a beautiful location steeped in history offers plenty of inspiration. Therefore, if you find yourself in or around High Wycombe on a lazy Sunday afternoon, find some time to visit  St Lawrence Church and the surrounding area; West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe Caves will also serve you well for your day of sightseeing. The views from the church tower are astounding

West Wycombe Hill View West Wycombe Hill View

You may be interested to learn that St Lawrence Church has been featured in the popular TV series ‘Downton Abbey’. Most recently it was also the setting for a scene in the latest Bridget Jones movie.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R2gIC8oq2Q[/embedyt]

 

You can read more information about St Lawrence Church on Wikipedia and at West Wycombe Church

Update 2016-10-06: Pleased to achieve front page of ‘the door’. Pick up a copy from one of the 855 churches in the area http://www.oxford.anglican.org/

business portrait article

Just one thing.  How would you say  in an image?

Moreover, how can you convey a wide-ranging concept such as ‘just one thing’ that is both immediately understood and eye-catching?  For me, it’s starting with the creation of a list of descriptive words – writing down what pops into my head. Getting ideas out onto paper without restriction, not concerning myself with whether it is right or wrong. Just five minutes later I had well over a hundred words in front of me… a great starting point.  To simplify the list, I put them into vague groups such as emotion, movement, color, senses and so on.  Now that I had this organised in front of me, I was starting to add more words as ideas feed on ideas.

Just One Thing

Just One Thing – Spark

Click!!! My brain made a connection

I quickly came to the conclusion that I wanted to depict movement and instantly ‘speed’ sprung to mind. Speed is fairly easy to simulate with a blur streaking across the image but it seemed too obvious and certainly would limit my creativity… Click!!! My brain made a connection.  If using a single word to express just one thing was limiting, then I should not restrict myself. to single words – the one thing I portray and the one thing the viewer sees can and will be different.  Now we are getting somewhere I smiled to myself, then continued to consider the many ways we relate to and share the wonders of language.

Red is not just a color, it’s the blush of embarrassment, the mist of anger or the ripeness of fruit. The bringing together of hands can be translated as applause, prayer, respect or dominance. Seeing new relationships form between my loosely grouped words, I could begin to visualize and combine… my concept was coming together, solidifying.  Now to put these ideas into action…now to say just one thing in an image.

Hands are expressive, add impact to words and often communicate in a common language… A perfect subject!