Kingston Dragon Boat Race – Event Photography

Kingston Dragon Boat Race event photographyI really wanted to be in a boat to photograph the great spectacle that is the Dragon Boat Race on the River Thames. But, all event photography really should be done from the sidelines – the photographer’s job at an event is to document; capture it for the interest and amusement of the participants but also for the record. Moving into the middle of a drinks reception isn’t going to alter the event in any way, and can get you some good pictures.  But I couldn’t paddle out to the middle of the river to shoot the dragon boats, so I was on the tow path between Teddington and Kingston with a long telephoto lens.

Once the racing was over a I got to ride in the safety boat, and was childishly excited. It was fast!

I photographed the Dragon Boat Race event for the organisers, Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club.

Writing this I wondered whether it should be Dragonboat or Dragon Boat. So I ask Google, and discovered I wasn’t the first perso to pose the question.

 

Wonderful Faces

I can’t bring myself to delete these wonderful faces. I’ve been having a hard-drive clear-out, but they remind me of why I love taking photographs of people – because of their wonderful faces.

To begin with, in a shoot, the face is a mask behind which we hide our discomfort. But our face turns out to be an unreliable agent as soon the veil begins to slip away, revealing what’s concealed. Bit by bit. Shot by shot.

I don’t know who most of these people are now, but I want them as my friends. They look fascinating, intelligent, lively, curious, loving, fun. You can see it all in their faces.  

The wonderful faces were photographed at a number of business and corporate headshot or profile shoots. To get your team photographed get in touch or call me on 020 8977 2529.

Deck the Walls of Teddington

Some of the local artists displaying this week in ‘1 of 1’ on Teddington High Street. As the poster says, affordable art perfect for Christmas presents.

affordable artworks by local artists for Christmas on sale in Teddington

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

The Limbcare Garden Video Story

Video of a Hampton Court Flower Show Garden

The story that the Limbcare Garden video tells has more emotion at it’s core than most business video. That’s because the Limbcare Garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show was inspired by the emotional response of the garden’s designer, Edward Mairis. He learned of Ray Edwards MBE, the UK’s Longest surviving quad amputee and his dream to build the Limbcare Well-Being Centre to support amputees and the limb-impaired.  Edward’s garden was intended to help the fund-raising and eventually enrich the experience of the centre. Edward’s first show garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show, ‘Journey of Lifetime’ was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Royal Horticultural Association. This year the RHA gave Limbcare Garden a Silver Medal.

 
designer Edward Mairis says:

 

“The judges recognised the Limbcare Garden as outstanding because it brings a message of hope to amputees and their families who have the huge challenge of accepting a dramatically changed life. The garden symbolises how the charity gives hope and security. Within this calming space, the amputee can face up to what has happened to them and then learn to think differently about what’s important in life. The garden offers a sense of hope in the healing process, the verve of nature showing great resilience, growth and adaptability to the amputee.

“It was important to us to involve amputees in the creation of the garden. This has been another example of the way that Ray inspires and motivates other amputees, and I am delighted to have had the support of so many people Limbcare has supported over the years.”

Filming with Ray and the other limb-impaired volunteers was a joy and an inspiration.
 
 

The Clairvoyant and her Biographer

Steve and Janet came round to take some portraits for the cover of their forthcoming book. Janet is a clairvoyant and Steve is writing her story.


7 Steps to Getting More from Your Photographs

man and woman with drink problems photography southwest LondonI propose a new figure of speech – ‘It’s like finding a jpeg on a hard-drive’ instead of the outmoded ‘needle in a haystack’.  The idea comes from the difficulty I’ve encountered when looking for a particular image on a computer.  I know it’s in there somewhere but……

Just imagine if you could open a hard-drive like a desk draw. It would be like entering a cavern jam-packed with vaguely labeled piles of boxes filled with imprecisely labeled folders stuffed with ambiguously labeled documents. Maybe you’re in luck – you find the box of photographs – every photograph you’ve taken. The good, the bad the indifferent, the white frames, the black frames, the blurry frames, the pictures of your feet and pictures of the sky. Somewhere in there is that lovely shot of your sister you took the day before the aliens abducted her to the mothership.

In reality the situation is probably worse with pictures in several places. Some left to moulder for years on the camera’s memory card, some on your phone, others on the tablet and a few attached to emails from friends.

Falkirk containers

Digital Jugglers

I’ve just described the chaos that is my ‘library’ of roughly 60,000 images. Most are in folders named according to the job.  Since I deserted the proper path of film and sold my soul to the digital devil that’s been good enough. But there are dozens of folders now, it’s getting to be un-manageable and can be impossible to find a specific image if I don’t remember where I put it.

Delete the Duds

A  former work colleague told me that he saved every image he took because the failed pictures say as much, in their own way as the successful shots. He might have a point as an artist; I’m more of a photo-tart. I’d rather let go of the letdowns to save the card and drive space, not to mention the time transferring data between the two.  I suggest that when you take a break from the grinding hard work that is photography, you flick through your shots and dump the failures. That might just mean technical failures such as out-of-focus, burred or incorrectly exposed. You could also exercise some editorial judgment and get rid of the shots that don’t live up to you expectations as well, but I prefer to leave that till I’ve seen them on a computer screen and then do a big cull.

something unknown in the ancient woodland

Tag, Tag, and Tag again

It doesn’t actually matter where the files are physically stored on the hard-drive if they are well tagged, you’ll always be able to find them quickly using the tagged terms and the file data such as the date and even time. The best time to tag them is when they are transferred from memory card to computer. Generic terms can be added automatically to each picture, like ‘California holiday’ ‘Christmas’ ‘Christening’. There are many image management tools that enable you to do it, I use Adobe Lightroom, which is fantastic or there’s iPhoto or Picasa. These will become the software you use most often not just for managing a collection but for post-production too. Again I have give Adobe Lightroom a plug, it’s effective, easy and economic.

black and white abstract photograph of plastic bottles

Good Habits Save Time, Money and avoid visits to the doctor

Most of my pictures are utter rubbish, but I want to keep them. Just in case. Now if I can get into a better digital habits by fine-tuning my image management workflow, then the occasional good photograph I take is less likely to get lost under all that digital dross!

late for class

  1. Decide on a folder and subfolder structure.
  2. When the clocks change remember to reset the clock on the camera. It’s another useful search parameter.
  3. Use image management software to tag images as you transfer them from memory card to computer.
  4. Back up your library on two other drives, one of which is in another building.
  5. Enjoy flicking through your folders from time to time, and while you’re there add more tags and delete more crap.
  6. Share your pictures more – make greetings cards, have a print on the wall, compile an album etc. Otherwise what’s the point?
  7. Be less lazy.

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

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.