Why Personal Photography Keeps The Creative Side Ticking Over

Working Photographers all started out experimenting with their cameras long before the thought of making money from it. After a while there is a realisation that just maybe this new passion and skill set could be used to bring in an income.

The initial buzz and excitement from creating photos for ourselves is then slowly taken over by the need to work for others, create for others and follow a brief. This is all part of being a working photographer and something we do all sign up for. Those initial early days of excitement and wonder at producing images to satisfy only yourself is lost somewhere in the transition from keen amateur to full time working pro.

Clients like you to follow a brief, but they also appreciate your own input and creative approach to an idea. That’s why for us photographers it is very important to keep up personal work and projects. This keeps our mind plugged into the creative purpose that we loved and enjoyed in the early days of our photographic discovery.

February sunrise, St Ives, Cambridgeshire

For me, I am lucky enough to be living in a beautiful part of Cambridgeshire and so get the opportunity to be taking photos of the landscape in and around St Ives. Just me, my camera and my ideas. Photos to satisfy the soul. No pressure. No deadlines.

In the past I decided to visit Nepal with my camera and specifically document the work of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO). In those early years they were working with The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), Australia. TIO’s key role is to help refine and adapt a practical, safe, and affordable technique of intraocular lens implant for cataract surgery in developing countries. It was an amazing experience to photograph at close quarters the help that was provided to the Nepalese people.

Exhibitions of my photos from this self-commissioned assignment helped to raise funds for the organisation.

I do think it is beneficial for those booking photographers to not only look at their business portfolio but to also search out the images they have taken for the pure joy of the medium. It may just give a broader view of the photographer and what they are capable of. It could just provide you with that something extra special you have been looking for.

Plane landing at Lord Howe Island

Man waiting for cataract operation, Kathmandu


Corporate Head Shots - Casual or Formal? Which is best?

A formal portrait or a casual portrait. Which is best? 

Well it really does depend on your business type and what you are hoping to achieve from having a business portrait or head shot. 

I have photographed managing directors, lawyers and tradesman. Each profession can have a different approach, but it also doesn’t have to mean that the styles can’t be mixed up a bit. 

I would like to think that any photo of a staff member should come across as someone being approachable. What do I mean by that? Well, ultimately you are portraying an image to a prospective client. Whether or not the portrait appears on your web site, in a magazine or at a trade show. Your image should convey something welcoming and knowledgeable - and importantly put the viewer at ease and have a good feeling about you. If you are a lawyer, then your prospective client might be dealing with a lot of emotions and must feel confident that you are the expert to help them through it. They probably don’t want to see gruffness or smarmy. A welcoming empathetic look is going to work well – the cheesy grin is out! 

When planning your corporate photography portraits of your staff members I would recommend a series of casual photos that have the person looking away from the camera’s viewpoint. This can be easily staged with the help of an interviewer chatting to the person while I am photograph them. It’s best to talk about things that are non-work related.

Another method for this is to set up a few people around a table and get them chatting about their holidays, hobbies, family or just about anything that makes them relaxed and not even consider once that a photographer is in the room. 

With a mixture of portrait styles you are going to have a lot more options for when and how you use the photos.

Alan is a corporate and commercial photographer at Media Imaging Solutions

Photographing in a Studio vs On Location.

I do shoot many hundreds of portraits every year for businesses across Cambridgeshire and beyond. Not only portraits but products as well. The best thing about camera equipment these days is that it has become totally portable and convenient to transport in the back of my car. 

Location Portrait Studio

I mention this because I do have clients asking about where my studio is and how big is it. 

The truth is that I don’t own a studio space at all - but I do own the studio photographic equipment that I can bring along to a business premises. 

If needs be I can hire a professional studio, but I always find enough space at my client’s place of work for doing portraits or products. 

So what are the benefits of me coming to you? 

·         Everyone is under one roof

·         Limited work hours lost

·         Work emergencies can be dealt with quickly

·         Re-shuffling of timetable can be easily managed

·         Low carbon emissions ( It’s only me driving!)

·         Last minute additions to the schedule can be managed

·         Staff are there to react quickly to unexpected work duties

·         Only 5 minutes of downtime per employee.

If you are thinking of having staff head shots done then fear not, there really is very little disruption. I just need a bit of space like a conference room and we are good to go.

About Alan Bennett LNPS:

Alan is a corporate and commercial photographer at Media Imaging Solutions

Storage and Back-up Strategy

If there is one thing that is certain in this world (as well as the obvious ones!) is that at some point your hard drive is going to fail and end up in computer periphery heaven.

It is true that the newer solid-state drives (SSD) are far more robust and reliable compared to the older mechanical drives that have been around for years. It is also true though that as massive data gatherers we have more options to buy cheaper and larger mechanical data storage devices to back up onto. For example, you can buy a 4 terabyte mechanical hard drive for around £80. A SSD with 4 TB is going to cost over £800!

We are therefore going to keep using the less reliable drives for a quite a while longer.

When hard drives die I hope we can all say “ thank goodness I have a back-up, I’d be lost without it”. Sadly, this is often not the case. A 2018 survey done by back-up specialists Backblaze found that only 8% of people do daily back-ups. This was the same percentage as back in 2008.

As photographers, we create a lot of data - which is often added to our hard drives daily as we shoot and also carry out post-production. A daily back-up regime is a necessity to assure our income streams and to protect our clients’ precious imagery. It also protects our professional integrity if some disaster did go down. Imagine any photographer losing all the images from a photo shoot. It would take your professional reputation down the plug hole.

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

A simple and effective rule for creating a safe, failure proof system to back up your data is known as the 3-2-1 back-up strategy. Basically, you have the original data on your computer plus two other copies. In my case I have one copy on an external hard drive and one copy stored in the cloud and so well away from any natural or man-made disasters.

Here’s my own back-up strategy :

  • It begins with my camera. My Nikon D750 has two SD card slots which I have configured so that any photos that go on one card are automatically copied onto the second card. It is rare but the memory card can also become corrupted. This gives peace of mind on any photography job.

  • When back in the office from a shoot, the photos are all copied onto an internal hard drive which fills up over time. I use this just as a way to get an instant copy off the card onto my computer. I have not done any editing or culling at this point.

  • The keepers from my photo shoot are then transferred to my internal 4.5 TB work drive.

  • Instantly I have another back-up happening on my external Seagate 4 TB drive. I say instantly because I use a program called Good Sync which identifies any changes/additions to my system and copies the new files over to a designated drive of your choice.

  • New data is then also transferring to my cloud account. I use one by Code 42 - crashplan for small businesses. This gives an unlimited amount of data storage for around £8 per month.

  • Lastly, I use Zenfolio galleries to upload finished projects to my clients for viewing and downloading. These are never deleted and so I consider this an extra level of back-up.

If you want to be even extra cautious then don’t leave the external hard drive back-up in the office at night. Bring it home with you. I work from a home office so in my case I would leave it with good friends or family when I’m going away on business or taking a holiday.

As you can see there are many ways to keep your data safe. My system works for me and if you follow these methods you will be fine. At the end of the day though please do implement your own storage and back-up strategy as soon as possible. Don’t put it off - make it a priority.

About Alan Bennett LNPS:

Alan is a corporate and commercial photographer at Media Imaging Solutions

Reaching for the Sky!

When asked to shoot really large groups of people the best way forward is to aim for a high vantage point.

I’ve been up step ladders, scissor platforms, on roof tops and cherry pickers to get the right angle to capture the scene below. Health and safety is always the priority though, and I never venture too high and not wear a full harness and have a qualified operator to work the machinery.

I’m certainly not an aerial photographer, and I don’t get involved with drones due to all the constantly changing legalities, but I am certainly happy to use any safe and available means to get that special image for your business.

 Dec 2018: David Smith Staff Photos
 September 25th 2014: JDR Cable Sytems
Up In The Sky.jpg
 July 12th 2018: AVEVA Blue Shirts

Events and Social Media

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Conferences use twitter hash tags to promote to the audience within the venue, as well as those around the globe that couldn't make it or just would like to know more about the event, it's speakers and general content.

Hash tags ( eg #creativephotos) are used by twitter users to quickly search on all tweets that contain the hash tag that has been chosen by the conference organiser. As more and more people tweet from a conference and include the hash tag then a growing list of tweets can be viewed that directly relate to the event.

A good example of where using a professional photographer is beneficial to your conference's social media output, is when you need to tweet a photo of a presenter (along with the hash tag) before they have finished and sat down. You could snap it on your mobile phone - but this is rarely good enough to convey a well run event. I would have a series of professional looking photos within the first few minutes, upload them to my online gallery and they would then be available for tweeting.

Social media is such a fast paced, instantaneous communications tool. People do expect updates to happen quickly and often. Momentum is the key here. Keeping updates flowing throughout the day will build a real buzz around your event.

Processing my photography at events in this way provides your communications team with a constant flow of relevant and topical imagery.

Downloading, reviewing and uploading to your own gallery during a conference

Downloading, reviewing and uploading to your own gallery during a conference