It’s not what you know but…..

It’s 6.07am.

I’ve just arrived in a largely deserted hotel lobby, clamming for a strong caffeine infused hot drink. Tea is my weapon of choice this early, but to be fair I’d drink anything to give me that kick right now!

This is a ritual I do. Every. Single. Friday. Morning.

Why? Networking…..

Being a photographer can be a very lonely existence, we spend the vast majority of our time sitting alone behind a computer screen editing the memories of those who’ve been in front of our camera. It would be very easy to lock yourself away from everyone else and deal solely with your clients and thats it.

So in the (slightly adjusted) words of Tina Turner…. “What’s Networking got to do, got to do with it?”

14 months ago I decided to visit my local networking group on the invitation of a friend I’d met a few years back in a similar vein. Going and sitting in a room of 20 business people, most of which had no real connection or even need to or for photography could look a potentially foolish waste of my valuable sleeping time. Who am I kidding, my kids wake up at 5.30am every morning anyway!

So here was my thinking behind it. The average person knows about 600 people. So if I am in a room of 20 people, thats a potential of reaching 12,000 through word of mouth.

92% of consumers trust the recommendation of a friend or family member. 92%!!!!!

Bundle all of those numbers together and it makes the Networking, and more importantly, referral opportunities very very appealing.

Before attending this group my business was dominated mainly by wedding photography which accounted for 70% of my total business revenue. Portrait work and Workshops accounted for 15% & 10% respectively. The rest of my income was nominal from a couple of different areas. Now I get that those percentages are only really credible with a total Stirling value…. that aint happening!

 

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So when I joined this networking group I made a fairly conscious decision that my Wedding Photography work didn’t really need to grow. I was happy with the level of income I was earning from shooting weddings, if I could bring the levels of other work up to nearer that £ figure then it would make more sense and still give me a good work life balance.

So with that in mind I specifically targeted certain types of work that would deliver a high sale value per job with a minimal investment of time in shooting and editing. Now this isn’t to say that I wouldn’t put the effort in and take my time with the client, but more that I would work more efficiently in the shooting element and “get it right in camera” to reduce post production time.

The type of jobs I identified that met this criteria were Corporate Headshot’s, Publicity/Event Photography and Commercial images such as product/editorial work. So in a room of 20+ businesses I automatically had a link in to 20 businesses right?…. WRONG!

I don’t want to necessarily be selling to these 20 businesses, I want to educate them to sell me to their 12,000 contacts. If I can educate them around the value of what I do, how efficient it is and the results that I create it is going to increase the level of ‘Word of Mouth Referrals’ rather than only getting me exposure to the 20 people in the room.

 

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This is the long game; farming its called in Networking terms. I don’t really want an instant return, if I get that, I haven’t really done what I need to. I want to get people to know me in my group, get them to like me and ultimately earn their trust. This is when I will reap the biggest benefits. This is when my investment of both time and money into this group will pay off.

So getting back to the type of work I wanted from networking in this group. I wanted introductions to accountancy firms, solicitors, sports teams, any type of business who need professional looking head shots and team shots that needed to be shot in a relatively short space of time, and with a quick turnaround. My USP is that I could go to their place of work (despite owning a studio) set up, shoot, edit and turn the images around while still onsite, pack away and leave. Very simple, yet very effective.

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One of my repeat clients KP Simpson in Jarrow

 

Since joining this group I have seen a huge shift in the balance of where my work comes from. My commercial work has gone from being sporadically low at best to accounting for around 25% of my total business, with further growth anticipated for the next 12 months.

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Every single penny of Commercial work I have gained has come as a direct result of being part of this networking group. I work closely with an excellent Marketing company, a printer and a web designer and gain work from all three, as well as passing work back to them. There is once of the main purposes of my group. Givers gain- if I work hard to get them business, they will want to do the same back to me!

Networking certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, and its one of those mediums where you have to put the effort in and get to know people in order for it to pay off. It certainly has paid off for me, and I’ve just picked up my biggest commercial job to date for an event in 2017 as a direct result of being recommended by one of the members of that group.

Incidentally since joining that group of 20 businesses, we now have over 30. So I now have the potential to reach 18,000 people through a direct referral or through word of mouth. Pitch that up against advertising on Facebook or in the yellow pages and I’ll take it every day of the week!

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Commercial Photographer Newcastle

 

 

Value Vs Education Vs Real World

I struggled to come up with a name for this blog, purely because the content is equally as difficult to explain. I’m going to try to use analogies where possible to keep it simple. (for me to write not you to read!)

I was chatting with some of my friends who are also photographers recently and we stumbled upon a video from another photographer who also advertises themselves as a videographer. My initial opinion of the video is that it was of very poor quality, lacked great content and the subject looked extremely awkward in front of the camera. I almost sent a message to the photographer to say that it was potentially damaging their brand as they, usually, produce work of a good standard.

I mentioned this to my friends and asked their opinions on it…

“A client might not know that it isn’t good, in fact if they’ve got no idea about video they might think its great..”

Shit. I would have never looked at it in that way.

And that really set me thinking. Education is a huge part of a photography business. By education I don’t mean learning new skills and techniques, I mean photographers educating their clients/potential clients on “What Good Looks like”, referring back to some of my old retail management jargon there.

That’s all well and good, but what happens if the client skips that education phase and jumps in at the deep end to book a photographer/videographer or whatever without having an idea of what good does look like.

Let’s imagine you’re hungry ( I don’t have to imagine, I’m on a fecking diet!!) and you fancy eating something you’ve never eaten before. You head out into the high street and stumble across a market stall selling “Snail soup”, and in this instance you’ve never eaten snail soup before (I don’t even know if that is a thing). You go up to order and the lady behind the desk charges you £10 for a bowl of soup. Expensive is probably your first thought, but who are you to judge, you’ve never ordered or eaten it before.

You receive your bowl, which is more comparable to a tea cup, you know that kind you can’t your finger through the holder because its too small. You have your first taste. Not sure if you like it, you take another and after three mouthfuls you’ve finished your Snail soup.

Two things are now true. That is without a shadow of a doubt the best snail soup you’ve ever eaten. It’s also the most expensive investment you’ve ever made in the Snail Soup market.

 

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Now let’s use that same analogy in photography. If a client has never ventured into the market, how do they know what is expensive or cheap or what is good or bad. They’ve got no temperature check without education or recommendation. In essence, if the client doesn’t do their own research and goes with a first or second option then there is very little opportunity for them to be educated by photographers. Now the fact may be that they do the research and meet several people, get educated and still go with the first person they met. At least now they have made an educated decision.

So circling back around to the title of this blog; Value Vs Education Vs Real World…

I guess in any creative market there is a disparity between value and quality that is available. I know photographers who charge large amounts for commercial work, but they can justify it to the clients because of the quality they produce.

This justification IS education.

But, this is the real world. No matter how good someone is, how much they educate the client, there will still be that one person who then either does it themselves instead of booking a pro, or, aims at the low end anyway because they just don’t get it. This is also an educated decision.

Not all educated decisions are smart decisions.

So I guess in writing this blog, I was trying to find an answer to a question I didn’t really ask. To be honest, I don’t really know what the question is. However, I do believe there is room in the market for educated clients and uneducated clients. As creatives we just have to figure out which ones we’d like to work with.

I certainly know which I’d prefer.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read, don’t forget to check our the rest of my Blogs too!

 

Commercial Photographer Newcastle

It ain’t all about the money…

Now don’t get me wrong, money is important. I need it, I do like it and if I didn’t have it I would be living on the street. Thats a given, but, when I gave up my Full time job which paid a good salary, had holiday pay, bonuses and sick pay, I didn’t do it with money on my mind.

I often get asked from people about when and why I made the transition from being a part time photographer in full time employment, to being a fully fledge self employed photographer.

I guess looking back now, the why I did it is entirely different to the why I love it now. I’ve said this before on my live feeds, my Vlogs and in my workshop that I earn less money now than when I was 19 years old in my first management post. But you know what, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I get to take my kids to school everyday, I virtually work whenever I want, I spend more time with my wife than I’ve ever been able to and I do a job I love. And you would have heard that old saying… “Do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

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That is true, sometimes, but don’t get me wrong. Being a photographer is an extremely tough job to do full time. I’ll get back to that point soon.

 

So the reason I made the jump from being a full time retail manager to being a self employed photographer was very simple. If I didn’t do it when I did, I never would have. I would have spent the rest of my life thinking “What if” and at the age of 27 I did not want that sort of regret hanging over me for the rest of my life. I’d been running my photography business for 6 years alongside working as a Branch Manager and a Retail Manager responsible for several Millions of pounds in sales. Working 60-70 hours a week, then coming home and editing, shooting weddings and meeting clients. It’s fair to say that at this point I was an awful husband and a non existent father. Looking back, I’m ashamed. But at the time, I thought this is what I had to do. I had to earn £30k a year, I had to provide, I had to be the bread winner. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

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As I said above, the reasons why I enjoy being self employed now have totally changed. At first it was the novelty, the pride, the boastfulness almost that yes, in fact I am a photographer. No longer would I tell people that I was a photographer with a full time job as well. That novelty very quickly wore off and the shine soon went when I realised that actually although I have this novelty, I STILL have to provide for my family.

Now in this instance I was very very lucky to have such a supportive father who sat me down when I made the decision and said, “Here is a pool of money, when its gone, its gone. Draw from it what you need to help you get to where you need to be.”

Without that financial backing, I would not have been able to survive and within 6 months I would have had to get back into full time employment to support my family.

 

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When that novelty of being a “pro” wore off, and that money quickly dwindled month after month, I realised that this was not easy. At times it was not fun. I went from month the month seriously worrying about how I would pay my bills.

Planning became an essential part of my business, when it had never needed to be before. In the previous 4 years of running my business, it didn’t really matter if I was earning a lot, or anything at all, because I had my salary to fall back onto. I spent days at a time, with the help of my father once again, writing plans and bringing it back to the simplest form to understand what I had to do in order to earn £x for my salary. I still follow this model and it looks something very similar to this;

 

If I do the following, I can pay my bills, live relatively comfortably and shoot what I want when I want outside of these jobs;

 

  • Take two wedding bookings per month
  • Shoot two weddings per month
  • Run one full day workshop
  • Run one studio creative night
  • Shoot one commercial headshot session
  • Shoot one family portrait

Within those 6 things, I could generate enough revenue to cover my studio rent, my bills, my mortgage and have some disposable income left. If I did anything over and above these things, it was a bonus.

Now the reason I planned this way was very simple, it became easy to figure out that If I didn’t have a wedding the next month, I had to replace it with something of equal value. Whether that be shooting two commercial headshot sessions, or whatever, it became much simpler to figure out where the money needed to come from.

So what does being self employed mean to me now? Why is it important to me and what has changed.

Well as I said before, I see my kids now more than I ever have. Sometimes they’re little buggers and it seems as though I see too much of them, but most of the time they’re awesome little humans. My relationship with my wife is the best it has ever been. We’ve been together more than 10 years and we are still madly in love. So being able to spend her days off with her, rather than seeing each other twice a month when our days off coincided is a huge bonus.

Thinking time, personal development, growth, whatever the hell you want to call it has enabled me to improve my abilities without comparison. If I was still in the day job, I would not have been able to push my self to learn new skills and techniques, to make the connections I have made and really push my brand as I needed to. It’s a little bit like the speculate to accumulate model. I speculated not with cash but with time, time to push myself and develop myself. I think this has definitely paid off.

I now work in different parts of the market I never even touched while working full time, and have managed to shoot some jobs I never thought imaginable. That part is down to taking the time to make brilliant relationships with the right people.

 

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This blog isn’t intended to say, “Look if I can do it you can too” because everyone has entirely different circumstances, bills to pay, families etc. What I would say though is that if you’re thinking about it, what is stopping you?

If it is money, use something simple like my model above to see what exactly do you need to shoot to cover what you need to earn. Figure that out, then figure out what do you need to do to get that.

I can honestly say this is the best thing I’ve ever done. Don’t get me wrong, its not all plain sailing and even now, this month I’ve had a big job cancel at a days notice and three jobs not pay on time which has left me with a massive cash flow problem. That sort of shit does happen, and its how you react that will help you stay afloat.

If you want to work as a full time photographer I think there are a few things you need;

  • A strong support network of people who believe in you
  • To surround yourself with likeminded creatives
  • The drive to push on when things get tough
  • To not be afraid to ask for help

That last one, I’m not good at. I never have been, even when I was in employment my Superiors would always feed that back.

I’ve still got a long way to go, I’m still learning, but what a journey to be learning on!

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Commercial Photographer Newcastle

 

 

 

Nobody told me….

This blog is potentially going to do 1 of 3 things. Offend you, give you a lightbulb moment or do absolutely nothing at all.

I see a lot of photographers, but more so models, asking for payment for their work, and a lot of the time they aren’t worthy of the price they’re asking for. Sometimes they aren’t worthy of the payment at all.

Now I’m not writing this to insult those who do this, there are loads of excellent models and photographers who charge and rightly so. But for some reason, especially it seems in the North East, I see tens of models, brand new to the industry, with relatively poor portfolios saying they want paid for work at rates generally as high if not higher than some of the well respected pro models on the circuit.

For me there is a two fold issue here.

The first issue being models think that they can do this and people will pay them, and no one educated them for the risk of insulting them and them having a hissy fit and being all defensive. I have seen this happen and it ain’t pretty!

The second issue is that photographers, usually those with poor portfolios themselves, are willing to pay them. Now I’m not going to go into the reasons why they do this, I think its pretty obvious to most in the industry, particularly when you take a look at the photographers style of work. Enough said.

 

So where is the temperature check, where is the guidance, where is the reality more than anything else? I chat with a lot of photographers about this issue and often share the surprise when you see models who’ve been on the circuit for all of 5 minutes looking for only paid work.

Why isn’t anyone telling them their work is poor and doesn’t warrant payment, and back to that age old issue, why don’t any of these models invest and pay a good photographer to get a strong portfolio? It really baffles my mind. When in fact what would be more beneficial to the models is working with credible photographers, learning how to pose, how to use their face and how to show emotion. Generally just how to model!

Photographers are too scared to give feedback to models in this instance for its far too easy to be made out as the bad guy in these situations, when in fact you’re trying to do them a favour. I have done this, and I have fed back to models about their price and some have taken it exceptionally well. One recent model I worked with who only recently left an agency was unsure of how to price herself, I gave her some realistic feedback on her prices and she thanked me for helping her not look stupid when quoting her prices. But I have also told models, who approached me asking for paid work, that their portfolio didn’t warrant being paid for and that I wouldn’t work with them because of the photographers they’d worked with and the style they’d shot.

That didn’t go down so well.

I really don’t know what the right answer is to this, let’ not call it an issue, but behaviour that I see more and more. Some won’t see it as a problem, but I’m seeing more and more photographers get frustrated by it.

I think until there is some sort of set pricing, or way of working this will always be the case, very similarly to photographers charging from the moment they buy their first camera!

Somethings may never change in this industry….

 

Commercial Photographer Newcastle

 

A Roadmap to success in photography….

Let me start by saying if you clicked on a link to this blog hoping to find all of the secrets of how to be a rockstar photographer, you’re gonna be sadly disappointed.

When you think of successful photographers, who do you think of..?

For me (being a wedding, fashion and portrait photographer) its people like Lara Jade, Sue Bryce and Lindsay Adler.

Perhaps the more important question is to ask, what makes a successful photographer?

And then even more importantly, who is that photographer successful to?

I know it feels like I’m diving a few levels on this like Leo and his crew on Inception, but bare with me on this, as it may just help you as a photographer.

 

The dictionary defines “success” as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

I like that definition. What I don’t like is that others can define an individuals success without even knowing their aim or purpose. That is beside the point of this blog, but it begs a few questions.

 

I often get asked from photographers who are at the start of their photography journey (there is a reason I used the word journey) how to be a successful photographer. First of all I usually ask them why they’re asking me, do they perceive or view me as successful. If we go by the definition of success above, that really can’t be the case.

 

I then ask them “What does success look like to you? where do you want to be and what do you want to do?”

Being a successful photographer can mean a multitude of different things to someone starting their journey,  or even someone who is on their way.

The first and foremost thing to do is to take away any worries, thoughts, feelings that your success or perceived success needs to be judged by anyone but yourself. That is a really important step. How can anyone else say that you are, or, are not successful if they don’t know what your goal is.

The second and probably most important thing to do is sit down, shut up, get a pen and paper and make a list of what success looks like for you. Decide on the final destination you’d like to be at (not like the films!!!), decide how long you’d like to take for your journey and then decide if that route doesn’t happen to work out, where is the alternative. You need a Roadmap or Satnav for your joinery.

There is no way on earth you can possibly know when you’re successful if you haven’t decided on what successful is.

No one but you can decide what your success looks like, it might be earning the same as your old day job, it might be getting published in magazines, it might be retiring early, hell it might be none of those. BUT, it needs to be something. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.

 

I know this Blog is full of cliche’s about reaching your goals, but this is one of the few times that I will bleat on about one single point because it’s something that I am extremely passionate about.

In my eyes, I am not a successful photographer because I have not reached my end goal. I am on course, I have hit some of the markers and I am on the time limit I set. But I am still not there yet. To be fair, I’d love to see a photographer who thinks they are there….

If you’ve ever watched my YouTube channel and one of my Vlogs you would have heard me talking about my “Bucket List”. This bucket list is my roadmap. It details all of my business targets/goals/outcomes as well as my personal ones. They go hand in hand. If I am successful in my photography career, it will help me achieve my personal and family goals too. That is something I learned all too late in my previous career in retail management and Im extremely determined not to make that mistake again.

I can’t speak for any of you on what you should plan and how your business and personal life should link together, but, (and I say this on every workshop I run) I earn less money now than I ever have. But, I am happy, I get to take my kids to school every day, I work when I want and I do a job that I love. That is worth more than its weight in gold to me.

Commercial Photographer Newcastle

 

 

Single Light Techniques – Part 2

If you managed to catch my last post about Single Light Techniques, you’ll understand why I like them so much. If you didn’t…. you can read it here first .

Now I’ll start this little tutorial by saying I am a High Speed Sync (HSS) novice- as I write this, I’ve been using HSS for a little over two weeks. But, in those two weeks I’ve gone through all of the emotions of falling in love with a beautiful woman; Attraction, rejection, admiration, lust and then finally comfort. I’ve long admired the technique of photographers who can use HSS techniques effectively, more so when shooting inside of a studio. And I wanted to be able to do that.

So as I approach all of my learning I set up my lights, got my model in front and started a process of trial and error. Within three frames I had the exact effect I wanted. As people who know me already know, I don’t work in mathematical terms with my lighting, for me you can throw you inverse square laws and calculations out of the window. I just don’t work that way. I find the light I like and I stick to it, If I need to change it, I do it by eye, not by a light meter or a histogram.

So here is my set up, each of the images you see directly below we’re shot with this exact set up. I used my Pixapro CITI600 Light with the Pixapro Easy Open Octabox with  both diffusion panels in place.  My light was placed about 45 degrees to the model and myself, meaning that I’m not going to get too much fall off on the opposite side of the face. I was triggering the light through the Pixapro STiii system which enable me to shoot at speeds of up to 1/8000th.

 

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1/3200sec, F2, ISO 100           Model – Deaann Shotton – Tyne Tees Models

 

Using this effect means that I can shoot at extremely shallow apertures while still freezing the subject with flash, and without letting in too much ambient light. That’s a winner for me. The image above is one of my favourite images so far from 2016.

 

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1/4000sec, F1.8, ISO 100       Model – Jamie Yates – Tyne Tees Models

For this image of Jamie I added a second light just level with his left shoulder to add a little bit of interested on that side of the face. It was set to a lower power so not to get a uniform exposure across the face but just to give a little detail to the shadows.

One thing to remember when shooting at these apertures is that any movement there is either in camera or by the model after the focus has been set with result in the focus being off whether it’s a little movement or a lot. So be conscious if you’re looking for a really crisp exposure to talk to your model and minimise any movement during the shot. By all means encourage lots of changes of pose and expression, but ask them to freeze it for a second or so for each look.

Although I prefer using this technique inside my studio, you can also achieve sensationally looking images outdoors with it too, especially in very bright conditions.

I ventured outside with the model below, about 30ft from my studio to the church across the road. The sun was absolutely beating down, with very little cloud cover and it was very very bright.

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With this set up I was shooting pretty much straight into the sun which was over the left shoulder of our model. I still wanted to have some detail in the sky and given how bright it was, I needed to dramatically reduce the amount of ambient light in the scene. The only way to do this was to raise my shutter speed. I raised my speed to 1/5000 sec, this allowed just the right amount of light to enter the sensor to maintain some detail and colour in the sky. I then positioned my model against the wall with my light and octabox to her left and slightly in front so that I could shoot along the wall. I wanted some subtle leading lines coming in from the brickwork, and a shallow aperture to really highlight our subject.

 

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1/5000sec, F2, ISO 100       Model – Grace Bungoni – Tyne Tees Models

Now without going too far into technical details (as I don’t like talking technically) the simple way to make any off camera flash image work is to use your variables effectively. Remembering that your shutter speed controls your Ambient light, you aperture controls how much light your camera lets in and your ISO is (for me) a last resort if you need that little bit of extra help. Brett Harkness explains this very well with his “Triangle of Loveliness” on his DVD’s- well worth a watch!

So there it is, another incredibly simple set up that can yield tremendous results.

Thanks for reading chaps, have a great day!

See a YouTube tutorial below on using High Speed Sync in the Studio;

 

 

Commercial Photographer Newcastle

 

Fashion Photography Workshop Review

Sunday 7th August marked the first of my new series of Photography Workshops in partnership with my awesome friends over at Pixapro. What a day it was!

We had attendees from near and far with one of our photographers coming from north of Edinburgh, which was a huge compliment in itself that someone was willing to travel that far to listen to what I had to say.

Although the day had a loose structure I wanted to maintain a good open dialogue throughout the day to ensure that our group got everything that they wanted to from the session. Whether that be linked to lighting, posing, copyright and even photography ethics. We covered a wide range of subjects in the breakout session which led to some really interesting points around the photography industry as a whole.

So the content started with a quick introduction of who I am and what I do, how I go about planning Fashion and Editorial shoots, how I incorporate the team (notice I’m not giving too much away here…… you’ll need to book onto the workshop to find that out ) and how to keep communication between all parties at the forefront of everything to ensure that the vision is shared and leaves no room for confusion.

We reviewed a selection of images, talked about how they’d been lit, and more importantly why. This helped give the group a real insight into the differences between shooting for yourself, in which case I’d use much more creative lighting to flatter the model, and shooting for the client which would be more steered towards ensuring that the garments are perfectly and evenly lit to give maximum exposure for the clothing.

Before we broke for lunch, we walked around outside of my studio (which is in a housing estate, on a main road, surrounded by largely uninspiring scenery) to look for locations to shoot with our models after the break. We picked out 7/8 different locations ranging from brickwork to long grass in front of some allotments and a church to wrought iron gates. We talked through how we could shoot the images dependant on who we were shooting for; ourselves or the client. This makes a big difference to how they would be shot. We talked through the lighting we would be using, namely the Pixapro CITI600 strobe (see my review here) and a Pixapro Speedlight and associated trigger systems.

 

After lunch it was time to put the lighting and locations through their paces. We started up on the fire escape of the studio, now baring in mind we had 60mph winds in the North East, this was a real battle to keep the CITI and a 120cm Octabox still without being blown over! This fire escape is on the 2nd floor of my studio and offers an interesting perspective with its dark walkway and bright sky behind.

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Our model Harriotte wore a long flowing blouse which allowed a lot of movement in this wind, although it was a difficult set to shoot with Harriotte’s hair constantly blowing into her face, she handled it phenomenally to create some tremendous images.

Settings:  1/8000 sec, F1.8, iso 100.

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After battling in what seemed to be a massive wind trap, we moved to the next location that we had picked out for our other model Grace.

Now this section of brickwork is the side of a newsagent on a busy road. But, it is also extremely detailed, reflects light brilliantly and offers a great backdrop for some edgy images. We shot this section with a bare Speedlight because we wanted a harsh lighting effect without softening the light too much. As you can see from the diagram below, we set this about 45 degrees between the camera and Grace which allows us to create a harsh shadow while still getting a good even coverage on the face and clothing.

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While I would usually use this effect with the zoom effect on the flash, I decided to shoot this one at the standard flash coverage. This still allowed me to create a high contrast image through killing most of the ambient light, and having quite a small aperture.

Settings:  1/160 sec, F13, iso 100.

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Moving away from the street look, we literally walked over the street to our next location. One of the things I always teach my groups whether it be a Fashion or a Wedding Photography Workshop is that if you’re struggling for a location or background, use the sky! Get down low and look up and if you’ll have a pretty much infinite background to use.

So with that in mind we picked out some long grass in between a church and some allotments. I know pretty uninspiring right? The dilapidated old sheds and stripping paintwork of the church fence didn’t look the most appealing at standing height anyway.

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“Get down on your knees” was the instruction to the photographers in the group to change perspective and create a hugely different image.

We were really battling the elements at this point, bright sunshine followed by dark clouds paired with a very strong wind made for an interesting time while shooting this set up.

Because of the bright sun we wanted to take out as much ambient light as possible to ensure that our light would give a nice even light on Harriotte’s face, and with that in mind we were shooting right up at 1/8000 sec using the High Speed Sync Function of the CITI600 light. Getting that lower angle and shooting to that everlasting background, also known as the sky, allowed us to create an image that could have been shot in a big open field while only using a space of 3/4ft in total.

Settings:  1/8000 sec, F2.5, iso 100.

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After much battling with the wind and several near misses with dropping the light  we decided to head indoors so that we could shoot our last set in a studio environment to create some simple yet stunning images.

 

All in all I’d say that this Workshop was a great success being that it was the first of this new series. But don’t just take my word for it, here is what some of our attendees said…..

“This was probably the best value for money workshop that I have been on. I particularly liked the fact that we were not in a hotel but in Chris’ place of work, his studio. This was real added value as we could see how he worked and the kit he used. I also think that made for a more relaxed and ‘audience participation’ kind of environment and worked really well”

 

“Friendly, Informative, Helpful,Enjoyable and Eyeopening”

 

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Images by Tom Feeney

“I have a fair degree of studio lighting experience having my own small studio in Dunfermline. However, with little experience using studio lights outside on location I was looking to gain confidence in setting them up and using them to best effect in an outside environment. I came away from the workshop confident I can now do this. I learned a lot, particularly how easy it was to use a single light to such good effect. Also that you do not need to travel far to find excellent locations for great shots.”

 

“Most prominent for me was location scouting, we shot in a small patch of grass that looked like an open field in photos, by using HSS flash and the correct angles any surface / location can make a compelling backdrop.”

 

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Images by Gordon Scott

“As a semi professional with a number of years under my belt, but self taught and never having been on such a course before, i was keen to find one in my field of fashion/portraits and where I could benefit from the experience of others, learning sometimes the little things that others might use, getting a glimpse of the tips and techniques, and if nothing else expose my badf habits. This course lived up to this entirely”

 

If you’re interested in attending one of my workshops, please fill in the form below for more information.

Commercial Photographer Newcastle