Tag Archives: photograph

Colours Can Make a Photograph

Colours – bright, vibrant, striking, resonating or complimentary, blending, gentle and pastel. Colours often provide the urge to pick up the camera and take a picture. Something in the photographer’s brain is forever on the lookout for that chance arrangement colour, texture and form that strikes a chord and tells us there’s a picture to be taken.

Sometimes I envy the painter because they can choose where to put colours, and what they’ll do in the picture. The way colour is rendered on the painter’s canvas can affect how the composition is perceived, bluer tones can help depict depth or distance, warmer colours might help objects to stand out. Colour helps the artist set a mood or atmosphere and manipulate emotion. The artist might choose to use colour naturalistically; grass is green, sky is blue. Or they may not, Henri Matisse said: “When I put down green it doesn’t mean grass, and when I put down blue it doesn’t mean sky.” The photographer looks at a scene, and at the moment they press the button, the colour they see is the colour they get in the photograph. (Ok, cameras differ and there’s a whole bunch of settings that can change the colours)

It is perfectly possible to train the eye, or rather the eye and the brain to look for elements in a scene that will make a photograph better. Here are a few…..

 

Photograph of an office block and orange lampposts. photography photographer

Rhythmic, or repeated colours
the repeating orange of the receding lampposts stand out, but the blue/grey in the building has rhythm

 

Photograph of waving child in daffodils. photography photographer

Dominant Colour
yellow is dominant to my eye, others might say that red will always dominate
 

abstract photograph orange tree against a painted wall. photography photographer

Economy of Colour
fewer colours can add strength to an image
 

T

The Campo Sienna photograph photographer photography

Complimentary Colours
The dark red and the yellow somehow enhance each other
 

Photograph showing clashing colours

Clashing Colours
A collection of colours that give the picture life and vigour

 

Photograph of a painting on the Berlin Wall. photography photographer

Colour is the picture.
Is the subject of the picture the cyclist or the painting?
(Eastside Gallery, Berlin. One of 105 paintings by artists from around the world on the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall)

Digital manipulation makes it very easy to change the colours in a photograph, and very tempting. (Save us from any more purple skies) There are many reasons why a photographer might want to alter colours, but the reason should come before the ‘doing’. Adjusting tone and hue, brightness and contrast can enhance a picture, but it can’t turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. It really is possible to post a picture on Instagram without using filters. However, the colour can be distracting. In this picture, I felt the red barrel and the yellow signs were too dominant….

 

Don’t make all your pictures black and white for the sake of it – colour is good! But there are occasions when the colour is so insipid it contributes nothing, even weakens the picture, like here…

photograph of swans. photography photographer

A winter scene, in winter light. The weak colour adds nothing to the picture

photograph of swans. photographer photography

Taking out the colour has made the swan’s posture stronger, and the image has a rhythm; black-white-black

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

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 to do with a Camera in Winter

Get more creative, that’s what!

tall trees under a blue winter sky

explore the structure of trees

What to do with a camera in winter is the question many photographers seem to ask themselves. The autumn is irresistible to most photographers. With the passing of the rutting season in the Royal Parks of London, the herds of stag-shooting photographers have retired to the warmth of their computers. Which is a pity because photography in winter offers some great opportunities for creativity.
ice on a pond

The patterns in ice and the reflections of the trees can make some fantastic patterns

For instance, with each gust of wind and flurry of leaves the trees are getting ever more naked. Look up at the shapes of their bare limbs, who knows what inspiration you may get! Nature’s putting on her drab winter coat, but there’s so much texture and pattern in the bark, or in the fallen foliage in ponds and streams. The mist and fog is a cloak of mystery that can utterly change a landscape.
I love the frost, especially when the sun comes and everything sparkles. In a proper freeze ice throws incredible designs across standing water and creates amazing sculptures around running and tumbling water. For those who care to look, it’s all there in the parks.
Winter is also a great time to photograph the built environment. The sun never gets high in the sky so when it does come out it casts huge, dramatic shadows. The sun creeps into the nooks and crannies of our townscape that never see it in the summer, illuminating surface textures and the rich colours of stone and brickwork. After sunset man-made lightshows fill the streets with twinkling jewels, particularly around the shops at Christmas. The open-air markets make vibrant subjects with their steaming food stalls, colourful products and characterful faces. Even the traffic going home has a romantic appeal as the stoplights of braking vehicles string rubies along the road.

freezing water in a woodland brook

it’s been freezing for days and the ice has grown like glassy fruits

I got very excited when it snowed and spent several days sliding around hoping not to fall on my camera. When it snows, everywhere is quieter, softer, somehow transformed. On it’s own, snow is a challenge for the camera in winter. It takes good light to make snow into a good picture – something that can create form and texture out of what is potentially just a white sheet. But look at the people. The smiles and rosy cheeks of those enjoying the snow make marvelous pictures. Young children’s sheer wonderment, noses tipped with a dew-drop, laughing office workers snowballing in their suits. Photograph the brief lives of snowmen before they melt away, sledge pilots before they tumble into a drift and leaping dogs as they catch a snowball. But watch out for snowball fights lest you become a target!

 

 

These blogs have some ideas – winter photography ideas, winter photography projects. This one has tips on photographing ice.

Your Child is Leaving Home – Last of the Family Portraits?

Can there be a happier day in any man’s life than the one when his daughter’s born? Well, perhaps the one when she left home for University!

It was a sunny, Sussex, Sunday afternoon the day we took our eldest to begin her degree. Luggage-loaded cars jostling in the car park, everywhere families helping move bags of clothes, boxes of food, TV’s, loudspeakers and guitars as their 18 year-olds, buoyed with excitement and promise find their places in their Uni hall. A happy, happy day – the result of, and reward for hard work.

A few weeks before I’d set up my camera on a tripod to shoot a portrait of our family. It was someone’s birthday and we’d been to a restaurant for dinner. We got home at about 11pm a little the worse for wear. I wanted to get a picture after the style of a Vermeer painting, luckily I’d set up before we went out!

Five years on, it’s a lovely memory of a phase in our family life that was about to end – when we were still the parents of two children, unaware that we were about to become the parents of one child and a fantastic, independent, young adult. Best of all, who seemed to have decided she quite, liked us.

Trevor's family portrait photography Richmond Surrey London

 

Message or call me on 020 8977 2529 and let’s capture an image like of your family like these!

Find the right photographer and you’ll look good forever

look-good-forever

just be relaxed in front of the camera, easy isn’t it?

There’s no real secret to getting a good picture of yourself. Just choose a photographer with a feeling for, and understanding of you. Then you can look good forever. Simple.

Almost no one likes having their picture taken, many people hate it. But like the condemned ordering their last meal, most people just resign themselves to it. It’s got to be done, your going to feel uncomfortable with the camera’s beady stare fixed upon you, but it’s a necessity of modern life. As the book says; ‘feel the pain, and do it anyway’.

profile portrait photograph Teddington Richmond Surrey London

no tie, casual shirt, unshaved but looking good

looking good in a profile portrait

some people just look good in front of the camera!

Nicola Hill of NC Media believes people should just get on with it. “After years of standing in front a TV camera I know there’s no flaw in me that a lens hasn’t found already.” Nicola was a reporter for Sky News before she set up her own business. “But I know how to look my best on camera. My advice is too make an effort in choosing your photographer, find someone you feel you can trust.”

a good working portrait

looking away from the camera can make a portrait appear less formal

Most photographers spend time and money making themselves and their work visible online, so here’s the first step towards getting a good photograph of you; get searching photographers’ websites. Look for portraits that you wish were of you. You can’t look your best if you think the photographer’s a bit creepy, and some are. So the next stage is to work out whether you’re going to like the person you’re about to licence to gaze at you. Recommendations from people you respect are priceless, do you know anyone who has recently had new pictures taken? Web designers love good photographers, good photos make their job easier. Check out business networking groups and professional associations for their recommendations.

a great smile is always a winner in a good profile portrait photograph

a great smile is always a winner in a good profile portrait photograph

Another stage before calling them could be to send an email and see how long it takes for them to reply. What’s the tone of the reply, is it spelled correctly? I’m not suggesting that all creepy people have bad grammar, but if they can’t be bothered to run a spell check over an email, will they bother to polish the post-production on your picture?

Compile a short-list and ring them all, it’s unlikely to be a long list. Anyone who immediately tells you how good they are should be crossed off your list. They should take the time to find out about you and what you want. Ideally they’ll offer some suggestions about their approach. Tell them what you want to do with the images and what you don’t like about your appearence. Their response will betray how well they listened to you, and that should tell you if you want to work with them.

women sitting at a pieno

your photographer should understand what’s important to you

Here’s a blog to help you choose a style for your portrait.
Here’s a blog about judging a photographer‘s work.

Make-Up for Your Portrait Shoot

It’s surprising how often people don’t make any special effort with their appearance before a photo shoot.

But most of those people are men. Most women realise that make-up for your portrait shoot is worth the trouble….

profile portrait photograph

even when you’re beautiful, it’s worth paying a little extra attention to your make-up

Writer and broadcaster Vanessa Feltz once asked me what I thought about the colour of her eye shadow. The make-up artist had just stepped away. I didn’t think anything, I had no opinions on any aspect of eye shadow or make-up in general but because I was directing this BBC film shoot I had to express opinions on this and anything else I was asked. “Well I think you look great Vanessa, but I can see why you’re questioning it.” I was playing for time, then the make-up artist returned and Vanessa asked what other colours she had. I helped choose by not saying much.
Having photographed hundreds of people I do now have opinions on make up, simply because my job as a photographer is much harder if the make up is wrong. I know how my lighting works with the flesh tones and face shapes as they’re hidden or exaggerated by make up. I’ve garnered my knowledge by being flattering.  It’s helps distract people so they forget about the camera.  I say how good they look and ask if they’ve used much make up, because I really can’t tell! So here are some of the general thoughts and  some specific bits of advice.

profile portrait photography

a portrait photography session is special occasion, why wouldn’t you make a special effort?

  1. Do make a special effort with your make-up for your photo shoot: it’s a special occasion.
  2. If you can get professional help; do. Otherwise do it yourself because you know what works on you.
  3. Look like you, don’t try anything knew but be the best you possible.
  4. Be restrained.
  5. Choose a foundation as close to your skin colour as you can find.
  6. Don’t use mineral-based cosmetics because the camera sees them as shiny.
  7. Line both top and bottom eyelids.
  8. Use mascara.
  9. Avoid shiny eye shadow.
  10. Putting lip stain under the lip-gloss will be more stable and is less likely to need touching up
  11. Avoid very glossy lips; less can be more in a photograph
  12. Use a hair spray with glue-like properties.
  13. Take a brush or comb to the shoot.
good profile portrait photographs

let your natural loveliness shine through by using make-up, but sparingly!

It’s hard to look your best in photographs if you’re not feeling good about yourself so it’s worth doing your best to look your best. Of course there’s more to feeling good than slapping on a bit of lippie, but it’s a good start!

Getting Better Group Portraits

Act like a new teacher demanding attention from an unruly class – it’ll help getting better group portraits.

group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-02There are many occasions when both amateur and professional photographers find themselves trying get a group portrait – caralling a bunch of people to pose for a photograph. It can be a lot of fun, get a crowd laughing and you can do anything with them. Or it can be like herding cats….

The ability to slide shadow-like into the background can help get great candid photographs. But like a conductor imposing their will and their interpretation of the music on an orchestra, photographing a group of people is one of those times when any desire to blend in has to be put aside. Instead, you should be like the new teacher at the start of term demanding the attention of an unruly class, or act as a the sergeant major commanding compliance from a platoon of new recruits or perform as an actor on the stage as the curtain goes up after the interval. Of a bad play!

Crowd photography is first and foremost crowd control, sometimes getting a good photograph of a group depends on the strength of the rapport you create with the people you’re photographing.
group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-9650.jpgTo keep the group on your side it’s vital to be efficient and as quick as possible, so know the precise location you want to use and have the lights set up before they arrive. If you have the choice, stage the shoot outside, a bit of fresh air can waken them up and put some colour in their cheeks. Ask the venue staff where photographers usually take group-shots, it’s likely to be the best place in the grounds. Otherwise think about posing the group within a natural frame like a doorway. Position them with the sun to the side to avoid squints or silhouettes.

getting-better-group-portraits-conferenceAlways use a flash to fill in the shadows on a sunny day, or punch up the colour on a dull day. Soften the flash through a photographic umbrella if it’s a small group, this will help avoid the flat, ‘flash’ look. If the weather drives you indoors use flash to give you the flexibility to stop down the lens for depth-of-field, or look for a light-coloured ceiling or wall to bounce the light from. Maybe you’re a lucky person and you’ll find a large indoor space with discreet decoration to stage the picture.

 group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-257.jpgOr perhaps you’ll be confined in a room with too much furniture, violently patterned wallpaper and a low ceiling. Well, you’ve still got to get the picture so there’s no choice but to get on with it and use what you got, and always remember that group shots are about the faces, not the art direction.

Indoors or outdoors, there is one great secret to composing a group of people; arrange them in a way that you looks nice. Simple. You’re the photographer – trust your eye, it’s as good as anyone else’s. Be assertive – arrange them how you want them. Symmetry can help, so can the rule of thirds. Look out for light fittings, red fire alarms, green exit instructions, signs pointing to the toilets. But the most important thing in arranging a group is making sure you can see everyone’s face.

group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames--2.jpgLook out for the shy ones trying to hide at the back. Moving an individual whose name you don’t know is a problem, so if eye contact doesn’t work then forget good manners and point. Directing with a light touch gets a better response than the heavy hand; boss people around with a smile and joke! Sometimes there’s someone you can safely pick on, “I knew you were going to be trouble” “There’s one in every group”. But be careful, don’t comment on appearance or body shape, a crowd can turn very quickly! Of course people want to help and co-operate, if they are not playing along ask them to do it as a favour for the hosts or their friends, even for the boss! And point out that they won’t get their dinner until the photography’s finished!group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-8465.jpg

 

 

A Bad Profile Picture is like a Limp Handshake

Displaying the wrong profile picture to your social network can make an even worse impression.

bad-profile-pictures
Friends will see the joke behind your new quirky profile pic, but new acquaintances will take it seriously. So with the quirky quashed, how do we avoid giving anyone an opportunity to make an unintended judgement about you? Don’t think that you can get away with not posting a picture at all, that’s like refusing a handshake all together.

Basing any judgement on a photo alone is unreasonable and liable to show prejudice. However we’re programmed to measure and assess other people from any cue we can, so it’s difficult to be unaffected in how we treat the person behind the profile.

But we can use social networking images to steer the impression people get of us. Good pics give people a chance to put a face to the name, to confirm that you are the witty charmer they met last night and not the sweaty bore. If someone’s thinking of offering you work, won’t they first want to check you out? Do you look like someone they could work with? Are you more or less like them? And when did you ever hear someone say; ‘I’ve got a great memory for names, it’s faces I struggle with’?

Your face is your logo. In the age of the biometric passport the picture’s not your only identifier, but across a range of social media websites your mug shot works just the same as a corporate logo. Just think how much effort companies take to get a logo right, and then how much they use them.
bad-profile-pictures-please
So here’re some steps to looking the best you can.
– Welcome the attention of the camera, remember it’s your potential life partner or new client you are greeting. So no pressure!
– Nervous now? Try closing your eyes, think of the person who loves you the best, imagine them standing in place of the camera, open your eyes and give them your warmest smile.
– A gurning smile is not warm.
– Show you’re trustworthy by meeting the viewer’s eye directly – which means looking at the camera.
– Clothes still count, dress appropriately for your line of work and look like you care, Facebook pics can be casual and LinkedIn formal, so perhaps pitch it in between.
– Make an effort with your grooming, but if you’re not a model don’t try to look like one. And men, comb your hair!
– Get someone else to work the camera for you, but tell them to fill the frame with you.no-more-bad-profile-pictures
– You don’t need lots of megapixels, but if you use a camera on a phone make sure there isn’t a greasy thumbprint over the lens. And they’re worse than tummy buttons for holding on to fluff.
– Plenty of light, the camera can’t work well without it, but not direct sunlight. Sunshine will make you squint, put you in silhouette or cast unsightly shadows.
– It’s behind you! What is? The thing that’s taking the attention away from your face. The plainer the background the better.

If you don’t want to get shot, don’t hand out ammunition!

More on headshot photography