CASE STUDY: CQR Cables Factory Photoshoot – Wirral

CQR Factory Photoshoot Case Study 

This project was commissioned to make new marketing images for CQR, a company making certified security, alarm and network cables, on the Wirral peninsula.

Here is the blog as a video, if you prefer watching to reading

August 2021 – Blue skies!

On a beautiful summers day, I met up with the head of marketing, Dan Casey, and we had a guided tour around the factory to learn about all the processes. There are far more than you’d expect – as you’ll see in the photos. 

Unleashed on the Factory!

Then we were unleashed on the factory with lights and cameras, shooting each stage of the process and getting to know the team as we went along. Most were camera shy, as usual, but we won a few around!

The story of a humble cable

The images tell the story of a single length of wire as it gets its new coat, gets to meet other wired then gets an overcoat, before finally getting wound onto spools ready to be sold to the public. 

Bare wire being tested

Multicoloured cables

We start with wire cables, getting coated in coloured plastic, and then going on to huge spools. 

Getting a blue coat

Capturing quality control

At all stages, the wires are all tested for faults by automatic detectors.

And eventually, they get wound into larger cables and coated with a white plastic finish.

Many wires become a cable

What the photos will be used for

The purpose of the shoot is to make images that illustrate to the processes and people involved in creating these cables. These can then be used for brochures, websites, exhibition stands and social media – and anywhere else they can think of.

I’ve never really put too much thought into how those wires get their coatings, there’s a lot more goes into it than you may have guessed!

We also did the “raiders of the lost arc” corridor of high shelves of storage photographs, which always look great. 

Where’s the Lost Arc?

Switch Assembly Line

There was a second side to the business where they were assembling switches.

This was a more hands-on process, so we had lots of smiley faces to capture.

For the shy, we did close-ups of their hands instead – because, in factories, hand photos always show, expertise, skill and nimbleness – whilst protecting the anonymity of those who prefer not to be photographed.

 

And the final product

It’s great to see the product go from its raw cable form to the packaged product stacks on pallets. 

Cables ready for sale!

A drone photo to show the site

At the end of the shoot, as it was a beautiful day, we also took the drone out and got a few photos from way up above, showing the end of the Wirral 

CASE STUDY: Clearsite Solutions New Brand Photography

https://youtu.be/OerDMZkhlX4

I don’t know how marketing people do it, but they do come up with Amazing straplines than just sum up a business instantly. 

Fliss Lee, from “Honest Folk” in Morley, describes Marc’s business, Clearsite Solutions, perfectly in one sentence

Providing the blank canvas you need to create your unique standout spaces. 

Marc’s business goes into offices, buildings, shopping centres, units or anywhere that business happens, and removes all trace of the old business, ready for the new one to move in and make their own mark. 

Fliss was creating a new brand and website for Marc and needed photos of what they do to illustrate the website and fuel their future marketing. A suitable project arose in Bristol in one of the largest shopping, centres in the city back and these teams had been stripping out this shopping unit.

Our challenge was to create some engaging photos, which showed professionalism, health and safety, the team in action and the tools involved in such a project, from what was essentially a site of carnage and destruction! LOVE a challenge 🙂

So the first thing was to meet the team, who were busy grinding things from the ceiling. Anything that involves sparks will look great in photographs, so this was the first setup. 

I set up the tripod and a couple of lights and put the camera on long exposure to capture the sparks flying across the room – this would create little orange lines of light – a bit like a firework. 

We then had the team demonstrate a lot of the different tools and processes they use to pull things down. Big boys toys if you like – but all tools for specific tasks to make things quick and safe.

Another part of the brief was to get some relaxed photographs of Marc for his personal brand. So we organised a quick meeting downstairs where he could chat to the team and relax a little.

A bit like most business owners, Marc isn’t keen of being photographed. So shooting these candidly, like a “fly on the wall”, worked really well and we got some great shots. 

Also, we needed a couple of solo shots, an industrial setting and used one of the tunnels underneath the shopping centre. He just walked up and down the tunnel twice and we got lots of options for him. 

Another thing we needed to illustrate was Marc managing the project. So we got him working on the laptop, using a seat by the window overlooking the mall to hint at locations they work in. Actually, we captured a couple of team shots out in the shopping mall so you can see brands like New Look and KFC and the background. 

Marc had seen some “creative” team photos I’d created using coloured lighting, each holding different tools. So we got the guys involved and used some coloured flush to create a few  🙂

The final idea was to capture a few images of the new marketing materials with the brand on – so the phone case, business cards and helmets. These images can be cropped to any size for any marketing or advertising use where you need a hint of the logo to add a splash of colour.

We’re looking forward to updating Marc’s imagery periodically over the next few years as his business goes from strength to strength.

Can you photoshop me?

Anybody who photographs “normal people” will hear this question – every single shoot!

It’s our “question everyone asks”.

People want to look their best and they put their trust in you, also a great Icebreaker. 

The answer is “Yes of course”, we always do “something” to the photograph, just how far and how long we spend on the shot is a budget consideration – and that’s the purpose of this blog to show a few things we can do.

There are LOADS of tools and techniques available to us these days:-

  • some quick “make you look amazing” filters, which are fast and affordable – but can make you look a little plastic
  • some have clever filters to find and brighten your eyes and teeth
  • some use machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence – these can do do a cracking job, but cost a fortune! 
  • Some high-end Photoshop techniques (e.g “Frequency Separation” and “Dodge and Burn”) can take a skilled Photoshop retoucher hours, with results that look amazing – it’s how cover images for fashion magazines are created

Andy Taylor Boocock

Let us have a look at the progress of this photo of Andy.

Above, straight out of the camera it is quite a dark and Moody photo. The reason is that I want the background dark and mysterious for the photo. I had to lower the power of the flashes to stop them from lighting the background. It’s one of those challenges of “location shooting”. Stopping light going where you don’t want it!

Step 1 

I send the photo to dxo photolab – I really like its lens correction and sharpening, seems more refined than Adobe have managed so far. You will not see a huge change from the original at this resolution, but the “detail” is amazing from this step – especially for prints.

Step 2

I’ve changed the background to be cooler and slightly purple using Lightroom, I thought it would contrast with Andy’s outfit. I’ve also brightened Andy quite a bit to make him pop out of the background.

Step 3

This is where we look at the skin in Photoshop.

Andi doesn’t have many blemishes, so we didn’t need the healing tool in Photoshop.  I used a technique called dodge and burn which is designed to even out skin tones, giving a natural look.

We are not “blurring the pixels” so make things softer, as many techniques do,  but hanging how neighbouring pixels are so they look more even. It’s a more natural way to soften skin – though more time-consuming.

Step 4

I returned to Lightroom to add final tweaks – if you notice I have darkened the edges of the photo a little (called a vignette), slightly lightened the shadows from his glasses on the cheeks, and sharpened up the texture on his jacket.

And that’s as far as I’d go with this one.

Jana – Dental Nurse

Here’s a shot from a busy Dental Surgery in Huddersfield

It’s taken in Reception with the company logo in the background – I positioned a couple of lights to brighten the area and light Jana.

Step 1

Straight out of the camera, the RAW file. Just the baseline.

Step 2

Send the RAW to DXO to sort out sharpness and lens corrections, again you won’t see much difference at this resolution, but if it ever gets printed, it’ll add a bit of magic to the shot.

Step 3

Basic edits in LIGHTROOM – so basics like:-

  • get the white balance correct, easy with a white wall
  • Brighten the background in this case – it’s a white wall, so make it very bright
  • Adjust the brightness and colour intensity on Jana

This is often where “basic editing” would end – you’ve got the colour, contrast and brightness correction, and the shot looks good to go for many use cases.

Step 4

Next would be to look at the skin, as with Andy above, Jana has great skin so it may be hard to compare – but I’ve applied Dodge and Burn, and Blemish removal, to this next shot – it’s subtle but does look more refined. Look at the cheeks – it’s just a little more smooth and balanced after D&B.

Step 5

So now we can “tidy up” a little – in the background, we can see a cupboard handle and the pegs that hold the sign in place. There’s nothing “wrong” with them, but we can easily remove them to clean things up.

Also, just used a little bit of “frequency separation” to soften a few smile/laughter lines – very subtle again. See if you can spot them.

Step 6

And the final step in here was to brighten teeth and eyes, we use masked Curves Layers to do this so we can finely adjust how bright they are.

Sometimes you go too far with this and they look like vampires. When you come back the next day and realise you got carried away, you can adjust the curves down to something more human!

So…. Can you Photoshop me?

Yes – and hopefully these show one of the workflows photographers can do for you. There are many, some may just use Portrait Professional which instantly makes you look like a doll (flawless skin, bright eyes and teeth etc.) or go through these more intricate techniques.

It’s all down to the budget which route you choose – some more challenging photos could take a day if you used Frequency Separation and Dodge and Burn, or a couple of minutes in other tools!

Supercharge your Editing with new LIGHTROOM MASKS

Lightroom just changed its selective editing tools into one new mega-powerful suite, called “masking”.

It’s hard to sum up how powerful this change will be for editing in future, so instead I’ve created a short video showing you to colour a specific area of a photo using two of the controls.

Sounds easy?

Well, it is now – but it’s something which may have taken hours of pain with the old tools!

Is DXO the ultimate RAW Editor?

For years I’ve read about this mythical software called DxO and its magical ability to create superbly detailed, best-in-class photos from your camera raw files. Like most people I know, I’m a happy Lightroom user and love its workflow, and have an intimate knowledge of what every slider does, so was never looking for something to replace it.

The Problem(s) With Lightroom

I may be accused of heresy here, but sometimes I despair at what Lightroom sharpening does when I want to pull detail out of shadow areas (and sometimes even in those bright areas).

Also, the noise reduction can get a little bit mushy, so in a shadow region, if you apply my Luminosity noise reduction, all the detail disappears and you get a block of pastel colour – rather than detail in those pixels.

I’ve used most raw editors and never really found a workflow that would fit into my Lightroom world…. But now with dxo maybe, just maybe, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What a lightroom add-on would do – in a perfect world

What I want is something to take care of the noise reduction, lens optic corrections and sharpening, so I can switch those off in Lightroom. That is exactly what the DXO have created. PureRAW and photolab can both create enhanced raw files from your cameras raw file.

So what?

Well, it means you can import those into Lightroom as raw files and edit them in any way you can tweak a normal raw file but the best-in-class noise reduction and sharpening has already been applied so you can switch those off in Lightroom.

Here is a very short video where I talk about it and show an example

I’ll do a future video showing my new workflow

Save it for “best” photos only

I will add that although this is a fantastic way to pull out detail, there are two things that mean that I won’t be using it for absolutely everything

Processing Time

First is is the time it takes to generate these files. I do have a pretty powerful computer and each 5D Mark 4 file takes around a minute to process. This is not such a big issue if you are editing maybe 10 photos from a landscape day, but I unknowingly started a batch going from an event I photographed with 700 photos in and it took all day to chew through them! That is with its best noise reduction setting I will hasten to add – lower settings are far quicker.

File size

Secondly, the enhancer of files are significantly bigger – 3 times bigger in my experience, so the same size as a TIFF file of the same photo. You can pretty quickly fill your hard drive with duplicate raw files if you decide to.run absolutely everything through this program. So be selective

Andy at Eggborough

If you set up a camera tripod and flashes outside an operational power station, it wouldn’t be long before security along asking you to move on, I know because it’s happened to me a few times. If you ask them whether terrorists often turn up with a model, 3 tripods and flashes, they are not amused – a sense of humour bypass is part of the job, maybe?

These massive cooling towers make a huge impact on any portrait shoot, so now that Eggborough near Selby has been decommissioned I decided to bite the bullet and take and the over there for a shoot.

Obviously got to go as dramatic as possible with such a skyline, and the clouds on the day really added to the Vibe.

Photography Bit…

If you are into kit here is what we used…

Camera…

The lights were all GODOX

  • Rim lights – Godox AD200 at around 45 degrees on either side of Andy, simple reflectors
  • Key light – Godox AD600 with 60cm beauty dish
  • Trigger – Godox X-Pro

It was a really bright day so you can imagine that the camera aperture needed to be small (around F11-f16) to kill the ambient, and flash power settings are pretty high – 1/2 or full power on most.

Another option was to do High-Speed Synch to kill the ambient and shot at 1/2000th – rather than shooting at 1/200th – I just seem to err towards high power and small aperture, the force of habit I guess 🙂

The Photos

Here are a few from the day…

6 Ways to Bring Industrial Processes to Life with Creative Imagery

If you’re in the business of manufacturing, chances are you’re looking for new ways to show off your processes. Whether it’s for internal or external use, seeing your process in action can be an effective way to communicate what makes your company tick. There are some basic things you can do before getting started to ensure that you know what you’re shooting and why. We’ve put together a few tips for anyone who wants to take pictures of industrial processes.

A few tips

Rotherham’s “Owen Springs” have been creating Leaf Springs for road vehicles and trains for over 30 years, the photos in this article are all of their amazingly skilled team, processes and hot bits of metal.

1. Why take pictures?

Photographs uniquely show the viewer your processes instantly and can be used both online and in print.

2. Before you shoot

First, think about what you are going to use the images for and who the audience is. That should guide you towards what kind of images are needed.

Maybe you need lots of wide shots to show off the buildings in an editorial piece, or it could be the close-ups of your processes, testing rig and team in action.

You know best what is important to show, so it’s a step well worth doing.

3. The basics of industrial photography

At McFade, the basics are to tell stories with our images. We document your processes as we see them, take your guidance on what’s important as you describe them on shoot day, and add in a bit of light and lens magic to bring it all to life.

4. Taking the perfect picture

We always bring our lighting, a huge range of lenses and even a drone to give us as many options as possible. We’ll try whatever is safe and legal to get that shot for you.

5. Editing your photos so they pop!

Industrial processes can be incredibly photogenic and striking, our post-processing is designed to maximize the Visual Impact so so you stand out above the crowd in any Google search or Social Media platform.

6. Sharing your photos with the world

Once we have delivered the photographs, make sure you have a content marketing plan in place ready to unleash all your new images on the world. We would recommend drip-feeding images slowly Over The Long Haul rather than posting 50 in one go though!!!

In Conclusion

Industrial photography can help you communicate a lot about your business quickly and effectively, but it can be a little tricky to get right without experience – I hope these tips for taking great pictures of your industrial processes is helpful

Stretch and Burn – Lifestyle Shoot

Fitness Photography in the Pennines

We helped an amazing local brand who create sustainable, limited edition fitness clothing with their lifestyle photography – the owners, Clare and Rick, started Stretch and Burn in the lockdown.

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, limited edition pieces designed for real people, not mass produced and focused on longevity so we don’t add to the clothing mountain. earth. limited edition

Read more on the Stretch and Burn Website

Creating images to get you noticed

The biggest challenge for any product, service, or business is getting noticed. With so much information out there, consumers are overwhelmed. You need to understand that your customers experience your brand in the same way you experience your favourite brands.

The Pennines are some of the most incredible natural landscapes in the UK, and the perfect setting for a fitness photography shoot. The region’s terrain is both challenging and thrilling — so it’s no surprise that many runners and cyclists have been inspired to train here, particularly on a route known as Holme Moss – which featured in the Tour de France.

Armed with a few photoshoot essentials, a team of assistants (Rick and the kids!) and 4 amazing models, we spent our day shooting in the gorgeous scenery.

How to Get Started as a Model – The Test Shoot

How do you get started in this industry?

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the amazing photos gracing magazine covers and advertisements. You might even have a few friends who’ve modelled for various modelling sites and agencies. But what do you really need to know about getting started?

The first step to getting started is to create a portfolio

This means taking those first steps, getting some great photos with great photographers. Have a look locally for creatives, use Instagram and social media to see who’s working near you. Politely approach them.

Once you have your portfolio, you need to be selective about who you shoot for

Think about the style of images you’d like – match that to the photographer’s portfolio. Mix it up, some photographers do great natural light shots – others, like me, prefer dramatic lighting. Shooting for a completely new photographer is great fun and usually free, but you may end up with shots you can’t use, so just be wary of wasting time.

You can’t just shoot anywhere. In fact, you should only shoot at the best photographic locations

Be aware of this – a studio is usually a safe bet, and using a great location like the tunnel we did Ngary’s test shot in was pretty epic. If you use your back garden, it may not work so well…

Relax

The most important part of this is to relax, have fun, and be natural. You can’t force creativity! Happy shooting!

Ngary

Here’s a test shoot and rekke I did with Ngary in a tunnel beneath the M1 – such an exciting location, with the corrugated, curved walls creating all kinds of patterns.

A tour of the Yorkshire Dales

The yorkshire dales are pretty stunning – rolling green hills with limestone edges and pavements, waterfalls and woodlands, sheep and cattle and of course, lots of lovely walls making patterns throughout the landscape.

Here we have 5 360-degree pano tours linked in Klapty, they are:-

Arncliffe

Taking in the lovely littondale and the road which climbs out of the valley to Malham.

Road to Malham

This is 1/2 way up the climb out of littondale so you get more of the cliffs in the shot

Settle

Just near to the Scalebar Force, there are a few craggy hills on the edge of ribblesdale. I flew the drone to 400 feet and a bit closer to them and all 3 of the 3 Peaks can be seen in the distance!

Gordale Scar

High above this most iconic of limestone features of teh dale, an amazing view of the topology of the area

Malham Cove

The 250+feet tall dry waterfall that defines the area, taken from very high above and far away to ensure no wildlife was disturbed. This shows us the green fields towards Lancashire and the rocky outcrops if you look into the dales.

Saltaire, Bradford – A Virtual Drone Tour

Saltaire Bradford – A World Heritage Site

A World Heritage Site in Bradford, Saltaire is is the creation of of a Victorian entrepreneur sir Titus Salt. It’s a small village built to house and serve the people who worked in his gigantic Mill on the Leeds Liverpool canal. He built facilities in Saltaire like the victoria Hall for functions, a Methodist chapel, a hospital and a school so everything the workers could need, was to hand and readily available.

UNESCO designated Saltaire Bradford a World Heritage site and have guaranteed it’s preservation as a memorial, orbea a living memorial, to the Victorian era of will working.

DJI MINI 2

So armed with my DJI mini to I visit a few weeks ago and found a few quiet places where I could send it up and capture some photos of Saltaire. Whilst the little quadcopter was my I would occasionally grab a 360-degree photosphere, something it does as an automatic setting.

Accidental Photo Tour!

Little did I know a few weeks later whilst investigating how to to show 360-degree photos on Facebook and the like, that I would land upon some software which was able to create virtual tours in a fairly rapid and enjoyable way.

So I hope you enjoy having a little look around the area and do click upon the flashing dots because they take you to the next photos. You will notice that most of the images are from three spots which I’ve found that very few people around. Although the mini allows you to to fly near people it’s always a politeness to keep your distance because not everybody knows the rules and some may get a little upset.

Drone Virtual Tours…

An Accidental Find

So I was looking for a way to host and view 360-degree photos taken with my DJI mini 2 drone found this virtual tours software which allows you to upload many 360-degree photographs and then navigate around from photo to photo.

How it’s done

The way I created this was to let the drone do it’s 360° thing on its own, which creates 26 raw files. I then import all the raw files into Lightroom and use that to merge all the raw files into one huge file. Doing it this way allows you to have more control over the brightness than you would do using JPEGs.

Once you have all the big files ready to rock I export them as and just upload them to this site, KLAPTY, within a new “Virtual Tour”

Leeds University

Here is an example around Leeds – including a couple of bonus shots I accidentally uploaded from Clarence Dock!

Hot Spots

Along with most other virtual tours products, you can add hotspot anywhere on the photos which the viewer can click. This takes them to different parts of the tour. With the drone it’s quite handy to pick big iconic buildings which people are drawn to.

Or if you are from a tiny little village like the one I came from, you just pick a few spots like in this photo tour from Lancashire

Pendleton Lancashire

Going Commercial

Luckily on my recent trip to Chesterfield I decided to take a few 360-degree photographs of the site we were doing, the main purpose was to capture some video and normal aerial photos, but by chance decided to get a few of these.

And hey presto. a few minutes of processing later and we can have for 360-degree views all linked together with a few hotspots.

This tour technology can be added pretty quickly to any website by just copying and pasting some code into a blog post or a web page.

That is all I did with the two tours above.

So if you are a business which has a big location which could look cool viewed from the sky, then I would definitely be interested in creating a few 360 panoramic and and creating a new tour for you. It will be simple and like the ones above but hopefully Add A Little Bit of Magic to your website that the competition doesn’t have yet.

Drone Photos for Civil Engineering

Aarsleff’s Project in Chesterfield

Ground engineering specialists, Aarsleff, have created this huge retaining wall for a new build in Chesterfield – it’s included lots of piling, steelwork and concrete, and we were invited along at the start and end of the project to capture some images and movie drone footage for them.

360 Degree Views

Here we have a couple of completed project shots. Both taken as 26 individual RAW photos by the DJI Mini 2 drone, then stitched together

This first one is done using LIGHTROOM – the resolution is extremely high and we are able to use all out experience of photo editing to enhance the image if needed. You can see the detail in the wall if you zoom in

This second one is from the DJI Phone app – so completely bended and uploaded from the phone. It’s a better 360 result, if you move around the image (with a mouse on a computer, or finger on the phone) you can see straight down and below the drone better – but the resolution isn’t as crisp as the lightroom edit.

The good thing is we can create both from the files, so whichever you prefer we can do.

Aerial Photos

We also shot a lot of straight shots – the Mini shoots at 12 mega pixels, which is more than enough for any website. You could easily have full-screen images on a retina display.

Using the Mini 2 has huge advantages due to the size and weight, allowing us to plot routes larger drones cannot do without lots of time and investment gaining permissions. So along with the elevated closer photos, we are able to fly further away from the site and capture some distant shots showing the site in context of the city.

Video

I captured and dropbox-ed over lots of video clips on both trips so marketing team have plenty of footage.

I don’t usually edit video for people as it’s still a “development area” for me, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve put about 8 clips together with some jaunty free library track….

We’re going to be shooting another few sites with them this year, hopefully we’ll get a decent day for one, though even these duller days bore some great shots and footage.

How could our drone help you?

The drones are an exciting additional service we can now offer, and with the new laws in 2021, an A2 C of C qualification, light weight drones (A1-Transitional compliant) and commercial insurance, we’re fully legal to shoot almost anywhere.

The main limitations are 400 feet in the air and not near “no fly zones” without permission – so football grounds, jails and airports are all require a few phone calls to arrange.

Using tiny drones, both below 500g, means all the old rules on distances from people no longer apply, so we can fly legally in all kinds of places:-

  • your garden to get photos of your house,
  • on your building site to show progress or the layout
  • inside your factory to show size
  • over your golf course to show each hole
  • from 15 feet in the air to get a great team photo of everyone looking up at the drone
  • from almost any angle you can think of which I can get the drone to safely!

Most of this would need expensive planning, qualifications and permissions to organise, but with the A1 Transitional Category of DRONES, which both of ours are, we just have to avoid flying over “uninvolved people” – hence the unprecedented flexibility and affordability we can offer now.

Drop me a note – ade@mcfade.co.uk – if you want to know more

A Simple Tip For Everyone!

I am a huge fan of experimentation when learning something and photography is the perfect subject to get out into the field and just try things to see what happens.

Most of us end up taking the same photograph over and over again…

This is great in the field, but very boring when you get back to the computer and have to look at the same thing over and over again. Plus you only get 1 possible photo, even if you’ve taken 50 shots.

So my tip is ridiculously simple.

Take a photo and then move the camera somehow to recompose a new shot, before you take your next photo. Even if it is just rotating the camera slightly or zooming in – these little movements allow you to keep on experimenting and learning, but also give you you variety and potentially many useful photos – instead of one photo repeated over and over.

Photoshopping Sunrays with Curves

Sometimes you only get a fleeting second of light and you’ll have to grab what you can with the camera you having your hands.

The story behind this photo is that we were walking to a limestone pavement to capture photos of trees growing out of rocks when one of the clouds opened and let the sun shine through for what was only a few fleeting seconds. This is the image I grabbed.

Luckily I did have a 2 stop neutral density grand filter on the camera so could protect the highlights to some extent but as you will see in this video the foreground is pretty much black and the sky is almost burnt out.

In this full length tutorial I take you through the steps to rescue something from this grab shot, starting from the raw file in Adobe Lightroom and working 2-in Photoshop with luminosity masks and curves layers to lighten the darks and enhance contrast.

Modern Property Photography

Like many people I have used HDR or purely ambient light for property photography for years, when time permitted I would use a a flash or 2 to add some light to the rooms but the results were always a little bit garish, bright and weird shadows would get in the way.

Flash and Ambient light combined

This relatively novel technique is where are you capture all the ambient shots you would normally get for an HDR and also so use some very powerful bounced flash light to 2 to create that flash image of the room as well.

I would recommend you do as many flashes as as you see fit whilst travelling around the room because the more you have to play with in Photoshop later the better the results can be

Your old work should be embarrassing!

How do you know whether you are progressing at photography? 

Well, There are many ways to look at this, it could be 

  • how successful you are with competitions in your local camera club
  • or whether you get more likes and praise on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Flickr 
  • or more sales and new clients

But that’s all secondary really, and external factors like popularity and your own activity (marketing, “liking” others work) come into play. 

The Cringe Factor

Now the best way of telling whether you’ve progressed is whether when you look back a year or two, or even 10, and see the work you were producing then, you are slightly embarrassed by it – there’s a cringe factor! 

You know what you did wrong and how you would do it better now. 

I saw an interview with Pink Floyd’s guitarist, Dave Gilmour, where he said he wished he’d done a better job of the intro to “Wish You Were Here” – something millions of guitarists have laboured over to copy exactly. I guess he has very high standards 🙂

A cringe factor is a sure sign of progress. It shows growth in:- 

  • how you compose an image, 
  • how you light it, if you use lighting, 
  • or increased location knowledge, when you walked to the perfect position for the perfect light on a sunset landscape image. 
  • Or maybe it’s how you organize your food and light that for a restaurant shoot
  • how you process an image – did you use toning, or straight? High contrast or muted?
  • techniques you used and abandoned or maintained

All these factors come into play photography, it’s not about how you click the button, but all the little details you learn from experience and especially from working with other people. 

The Flaws are obvious to you

So when you take a look back 5 or 10 years, you should be able to point out lots of flaws in those photos, in 10 years you can go from a complete novice to professional. 

But what about a year ago when you look back at a year at some work you were doing? 

How do you feel when you go back just 12 months? 

With my work realised that I made the rear “rim” lights on my portraits a bit too bright, so they burnt out on the back and sides of people’s heads. There would be no detail left. So now I’m very conscious now of lowering the power and keep checking it’s not too bright. People move and a random step back can easily blow out that rim light. 

Oh, and I almost always use a grid on the backlight too – just to control flare and where the light falls. 

When you look on the camera during the shoot, you don’t really notice it – but when you get back to Lightroom Photoshop, all of a sudden you realize that there’s no detail in the rim-lit areas, and you can’t do much about it. 

So there are literally hundreds of little things which add up to your style today. Looking back is a great way of working out what you’ve changed, and why. 

It’s also a great reason to update your portfolio, keep it current with your best work – to get rid of all the old stuff as frequently as you can. It’s ok to keep some of the old classics of course – think of it like a gig, if you went to see, say, Paul McCartney in concert, it’s fine for him to play a few Beatles tunes after all 🙂

Lencarta Beauty Dish Test Shoot

I recently bought the “MOD048 | 60cm Folding Beauty Dish Silver Mk.2” as a small, portable light modifier. These are available (or will be when stock arrives) on their website (https://www.lencarta.com/all-products/light-shapers/studio-beauty-dishes) or if you’re in West Yorkshire, you can order on line and pick it up in Bradford, which is what I did.

Folding Beauty Dish | Silver | Lencarta / Bowens Fitting | 100cm

Couple of things to note about this particular mod.

  • Silver – so potentially a bit more sparkly than the white version
  • 60cm – so in the middle, you can get tiny or huge, this is hopefully going to work outside without catching too much wind
  • Comes with velcro softbox/grid adaptors – so you can make it pretty directional.

Andy Taylor Boocock

The man in the photos is Andy – a top muse at McFade, always great fun to shoot with, a great look of course and always patient and excited to see the photos when we’re testing new bits of kit!

Scene 1 – Grey Wall

First up, this was a grey painted wall next to Clarence Dock, the Beauty Dish had no modifiers added – so the GODOX AD200 flash was hitting the beauty dish bounce disc, then into the silver reflector and straight out on to Andy.

I’ve included this shot to show the edge of the light on the wall – in this mode, there actually is quite a sharp edge so you can control what is by changing the angle of the flash. In this case the flash is around 4 o’clock and just above head height. If we put one of the diffusers onto the front of the dish, that edge would be diffused and softer.

For the next one, I’d added the grid, a fabric set of squares which reduces spread of the light width-ways, this one’s to show you the reflection in shades – it’s not quite as appealing as a lovely round disc or square reflection, so be aware of this. If your model is wearing shades, maybe it’s time to put the white diffuser on.

Here we have a back light on Andy’s hat/shoulders, GODOX AD200 through a gridded reflector.

Scene 2 – Round Tower Background

50m away we used these round mill things as a background, attempting to frame Andy between the lamp post and the building.

Same lights as above – this time, andy’s looking in the general direction of the beauty dish. Gone for a fairly dark, dramatic background (for a change!) and fairly flat light on Andy – because he was looking at the light.

He’s looking away from the Beauty Dish on this one, so you get a lot of hard rim light on the side of his head.

Scene 3 – Shooting into the Sun

I love a dark, moody sky as a background, so for these we just stayed in the same spot and shot with the sun in the background – upped the power of the flashes A LOT and moved the lights in pretty close.

So with this gridded beauty dish, you can see the reflections in the shades – the dish was pretty close. But you can also see the way the light falls on the face a bit more, the angle was a bit more contrasty than the previous shot. Under chin, by the nose and the near-side cheek are all in shadow, with the rim light adding a little sparkle on the shoulder and hat.

So you can get a nice shadow look from these dishes.

A closer look – soft-edged shadows under the shades/chin. The silver reflector looks quite vibrant too.

Scene 4 – Against the Corrugated Steel Wall

We were not adventurous – I think this involved picking the kit up and walking 10 paces.

The first shots were straight on to the wall with a 70-200mm lens – the beauty dish is at around 4-5 o’clock and just above head height. The grid is on.

One thing you can see is the 2 distinct lines to the right of the shot – that’s where the light edge occurs – you get 2 lines because of the grid I assume. Again, I assume if you wanted to get rid of this, you’d put the diffuser panel over the front and that’d soften things.

Other than that, pretty unremarkable lighting on this one. The dish did it’s job 🙂

Leaving everything in the same place, I moved 90 degrees (to 3 o’clock) and shot along the metal wall instead. Created a more dynamic image – you can see the shadow on the right of andy’s face, not a huge amount but enough. There’s also the rim light on this, which causes a hard shadow in the bottom right of the shot.

Scene 5 – The Gate

Just past the brick walls in the shot above, there’s a gate, that’s where these shots are from.

Swapping over from the 70-200, I put the 85mm F1.8 on – and set it to f1.8 for that milky background. I focussed on Andy and exposed the camera for the background – think it was around 1/5000th sec – then used High Speed Synch on the flashes.

Aware of the reflections on the shades, I had Andy look to my right which worked, nice black shades. The light was pretty close – maybe 1m – so the shadow was quite soft as you can see on his cheek

A slight head movement and you can see the grid reflected.

This one has a rim light added, I’d also darkened it down a little with a faster shutter speed.

Scene 6 – Black Brick Wall

The final scene was a black wall with light cement between the bricks, they looked like a potential source of lead lines, and they proved to be pretty useful in this final set up.

Again we have the 85mm F1.8 fully open, I’ve added the front panel over the grid so we get the directional beauty dish light, with a bit of diffusion. The reflection in his shades is a bit less messy!

The light is at around 4 o’clock in this one, you can see the edge of is mid-left.

We’ve got split lighting on this shot – Andy’s turned to face me, the light is still around 3-4 o’clock. Really dramatic look when you get contrast like this – maybe 3-4 stops difference between sides of his face.

This shows the rim light – we’d been shooting at high power for ages and the main AD200 needed a battery refresh – but thought this one showed what was happening quite well.

The very next shot – we got both flashing.

Conclusion…

I do like the quality of light this produces, most of my kit has white reflectors so nice to have something silver, which just feels edgier.

The build quality seems superior to some pop up beauty dishes I’ve used in this price range – there are 16 springy rods rather than the usual 8, so it is rounder, rather than octagonal.

The reflections from the open or gridded beauty dish are not attractive – so be aware of that it you can see reflections and put the diffuser panel over it to get a nicer round disc.

I’ll be using this on commercial and fashion shoots to see how it performs, so watch this space!

More Photos

Nicola Paparazzo – Greek St. Shoot

You’ll never get an opportunity to photograph on Greek Street in Leeds like we did this January. The UK was in lockdown and this end of Leeds had virtually nobody there. We had the place to ourselves.

Greek Street is one of the busiest bar areas of the city centre, bustling with people eating and drinking, weekdays and weekends, with tables out on the street in the summer months.

Scroll to the end to see all the shots “large” – or read on for the story 🙂

1 Middle of the street

I wanted to try shooting using my 24mm tilt Shift lens to get the background looking all very architectural, whilst Nicola was conventionally lit with 2 to flashes in the foreground. This was the not most creative (or easiest) technique I’ve ever done, because you have a totally static camera on the tripod. No ability to focus automatically, or zoom, so you really are just watching Nicola do her thing, and clicking the button now and then!

I did try three or four different tripod positions getting lower and closer with each iteration.

2 – Manhatta Bar Windows

I put the tripod away and put the 70 to 200mm lens on, which is pretty much my Standard fashion and portrait lens, and we found a black marbled building with great windows, called Manhatta bar. Behind this we also had lots of black marble on the Dakota Deluxe hotel. Double Marble… if that’s a thing.

Setting up a small softbox as of the front light and a gridded reflector as the rear light, we created loads of photos in this space.

3 – Big City Background

Next we moved a little bit away from the wall so we can see more of the street and buildings.

4 – Dakota Deluxe Garden

Dakota deluxe has an outdoor bar area which we used as a backdrop, it looks like you are in a green leaved garden! The backlight is pointing at the greenery because it’s very dark in there and just look like a black background without illumination.

5 – The Alchemist Steps

The final space was the steps up to The Alchemist bar steps and entrance.

This was metallic, the wall looks bronze, and very dark compared to the other spaces found. The light setup is very simple for this, the same small softbox I’ve been using all along at the front and the gridded reflector at the back, creating a spotlight with very little spread, so the background remains pretty dark.

We got loads of great shots at this point…. here are a few

And that was a wrap.

We created over 80 keepers from the shoot – which I think it a record for a McFade-Paparrazo shoot 😉 Or is that McPaparazzo!

All the photos

GUEST POST – David Garthwaite – Fine Art Photography

I’m a fine art photographer from Yorkshire in the North of England, I started photography in January 2017 after being disappointed by the quality of images from my compact camera, from a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland (once in a lifetime because of the unpaid motor tickets I left behind). As soon as I returned, I purchased my first DSLR and I have not looked back since.

It took me a couple of years to really get on top of the editing technique, to understand the tools I was using not just technically but to achieve the results I wanted. It’s a constantly evolving process, at every point along the way I’m thinking I’m producing the best results I’ve ever done, but in 6-8 months I can look back and see things I was doing wrong. For me thats a big part of the enjoyment, the constant progress. It requires a lot of dedication and effort but the progress makes it worthwhile.

The process for producing images like these breaks down to 3 stages, each of which is key to getting the right result. Images can take a few hours to edit, so it’s best to tackle these on different days.

Preparing the image for editing

The is doing some tidying up on the image, removing distractions, levelling/straightening, fixing imperfections (such as dust spots), flattening out the dynamic range and cropping.

Making Selections

This process is based on making selections of different parts of the image, so they can be edited individually, accurate selections are very important to a good result so this process can take time (1-2 hours at least).#

Dodge & Burning

The contrasty look is achieved through dodging & burning, this is done using gradients & masks to achieve the very smooth transitions. It is by far the most satisfying part of the process as you start to see your vision for the image come together on screen.

When it comes to having the vision to create the images, that is something that (for me) has built up over time and with practice. In the past I’ve attempted to recreate images, to put myself in the thought process of the artists whose work I very much admire, a bit like someone wanting to be a guitarist would start by playing artists songs that they love.

Now I’m looking to other styles of artist to bring in inspiration, the inspiration can range from ideals to bring in to editing of an image or just a feeling that I get from their work that I want to somehow capture in my own images. Michael Kenna and Ansel Adams are the two obvious influences, but I also take inspiration from Goya, Casper David Friedrich, and Rembrandt. Also I’m drawn to the darker works of HR Giger and Beksinski. To name a few.

Lockdown has been a fantastic opportunity to reflect on my approach, revisit images I created nearer the beginning of my journey and reprocess with the greater knowledge and experience I have now and consider the direction I’m going in the future. 

Fine Art Image of Valencian City of Arts and Sciences

I have trips in mind and a new range of images I want to create, tutorials to write and lots of club presentations planned which I really enjoy, I’m really looking forward to where the next two years of creating these types of images will take me.

See more of David’s work

http://dgshot.uk

www.instagram.com/dgshot.uk

Social media content creation in Lockdown

How can you create new images and social media content, safely, whilst we are still operating under bizarre lockdown circumstances?

The good news…

Luckily, the government guidance states that people should work from home unless they “absolutely cannot do so” – which most photographers can’t.

So this means we can still travel to create images for businesses. That was a huge relief for content creators around the UK!

Business As Usual for photography? Well no, it isn’t quite…

Whilst we can work, our clients are experiencing huge disruption. Many teams are working from home, businesses are closed and people are on furlough, so are not allowed to do “work”, even if that is a photoshoot.

So what can we/you do to generate new social media content? Especially in these weeks before Lockdown starts to be lifted and we need to ramp up our output.

Here are a few ideas – and things we’ve been helping with.

All the photos were taken between November 2020 and February 2021

Shoot at Home

Sarah De Wit at home
Mark Westaby – Chef who delivers to your door!

So consider asking your photographer to come to your home if that’s appropriate,  maybe home office, or if you are a chef,  your home kitchen could work perfectly. We’ve done a few of these and they worked brilliantly – meeting the families and pets is a bonus and it’s really easy for you to get changed and relax in your own home.

Shoot Outdoors

Phil Storey from Glow

How about using the great outdoors, as this is the lowest risk and possibly the most creative way of doing a shoot. Outside we have so many options available. It’s a chance to put you in front of iconic buildings and associate your brand and to your city. Or we could find a variety of walls to vary the background,  big glass buildings give you that city look or red brick walls and more rustic feel. Maybe green fields and countryside fit your brand better, we can go there too.

Sarah De Wit – Founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards

All our lights and cameras are battery powered these days, so we can get that studio-lit look in the local park just as easily as anywhere else – so long as it’s not blowing a gale or poring down!

Gemma and Chris, from Loaded PR

Meet up with colleagues

Nick and Catherine from Rockwood met for the first time in months for this shoot in Pudsey

We have met in parks around Leeds and created team photos for businesses who haven’t met colleagues in person for months,  it becomes  quite an exciting event. It’s a great excuse to spend an hour or 2 catching up, safely in the open, whilst creating some new shots.

Shoot those products

Pro Balm- the active skin restorer that athletes love

 If you are moving your business online, then photograph your products ready for websites and print. This can be done by going online and buying “light-cube” and putting a few lamps around it –  that way you’ll get a lovely clean, white background to your products, shooting on your kitchen table. If you don’t have time, then we can help of course – we have a table for small products or can come to you for anything bigger.

https://stretchburn.com/

Get your bar/restaurant ready for relaunch

If you are a bar it’s been a REALLY tough year. But we’ll be back eating and drinking in them before too long, so it’s really important to drip feed content on social to keep front of mind.

Now is the time so update your drink and food menu marketing photos – and you whilst the location is empty, we are not in the way of your customers. Fingers crossed, by the summer, things will be open and those who’ve kept their customers updated with great content will be top of everyone’s list.

Learn how to make your own images

Model Rachel Peru on location at Baildon Moor

If you do have time on your hands, it’s a great opportunity to practice photography with your phone or a camera. 

Social media thrives on photography and still images and they don’t be highly polished professional marketing photographs. Create more personalised “memes” and visuals using your own photographs as background, with some large text on top. 

Why share other people’s memes when you can make your own?

Do it quickly and easily with free software on your phone. Snapseed is a great free photo editor that allows you to add text which we recommend for both iPhone and Android.

We can help…

Firstly – if you want to learn more about photo editing with the SNAPSEED Phone App – we’ve created a powerful series of videos taking you through the process, explaining both HOW and WHY you do things – it’s available right now :-

GO TO PHONE EDITING COURSE

We’ve also made our Personal Brand photoshoots simpler to book than ever, using a new shop on the website which you can find here

Go to Personal Branding Photoshoots

Some more Lockdown photos

Leeds Pubs in Lockdown

Leeds always had a thriving hospitality sector packed with innovative bars, traditional boozers and amazing restaurants. I’ve been part of the scene by probably drinking a little bit too much in many of these places, and also photographing quite a lot of food and drinks for bars, restaurants and hotels over the years. I even made a brand called shoot the chef for the food photography side of my business.

So as well as as being gutted that we cannot go out socialising in my favourite pubs during lockdown, I’m also well aware of many amazing people I’ve worked with who are seeing their businesses going through hell at the moment. Several clients have already closed the doors permanently. But with a little luck, the funding from the government will save the vast majority and hospitality will bounce back stronger than ever before.

The New Saturday

Having nothing to do on a Saturday these days, other than go for a walk, I decided to to take the camera into the city centre and photograph pubs as I walk past, to record this strange moment where living through. These are taken in the late afternoon when when things are starting to warm up on a Saturday, so it’s really strange to see places like Greek Street and Call Lane totally empty.

So here you go. A lot of photographs of Leeds hospitality in hibernation.

Tilt shift lens for portraits of Andy Taylor Boocock

Who on earth uses a tilt shift lens for portraits?

A nurse by day, a fashion model by – well any time he’s not being a nurse really – on this winters day we had a go at using my tilt shift lens for a portrait/fashion shoot…

We met up for a walk this sunny winters day – I’d “really” come armed with the 24mm tilt shift lens as was going to do some architecture shooting, but decided to keep it on for the portrait session. Try something a bit different.

About Tilt Shift

If you want to know more about Tilt Shift, I’ve done this explainer blog – also this one shows some of the effects on depth of field using TILT – this one has lots of architecture using “SHIFT”.

If you want to see more about the lens, or by one, here it is on WEX.

Here’s what happened

Using TILT in portraits

The first 2 images in this blog use the “TILT” function, so you’ll see a different kind of blur to a normal lens. Shot 1 has a diagonal plane of sharpness, so the top left and bottom right are particularly blurry. The second and third ones are similar. It’s not an effect I’d use too often, but does give a pretty cool new look – and if you’ve got it…

Using SHIFT in portraits

Most of the other images use the “SHIFT” function. In a nutshell, this allows you to keep anything vertical in the shot, correctly vertical. You keep the camera perfectly level when framing a shot – with a normal lens, this would mean I’d probably be chopping off Andy’s feet. However with the shift function, you can move the whole lens up or down – shifting what’s in the frame up or down… so everything’s still perfectly level AND you get the stuff in the shot which you want!

Anyway, it’s harder to explain than use 🙂

The Light…

You may notice that these are NOT lit by flash… Very unusual for me, but we were on a walk (our lockdown walk) and kept kit to a minimum. Many of these shots are made of 2 bracketed photos – each 2 stops apart. The darker looked after the sky – an amazing blue with clouds – and the bright shot, which was 2 stops brighter, was an insurance as it got Andy exposed about right in most shots.

So to frame the vast majority, we had Andy in the shade with a really bright background.

We did get some sunlight on Andy too – for these I carefully angled him so the sun was a powerful rim light. You’ll see the last 4 shots are examples of this. I’d swapped to the 70-200 for this too.

Remember – use the direct sun as you would a flash – it’s like a small light source you can’t move… so you need to move your model and yourself instead.

Anyway – something totally different for me, hopefully a few useful tips in there for your next natural light shoot, with a tilt shift lens 🙂

Here are the photos

Fast photo editing software – Luminar AI

Imagine a world where you could click one thing and your photo would be edited to your personal taste – fast photo editing software is the ultimate productivity booster, is Luminar AI the tool for this?

Obviously 1-click editing isn’t really possible because every photograph is different and every situation as different lighting and composition, but what about using an artificial intelligence program like Luminar AI to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you?

Having used luminar AI for a few weeks since it’s release, I’ve notice many of it inbuilt presets are very stylized and will probably date badly, so I decided to to create a generic template of my own which uses the Artificial Intelligence controls to create a landscape edit.

In this video I talk you through how how I created The Preset, show you lots of examples of it in use and also how to save and create your own presets in Luminar AI.

How to get Maximum Sharpness with Focus Stacking

Sometimes you just cannot get everything in Focus in one shot…

This happens a lot when you are photographing landscapes with a very close foreground, the background becomes blurry if you focus on the foreground, and vice versa.

In this tutorial I show you two photos I took of the exact same scene, all the settings were absolutely identical except in one photo I focussed On The Rock in the foreground, and the second photo was focused on the end of the rock a little bit further away.

This tutorial takes you through the process of blending the two to images, using Lightroom as your start Point and Photoshop to do all the clever blending.

All the editing before the tutorial starts was standard Lightroom tweaks, and and the tutorial leaves you in a position to do whatever you like with the image in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Blending Light Painting Photos in Photoshop

 Usually when doing light painting workshops, I have several people with torches all lighting the scene at the same time so we catch everything in one frame which you can view there and then on the night. 

But when you are alone, or in small groups, often it isn’t possible because you just cannot get around the subject and surroundings quick enough for one exposure, and also you are almost inevitably going to have some accidental lighting “blobs” here and there as you move around. 

So, in this tutorial I have a series of photographs I photographed alone in the Peak District. 

I used an intervalometer which is built into my camera (you can buy them for cameras which don’t have them inbuilt on Ebay and Amazon), it was set to 15 seconds at ISO 200 with an f-stop of F8 so I could get most things in the foreground Sharp. 

However, the first photograph I took was for the sky, making it as bright as possible so I could get at least a few stars in the image – I think the ISO was upped to around 3200 for this. 

Next I started the intervalometer taking photos (set it to keep going indefinitely and switch it off when you get back to the camera) and walked around the area with my torch painting things as I went along.  This gave me around ten photographs, all with different things lit. 

The tutorial takes it from that point –  starting with the raw files in Lightroom and talks you how to use Photoshop, layers and layer masks to show and hide the bits you want and get the final result.

Affinity Photo for Businesses

After talking with the Yorkshire Garden Designer, Sally Tierney, I learned that business owners occasionally need to do stuff a photo editor or designer would do. Clearly, they would benefit from an affordable photo editing package, which allows you to add text to things like PDF documents and photographs or brighten a dark shot up a bit.

Adobe Photoshop or InDesign would be fantastic tools to do this. They are subscription services which most people don’t need or want to pay for (never mind the learning curve!!) so I demonstrated Affinity Photo as an alternative.

For the current price, £49, this is a fully-featured photography suite which can do pretty much anything Photoshop can do – and it also has a really nice way of handling text which I will show you in the video below.

It will handle most file formats you throw at it and you can export the final result in all the major formats ready for delivery to clients or uploading to your websites.

So in this 5-minute video, all I’m going to do is is show you how to open a PDF file and use the text till to write some words on top of the PDF. It’s pretty simple and we show you the concept of layers whilst doing it.

If you think you would be interested in learning more about affinity photo I can help over ZOOM to get you going. Just drop me a note in the form below.

Here’s the video!

So that shows a very simple example of adding a layer and some text.

To add value, Sally could also photograph the garden she is designing from all angles, the then add the photos to the PDF as illustrations. THis may help the client or the contractor visualise what they are seeing on the plan.

Hopefully, small all additions like this can make a big difference to the final product.

CASE STUDY – Fundamentals First

Fundamentals First

Fundamentals First an IT company based in Leeds,  formed by software experts Phil, Hamish, Chris and another Phil. 

The purpose of this photoshoot was to create images for the personal Brand, marketing, PR and new website. 

CLICK TO SEE THEIR WEBSITE

For this project we follow our usual process of:-

Discover

This included few phone calls with Phil to discover who their target audience is and how they would want to be perceived. Also, we had previously run a Photoshoot at Nexus, at Leeds University campus, where Fundamentals First are based. So we could show them example images from that to help visualise the venue’s potential. 

Define

We decided to create a formal look, with suits, and a more relaxed look you’d expect of a tech-company.

The team would wear suits to start, then change into their usual t-shirts more casual clothes halfway. We also chose to use one of the meeting rooms and re-create a brainstorming session and board meeting, then use the building’s impressive atrium for headshot backgrounds. 

A second set of headshots would have the Nexus logo in the background, and finally we’d  create a few group photos. 

This formed our shot list and a plan for the session. We were going to deliver 2-hours on site and 25 edited photos for them to use in their marketing and promotion and quoted on that basis. 

Shoot

The shoot was from 10 till 12,  starting with the suits on in the meeting room.  Hamish had provided a few more example images he really liked so we recreated those. We tried a brain-storming shot with suits, but it looks a little bit unrealistic to be that formal!  With a bit of clever camera work and seating, we managed to make them all look close together yet be safely distanced – just briefly coming a little closer together for a couple of the group photos.

Next, we did the formal headshots and formal seated shots. After this, the guys got changed into their casual gear. 

After that we went back into the meeting room to get the brainstorming shots, downstairs to get the Casual headshots, a few casual group photos indoors – finally as it wasn’t raining, one outside to finish off. 

It was a fantastic shoot,  all the team were great sports, took direction and ideas really well,  including many silly things I asked them to do to get them relaxed and smiling for the camera – and it shows on the photos. 

Choose

After I returned to base, I created the 400+ previews straight away and put them on Dropbox for them to view that very afternoon. 

I don’t always do this because I like to take time I’m to sift out the best shots, but the team was very keen to see the results whilst they were together that afternoon. 

They went on to choose 25 great shots, plus a few extras.

Style and Deliver

As part of the previews phase, I often supply a few different colour toning options. 

So a :-

  • Straight edit – no tone
  • warm version,  
  • cool version,  
  • very colourful version 
  • low colour version
  • and black and white version 

They went for the straight edit without toning

We got the images edited at the first opportunity and delivered them on Dropbox straight away,  giving them the following formats

  • High res –  perfect for print  
  • Web-sized –  smaller versions which can be directly uploaded to most social media sites

They’re ready to be used for the new website, linked in and everywhere else in their marketing. 

Outside shot to finish off!

Feedback

Having spoken with Phil Jeffries,  he said that the guys really enjoyed the whole experience.  Especially the photoshoot itself, where we managed to make everybody relaxed and laughing for most of it, which is totally different to photo shoots they have had in the past. They were spoiled for choice with the previews and love the final results. 

Are AI voiceovers a godsend, or hell?

I learn more through audio than text….

I don’t know about you but I definitely take more information in through my ears than through reading! Which is kind of ironic, because I’m writing this using words which you will be reading….

Anyway, having searched for the most realistic, affordable text to voice converter on the internet, I have started to add voiceovers to my info-promotional videos.

Saves LOADS of time

I tried using my own voice I realised that I say “umm”, “err” and “so” constantly and it takes ages to edit out… hours of cutting – it was painful.

The program I use is called Speechelo, the Secret is out! I can have various accents like an Irish, Welsh, Indian, English or American man or woman.

Just use text you’d already written…

I just write the info for the workshop as normal, paste it into the workshop webpage as normal, and then generate an audio version of it using the software.

Aussies Rule!?

My current favourite is the Australian lady, she seems to have a very natural sound as well as being very upbeat and modern.

So far I have made a few you for my workshops, have a look and see what you think.

Are you most likely to read the text or watch the video?

Example Videos

Ribblesdale workshop

This Ribblesdale video is the longest one, I have run this workshop a few times and have lots of photos of all the locations so I had more to say.

York workshop

This York workshop is a little trickier because I have only ever walked around the walls whilst visiting lots of hostelries… So you may appreciate that I don’t have so many photographs from the actual wall. I do however have lots of photos of the classic scenes to pad the video out.

Newcastle workshop

And finally another brand new workshop I’ve created from my trips to the northeast. Blend of seascape with the Lighthouse up near Whitley Bay and City shooting down of the Iconic Tyne Bridge. A classic case of not being able to find any photos of the middle section which is Tynemouth.

So what do you think?

These videos do take a couple of hours to put together because you have to make the photos move around and link with the soundtrack, is it worth doing to capture an audience who may not bother Reading?

Transforming Websites The Easy Way

Here’s a quick “video blog” on solving the problem of poor looking websites the easy way…

The text is below if you prefer to read or can’t have the sound on right now

Our Video Blog

I read a Pearl of Wisdom on LinkedIn yesterday which was

“Business is  all about finding a problem then providing a solution to it”

Thinking about the problems I solve as a photographer, one BIG one is making websites far more attractive, with very little effort.

A problem with websites is they go out of date pretty quickly,  or or your first website was done on a tight budget just doesn’t look that great. 

 We all know the nightmare of getting a new website –  both in terms of time, having to think about content, and the financial Investment.

The quickest way to improve and update a website, is to create stunning new images to replace the old ones. 

If you are tech-savvy, you could also change the web page layouts to make the images look bigger. Big images have a wow factor, show visitors who you are and what you do, and create a fantastic first impression when people land on your site. 

Not only that when you get new photos for your website you can of course use them in 1001 other places,  so they really are the gift that keeps giving. 

Now we are fast entering the final quarter of 2020,  how about getting some updated images  created to  bring your business to life.

Try these 3 Things RIGHT NOW to improve your phone photos

You can definitely take great phone photos these days. The technology has moved on massively since the early days, and the app software is truly amazing. 

 There are probably dozens of phone photos tips you could give, but realistically these three things will make the biggest difference.

 1 – Where is the light

photo – Setting sunlight

This may seem a bit of an odd question but have a look around you right now.

What is the main source of light where you are right now?

Where is it coming from?

photo – Sunlight!

I would guess that you’ve either got 

  1. the cloudy sky above you if it’s overcast,  
  2. at the sun if it’s a bright day,  
  3. a window if you are inside 
  4. or a ceiling-light if it’s dark outside
photo – window lighting

Here is a secret,  switch off the flash on your camera phone because it is always rubbish and unflattering….  Use the ambient light instead, point 2 tells you how. 

2 – Move whatever you are shooting to the light… 

photo – Light falling on Arthur – dark background

 I’m guessing you are probably photographing either 

  • something you can put on a table or 
  • a person. 

So get them to move so that the light (from the sky, sun, window or light)  is now falling upon  their face,  or maybe so they are at a slight angle so you get a small shadow across their face. 

If you want to photograph a plate of food,  then choose a table by a window to put the plate on

If you want to shoot pretty much anything with which to create a meme, just move it towards a window and you will get lovely soft light falling over it, creating a beautiful photo

What you are doing is what Rembrandt used to do, and use the natural light available, wherever he was, to light his subjects. 

But we are not quite there yet…. 

3 – What is in the background

This is usually how you can differentiate snapshots and crafted photographs. 

Snapshots may have busy distracting backgrounds, whereas, proper photographs will have backgrounds which have little influence or enhance the subject. 

photo – Clear background

For the phone photographer the easiest thing is to look for a plane background. Now this does not mean we take our subject away from the light source we found because we can’t find a plain background.  keep the subject there but move the camera around. Try these

  • move the camera lower –  if you are shooting upwards the background tends to be the ceiling or Sky which is almost always pretty featureless and a good background
  • move the camera higher –  if you point down,  this is often very flattering for portraits and why the Instagram generation always hold the camera up high for selfies.  But also floors tend to be dark and fairly featureless so could be an option
  • Move around the subject from left to right –  leave your person or plate where it is and you do the lead work,   hold your camera phone in position to take a photograph and then just walk around them looking at the back of the phone all the time to find the best background. 

 

photo – Low angle – puts Andy’s head in a plain background – the sky
photo – High angle – just gets a concrete background, not the railings at the beach

For the vast majority of photos the best background is one which you don’t notice.  So as soon as you find the blandest background take a shot,  stay in that position and get them to pose or do whatever you like. 

Try it RIGHT NOW

There you go, 3 things you can try right now, grab a person, walk them to the window and give it a go!

Using the Godox AD600 on My First Post-Lockdown Model Photoshoot!

First Outing In Ages

After what seems like a year, I finally met up with my old friend and model, Andy Taylor Boocock, for a photo shoot.  As usual, we debated where to go. Having photographed at most locations in Leeds so it’s never an easy one trying to work out what to do – all I did was pack my trusty Canon camera kit and GODOX AD600‘s (and an AD200) and went with an open mind. 

The last we visited this bridge over the a58m road, there were many tents and homeless people living there. so we couldn’t really do a shoot, without invading their privacy.  I had parked here a couple of weeks before, and due to the coronavirus, I think many of these homeless people had been given temporary accommodation so we had the place to ourselves. 

 

The photos of this blog are in chronological order.

We started with a  fairly simple Set up, with a softbox attached to a GODOX AD600 flash head lighting and the front right. Behind there was a GODOX ad200 with a blue GEL on it.  You can just about see it lighting the concrete and a bit on his shoulders.  To add a bit of interest, I walked behind a lot of weeds and shot through the growth with the 70-200 lens. As you can see, Andy was nice and sharp and the foliage blurred, this creates texture, quite a cool thing and adds interest to anything.

This next shot is in the same position but instead, I’d moved in closer with the 70-200 lens, and got crouched very low. The angle works really well because of the lines of the building and Bridge giving us different textures and brightness, also you get a decent view of the tattoos on Andy’s neck and chest from this angle.

These next two photos are in essentially the same position. The first was pointing towards the sun so I had to dial down the exposure to stop the background overexposing. I increased the power of the three flashes to keep andy bright.  I had two GODOX AD600 heads, and an ad200

Leaving Andy in the same position I move the flashes clockwise to get this area of blue sky behind his head,  using the  16 to 35 mm lens I could get a lot of background and most of Andy into the image.

 Next we moved below the bridge. The following photos just used one GODOX AD600 with hard light reflector, lighting Andy in the foreground,  and ad200 behind him. We ditched the 3rd light –  mainly to reduce the amount of Kit we needed to move between photos, and also no not to obstruct people passing by.

 So these first two, which I have toned blue in Lightroom, the front light was over my right shoulder as I photographed and the backlight was pointing directly at Andy. This gave the underside of the footpath a little splash of light which separates Andy from the background.

The next few photographs are at ground level inside the bridge, and very cinematic in style. I wanted to create some interesting light patterns by casting the Flash light through railings.  

As you can see, there is a pattern on the wall and across Andy’s body.  This was done by massively underexposing the ambient light and then upping the power on the GODOX AD600 to create shadow and bright lines

It was very hard to predict where the bright and the dark patches were going to occur because the light was at a strange angle, it was at around  2 o’clock, if you picture the scene as a clock face with Andy at the middle, and me at 6 p.m.

 On the last one, which I’ve turned slightly magenta, I zoomed out quite a bit to get some of the road in the background,  it was actually quite bright and sunny so you can see how low the ambient exposure was from this shot.

The next set has Andy at the first level of the bridge. He either sat or stood on the railings.  It’s always a bit scary as if anyone gets injured, you want a nurse with vast experience on hand to mend them if they fool,  not for the nurse with vast experience to be the one who falls!

With this setup I left the GODOX AD600 down below creating the same kind of ribbed light pattern. Then placed the 200 flash on the Walk way  to the left of Andy, just out of sight, so that was illuminating his head and body. 

From here we could quite easily get a lot of variety, just by me moving around. All the images in this section were taken with the 70-200 lens, you can see the variety you can achieve in this zoom range.

 The composition is all about Lines. That is why I enjoy photographing at this bizarre concrete monstrosity.  It is an over-engineered brutalist concrete structure, which is full of texture, lines, light and Shadow. 

You just need to put someone somewhere in the scene and light them, the structure takes care of everything else. A little bit brave of him to stand on top of the handrail but they did make for a good shot!

These 2 are on the Bridge over the motorway, I led flat on the bridge path, right in the middle,  so I could get the most interesting lead lines possible. We can use the railings, deck  and buildings for this. Also, getting low makes Andy’s head high in the frame, so it is in the clear Sky – free from obstruction.

With these next two,  we put the GODOX AD600 high up to camera left and the 200 behind Andy to the right. There is lots of room for me to move around with this setup, as I’m on a long foot path. That was great, but the sky just wasn’t the most exciting behind him from this position. Sure we got this dark brooding look, but there was better sky…

 So to make use of the sky, where the sun was creating patterns in the Cloud, I moved Andy about 5 paces, got the two flashes setup up positioned myself in a less-roomy spot, but one where I could get the amazing Sky.  

As you can probably tell, the first shot was with the 70 to 200,  but in this position, I had no real room to manoeuvre with such a long zoom so swapped over to the 16 to 35 for the final four shots. The first 3 had both lights on, the final photo had the backlight switched OFF, as it would have shown in the photo. 

So that was my first model photoshoot since lockdown. Working with a familiar model in a familiar place may seem a bit predictable. However, we created something totally different to when we’ve been there before. 

It’s often amazing too to revisit locations, because the light is never the same twice, you will have learnt something new since the last visit and the model will usually have some new outfits which work differently in that environment. 

So yes, find new locations, but do revisit old ones too… you never know!

Temple – Leeds – The New Holbeck!

A new name for Holbeck

Here is a video version, with the words spoken… or carry on to see the photos and read it for yourself. 

The area south of Leeds station has been rebranded “Temple Leeds”,  probably because of “Temple works”, an iconic Mill building in the style of an Egyptian temple.  Previously this area was just called Holbeck – which is a district of Leeds. 

 I went for a sunset photoshoot, to capture the Architecture and also record the masses of new building going on in the Temple Leeds area. 

I first knew of Holbeck around the year 2000, when I worked in Marshalls Mill. There was very little to report down there, other than a red light district and an annoying 15-minute walk into the city through quite a scary dark Arches area.

This has completely changed now, with a totally new Skyline in the area. The South entrance to the train station transformed The Fortunes of the dark Arches. General gentrification of the Holbeck area is taking place

Copyright of McFade Photography

I managed to park next to the midnight Bell and Crosskeys pubs, so the Temple Leeds journey starts here with a view over the stream that gives Holbeck its name.

Copyright of McFade Photography

 

Most of these photos are taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV,  with a 24mm tilt Shift lens. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

With it being such a lovely calm day I managed to get great reflections in the “Leeds Liverpool canal”, all these photos are on the south side of the train station, you can see the bridge over the canal. 

On the Far Side of the train viaduct, there is a small, white curved Footbridge from which you can get this classic Temple Leeds view over the city. The trees on either side of the bank really are taking hold now, so it feels a little like you are in the countryside, Looking In. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

 

Over the bridge, I joined Whitehall Road. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

 This is a mixed residential and commercial area, with a brand new development called Riverside West, and an almost-complete complex called Wellington Place. Both have gone up recently and seem to be pretty busy. 

Next to Riverside West both the Leeds Liverpool canal and the River Aire pass under some large Bridges. From the bridge, I took this photograph of the canal as it enters the centre.  The old brick viaduct is no longer in use but was part of the old Leeds central station apparently. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

 The building you can see just to the left of this photograph is known as “No 1”, “26 Whitehall Rd” –  it is one of the regional developments down there and has a very distinctive box-like quality.  

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

As you can see, I was on the wrong side for the sunset,  so had to settle for some detailed photographs with the colourful clouds to one side.

For the final leg of the journey I swapped to the 70 to 200 lens so I could get some “detail images”, there wasn’t a lot going on with the sunset by this point, so it was worth changing.

These last few images are from Globe Road, which links you to the Water Lane area, following the path of the canal. 

It’s definitely an area worth visiting with a camera. Maybe do it in pairs because you occasionally do get some “interesting” characters milling around.  As you can see there is a mix of old Victorian architecture and brand new. You also have train and Canal transport to throw into the mix. A bit of something for everyone

When to go….

 I would suggest that the light is better in winter because the sun sets in a very different position! 

 

Make your photos SHINE with the LIGHTROOM Brush Tool

The Lightroom Brush Tool

Stand out with Selective Editing

Some images really stand out when you see them on Instagram or Facebook, parts of the shot just look so much better than you could ever achieve using normal Lightroom techniques. The secret to creating these kinds of images is to get selective using the Lightroom Brush Tool

All that means is that you apply settings to small parts of the photograph rather than everything at once. Is so you may want to just brighten somebody’s eyes, or perhaps make some rocks stand out in the foreground of Your Landscape image, this is where the Lightroom Brush Tool comes in.

In this tutorial video, we show you how to to use the Lightroom Brush Tool on a photograph taken in the Yorkshire Dales. Also, I show you how to save the settings away for another day – Lightroom allows you to keep settings safe in presets.

Have a go with the Brush yourself…

This technique is used widely in photography editing especially when using Photoshop, you can now do some really powerful things with the Lightroom brush tool so so we recommend you you reopen some old favourite photographs and give it a go. 

One example would be the sky on this photographic shoot around Leeds – it was a genuinely dramatic day but I have used the power of brush techniques to make the sky look even more impressive

FREE Luminosity Mask Extension in Photoshop

Photoshop now comes with lots of “extensions” you can install – either paid or for free – you get to them from this menu item
 
 
That opens up a web browser – you need to be logged in to your Adobe account if you’re not on Creative Cloud this may not work. 
 
 
So if type in “luminosity mask” like I’ve done in the screen shot – it’ll do a search… the results are like this:-
 
 
The one I’ve got is – Luminosity Masking Panel by Greg Benz
 
You click on that and can install it – I can’t do to screenshot it as it’s already installed, but here’s the extension info page.
 
 
Once you’ve got it installed – to use it you need to click the following menu item:-
 
And a small box will open up with just a few buttons – you click on “create masks” to start.
 
 
then open your CHANNELS panel to find about 20 new channels all named “lights”, “darks” and “midtones”. 
 
To select a dark area, hold down your CTRL key and click on one of the dark channels – you’ll get that mask selected as you can just about see here
 
Now you can open up any Adjustment layer you like and the mask will be automatically applied – so if you wanted to make the “darks” darker, you can use curves/exposure/levels, for example. Look at the Curves 1 layer, the mask is a black and white representation of the selection. So if you do anything with the layer, the effect will only happen to the white parts, leaving the black alone. 
 
That’s how to install and use it. 
 
For example, if you wanted to lighten the mid-tones a bring out some detail, then you can control-click on the mid-tone channel, create a curved line and then pull the curve up in the middle of a little bit. You’ll see just the mids changing – the lights and darks stay the same. 
 
It’s really useful and something you can’t really do so well with Lightroom. 

Storm Brewing in Leeds

Having I watched the most amazing spring from my garden during lockdown it seems a little bit unfair that the weather in June is dreadful for photography…. 

But one day last week the sky look like it was about to erupt at any second so I took the gamble of going into Leeds to see if I could get any decent moody sky shots. 

Luckily for about an hour, the sky did looks like something from a 1950s Dracula movie, with ridges of Darkness and light patches making wonderful textures. 

All of these photos are taken using the 24mm tilt Shift lens from Canon attached to the 5D Mark IV body, they are all handheld rather than using a tripod for Speed and I didn’t really want a tripod to act as a lightning rod if we did get a storm! 

To make sure I get enough light and dark eye bracketed two photos, One at around 0 or 1-EV and the other at plus 2 – helping me get enough information to have a good sky and a foreground you can work with. 

10 “Must SEE” Leeds Areas for Photographers

If you are planning a trip to photograph Leeds, where should you go?

Like most cities, Leeds Centre and shopping areas are largely bland (with a few exceptions…) and many shopping centres actually ban you from taking photographs inside. If you have a tripod they will definitely ask you to move along.

Having photographs Leeds since 2003 here are some of the highlights I would recommend to every photographer visiting.

All of these photos are from my own archives built up over fast approaching 20 years! The time of day and the weather when you arrive will dictate whether any of the buildings look like any of the following, these are my favourites from probably several hundred trips into town!

Also, please note that these are all copyright to McFade and available to licence if you get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of the page.

1 The Canal and River Aire

Like every city in the UK, the river and is always a great place to start and in Leeds we have, have the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal meeting right in the centre next to the train station – then flowing out east where where it becomes another canal which heads out towards Hull.

The first of these photos is the canal in the west of the city centre, the second is is a Footbridge at Brewery Wharf which is very picturesque and the final on is is on the east of the city just passed the Royal Armouries.

2 Park Square

This is quite an unexpected thing to find in amongst all the streets near the city centre, but you have a wonderfully kept grassy Square surrounded by lovely buildings, the most striking being St Paul’s building which has a Moorish architecture Style.

3 -Leeds City Markets

One of the finest buildings in the city has to be the front Facade of the markets on Vicar Lane. Incredibly decorative Victorian architecture with domes on each corner, little cherubs above the doors and a real feast for the eyes.

4 The Corn Exchange

London has the Albert Hall, Manchester has its majestic library and Leeds has its Corn Exchange.

There’s something about these round buildings which just looks cool, this one was designed by architect Cuthbert Broderick in the Victorian era and now contains lots of shops and food options.

Definitely go all the way around the building on the outside because each angle has a different feel and the light will vary throughout the day so you want to pick an angle where you have have some light and Shadow.

At the time of writing the security staff are more welcoming than anywhere else in the city allowing you to freely wander around with your camera and in most cases you can use your tripod, though it is very bright in there so you probably don’t need to

5 Leeds Museum

Following on from one Cuthbert Broderick masterpiece two another one which started out life as Leeds Mechanics Institute, then in recent years has become the Museum. They do allow you to go indoors with your camera and if you get caught short there is a toilet you can use for free.

The most interesting thing to photograph are the Majestic outdoor reviews of the building, it’s pretty imposing and you can get some really great angles if you move around.

6 – The Royal Armouries & New Dock

Just off to the city centre down the canal, you will find a little city called new dock – it was once called Clarence Dock but they have rebranded recently.

This is home to the Royal Armouries collection in a majestic building called the Royal Armouries, but it’s also a lovely watery dock area with interesting architecture down both sides. It’s probably the best place in Leeds for modern architecture and on a windless day you get perfect reflections in the water.

The security staff will probably approach you if you have a tripod and look professional, but so long as you are sure of them that you are doing it just For Fun, which I’m sure you will be, they leave you to get on with enjoying the area.

7 – Granary Wharf and the Dark Arches

Literally beneath the train station is a rabbit Warren of tunnels which are called the dark Arches, though they are not very dark these days because they have lit them up into a spectacular light show of colour.

When you walk down the tunnel you pass the brand new South entrance to the train station which is a gold bronze colour and a real space age thing to look at, then you finally arrived at the wash where there is a wooden looking building a hotel and a massive cylinder called candle Tower.

You also have two locks and a view of the train lines, so it is a bit of a feast for the photographer.

8 – Victoria Quarter and Shopping Area

The shopping areas are not the best to photograph mainly because overzealous security guards and hordes of people getting in your way.

But the Victoria Quarter is well worth a look if you are prepared to hand hold your camera and move reasonably quickly so as not to become a problem for the security guards.

It is a beautiful arcade on one side cold County Arcade, then there is a second one Cold Cross arcade which runs perpendicular through a covered Street. This used to be a normal Road but they put a massive window across the top which some say is the biggest stained glass window in the world.

The area is full of shops selling fine shoes watches clothing and food.

9 – University Area

The University area is on Otley Road and and is pretty expensive, with a mix of architectural styles from the ultra-modern broadcasting house which uses the same metal colour and Preservation style as the Angel of the North, a Car Park which resembles a cheese grater, traditional neoclassical old building, some concrete brutalist structures and lots more.

You’ve also got ponds in which to reflect things and staircases where you can put models, so it’s a great location away from the masses of shoppers and tourists.

10 – Leeds Town Hall

The Jewel In The Crown of Cuthbert trio of amazing buildings has to be the Stirling Town Hall with it’s neoclassical Pillars at the front and massive clock tower which dominates the skyline in this part of the city.

I’ve convinced the best view of this is from the Mr Foley’s Ale House, if you shoot from here sunset the light comes in from the left-hand side illuminating the front of the building leaving the right hand side In Darkness, giving the whole photograph of 3D appeal.

If it is dark you can set your tripod up there and wait for cars to rush by leaving the light trails in the foreground of your photo.

I hope that’s giving you some ideas and inspiration for your next visit in to Leeds city centre.

We do run workshops around the area so if you do fancy a guided to a please check on our workshops website whether there is anything happening around your visit – or even plan your visit to coincide with the workshop.

Our workshops are all at

www.photographycourses.eu

And if you want to make any enquiries at all just fill in the form at the bottom of the page and we’ll get back to you straight away

Locked Down Leeds

9 weeks into lockdown and I finally decided to take my daily allocated exercise by walking around the city centre of Leeds. I had been putting it off because I didn’t really want to upset and overstretched police force or get a fine!

I expected in the early lock-down weeks, it’d be desolate, 9 weeks in getting back to normal…

Far from it

There were a few people on the streets, but not many, the crowds of shoppers and workers starting their weekend we’re not there – these photos were taken between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on a Friday, the busiest weekday.

What I found were:-

  • random people sat on benches,
  • occasional couples walking past
  • very few people in bus-stops
  • construction workers everywhere
  • and an incredible amount of Red and White construction barriers.

The council have clearly seen the opportunity to do all the repair and improvement work they’ve had planned for years whilst Leeds is locked down.

Every shop and every bar I’ve ever been to was closed with my apology notice in the window.

Whilst I’m a bit sad that I missed the opportunity to photograph the city centre completely desolate in the early weeks, I’m glad I managed to get out to record, for my memories and yours, just how big an impact coronavirus had on one of the major cities of England

Briggate Empty

Victoria Gate – Desolate

The Markets Abandoned

The Full Gallery

Here is a slideshow of around 100 images from the city – quite amazing how quiet it is compared to normal

Get the most from your photos during LOCKDOWN

Like many businesses, we deal directly with clients in person, so have taken quite a hit with this lockdown. We can’t really leave the house to do any new work – and if we could, we can’t get close to people so it’d be awkward.

Here are a few things you can do remotely, and we can help you with, to keep your marketing images relevant

1 Use archives for your marketing

So the first one is that I have got literally hundreds of thousands of images from all over Europe, India, the UK and the People’s Republic of Yorkshire on my hard drives which could be used to help with your:-

  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Flyers
  • Articles in the press
  • Etc. 

 If you need some eye-catching images to make your marketing stand out whilst we are all working from home and checking social media constantly,  ping me a message if you need an image and I will create a Dropbox folder with a selection of images for you to choose from. 

 I will base prices on HALF of what the ALAMY stock photography website’s usage calculator says.

2 Additional photos from old shoots

If we have done a photoshoot in the past you will have chosen a small selection from a larger library of images to use

The good news is that these will almost certainly still exist on my hard drive, and your preview files will still be in Dropbox (unless you’ve deleted them yourself).

We can reopen your project and edit as many of the photos you didn’t choose as you like, so you will have something, maybe not brand new, but different to use online.

3 A new look to existing photos

 A little bit like number 3,  if your existing portraits are the ones you really love and you don’t need anything new,  then maybe a little refresh in the processing could help get you noticed. We can reopen the project and have a look at a different vibe to the images. 

It may be as simple as doing a black and white version,  or making a previously soft and warm photo look cool and edgy, or adding in some creative light flare and textures…. 

Essentially we can have a think about what you are using them for and come up with some ideas on how we can differently process them for you.

4 Shoot new photos without people in them

If you have a property,  product, food or a drink,  car or anything which I can drive to and photograph without breaking the 2 m rule of social distancing,  then I will be able to help. 

  •  for small things, I can take delivery and photograph them at my humble abode
  •  for property exteriors, I think I should be ok legally to photograph them from the street
  •  for property interiors we could meet  at a safe distance, then let me go in and shoot the interior hello must you have a coffee
  •  cars may be doable at a showroom or on somebody’s drive but I don’t think we can take them anywhere pretty with the current lockdown rules

5 Help with WordPress websites

I have a background in software engineering (which I try my best to hide) and it comes in handy when I need to deal with websites. 

Whilst I don’t get embroiled in massively detailed websites with dozens of mission-critical pages,  I have lots of experience of using WordPress to craft image-driven websites. I use a popular, beautiful visual theme to create my own websites and a few others.

So if you do need an online presence which needs to look good,  I can help by 

  • setting you up with a web hosting account and email – I use Krystal, they seem a great UK company
  • showing you how to get your domain name (e.g www.mywebsite.com
  • Installing WordPress for you
  • adding the theme I use which has a lovely page Builder – I use Oshine as it’s great for images
  • creating 3 to 5 pages and adding your content
  • advice on sizing images for your web pages
  • importing video to your site etc.
  • help you learn how to manage it yourself over ZOOM

It could be any of those steps, or the whole thing. Many just need the site installation doing, then they can do the rest.

6 Teaching photo editing over ZOOM

The last one in today’s list is probably the most obvious,  with ZOOM we can share each other’s computer screens so I can walk you through the process of taking a photograph from it’s raw form to something far more eye-catching. 

The beauty of doing it this way is :-

  • it’s totally remote and safe from the dreaded virus – you stay at home
  • it will be 1 to 1 so you can ask any questions you like
  • we can pace the session to you
  • we can record the session so you can play it back as many times as you like

I have helped people learn an effective workflow from taking the card out of a camera through to producing images you could give to clients. Or you may just want to learn how to spice up your landscape photographs…

Maybe you’ve never used Lightroom before and quite fancy a go, or have you always wondered what layers and masks were in Photoshop?

Now is probably the best time I’m to get some help with these things,  because during lockdown you are limited in what you can actually do. So you may as well get active learning something ready for when you can get back out with the camera.

Just drop us a note…

If any of those could be useful, or you want a catch-up, or anything else during this lockdown – I’m here at ade@mcfade.co.uk or use my new capture form below

Photos only work when you use them

How many things in life do we buy & not use?

Most kitchen gadgets I use once or twice, and then stash away neatly in the cupboard never to see the light of day again,  All that money spent, all that good intent to make a change and no return.

 The same can be said for photography –  you can spend an absolute fortune hiring a photographer to create a library of amazing images for you, but if you’re not actively using them to promote your business, your return will be negligible. 

Photos for EVERYTHING!

 The massive bonus with photography is that there are so many uses you can put them to. The only equivalent thing would be your logo, in the diversity of use. 

In the discovery phase of a project, I like to understand your business processes, walk around your office/factory/site and meet people to come up with ideas for useful images for the company. It is all about creating a library of relevant “personal stock” images to future-proof your marketing for the next year or two. 

Saving you time

 Imagine not having to search for hours on stock library websites for an image to spice up a report or support a blog. And imagine how much more credible your blog or report would have if it contains real images of your team rather than a model from California smiling in a fake boardroom.

Infinite Uses (almost!)

 Our images have been used for so many things it’s hard to remember them all,  all but I have seen them on:-

  • billboards,  
  • websites,  
  • Twitter,  
  • Facebook,  
  • Instagram,  
  • LinkedIn,  
  • YouTube,  
  • magazines,  
  • newspapers,  
  • at the back of buses,  
  • hoardings on building sites,  
  • in meeting rooms,  
  • on business cards,  
  • decorating long corridors,  
  • in lifts,  
  • on keyrings,  
  • on menus,  
  • on hotels.com,  
  • booking.com,  
  • Airbnb,  
  • the Leeds list,  
  • and lots more….

How many are YOU using – and do they have personalised images?

How often do YOU refresh those images?

 You can certainly strengthen your marketing in all of the above areas by simply adding your photographs to them

Tripple J use this on frequently social media

Keep things interesting

Better still you can update these on a regular basis,  either monthly or quarterly or annually and these will always appear in people’s timelines and bring you the briefly to the front of their minds. 

If you are posting regular content to LinkedIn,  what better way to draw attention to it than to always include a relevant,  professional photograph of you or your team in Action to support the article?  This is especially useful for manufacturers, builders, the construction trade generally, maintenance companies and anything where people physically do things. 

 For office-based businesses, there are still lots of opportunities to capture images of people in business scenarios, people on phones smiling, Branded mugs and stationery, cool interiors, outside the building and anything else we can find.

Also, some fun images are really useful for blogs and memes…

Copright of McFade Photography

How we work

 We usually spend a day or half a day creating this kind of imagery for our clients,  giving them a library of images which works out to be far more cost-effective than buying stock images. It is usually hard to believe because the quote can look a lot, but when you work it out as an investment per image, it will usually be below the £20 mark. 

If you cleverly use these images in rotation on all your channels,  you will be amazed by the enhanced perception of your brand and extra visibility it affords you – resulting in more bookings, clients, covers… whatever it is you sell.

Ready to get started?

For these personal stock photography photoshoots, I always try why to visit and come up with a plan of images to create. 

So if you are ready to push your marketing materials to the next level, let’s meet for a brew and tell me all about your business.

Leeds Architecture 2020

There’s a lot of new building going on in Leeds, so on a rare sunny February day I decided to take the 5D Mark IV and the 24mm tilt Shift lens out and going capture some of the new and classic architectural delights.

Wellington Place

 I decided to start at the new Wellington Place developments which is immediately west of the train station.  This is a new village-style development of interestingly shaped office blocks with tall vertical windows. I managed to catch a lot of images from the outside pavements but when when I went into the complex itself, I found that you needed permission to take photographs on site,  so I decided to move onto somewhere a little more positive towards photographers.

Next to the station

From here I went up to the riverbank to the station, via this really tall new building which was beautifully lit. Past the new Channel 4 HQ at The Majestic and into City Square. Nothing particularly new here but some nice buildings including the 1 with a tent on top. I think it’s called one City Square.

City Square

After the I’d spotted a lot of new student accommodation being built near to the arena,  so headed up that direction how to find my old workplace, Fairfax House. , and you things being put up next to the Merrion Centre.

Fairfax House

By this time the light was getting nice and low creating a lot of shadow on the street and beautifully lit buildings, 

New build by the Merrion Centre

And then the inevitable happened,  the sun dropped behind a cloud leaving all the buildings in  Shadows. a typical grey Leeds day. so I decided to get a couple of shots of the town hall and Civic Hall before heading home

Here are a few more shots from the day

Medusa Shoot

What do you do on a wet day in Sheffield?

Well if you’re Clare Jane Garret, you get a dancer called Sarah Hobson and paint her green, then get a milliner called Hannah Gray to create a fantastic headpiece and create a real-life Medusa!

This was all done in a dance studio near the university – the walls were white paint or mirrors – we’d hoped to go outside but it really was pouring down,  not just a little bit of rain but proper torrential like we’ve seen this last week with the 2020 storms. 

When I arrived, it was one huge wow factor seeing Sarah painted head-to-toe in these amazing colours and designs. It’s the first time seen one of Claire’s Creations in the flesh, literally, and it’s staggering the amount of detail time and effort goes into it. 

Whilst the team finished off, I went to a large dance rehearsal studio to set up some light, brought my big softboxes, which are 1.5 and 1.8 m respectively – so big that they very rarely get an outing. It was pretty obvious from the start that we were not going to both light the model and keep the background dark, the mirrors and white walls just bounced light around like a ricocheting bullet. Without anything to help, we’d have all kinds of crap in the background!. 

What we did find was a crash mat, one of those you used to have in in the school gym when you were vaulting. We managed to put this on its end and lean it against the wall, though it was not black we got a very dark, usable blue instead. 

The only other issue was that we couldn’t really do wide arm photos, where Sarah puts her arms out left and right, because the mat was tall and thin, the arms just went off the edge and would have been a pain to edit in post. 

The amazing thing about working with dancers they have spent years learning how to do amazing things with their legs, arms and bodies, You really don’t need to direct all do anything other than photograph what they do. We had about five little sessions with the end one being everybody’s favourites. 

For this one, I’d move the lights closer, more dramatic angles and turned the power right down so the background went black and the light was very soft – yet created quite a lot of Shadow. 

After we’d finished, I’m not sure what happened to all the paint…. I got a lift with kit downstairs from Medusa herself – I told her to go shopping in ASDA and see what the local thoughts but I bet it didn’t happen!

Here are a few of the shots – all edited differently for the hell of it, but you get the idea.

Wh0

DJ and production duo “Wh0” are a mysterious pair currently rocking the House dance floors around the UK – They’ve both been around in their regular DJ slots for years and have remixed some of the biggest acts around.

So after a gig in Leeds a few weeks back, we met up at this amazing graffiti rich location to get some shots for their promo, marketing and social media.

Must admit, i didn’t know about the hoods till they put them on – was a bit of a surprise!

Some great locations in this old brickworks – I’ve always liked this long corridor – it’s got so much depth to it.

Copright of McFade Photography

We also got some great closeups using the dark backgrounds and lighting to create some proper drama like this

Copright of McFade Photography

This location is avalable still near Halifax, it’s about 1/2 mile from the road and easily accessible – so if you’re a band, a brand or just someone who wants a gritty background to some photos – lets talk and get something arranged

The Madness of Share the Shoot…

What’s it all about?

About a year ago I came up with an idea,  it was based on years of photographing companies and what had worked best. It offered individuals who may be just starting out (or ready for a new set of images) 5 photos of them for a bargain price… and other people to act in their shots.

I called it ​”​profile shoots​”​ to begin with​, this soon evolved into the catchier “share the shoot

The idea was that everybody needs a decent headshot, but there are many other Powerful images a small business owner could use, if only they had other people available to be in the photos.  Quite often in the past when shooting 121, I would get people to bring a friend along to act as a client so they could use them in a photo.

So in February 2019 I pulled together 6 friends from my network and got a room at Croft Myl Halifax and gave it a go. 

The first session

I produced some worksheets with questions ranging from “​what do you do​”​ to ​”are you in favour of Brexit​” – all designed to stimulate reactions and conversation, then essentially played musical chairs with the six people, giving them different seats and a turn at the head of the table. 
This turned out to be ​a​ natural networking environment, where everybody just chatted and we ended up​ not ​needing the worksheet​. They were all animated and relaxing without any input from me​ – I could just concentrate on the lights and photographing each person. ​
We let everybody stand in front of a flip chart to get some nice presentation photos, which I see popping up daily in LinkedIn, so they proved to be really useful photos. 

After that we found a space upstairs where people could do a one-to-one chat with one of the other delegates, these prove really useful because a photograph of you listening to a client conveys a very positive message. 

Finally, we arrived at the headshot section and everybody is laughing and joking with each other and totally relaxed, so the headshots are massively easier to do than usual. Most people when you first meet them for a headshot are nervous and it takes a while to get a decent photo. All that work has been done in the first half of the session.

The fantastic thing about doing this at Croft Myl is the variety of backgrounds Vicky and the team have created around the building, we have a yellow, purple, grey, blue, brick and even a roof garden to use as your background.

By the end of it, I have usually taken between 500 and 1000 photos, totally knackered and rather red in the face. I have set up about 8 different lighting scenarios and entertained 6 people for 2-hours – I love it it’s a real buzz, a performance almost, and it’s great to see people making connections, exchanging contact details and hopefully doing a little bit of business in the future. 

Why do I only charge a fraction of normal headshot for this?

I keep seeing competitors in the local area doing headshot days where they charge £100 or £150 for just 1 headshot and wonder if I’ve gone mad doing this…  

Well, the main reason is that this is really a “taster session” or a “lead magnet”, where I’m giving true value to a wide range of people. Over a year this will hopefully raise awareness of McFade and introduce me to lots of people I’d possibly not meet

If each month 6 people update their LinkedIn profile and mention me, it’s 6 new LINKED IN networks who may click on my page and who knows where that will lead. 

I also like meeting and helping new businesses, many of whom could not afford a one-to-one session, so this is a way to to get them looking “the business” without breaking the bank. 

If I do get a full 6 people, the combined fee does add up to my usual rate anyway – so whilst everyone is getting great value, I’m still remunerated fairly. Sure, if all 6 did a 1-2-1 shoot it’d be better financially, but that’s not really the point.

It’s more about planting seeds for the future and awareness than out and out money making.

The pitfalls…

I guess one risk that people who were prepared to spend £££ on a bespoke photoshoot may opt for this and I miss out on that. The only other thing is people sometimes don’t understand what is included and what is extra, despite there being a big list of it on the website and a video. 

I have been asked to do all kinds of editing above and beyond what is included so have to have that awkward chat about it. 

Pro retouching of a photo can cost more than the shoot if they need a lot of work – this is definitely not included!

There’s more on this in the “Who it’s not for” section below.

What’s in it for people who come…

Why they booked…

I did a survey at the start of 2020,  and obviously the biggest reason for coming was the price –  I live in Yorkshire they are careful with money here! But with most headshots costing at least £100 each, and you get 5 for under £100, it should be a no brainer to book

A close second was having other scenarios than headshots in the photographs –  this means that people working on their own can have pretend clients or even pretend board meetings in their marketing images at no extra cost.

​Many thought it looked like fun from the marketing ​I had put out on the website and LinkedIn too.

Most Useful photos

The most useful photos are the headshots and many have found the “one-to-one chat” and a mix of other photos really useful too. We’ll keep going with the board room as that’s where people relax and get to know each other – plus we do get some great shots in there.

We are constantly evolving and trying to to get different photos for people, which weirdly means asking people not to talk when they are facing the camera… you are talking your face can look a little unusual in a photo. The more animated you are, the stranger it can look – so we’ve changed how that section works now after feedback.

Who is it “not” for?

​With 6 people and limited time available, and being in one building for the whole session, there are obviously limitations which we cannot avoid​. This is an entry-level taster product, not the fully-fledged McFade photoshoot you get in a 1-2-1 session.

You can only shoot a limited amount of scenarios and cannot spend too long creating specific shots for one person, at the expense of other people’s time. So if you do have a detailed and specific list of images you need, but they don’t really fit into the boardroom, one-to-one meeting or a headshot scene, then when we would recommend doing a one-to-one shoot. We can then dedicate the time you need and get the right location for you. 

If you accept that the photos you get are going to look pretty similar to the ones on the website and the videos we have created, then when you should be fine. If you need a different background or something unique – then a 1-2-1 is for you.

We aim to make the best possible photos for 6 people in 2 hours, which means that we can’t deviate too much from The Script. If you are in any doubt just drop us a note before booking and we will help go to you towards the correct shoot for you

The Future of Share the Shoot

Copright of McFade Photography

So profile shoots evolved into share the shoot, it was essentially a lead magnet, but it now seems to have become a popular product in its own right. Initially, there was a challenge each month to get enough people through the door to make it work, but hopefully, with enough word-of-mouth and a few Facebook Ads, we can keep this going throughout 2020 and help lots more people.

All but 1 in the survey thought the shoot was hugely underpriced for what you get, so I’d book soon as I’ll be acting on this feedback 😉

How to choose a photographer from the 1000's recommended on LINKED IN

Recommendations are King

The best way to source most products and services these days is to ask for recommendations based on people’s experience.

It can certainly filter out solutions, products and providers who have given a good experience. I’m pretty sure everybody who is buying a new pair of headphones will read the Amazon reviews or checkout What Hi-Fi reviews before buying them. 

Photography Recommendations

When hiring a photographer it can be a little bit different – what is a good result for one person may be entirely wrong for another person. This could be in terms of style of image, or the photoshoot experience. When you put a call out for photography recommendations everybody will recommend the photographer in their BNI/4N/Networking group, or someone they know, which is what you would expect. 

Do some digging…

The great thing about photography is that being an entirely visual medium, you can pretty quickly go to their websites to check out the style and standard of their work. You can do this with designers and musicians as well of course – so it’s a step you should always take

When you put your next call out for a photographer on LinkedIn and get the 1000 recommendations, you already know that they are “probably” decent people because they have been recommended. But do take that second step of checking their work. 

Why?

Photography can have three effects

  • firstly it can damage your brand if it is of a poor standard or gives the wrong impression
  • secondly it can be a good filler for a website, like magnolia paint in a house you are trying to sell – its safe but doesn’t really “wow” anyone. This is probably most common.
  • Thirdly it can look outstanding, imaginative, delicious, dramatic, beautiful, majestic – whatever your brand needs and creates a massive impact on your marketing and website. 

You can pretty quickly find this out when you go to their website and see previous projects. Are you looking at the images you’d want on your own website? Are you settling for something safe and predictable when you could get something disruptive and exciting?

Photography is all about getting noticed amongst the noise of modern life – it has to have an instant impact or your’ll be swiped past in under a second. People don’t have time or the attention span to look at bland things when a cool thing may be one scroll down in the browser

You may as well invest your money in something that is outstanding rather than just a magnolia filler for your website.

Jaeda Sharman 2

A second shoot with this Morley based star of the future – a model and competition diver at 12!

This was at a ruin in a Morley golf club on a cold January day….

It’s an exposed bit of land, the lights were blowing around, Jaeda had a cold starting – it had all the hall marks of a disaster

But we battled on and created some great images – the dark, rainy skies created drama, the wind made her scarf blow horizontally… everything negative turned into a positive – well except the cold!

Click the shots on the gallery to see them really big on your screen.

Don't Forget About Photography!

Everything is video these days, we are all told to do Facebook lives or record things from the seats of our cars, in car parks, before meetings to engage with our audience.

I’ve spent the last year creating video content, be that behind the scenes footage of a photoshoot, close-ups of food or even photoshop editing videos. It’s been great fun and amazing learning curve. I really enjoy going through YouTube’s free music library to find the right tune for my videos and synching the cuts in the video to fit music…

Behind the scenes video of a food shoot in Leeds

I’m sure you’re the same, but having done all that are we forgetting the power of the humble photograph.

I like to think in terms of metaphors, so if marketing is going fishing, then the photograph is a lovely eye-catching fly you craft to attract the fish in the first place. 

I’m sure that the vast majority of videos that pop up on social media go unplayed, yet every single photograph that appears on social media is “seen” every time. The photo has done its job in under 1 second – hopefully, the right photo entices people to look further into your offering. (Bad photos lose you business by the way – give us a call if your images aren’t great!)

I found this with promoting my share the shoot events. I sometimes spend an afternoon editing behind-the-scenes video footage captured on my spare camera, making some cool movies. I’ll then plaster it over LinkedIn and Facebook and wait for all the bookings to roll in…

It doesn’t always work, why?

I often I have looked at my video metrics and many people will only watch the first two or 3 seconds of the video. Gutted!

A typical short video about SHARE THE SHOOT

But worse, all the messages I want them to see are totally missed. The call to action, the key benefits…

Video relies on people actually taking the time to watch it – and you can’t guarantee the right people WILL actually click play.

Conversely, when I have uploaded a still image from the shoots, usually with a little bit of text on top of it (a meme) I know that everybody, on whose wall the photos arrives, sees both the image and text – AND it works instantly. The above image was a success, with 12 previous clients smiling and a simple message – people “see” this and get what the deal is. They click on the link to find a web page full of videos, examples FAQ and booking links…

Still images work instantly and don’t rely on people taking the time to view them.

So whilst there are colossal benefits to doing videos, especially getting a lot of information out in the short period, let’s not forget that the humble photograph. Is the shiny bling which attracts people in the first place.

Think of the photograph as a way of getting your message headline out there like a fly attracts a fish – then when you’ve hooked a someone, you can use your video and copy to do the sale.

BusinesS Headshots – it ain't what you do…

It’s the way that you do it…

Franco Demori

“It ain’t WHAT you do, it’s the WAY that you do it” – As the Bananarama song goes.

That’s probably true in most businesses but it’s certainly the case with photography. It’s not just the end product which counts, but how you get to it.

I’ve been shooting business folks for almost a decade now and with the odd exception, no one really likes the idea of it. We are second only to dental root canal work to many!

It’s totally different from shooting models like Andy Taylor Boocock here.

Models are trained, they know what looks good, they can turn it on instantly and look like a Vogue front cover, then turn it off and start talking about their pet bulldog. They don’t have the usual hang-ups about a lazy eye or double chin like we mortals.

So what have I learned in all these years?

  • Talk a lot
  • Set lights up and keep chatting
  • Be friendly and patient
  • Show them the photos on the camera back (or laptop) regularly
  • Have fun
  • Give people stuff to do – or get them to use their imagination
  • Don’t get hung up on perfect poses
  • Take LOTS of photos to give LOTS of options

Talk a lot

I’ve always treated my shoots almost like a 1-2-1 chat with a new business connection. Grab a coffee, chat about their business, find out more about what they do and where they’re going. You’ll be amazed at who they know, where they’ve been and all sorts – just like any 1-2-1, so it’s a great way to start.

Set lights up and keep chatting

This helps take their mind off the camera and lights and you avoid all those long silences whilst you’re setting up. You should be able to set lights up on auto-pilot really.

Be friendly and patient

This is really important, keep things light and enjoyable. If things take a bit of getting going, let them take as much time as needed – it’s not their expert area, so lots of encouragement and positive messages helps build confidence. If something’s really not working, then move elsewhere, a change is far better than persevering with a bad idea.

Show them the photos on the camera back (or laptop) regularly

I do this all the time. It works brilliantly – your client can take a look and instantly see whether

  • the outfit is working,
  • they like the background,
  • they like their hair, makeup and anything else they want to check
  • they need to smile more, or look a bit more serious!

It also means that you’re getting feedback on whether the look, lighting and locations are right, so you can change things. The end result is that you should have got shots that the client likes and avoid any issues down the line with them hating all the shots!

Have fun

This is the #1 key to my shoots really.

I’ve been photographed and know what it’s like if you’re faced with a quiet photographer who just doesn’t say anything. It’s painful and you really want the ground to open up and eat you.

So on my shoots, it’s more about creating an air of levity and really interacting with people – especially if you’ve got groups of people.

If they’re all having fun, you’ll get far better photographs.

Give people stuff to do – or get them to use their imagination

This follows on from the “fun” comment – if you expect a business person to just pose amazingly first time in front of your camera, you’re probably going to have a hard time!

They need something to do, think about or look at to get them going. For me it could be anything from asking “what does a fairy do?” or “can you pull a face like Pob?”, to “how high can you jump?” or “look at that door…. imagine #appropriate celebrity# is winking at you”.

Sure they’re strange things to ask someone who runs an SME, but they’ll certainly stop thinking about the photo shoot and give you a new expression to capture!

If you’ve got a few people in the photo, then just think of things you can get them all doing – could be all looking at one of the group, looking at their watches and yawning, opening their eyes as wide as they can (a personal favourite that) or all jumping at the same time.

Giving people weird stuff to do lightens the atmosphere, makes them all forget about the camera and hopefully gets a lot of laughter!

From that, warm, friendly photos follow…

Don’t get hung up on perfect poses

I bought books on portraits when I set out.

They were usually American and had “senior” photos – people leaving their high school – and they all followed a really strict formula. Hand positions and head positions were discussed, sitting and standing debated… and they all looked very “cheesy”. Many of them make great twitter memes.

There is definitely a need for a little helpful guidance. The body angle is often worth sorting straight off, get their feet to point at 45 degrees to you and them looking slightly over a shoulder.

But if you venture into too many instructions, you lose the client. They get concerned about the hand and chin positions you’ve given them and start looking really confused. That smile goes and they start feeling self-conscious.

Think in terms of “micro prompts” – little easy things they can do, I often look around me for something they can look at – “look at the clock as if it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen” – they look the right direction and you may just get a “Wow” expression.

But a little “try lifting your chin a little” is easy for them to do – whereas the 50 things you need think about in my old posing books would really flummox them!

Take LOTS of photos to give LOTS of options

And finally…

I now take LOTS of photos when shooting clients, this is so you can let the best moments happen naturally. You have the lens to your eye and are talking away to them, expressions come and go fast – get them, get as many as you can and keep going.

I used to take a few shots and then move – take a few more – which was fine, but I found there was more energy and flow if you just kept going and encouraging them all the time.

It costs the virtually same to take 100 shots as it does 1000 – there’s more hard drive space needed and more time to filter the good ones out, but you don’t need to develop/edit all of them.

Zap the duff shots quickly, then you’ve got a raft of proofs for the client to choose from.

So that’s kinda how I do it

The best thing I can hear on my shoots is someone who started out saying “I hate having my photo taking” tell me they “really enjoyed it” at the end of it.

Fancy a Try….?

If you’re reading this thinking I’m mad, then you’re probably right!

But if you run a business and fancy this experience for a change, then get in touch with me at ade@mcfade.co.uk

If you’re brand new, a solopreneur and need photos of you with other people or just like networkfing and need some shots of yourself… I’ve got a new event called SHARE THE SHOOT which embodies everything in this blog at an amazing price… follow this link for more details

How to organise your photos like a pro

Finding old photos can be a pain – if someone asks if you’ve got photos of Liverpool (or something like that) in future, how quickly could you locate them in your file system?

Or if you’re looking to create a print of Ingleborough, could you find all your photos of the hill and quickly make a decision on which to use?

Well if you’re ever in this situation, this video may help.

If not, it’s useful anyway to see how others work – and this is my workflow from getting photos off the memory card through to importing and giving the files meaningful, findable names.

NEVER use direct flash

I know – sometimes it’s too dark to shoot and you don’t have any off-camera kit, so you have to use your flash “on camera”

But the light you get off a direct flash is horrible – there’s an example in the video below. It serves a purpose, but it creates a passport photo look rather than that creative look we’re all after as photographers

So what can you do?

Well with most Speedlites, you can point the head in almost any direction, so the light doesn’t go straight to the model – that way it looks a lot better, but you do need a reflective surface for the light to bounce off.

Most indoor locations have white ceilings, so you just point the flash straight up and it’s job done.

Some have white walls, so you can point them straight at the walls instead (we demonstrate this in the video too);

But when you’re out in the open, you’ve nothing to bounce off – hence we take reflector with us, get someone to hold it next to the model and then point the flash at it.

This short video shows photos from our workshop to illustrate exactly this point – we hope it’s helpful