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Showing posts from June, 2016

Time for Refreshments

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A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Time Out Guides, who commissioned me to shoot a whole bunch of stuff throughout North Northumberland for one of their travel publications detailing some of the top hotels, restaurants and beauty spots in the region I call home. One of these places was a relatively new B&B in the village of North Sunderland on the outskirts of Seahouses. St. Cuthberts House is an old church, derelict for a long time, and bought up by Jeff and Jill Sutheran, who moved up from Teesside after Jeff retired from the Fire Service. I took some very basic hand-held interiors, an exterior shot, and an environmental portrait of the 2 of them outside. Some time later, Jeff gave me a call and asked me to spend a day there shooting the rooms and some breakfast items for their website. I spent two days there in the end – taking great pains to cover everything in detail using a multitude of lighting and equipment. Those shots are used worldwide on various acc…

Seam Hall Spa Day

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There are jobs that often turn out to be completely different to my initial expectation, and this was one of them. Seaham Hall is a five-star hotel and spa resort near the County Durham coast. It’s one of the region’s nicest resorts, and caters to business and leisure visitors from all over the UK. One of my old contacts in the rag trade recently joined the group in a marketing capacity, and I was the first port of call to shoot some of the newly refurbished suites, and existing facilities throughout the hotel. It was mid-spring, so I put in a prayer to the weather gods the day before to ensure there was enough good sunshine to get the job done – it worked for once! These jobs are usually quite relaxed, and planned in advance, but circumstances often change, as in this case.
The brief was quite complex given the limited time available. The two suites which were to be shot had guests being deposited into them at different times, and they’d been occupied the previous night. This meant th…

Look for an angle

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PR Briefs tend to be just that – brief. They usually consist of a place to be, the time to be there, a contact name, and a few sentences about what the images are set to achieve. Each client has individual needs, but the aim of all PR shoots is the same – to deliver eye-catching, relevant images that promote the brand, event, occasion, or organisation in print or online. Sometimes the subject matter is brilliantly unusual, involving celebrities & the like, but more often it’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff in factories, shops, award ceremonies etc. The people involved in the shots often aren’t used to being photographed so they sometimes clam up. It’s the press & PR shooter’s task to find some way of making a relatively boring view look exciting. Here’s the secret:
“Look for an angle”.
The general public take awful photos because they won’t move off their arses. They shoot everything straight on, at eye level, without any obstructions. They shoot their kids from eye-level pointing…

Tabletop Ads

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Back in the days of having the studio, I was presented with the odd “special” task which provided a break from the thousands of repetitive product shots of clothes on mannequins, or handbags  & shoes on a white perspex surface. This particular brief was to create a number of images which were being used as tabletop features on which to place products in worldwide stores. There were four themes altogether – equestrian, hunting, textiles, and fishing. For each theme, I was given a load of random props for a couple of days, and had to experiment with a composition that looked pleasing to the eye.
Creating the set was the first challenge. I decided to shoot on the wood floor, and needed a space of about 6ft x 4ft to fit everything in properly. I needed to shoot directly from above, so no tripod could be used that allowed this to happen. The 9ft studio stand came into play, with the horizontal arm extended to it’s full length. I used my old Nikon D3, with a 24mm PC-E lens fitted. This w…

Moodboard Antics

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This time of year used to be dedicated to shooting clothing either in my old studio, or on location somewhere un-glamorous. One of the more interesting repeated briefs, was the creation of mood boards for website use – images made up of various clothing and prop elements, shot against some sort of contextual background related to a particular season and style of clothing range. The couple of shots here show compositions around the themes of gardening and motorcycling. The shooting itself is pretty simple, as long as you have the equipment to do it in the space provided. I needed to be up high on a platform ladder, shooting with a longish lens to minimise distortion. Three flash heads were bounced off the silver ceiling from a distance to create very even, very soft & flat light as per the brief. The shots were usually manipulated after the basic files were supplied, with Instagram type filters applied or whatever.







The hard work was really in the preparation of the space, and the cr…

Parting Shots

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Election time is looming, and this reminded me of the last time the country went to the polls. To many people in regular employment, it doesn’t usually make a great deal of difference who forms the government of the day, but to those working in the public sector back in 2010 there were some serious repercussions when the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came into being. Thousands of jobs & departments which were deemed unnecessary were axed almost immediately, and the consequences filtered down to suppliers who provided services to those departments. I was one of those suppliers – having built a PR photography business based on supplying the public sector with promotional and advertising imagery. 
Northumberland Tourism was a quango which had been formed to promote the region’s tourism industry throughout the UK & beyond. A region with very little industry, poor transport infrastructure, & devoid of significant investment despite years of decline following the destruction of …