Monday, 27 June 2011

What Goes Into a Portrait Sitting?

I thought I'd explain the process.  Just to give you an insight into the work involved in producing the portraits you put on your wall and treasure forever.

Before the shoot
Before you book you'll want to have a chat.  It's natural.  I'll talk you through how it works and find out exactly what you want from the shoot.  Is it a family shoot?  Is it just the kids?  Will mum and dad be getting involved?  Is it an adult couple?  Or maybe you're feeling brave and fancy a bit more of a risque boudoir shoot!  You might want traditional pictures or something more relaxed and fun.  You might want to come into my studio or maybe go on location at the beach, in a park or even in your own home.  All are fine!

I'll also find out what sort of photos you'd like to take away from it.  Do you have a frame already and just want the prints?  Maybe you want me to supply a hand made top quality bespoke frame.  Or an acrylic.  Or a canvass wrap.  Again... all are fine!

I'll show you some samples and can take you through my portfolio.  If you like what you see you book!  All it costs is £25!

At the shoot
A couple of days before the shoot I'll ring just to confirm everything is still on.  And maybe give you some directions...  I'll also advise what sort of clothes to wear and what props to bring to keep the kids happy!

On the day it's show time!  When you arrive at the studio you will feel right at home.  There's a comfortable sofa, tea, coffee and soft drinks.  There's a bit of music playing as well which you can choose!  I'll already be set up for you so when you're comfortable we can get cracking.

A shoot lasts around 45 minutes to an hour and is a LOT of fun!  If it's your thing I'll get you running and jumping and enjoying yourself.  I have a massive list of poses for every situation and a good imagination so we'll never be short of ideas!  Boudoir shoots are a bit less manic but still a lot of fun.

It's natural for everyone to be a bit nervous before we start, but 5 minutes in and you'll forget the nerves and relax right into it.  People are often surprised at how comfortable and relaxed they feel during a shoot.  That's a massive compliment to me and something I work hard at!

After the shoot
As soon  as possible I get your photos downloaded onto my Mac.  As a safety measure I back your photos up onto a hard drive that's stored off site and also onto an online storage site.  So your photos are safe!

Then it's editing time.  I sort through all the photos from the shoot and select the best.  There's usually around 30 photos after the first cut.  I'll then edit all of them individually.  I'll make sure the background is clean, the exposure is correct, the colours look right and the contrast is good.  When that's done it's time to get creative...

There's a lot you can do in Photoshop.  I'll choose a few of the photos and enhance them so you look your absolute best.  I'll pick the best techniques for the mood of the pictures and the way you've chosen to present them.

Last, I create a slideshow for you to view when you come in to see them.  I also upload them to my website and give them a username and password for you to browse at your leisure.

At the viewing
About a week after the shoot I'll arrange for you to come back in and see your pictures.  There's the same sofa and drinks so you'll fee at home.  I'll dim the light and show you the slideshow.  You can see it as many times as you like so don't feel you have to take notes...

When you've seen it we'll go through the photos one by one and you can select your favourites.  This can take a long time so don't feel rushed.  There is no pressure to buy a lot.  Or really big ones!

When you've made your decision you'll choose a frame if you want one and the sizes.  And of course pay (sorry...).  And that's it.  Well from your point of view at least...

After the viewing
Now I have to order your pictures.  There may be more editing to do and some resizing or sharpening and then I send them off to a pro lab for printing.  When I get them back it's off to a local framer to get your frames hand made and your pictures mounted.

When that's done you van pick them up from me or I'll deliver them to you.

Then all that's left is for you to decide where to hang them.  And decide when you're coming in for your next shoot!!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

10 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

We've all heard the horror stories about dodgy wedding photographers.  He turned up late, he didn't turn up at all, the pictures were out of focus, it was all feet, people's heads were chopped off.  I could continue...  So here's my own guide to choosing a photographer for the biggest day of you life!

1. Do you like your photographer?
It's important to get on.  You are likely to spend a lot of time together beforehand and on the day itself.  You might see more of the photographer than some of the guests!  During the group shots the photographer will be directing all the guests into position so they need to like him/her as well.  So you need to feel comfortable with them.

2. How long have they been photographing weddings?
Experience counts.  Anyone can turn up to a wedding and take photos, but it takes practice and experience to get the truly memorable shots you'll want to look at again and again.  There is an element of luck involved - right place, right time.  But the more experience your photographer has the more often they're in that right place at just the right time!

3. Are they full time or part time?
A full time photographer does this for a living.  They've done it lots of times before.  They also have a good amount of time to dedicate to editing your photos.  A part time photographer is likely to have a full time job and is taking photos in their spare time.  There are obviously some excellent part timers out there but a pro will be able to dedicate the time to your pictures that they deserve.

4. What comes in the package?
Don't get stung by extras.  Make sure their prices are completely transparent and you know exactly what you'll be getting before you book.  Is the album included?  How much are extra copies?  How much are individual prints and canvasses?  Is postage extra?

5. Ask to see samples.
ALWAYS!!!!  I can't stress that enough!  And insist on seeing a full wedding.  A sample portfolio is likely to include the best 4 or 5 photos from several weddings.  Your album will have dozens of photos all from YOUR wedding.  Insist on seeing a couple of entire albums from previous weddings.

6. Ask for recommendation.
Ask your friends.  Ask your family.  Ask your photographer if it's OK to speak to a previous client!  People won't always want to be approached but ask anyway.  If he doesn't want to at least try, ask yourself why...

7. What insurance do they have?
As a (legal) minimum your photographer should have Public Liability insurance.  A pro will also have Professional Indemnity insurance.  This will cover them in the unlikely event that something terrible happens to your photos before you get them.

8. Check the Ts and Cs
OK.  It's a bit boring but make sure there's nothing in there you don't like.  If there is, say so.

9. Do a bit of Googling
Look them up online.  Have a look at their website.  Check them out on Facebook or Twitter.  Do you like what you see?  Does it look professional?

10. What's the contingency plan?
Accidents happen.  Your photographer might get hit by a bus or abducted by aliens.  OK, it's unlikely, but what's the plan if they do.  Make sure there is a plan to find a replacement photographer so you don't miss out.

Hope that's helped!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Happy to Travel

A couple of weeks ago I went overseas to photograph a wedding!  Well OK.  It was Jersey so not quite foreign, but I got there on a plane!

It was an absolutely lovely day!  Or more like week...  The bride and groom had kindly agreed to pay for my flights and it just so happened that flights were cheaper on a Wednesday.  The wedding was on the Saturday so it made sense to make a bit of a holiday of it!

It gave me the chance to give them the service they deserved as well.  Getting there early meant I could see them to discuss details and timings and also visit the venue to familiarise myself with it before the day itself.

The day was fab!  The weather couldn't have been better.  Glorious sunshine and little whispy clouds.  I arrived at the Bride's house at 11am to find the girls sitting outside in the sun while one of the bridesmaids had her makeup done in the conservatory!  I like their style...

When the girls were done it was time to get to the venue.  The venue was beautiful - La Mare Vineyard in St. Mary, Jersey.  With the sun still out it made for some great shots of the guests enjoying themselves.  The ceremony was in a marquee with excellent light.  So again, some cracking photos!

A bit more fun in the sun for the guests and I took the newlyweds off for some portrait style shots.  The colours of the sky, trees, grass, vines and the Bride's flowers looked stunning!

I stayed to photograph the speeches and they were kind enough to invite me to the evening reception as well.  So all in all a brilliant day!  Thanks, Luisa and Jason.

If you want to see a few more photos from this wedding have a look at my Facebook page.