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 

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!

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…


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


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.

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.


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 – – if you want to know more

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.

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 :-


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

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. 


For this project we follow our usual process of:-


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. 


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. 


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. 


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!


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. 


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

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
  • 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 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,  
  • 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.

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. 


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.

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

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.

The Reality of Running Workshops

One of the most common issues we get are people asking to cancel (or come on a different workshop for no extra cost) – it could be work related, or a sick pet or anything life throws up. We have to say no in order to stay in business – hope this explains why! 

We love running workshops at McFade – it’s our way of doing photography we love AND sharing our passion for all things camera related.

But for our workshops to be worthwhile, we need to keep an eye on the numbers. Whilst it’s “fun” to do, it has to be done as a business.

This means that we always need to make decisions on whether to go ahead with a workshop based on how many are booked on the session, so I thought I’d explain how it works. 

The Base Numbers

To create a workshop, we need to work with numbers:-

  • Costs of the workshop – petrol + location hire + models + facebook adverts + misc (£)
  • Number of delegates needed
  • The actual number of delegates booked
  • “Worth doing” workshop rate (£/hr)
  • Workshop Length (h)

Example Workshop

So here’s how it works – the numbers are chosen for ease, rather than actual real values 

The plan –

  • Portrait workshop,
  • 4 hours,
  • 4 photographers and
  • 1 model

Costs = £5 (petrol) + £15 (hall hire) + £20 * 4 (model for 4 hours) = £100 COSTS

Lets say we need to make £25 per hour to make it worth while

We get the following numbers – Apologies if you’re not into spreadsheets…  

Number of delegates needed4
Number of delegates booked
“Worth doing” workshop rate (£/hr)25
Workshop Length (h)4
Model Rate20
Location costs15
Other costs5
Costs of the workshop – petrol + location hire + models + misc (£)100
Worthwhile if full (hrs * worth doing + costs)200
Costs per delegate (if full)50
Actual No. DelegatesTakingsProfitRate

So in the above workshop, we have to calculate whether it’s worth running or not.

  • With 4 delegates – £25 – definitely yes
  • With 3 delegates – £12.50 – not ideal, but maybe
  • With 1 or 2 – £0 or -£12.50 – we are making nothing or losing money, so this would be cancelled

Hopefully, you can see the impact of cancellation – in this scenario we either half our rate or would work for £0. We could of course charge

We hate saying “no” to people who have to cancel – but if we did refunds, it’s pretty likely that we’re moving from a “worthwhile” workshop to working for nothing or losing money. 

Hiring a Photographer : 7 things you’re REALLY buying

Most businesses need images for websites, brochures, press, adverts…. the list goes on.

So when you hire a photographer, what are you actually getting? Good ones will be expensive, they may quote £1000-£1500 per day even in West Yorkshire – how on earth can this be justified.

If you read most marketing copy, we would cover the benefits to your business, which include extra sales, great first impression and more website traffic – but in this mini blog series, lets look at what the photographer brings to the table and how they spend the time with you AND behind the scenes!

1 – Years of Experience (hopefully)

How many CV’s or LINKED IN profiles start with “Over 25 years experience of…. “, or something like that!

When you hire a professional, the first thing you’re buying into is MANY years of learning, courses, processing skills and people skills. They’ll have experienced all kinds of situations, subjects and personalities. They tend to have learned in their spare time and on the job, it’s usually a passion. They will also be expert and efficient at processing the photos to polish them – usually in Photoshop or something equivalent.

You can see their experience from a portfolio or website and can also tell whether their work is a fit for your brand. Maybe someone who does pin-up and emo-goth models brilliantly, isn’t the right person for your food photography? 

We wrote about 6 steps for getting the right photographer for the job here… 

6 Essential Steps to Hiring the Right Photographer




3 Leading-edge options for your new 2018 business head-shot

Your headshot is important – it represents your brand, your business and you.

Headshots work for you every day on Linked IN and the other social media channels, your website, in print and at every touch point the world has with you.

So it’s worth a little thought about what you want!

To help, we’ve found that there are 3 main styles which work for a business:-

  • location shots
  • plain background
  • action shots

You see each every day and we can help create each for you – here are a few examples to help guide you.


Location Shots

Ideal for people wanting a unique, fresh and modern look to their images.

These will be taken in places like:-

  • office atriums with big open spaces
  • near to iconic structures like a city hall
  • in the office car park!
  • next to an interesting textured wall

The main goal is to use the background to create something new – the same location will look different at different times of day and weather conditions, so you really do get something unique.

We are experts at location shoots and can shoot literally anywhere legal to get the shots you’d like.


Plain background shots

Clean and versatile for all uses – the classic

White is most popular for these as they blend into most websites and social media sites quickly, cleanly and effectively. They are less popular than a few years ago and we don’t tend to do as many of these as clients prefer the Location look.

We would typically just need a meeting room in your office to set this up – we need room for 3 or 4 light stands and for the colleague to stand. We then just photograph each person, one by one, throughout the day – some take just a couple of minutes, others need time to chat and relax – which we’re always happy to do.


Action Shots

Show people doing what they do, where and how they do it

These images are more informal and fun, yet give a feel for your company’s ethos and values. It shows not only the person but the environment they work in – great for a busy office and tight teams as well as people working in factories and crafts.

They are the least disruptive for your team as they just carry on doing what they are doing – rather than standing in a room feeling nervous.

To create these we go around the room photographing each colleague, in turn, placing 2 lights around them to give that professional studio feel.


Whatever you like

We like to shoot location most – it’s more fun and creative from a photography point of view – and people usually relax more as it feels informal. But whatever your need for your brand, we can create your team a great new set of consistent, stunning new images.

9 Letters which define your business photos

Your business photos are your first impression

Get them wrong – you lose business

It’s as simple as that – people’s first impression is made instantly and will influence whether they bother to read your carefully honed copy and click “play” on that professionally produced video. Business photos are more important than you think

Visual Appeal…

Websites are visual things these days – design, video and business photos are essential components.

I’d argue that of those, business photos are massively important because:-

  1. Everyone “sees” the photos. The copy may go unread, and video unwatched, but photos are always seen – they always work. They are hugely important. 
  2. The impact is instant – impressions are made in under a second – photos have done their job before people blink
  3. People buy emotionally – a good photo bypasses our logical brain and makes people “want” something – and they don’t know why…. they just WANT it NOW!!!! 
  4. A photo can manipulate how your product/service is perceived – budget or luxury, fun or serious, modern or traditional.


The 3 Reactions to Business Photos in 9 Letters

1 – Eww

What is the impact?

You definitely don’t want this reaction. This loses business, it makes you look unprofessional, cheap, dodgy and maybe even a scammer.

If you can’t be bothered to look the business, why should we expect you to do the business

What to look for in your business

  • Your photo on LINKED IN are from a wedding, pub crawl, night out or with your newborn kid. Obvious selfies are bad, especially with duck-face-pouts.
  • Your photos are tiny and not sharp
  • Your photos are obviously out of date
  • Your team page has no images – why are you hiding? (Ok – on product websites, this is ok – but for services…. I’d expect to see you)
  • No consistency in the people photos – different looks, backgrounds, styles…. just cobbled together

What can you do NOW?

First off – any offending photos should be removed ASAP. They’re damaging your business.

Book a day to get new photos of everyone who needs to be on the site and linked in – either with a professional, or someone who can get consistent results. Even with a phone!

Update Linked IN first – it’s easy and a quick win.

Get a commercial photographer to visit and understand your business – they can help develop ideas with you. The “what” you do, “how” you do it and even the “why” you do it can be captured.


2 – Meh

What is the impact?

This is the usual reaction – meh means “whatever”, or “I have no opinion”.

This isn’t the end of the world, they are probably filling your website and not offending anyone. Like those graphs which no one looks at, they’re not going to motivate people to buy but probably won’t lose you business.

They will not win you any new business – you are going to have to rely on your video/copy/sales guys winning you business. It’s a missed opportunity.

You are “forgettable”

Don’t stand out from the crowd

What to look for in your business

  • Competent photos created by someone years ago, they’ve gathered cobwebs and look dated
  • Not that inspiring – they are “matter of fact” – wallpaper…
  • People and product photos against white backgrounds – very traditional, boring, expected
  • Don’t really reflect your business ethos – if you’re young vibrant accountants, why have photos from the 1950’s?

What can you do NOW?

A new photo creates a stir – getting new headshots and team photos out on social media will get hundreds of “likes” or comments on linked in.

Have a think about the “why, how and what” of your business first – then get in touch with us. We can help put these ideas into images.

Add some magic to your product shots – maybe show them in use, lifestyle photos always plant an aspirational idea. It’s just more exciting than traditional “product” shots.

Show your people “doing” stuff – standing awkwardly in front of a white wall look, well, awkward. It’s also a bit 1995. We’ve found photos of people at their workstation far more engaging, and less painful for them on shoot day!


3 – Wow

What is the impact?

You attract the right clients – people looking for suppliers will be attracted to like-minded businesses. If your photos match your values, then the right clients will come your way.

You can charge more – if you look, expert, it sets the scene and expectations.

Your Google analytics go through the roof – more visits, lower bounce rates, longer time spent on the site – because people want to SEE MORE

More connections on LINKED IN – do you find yourself clicking on people with decent photos ahead of those without photos, or with duff photos? Well, other people do the same! We all “search” linked in for business – “wow” photos get people asking to link more often.

What to look for in your business

  • Big images with the “wow factor” – you capture attention on the landing page
  • Images which fit your values – if you’re a cool, young team with a modern working environment, your photos make this obvious
  • Creative innovative photography – great lighting, editing and ideas
  • Outside the norm – they just don’t look like normal business images – they make you stand out
  • People share and comment on you more
  • Create a stir – be different, bold and remembered

What can you do NOW?

You just have a maintenance job to do – so more of the same.

Be careful not to stagnate – when new people arrive, make it part of their arrival package to get the photos done – and an updated team shot if you get one.

You will probably be great on social media, keep current with regular photos updates – maybe away days, new product launches or just create something to shout about


So where are you ?

Have a review of your images and if you’re “Meh” or “Eww”, drop us a line at – we can help create a whole library of new “Wow” images.

If you’ve got no budget

We have hundreds of free images for you to use at our Stock Library – fill your boots!

GoodSynch keeps your work safe & SYNCHRONISED!

The Problem GoodSync Solves….

As a photographer, we’re dealing with huge files ALL the time, many of which we bin after we’ve finished a project – these fill hard drives, meaning you’ll waste £££££ on hard drives.

We’ve found GoodSync solves this problem so quickly and easily – for $29 for the pro version!

Many photographers will use a RAID system of hard drives to make sure if a disc goes down, they are safe.

This system is about making backups which SAVE SPACE 


This tends to happen…

  1. Get the photos off your camera and into your working drive – usually a fast SSD drive
  2. Make a backup copy – just to be safe! 
  3. Do your work – usually over a few days, or weeks, depending on how long clients take to choose etc.
  4. More daily backups of everything
  5. Eventually, when you’ve finished “work”, you’d have a quick tidy up on your working drive – delete intermediate files etc. 
  6. Finalise backups and move the files off the Working Drive to a different one – not an expensive SSD.

Now the problem is keeping those backups in sync

What you’d normally do….

You’d typically just copy the entire folder  (using Windows explorer or finder on a mac) – but you’re copying EVERYTHING, but not deleting the garbage.

In step 5, the “tidy up”, you will delete many GBytes of files, BUT you will not delete that backed-up garbage, meaning your drives will be massive, you will waste space, you’ll have to spend to get more drives.

What Good Synch Does

It adds AND deletes files to your backup drive

Benefits of Good Sync
You get an exact copy of your working drive on the backup – saving you TIME, gigabytes AND ££££.

Here’s how it works

Create a “Job”

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Just give it a name… meaningful so you know what it does

Set up the JOB

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Here you pick the source folder (where your working files are) – click the folder buttons at the top where it says “Please click here to select folder”. The left one is the source

Then pick where you want them to go – to the right folder.

So here I’m copying everything from my August 2017 folder to August 2017 on my “I Drive” – which is a backup.

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Click on Analyze

Next the clever bit – when you click Analyze, it works out what’s is new and needs to be copied to your backup AND what needs to be removed!

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

It can take a little while on big folders – but when you’ve run it a few times it seems to “remember” stuff and speed up.

It gives lots of stats and a little update on every file – for the geeky, this is heaven, for the rest of us we can ignore most of it.

Hit Synch

Now just hit the sync button – GoodSync then just works down every file and does one of 3 things:-

  1. copies it to the backup folder
  2. ignores it altogether
  3. deletes it from the backup folder

And that’s it

How to keep backed up all the time

Above we set up that job – that’s not actually the end of the story, we can set GoodSync up to automatically run these jobs whenever we like.

At the top right of the program, there’s a picture of a clock with “Auto” below it – press this to get the following box.

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Ok – it’s a big box, but it gives you lots of options on when to Automatically run backups.

So if you”re paranoid, it can run every time you change a file!

Periodically would be more sensible – maybe every hour, or every few hours, or if you’re on mission critical stuff, every 10 minutes.

You can even do a timed schedule – maybe at 3 AM when you’re tucked up in bed.

Integrations with stuff you love

And finally, I’ve just covered backing up to hard drives – but you may also want to backup to remote things like:-

  • Google Drive
  • An FTP Location

Well you can see them all here:-

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

So if you want to keep those vital files save on a remote server, then you can send them to many different platforms.

Why we love it…

In a nutshell, we have always tried to intelligently back things up regularly – and that means only backing up stuff we actually need.

This never happened, we have probably terabytes of TIFFS, HDRs and PSDs we just don’t need.

With GoodSync that is all taken care of – without us ever having to do anything anymore!


DON’T Piggyback Your Photography and Expect Great Results

Which of these people will get the better profile photo:-

  1. a relaxed, stress-free person, who has set time aside to enjoy a photo shoot
  2. someone with the phone going every 5 minutes, about to do a speech at an event and has a whole crowd of people waiting for them.

It’s night and day – chalk and cheese – choose your own metaphor! Person 1 will look open, friendly, relaxed, warm… 2 will look pre-occupied, elsewhere, stressed and maybe a bit on edge. Even the most seasoned performer has some kind of adrenaline before they start – and this shows.

Great people-photos don’t “just happen” with a good camera – which is great or I’d be out of business!

It’s my job to get all the technical “lighting and camera stuff” done seamlessly without anyone really noticing, and then take someone from the unusual (and maybe uncomfortable) position of posing in front of the camera to being relaxed and natural.

What should happen

To get the best shots of a client, they ideally want to have set time aside for the shoot – to have nothing too major on their mind (i.e. good diary management for that day), phone switched off and able to just spend an hour actually enjoying the whole photography thing.

Towards the end of the shoot, they’ll probably be a natural – a bit of practice, fun, experimentation and talking through ideas makes all the difference.

The photos will be far more natural, genuine smiles and expressions and hopefully be ones which just stand out where ever they are used.

What really happens…..

I often get asked to shoot an event or conference, and “can you get some headshots of x, y and z before hand”.

So these people are probably organising the thing or public speaking. Both are stressful to do, or if you are super-cool, you’ll still be thinking about what to say or about things which could go wrong.

Both of these show on your face, like it or not. You look distant or tense.

Also, they have no real time to stop – but they give you 2 minutes to get a shot before dashing off again. I can shoot off 100 photos in 2 minutes – cameras are good like that – but they’ll all look like someone who doesn’t want to be there.

Worst Still…

On a few occasions, I’ve done photos at the end of a long day – usually events, usually frantic. Everyone looks incredibly tired, ready for a pint or sleep.

I’ve probably been dashing around all day, so not at my chatty best – so it’s all a bit of a walking disaster.

I’ve never seen any of those last shots chosen or used – people can look 10 years older when they’re tired, and after an event, everyone is tired.

So what is piggybacking?

It’s adding one job on to another.

It often probably makes business sense to do this, and I’ve got no problem attempting it most of the time. But from a professional portrait photography perspective, is a real challenge.

These “event headshot photos” are good for press releases, social media and blogs.

For profile shots you really want them to work FOR you – so if possible, don’t piggyback your head shot session on the back of an event, but take the time to do the job right.


3 Tips on Looking Like Leaders – Show How You Work

How do you do what you do….

Simon Sinek’s hugely popular TED TALK talk on branding talks about:-

  • Why you do what you do
  • How you do it
  • What you make/do

If you’ve not seen it – here it is on YOUTUBE – it’s well worth a look.


If you look at the “why” – that’s usually a mission statement, tricky to photograph, but the “how” is something which we can support with great images.

“How” you do something is a huge part of your offering – being seen as experts and using an expert team helps make you the “go-to” supplier.

Show People How You Work

Photographing you or your team in action instantly tells people a massive amount. If gives personality to the images, it’s evidence you exist & that you have a team, it shows you the “vibe” of your organisation…. and much more.

Here are a few examples from the McFade Archives

1 Show your “skilled workers”

If you have a team on the workshop floor, showing each step of what they do instantly hints what they do – a small explanation is all that is needed. Far more effective than copy alone.

These images are from a light industrial company with a huge variety of processes – each page on their website had an image at the top to introduce the process. How many people do you think just looked at the photo, not bothering to read the text?


A huge car supermarket chain prides itself in using all the latest technology and skilled mechanics on each car as it arrives.

A cabinet maker in action – the concentration on his face says it all!

Add some personality to your bar photos with your “mixologist” in action

2 – Show Yourself In Action

If you’re self-employed then you can show yourself being the expert. This is Oksana, a personal trainer, we wanted to create some dramatic image to attract the right type of clients. What better than showing Oksana “walking the walk”? 

If you’re a consultant, then how about visiting a client site and doing some of your tasks. Gavin helps hotels grow and trains their staff, here are a few shots of him in different scenarios.


3 – Show Yourself Presenting

Only experts get invited to talk at conferences – right?

Well probably yes, so what better opportunity to lift your profile than having someone take images of you in action – with an engaged audience hinted at with blurry heads in the foreground.

This is website expert Andy Firth talking to a packed room in Sheffield

Gary King presenting at a business seminar

Rachel Hatfield sharing her Social Media expertise


Be First In People’s Minds

When people think of your industry – you want them to think of you FIRST. Then you want them to think you are are THE GO TO EXPERT.

Support this with great images of not only what you do but HOW YOU DO IT and you’ll see your business recommendations sky rocket. 


A few more recent examples


Craftsman making bath bombs!

Web developers creating

Electrical engineer testing with latest iPad software

Gas fitter servicing a boiler

Team re-processing lots of waste fluid containers

The EASY Way to Do Business Headshots

Business headshots have changed

Evolution of Business Headshots…

  • Stern captains of industry in their victorian offices – green lamps, brass, oak…
  • Conservative backdrops – usually brown or blue
  • White wall business headshots – clean and fit on Linked IN nicely, a bit boring

business headshots

Action portrait – people doing their job to show expertise

At McFade we’ve been doing “location” portraits too – business headshots usually taken around the workplace, or for solopreneurs, in cool locations nearby – like Clarence Dock, Dark Arches, Roof tops.

We love doing location business headshots, the results always get you noticed and for smaller teams, it still works brilliantly.

business headshots

Location Portrait

But getting a team of 10 or more, outdoor shoots can cause a lot of upheaval. How do you get that mix of “relaxed unposed” style without causing havoc and lost work time?

Here’s the secret…

business headshots

Workplace headshots – people are more relaxed, it’s quicker and far less stressful!

Photograph your team at their desks

business headshots

Take away the stress of a traditional shoot

People don’t always appreciate being called away from their work to a room If they’re really busy. Also, it makes them self-conscious and can take a long time to get people comfortable.

So why not bring the studio to their desks instead?

They don’t have to move – you just set up 2 lights around them (which takes 3 minutes) then just talk for a few minutes and get some shots of them working and looking to the camera.

It also creates a buzz in the office – whilst you’re being photographed, the team can talk to you – which usually ends up with people laughing – and we get a natural look.

We also use specialist lenses which create blurry backgrounds – in the shot above, we left room to the left of the photo so you can add copy text or a headline.

We can also capture people in action – here, this lady was taking a phone call – a real client phone call.

Technical team members look properly techy surrounded with monitors, deep in thought

A few more images from recent shoots.



Advantages of Desk Photoshoots

So to conclude, having done lots of these shoots recently, we found:-

  • A lot quicker than a traditional shoot
  • Less upheaval for your team – they just stay where they are, we do the work
  • Show people in their environment – expertise, kit, skill etc.
  • Wide variety of background – far more interesting than a white wall
  • Creates a “buzz” giving a more relaxed, approachable look to the images


Want to update your online look with minimal fuss?

We are expert people photographers – just give us a call on 0776655 83 75 or drop us a line at and we’ll do the rest!


My Presentation at SHARE – Jan 2017

Showing my Work to my Network

Every year or so, we get to present our business to the SHARE network group – it’s great to get more than 1 minute to talk about your offering, to make sure everyone knows the extent of what I do.

For a photographer – it’s a rare chance to actually show the work, rather than just talk about it. I’m selling a “visual” product – not an audio one, so it’s really hard to show people just what it is you do.

A Different Venue

We usually meet at Darrington, but today we met on North Street, Leeds. This was to accommodate a bunch of members who had a city centre workshop straight after SHARE. Had some great sandwiches – best I’ve had in a long time, we got lucky there!

Great venue actually – they’re called Henton’s; if you’re after an event space, get in touch with Charlotte Bates.

Technical Issues

The only thing that was less than ideal was the projector – the images looked pretty horrible compared to the view on my laptop screen.

I’ve never hooked up a 4K laptop to an unknown monitor before, so probably with a bit more fiddling I’d have got it right – but time was pressing and people were arriving!

The Presentation Slides

So here they are for you to view at the correct quality – well they’re small, but hopefully your phone/computer will show them at the right colour!

The No. 1 Reason To Update Business Photos NOW!

New Business Photos Get You Noticed INSTANTLY!

Business portrait for Personal Trainer Oxsana

It really is that simple – investing in new business photos is like having a mini re-brand.

If you and your team all got new business photos tomorrow and updated LINKED IN, your engagement would go through the roof.

So what are you waiting for?

Try it – if you change your LINKED IN photo it tells everyone in your network, and they will all see you and (hopefully) say how great you look – but more importantly, you’ll be at the front of their minds for a short time.

Get everyone to do it, you can multiply its impact many times over


Ok – a few other reasons for new business photos….

1 Business Photos: Keep things current

Singer Arthur Geldard

A client who I photographed in Feb 2016 has halved in size – fantastic for her and she looks great for it. She has updated her Linked IN headshot so

She has updated her Linked IN headshot so all is well, but I stumbled upon her old photo and I bet one would recognise her!

It’s just one example of things which change over a year. If your photos are not refreshed annually, then they can be a bit embarrassing and not reflect who you are and what you do.

Conversely, new photos are something to make a noise about on social media.

  • Be honest, we all struggle with content sometimes, so a set of new images gives you a few months worth of tweets and blogs.


2 Updating team photos


People retire or move on, new people start – teams are always changing.

So as part of your new starter induction plan, why not have an item to update your photography collateral?

  • As soon as a new person starts, get a photographer booked and prepare everyone for a new team shot – as well as a headshot for the new starter.


3 Promote new products or services

If you’re doing a new line of products, or have a new service, are your old photos appropriate to advertise it?

Old photos are familiar to your clients. It’s not obvious it’s a new offering from the image.

Each time you’re launching something new, think how you could best represent it visually.

  • Remember, many busy people just look at photos and headlines, they don’t always read the copy… the photos have to work.


4 Make the website “better” without a “rebuild”

Websites which use Content Management Systems, like WORDPRESS, are relatively easy to update these days.

If your site is looking a little “tired” you can distract the viewer (from the mildly embarrassing 2001 look and feel) with lots of new photos.

Obviously, you can “re-theme” sites pretty easily to bring them up to date. You definitely need new photos to create maximum impact.

  • The quickest and most cost effective way to transform your site is to update the images.


5 Ensure you’re giving the right FIRST IMPRESSION on every platform

I say this a lot….

Your first impression is online these days.

Not always – but every referral I’ve ever had, I’ve looked up on Linked IN and their website. You can rest assured that the vast majority of people do it too.

  • Your photo tells people more about you, the person, than any other thing on that page; make sure you look “right”.

Professional, friendly, serious, funny, mysterious, arty, geeky…. whatever “right” is for you and the people you want to attract.

Summer Nights Workshop – 2016 Review

McFade Summer Nights Workshops 2016

A look back over 12 fantastic evenings – but first some background

Where did the idea of Summer Nights Workshops come from?

Ever since I took Photography seriously I’ve regularly gone out for smaller outings – usually with 1 or 2 friends. We’d find places to go, new things to try out and gradually get loads of ideas and locations to return to.

I found that it broke the weekend up and gave us something to look forward to. Gets you out of the “office mindset” too.

But also, if you just do “a bit” at a time, then built on it regularly – your skills just blossomed and grew.

What are McFade Summer Nights Then?

When I started McFade Training I did lots of weekend trips, bigger outings which cost more and were less frequent. This is probably what most trainers do – more people are free on weekends and you do make more money!

But I’d find that if you saw people every few months, they’d probably not have had reason to go out and practice what they’d learned at the last workshop. In fact, you’d be going over the same ground again to refresh their memories.

So it gave me the idea of re-creating what I’d done with John and Dave in the “noughties” :-

  • a regular evening to look forward to
  • a different location for each session
  • a load of different skills – from towns to landscapes, people to porches.
  • a gradual build up of skills and confidence in the regulars who came

How do you get the most from these nights?

Both financially and in learning, the people who booked the whole series got the most. The evenings were over 33% less – meaning that even if you missed a few, you were still “quids in”.

Also I get to know where people’s skills lie if I see them regularly – I can introduce new things each session which build on the last session.

It also gets people out regularly – people may not go out on their own, but if they’ve got a group session each fortnight, it’s in the diary and they turn.

Obviously, those who just “dip in” to the odd workshop that appeals have a great time too – it’s just they don’t get all the benefits of regular training.

It’s a bit like a personal training session for your creative side! 

In 2017, we’re seriously considering offering this just as a “12 workshop series” – with no individual bookings. We’d love your feedback on that.

What do we do on these nights?

It’s relaxed and fun – that’s the main thing.

There are no egos or know it alls – no competitions or kit envy. It is usually people with basic DSLR cameras who just want to get better at taking photos. We’ve had a 15 year old and a few in their 70’s – there’s no age restrictions.

We try to cover a lot of ground between May and September, a comprehensive series giving people exposure to many topics, each building on the basics of photography – we usually start in towns in May, this year it was York.


We usually start in towns in May, this year it was York. Towns offer a bit of cover if it’s raining, some cool places for sunsets and they’re easy to get to and park. Also I think people rarely photograph towns – it’s a bit scary on your own – so going in group really helps people relax.

It’s dark by 10PM in May too – so you get your first taste of low light photography, which usually is a paradigm shift for most.

We also went to Saltaire – terrible weather meant we stood under a bridge for a while, but a series of creative challenges kept everyone motivated till we could shoot the weirs.


In June we did portraits. All in Leeds, all on location and with a mix of flash and natural light.

Portrait is tricky to get right when you’re new – you have someone rather than an inanimate object to photograph. Do you talk to them or what?

Well the main emphasis on the first one was using long lenses and wide apertures to avoid really busy backgrounds. That’s often the main issue with portrait – the person has all kinds of stuff going on behind them. So stand back, zoom in and blur the background was a great start.

Next was The Blues Brothers – Brian, Chris and Gareth were fantastic but the weather was appalling. We retreated to the Dark Arches and got flashes out – which wasn’t at all planned, but was “real”. Stuff like that really happens – a lot.

The group had a fantastic few hours whilst I changed batteries in the flashes as they faded!


We are in Yorkshire so Landscape is all around us – it made sense to do lots of Landscape workshops. We went to :-

  • Harewood and Almcliffe
  • Burley and Ilkley Moor
  • Pontefract, Ferrybridge and the A1 Bridge
  • Beal and Eggborough

It’s fair to say the weather was mixed for these – and Landscape really does depend on good light.

The Ferrybridge and A1 Workshop

These are all locations the people can return to on better days – but even on a grey night we got 3 great locations and proved that even a fading blue hour sky can look amazing when you know how. The pond shot below was taken on a virtually pitch black lake side!

44-summer-nights-ferrybridge 9-summer-nights-ferrybridge 52-summer-nights-ferrybridge 81-summer-nights-ferrybridge

Beal and Eggborough

Another location roadtrip which I first did in about 2005 – this was about fields, crops and their interaction with the canals and power station.

Again, not the greatest light for it – we learned about foreground interest, balance in composition, reflections and a cool trick at sunset where you make anything you can find into a silhouette with the sky colours blurred behind it – see the thistle below.

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Harewood and Almscliffe

At last a sunny night – though it was cold on the boulders later on.

A 2 stop workshop where we showed everyone a bridge and weir we found by accident in 2008, then up to some iconic boulders near Harrogate.

Here we looked at the 10 Stop Filter, using boulders foreground interest, finding names and pools rocks and exposing for bright sun

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Burley and Ilkley Moor

This was a very unusual evening – where the sun actually created lots of problems by the weir. The sky was cloudless and therefore boring, and the sun was going stright into people’s lenses creating all kinds of flare.

A nice problem in a way I guess – a little patience and it became less of an issue. Everyone got to try the 10-stop filter for themselves, getting a very smooth water flow over 30 seconds.

The cow and calf was pretty windy and cold – we showed the team how to create great sunset silhouettes again – this time with huge boulders rather than thistles. On top of the rocks are lots of names carved into the rock so we showed how to capture those with ultra wide lenses.

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We met at a lovely golf club to take photos of the TVR club’s wonderful cars – but it poured down, a washout.

Tricky suggested we rescue the night by going to the IKEA car park – so over we went, only 10 minutes away. Unfortunately it was pretty busy in there – so I had to get everyone a safe distance away with long lenses.

Gradually the customers disappeared and we got more and more space – the cars spread out and we had a final hour of sci-fi magic. The curvy cars and ultra austere concrete of the car park made for some of the best shots we’ve made over the years.

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Bonus at Brimham Rocks

A final landscape workshop up at Brimham rocks followed. We went armed with all the night painting equipment as it’d be dark by 8:30PM.

It was a good job as the sunset never happened and the rocks were not hugely inspiring as the sky went grey. But as soon as it went dark we found our stride and introduced everone to light painting, sparks and light graffiti.

It was great fun getting everyone involved – we had red boulders, stick men and all kinds of ideas flowing.

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2 Towns to Finish Off


It’s most famous for Mother Shipton’s Cave and the railway viaduct – we photographed the latter, the cave was shut!

The Nidd was perfectly stil that night, so giving fantastic reflections for everyone. The start was at a road bridge where we had lots of boats for foreground – so the challenge was to use the boats in the composition.

After that we captured street scenes and the viaduct before climbing up to the castle – a very steep stairway which was pretty tiring, but we all got great photos of the bridge and its mirror reflection.

To end the night we had an hour of Pixel Stick fun – some Pac Man ghosts on the bridge then lots of other interactive stuff, with silhouettes and rainbows!

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Salford Quays and Media City

To finish off is a place went to photograph first in 2004 – The Lowry as it was then, but it’s graduated into Media City now.

A pastel sunset gave a lovely salmon sky as the sun set, then we were into night photography of all the amazing structures and rainbows of colour.

We actually finished at 11:20, an hour and 20 later than usual, as there was so much to shoot – a few left earlier – no one’s obliged to stay till the end!

So That’s All Folks

Summer is now over – we’ll be running weekend workshops over the winter in 2016-2017 and rebooting the Summer Nights again next year – so keep your eye out for them.

Oxy – Personal Trainer Photography Session

Social Media, Marketing and Business Show – Sheffield 2016

Learning from the experts

I went down to see support and learn loads from Andy Firth, Gary King and Rachel Hatfield, who each did a talk on their specialist subjects:-

Ok – I took the camera too 😉

I’ll not go into what each said, you’ll just have to go see them when they next talk – all great.

I did take the camera to get some shots of them in action – photos of presentations are like gold dust on social media, it gives the impression of authority and expertise – then can be sent out on all your usual channels to tell the world you’re the expert.

See if you can spot yourself in this selection:-

Note that these yellow balls were impossible to juggle with – bounced miles as soon as they hit a finger!

Lumilow Lighting

Enlightened LED Lighting Specialists

Lumilow are lighting consultants – MD Andy Chell was up front, the product itself was not going to be an exciting thing to photography!

I guess lights are a bit like petrol – fuel is not that interesting in itself, but put some in a Ferrari and it gets interesting.

Lighting is like that – it’s how it makes “stuff” look, and cost efficiencies, which, they are selling.


The Shoot

We needed something completely different to any other “lighting” company.

They have a vibrant showroom, with table football, drills, high heels and a living room set! We used every corner to capture the fun, friendly vibe Lumilow are keen to promote. It’s all about a professional, personal, yet fun experience for every customer

Here are few shots from the 200+ we delivered! They have a fantastic library for years to come now

9 Ways Photography Can Transform Your 2016

Why does every marketing team love stunning, unique images?

It makes their job easy – photos are powerful – they make your business:-

  • stand out from the crowd

  • easy to understand

  • have INSTANT impact

  • communicate who you are

  • show how you do it

Well here are just 9 of the many ways photos help boost your business

1 More clicks on Facebook Ads

We used this to advertise a Yorkshire Coast photography workshop which wasn’t selling – once “live” it got 65 clicks to our website in the first day and sold out!

Facebook ads are a great source of leads if you get it right – and the “hook” which grabs attention is a great image.

In fact, Facebook limit the amount of text you can show on the “image” part of the ad, so it’s never been more important to have a compelling photograph.

Some of the most effective ads are “carousels”, where you can have multiple photos in one ad – this is a fantastic opportunity to show your offering, up that click rate and drive traffic to your site.

2 Great looking website

Setting the scene for the Chicago Blues Brothers tribute band

Setting the scene for the Chicago Blues Brothers tribute band

Every website needs great images to tell your story, it gives visitors reassurance, confidence and a good idea of who you are. Where should you use photos? Here are a few examples:-

  • team page – pictures of you and the team – so people know who they are talking to BEFORE they pick up the phone
  • what we do page – you “in action” doing your job – reassurance that you are THE expert and shows HOW you working
  • about us page – your building and environment – shows people where to go when visiting and also the “vibe” of the place
  • our products/services page – your products – if you have them, you need to show them off!
  • your blog page – you winning awards – huge credibility builder, and reassurance

And there are many more – great images help clients understand what you do and how you do it INSTANTLY.

3 Great first impression on LINKED IN


Guess what kind of experience you get when you call Alex at ABL Business… The photo says it all

Your LINKED IN photo is the first impression you give many clients – they’ll either get a referral or do a google search, then check you out on LINKED IN.

This photo has 3 main purposes

  1. To show “who” you are, a bit like a passport photo
  2. To instantly convey the right first impression and show some personality and professionalism
  3. To encourage people to call YOU rather than the other business owners in their search

If you’re showing your logo, your children, your pets, your holiday, your wedding photo…. it’s not really working for you.

Also, it you’ve changed your hair, grown a beard or started wearing glasses more often, then it’s probably time to refresh it too.

4 Everyone looks at photos

Everyone loves photos these days!

Everyone loves photos these days!

Your marketing includes great copy and design, you’ll also have videos and testimonials, all of which are hugely important.

However, people have to “read” copy and “open” videos – neither of which you can guarantee.

Everybody sees the photography – as soon as they open your collateral, the images pop up. The purpose of them is to then encourage people to read that copy and open that video – it’s a team effort.

You can check (in Google analytics) how long page visits are before and after installing your new photography and see the impact.

5 More engaging newsletters

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How’s your email marketing going?
Are people opening them or junking them before opening?

The email subject line is probably has the biggest influence on opening rates, photography is used in the email body to both engage and “guide” the reader…

“Decide what you want to draw to the user’s attention. If you have one stand-out offer, put it side-by-side with an image of someone looking right at it, or their body gesturing towards it. If you have multiple offers, utilise an individual looking down or around the area these offers are located.

Test this by monitoring your marketing click-rates before and after your new photography

6 “Instantly” Show what you do


Would you guess that she’s boot-camp fitness trainer who uses ropes outside in her training?

The speed of communication via photography is amazing – a quick glance of an image can leave a lasting impression.

We’re told attention spans are dwindling so this fast communication method is essential.

7 Introduce & value your team

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Julie and her fellow directors at Austin Hayes – one of many sub-team shots we created for their website

So many teams miss out on this – many don’t even have a team page!

Contact with your business will be more personal and also shows clients your value your colleagues. Your colleagues will feel more valued too!

As well as a team page with photos, how about a friendly photo of your receptionist on your website’s Contact Us page?

8 Something new to post on Twitter


A bit cheeky really, but this got dozens of facebook likes and re-tweeted 15 times.

Tweets with images, stand out from those without – its as simple as that!

Memes are also all over twitter, you can use your photos as backgrounds for these. The Morley one above is very tongue in cheek, but it got a surprisingly amusing reaction – and I traced 8 new follows back to this post!

Basically, you need a LOT of content to fuel a twitter campaign, and if you re-hash the same things over and over, people will notice and get bored!

A regularly refreshed supply of great new images supercharges your output for months

9 Get noticed in Print

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I’d love to know what’s on that piece of paper

Everything above has been about digital media – but don’t forget print!

  • The press are more likely to print your story with a great image
  • People are more likely to pick up a flyer with great design and images on
  • Brochures are more engaging with a great cover shot – and images to support the content
  • Images create the “feel” and evoke “emotion” – which sell products in magazines and catalogues


Many more uses….

We’re sure there are many more – and we’d love to hear what marketing needs your photos fulfil – comment below!

Commercial Photography Should Be Fun

God, I hate having my photo taken….

That’s the most common thing photographs hear, pretty much everyone, on every job, says it – you’d think it was root canal treatment we were administering.

Photography should be fun – especially commercial work

That’s definitely the case with our friends over at ABL Business, we’ve updated their photo stock a few times and each time, it’s always a fun session with Alex, Andy and the team – getting them to pretend to work, whilst making them laugh. It’s also a great chance to catch up and share ideas.

Portraits can be daunting for people, so I see it as my job to put them at ease, from the second I meet them to the very last shot.

It’s the most important thing – the lighting, the location and the lens choices are all important, but if you wait silently expecting them to smile, the images will be – well, unflattering, dull, forced, un-natural…. the list could go on and on.

So in this blog I thought I’d share some of the final results – and some of the “behind the scenes” shots of the ABL team.

I hope it shows that it’s not a dry, corporate experience – its quickly dispelling nerves and coaxing laughs, smiles to create “genuine” images of people – people being themselves.

Here are some of the out takes…

Totally Unposed

You’ll also notice that they are not “posed” – I just set up some lights around a table, and a desk for the individual ones, and let them get comfortable in their own way. On this shoot, the rest of the team were watching and helping by making the subject laugh – it’s then just a case of shooting till you’re happy you’ve got a decent selection for them to chose from.

I found if I started to “pose” people, they’d feel really self conscious and you’d loose the vital rapport you’ve built, leaving you with a slightly concerned sitter and the natural, friendly expressions gone.

A Few Final Shots

Here are some of the final shots I picked out – all looking professional yet warm and friendly, which is exactly what ABL is all about.

It’s all about creating a fun experience, drinking lots of coffee and taking people’s mind off their “cameraphobia” (which is a real thing!).

Read More… 


5 Essential Questions for Aspiring Pro Photographers

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going Pro

I’m sure many pro photographers get asked “How do I become a professional photographer?“.

I have and it’s never a straight forward answer – in fact, the answer would be unique for each person. Every photographer is different (personality, experience, confidence, business savvy,  camera skills etc.),  so there’s no “on size fits all” formula for success, or even getting out of the starting blocks.

But I do often ask a few questions, so thought I’d share them in this blog…


1- Have I enough cash to live?

If you have a steady income from photography already, congratulations – you are in the minority! Keep going and building your business.

If, like most, you are leaving employment to start a business, you need money – not just to run the business, but to LIVE. Your bills don’t stop, you still need to eat and once in a while, you may even want to socialise! The only thing that stops is your salary payment.

Enough Money
Money buys you “time” – work out how long you can live on the money you have stowed away. I’d suggest at least 1 year, maybe 2.

2 – What do  I enjoy photographing?

There’s no point in starting a business doing something you don’t enjoy.

Make sure you start to offer services photographing things you actually like doing – it may be a niche like car photography, commercial “widget” photography, or you could join the army of wedding photographers out there.

Enjoy it!

Ask your self whether you truly enjoy shooting your chosen subject, because when things kick off you’ll be doing a LOT of it!


3 – Have I got a portfolio to “sell” my services?

So you really enjoy shooting fashion, but are you any good at it?

It’s one important thing to enjoy what you do, but also you absolutely have to be able to “do” the job, and prove it with a strong portfolio of images, ready to show clients.

This is usually your website, facebook, instagram , twitter etc. – not some glossy book which costs thousands to make. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that if you’re uploading thousands of shots and there is even 1% which are “not great”, these will be noticed straight away – so be careful, only show your best stuff.

Assume everything you upload is going to be seen by the next couple/family/client and you’ll not go far wrong.

Impress customers
Do whatever it takes to get a great portfolio and try to avoid showing poor images – it’s not a volume game, better to show 1 or 2 fantastic shots, than a set of 20 with duff shots 



4 – Who is going to hire me?


It may be as simple as “couples getting married” – but which couples?

  • Are you after the ones with £5000 budgets or £500?
  • Are you offering classically posed group shots, reportage or fun filled shoots – and how are you going to find people who want these?
  • Are you working locally or internationally?

Things like this have a huge impact on how you present things – from the language you use, to the style of the website. Many couples just want simple, cheap photos – would you be interested in that, or are you into the more creative, epic  bridal shoots in stunning locations?


Commercial photography is harder still as it’s a far broader genre. There is everything from food to oil rigs, architecture to director-filled board rooms… then there’s editorial work for magazines and papers… oh and events and conferences…

So much to choose from – and you need to work out who it is that will want the shots you’ve chosen to take.

It needs to be broad enough to actually exist (i.e. not Unicorn Portraits) and narrow enough that people can actually “say” what you photograph (e.g. “Johnny does headshots for Linked IN and PR” or “Jane shoots products, specialising in shiny things like jewelry” )

Who are your customers
This is definitely a hard one… get thinking. Work out who will use your photos – and why they need them. If you can’t think of anyone, have you found the right niche?



5 – How am I going to find them?

And finally – you’re not doing this for fun any more, so you need paying clients NOW!

Most companies use trusted photographers already, they don’t need anyone new, right?

True to some extent, so you need to be different to them – offer something they’ve not given.

It may be :-

  • the way you light things,
  • your cool HDR look,
  • your cheeky chappy way of coaxing smiles out of people,
  • a blinding portfolio
  • a new angle on things they are already doing
  • and lots more…

So many angles to choose from, it’s incredible fun choosing them.

Also, you need to work out who you should be meeting – the decision makers. This is the tricky part as you need to get “known” somehow. Only then will people see you.

It’s a chicken and egg situation, so you can’t get known till you’ve worked – but you can’t work till you’re known!

It’s very hard to find work from people who’ve no connection with you, but if someone recommends you the process becomes easier – for both sides.

Where are your customers
There’s a whole industry on business mentoring, marketing and PR to help you – so seriously think about getting help on this – and get out there an NETWORK! 




Apologies if you were hoping for top tips like:-

  • “start shooting beef burgers as they’re booming” or
  • “approach this newspaper with photos of cows”

The chances are you’ll start down one track, realise that doesn’t quite work as plan and have to adapt.

The steps are to:-

  1. get enough money,
  2. get good at your “craft”,
  3. find your niche AND show it relentlessly,
  4. work out who will buy your niche and
  5. then do whatever you can to meet those people.

Which is exactly the same as ANY OTHER BUSINESS!

Bookings “go though the roof” with McFade Photos

A New Look Pays Off!

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Having recently opened an events space in Leeds, our client needed some fresh shots to promote it.

So we created some of our “special HDR images” of Lambert’s Yard – using a mix of angles and styles to show the features, and sell the place as a modern, warm, fun, city centre venue to hold your events.

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Since releasing the photos their hit-rate on google has “gone through the roof”, they have taken on an unprecedented 25 new bookings in a week.

We’re obviously delighted to have such a great impact on a new venture’s fortunes, and are looking forward to giving many other venues the same treatment next week!

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What difference could new images have on your business?

You may not have cool city centre venues for hire, but most of us do have images on our websites and social media – ask yourself…

  • What are my current images saying about my business?
  • Do they have the right “message” to my clients?
  • Are they just filling the site, or are the enhancing the site ?

The Main Event!

Photography can be so much more than a “website filler” – it can totally transform how people view your business and attract a whole new demographic; they are the main event on most websites!


If photos of you, your team or your business in general are looking dated – don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0776655 83 75 or drop us a line at – if we can help, we will!

6 Essential Steps to Hiring the Right Photographer

Choosing the right Photographer For Your Project

Let’s help you with a few simple steps:-

1 – Think about what you NEED


It’s worth having a think about the purpose of the photos before you start.

Go online and check out your competition’s websites, see what they are doing – or people in California doing the same thing. Ideas can come from anywhere.

So you just need headshots of everyone, or how about some action shots of them working – or each doing a presentation, or all standing around a table looking at some designs or…. 

Get the idea… have a little brainstorm to get the creative juices flowing, and collect photos in a folder if you can. Get a mental picture BEFORE you start, this will guide the process

2 – Check Photographers You Know First  


See if they’ve done the kind of thing you need, and the quality and “style” is what you want. You’ll know the style if you’ve done step 1!

If they have, meet for a coffee – have a catch-up – chat about the project, that’s probably all you need to do. 

3 – Ask for Recommendations_MG_9050

Asking on Linked IN  is the usual route but be specific on what you need or you will be flooded with hundreds of photographers, many of whom are not what you need!

Some things to clarify when you ask for a recommendation… 

  • Is it a people shoot or products?
  • Is it an event?  
  • Is it for press or marketing?
  • Do you need some property shots?
  • Are you photographing food or drinks?

The more specific, the better the recommendations will be – no point getting a specialist studio photographer to shoot a building site! 

You can go the GOOGLE route too – just remember that the page rank is based on their SEO, not the quality of their work… dig deep AND get specific on your keyword search. For example – “Leeds Photographer” will get you hundreds of wedding photographers. 


4 – Check Portfolios

We make it easy for you with our website – it’s a shop window which usually tells you what you need to know about what they shoot and how they make things look – their style. 

So pick through the LINKED IN recommendations and check out their portfolios to make a shortlist.

Don’t just go on recommendation alone. That obviously counts – a lot – but if their style is wrong for your needs, you’re not going to get the right images. 


5 – Ask for More Examples of Their Work

Once you’ve found photographers with a “style” you like, and they’ve been recommended to you – you’re nearly there. 

To choose between a few, maybe ask for some more examples of their work, things related to your project – a quick intro email asking if they’ve any similar examples is fine.

This does 2 things:-

  1. Shows how keen they are – if they reply with a few shots, they’ve “bothered” to help you out.
  2. Shows depth in their work – this may be obvious from their website, but reassurance is gained from seeing that they’ve done many projects, rather than just that one-off on the website!

The exception to this is when they’ve got a large portfolio to show – sometimes they’ve got everything on their site you need to know. 

The Trainee Issue…

Many people go on courses and workshops to learn about photography, especially wedding photography (or portraits, or whatever really). Here’s what happens….

  • They get to photograph beautiful models who know how to pose perfectly.
  • They use lighting set up by the course trainer – so everything is balanced and looks perfect.
  • They then edit the photo under the guidance of the tutor
  • The resultant photos are usually pretty amazing – and they should be in those circumstances. 
  • They then create a website and fill it full of photos from that day.… 

The Issue….

The “issue” is that these are shot in perfect conditions with expert guidance. 

There was no time pressure, annoying guests, crying brides or  vicars who don’t like photographers. The true test is to see their photos from real weddings… where there is no one to hold hands, set up lighting, organise the guests, photoshop the files etc. 

So be aware of these types of photographer – everyone has to start somewhere of course, but maybe you don’t want them starting with your wedding!

How to spot sites like this…

It’s easy really – just go through all the pages and see how many different brides and grooms you can see. Also, these courses will not usually have “families” to photograph – so if all the photos are just the couple, it’s probably from a course. 

Asking to see “more of their work” is, therefore, a great thing to do – you can then see how they perform in reality… 

It may be that they’ve not had time to update their website, so it looks like they’ve never shot a real wedding, when in reality they’ve done dozens and are fantastic! 


6 – Meet Up for a Coffee


Finally, ask to meet for a coffee if possible. A face-to-face or ZOOM meeting is the best way to find out if you “hit it off” – rapport is hugely important in people photography.

After an hour or so you can see how things develop and usually check out more photos with them. 



After all that, you’ve probably found a photographer who can do the job you want!





3 Things You Never Think of When Hiring Photographers

I need some photos…. fast!

You need some photos, something which is going to make you look great for a press release, or your web developer needs something to fill that website..

Where do you start?

Be honest – do you get a few photographer’s “day rates” and plump for the lowest?

Or do you just ask a few friends and go with what they say?

Well the second one of those is actually a good step – but just because they did a good job for your friend, will get the right shots for you?

The bad news…

Photographers are very distinct, creative types – given the same brief they are likely to create vastly different images than other photographers. 

Not what you want to hear!

It’s like hiring a band….


If you’re into 70’s rock and a friend recommends his “son’s mate’s band“, because they are “brilliant“.

They turn out to be a Brit Pop act, play really well, but leave you and your fellow “70’s rock lover” mates a little bit disappointed.

It’s the same with photographers.

You may throw a shout out on LINKED IN asking for a photographer to shoot some photographs for your new website.

How do you know that the ones recommended are right for you?


3 Vital Things to Consider


1 – Have they the “Ability”?


So you really need to know whether they can do the job

  • have they got the technical know – can they actually take a photo
  • do they have the right equipment for the job, or will they turn up with an iPhone?
  • can they deliver when they say they will, or will you be waiting for weeks?
  • will they interpret the brief correctly, or go off at a tangent?


A photographer with experience and ability can usually adapt to most situations, dipping into that pool of knowledge when things “develop” differently to plan. They will know how to set up lights if they’re needed. They’ll know what they need to get “in the can” before they leave.


Less experience will (almost inevitably) take longer, you’ll be waiting for them to set up. Then waiting again for them to diagnose the usual issues by trial and error – rather than instinct. They may need to re-shoot if they get stuck. Everyone has to start somewhere – it’s how you learn. But can you afford the extra time it may take? You will probably save a few quid though!


You can find much of this out from their website testimonials page, asking people who’ve used them and just looking at their portfolio…


2 – Are they the “Right Person”



The biggest one is probably the one most people miss – are they the right person to photograph you?

  • Will they chat, engage, encourage you and create the right environment for you (and your team) to relax and enjoy the shoot?
  • Are they the quiet type who are great at shooting products and things which don’t move?

Think of it this way…


The best “widget photographer” in the world will be fantastic at setting up widgets and studio lights – their photos may be in every magazine in the world. They get recommended to you on this basis, you hire them to photograph you and your team…. 

They turn up and are quiet, shy, never talk to anyone, are constantly tweaking their lights and looking at the camera back – leaving everyone in your team feeling left out and bored.

A week later you’ll receive perfectly lit, beautifully sharp photos of you and the team looking bored and ready to kill someone! 


Photographers are all different…

Remember that photographers are all very different – you will get the:-

  • detail obsessed people who will make your latest phone look amazing, or
  • the fun and outgoing, who will have you laughing and enjoying the shoot
  • the diligent type who will sit for days waiting for the perfect light to photograph your buildings
  • the arty type who will take photo then totally transform them in Photoshop
  • and many others…

All are fantastic at what they do, you just need to get the right one for your needs.


Meet them before you shoot – you’ll understand their personality better, and see if you get on with them.


3 – Do they have “Style”?


The quintessence of photography is “style”.

Style is a consistent, recognisable feel to their portfolio. When you work through their website (or “book”), each photo belongs there – it will have a look honed by years of work.

Simply put –when you see a new photo and say “that looks like Fred’s work”, that’s style. 


Style Reassures….

When a photographer has a style, you know what you are buying – they will bring their style to your job, so you don’t have to worry about the results, they will have the same “style” as those in their portfolio.

A Gamble…

Conversely, if their portfolio is seemingly random, with no consistency in lighting, processing, posing, feel or form, then how can you predict what you will receive? Which “photographer” is going to turn up – does it depend on the moon phase or how much coffee they’ve consumed? It is unpredictable – a gamble. You may get the best photos ever, or you may get something totally inappropriate.


Glamour poses may not be ideal on your team page, so if all a photographer’s portraits seem slightly risqué, they may well do the same with YOU!


It’s not “All About The Money, Money, Money…”

So yes – there is a big difference between pricing, from the new person who will work for days for £100, to the £10K a day studio in London.

You photos are hugely important investment – they tell the world so much about your business.


Do all you can to stack the shoot in your favour,  find a photographer who you get on with and has the right style – the impact on how your business is perceived could be massive! 


Check out our Photography…

Go to McFade Photography Site…


BiY Inspired Awards 2014

The Inaugural BiY Awards

2 years ago, Louise Turner had an idea – to recognise small and micro businesses working in Yorkshire, on Friday 3rd October it became a reality.

You can read all about it on her blog


Read Louise’s Blog


Solopreneur Award


Rather delighted to announce that McFade won one of the awards – the Solopreneur award, and here’s the magic moment. Cheers to Paul Dodd for grabbing the camera off me and taking this photo!



Lots and Lots of Photos

Here are a few shots of the proceedings – see if you can see yourself!


5 Photo Tips For Every Business

What are you Business Photos Telling People ?

Business Photos used to be fillers on websites.

  • Pretty pictures would just separate the text and logos,
  • Photos would be bought off Stock Photography websites and have no connection to you
  • Californian models with perfect smiles or sunset shots of the New York skyline would be used to sell the smallest Yorkshire plumbers business.

Those days are over – or should be. Every pixel on your site should help tell your story, rather than distract. This is where great, personal photos of your business comes in.

Here are our 5 Photo Tips for every business

1 – First Impressions are Now Online

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OK, we still meet people out networking, or on jobs, but the first chance you get to impress most new clients is often from Social Media or your website.

Think about it – how much business do you get from referrals? How many of those people will look at your website, before replying to an Into Email or Linked IN message? 100% or thereabouts?

So when people see that page of “little thumbnails on LINKED IN, they will instantly get an idea of what you look like, your personality, whether you’re a happy, approachable soul or a more dour type.

Also, if you’ve “invested” in some great photos – that can give the impression that you “care” or are “serious” about your business…

2 – “SHOW” us what you “DO

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We’ve all got great elevator pitches – we can tell you what we do and how it makes you different. We have come a long way from saying

  • I’m John and am and accountant, and I do accountancy

It’s probably more likely to be

  • “I’m John and I help people by….

Which is all well and good, but you don’t get a “feel” for what you are “about” from those words – what will I, as a client, experience when I engage you?

Make it easy – use photos

  • Create photos of you action – meetings, presentations, building stuff… whatever it is
  • Show people where you do your work – board room, coffee shop, break out area, a building site, in the Albert Hall…  what do I expect to happen?
  • how you do it – showing stuff on an iPad, pen and paper, white board, quarry…
  • what you wear – suited and booted, semi-casual, jeans and tee shirt?
  • show your branding – if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
  • differentiate yourself from your competition….

Remember this….

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3 – Break the Stereotype

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On being asked to describe a “Financial Director”, my mental picture was Michael Palin, in a pin stripe suit and bowler hat… that old Monty Python Accountant character!

Ask people to describe “business men”, they’ll think of grumpy old men like Alan Sugar & Donald Trump, as they’ve seen The Apprentice

So when you tell people what you do, they may have the same prejudices.

Break that barrier down – use photos of you that SHOW you are different – that have personality outside those outdated stereotypes.


4 – Photos of You Presenting or Getting an Award

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Photos of presenting, or picking up awards, gives the impression of expertise – it’s as simple as that.

So when you’re next doing a talk, especially to a large group, it’s well worth getting some great photos. You can either hire a photographer yourself, or befriend a photographer who is working the event.

If you’re interesting enough to talk to a group of business people, then maybe your services are worth a second look?

If you’re a bigger business and can afford high profile guest speakers, then get images of them too – here’s one of Falklands soldier and campaigner, Simon Weston. The PR opportunity from this talk was huge.

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5 – Make it INTERESTING!

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Who said business photos had to be boring?

No one as far as I know – it’s just that everyone is afraid to pop their head above the parapet and do something different – something to change how people see you.

“Interesting” is individual:-

  • maybe it’s shooting your team photos at a dramatic location
  • maybe it’s getting into your racing driver overalls
  • maybe it’s looking all serious when you’re usually the smiliest person on earth
  • maybe it’s crawling over a table

But it always involves great ideas, great photography and strong rapport between you and your photographer


How can we help you?

We Help People Like YOU Transform How The WORLD Sees Your Business 

Those are our 5 tips on how to make your images work for you – so what do you need to do to create them?

We are passionate about creating stunning images of businesses and the people in them.

Our mission is to personalise websites and marketing material, to make it easy for potential clients to understand you business and choose you over the competition.


Need New Photos?

If you’d like a new suite of images we have full details here –


Need a BRAND NEW Website – from just £750?

If you would like a whole new suite of images AND a stunning new – we now do these too. Details here ( we are getting booked up fast.

It’s All About YOU


Your business is all about you

Not in an egotistical way, but any SME business owner knows that they are the “face” of their company. It’s unavoidable really – we create:-

  • the business idea,
  • the hard graft to get it going,
  • the risks you take,
  • the people you meet

These things are all down to you

So on their websites and print and social media, why do so many hide their “true” face away – when they could say so much with a great photo that shows them as they really are?

Hiding… ?

When I say “hiding”, it could be that they do have a photo, maybe even a professionally taken photo, but it’s not really doing them any favours.

Many are stuffy, awkward, uncomfortable, slightly scary and have the same appeal as a pass-port photo, whereas the “real person” may be warm, welcoming and great fun to be around. 


This portrait of me is an award winning selfie I took in 2007 – I won a canvas print of it, have it on my wall to scare off burglars!


So when we’re looking at their “About us” or “Our Team” page, we see these scary photos and think seriously about whether we want to talk to them… maybe check the next company on your Google Search and see if they are any friendlier!

Would you call me if you thought this is how I really was?

That’s what happens – that’s the damage a bad photo can have on potential new clients.


The Real You…

Well I use this shot instead – I obviously prefer the dark, moody shot above, but this one’s more like the guy who turns up with camera and lights. I love the lighting on it, the brick texture in the background (on Dock St. in Leeds) is pretty cool but I hope it tells potential clients that there’s an element of fun working with me – which is very important, as that’s exactly how I work.


You may actually be that stern, slightly scary person in your photo – and it may well work for you, it depends on your business and personality.

The chances are, in my experience of photographing many business owners, that you are nothing like this “old-fashioned-business-man” personality, but for whatever reason your photo just doesn’t do it justice.

It could be any of these reasons… 

  • not enough time on the shoot – you just weren’t comfortable
  • constantly distracted – happens if you shoot at your desk, people call, barge in… you never get settled
  • didn’t really like the photographer – perish the thought, but they may not have been the best “people person” and wound you up
  • no story or context – shooting on location can add a lot to your shots, tells the viewer more about what you do
  • poor photography skills – could be one of a thousand things, but it just doesn’t work as an image…
  • the most popular – you hate having your photo taken, and it shows!!! 


BiY Members We’ve Helped…

So how to get around these obstacles… ?

Well here are a few of the BiY Associates we’ve helped in 2013 – have a look at the video, it’s 3 minutes long and has music played by the Chicago Blues Brothers, so check your volume first!



Prep for the shoot…

Each of these shoots were different – but have the same roots where we’d chat about:-

  • what business they were in – what made them different to everyone else, their niche if you like.
  • what their strap line or USP was – Paul’s the “ideas man”, Claire “keeps you out of jail” etc.
  • where to do the shoot – Gayle does “secret shopping”, so why not use a shopping area like Leeds’ Victoria Quarter
  • anything business-specific photos they are after – e.g. shots of them presenting, or meeting clients
  • the “look” they are after – usually suggesting something formal to wear, something less formal… maybe just a few different scarves or ties to add variety.


How effective shoots work…

So after we’ve come up with the location, look and general theme – it’s shoot time… and no one is a natural at this straight way… well except Claire Turner… and Louise Turner… must be the surname!

So here’s how to prepare…

  • Book enough time – we’re only talking a couple of hours, or maybe 1 if you’re really busy.
  • Don’t have a hugely busy day ahead occupying your mind – if your mind is elsewhere, it shows in the photos
  • Turn the phone off… if you can… great photography is all about “raport” and a call can break that in an instant.
  • Get a photographer who’s work you like – ask for recommendations, then check out their portfolios. Recommendations will filter out any “duds”, and portfolios will show you their skills
  • Ideas – if you’ve seen a shot you like, send a link to the photograph! We’re a creative breed, and love to share and develop your ideas!
  • Use a variety of locations – be prepared to move and change, it totally transforms the dynamics of the shoot and you get lots to choose from. A walk of 10 feet may be all that’s needed…
  • Chat a lot – about anything… preferably things what evoke nice thoughts, as that will reflect in your expression.

All that said, the “look” is down to how the photographer lights, shoots and processes the photo – and the “feel” is down to what he/she says to you!

End Result…

Firstly, hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience, despite your initial misgivings.

Then you’ll go away with :-

  • your own personal library of great photos
  • new shots to update Linked In, Facebook and Twitter with
  • pride of place on your website – remember, it’s all about you after all so show your face and make people WANT TO PHONE you
  • more people clicking on your linked in profile – great shots get more clicks
  • great shots to send to the press when they write articles on you
  • increased “perception” online – poor shots damage, great shots enhance.
  • your personality captured and seen by everyone
  • a visual story – if you’ve use locations and props cleverly, you can say so much in a photo


To finish – here’s a collection of photos of people just like you, business owners and directors, who all said “I hate having my photo taken” and felt unconfortable at first, but by the end of the shoot actually said they enjoyed it – and now use the photos to promote their business.


60 second interview….

Just been asked to do one of these things… so thought I’d share!


Q. What do you do for a living?

I help add personality to businesses by replacing tired, generic “stock library images” with stunning photos of their people, place, products, suppliers… to make their website tell their story.


Q. What makes you good at it?

Infectious enthusiasm, lighting mastery, fun approach and my right eye…. it sees the photos for me


Q. If you could start over what would you be doing?

I did start over and I’m doing what I want to do right now 🙂


Q. What are the best and/or worst pieces of advice you’ve had?

Worse – you have to shoot weddings to make a living as a photographer…

Best – “you can do it” – maybe not in those exact words, but occaionally people say something as simple as that and it gives you that boost.


Q. What can your organisation do that your competitors can not?

Create an environment to get the best out of people and create warm, engaging images which people love – all “on location” to minimise disruption to a business. My goal that people who hate being photographed enjoy the experience, and most do!

Also have possibly the widest portfolio of any photographer in Yorks, covering everything from supercars to curries!


Q. What are your top business/work priorities for 2014

Each week, to help 2-4 SME’s transform their marketing images from “generic stock” to “personalised stock” – putting Yorkshire people at the heart of Yorkshire businesses.

Q. If you could improve anything in Yorkshire, what would it be?

I’ll leave that one 😉


Q. Tell us something about you that most people don’t know…

I love making dams on streams….


Q. How do you relax?

Usually go out taking photos with friends – dales, coast.. that kind of thing. So, yes, I take photos for living and for fun…

Q. What is your guilty TV pleasure?

Celebrity Juice… the stuff Mr Lemon gets away with is amazing, but it’s Holly and Fearne’s faces when he says it that I love!


Q. What’s your favourite quote?

“Only fools are satisfied” – from Vienna, a song by Billy Joel



So you want to be a pro photographer… what they don’t tell you

After running a workshop on Anglesey in the late Noughties, I got chatting to a professional photographer from Somerset. Great guy, had a few beers and his main comments on his 20 years in the photo business were

  • stock photography wasn’t worth doing any more and
  • assignment pay rates had dropped and
  • not to even consider going into photography as a career – it’s “dead on its arse”

At that time I was a reasonably well paid software engineer and was pondering what to do when we inevitably got made redundant by Lloyds TSB, who’d just bought HBOS.

Well with absolutely no experience in business and 7 years of shooting everything from cars to kebabs, October 1st 2010 hailed the end of my IT career  – and then nothing…



The 10 things they don’t tell you

1  – The Nothing

There’s a lot of “nothing” after you leave your job. No bosses gives you work, no one except call centres offering free insulation, your mum or mates ring, no deadlines and generally nothing happens.

That is unless you make “something” happen.

If you’ve been employed, you’d always lie about being a self starter, working well alone or in a team – no CV is complete without such twaddle. But on day 1 of the business you really do have to be a self starter. No one will ever know you exist otherwise.

And if you stop for a moment – everything stops till you start again.

It’s wierd


2 – You have no clients

You may think you have, you have probably done a few canvases, shot a dog or 2 – maybe your cousin’s kids and a few weddings have bought you that new camera.

But you quickly realise that those client’s walls are full, those weddings only happen once and those kids don’t need another photo for a year or 2.

These income streams are fantastic for amateurs wanting some more kit – but for all the bills, food, petrol and insurance costs, it just isn’t enough to survive on.

You have to find LOTS of weddings, or LOTS of families, or LOTS of people needing prints of you work – or if you go commercial, lots of business needing your particular skills. That’s a whole new kettle of fish….


3 – Dead Man’s Shoes

Believe it or not, there are other photographers out there working.

The chances the very people who you want to get work off are the people who use these photographers. Why would they risk changing a tried and tested photographer to use you?

It’s really hard to get into these places, people will say “why don’t you try schools”, without knowing that every school already has a photographer who does the job for them. Why would the school change?


4 – You will make no money

Possibly the most shocking thing they don’t tell you is that you will make very little or no money in year 1, possibly a little more in year 2 and if you are still in the game – year 3 may look rosier.

Do not consider starting photography if you like eating out, expensive drinks, holidays, prestige cars or regularly seeing your mates in the pub – unless you have a fortune stashed away or a partner with lots of cash.


5 – You really have no idea what to do

Write that business plan – everyone should go through that torture – read it every day.

Until you actually start doing something, you don’t know whether it will work, or more important, is something you’d enjoy.

You may start doing family portraits and going to people’s homes with a projector to do the “hard sell” on prints – invest on a Mac, projector and screen, only to find you detest kids or hate the sales part. Hands up, I did that, wasn’t for me… expensive experiment, though quite like the projector still!

You can plan all you like – but only when you “do something”, do you know whether it’ll work.


6 – Scary Networking

I now know it’s the most effective way of getting known and winning business – but at first, root canal work or watching TOWIE was preferably to “networking”.

You get your suit on, you get up a stupid-o-clock and go stand in a room of strangers who all look tired, and are already talking with their backs to you.

So you stand there, pouring coffee as the nerves kick in – what do you say? You are bound to make a dick of yourself? It’s hot in your suit – you feel your brow getting wet… GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Then someone comes over and saves you – only to launch into their sales pitch. Usually something where there’s no common ground too – it’d be ace were it a creative agency who need photos all the time.

(I’ll just add that after a few years you realise that everybody “knows people” – so you may not have a direct overlap with them, but you will with their network – so don’t avoid anyone, engage them for a while, they may be the link to your big break! )


7 – Everyone has 1000 ideas and knows better than you

It’s all well meant – people like to help. But you will hear the words “have you tried…..” at least 10 times a day for your first 2 years.

If you have any Bi polar friends, this can get amusing – I think on one manic night my mate came up with over 50 new business ideas – just wish we’d written them down as some were good.


8 – One person – 50 roles

So you know how to take photos, you can answer emails – but who

  • does the Twitter campaign,
  • manages the BLOG,
  • updates the FACEBOOK page,
  • designs the flyers,
  • prints and distributes the flyers,
  • keeps the website content up-to-date,
  • takes all the calls,
  • packs the kit into the car,
  • cleans the camera sensors,
  • charges the batteries,
  • liases with the clients,
  • does the shoot on time, in budget and to breif,
  • Goes networking,
  • Does the networking followups,
  • sets up the lights on the shoot,
  • fetches and carries,
  • spends hours in lightoom and photoshop
  • etc….

Well…. it’s actually you. You do all of that – get used to being a polymath!


9 – How much do I charge!!!

Possibly the biggest thing they don’t tell you is how much you should charge.

How much do you feel your work is worth? Possibly an impossible question to answer – and even professionals of 20-30 years standing will tell you it’s still a struggle!

The truth is it can be a total nightmare to work out – you clearly need to know how much you need to survive and keep the business running, so you do all those sums and come up with your monthly or weekly amount, then price accordingly.

All well and good – then you get out there and your market aren’t biting… why?

It could be one of a million reasons – are you too expensive, too cheap (that happens… ), have the wrong shots on your website… you don’t know.

Do you have “priced packages” on your website – risking competition nicking them, or do you keep it “price on application”.

Do you go for a day/time rate?

Do you include editing?

How many shots do they get for their money…


If you’re thinking of going pro – start thinking about this NOW… do your homework, it’s not easy…. is your work as good as that bloke down the road who charges £750/day or are you only worth £300/day…..?

There is no definitive answer by the way…. I do a mix of packages and time deals, depending on what a client needs… preferring the simplicity and transparency of packages.


10 – Are you any good at photography?

Oh yeah – can you “really” take a good shot?

You can get so much positive feedback from your friends on Facebook that the actual quality of your work is lost in the drifts of electronic love.

How many terrible singers populate the early stages of X-Factor? They’ve all been told that they are amazing by friends.

Do you want to be that photographer – the one who’s been told by their 1500 friends that the un-level, blurred, poorly composed photo of that ugly boat was “lovely” or a “stunning capture” ?

I saw several of these in my first couple of years of networking – proudly clutching their blurb books of weirdly dressed children against white walls, or cringe-worthy and uncomfortable boudoir shots with white vignettes and spot colouring on the lips. You could see people across the room looking at them in shock – tactfully saying they were nice and trying to get away!

Now to make money, you don’t have start at day 1 matching the quality of £10,000/day photographers with £1000000 studios and teams behind them – but you need to be able to demonstrate, via your portfolio, that you can create a body of work with consistent quality and style.

If your work is “all over the place” style-wise, like we all are at the start, then you’ll confuse everyone. It is, after all, the style they are interested in – they want new photos to look like the ones you did for “Fred Bloggs” in your portfolio – so you should be able to recreate that style for them. it’s your visual CV.

What you will eventually learn is that “niche” is everything – a CEO I saw speaking said “get big, get niche or get out” – he ran the Co-Op and was called Peter Marks. Now finding that niche may take a while – so be prepared to deviate and change your plans till you find it. Be brave and stop doing the things which take ages yet bring in no money. Ask for help when networking – meet people for coffee… find out what’s hot and what’s not… or sound out your ideas…

You need to be able to use your camera like it’s an extension to your body – things like F-stops and shutter speeds are not instinctive and second nature, are you sure you’re really ready to stand in front of a CEO of a huge company and his team – especially if you’re not entirely sure how to set up lighting for their team shot?

Sure things go wrong, have you go the knowledge to recover most situations? If a flash smashes and you’ve only got 1 left, do you know where to put it to get the job done?


Phew – we got there…..

So there you go – 10 slightly tongue in cheek things to expect when you quit your job and start your new photography business. I’ll leave it to you to decide which bits are true and which imagined 😉

The truth is that you need:-

  • to be a good or great photographer first, then you can concentrate 100% on the hard job of building the business. If you’re struggling to get consistent results in the simplest of situations, get practising and maybe go pro next year instead?
  • need to be different or special – niche, niche, niche….
  • money to fund the first few years – or live on a friend’s floor rent free.
  • to be a people person to both win work and then to get the best from the people you photograph
  • to love photography – really love photography – you will be doing it a lot, any doubts, stop now!

But most of all – and I hate to say this as it’s such a hideous chiche – you need that positive attitude keep you going when the “nothing” hits your or that client cancels….

Can I Drill Your Teeth?

The answer is of course, yes. Give me a dentist’s drill and I’ll have a good go at it! Never done it before, but I used drills in Woodwork at school, and many times on the farm I worked as a kid.



Would you let me do it – based on that experience?

I’m guessing not…. and really, you’d be wise to go elsewhere.

Who would you trust?

So who would you trust to take a spinning piece of metal to your most sensitive bits?

  • A joiner – they use drills?
  • Maybe an oil rigger – they use drills?

How about someone who knows what they’re doing and have years of experience doing it – maybe a dentist?

They know what to look for, what needs fixing, how to numb your tooth, how much to “drill” away and then how to fix it. They’ve got some cool stuff these days too – no more syringes…. I digress though!

Choosing someone to drill your teeth comes down to expertise, track record and experience, backed up by testimonials and examples of their work. Dentists just have a lot more tooth drilling experience than the rest of us.


So why do so many people trust friends or contacts who own cameras with their photography?

Ok – there is no risk in the of extreme pain of drilling too far into your mouth, but the same concept applies to creating images as to dentistry.

We can all use cameras, we do every day when we upload our Facebook lunch photo – or that shot of the dog balancing a Toblerone on its head. It doesn’t mean we’re any good at it – and if you closely inspect most photos your phone takes, they will be soft, lack contrast and desperately need that crazy vintage instagram effect.

Camera is an instrument….

Using a camera compares to being a musician – everyone can probably play a ditty on the piano or strum an E Minor chord on a guitar, but get them to play something more complex and they fall down.



You need the technical ability to play an instrument – that is learned over years, not the instant you pick one up. So learning how the thing works is essential – and with photography, it’s much more than just hitting that shutter button.

It starts by assessing the ambient light, is it good or do you need to change it… what colour should the added light be…. err… and about 1000 decisions later you hit the shutter.


That’s the technical knowledge.

But there’s more to it….

Sure you can “learn” piano to grade 8 and reproduce any notes that appear on a score, in the right order (unlike Eric Morcambe) – but unless you can express feeling and emotion through your playing, you may as well use a sequencer (they’re the things that play midi files – think “robot”).

That’s the differentiator between photographers – the ideas they have, the angles they choose, the position they choose to put their flash(es) in, the arrangement of the location, the “banter” they have with the sitter, the way they interpret the brief, the interaction with the designer or art director.

All this is the creative side of image making – which is totally useless unless you understand the technical side!

Double Whammey Required…

To get the best possible images, you need a technical and creative mind.

  • Just Technical photographers produce perfect soulless photos.
  • Just Creative photographers rely on chance to get their image, and “when” it works, it looks amazing.
  • If you have both, you can visualise AND create that image.

Back to Teeth….

Like drilling too deep into tooth pulp, the pain poor photography can inflict on your business will have repercussions.

  • Poor shots on your website say more about your business than the “content” of the photos – people see them and either they don’t “get” what your message is, or just think they look bad and that’s their first impression formed.
  • Do you want your team sat twiddling their thumbs waiting for an inexperienced photographer to get their act together? Time is money – the experienced photographer will quickly know how to react to a huge array of situations.
  • The inexperienced may have to experiment with the lights and camera in an unfamiliar situation, just to see what happens – wasting not only your time, but also producing unpredictable results – relying more on luck than judgement.
  • Everyone is on Linked IN and Twitter now – if your photo is dull and boring, what impression do you think potential clients will have of you? Experienced people know how to light you and make you look great.
  • Poor product shots never enhance….

Dentists are expensive aren’t they?


Well they can be – but if the alternative is a Bob the Builder with his Makita drill and 1/8th inch bit – you’d probably agree you’re better off paying to get the job done properly…

And remember – photo may only last 1/200th of a second – but the knowledge to create it may have taken 20 years. Isn’t that experience worth paying for too.


Business Profile Shoot – Mark Broscombe



Mark’s been in the shipping game for 15 years – mainly sending containers around the world for clients. He’s just started a new role in a brand new business so needed some new shots to promote both him and the business.

Images of Shipping… in Leeds?

So the challenge of finding a suitable location began – we discussed the vibe of the shoot, and I always try to get a bit of a story in there… then I remembered there’s a huge container storage facility in Strourton, but not only that, there’s the canal and Aire flowing past there too.

So the story builds… I locate a suitable road with views of the containers on Google Earth, the photographer’s friend! We agree a time and place – Thwaite Mill in Stourton. It’s quiet, lots of car parking space and well sign posted.

Meeting Up

Another blistering day, my 2013 shoots seem to involve a lot of heat, graft and sweat….

Driving down the little road to the Mill I spotted a huge stack of containers  – we could do the whole shoot on this one location! So I get 3 lights set up, 2 with light benders, the other with a 1 meter softbox – and we’re raring to go.

The Shoot…


Putting people at ease is the most important part of the shoot – for me anyway.

So before the camera gets pointed, you spend time getting to know them – I found out about how the “freight forwarding” business works, how big these ships really are, that Hull is actually quite a small port, Liverpool has a cracking nightlife associated with its port and that Felixstow was the biggest…

So we then set up with a cool “Sin City” feel to the lighting, and got a few shots in the shade – nice green backgrounds. From there we walked up the “island” between river and canal, taking shots of mark with the containers in the distance.

A little further is a huge lock and old bridge – so we used those as backdrops to get that “shipping” message in the background.

Then we left the canal and wandered back down to the car park, stopping 3 times – once with a grey building as backdrop, once with the containers right behind Mark and finally some more chilled out shots with his tie off… which apparently his mum wants a print of!



They needed the photos for a press release, so within 2 hours they had all the shots on Dropbox to choose from – then the chosen high res-shots with them the same day.

The Photos…

So here’s more of Mark

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Business Profile Shoot with Gayle Partridge

Gayle is director of Boroughbridge’s IRYS Ltd, providing a wide range of services including training, coaching and mystery shopping.

When we were planning the shoot, we quickly discounted the typical “corporate office style” shots  in favour of using Leeds’ Victoria Quarter – a place Gayle knows VERY well and is very at home in!

Along with being a cool location, showing shops and boutiques is also appropriate for her mystery shopping business – it’s all about telling a story.

We then popped into the luxury office complex, Broadgate, on the Headrow, to get a few more formal “meeting” style shots; lucky we had Emilio along to pose as a client.

Here are a few of the shots, you can see the huge variety you can create by walking 100 meters in a city!


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Business Profile Shoot with Claire Turner

Had a great shoot with Claire Turner, who’s tax partner at WGN accountants in Leeds.

As anyone will who knows her will tell you, Claire’s the polar opposite of the stereotypical tax accountant – but her current photos were not really getting this message across.

So we decided to make the most of the area around York Road in Leeds to create a mix of fun, creative, friendly, and the odd “very serious” looking shot too.

Here’s a few shots from the day – had a great time.

If you need your tax sorting this year, drop Claire a line at



Make Your “Online First Impression” Count – BiY Talk, June 2013

You don’t HAVE to have a boring profile shot these days….

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Had a great time talking to fellow business people at BiY today – part of a creative “trio” with Rob and Andy of Plump Digital and Video Advert.

Just thought I’d note down my main points from the talk…

  1. The world has changed – people want to see “you” and your “everything” now, great photos “sell”, bad ones repel. 
  2. Get known as the “local go-to” person is helped with local images, images of you “in the locale” – be that a flyer with Leeds town hall on, or a bill board with your face on.
  3. Place your self or your products in the community, and get photos to blog/promote this – gets you a degree of “local fame”
  4. A great profile shot is often your first point of contact – make it count.
  5. Linked in searches – Friendly and approachable encourages people to pick the phone up – stern and grumpy makes them unsure and choose the next “supplier” on the list.
  6. Getting you portrait done is incredibly easy and should be fun

And a few tips…

  1. If you are going on a shoot, take a couple of outfits – smart/casual, just in case one doesn’t work well
  2. Take different coloured accessories (e.g. scarf, tie) to add variety to your shots
  3. Be yourself – vital 
  4. Get/Give feedback throughout the shoot – 2 way process gets the results, don’t let the photographer make ALL the choices, tell him/her which shots you like – and do more of those
  5. If you’re worried about weight – leaning forward a little helps hide an extra chin, and if the cameras higher than you, it helps too – so maybe use stairs or a balcony
  6. Black or white V colour – McFade supply you both, we love both and can never decide so we’ll do both for you.



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Leeds Couple Inspiring a Community to “Live Well”

Live Well Project – Chris and Anne


One of the huge bonuses of running a photography business is meeting great people, and on Sunday I met Chris Jones and Anne-Louise Savery.

They are starting a social enterprise in Holbeck to encourage and help people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds to improve health and build community spirit.

Their motto is “We don’t see disability, only untapped potential” 

You can read about their story at their website – . Looking forward to watching them grow and make a real difference Holbeck folks’ lives.

Strong Man Day….



On Sunday they were running the main event at a “The Ciaran Bingham Foundation Trust” ( fundraiser afternoon – the Strong Man competition.

Perfect weather for it – bright sunshine all day.

Local entrepreneur and star of “Secret Millionaire” Terry George ( was hosting and got proceedings going.

Then the competitors “endured” 3 challenges:-

  • flipping tyres 15 times
  • holding 9kg weights at arms length for as long as possible
  • farmers walk – 60Kg in each hand, walk as far as you can!

Great to see everyone getting behind the “strong men” and loads of encouragement from crowds.

I’ve forgotten the winner’s name, but he’s the one in the dark blue tee shirt below… sure someone can help with a comment.

The Future

The Live Well Project are looking for a permanent location in Holbeck, but till then, are out and about in halls and community centres helping people with diet, fitness and motivation.

The Photos…

Here are a few memories from the day.

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Volunteering Days – 5 Reasons to Hire a Pro Photographer

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Volunteering days are the best team building events – spending time with good people doing good things for a good cause… what could be better?

Having been on 2 when working in a corporate environment, I can vouch for them – getting out of the office and tooled up is great fun, and working on totally different “stuff” to the day job helps everyone bond.

Participate Projects

Organisations like West Yorkshire’s are bristling with projects for amazing causes, and is always on the look out to help managers put Employee Volunteering Days together.

If you are looking for a great team building day, get in touch with Anthony and the team at or 01274 288787

5 Reasons to Hire a Pro Photographer

1 – Make Your Team FAMOUS!


If you’re in a huge corporate there may be a healthy rivalry and competitiveness between teams – what better way to get “one up” on your colleagues than to get amazing shots of you “doing good” in the newsletter. Surely that along is worth hiring a photographer for!

2 – Impartial photos


The photographer probably doesn’t know who’s who in the team, so you get a far more balanced set of images – not just loads of shots of the managers and directors to massage their egos 🙂 Depending on how the photographer works, you may get great “fly on the wall” shots which tell the full story of the day.

3 – Team stays Together


Rather than one guy taking photos with their i-phone all day, missing out on the team activities, let the professional get the shots.

4 – Quality Images


A quality photographer sees the world differently. They’ll be looking for key moments, when people are working together, concentrating on a task, helping each other out – but not only that, they will use the best quality lenses to ensure even in challenging darker conditions, you’ll get images which

5 – Great Team shots for your PR


Imagine a great shot of everyone, together with their tools and the team leaders…. now imagine it in the local press, or industry magazines. A really crisp, professional team shot is priceless for PR.

And here are a few more shots from a Participate Projects volunteering day

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