How Much Should Photography Cost?

One question which ties up too much time, energy and headspace for most businesses is, “How much should we be paying for photography?”

In the modern business landscape, we have to extend that to videography too, of course. While this article focuses mainly on stills, read to the end for my thoughts on video as well.

The shortest answer I can give is that the corporate communications photography you commission shouldn’t cost you anything. “What?! Free photography?! Where can I get some of that!!” I hear you wail, but of course that notion is ridiculous. Free stuff, as we all know, is often worth exactly what we’ve paid for it.

What I mean is, the photography and videography you commission for your business should, either fairly immediately, or over time, generate more income for your business than it cost to get done. If your photography/videography isn’t winning new clients or gaining fresh business, then you need to look at why it’s not working before deciding you’re paying too much. It could be how you’re deploying the work, it could also be that you’re not paying enough to get the quality you need.

A useful exercise is to start from the other end of the process. Ask what it is you want to achieve with your images, then work backwards to find the solution. That is to say, the photographer you choose is more important than what they charge. Ask yourself if the photographer’s style fits your brand and whether their quality adds a perception of high value to that brand. What they charge should reflect the outcome you’re aiming for. It needs to reflect the quality of their work, the uses to which that work will be put (the Licence to Use) as well as the standard of service they offer.

Just to explain the Licence to Use a little more deeply, a set of photos destined for a one-off press release for a small business won’t command the same fees as a high-production single image used in a national advertising campaign for a global brand.

There are many scenarios between these usage examples, but if you’re open with the photographer about who and what they’re shooting for, they can give far better guidance on the likely fees. And when it comes to the shoot itself, they can plan their own approach and deploy their resources far more effectively for a more successful outcome.

Oh and on that last point, be VERY wary of any photographer who doesn’t ask how the images are to be used. This should be an alarm-bell-moment. If they don’t care what you do with their work, it means they don’t care about your goals. This will be reflected in the results and that’s when photography becomes really expensive, regardless of how cheap it was to acquire.

Much the same approach applies to commissioning video, albeit the costs associated with that tend to focus more on post-production time than on aspects such as licensing. However, if you’re going to commission video, you still need to think carefully about your goals.

Identifying who you’re trying to reach, what their expectations are and how you’re going to win their business should be considered long before commissioning a videographer (ie me!) to press the record button.

If I’m shooting video for a client, of course I want to understand my client’s aims, but I also want to know who they’re trying to win over. If they’re aiming at people who might do business with them, the content, message and production values all need to be of a high quality. There’s no point spending money on a video which is aimless and poor quality. That’s just a waste of money and a drag on valuable resources. It might grab audience attention for a brief moment, but will soon be forgotten in the constant stream of online content marketing. Poor quality production will also harm your brand and cost you sales.

The main message of this post is to think quality first, then work out your budget based on the value you’re likely to gain from the results. Setting out with an unrealistic budget plucked from thin air isn’t going to get you where you need to be, which is why I’m happy to spend time working through these questions with clients before they commit to working with me.

I would be delighted to discuss your stills and video needs, so drop me a line and let’s get your photography and videography making money, not costing it.

I’m Still Alive!

Gosh, I have been a bit slack – I haven’t posted here since King Charles III came to the throne! Well sometimes life just runs away from you, then you get out of the habit. Before you know it, well here we are…

What started this un-planned hiatus was a thing called Photo|Frome (see photofrome.org if you haven’t heard of it). Being in charge of outdoor exhibitions meant I had no time in the run-up to the launch on June 24th to write anything anywhere.

To be fair, the result of all the hard work stunned even cynical ol’ me. Here’s a bit of a tale about it all.

Working closely with Italian photographic collective T House (Hugo Weber, Alex Zoboli and Angelo Leonardo), we achieved a first for Frome. We took over an entire outside wall of Frome Library and covered it in vinyl prints from our various projects (one project from each of us). The photos below barely do it justice, but you get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

While T House specialise in outdoor exhibitions of photographic works, they tend to work using large paper-based posters applied directly to walls. In the case of Frome Library we had to work differently due to the uneven surface we were dealing with. We needed to use vinyl prints mounted on timber frames screwed to the building wall. This was not going to be easypeasy!

Famous artists have minions install their work for them; in our case this was definitely a DIY affair.

T House organised the artwork and printing of the vinyls, while from my end I organised liaison with the library manager, measuring the building, ordering the timber, fixings, scissor lift and general logistics (none of which I’d ever done before, so somewhat daunting). To be fair, T House had the tougher job in curating the work and dealing with me and my constant doubts about what we could/couldn’t do.

Installation took two of the hottest days of the year to complete, but the effect was powerful. I was worried locals and visitors wouldn’t ‘get it’ or like it, or have any reaction at all, but there was a full spectrum of reactions – none of which involved just ignoring the work, so that was a major achievement. The giant portrait of Monika was a particularly popular selfie spot.

As if that wasn’t enough, I also commandeered some 60 metres of perimeter hoardings at Saxonvale in Frome. This is a place many of you will know that I documented between 2017 and 2019 (which became the book What Happened Here). It was the perfect place to show our combined projects, continuations of the images we installed at the library.

The only slight concern was that this part of our exhibition was being undertaken without permission of the landowner, Somerset Council. However I calculated that it would take longer than the three week run of the festival for anyone to raise a complaint and anything to come from that. I was correct, and in fact nobody complained. We even gave Somerset Council a name-check on the information panel, so it looked official (sneaky!)

T House set about curating the images for this second mammoth installation. This time working with 2 metre by 1.4 metre poster paper sheets, they stapled images from each of our projects as far along the hoardings as we could go before running out of posters.

It took another two, hot days to get this work up, but removal commenced a bit sooner than we’d anticipated as our installation antagonised some of the local graffiti artists by covering their art. Less than 12 hours after the posters went up, they were sprayed, tagged and torn. But that was ok, it meant the work got far more exposure than we could have hoped for, and the ‘intervention’ became part of the narrative of the installation. None of this was planned, but it was all good. Some visitors were even taking fragments of poster away with them as keepsakes!

 

Three weeks after all this effort, and it was time to un-install everything. To be fair, the graffiti artists and the weather did most of the work for us at Saxonvale, but the library show needed to come down in a more controlled manner.

This time I didn’t have a team of three highly-caffeinated Italians, but my son Joe stepped in and we got the lot down safely in one long (sometimes excessively wet) day.

It would be easy to question the value of all this effort, but I know that what we did had a huge impact locally. It was also a big hit with the many thousands of national and international visitors to the Photo|Frome festival. On a personal level I now have three very special Italian friends whose enthusiasm, professionalism and the sheer exchange of ideas has helped me enormously. I’m very much looking forward to working with T House again.

So having not posted for a few weeks, this one has turned into something of a marathon essay. I haven’t even touched on the wider Photo|Frome festival (which really was a very special thing), or my involvement in the various aspects of it. Nor have I mentioned any of the client work which of course carried on over that period.

To say I was a little burned out after all that would be an understatement, but I’m now looking forward to a period of breaks and holiday time in the coming weeks. That will mean another interruption to my blogging, but I’m hoping to get more regular again in September.

For now, have yourself a splendid Summer and I’ll see you again soon!

Sound Advice

Another from my occasional series offering hints, tips and advice on video.

Sound vs Vision

Do you have any idea how important sound is to a successful video?

It’s one thing to have great visuals and a compelling storyline, but the one thing that will push your audience away is poor sound.

Ask any decent videographer and they’ll tell you this. More important than picture quality, is the quality of sound.

Now I’m no sound engineer, but I have built up enough basic understanding to know how to organise a video shoot to get the sound quality my clients need. That’s even when they don’t know what they need. Mainly that involves not allowing interviews to happen right next to a road drill. It means knowing when to use a boom mic, when to use a lav mic etc.

One of the first things I learned was to get the mic as close as possible to the sound source. That means those little shotgun mics you see mounted on cameras, well they’ll do an ok job. But if you really want to hold audience attention, nothing beats a close mic on the speaker.

Sound Analogy

In this way, I find it easier to think of sound and microphones in the same way I think about light and studio flash. By placing a flash close to the subject I can more easily control the balance between flash and ambient light (that is, daylight or room light).

Similarly, bringing the mic closer to the subject captures more of the speaker’s voice, less of the background noise. With sound it’s then easier to mix in ambient sound from a separate recording of the space if needed. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it helps.

Terminology

I don’t wish to bog you down in the complexities of sound capture, but it’s worth understanding a couple of basics. Why, as a client, would you need to know this stuff? Well it’s so when I talk to you about where best to shoot an interview, you have an understanding of what I’m thinking about and why certain options might be ruled in or out.

Depending on the space and its ambient noise, there are some basic choices to start with. First will be location. Of course this might be dictated by what the visuals demand, but wise choice of microphone will help eliminate the issues a particular location might have.

There are a few different types of mic, and the below are the ones I use:

Close-up photo of a SE Electronics pencil condenser mic clipped to the end of a stand against a white background.

A pencil condenser mic will give the best result for indoor interviews

Lav mic. For outdoors, lav mics work pretty well. A lav (aka lavalier, or lapel microphone) clips to the lapel. They’re designed to pick up as much voice as possible, ignoring background noise, but they’re not perfect. I have a couple of lav mics for when I need two people on sound.

Boom mic. A boom mic is a long, slim microphone that sits on the end of a boom arm. Sometimes shielded in a blimp (one of those Zeppelin-looking things, sometimes covered in fur), a boom mic is designed to pick up sound from a very specific angle and is best for outdoors use when conditions permit. It’s a bit like how a telephoto lens is designed to narrow-in on a scene. I have one for when the need arises. In fact it was the first mic I used regularly because they can be picked up quite cheap.

Pencil Condenser mic. My personal favourites. These look like stubby boom mics (see photo). They can have a variety of ‘fields of view’ depending on their internal design. For reasons of sound physics (ie something I don’t understand well enough to explain), they work better indoors than boom mics. I have two of these as I prefer them to lav mics and they’re great for two-person interviews.

A Trunk Full of Sound

Now a proper sound engineer will have a suitcase full of microphones. Many of each variety, more than I’ve mentioned above, and duplicates of each in case of technical failure. They’ll have mics which will have cost £thousands because they need the best quality and longevity. Consequently, for the services of a sound engineer, expect to pay a hefty price. It’s not unjustified, but it’s more like Hollywood budget than SME marketing funds. By contrast, I have more than my average client needs, but nothing like the quantity or quality of a full-on sound engineer.

My aim with sound is to make sure my clients get better than they thought they needed because THAT is what will hold audience through their video. And if getting people to watch your video to the end isn’t your goal, what is?

Real World Example

As a real example of the challenges faced by the videographer tackling sound, the video below was recorded in a very echoey space with noisy engineering works going on next door. Setting the mic as close as possible to the sitter helped with the worst of it, but now I have better mics and more experience, I’d do an even better job today!

For more examples, see my Video page. Or just to have a chat about whether I can help with your next video project, drop me a line.

 

Grape Expectations

I am so sorry for that headline. Be assured, that’s the worst pun in this post!

One of the joys of my work is in meeting and photographing creative people who are passionate about their particular field of business.

When this work comes through recommendation, that makes it even more rewarding.

And so it was with Neil Tully MW (that’s Master of Wine to the uninitiated).

Neil, founder and creative director of Amphora Design in Bath, came to me through recommendation, even though he couldn’t remember who’d recommended me.

But that’s less important than the fact that Neil’s requirements were a perfect fit for what I do.

Neil needed fresh images for his professional social media and industry profile listings, but also for less predictable uses. He’s occasionally asked to supply pictures for editorials too, so I bore that in mind for our shot list.

Getting the right variety

A brief like this can seem woolly and vague, but I knew his photo session should cover the following:

  • Plain headshot against white/plain background
  • Headshots with some background interest
  • Feature-style images showing more of Neil in his surroundings

 

Vintage Chateau

The next question was where to do the session.

Amphora Design is the international wine industry’s specialist design and branding consultancy, but that doesn’t lend itself to an easy backdrop for pictures. One office of computers looks much like any other.

After a little more discussion, Neil and I decided that since his business location wouldn’t give us any specific advantages in terms of backgrounds, his home would be the better choice.

It turns out that Neil’s home in rural Somerset had the perfect combination of light, space and architectural interest to give us options for everything we needed.

A handsome, period building with room to set up a backdrop and lights, we also had a choice of feature backgrounds. Tall windows meant I could use natural light too, even though the day was quite grey.

A wonderful finish

We got the headshots done first because they’re the ‘safety shots’. If nothing else quite works, at least you’ve got the basic portraits in the bag. Headshots can often end up being rather routine, but on this occasion I had time to add a mix of closer and landscape oriented options which also worked well. They’ll give Neil more design scope too.

Then we moved on to the more editorial-style pictures. Using window light and an interesting, but uncluttered background created a more relaxed, less formal set of pictures. Perfect for PR and editorial use.

And before we knew it, we were done. A tidy set of images, taken over a couple of hours of conversation and laughs, it barely felt like work at all.

But that’s the joy of meeting and photographing creative people who are passionate about their particular field of business.

If you’re passionate about yours, but your images don’t show this, drop me a line and let’s get started.

Cheers!

Tim

 

 

Is Video The Answer?

Is video the answer? Well that depends on the question. This is the second in a short series of articles discussing the various pros, cons and considerations needed to get the most out of video. You can read the first in this series here.

The Fundamental Question

So I’m starting with the fundamental question you should ask yourself, “does my business need video?”

Certainly it’s hard to avoid these days; from YouTube to Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and frankly any platform you care to name, video has become a solid part of any social media activity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your business has to jump in to keep up.

If you want to jump to the spoiler, just scroll to the bullets at the end of this post. If you want more in-depth reasoning, read on.

The first factor to consider is whether your clients/prospective clients would learn anything from the addition of video to your communications. If you just want a ‘vanity video’ that’s fine, but be aware it might not appeal to those outside your organisation.

So flip your perspective and start from the client point of view. Ask whether you think they would sit through a 60-second clip that showcases your product or service. If your video doesn’t say something fresh and doesn’t get to the point quickly, you could be wasting your resources.

You might at this stage consider whether stills and text might not serve you better. Plus if you haven’t got those nailed down on your website, are you sure you’re ready to jump into video?

It’s all too easy to get bedazzled by stats that tell you there are a billion videos uploaded to the internet every 15 seconds, but that doesn’t mean anything. If what you upload doesn’t serve your cause, it isn’t doing its job.

What’s Your Story?

This isn’t to say you should avoid using video at all costs. In fact there are many businesses missing a trick by avoiding the fundamental question altogether.

The reason will often be that they don’t believe their product is worth a video, or that it wouldn’t work because it’s a ‘boring’ product or service. But most businesses have a core story to tell. It could be about their product/service, or it could be about their capability. At the absolute basic level, it might not be about what they sell so much as about the team that makes it all happen; their people.

The people that make up an organisation are often their greatest asset and as humans we like to connect with the experiences of others. So why not bring out the human side of your business? Showcase who you are, not necessarily what you do. Short colleague interviews could be one idea to consider.

Flip It Again

This option can be more complicated, but consider asking your clients what they think about working with you, and commit their views to video. Testimonials are a powerful tool, but with video testimonials remember to keep asking the question, ‘if I wasn’t me, would I watch this?’ They need to be concise. They also need to avoid being self-indulgent (ie too long!)

Time Is Money

Yes, the longer your video is, the more expensive it’ll be to produce. Longer videos require more footage and more editing, and editing costs really can spiral quickly. Think about your own attention span and ask how long you’re happy to sit and watch a product/service video. I bet it’s not much more than 60 seconds, 90 tops.

So you could spend £thousands on all the footage and editing, only to have no one watch the result beyond the first 30 seconds. I’ll wager there are plenty of people who pre-check the length of a video before they’ll even click on it. If they see it’s two, three or more minutes long, they might not click Play at all!

Takeaways (things to ask yourself)

  • Is your product or service suited to video explanation/promotion?
  • Who is your audience and what do you want them to take from it?
  • How short (not how long!) does your message need to be?
  • Would you be better off with a series of short clips?
  • How will you promote the video (and where will you host it) once it’s made?
  • Are there other areas of your website and marketing which need attention first?

That’s a Wrap!

I’ll keep returning to this subject because there are as many angles to cover as there are kinds of businesses in the world, so no single article can cover every scenario. However I hope this has got you thinking about the basics before launching into something that requires time and commitment (and not inconsiderable funds).

In the meantime, if you’re considering dipping your toes into video and would like some personal advice, feel free to drop me a line.

Thanks for reading!

Tim Gander is a freelance photographer and videographer based in Somerset. He covers all aspects of corporate communications, serving clients in the South West, centring on Bristol and Bath. You can see examples of Tim’s video work here.

Has Video Grown Up?

This is the first in a short series of articles discussing the various pros, cons and considerations for businesses and organisations to get the most out of video. I’m going to start with a bit of background.

In the Beginning

In the beginning there were words, and words were good. Actually, images pre-date words by some considerable margin, but since Egyptian hieroglyphs are pictures which represent language, maybe it’s a moot point. I digress.

The point is, still images remain the most portable and often most potent and powerful method of disseminating information. There’s no denying though that video has exploded in popularity over the past decade.

Where Are We Now?

I don’t want to state the obvious, but let’s just recap that the power and popularity of video has its foundations in the convergence of Web 2.0 with digital cameras, followed by the rise of social media and easier access to the creative tools to bring us to where we are.

What has changed in more recent years is the refining of of the equipment and the editing software, bringing the craft within reach of anyone who understands images (namely photographers).

How Did We Get Here?

In 2008 the first full-frame digital SLR capable of video capture launched. It was “a game changer” but only in the right (experienced) hands. I wasn’t ready to offer video at that stage.

The tipping point has come with the emergence of mirrorless cameras, where the combination of stills and video capability in a single camera might be said to have come of age. It still requires more than just flipping a switch from Stills to Video, but that’s the nature of the medium, not the technology.

Where Do We Go Now?

All of the above leads to a situation where high quality video is now more accessible to a wider range of businesses than ever before. That isn’t to pretend it’s cheap or easy, but where it would previously have been impractical and excessively expensive to commission video for an SME’s communications, it can now be achieved with a far more attainable investment.

I mention it’s not cheap, but if you consider I can deliver a sequence up to 60 seconds long for a little over £1,000.00, that’s pretty astonishing. Of course overall cost depends on various factors which I’ll cover in a future article, but a few years ago that kind of budget would have left you with something you wouldn’t want associated with your brand. To have a video shot professionally and with any level of polish would have set you back £10,000.00 + and then you’d have the expense of getting it out there, most likely through paid-for advertising channels (more £££££££!).

Where Do Photographers Fit In This New Paradigm?

There are still differences between the service someone like me offers, and that of a full production company. However, like many photographers, my service is in addition to, not instead of, the Hollywood treatment. It’s a service which is positioned to give SME’s a step up into the world of video. The finer differences between this and the full production house service are an aspect I’ll discuss in another article later in this series.

I’m concentrating on in-house interviews, client testimonials and B roll (think flavour-of-the-event, office/business overview and retail events). Clips for YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram reels etc are an increasingly large part of my practice, often alongside stills work (not always practical or possible, but always worth asking about).

You can see some of my video work here.

That’s A Wrap!

If you’re not sure whether video has matured enough for your needs, I hope this article puts things in context. In simple terms, video is here, it’s more available than ever and it can be incredibly powerful.

Whether it’s right for your business is a question I tackle next time. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!

Lens Love

It may surprise you to know this, but I have little time to get sentimental about camera equipment. I do enjoy working with my old film cameras, but my digital gear is just tools for the job.

The exception to this is one lens which I’ve been using a lot lately. It’s one of those little gems that just seems to quietly help you get the job done.

The Joy of 40mm

I’ve long favoured fixed 40mm lenses. I discovered the joys of a 40mm lens when I bought Canon’s dinky 40mm f/2.8 STM lens, which I use on my Canon film bodies. This prompted me to buy a Voigtländer 40mm f/2 lens for my 1973 Nikon F2. However for my new digital gear I only had zooms.

That is until I picked up the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary lens. Yes, 45mm is close enough to 40mm for me.

Reading forums, this lens divides opinions. Some write it off for being too “slow” (as in, the maximum aperture isn’t nearer f/1.4). It’s claimed not to be sharp, but my God is this lens ever sharp! It is light, quick to use, engaging and I just love the results it can deliver.

I’ve used it on quite a few jobs recently, and almost exclusively on the recent Covid vaccination jobs I’ve shot for NHS BANES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG. Its unobtrusive size, speed of use and quality were perfect for the fly-on-the-wall images I needed.

Practice Practice Practice

Between commissions I’ve been trying this lens out extensively. As I’m sure I’ve said many times before, using a commission to get familiar with kit is not a great idea. It’s best done in down time, not at a client’s expense.

So this morning I spent more time with the Sigma lens working on some tests shots with a new flash unit, another piece of kit recently acquired as I transform my equipment line-up to better serve my clients’ needs.

One of my favourite test subjects at home is our dining table, which we bought via Facebook from an artist. We were going to strip and re-varnish it, but decided we love the paint splashes and gouges so much we’ve left it as-is. It makes a great backdrop to still life images, which are perfect for controlled equipment tests.

This image might become part of my Home Front series, which I started during the first lockdown of 2020. At the very least it was a good exercise in testing this new lens/flash combination, but the more I worked on the picture, the more I liked what it said as a photo, above and beyond mere test subject.

A Busy Quiet Day

Some days look quiet on the diary, but in practice are anything but restful.

Take yesterday as an example; I had no commissioned work on, so I decided to make a trip to Salisbury Plain to work on my much-postponed project.

That required a 5am alarm call (I had forgotten what a punch in the face that feels like!) This was my first trip to the Plain in many weeks, and the plan was to retry a shot I’d done before, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with.

Unfortunately, after such an early start and a three-mile walk (no, it’s not a great hike, but with medium format camera, lenses and tripod it feels a bit longer), the weather decided to be too dull to make the picture I was after.

Ok, so the six-mile round walk wasn’t a killer, but the early start was giving me a bit of a kicking. Time to head home.

On the way back I swung by my local picture framer to pick up a couple of pieces of non-reflecting glass. This is part of my master plan to keep improving how I digitise my negatives, squeezing every last drop of quality I can from the process. I didn’t stay long, he was busy with framing work for London galleries.

Back home, I tried a bit of admin, but by now my brain was aching for a little sleep, so I took a power nap (ok, 90 mins) to recover before lunch.

Then it was back on the admin, handling client enquiries, a bit of social media work and planning next week.

I did manage a bit of R&R in the evening, but then the lure of photography drew me back again. I’d recently updated some flash equipment, so had a bit of an experimental session with that. Focusing on areas around the home, I looked at how I could use the new gear to create different effects. Call it play, call it fooling around if you will, but a photographer who only works with their new gear once they’re commissioned to use it is a fool.

By the time I’d quit trying things out, it was 10:30pm and I was finally ready to stop, but not until I’d transferred my test flash images to my computer and had a look through the results. So ok, it was nearer 11pm when I finally shut the laptop.

I sometimes beat myself up that I’m not dedicated enough to what I do, but then when I sit back and look at it properly, I don’t think I’m any kind of slouch; I just need to remind myself that even a day which doesn’t produce solid results isn’t a day wasted, it’s a day invested in something yet to happen.

Film to Film

One week I’m banging on about the joys of shooting old-school (skool) film, this week I’m talking about this frightfully modern video fandango.

In November 2020 I blogged about my video progress and things have, well, progressed! I now have a couple of small projects under my belt, one delivered and one still ongoing, and more in the pipeline. It’s been a massive learning curve, but I’m enjoying the challenge and the new creative direction.

The Backstory

For many years I held off getting into video because I had no personal need for it and enquiries from clients asking if I did it numbered single digits per year.

Then towards the end of 2019 enquiries seemed to grow. Mostly from clients who were already working with me for their stills as they wanted to add video to their marketing toolkit.

Lockdown

And then 2020 happened, and we all know what that meant. So during the first lockdown I investigated, cogitated and decided to learn the basics and see where it took me.

Of course as a stills photographer I already had many of the basics, but video is obviously a lot more than just pictures which move, and I’m not just talking about the addition of sound here either.

A New Energy

I’m glad I got the ball rolling because as we’ve emerged from the latest lockdown, client work has really sprung back to life and it’s including a lot of video.

While I’m keeping it fairly simple at this stage (sit-down interviews, testimonials and informational clips), as my abilities and capabilities grow I’ll be able to cover a wider variety of briefs.

In the meantime I’m cramming to learn editing as I know that will make me a better camera operator, just as learning to picture edit made me a better photographer when I was starting out in stills.

As ever, keep watching this space for further updates on this new direction and if you’re a business looking to step up from iPad videos to something more polished, drop me a line and let’s talk.

Staying Sharp

If you think staying sharp is kind of essential for a photographer, you’re right. And not just in the sense of getting pictures in focus, though that’s important too.

Staying sharp is what all professionals must do, regardless of their field. However with a year-long (on and off) lockdown drawing to a close, I’d come to realise I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be.

First glimmers of work

Back in March I was aware that client enquiries were just starting to pick up again. Hooray! Except that against all my best efforts, I’d really not been shooting as much as I needed in order to keep my skills honed. So I got in touch with my son-in-law (honorary title, but it’s how I consider him) to ask if I could come over and make some pictures of him at work. He’s a car mechanic – a very good car mechanic – and I needed a subject that would give me a challenge – poor/changeable lighting, moving subject, having to be aware of my surroundings.

Film, of course!

Jake very kindly agreed, so I ended up shooting a couple of sessions on different days at his lockup just outside Frome. Oh and just to give myself an additional challenge, I shot a mixture of 35mm and medium format film. Ok, so I did that for the fun factor too, but also I knew it would really suit the aesthetics of Jake’s work place, with all the grime and textures inevitable in a working mechanic’s workshop.

The images here are a small selection of those I ended up posting to Instagram (@takeagander) so you can check out more of them there.

By the way, picking up on the motoring metaphor, work in the last few weeks has gone from 0 – 60 in record time. I’m glad I took the opportunity to re-sharpen my skills, but I miss the relative tranquility of pleasing myself with nothing more than a couple of cameras and a bag load of film.