Category Archives: business

Kingston Guildhall Event with the Chamber of Commerce and Mayor

event photography Kingston

This Kingston Guildhall event was for anyone like me, in business on their own. It’s important to get out and network with other people in business, to share experience and expertise and sometimes pass on business referrals. I attend Kingston Chamber of commerce, it’s not as middle-aged, male and pale as many networking groups, and it’s growing in size.

These pictures are from the Chamber breakfast in Kingston Guildhall with the Mayor. A group involved in the Young Enterprise Scheme came to pitch their product, a series of children’s book which they’d written and illustrated. They were very impressive.

 

Bentall Breakfast – Photography at the Business Networking Event

Election Hustings in Kingston

 

Care Home Editorial photography

care home editorial photographyDoing editorial photography in a care home that isn’t yet open could be a challenge. After all, it’s the residents that need to be photographed. Of course there would be real protection issues to tackle if we were photographing real residents.

Care home Caddington Grove in Dunstable was virtually ready to go and fully staffed. While the last touches were being added to the accommodation, training was being completed the marketing materials were being prepared.  Graphic designer Les Copland was looking for editorial photography to illustrate brochures and for the home’s website. The owners agreed a budget for a couple of models to populate the spaces for the photo shoot, and we asked the staff to invite their older family members to volunteer as well. Not too big an ask really – sit around and chat, drink tea, eat biscuits and enjoy a set lunch. On the day we had eight people. Everyone was really nice and very willing, and I was careful not to push it too far!

Bramble Partners Networking at Gray’s Inn – Event Photography

Photography at an event in Gray’s Inn, or any of London’s prestigious venues is a small perk of the job. Bramble Hub connects public sector organisations with best of breed private sector suppliers through government procurement frameworks. They run regular partner events, some simply social, others opportunities to learn from peers, but they’re usually somewhere really nice. The latest one was in the hall at Gray’s Inn. The building was badly damaged in 1941, a brief history can be read here.

Exhibition and Event Photography

Conference Video

ICT Business Networking Event

What Colour Should I Wear for a Photo Shoot?

It’s not just the colour – there are as many ‘right’ ways to dress for a profile portrait photograph as there are people to be photographed. When I take a booking for a profile portrait shoot, I’m sometimes asked, ‘what shall I wear?’ I tend to hedge around the question with my answer, because I don’t really know. I’m not a ‘snappy dresser’.

Own Your Style

So I sat down with Jacqui O’Connell of Soul Dresser. Jacqui helps people find their personal style, and she was going to help me formulate a more thoughtful answer. “Firstly, people should own their style. They should dress so they feel comfortable for the shoot, or they won’t come over as best they can.” That immediately sounds like the nub of the matter – you’ve got to be comfortable before you can be relaxed, and you’ve got to be relaxed before your can feel confident. Jacqui continues; “People often fall out of love with getting dressed, but choosing what to wear should be fun and exciting, you should be able to look forward to people’s reactions.” You should look forward to people seeing your new profile photograph too. What ever your reason for wanting a new picture, you should also know what reaction you want to provoke from anyone seeing the picture.

Are You Gold or Silver?

So I asked Jacqui for the single most important thing to think about when dressing for a photographic shoot. “Start off by getting your colour right, we all have a seasonal colour that’s right for us. Firstly, are you warm or cool? Does silver or gold work best for you? Gold is warm, silver is cool. Autumn and spring are the warm seasons – deeper colours will work best. Winter and summer are cool – bold colours can work well.” Jacqui could see I was already lost, she suggested finding an online resource to help decide. “Most people know, but don’t put a label on it. It’s often the colours that you’re most drawn to. The thing is, wearing the wrong colours, especially near the face will be a distraction because they don’t really work.” Jacqui thought I was probably autumn because I wear deeper, warmer tones.

Colour and Comfort

‘What should I wear for the photo shoot? Now when people ask this I can offer a really practical piece of advice – know your season. Choosing the right colour can actually make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. The context of where the picture will used is vitally important too, as is the occupation of the sitter and what their client would expect to see, but we need to use all the tools we have to connect – getting your colour right can be one of them. As Jacqui says; “There’s a style for everyone, find it, own it and you’ll really shine.”

Jacqui O’Connell, Soul Dresser http://souldresser.co.uk/ 

 

Who’d do Their Business in a Stuffy Chamber?

Kingston Chamber of Commerce had a business networking meeting at The Canbury Arms in Kingston. A group of Young Enterprise competitors from a local school came along to pitch their product. They were fantastic – clear, articulate, lucid and with an enviable confidence that many of us grown-ups would envy.

Like many middle-aged men, I wear a suit to these events, but I’m in a minority, Kingston of Commerce is relaxed and friendly. Not that you can’t be relaxed and friendly in a business suit, but the membership is not dominated by grey middle-aged men, like me. Given that is was International Women’s Day, it was great to attend a meeting roughly balanced between genders. 

Using a Mobile Phone to Capture a Testimonial Video

testimonial video TeddingtonYou’ve got happy customers, right? They’d recommend you to friends, right? You’re leveraging this free advertising to build your business? No? Well, surely you’re at least thinking about testimonial video?

It’s worth putting in the effort to get them the testimonials, and to get then right – testimonials can really help your social media profile, and you can put them on your website.  But you’ve got to get the nitty-gritty right, or you might be wasting your time. 

testimonial video TeddingtonCollecting testimonial video is easier said than done, and employing a pro film maker will get much better results than you can do yourself. But, it’ll be much harder to pull off once you and your client have gone your separate ways. They’ll soon begin to forget just how pleased they were with your work, so why not grab a few words on video while they’re hot with enthusiasm? You have a pretty decent video camera with you all the time on your phone, so just do a few things to get yourself prepared, make up your mind to NOT be embarrassed, capture some words of adulation, then pump it up to social media.

9 Things That Will Help Make Your Testimonial Better

Here are four things to think about before you try it, and then another five things to keep in mind when you’re shooting your testimonial video.

Assuming you’re not a Hollywood film director, it’s ok if the vid is a bit rough and ready. But, it can’t be completely rubbish – that’ll reflect badly on you and your business, so put a bit of time aside and do these things…

  1. Make a resolution – to go through the video settings on your phone, make sure you understand how it works
  2. Don’t forget your memory – clear out of your phone’s memory so there’s space to record your video
  3. Rock Steady – how will you keep the phone stable while you shoot?
  4. Can you hear me mother? – how are you going to capture the sound?

Once someone agrees to record a testimonial move quickly before they change their mind. You’ve got to take control, move them to where you want them and even shift the furniture around to make a better shot.  

  1. Landscape, landscape, landscape – let me say it again, landscape! Use the phone on it’s side
  2. Let there be light – find the best light for shooting
  3. You’ve been framed – compose your shot, if it looks nice people will watch for longer
  4. Keep it Focused – check the camera’s focused in the right place
  5. Listen – encourage them by nodding and smiling. Ask open questions to illicit the comments you want, and make a mental note when they say something usable.

This post is part of a short talk on capturing testimonial video using a mobile that I gave to a business networking group, and this is the video we shot at the time using my mobile phone as a demonstration.

Resolution and Settings
Look at the user manual or some YouTube videos and go through the menus on the phone. Make sure you know how to work the video, and set it too record at 720p. It’s good enough for online and takes up less memory space than 1920p or even 4k!

Memory
How much does your phone have? You really don’t want to run out just as you subject’s getting into full flow, so copy everything you want onto your computer or up into the cloud and then delete it from your phone. If your camera can take extra memory, buy some! 1GB will hold 15-20 minutes of video.

Support
Unless you’re shooting a sequel to the Blair Witch Project, you need to keep the camera still. Wobbly video is horrible to watch. A tripod is ideal and there are some nifty mounts you can buy to hold the phone. However, a standard lamp and some elastic bands can work just as well. It’s best to have the phone at the same level as the speaker’s eyes, or slightly higher. You might be able to balance it on some books on a desk, but it can look a bit amateurish, and if it falls down.

Sound
Most of the information  in a testimonial video is in the sound, not the pictures. It’s really important that this is not left to chance, and probably means buying and external microphone. The built-in mics are really just souped-up telephone mics so there’s a limit to how good it can ever be. To get the best sound, the microphone must at its optimal distance, which depends on the type you’re using. The aim is to deliver as much of the desired sound as the microphone needs to operate effectively, and as little background noise as possible. The nearer to the subject the phone is the better the sound will be, but getting too close starts to distort the image seen by the camera. Practice makes perfect, so annoy your family by videoing them lots, then look and listen on a computer so you can judge the quality and learn from it.

Types of Microphone

Mobile phone built-in microphone
Working distance – No more than 1.5 metres
Pros – No cost! Convenient, Will work
Cons – Picks all sounds equally, including handling noise, not high quality
Expect to pay – nothing

Levalier or clip-on
Working distance – Clip to clothing, but mind where the wire goes
Pros – Good quality sound, excludes other noises
Cons – Only suitable for a single person speaking. In shot.
Expect to pay – £14 upwards

Directional or gun
Working distance – 2-4 metres
Pros – Good quality sound, versatile. Can be out of shot.
Cons – Still picks up other sounds.
Expect to pay – £50 upwards

testimonial video TeddingtonPicture Format
Always shoot in Landscape format, not portrait. That means using the camera on its side, otherwise there’ll be wide black lines either side of the video when it’s viewed on a computer, tablet or TV. Some aps like Facebook Live can accommodate portrait format, but only when live.

Composition/zoom
Don’t be tempted to use the zoom, instead move the phone closer to the subject or further away. Most phones only have a digital zoom, which can lower the picture quality.
Rely on your own eye to frame the subject and compose the picture, does it look right? Then it is right. The ‘rule of thirds’ can be useful, rather than having the subject slap bang in the centre, frame the shot with the subject one-third in from either side and balance with something like a pot plant or shadow on a wall.

It’s behind you!
What is? The thing that’s going to distract the viewer from your subject. Look around the image on screen, once someone has agreed to be videoed they’ll put up with being told what to do, so move them to a better position or move the ornaments.

Focus
Take care that the camera hasn’t latched the focus onto a background object. Mobile phone cameras are really made for selfies, so they’re good at spotting a face and focusing on it. But, it’s still worth double-checking by touching the screen on the subjects face, the camera will also adjust exposure and colour to that spot. Beware that phone cameras find it harder to focus in low light.

Lighting
The way the subject in the video is lit is single, biggest influence on the aesthetic quality of image. My favourite light is from a north-facing window, it’s soft and flattering. It doesn’t have to be north facing, but there can’t be any direct sunlight. Put your subject sideways to the window, then look to see how the shadows fall. Does it remind you of a Rembrandt painting?
Here are some suggestions for the light source in video, in my order of preference.

  1. Window, but no sun
  2. Outdoors on an overcast day
  3. Outdoors on a sunny day, but in the shade (if there’s a sunlit area behind the subject they could be silhouetted or at least under-exposed)
  4. Indoors with diffuse ambient light (no strong shadows)
  5. Indoors, under a spotlight or top-light, with a reflector to fill the shadows
  6. As a last resort, outdoors in sunshine, using a reflector to fill the shadows (don’t let the subject wear sunglasses but make sure they don’t squint)

The camera sensor in a mobile phone is tiny, so to work properly they need plenty of light. If it’s too dark the camera will compensate by increasing the ISO or sensitivity. This may make the video noisy or gritty and effect the colours. Or the camera might slow the shutter speed, which could result in blurry image. Most mobiles have fully automatic cameras with little option to take manual control. Try not to have more than one source of light, they may have different colours and the camera will be confused! Don’t expect the cameras to be as good or as versatile as a proper camera, their strength is their portability and convenience – it always with you, so use it!


Another meeting, and another talk about testimonial video. This one was in a noisy hotel bar next to a wedding reception, so really not the right place to record video! Sometimes you can’t change things – there wasn’t time to drag the audience of thirty to another location, so should I have given up? I made the point that if it’s your only opportunity to record a testimonial then why not give it go? I positioned the phone quite close to Margaret so it could hear her, so it’s not a great shot. Judge of yourself whether it was good enough. Thanks to Margaret for being a good sport!

Read Twitter’s advice on what people want to see in videos.

Three Questions to Get a Better LinkedIn Profile Picture

Many people need a better LinkedIn profile photograph. All things being equal, if you’re looking at LinkedIn for a contractor, freelance, employee or partner and you have the choice between someone with a profile showing a picture and someone without a picture, you’ll probably choose the person with a picture. If the choice is between the person with a good picture and the person with a bad picture, all other things being equal, you’ll choose the person with a good picture.

So what’s the difference between a good picture and a bad picture? The answer to that question depends on the individual making the judgment. You can never know what personal influences and prejudices will affect their judgment, but you can assess the professional and social expectations and seek to meet them. A professional profile picture is not a portrait and it’s not an opportunity for self-expression. A professional profile photograph is there to market you as a person, a professional, a provider of specific services. A professional profile photograph is a marketing asset.

Create a Brief for Your Profile Portrait to Meet

You should be very clear in your mind about what your picture is for. Whether the photographer is a professional or a colleague, you both need to remember that you’re not creating something just to fill a hole in a webpage.

Here are three questions to consider. The nearer you can get to answering them, the closer you are to knowing what you want.

i) Who do you want to address through the picture? (Target audience)

ii) What do you want them to take from seeing the picture? (A single-minded message)

iii) What picture will provoke ii), from i)?

Of course you can save time by commissioning a professional photographer, it’s our job to create images that fulfill a specific purpose.

Who’s Your Audience?

With whom do you wish to connect on LinkedIn? Your audience might be potential clients and customers, the senior team in a particular organisation, or recruiters and head-hunters. If you can envisage your target as one person, real or imagined so much the better, it’s easier to think through what picture might work and what might turn them off.

What’s the Take Away?

This is what you want to leave with the person seeing your profile picture. It could be a message like ‘I can solve your problem’ or ‘I am an expert in this field’. Or it could be a feeling like ‘you’d like to meet me’ or ‘I’ll fit in your organisation’. Ultimately, you probably want people to get in touch. The purpose of this post is to help you get a profile picture that reinforces whatever objective you have for your LinkedIn presence.

What Picture Will Help Achieve Your Goal?

This is the nub of it, and the hardest to answer. The visual language available in a profile portrait is quite restricted; smile, stance, dress, location. But, within each of those there many possibilities, and of course the right combination depends on you and your objective. Always concentrate on the output, not the input – so not which tie looks best, but how will my target audience be influenced. Conceiving the right profile picture to take involves imagination – put yourself in the shoes of your target, imagine seeing this (yet to be taken) photograph and think about how you would feel and what you would take out of seeing it. If this all sounds a bit much, spend some time looking at stranger’s profile photographs and ask yourself;

  • What do I think?
  • How do I feel?
  • How has my impression of this person been changed by looking at the picture?

Then think about your answers to the questions – is that how you want people to feel when they look at your profile picture? If not, keep looking until you find one that does! Once you’ve found a picture that you think works in your own terms, you can use it as a template for your own profile photo.

I came to portrait photography from being a creative in the BBC. I interpreted briefs from marketing and developed ideas to deliver a defined message to stimulate a response or action in a defined audience. A good profile portrait picture on your LinkedIn page will help you do the same, it will be a marketing asset. Every picture will tell a story, make sure it tells the right story.

Click here if you need a better LinkedIn profile photograph, call me on 020 8977 2529, or contact me to talk about profile photographs.

Bentall Breakfast – Photography at the Business Networking Event

Photography from Kingston Chamber of Commerce monthly networking event. October’s was at Bentall’s department store in Kingston. The event’s are always well attended, despite the impression this shot might give.

event photography Kingston Surrey

Where’s the Chamber gone? Jerry Irving, CEO of Kingston Chamber of Commerce opens the meeting

As you’d expect from Bentall’s, it was an excellent breakfast, and there were a lot of really interesting people to meet, never mind the business!

Promotional Video – ‘How to Drive Your Business to the Next Level’

This seminar was filmed for a promotional video. Beverley Corson and Bryan Charter are Engineering Business Growth. They are a good example of the value of business networking – they met at a breakfast meeting, realised they shared a lot of their business philosophy and formed a partnership. This seminar – How to Drive Your Business to the Next Level’ is a taster for their ‘Engineering Business Growth Club’. 

I used my BBC training and skills to make this promotional video, filming editing and post-producing. If you’d like your business to benefit from a BBC-quality video, call on 020 8977 2529 or message me.

Britain’s Best Secondhand Bookshop?

“Wow!” Charles Leakey says he often hears it said from people entering his secondhand bookshop. No wonder, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of 100,000 books and maps. You just know that with a little effort you’ll find something magic in there. Indeed it feels a bit like something from a Harry Potter film.

Leakey’s occupies a Gaelic church built around 1793, Charles took it over 22 years ago. Given the almost religious devotion that many us have to books and reading, it’s a good place to put the shop. “It’s a large building and I could fill a building ten times this size with books that nobody wanted. It’s all a matter of selecting books that people like and want and that’s my job I suppose. That’s what I try to do.”

Charles Leakey secondhand bookshop owner portrait photograph

Charles Leakey works beneath the pulpit in his former church

There’s a big wood-burning stove, but it wasn’t lit when we visited in the middle of summer – the temperature was well into the upper teens. (Scorcher) More people were taking photographs than buying books. I really hope the shop can survive in the our online and device-obsessed world. “Even if digital books replace print, the market for second-hand books will remain.” Says Charles.

I think that a large, high-quality photography book is a much better way to see the majestic landscape pictures of Ansel Adams than a website. A book is easier to peruse, to see the detail, to see into the picture. There’s a danger that the ‘digital natives’ grow up unaware of the page-turning pleasures, and that the sheer convenience and ubiquity of our mobile phones outweighs the inferiority of the viewing experience. I found a book about Rembrandt. I love the Dutch masters and try to emulate their aesthetic in my family portraiture so I wanted it. ‘Rembrandt’s Eyes’ is written by Simon Sharma, he’s a good writer, so I bought it. Unfortunately, I could find very few photography books on Leakey’s heaving shelves of secondhand books, or I might have bought more!

Inside Leakey's secondhand bookshop, Inverness

Get lost in a good book (shop)

Church St, Inverness, 01463 239947, https://www.facebook.com/LeakeysBookshop/