On meeting your Heroes

It's not everyday you get to meet your Photography Hero!

The Photography Show Birmingham 2017

This year the highlight for me at the Photography Show was a live stage presentation by the one and only Joe McNally.  I've been a big fan of his work for years and have collected his books, watched every tutorial via utube I possibly can, to see him live at the show was just brilliant. Check out his stupendous work here.....


Joe was working and I guess sponsored by Nikon as he is one of their ambassadors.  I caught up with him towards the end of a presentation at their stand, here lighting a chap from the audience with just one speedlight with a small softbox....

When this presentation finished it was a case of speedily racing over to the main stage to see the full seminar...

What was all the fuss about????

Well for me Joe is an inspiration about how to use light, sunlight, or flash. How to balance the two and even how to use a mixture of sunlight, studio lights and portable speedlights.

In the great outdoors having this control over the light hitting your subject was a real game changer for me and transformed my business photography, specifically my environmental portraits, here's my first foray into a off camera speedlight portrait.

I think this is the original frame straight out of camera, an Canon 5D. Taken whilst lying in a field avoiding horse muck and lets just say wet patches of grass.... it's not all glamorous!  The other thing I had learnt is what I call working the scene.... that's to keep moving looking for new angles adjusting the lighting and getting the subject involved.

Back to Joe,  what was fantastic about the presentation was his passion and joy for photography. Being amongst so many other photographers who were clearly as thrilled to see him as I and getting the feeling we were all working with him a little to produce a really cool shot out of nothing.... alas I didn't get a clear monitor shot of the finished article (there's amonitor in the background), but if it appears online I'll link it here....

I think the refreshing things to see was such a legend in the photography world just having to work and sweat it out to make an image, not having all the answers, having kit not work perfectly all the time and having to work with that... the banter and enthusiasm... 

Having the control of lighting transforms your images, which is especially useful when shooting for business with Environmental shots.... popping a little extra light in to fill in shadows or highlight a subject can really make a difference.

Here a Speedlight was stuffed under the bonnet to get rid of the harsh shadow, it has created ashadow but because of the eye contact it works. Having Mike lit brightly also meant I didn't lose the background colours as the day was so sunny.

With having literally ten minutes to make this photograph a handheld speedlight made it possible to balance ambient light to see the clouds adding drama to the shot.

I got to say a quick thank you to Joe after the presentation.  His inspiration has definitely changed my photography and with that the amount and quaility of work I do, which in turn has been life changing.  Cheers Joe!

Business Studio Photography, at your business!

Building a studio in a workplace staffroom.

This week I shot what I'd call a typical business portraits session.  What makes these jobs interesting apart from meeting so many business people are the set up challenges I have with the portable studio.  For the record this is a easy one as there's space and plenty of power sockets for my lighting and computer.

Once all my kit is in the room it's a case of just clearing some floor space, using the room furniture to rest my computer kit on and get things ready to start doing the lighting tests.

It's quite a simple set up, the devil is in the detail. Using one main light on the subjects, a hair light which I don't want to overwhelm the image but it also provides a little bounce back light from the reflector to light under the chin and give a classic "Clam Lighting" look. The white background isn't lit and will look grey in the photograph.  Cameras are set to kill off all ambient light.

The Camera is tethered to the computer which enables easy instant viewing. Having done a grey card test I know the colour balance is correct.  I always pop a little mark on the floor...(hitting your mark in the tv and film world) which is the sweet spot for the lighting.  I do numerous self portraits to finesse the lighting.

I think it's a great thing when the company staff arrive to see photos on the screen, they know what we are aiming for.  Taking portraits is the most natural thing in the world for me, for many a subject this is the first time they have had this experience.  If I'm okay showing my photo to them it's okay for us to shoot and review their shots together... That's how I feel about it, I should ask if that's what comes across.

The team members arrive, it's showtime.... Posing, relaxing and making subjects laugh time!

What's great is for staff that hate having their photos taken we can instantly review images and carry on until there is a shot they are delighted with.  If it's going to be on a website everyone needs to feel confident they look their best.

One of the self portrait set up shots. I like to keep my images online refreshed on a regular basis, for this I was aiming for a more serious photographer, business photographer look, however after testing the image out on my facebook friends I had feedback that I look angry.  During the shoot I always get a number of expressions for clients so I have a much more cheery one to hand.

The finished article, full frame.  This can be cropped down to various sizes for the clients requirements. For example staff notice boards which often are 8x10 ratio to images for linked-in or social mediawhich are square.

After the shoot the studio is packed away quickly.  Having the shoot at a place of business takes the least amount of time from the working day.

Thanks for reading the blog and please do call for a quote if you need Portable Studio Business Portraits.

Environmental Portraits, show the world what you do and how you do it!

Environmental Portraits, the future of your marketing campaign.

A bold statement, why I choose to say it is the way the advertising markets are changing towards more content that's picked up via mobile devices and how people are interested in who they deal with.  People buy from People is the old saying, or something very similar to that!

Why choose an environmental shoot?

If people are thinking of hiring your services they are interested in how you do your work and seeing proof of your work quality.  An environmental shoot can populate your website with many images, making it very cost effective.  Many web designers are pushing their clients towards having these kind of images available for website and blog updates.

Mobile Garage People Shoot.



As an example here are a few of the images I supplied to the Mobile Garage People, shot in 2014 and still being used on the website, facebook and printed media.

The Environmental shoot puts you in your business and on show, here are a few more examples from other clients.

Steve Wenlock. Flexpress, Leicester.

Steve Wenlock. Flexpress, Leicester.

Bruno Torre. La Torre Resturant Melton Mowbray. 

Bruno Torre. La Torre Resturant Melton Mowbray. 

Miles Kenneth Lance Marr. FX Detailing, Midlands.

Miles Kenneth Lance Marr. FX Detailing, Midlands.

Dean Madden. Functional Fitness Centre, Loughborough.

Dean Madden. Functional Fitness Centre, Loughborough.

What to expect with your Environmental Portrait shoot.

Time wise firstly I would allow at least half a day shoot to work with you.  This gives time to explore, light and really photograph your working life.  Basically you crack on with your job and I will photograph, occasionally stopping you and setting up a shot with lighting when interesting things happen or something that tells your story.

Don't worry about being camera shy, most folks start off a little that way but in moments get into it and have fun. Pretty soon you'll be having ideas for great shots too, the shoot is a real collaboration.  No one knows how you do what you do as well as you, so all input is fantastic.

You'll get to see all the images that are usable. From these proofs you select which you want and these are edited.  All images are released for online and in print media.  There isn't a limit to how many you have, the more we can shoot on the day the better.  Your logo can be dropped onto all images for social media sharing.

Environmental portraits are a stupendous way to get yourself out there and showcase what you do.

Call me, let's show your customers who you are and how you do what you do!

Business Portraits what you need to know!

Business Portraits usually strike terror into both the subjects and the organiser of the shoot.  Here are some tips so you get the most out of your shoot and the images provided.

Let's split up the shoot considerations into sections.

  • Your company image.
  • What you'll need on the day.
  • What to expect on the day.
  • What to expect in results after your shoot.

Your company Image.

What are the colours your company uses on promotional media or on-line? Traditionally most businesses choose black, white, grey or a company colour as the background to their images.  Black and white are really easy to replicate if you have an ongoing need for new staff photography. Grey is a trickier option in that for consistency a very detailed shoot record has to be kept, all distances between subject, camera, background and lights will need to be noted as will the exposure settings for each of the flash units used. Gladly this is the photographer's problem.  A company colour can be replicated by the purchase of a specific Colour background for your needs, or even a building location can be used as a background.

Here are some Business Portrait examples.

Using a slight Vignetting brings the eye to the subject

Different colour backgrounds or framing can be used to fit to your company website.



How do you need to appear? There is a balance to be struck between how cheery or formal the expressions need to be.  This is dependent on the type of work you do or your company atmosphere.

What you'll need on the day.

Space, the final Frontier!

Setting up a studio needs some space, in an ideal world an area that's 30ft square with a high ceiling fits the bill perfectly.  If this is in a room that will be undisturbed then better still as often people are nervous with others watching them pose for the camera.  Having said that I've shot in some very small spaces and even in a room as a meeting was taking place,  I usually find everyone just cracks on with the job in hand, some just need a little more coaching than others.

We set up a computer to review all images as we go, that way we can make sure everyone is happy with their images and we get a good selection, various different poses to fill all of your requirements.

Dress the part.

I'd recommend work wear or uniforms are tidy and clean. Everyone is ready to have their shots done, hair and make-up done, that applies to the ladies as well!

What to expect on the day.

Firstly and often most importantly is punctuality,  "five minutes early is ten minutes late" if a time is set for your shoot then that's the time we will start.

Politeness with your staff and any customers or guests you have on your premises.

A very cheery atmosphere, everyone will be coached and posed to get their best results.

Instant reviewing of images so everyone is happy with the end result and not embarrassed to have their images used for publicity.

Flexibility, if something unexpected happens on the day the shoot will work around it to get the results you need.

What to expect in results after your shoot.

Different media sizes including black and white.

Getting a number of different options from your shoot is an easy way to really get a lot of value, from full colour, black and white and also images formatted for Linked in and other social media networks

Turnaround times.

Once you've had your shots done you will want to have them back with you quickly.  My standard service is a working week, however there are options for three day or even overnight services.

Professional qualities.

Of course you should expect a quality service.  Image file sizes that are usable.  A selection of images of your staff.  Images are released for use on all platforms, print and on-line.  The quality of images are Professional,  for instance, no parts of the subject burnt away from heavy handed lighting or reflections in glasses. All work is colour balanced.


If any queries you may have aren't covered in this Business Portrait Blog then do get in touch, you might just have a question I've never heard before!

Business Portraits for Dalycom's new website and premises makeover.

A fun shoot both with the staff, management and tiny room location for my portable studio.  I managed to fit in and around the days work as engineers returned to Dalycom HQ, Office staff just simply limbo'd into the room when they had a spare few minutes for their photos.  Dalycom chose a white background for it's clean look and how it will integrate with their company colours and website.  I'm chuffed to bits with the testimonial Matt Daly gave me too.

Here it is and here are a few examples of the days shoot both colour and Black and white.