Tag Archives: photographs

Kingston Chamber of Commerce New Board Members – Portrait Photography

Portrait photographs of the new members of the board, Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Elected at the annual general meeting, it’s an awesome weight of responsibility, but they held up well, at least for their first day!

How About Us? Staff Pictures on the Company Website

Getting a job is a little like being adopted. You enter someone else’s family with it’s different ways of doing things, different look and sounds, different smells. As time passes the strangeness fades until one day, almost without noticing you become one the gang, an insider, part of this no-longer-new family.

That’s why it’s so interesting to go into a company to shoot profile portraits of the staff. You’re never anything other than an outsider, but an outsider with a mandate to stare at each person and disrupt the routine. As a pebble tossed into an otherwise still pond, it’s fascinating to watch the ripples pass through the private world of the office.

While many quite enjoy the break in routine and an excuse to get away their desk, others just hate having their picture taken. I move each person on quickly after capturing a quick impression of them. It’s not really a portrait, but something to show to clients and customers to enable the process of engagement to begin, even before they’ve spoken to or met anyone. It reassures them them see that none one in the company has two heads.

My commission to photograph the staff at Receipt Bank on Fleet Street was a tribute to the power of networking. The call from Nelson came some four years after we’d attended the same group for about six months. I’m pleased to report that the staff of Receipt Bank have only one head each.

Corporate and profile portraits

How to take a good portrait photograph

(This is based on a talk I’ve delivered to number of groups in southwest London. I took the pictures while doing the talk.)

On holiday or at a special event like a birthday party or wedding most of us are willing to have our photo taken – it seems appropriate because it’s special. Pull out a camera on an ordinary day and you’ll often be met with a wave of complaints, ‘I haven’t washed my hair’ ‘I’m too tired to smile’ ‘I’ve got a spot’! Mostly it never even occurs to me to take pictures of ordinary scenes on an ordinary day, but I’m determined to more.  I think it’s the portrait photographs taken, or just ‘snapped’ at home on that wet Sunday afternoon in October that in years to come may become some of the most treasured.

how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

Using the camera’s flash has made this image quite flat.

A good time for an arm-lock

It might take bribery or perhaps a threat, but you just have to take control. Make them do it and make them move, they’ll forgive you. Work out where you want to take the picture and if necessary move the furniture and open the curtains. Natural light makes the best portraits; a north-facing window can give a lovely, soft but directional light. With the subject placed side-on to the window the shape and form of their face will be nicely modelled without casting any harsh shadows. Consider getting someone to hold up a piece of white card to act as a reflector if the shadows are too strong.

 

So don’t get too flashy

advice on how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

bouncing the flash off the ceiling has softened the light but produced a big shadow under the nose

Keep it simple is good advice; don’t use a flash unless you want that hard flat light for aesthetic reasons. Many cameras have a ‘scene’ mode and ‘portrait is always one of them. This will tell the camera to automatically select settings that are more likely to produce a good picture. A narrow depth of field helps reduce distractions from the background. You need a large aperture or low ‘f ‘ number. Move back from the subject and zoom in. Using a wide-angle lens can give them a big nose. If they actually have a big nose no amount of zooming will remove it, unfortunately.

want to know how to take good portrait? Advice from the photographer in Teddington, Richmond, London

soft light from the window gives a much nicer, more characterful picture

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.

Stock images can be a good way to brighten up a website, but they have to tell the right story.

“I’ll just get something from Google Images.”

stock photograph of boy flying kite

some stock photographs are better than others

I’d just taken some portraits of a client for her new website. She’s starting a health and lifestyle business. She told me she needed other images too, but had seen some shots on Google Images she quite liked. I was curious about how she’d clear the copyright and surprised at her answer, “I don’t have to if they’re on Google Images. Do I?” I explained that the images belonged to someone who would probably expect some kind of payment, but I’m not sure she was convinced. With so much free stuff online, you can come to expect everything to be free. I use Google mail, calendar, contacts and of course, search. It’s staggering just how much Google gives for free, and perhaps understandable to think that Google images are free too. Well Google image search is free, but the images it finds aren’t. Actually Google isn’t really free, they collect a vast amount of data about my likes, dislikes, interests, whereabouts and goodness knows what else, but I think that’s a fair exchange.

YLP_radiator

getting good working portraits can be a challenge

So how do you know whether or not you can safely use an image that pops up in a search result? Well that’s easy, if you don’t have the specific permission of the copyright holder to use it, you can’t use it. So, you might be thinking ‘isn’t the internet an unpoliced jungle? If I do use it, who’ll know?’ Well the photographer might be on the other side of the world, but it’s easy for them to search online for unlicensed use of their photographs.

Just as a word or a sentence is a string of letters, a digital image is just a long string of 0s and 1s – the digits! This sequence is as near to being unique as the image you see. So it’s easy for a computer to compare your image’s string of 0s and 1s to the strings of every other image on the internet. Google Images has a facility to look for a specific picture by examining its digital footprint, Tineye Reverse Image Search is another free image search ap. So if the copyright owner chooses to look, eventually they will find. Under English law the copyright of an image resides with the photographer unless they sign it over to someone else. This means that if you use an image on a commercial website you owe someone some cash. A thank you would be nice too.

St Marks Square tables and chairs

easy to find stock images from Venice

The good news is that are of lots of free images available online, some website hosts offer a library of free ‘stock’ images. Web designers often hold large collections too. Whether they’ll have one that suits your exact needs is another very good question. For a small amount you can buy royalty-free images from so-called microstock sites. That means you can pay pennies for an image and owe nothing else. It’s the ‘pile high, sell cheap’ side of the stock photography industry. The fact that the pile is so high means that it is more difficult to find the right image for your purposes. If you’ve got bored with looking for that needle in a haystack, (there’s a stock photograph idea) you might decide to up your budget and go to one of the big picture agencies like Corbis or Getty. They have picture researchers to do work to donkeywork for you. (oo, another stock photography idea) There are many specialist image libraries too.

Here are two radical solutions; 1) take it yourself, 2) commission a photographer. You don’t need an expensive camera for option 1, but you do need a little patience. That’s a whole other blog. For option 2 you need just need to do searching, look at some online portfolios and then be precise about your requirements and the limits of your budget. It’s up to the photographer to decide if the jobs worth their while taking on.

Marché_Richard-Lenoir_DSC6390 Obviously I think it’s essential to get good photography for a business website. By good I mean the right images that say the right thing about the business, the service and the ethos. Everything you put in front of a potential client should support the values and the message you are trying to convey. If it doesn’t support it, its doing damage. In a picture rich environment like ours we learn to ‘read’ imagery very quickly – an obvious, ‘make-do’ stock shot says ‘can’t be bothered’ or ‘don’t care what you think’.

Remember, every picture tells a story, but make sure it’s the right story!

 

Free images resources

http://images.google.com/

http://www.sxc.hu/

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/

Trevor Aston works in Southwest London and Surrey photographing portraits, PR, events, food and products, editorial, architectural and interiors