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!

Andy at Eggborough

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

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

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

Photography Bit…

If you are into kit here is what we used…


The lights were all GODOX

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

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

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

The Photos

Here are a few from the day…

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.

Nicola Paparazzo – Greek St. Shoot

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

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

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

1 Middle of the street

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

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

2 – Manhatta Bar Windows

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

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

3 – Big City Background

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

4 – Dakota Deluxe Garden

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

5 – The Alchemist Steps

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

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

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

And that was a wrap.

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

All the photos

Tilt shift lens for portraits of Andy Taylor Boocock

Who on earth uses a tilt shift lens for portraits?

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

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

About Tilt Shift

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

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

Here’s what happened

Using TILT in portraits

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

Using SHIFT in portraits

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

Anyway, it’s harder to explain than use 🙂

The Light…

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the photos

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. 

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.


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

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

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

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

Copright of McFade Photography

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

Copright of McFade Photography

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

The Madness of Share the Shoot…

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

The first session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pitfalls…

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

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

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

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

What’s in it for people who come…

Why they booked…

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

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

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

Most Useful photos

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

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

Who is it “not” for?

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

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

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

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

The Future of Share the Shoot

Copright of McFade Photography

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

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

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

Recommendations are King

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

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

Photography Recommendations

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

Do some digging…

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

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


Photography can have three effects

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

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

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

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

Jaeda Sharman 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEVER use direct flash

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

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

So what can you do?

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

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

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

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

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

Correct Skin Tone in 1 Second

When you’ve done a shoot and have hundreds of shots to trawl through, you need a quick way to get the skin tone the right brighness on your subject.

It’s not straightforward enough to use Auto Settings – that will take account of the background as well as the foreground and skin – so you can end up with all kinds of problems!

Here’s an unedited shot of Brad – the lighting’s pretty cool, but I’m, not sure whether his skin’s right or not. 

Image from camera – not sure whether it’s the right exposure… 

In general, Caucasian skin will be at +1EV (other skin tones vary so this may not work with african or asian skin tones – you’d need to use 0 or -1EV instead). 

After a super-fast curves change, we have the correct skin brightness

After this tweak, we now know that Brad’s face is at the correct brightness, and can continue to do whatever edits we like – but this is a great start point!

Here’s how it’s done….

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. 

2018 Portrait Workshop 2

Our second portrait workshop the summer was with Nicola Papperazzo, Chloe Mason and Andy Blue McLaren.

We split it into a couple of locations on the west end of Leeds city centre. Starting in the flowery Park Square, where I showed people how to use flowers in the foreground to add blurry texture – like this one of Nicola

The sun light was low and warm, so we also made use of that with shots like this one of Chloe, where she’s looking straight towards the sun

The sun soon left the square, so we moved on to a spot with some fantastic graffiti – a building which used to be the police station many moons ago!

Here’s one of Chloe, I’ve used a technique of shooting along the building, focussing on the model, so the foreground blurs as does the background. There’s a little texture added to this in post processing too, just to add to that urban feel. 

Here’s one of the front of the building with Nicola – showing how you can use the environment as the main feature and the model only forming a small part of the image.

Next we moved to the footbridige over the A58M, Leeds inner ring road. Its not the prettiest of things so not immediately obvious a location for a shoot, but I’ve always liked its long lines, hard concrete and hand rails. It lends itself to portraits – here’s one of Andy, framed in the concrete and steel of the structure

Here’s Chloe on the bridge itself

At the end of the evening, once the light had dwindled, I captured a few shots of Chloe using just street light – you need street lights to focus for starters, plus once it’s dark, it lifts the model out of the background

Then to finish the evening off, I did a flash demonstration – this used 4 speedlite flashes – compact and cheap to buy, but really effective. 

These next two of Nicola used just 1 softbox, quite high up to the right of her, so you get the shadow on the right of her face. Nearly Rembrandt Lighting. 

We then stopped Andy from leaving by putting him in the spotlight, which he loves! Here we have the same softbox, and 2 rear lights giving them a glowing “rim” light. 

And then we got all 3 together for a final few – this is my favourite of the 3 of them

Though to get this shot, we had a laugh first…. 

My Favourites from the night

They say Portrait Professional 17 is Terrible… but is it?

Facebook Hates Portrait Professional 17! 

The bottom of the internet, where people comment on things with impunity, is full of bile and anger whenever Portrait Professional is mentioned. 

Portrait Professional kept popping up on my feed, so decided to try the Demo version – it seemed to be pretty quick and effective IF you didn’t go mad with the sliders. A bit like HDR programs… 

So I bought the £49 version – what the hell!

Here’s a video of me using Portrait Professional 17… 

Here’s a shot of the lovely Emily, taken last year. I chose one where she’s looking off-centre at the camera to really test the software. 

This is a bit long (10 minutes) but does show you everything I do in Lightroom and PP17 – plus the conclusion at the end of course! 

Before and After

portrait professional - before we used it

portrait professional - after we used it 

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.

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.


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.

ct2a9560 ct2a9603-edit-2 ct2a9671


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

ct2a3349 ct2a3322 ct2a3363 ct2a3374

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.

ct2a4004 ct2a3999 ct2a3987 ct2a0198-hdr-edit ct2a0183 ct2a0138-edit


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.

tvr-car-workshopct2a2506-hdr-edit tvr-car-workshopct2a2426-edit

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.

brimham-rocks-light-painting-7 tvr-car-workshopct2a3874

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!

ct2a6068 ct2a6086 ct2a6080 ct2a6116 ct2a6108

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.

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

010 india agra taj mahal street beauty

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

120 austin hayes team shoot 3 small 013

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

mcfade top 5 tips for business photos66

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!

2015 Photography Review 1 – January

2015 – January’s Photography

We kicked off the year with workshops in Leeds and the Dales, shot lots of fitness and training for clients, interiors of event spaces, huge office spaces and a couple of gigs with the Chicago Blues Brothers

Here are just a few memories of January

See the rest of 2015…

Read about January
Read about February
Read about March
Read about April
Read about May
Read about June
Read about July
Read about August
Read about September
Read about October
Read about November
Read about December

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… 


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!


Laura – Vintage Model Photography

Classic Vintage Model Photography

Laura’s got that vintage look – the Monroe-esque hair leaves you in no doubt! She’s actually considering working as a Marilyn Monroe Lookalike in future.

On this model portfolio shoot we went somewhere timeless, Saltaire. The park offered lots of props and backdrops for us to create that classic look. I also tried to create a slightly more dramatic lighting – the Hollywood look suits vintage model photography.

Techy Stuff…

  • The lighting was provided by 3 speedlites
  • Light modifiers were – 1 gridded beauty dish – 42cm diameter, and 2 snooted flashes (using Flash Benders folded into a tube)
  • Canon 5D mark 2
  • Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Laura’s great to work with, bubbly, chatty and has loads of classic poses in her repertoire – well worth looking up on Purple Port if you need that classic look.

The Photos…

Business Profile Shoot – Illiya the Presentation Designer

The Presentation Designer


Illiya Vjestica is a great designer – a strong typographic presence, uses powerful images which leave the “message” in no doubt and also happens to be great bloke too.

His business takes these skills to the art of “presentation” – he creates slides for people to transform how they present in pitches, talks and seminars.

In a nutshell – he creates Powerpoint images which make people go “wow”, rather than fall asleep.

A fantastic niche.


The Shoot

Being a fellow creative, the brief was wider than the usual profile shoot. The intention of the images was to appear not only on Linked IN, but in presentations too – so we needed:-

  • a set on white back grounds with different poses for different moods
  • shots of Illiya “brainstorming” on post-it notes, rather like Will Self does!
  • photos of Illiya working at his Mac
  • photos of him presenting in a board room – with real slides in the background
  • photos of him in front of the amazing Yorkshire countryside where he lives

A fantastic brief, loads of variety and opportunity to get creative.

Huge thanks go to Darren and Louisa at Parkhilll Business Centre for the use of their stunning boardroom

Feedback from Illiya

“Adrian is simply the best photographer I’ve ever worked with. Being a creative myself I understand the value a great image can add to a project or business, the work Adrian has done for me and my clients has been of the highest quality. Simply hire this guy if you need any photos done for your business or website.”

The Photos


Coast – Trinity Leeds

Coast Trinity Leeds

Glamour Magazine and Prom Events

Trinity Leeds most recent events, Glamour Magazine and Prom Night, have seen fashion shop Coast bustling with customers, champagne, chocolates and we’ve been down capturing events on camera.

Thanks for the invite go to Chloe Chong, in Yellow on this next shot, who remembered us after doing some modelling a few years ago. Great to catch up and meet the team.

Photo Booth and Action Photos

We set up a few lights to capture anyone who wanted to a photo of the dresses they were trying on and got loads of shots of the team in action.

Here are a few shots from the 2 events

The Photos


_MG_0816 _MG_0783 _MG_0780 _MG_0777 _MG_0754 _MG_0750 _MG_0747 _MG_0733 _MG_0729 _MG_0711 _MG_0706 _MG_0704 _MG_0701 _MG_0699 _MG_0469 _MG_0454 _MG_0441 _MG_0429 _MG_0428 _MG_0426 _MG_0381 _MG_0361 _MG_0352 _MG_0342 _MG_0336 _MG_0317 _MG_0292 _MG_0285

Dr Lovelution


Joe Cusimano

Founder of the Lovelution Movement, Joe Cusimano met for a shoot in Halifax – sheltering from the rain under a few of its viaducts!

What is Lovelution…

From his Viva La Lovelution Facebook page, Joe says…

Join the Lovelution: Follow your Heart, Shine your Light,Seek the Truth and Reunite! This is YOUR revolution! Lets Synergize our unity and change the world. 

Love unites all, with love there are no boundaries, no separations. We are all One. Get involved by Sharing this page with your friends and family ♥

This is YOUR revolution! The world is changing, there is a shift upon us, a shift away from fear and hatred and towards Love and Unity. A shift that has been foretold by so many cultures around the world, for thousands of years. We can co-create the reality we want, we ARE the ones we have been waiting for.. 

Join forces in the name of Love. Spread hope and smiles, share knowledge, truth, creativity and ideas, awaken the masses! Bring your friends along for the ride, spread the love far and wide!

Free your mind.
Viva La Lovelution
Peace 😀 xxx



The Shoot

Joe’s a natural performer – he involves everyone who passes by, they pause and listen, walk over and join in…

To capture this, Joe just set up as normal – speaker, tunes, mic… GO!

Then I set up lights around him – up to 4 strobes on some of the later shots – and captured the action as it happened.

Location had to be under cover because of the horrible weather – pouring down as usual. It worked to our advantage later on as the blobs of rain were lit by the flashes – adding an ethereal texture to the photos.

The Future

We’ve already got a car-photo project in the planning, and we’ll be running a some urban portrait workshops with Joe and the Lovelution guys.

We’re definitely looking forward to creating more great images and sharing ideas!


Photographer Type 2 – Floral and Lace

Or digital artists – these are very popular on all the photo sharing websites, their natural home is Deviant Art.

Often young and female, with attractive friends who resemble extras from “Skins” – they take moodily posed photos, often with a bag, teddy bear or some other large prop, in woodlands or derelict buildings.

Furry Texture


I’ve not got any of these shots in my portfolio, but here is some fur which could be used on the photo…. read on… 

Then in Photoshop, they lavishly apply filter after filter to introduce “lens flare”, layers of lace textures, maybe some words or musical score to one side of the model, faded colours and sepia tints always add to the final effect.



Flaking paint – perfect to add that pained, misunderstood, angst ridden feel to any beautiful model’s face… 

Their hard drive is awash with photos of hessian sacks, lace, crumpled brown paper bags and flaking paint, which reveals rust below.

The end result is like a Victorian book illustration.

1 – Geek and Tech Addicts


You’ll know these as they’ll ask you what camera you have before anything else. Then move on to whether you’ve heard about the new camera they’ve heard speculated about on the forums, and how it’s ISO performance “blows out of the water” your camera…

He is in a state of “always craving more kit”, and longing for a Canon 1DX or a Nikon D4 camera body, and a 500mm F4 L lens, that’s what keeps him interested.

Conversation always get around to what he could do if only he had a #insert new bit of kit here#. Then they’ll quote between 2 and 8 different reviews on the thing they are interested in and debate which of the 14 sellers they’ve checked out on EBAY to go with.

The Geek will be full of numbers, stats and reasons to do things – but probably doesn’t do that much actual photography.

The enjoyment is the research and acquisition of kit rather than making images. Sure, they will create some technical masterpieces on the few occasions they go out, but they’re not as motivated to “use” the camera as they are to “talk about it” .

They rarely, if ever, photograph people.


CAMRA Bradford Real Ale Festival – 2014

Real Ale on the UP!

Real ale is on the up – micro breweries are springing up all over the UK, nowhere more so than in Yorkshire. Every small town seems to have it’s own brewery producing everything from pale ales to dark porters.

Ossett, Salamander, Daleside, Rooster’s, Leeds Brewery, Wharfbank, Saltaire, Wendworth, Copper Dragon, York Brewery, Acorn, Goose Eye, Bradfield, Kelham Island and Ilkley… just a few to look out for if you’re after a great pint.

Celebrate in Style

We went to celebrate the UK’s finest ales at the Bradford Beer festival – again taking place in the magnificent Victoria Hall in Saltaire, just a few miles outside Bradford.

The goal of these photos was to capture the enjoyment of the event. People who attend are no a varied bunch, from the very young to the very old.

All the beer pourer’s are unpaid volunteers – the “games makers” in 2012 Olympics parlance!

Here they are… in reverse chronological order!


_MG_9957 _MG_9955 _MG_9948 _MG_9938 _MG_9929 _MG_9927 _MG_9922 _MG_9919 _MG_9915 _MG_9914 _MG_9908 _MG_9902 _MG_9891 _MG_9890 _MG_9889 _MG_9884 _MG_9883 _MG_9872 _MG_9867 _MG_9865 _MG_9864 _MG_9862 _MG_9855 _MG_9850 _MG_9849 _MG_9846 _MG_9845 _MG_9844 _MG_9840 _MG_9839 _MG_9836 _MG_9834 _MG_9833 _MG_9831 _MG_9828 _MG_9822 _MG_9819 _MG_9818 _MG_9813 _MG_9809 _MG_9806 _MG_9805 _MG_9803 _MG_9792 _MG_9786 _MG_9785 _MG_9783_MG_9955

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



40 Photos of Seville


September’s travel photography trip included a surprise trip over to Seville, we were 2 hours away so it was well within range.

We’d been recommended by the car hire bloke AND a cab driver who said it was the “home of beautiful architecture – and women”.



So we got there on Saturday afternoon when it was a mere 40 degrees, parked and went for a wonder around the city.

I’d taken the decision to use only the 5D2 with 17-40 lens, plus the Cokin Z-Pro filter kit which goes handily in the belt-bag you get with the kit. There was a polariser in there too – not sure I used it in the end though.


We started walking down the river to the bull ring, this was close to insanity as there was no shelter from the burning sun – we soon headed inwards to the tall, narrow streets of the city.



The biggest gothic cathedral of them all, and the 3rd biggest church of them all, was what I wanted to see – and when we got there it was truly amazing how much land the buildings covered… it was probably bigger than a football field! I’ve never seen great photos of the thing, usually seeing a door or a corner. I now know why… you just can’t see the whole thing from street level. It goes on and on, you see a corner at best. If you go to the next street, you can’t see anything – they are too narrow.


The only disappointment was that there was a wedding going on and entrance was prohibited, so we never got into the place… gutted… but a reason to return!


We went to the huge exhibition space called Plaza de España:-

Wow – what a place, a bit like our Crystal Palace, but still standing. Surrounded by a lovely park with similarly beautiful buildings, it’s a must-see location for photographers.


Walking back to the city, we witnessed a most amazing cloud formation a sunset – and popped into a food festival whilst it happened.


The last photos of the day were pure “street” – capturing the city as we walked through the night air. People in their shorts and tee shirts at 10PM, performers, long shopping streets and the excitement of Hercules Square. This place is rammed full of parties, people drinking at bars or even their own booze on this massive square, we’d never seen the like in Europe! It’s massive, vibrant, full of beautiful people and doesn’t get quiet till 3AM. Go there, book a holiday now… it’s worth it.

These photos are in no particular order, just take a moment to check out the variety of architecture styles and the relaxed yet bustling style of the city.

_MG_8836 _MG_8838 _MG_8839 _MG_8840 _MG_8841 _MG_8846 _MG_8849 _MG_8853 _MG_8854 _MG_8855 _MG_8857 _MG_8770 _MG_8766 _MG_8751 _MG_8752 _MG_8753 _MG_8757 _MG_8763 _MG_8762 _MG_8759 _MG_8736 _MG_8729 _MG_8705 _MG_8698 _MG_8693 _MG_8685 _MG_8590 _MG_8632 _MG_8676_MG_8385_MG_8680 _MG_8686 _MG_8694 _MG_8738


Team Shoot for Ardent – York City Centre


York based financial advisers, Ardent Financial Planning, are having a new website site and brand built by digital agency “Plump Digital” – Rob Colley invited McFade over to capture some great new shots of directors.

Being a York based company, I was keen to create some images with York in the background – it’s a stunning city; including the river and bridges would show to anyone viewing the website.
Before we hit the city, we needed some head-shots of each staff member and the office “in action”, which we did over an hour at Arden HQ – then headed into town.

The Hottest Shoot Ever….



Did I mention how hot it was?

_MG_7584 _MG_7570

It was one of those days when 30 degrees was seen and humidity stifling. It was also incredibly bright – so the challenge for any outside photos was was keeping the directors from squinting and over heating.

First off we captured each director looking over the river – a friendly “chilled out” look to the shots. Unfortunately, it was a little busy so they felt a little awkward at first, but a little coaxing and direction got their minds off the 30 Japanese tourists watching!

Moving inside… not the easiest location


We went into City Screen and found the only table available – the one below the stair case. We got them all drinks to cool off and staged a few meeting type shots, using iPads and phones… we had one director missing – so we had to wait for him to arrive to get the complete team shots. The main issue with the location was access for me – I could only really shoot from 1 angle and the stairs above their heads prevented any creative lighting… such are the challenges of “location shooting”.

That said, a pint or 2 each made for some far more jovial and natural shots.



Client Meeting Shots

_MG_7818 _MG_7799

Rob and I were keen to have some shots for the guys meeting with clients – these show “potential clients” the directors in action. Rob is a real client of theirs, and another client popped in to talk with them – so we got some great shots – this time on a separate table with loads of room around, making life a LOT easier.

Final Headshots

Once we’d finished in the City Screen – I spotted an ancient wall which just looked like York’s famous city walls, so I quickly set up some lights and quickly got some “studio style” shots of all 4 of them – at this point they were totally comfortable with the camera and light – and it shows. Great shots – with that York city wall feel in the background.

_MG_7856-2 _MG_7852-2 _MG_7836-2 _MG_7833-2

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

_MG_0678 _MG_0596 _MG_0619 _MG_0624 _MG_0644 _MG_0657


Natural Light Portraits with Ann


No Flash?

We thought it a little cheeky setting up lots of lights in the Doubletree Hilton’s cafe bar – so we did a few shots with natural light, well a mix of light from outside and the halogen bulbs inside.

Fast Lens

Most of these are taken with the Canon 85mm F1.8 lens, which is great in low light as it’s a very “bright” lens, but also allows decent working distance (so you’re no in your sitter’s face) and blurs the background out like a dream.

A Different Look

Pretty much all of my portraits use flash in one way or another – mainly to make them a little more dramatic and distinctive. But this natural look is pretty effective too.

Top Tip to Keep Your Portrait Sitters Happy….

This may seem a bit obvious, but having taught many people flash/portraits, it’s the number one reason why you get bored looks on your photos….

Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is “rapport”. It’s a term used in NLP which basically means you are both “in the zone”, communicating on higher level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot – talking, saying “wow that looks amazing”, moving around, looking through the lens… building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying “prunes…. whatever you do….


You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport balloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket

For 4 more great top tips – CLICK HERE NOW


5 Portrait Tips…

I teach and demonstrate flash and portraiture so see a lot of different approaches, good and bad, from the delegates.

The main thing to remember about portraits is that the thing you are photographing is alive and can be “manipulated” by your actions.

So these 5 tips are not technical – but are about how to interact with the sitter. You can apply them to all people you photograph, though if you’re paying a model, it may be less important – but you will definitely get better results and have a great time if you follow these.


Talk to them – a lot!

Ever had an uncomfortable silence on a date?

Imagine how bad that silence is if you’re nervous and being photographed…

If you talk, talk about anything, you are taking their mind of the situation – you’re helping them relax.


Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is “rapport”. It’s a term used in NLP which basically means you are both “in the zone”, communicating on different level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot – talking, saying “wow that looks amazing”, moving around, looking through the lens… building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying “prunes…. whatever you do….


You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport baloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket


Give/Get feedback constantly

You can plan outfits, locations, lights and everything else meticulously, I recommend you do, but if it’s not working you need to give feedback on how to change things. It maybe their seating position, stance etc.

That’s all part of “posing” and is on page 1 of  “how to take portraits”

You can get a great 2-way feedback going if you show the sitter shots on camera – usually at the start of each “set up”, it’s good to follow this

  1. Set the lights up and test
  2. Take 2-3 test shots
  3. Show the sitter – get feedback and change
  4. Show sitter – thumbs up
  5. Shoot and don’t look at the camera back for a while

I’ve struggled to explain what’s wrong many times.

If you “show” them on camera what’s wrong, the message is 1000 times clearer.

So go over, say how amazing they are, then point out what’s wrong – maybe those shades look wrong, or their hair is out of place… showing them helps explain.


Even better, they can see themselves and tell you what they don’t like.

The answer is “Ah yeah, great point, what would you change?”

It takes the guess work out of it – get them to tell you, then you can get it right for them.


Ask open questions

Another soft skill to get people talking is the “open question”

Put simply, it’s any question without and “yes” or “no” answer.

Few examples

  • “What do you do?”
  • What’s your role in the company?
  • What’s your favourite shade of grey? – bit left field, but see the reaction 😉
  • What’s your dream holiday location?

It’s a little like the things barbers ask you…

But asking questions can cause different facial expressions… and that’s what we’re capturing in a portrait session. If you want a serious face, then as something serious… sad, ask something sad… (not often you want that really).

When you ask the question, have the camera in position and focussed – you may only have 1/4 second to capture the reaction…


Read their body language

You get used to this after a while, looking for signs of what they are enjoying and what they are uncomfortable with is a make or break skill.

For example, I shoot on location a lot so get passers by looking in. With performers, dancers & musicians, you’ll see that they usually don’t really react negatively to this – but with a more shy person, you’ll see them tense up or even walk away.

Be mindful of this

You only get great shots when they relax… so move on if this happens.

Another thing with location is watching for when they’re getting bored. They’ll look down, not be so engaged and generally have a disconnected feel. What they’re telling you is that they’ve run out of ideas in that location, or are genuinely bored.

It signals that you either need to move to a new location to refuel their ideas tank, or it’s a wrap, and you pack up there and then – before they get really bored!



So there are a few tips to help you help your sitters relax and enjoy the experience

Photography is fun – and if your sitters are not enjoying it, then remember the 5 points above and get talking to them !

It’s All Good… Paul Dodd

The Ideas Man…




Paul’s business card really does say The Ideas Man, and it’s true – you’ll go along way before you meet someone with more ideas – on branding, marketing, web, life, music… you name it! His Design Agency, All Good,  is a one-stop solution for people needing innovative branding and marketing solutions… sure he can explain it a lot better than me, check out the website.












I’ve known Paul for a while as we’re both associates at the BiY business network, so I’d been looking forward to this shoot and we were treated to a great day for it. If anything, it was too hot and too bright. Extremely bright sunlight never helps the photographer, your subjects squint, it causes harsh shadows and if you’re using flash, you need to have everything on full power to compete with the bright sunlight.

Shooting in Roundhay Park helped though –  we were able to use the shade of trees and a band stand to avoid a lot of the light issues. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do much about the heat…





Paul’s a star at presenting, put him in a room of people and he’ll have them engaged from the moment he starts till the end of the talk… but in front of the camera, he was well out of his comfort zone to begin with. I don’t think the string of young mums and grannies walking by helped.






So rather than dictating how stand and pose, I just chatted and got Paul talking as much as possible – I find this gradually takes people’s mind away from the fact they’re surrounded by lights and have me stood there with a huge camera and lens pointing at them. Also getting a “reaction” by saying daft things or asking strange questions creates unexpected expressions – though you have to be fast to catch them on camera.





We picked 4 distinct “locations” to keep things moving and add a bit of variety. One didn’t really work due to sunlight… the other 3 all delivered some great images.

As ever, the best shots came towards the end of the shoot – by the Mansion House. As you progress, you work out what “works” and the kind of thing your sitter likes, so your “hit rate” rises dramatically. This is why I usually suggest a 2-hour shoot – often the first hour is all about getting into the zone, the second is where the great shots come from. Everyone is different though – you get those who are amazing to begin with, which is an unusual bonus.



Raise the Flag for Britain

We’ve been supporting One Britain One Nation (OBON) for a while now, a campaign started by former police inspector Kash Singh, to bring people from ALL communities together in celebration of being British.

This event at the Aagrar Midpoint centre at Thornbury saw giants of the local restaurant business unite behind Kash by the ceremonial raising of the OBON flag. This is the start of a busy month culminating a series of events on August 11th where churches, mosques and temples throughout the UK will join restaurants and businesses in flying the flag.

We went along to get a few shots and meet everyone.

_MG_7915_MG_7931_MG_7930_MG_7926_MG_7924_MG_7916_MG_7906 _MG_7946 _MG_7937

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!


_MG_5412 _MG_5558 _MG_5560 _MG_5587 _MG_5500_MG_5436

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



Hardeep Singh Kohli @ Keyhouse



Hardeep @ Keyhouse Kitchen Opening

The World Curry Festival’s star, Hardeep Singh Kohli, came to the opening of the new training kitchen at Bradford’s Keyhouse – a venue which helps house and train the homeless of the area. The kitchen is a new project to help train the homeless grow and cook their own food.

A great event and a great cause, love shooting events like these.

The star of the weekend gave generously of his time, a very passionate and moving speech about his journey with food and how he’d always dreamed of opening such a venue to help the homeless. He certainly left a fantastic impression with everyone I spoke to after the event, and we’re looking forward to him returning in the future.



Sleep Out

One of the main events Keyhouse runs to raise money is a “sleep out”, where people are given one the bags you see Hardeep in and spend one evening sleeping rough in Bradford. Festival organiser, Zulfi Karim, and Hardeep jumped into the bags and gave us some great shots to help promote the next sleep-out event – great sports.
And then they were off to do more engagements in an action packed festival day.

Master Chef

At about 7:30PM we went to see Hardeep cook a Lamb Bhuna live on stage at the festival. Very amusing and loads of great tips – if you saw him you’d know what I mean. Lots of anecdotes and banter with a long haired man in the front row!

A thoroughly enjoyable session from a charming and funny guy. Definitely recommend going to see him if he’s cooking/performing in your area.