I'm a photographer based just outside of Bedford. I am happy to undertake a variety of projects and will work closely with you and your design team to meet your brief. I will always go out of my way to make sure we create the images that will promote your business or project to its full potential.
I am happy to travel outside of Bedfordshire and regularly work in neighboring counties and London.
The village of Wixams (which is just outside of Bedford) was craft bombed over the Valentine's weekend by the local WI group the Wixams Vixens (cool name!!). I had a little warning this was going to happen and despite the freezing cold and drizzle they braved the conditions and dotted handmade hearts and bunting all around the village centre and lake, it was met with lots of lovely comments online and brightened up a grey weekend. I went along and grabbed a few photos:
As with any photography there are lots of rules and lots of rules to be broken. Here are a few ideas when it comes to landscape photography that will point you in the right direction to start taking better photographs.
Light!!! Light is always the key to a great shot and generally the best times to take landscape photos are after dawn and the time before dusk, 'magic hour' or 'golden hours' where the sun is lower, creating pretty skies and giving you a far more delicate range of colours to play with, shadows are also more interesting and softer. There are lots of composition tips: Try and make sure you have foreground interest, avoid having your horizon splitting your image in half, if you can have lines (lead in lines) to draw you into the picture, paths and fences for instance. A lot of the time you just need to look at your scene and you will know what feels right, if it makes you happy the chances are someone else will like it.
The next thing to consider is the kit to take with you, here are just a few things to maybe add to your bag. I'll add some links at the bottom of the post to help with your shopping. A tripod, the size, weight and functions of these vary wildly. You need one strong enough and heavy enough to support your camera and lens yet light enough to carry long distances if you need to. Just consider what you want to use it mostly for and like anything buy the best you can afford. Ones with ball heads work really well and give you all the movement you need for landscapes. The reason you need a tripod is you will most likely be using a small aperture to get as much of your image sharp as you can, small apertures let less light in, you need to have your shutter open for longer, with a tripod you avoid the camera shaking. You can also use a remote shutter release, these come in different forms and you can use wired or wireless, you can even use your mobile phone to trigger your camera with the right app and receiver. You can set these to take multiple shots over long periods for time-lapse photography. Their primary use though is to stop you touching the camera when you need to press the shutter button, this stops camera shake. There is a way around this, if you set your camera to a two second timer, press the shutter, then by the time the camera has stopped moving the shot then gets taken. Saying that using a remote does have it's advantages. Make sure you get the right one for your camera.
Circular polarizing filter, this will help reduce reflections on glass and water and will also give a boost to your colours, especially on blue skies. Make sure you get the correct thread size for your lens. The last thing to think about and possibly add are some neutral density filters (ND filters). These come in different strengths and allow you to expose your image for longer to give your camera time to record all the information it needs without overexposing your skies. These can transform your photography if used well and like any bit of kit you can spend a lot of money on these. Make sure you get the correct thread size for your lens although some sets come with lots of adapters.
Light is the key to any good photo..... There are other things to consider as well, subject, location, mood but non of these matter if there is bad light. A good photographer knows this, it's in their bones, every shot they take they think about it. A snapper rarely considers this, they will shoot hundreds of photos hoping to get one that looks good. The room at Bassmead Manor Barns where the bride gets ready has big windows downstairs with nets to keep the groom from peeking in. The light pours in those windows and if managed well can create some beautiful images.
Oh, how it rained!!!!!!! Winter weddings can be a risky business, a real gamble, sometimes the gamble pays off and you have bright blue skies or awesome sunsets, or both. This can make wedding photography a joy, or can test your skills to the limit. Sometimes you just get rain, all day. Couples getting married at this any time during late Autumn to early Spring should expect some bad weather, then if they get a good day it is a bonus. The thing is to be prepared, make sure the couple fully understand the risk and the impact it might have on the photos, check out the venue and look for other options, cool places to take photos. The main thing though during the day is to keep upbeat, have fun and make sure the couple and guests are happy. Get creative with what you shoot. Oh, and don't forget your waterproof jacket, and a spare umbrella or two, the bride loves it if you have an umbrella for her.
Why you should not work for free, while I'm at it why you should not work for next to nothing. How much did your camera cost? £50, unlikely. £500 maybe. £1000, More? Quite possibly. A quick tip, you need more than one of those. Add lenses, bags, flash, reflectors, triggers, memory, batteries and the list does go on and on and on.
How did you get to your client? If you walked great. Anything else just cost you money. Did you visit your client prior to the shoot, did you buy them a coffee, a piece of cake, lunch? Did you advertise to get that client? Are you insured? Do you have an accountant and admin costs? Do you process film or work on computers?, either way it is going to cost A LOT. Website design and running costs, domain names. Storage costs for all those thousands of images you are going to need to back up. Have you had training? How much time and money did that take? Hang on a minute, we haven't even taken any photos yet!! A whole day at a wedding equals travel, a lot of photos and a lot of hard work, you could just hand over the files and say 'look I took a 1000 photos of your wedding' and they may think 'great, seems pretty good value'. Or you could spend another two days fine tuning those 1000 photos down to maybe 300 creating a beautiful visual story, lovingly edited making everyone and every image look as amazing as possible.
I wonder what your client may think then, who they might recommend you to, how much keener they may be to put those images into a stunning album. The same goes for any shoot, it takes time getting it right and time as I think someone once said is money. There will always be people willing to do things for free, the difference is you offer more, you offer an amazing service, you offer security, you offer amazing products and you are amazing at what you do. Yes there might be room for a little negotiation and it's always good to give your clients a little extra, but that's what it should be, a free add on product, an extra print, an extra hour of your time. Not the career that you have invested thousands of pounds and countless hours of your time given away for nothing.
One last thing. You may want to factor in feeding yourself, your family, buying a house, clothes, paying some bills, going on holiday and doing fun stuff. I'm pretty sure you are not going to be able to get those things for free. Let the people shooting for free shoot for free, they will get some business but was it the business you really wanted and will they be around in 12 months still doing that? Don't bitch about them, use your energy cultivating an experience for your clients that will be the foundation of your business, it will be time very well invested.
Critics are a funny lot, we see them all the time in these days of TV talent shows, restaurant and movie reviews. You can't even buy a new set of tea towels without checking what thirty total strangers think. When you take a photograph it is in your hands, you do everything you can to make it right, you get the most appropriate kit, learn all you can, organize things to the tiniest detail and then push that shutter button, with a remote control sometimes just to avoid camera shake.
You can edit, a bit or a lot but you still can't make a bad photo into a good photo. I spend so much time before I start editing a set of photos, I have never had a client unhappy with what I have given them, in fact they are usually delighted. I have confidence in my abilities but I just can't start sometimes in case there is something I don't like, I will convince myself that they will all be bad and I will have to tell a wonderful family or happy newly weds that the photos are rubbish. It is the oddest feeling, I am nervous bordering on scared, I am at my most vulnerable.
The thing that I have created is just about to be presented to my customers, to their friends and family and maybe to some new clients in the future. What if my vision is wrong, what if they were expecting something else, something different, something better? The simple answer could be that I care about what I do, I want to my please my customers, want them to be happy.
Does everyone go through this or is this need to please worse for others, can this turmoil I go through be traced back to some past event or is it purely taking a pride in what you do? Do you ask yourselves the same questions before you submit a piece of work, a new painting, even a blog post? Is this something that I will get better at or will I always struggle with this side of the business?, the fact that I see these photos as mine, even though the content is not personal each image cannot be released until it is perfect. It can be exhausting, but it can also be extremely rewarding, I just wish it didn't come so hard.
Today is about help. Help for me to get this subject written down in a simple way and hopefully help for you. Option one: Research and memorise the following concepts: Composition, negative space, rule of thirds, lead in lines, shape and proportion, degree of light and dark, rhythm, geometry, repetition, creation of movement and the rules of odds. All of these you MUST consider before taking any photo otherwise your work will be rubbish, it is that simple. Option two: You could do what feels good, what pleases your eye and what looks right. I would go with option two, here are a few 'simple' tips to help with that. The great thing about this is it doesn't mean you have to buy new kit and it may just make a huge difference to your work.
This is a big subject and there are lots of things to consider (see option One) but I'm going to break this down to two points for now: Rules of space Leave a little room for your subject to move or look into, balance the picture by having some space around your main subject but not so much emptiness that the focus of the image looks awkward and lost. Lines and points of focus Features in your picture to draw your eye into the image and lines to lead your view to different points around the space. That's it, as always these can be ignored but are useful things to consider, if nothing else they just start to make you think a bit more before clicking the shutter button.
You have all been asking about me, 'tell us more about yourself'. You have been saying, 'We want to know everything, what makes you tick, what are your funny habits, what do you love and hate'. So I have finally relented to the pressure and decided to post 10, count them 10 things about me.
One: I like slides, slides in parks and slides in water parks. I don't like the way the flumes scratch your back but other than that I love slides.
Two: I am quite tall, not freakishly tall but tall enough that sometimes small children cry and tall enough that I get asked to pass things from the high shelves in supermarkets.
Three: I really like nougat, not the really hard nougat that hurts your jaw when you try and bite it but the soft nougat that you can eat pretty quickly.
Four: I have been to two Royal Garden Parties, once as a guest and once as staff, both were great but the staff gig was fun as I got to eat in the staff kitchen. I got paid £1.
Five: I want to play all but can't play any instruments, although I can play a side drum and some percussion but anything where you have to read music blows my mind.
Six: I don't get excited by technology, Apple does not thrill me and the obsession with constantly upgrading for slightly improved kit confuses me. I have a Windows phone just to back this up.
Seven: I do not like scorpions. Having seen a programme when I was pretty young where one went into a ladies slipper and she put it on has left me a little scarred. Odd really as scorpions in the wild in the UK are scarce.
Eight: I have a pretty difficult relationship with food. Always have, tough nut to crack that one. Pun intended. If it was ok just to live on ice cream I would be happy with that.
Nine: I am obsessed with Lego, spent soooo much of my young life building and now spend sooooo much of my adult life building, collecting and playing Lego with my boys. Lucky me.
Ten: I could live without television but love movies. There is something about the time it takes to watch a movie, the way it takes you away from everything. I love lots of genres, I like rom coms and I like war movies and everything in between (nearly).
Eleven; I am completely hopeless at mental arithmetic, terrible beyond words. So there you go, I hope that has answered some of those burning questions and helped you get to know me that bit better.
There are so many photographs, ones you see everyday and don't even think about, the ones that tell you a story or the ones that fill your heart with joy. There are loads more and it would be impossible to talk about them all (although I have a lot of blog posts to do so you never know) I want to talk about my favourite, the ones that didn't take days to organise, didn't need an art director a makeup artist and a complicated brief.
My favourites are the ones that happen, without too much planning, without lots of direction but are those moments that in 10 years, 20 years and longer they will be seen and make people smile. Family photos are at the very heart of what I do, I get a lot of joy with other clients but there is a very special thing that happens when families are together, when they relax, giggle, tease each other and hug, when they smile at the same thing, know their next moves, play the same games and laugh together.
When I capture that I am really happy, just being part of that is amazing but when you get to hold that in a photograph forever for someone that truly is a blessing. I like to go places that are special to families, places they have been before, spent fun times, where they know the best places to go, to sit, to climb and to relax. It could be their favourite park, the forest, the beach, you get the idea.
The hard work is already done then, they want to be there, they can just be themselves, they don't have to find a grin and hold a funny pose because they can just be. I have spent some of the best times doing this, getting a glimpse into these families lives, it is amazing how quickly they talk to you differently, they let you join in, for a short time you get to stop being an observer and become part of the family, enjoy the jokes, smile at the same time and quickly get a sense of what makes them tick.
You know you have captured something magical, something they will love, hang on their wall, share with Grandparents, stick on their fridge and have printed onto a mug. Childrens children will see that moment, that family and see where they came from and why they are so special. That is why I LOVE photography, the simple stuff.
Todays post is a tutorial, a guide, some tips, some advice a friendly little titbit of information to do with what you will. It is loosely linked to my post about family photography but is slightly more specific. KIDS!!! More accurately photographing them, these little gems will help, are by no means exhaustive and should all be ignored at some point. Here goes: Talk to them first, play with them for a bit. They don't generally react well to a person they have no bond with, the person they can't see because they have a huge camera covering their face so break down the barriers first. I even let them hold the camera, explain to them (briefly) how it works, let them take a photo. It all helps in relaxing them. Keep talking to them and keep eye contact as much as you can, you will lose the connection if you are forever behind the camera. Change your perspective, I am six feet tall and that rarely make for a great angle to take a kids portrait from. Higher than that can work better, stand on a sturdy chair or bench and get them to look up. Then get down to their level, they will be happier with you down there with them and it makes for a far more natural image.
It's all about the eyes! Focus on the eyes, this is pretty much the key to all portraits (gateway to the soul etc) but it is so important with children. If you know how to change the focus point in your camera then do that, if you don't shoot a little wider and focus the middle of the camera on your subjects eye, you can crop the photo to a pleasing composition later. Think about your location, they need to be happy and the background needs to look nice, even if you are super clever (more about this another day) and you can make the background fuzzy it still needs to not be the focus of the picture, It's all about the little ones. Clothes and props. Some toys and props can help to distract but can also mean that is all the child looks at so only use if the child is upset or really unruly. Clothes are important, parents will want their babies to look smart or cute but advise that it is all about them feeling comfortable and happy. What the child wears should be a reflection of their character so if he doesn't normally wear a suit don't make him wear one today. Parents will love the photos more in the future for it.
Kids will soon lose patience if they are made to pose for a long time, they will also lose patience if you are overly specific of where they put their hands, feet, legs and they will get really sick of holding a fake smile. Keep it relaxed, keep it natural and keep it fun. The perfect look is elusive, shoot more photos than you need, you will only have a short window to get the shot so don't miss it by waiting for it. There is lots of technical stuff you can do which I'll cover another day, just start by thinking about the above points. The rest can follow, it's more important to get those photos now, take lots of photos, you'll be sad when your subjects get too big.
I take photos, that is my job, my passion bla bla bla. I don't really want this blog to be about that, It would get really dull. I am a husband, daddy, son, brother and friend, I am pretty healthy, reasonably happy and quite content. Just a chap making a living and enjoying his life. I get to do some great things, meet some lovely people and have some mini adventures. I don't really want this blog to be about that either. I will just say the one photo that made me look differently about photography is the one below. Meg Ryan by Mario Testino. Girl next door, cute actress in some pretty mainstream movies suddenly made to look completely different, it made me think. Mario-Testino-Meg-Ryan I want this blog to be about whatever I want to write about, I find I have a head full of stuff that never gets heard, I'm hoping that once it's out there some people may just find it interesting. I hope that some things I find interesting and share some of you may find it interesting as well. I have just used the word interesting several times, I had better make this interesting. I want to engage with you, point you in the direction of amazing articles, incredible artists and share views about the world, the beautiful world and the world that is frustrating and sad. I don't know who is going to find these words in a planet full of noise. I guess it goes back to making this interesting. I do love talking about photography and will incorporate that as much as I can, I teach photography and am very proud of that, I have seen the how people look at the work they produce after it has been critiqued by me. It is amazing to make a difference, share knowledge, share ideas and share the passion. It really does make a difference when you do that and I have come across photographers who do and many who don't share what they know. You can guess which ones have a fuller order book. I never want to preach and if I come across that way then please comment. All I want to do is create a place where I can get my ideas out, share others ideas I like and maybe have a debate, maybe even make a difference. You never know where these things may end.
Wedding, Portrait and Event Photography. Bedford, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire. Call on 07718 907070 or use the "Contact Me" link above.