Space, the Final Frontier for Product Photography

Ask me what kind of photography I do and in my elevator pitch I’ll tell you it’s corporate photography for business websites, brochures and press releases, specialising in people, places and products.

You might note that the word “products” comes at the end of that sentence and that’s because I’m primarily a “people” photographer, but I do occasionally find myself trying to find the best angle on an inanimate object and over the years I’ve done quite a few of those too. What has held me back a little has been the lack of space to shoot larger pieces. Even small items require a surprising amount of space for all the equipment you need to do them properly.

Last week though I was able to try out a great new space in the building where my office is based. It’s an event space anyone can hire, but it happens to be perfect for a decent sized studio. It’s also large enough for me to do full-length portraits should the need arise. Last week’s shoot (large metal racks) was a good test of the space and it worked extremely well.

Photographic studio set up using a white backdrop and four studio flash heads arranged in pairs either side of the backdrop.

A great space for photographing products or people

The big advantage of this is that I now have access to a space which can accommodate all the backdrops, lighting and paraphernalia of a photographic studio without the constant overhead cost of running a full-time studio; a cost which I’ve seen crush a few photographers. I’m very pleased that I don’t have to be crushed!

If you need either people or products photographed in a comfortable, flexible space, just contact me and we’ll talk it over.



It’s The Sun Wot Dumped Page 3

There will be acres of coverage in print and on the web about the ending of the “tradition” of a topless female on page 3 of The Sun, but for what it’s worth here are some of my thoughts. I should qualify this article by saying I don’t think I’ve always been the “new man” I’m painting myself to be here, but I’ve always found Page 3 to be rather weird (a word which crops up a few time in this article).

Back in the days when I often had to buy The Sun and other papers as part of my job, I was never especially comfortable opening the cover page and being confronted with bare breasts. It wasn’t the breasts per se, I’m not prudish about toplessness or nudity in the right context, and I don’t carry a napkin with me in case of a breastfeeding emergency in my local cafe.

I think what always made me feel awkward when reading P2 or the other stories on P3 was the rather bizarre context-less context. Let me explain further; the models themselves were mostly flat-lit and posed against a garish backdrop, which left them with little personality. They never looked entirely comfortable to me and the poses and the pointlessness of their being in the paper at all frankly made it all a bit, well, weird.

Sometimes they were posed in front of a plain colour backdrop, other times a faked out-doorsy sort of a thing, which looked even weirder. The studio style changed over the years, but it was always with the intention of putting a topless woman in a completely abstract context without any effort to apply any artistic values.

Of course if you’re going to run a topless model photo every day (setting aside the question “why would you?”), it inevitably becomes a sausage-machine process and art will go out the window, sacrificed on the altar of repeatability and efficiency. Which further degrades the integrity of the model, the photographer, the images and the licence to justify the whole exercise.

The other problem of context is that in which the paper would be read, often in public or in a place visible to the public, or in homes with children. If you’re looking at a photo, painting or sculpture of a topless woman in an art gallery it’s within the context of considering art for art’s sake. You might not like what you see, or you might think it’s amazing, but the Page 3 photos were never art and they didn’t bring a splash of art to the page. So having them visible in public was never about bringing “art” to a wider audience. It was all about a woman being used to sell more papers.

Page 3 model Leilani poses in a London park with gardening items with a backdrop of daffodils for a News of the World reader offer

P3 model Leilani poses for a newspaper reader offer. Those are seed bags, not Class A drugs!

Now I’m not going to argue with a woman’s right to pose however and for whomever she wishes and I’ve nothing against artistic nudity. I even worked with one or two Page 3 models in my press days (not in a P3 context though), and they were professional and great to work with, but Page 3 has definitely had its day and it was never an especially glorious day. It probably started as a bit of a dare, a giggle for the blokes, but in the tobacco and alcohol-fuelled, testosterone-driven newsrooms of the 1970s, no man was going to stand up and say “actually guys, this is a bit offensive and weird really isn’t it?” They’d have been chucked out or branded a “poofter” at a time when newsrooms were full of manly men.

On the one hand the loss of Page 3 has little affect on my life. I haven’t bought or read The Sun for many years, but I’m pleased that one area of misogyny can be laid to rest. Unfortunately this has come at a time when artless, exploitative nudity in all its forms is more visible than ever. It’s a bit like blowing out the candle once the house has burst into flames, and Page 3 endures on The Sun’s website which one day will be more widely read than the printed version, which you might be comforted to know really isn’t that many readers in the greater scheme of things.




I had planned a post this week, but events overtook me. I hope to be back on track next week. In the meantime, here’s some music.*


*Nope, no music here.

New Year, New Winge

First up, happy New Year! Now a bit of a moan to kick off 2015…

I really can’t be bothered with following the lives of celebrities or “celebrities”, but I have become aware of the campaign by Hannah Weller, wife of Paul Weller, to have a law introduced which would make it illegal for “the media” to publish photos of children without explicit or implied consent.

This campaign was born out of the Daily Mail’s publication of photos of the Wellers’ children. The Mail was taken to court and lost, though they are appealing the decision. The Mail tends to be a law unto itself and the contested photos should not have been published in the first place, but that’s what the codes and existing laws are there to deal with. We don’t need more laws just to protect celebrities and their offspring.

My instinct on this matter is that while I sympathise with parents who may have a valid reason not to have photos of their children published, there is already plenty of legislation covering the protection of children’s identities as well as the editors’ code of conduct which further sets out what publications should and should not be allowed publish with regards images of children.

A line of school children in high-visibility vests make their way along a village road in the rain.

That children in crowds would be exempt shows how poorly thought-out this campaign is

It’s already quite problematic trying to take pictures when children are present, and taking a picture and publishing it are two very different things, but laws such as this which are designed to deal with an extremely specific circumstance tend to become misunderstood and abused. Some people already believe it is illegal for someone to take their photo in a public place, adding legislation just gives another opportunity for a half-remembered, misunderstood piece of legislation to be used to prevent perfectly ordinary, innocent activities.

The campaign concentrates on images published in “the media” which is a vague notion these days and might or might not include social media, including accounts run by non-media organisations. Could an individual posting a photo of a child in the street find themselves before a court?

I hope common sense wins the day. It would be a shame if children became invisible or anonymous in our culture. Already some loal newspapers won’t publish anything more than a first name, even where permission to photograph a child has been given, and this is an unnecessary concession to the paranoia of some parents (or over-protectiveness by schools, colleges, clubs and so on).

A new law will add another layer of criminalisation of a lawful activity and a new opportunity for overzealous protection of children. If the Victorians believed children should be seen and not heard, we could end up in a position where they are entirely invisible.