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Category Archives: General

11 
Apr

Aerial Photography Hinckley – What it is – How it can be used

Martin Neeves - Leicestershire Professional PhotographerPosted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Aerial Photography Hinckley

Aerial Photography Leicestershire
Wollaton Hall – click image to see large version

The term aerial photography is one that gets misunderstood because it gets used for several types of photographic purpose.  The conventional view of aerial photography is of an aircraft flying over a stretch of land and taking between one and a hundred photographs.  The camera may be fixed to the fuselage or handheld by a crew member.  In truth there are quite a few types of elevated photography that can be useful for different purposes.  To help understand the value and limitations of aerial photography, I thought I would highlight a few of the main types of this form of photography.

Photo reconnaissance.  This is used by the military to oversee a conflict zone or conduct intelligence gathering.  This can be done with all types of aircraft and is often done using cameras fixed to the fuselage – as this  is not going to be available for commercial use I will not cover it further.

Satellite Imagery.  This is provided by commercial and government agencies.  Images can be purchased from “stock” imagery.  It can also be commissioned from the satellite owners, but is very expensive and beyond the means of small and medium business owners.  The quality of the imagery is very high resolution and the majority of high-resolution commercial imagery is provided by satellites operated by DigitalGlobe, GeoEye and ImageSat International.

Elevated Pole Aerial Photography.  This is a fairly recent innovation, but it is increasingly available.   Elevated photography which is often referred to as mast or pole photography.  This involves a digital camera being elevated above an area on a telescopic mast and remotely controlled form the ground.  In general this gives an image from above a site, but at an angle.  It can be useful for capturing aerial views of shows, schools, archaeological sites, architectural sites, road traffic accidents, golf courses, properties that are not easy to access and many more.  Depending upon the material used for the pole, then winds can affect s the ability to use this equipment.

Balloons for Aerial Photography HinckleyUsing a very high building.  Occasionally in big cities it is possible to get the shot you require from the top of a very tall building.  This relies on a number of factors, such as a suitable building being in the right location, being able to access the building and there being a suitable platform at the top of the building to take photographs from.

Balloons for Aerial Photography.  This can take 3 forms, firstly, flying the camera using a helium balloon (using it is a similar manner to the elevated pole aerial photography. This type of aerial photography is weather dependent for obvious reasons.

The second form of balloon photography is to use a hot air balloon; the problem with this form of photography is that it is very dependent upon wind speed and direction.

The third form uses a combination of kite/helium balloon but is classified by the Civil Aviation Authority as Kite Aerial Photography.

Un-manned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Drone Aerial Photography.  A recent innovation is the UAV or drone which can operate up to 400 feet.  They are effective where there is limited aerial access to full sized aircraft, but an aerial option is still required.  This is great if exact positioning is not important, but you require a general aerial view, or one from high level.  The use of a fixed wing aircraft can be weather dependent.

Un-manned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Drone Aerial PhotographyRemote-controlled quadcopters are becoming increasingly popular as prices for the cheaper models have decreased.  However, it is still expensive to operate quadcopters safely and within the law and there are many photographers and videographers who are using them illegally and without an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).  Used legally, quadcopters are particularly effective in producing low-level video footage, bringing a real intimacy between the viewer and subject.  To do it properly, the operator must have had the correct training and they must hold an AOC.  There must be two people controlling a quadcopter – one to fly the aircraft and another to take the photos or to shoot the video.  Also, they must monitor very closely every cell of every battery and have a battery replacement plan within their business plan.  Currently, the batteries are very expensive and hold their charge for only short periods.  Some larger quadcopters use two batteries and can still be flown if one battery fails, however, the smaller models only use one battery and they will fall out of the sky (potentially killing someone) if the battery fails.  The CAA are actively looking for videos on the internet that have been taken illegally from UAV’s showing (for instance) the aircraft being too close to people or vehicles not under the control of the operator, so look out for reports of prosecutions soon.

Commercial Aircraft Aerial Photography.  This can be quite expensive if the aircraft is specially fitted, but is very effective to a number of solutions. The photographs can be taken from an oblique viewpoint or vertically.  Most vertical aerial photography requires the use of a specially fitted aircraft. It works well for PR, corporate, architecture and construction photography. If the aircraft is not specially fitted, the cost can be quite reasonable (and cheaper than helicopters, unless a twin-engine aeroplane is necessary for the area to be covered).  I regularly take aerial photos out of the open window of aeroplanes.  The disadvantage of using fixed-wing aircraft, is that they have to continually bank around the subject as they can’t be hovered, so accurate positioning is impossible.  Naturally, there is a sub-set of this form of aerial photography using radio controlled models.

Aerial Photography LeicestershireHelicopter Aerial Photography.  There are helicopters specially fitted with gyroscopes for aerial photography and video, but these are expensive to hire.  While these are essential for video, they are not generally necessary for stills photography, so I normally hire small two-seater helicopters that I can remove the door to give me a better view.  Helicopters allow the photographer to capture an image in an exact location.   I am regularly given old aerial photos and asked to take new ones of the same view.  Sometimes, I may be given an artist’s impression of a new sites (that has yet to be built) so that images can be taken of how the landscape looks now.  This form of photography can be weather dependent, as the ideal lighting conditions are a sunny day with very little cloud cover (as clouds cast shadows on the ground).  Winter can be great for aerial photography because the visibility can be outstanding on a cold, clear, sunny day.

So you can see that aerial photography takes several forms and all have their place.  I specialise in the helicopter or fixed wing aircraft options  for Aerial Photography Hinckley.  This gives me a lot of flexibility to provide the solution you require.

Call me now on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME for an estimate or to discuss an aerial photography shoot by the Aerial Photography Hinckley.

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Published Date: 11th April 2017
Category: General
Tags: , , , ,


 

26 
Mar

Good architectural photography can make a difference – Architectural Photography Leicester

Architectural Photographer Leicester

To many people, taking photographs of buildings is easy. You just need a digital camera or smartphone.  After all, how difficult can it be?  Buildings stay obediently still and they do as they are told, no tantrums, they are what they are.  Just point and click – easy ehh!  I know this is not true, even professional photographers can sometimes get it wrong.  It takes a strong understanding of purpose, composition, context, lighting, perspective and patience to get a great shot of a building.

The first thing that needs to be understood is the purpose of the photograph.  Firstly, there seems to be two inherent styles or requirements for the photography of buildings: Architectural photography and Real Estate photography. They each have different needs because the imagery is used for different purposes. There are different opinions on the differences and what they actually are.  But my thoughts are:

Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography Leicester

Usually this is mainly about style and presenting the property in the most appealing manner.  Often used for marketing a venue, such as historic buildings.  These photographs often need to be iconic and provide a grand appearance.  A great deal of thought needs to be given to picking the best angles to draw a viewer’s eye into the image.  Attention to small details like glare, wall smudges, cords, and anything unattractive needs to be carefully considered.  The imagery produced is likely to be used for marketing purposes and needs to be eye catching.  Quite often large historic buildings benefit from being photographed form a high angle or an aerial view.

The real key to great architectural photography is great lighting.  Buildings look flat, dull and lifeless on overcast days.  Sunshine brings out the colour and texture in buildings and really brings them to life.  Often the best light can be achieved in the early morning or early evening when the sun is low in the sky and therefore more oblique than when it is right overhead at mid-day.  Of course, it’s not always possible to achieve such lighting as it also depends on which direction the building faces and if there are any tall buildings or trees surrounding it to cast big shadows.  If the building faces North it will never have the sun on it, or if it does, there me be just a few minutes at sunrise or sunset where the sun grazes over the front of the building.  Another great time to photograph buildings can be at night (providing the building is well-lit) as it can make for some really dramatic architectural photos.

Internal shots provide a different challenge.  Often because of restricted space, lighting or sometimes trying to get everything in shot if the room is large. Subtle changes in these factors can often make a huge difference to the effectiveness of a photograph.

Another side of architectural photography is the imagery around the design of a building.  This is often relevant to new and major buildings that need to display a lot of design aspects.  This may be done for the company who constructed the building, the architect or even the building owner.  Sometimes to expose and display the building to its best potential requires additional lighting.

Often modern architecture will need to focus on conceptual design.  Perhaps a large formwork, glass, steel, concrete and cladding where a contemporary building is being photographed.  We are used to impactful views of city skylines with “stand-out” designs. Sometimes showing these buildings in their best light requires real imagination to avoid a point and click look to the final images

Real Estate Photography

Real Estate Photography by Architectural Photography LeicesterWhereas Architectural photography is likely to be focused on quality and style, Real Estate photography is very much focused on value, speed or lifestyle. The aim being to “sell” the property to a specific target audience.  The seller is also going to focus on the cost per image. This means that a photographer is providing a very different product.  It also needs to be available quickly to enable a property to be put on the market and there will often be little time for optimisation of prints.  The exception to this will be high value properties, where price margins allow for high quality photography and the buyer is looking for many of the factors contained in architectural photography.

Internal photography is often a challenge to producing good, stylistic images.  It often needs to encompass photography in tight spaces to imagination to show-off a room to best effect.  Sometimes the “props” or furniture present a challenge.

Architectural Photography Leicester

Martin Neeves Photography has a lot of experience with both forms of building photography, but our real specialisation is in architectural photography as the images on the page show.  If you want to see more examples of my work follow this link to see examples of past projects displaying both old and new buildings.  There are further examples in my Aerial Photography portfolio.

Call me now on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME for an estimate or to discuss an architectural photography Leicester shoot.

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Published Date: 26th March 2017
Category: General


 

08 
Mar

How to beat the business competition with images?

By Martin Neeves – Commercial Photographer with an Edge

beat business competition images

All businesses want to get the edge over their competition and use of images can be one way to build that winning edge.  So how can you do that?  Well it is not simply a case of having better images than the competitor.  You have got to have the better image OF THE RIGHT TYPE than your competitors.  Obvious isn’t it!  If it so obvious why don’t businesses all have really great, stunning images?  The reasons are varied, but here are a few:

  1. The owner has photographs taken that they like.  Well pleasing the business owner is irrelevant, it is not you the business owner who has to be won over!
  2. I’ve been in the business 20 years and…. Well firstly, you might have been doing it wrong for 20 years.  Secondly, times change and what works with customers’ changes.  Thirdly, you might have been satisfying those customers who frequented your business, but what about expanding your target audience and appealing to a wider audience?
  3. I’ve got the best photographer on the block.  That is a bit like the playground argument “my dad’s bigger than your dad”.  If you just let the photographer get on with it you will have something similar to point 1 above, except it will be “the photographer has taken the photos he/she likes”.  Pick the wrong photographer and you could end up with some great arty images but they do not talk to your potential and current customers.

Okay smarty pants, so how do I do it?

  1. What are the competition doing?  Take an honest look at the competition, with someone or others who do not think like you. Preferably people who are customers or potential customers.  Are their images better or worse than yours, and state the reasons why.  Do they have some mages that make you jealous, envious or wishful?  Again why?
  2. Who are your target audience?  Firstly, work out who you have traditionally sold to and why?  Then work out who you would like to target and build a profile of who and what they are? Understand their lifestyle or business and how you add value to that.  What are their values?  What is important to them?
  3. What are the problems that you solve for your target audience?  Remember people only use your business because you solve problems they cannot sort out for themselves.  This might be about the quality you can bring, the unique skills you have, or something they need to be successful.
  4. Are you “cheap as chips” or a “quality business”?  What is it that draws people to you as opposed to someone who offers a very similar service to you?  If you are “cheap as chips” then you need to make more sales than the person who is selling on value.
  5. What are the main offerings and the up-sells?  What are the main products or services that get people through the door?  Therefore, what are the add-ons you offer that they do not come through the door for, but compliment your “door openers”. 
  6. What are the values and unique selling points of your business?  How do you like your business to be viewed, again back to “cheap as chips” or “quality” or “friendly” or “business-like”, or what?

So what has all this stuff got to do with photographs and images then?

Simple, if you are commissioning images then they MUST talk to your target audience.  If you only have images and photographs that satisfy you or your current customers, then you are in a rut and will be viewed as being “out of date”.  When you have the information above, you have the core content to brief your photographer.  He/she will then have a specification to work to that will more likely result in images that communicate with your customers present and future.  An important factor is that most of your competitors will not be as methodical as you and therefore you are much more likely to gain a serious edge with some great imagery.  You are more likely to end up with great picture and photographs that really communicate your brand and shout at your customers in their language.  They will help you build a relationship with your customers now and in the future.

Unless you are an outstanding photographer, make sure that you get the right professional photographer to work to the specification you have developed using the steps above.  That way you will get your image plan implemented with quality.

Do it the “usual way” or put another way “if you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you always got”.  Make a change and plan your photographs so that they become more effective.

If you want photography or videography that will ensure that your business stands out from the crowd, then call me now on 07973 638591 or CONTACT ME.

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Published Date: 8th March 2017
Category: General
Tags: ,


 

12 
Jan

Celebrating 30 years of being a Professional Photographer

2017 is a special year for me as it marks 30 years of my being a full-time professional photographer.  I have been producing corporate videos for the last 7 years too.  While I started off as a staff press photographer, I have been running my photography and video business for 21 years.  And before anyone asks, yes, I did start when I was 3 years old! 😉

My clients appreciate the wealth of experience that I bring to every job.  It really does make a difference.  It especially makes a difference in difficult situations – whether that’s technically difficult lighting situations or in dealing with awkward, reluctant or vulnerable people.  I regularly charm such people into doing something for the camera that they wouldn’t normally do.  Over the last 30 years, there are not many situations that I have not had to deal with and I have learnt so much along the way.  I never stop learning, so I am always adding to my experience bank.  When clients book me, they don’t just book my time on-site and afterwards with my post-production skills, they are also buying the knowledge and skills that I have acquired over 30 years.

If you want to hire a highly experienced professional photographer who knows how to get the best images from any situation, then call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849.

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Published Date: 12th January 2017
Category: General


 

22 
Dec

A Very Challenging Photographic Assignment: Canal Boats in the Fog at Night

I have just undertaken a very challenging photographic assignment: Canal boats in the fog at night.  

I was booked by the Canal and River Trust to photograph the Foxton Locks Illuminated Boat Festival in Leicestershire which is an annual event where narrowboat owners decorate their boats with Christmas lights and take them on a parade in front of a pyrotechnic display.  This year’s event was so well attended that the organisers had to close the car parks and turn people away.  They estimated that 10,000 people came to watch the spectacle.  My brief was to photograph the boats, lights, pyrotechnics and people and to produce image that could be used in the press, on  websites, on leaflets and other merchandise such as calendars etc.  

With most night photography, very slow shutter speeds are used while the camera is on a tripod, however, that becomes problematic if the subject is moving (such as a narrowboat) as the movement would record a s blur.  To counteract this, some flash can be used in conjunction with the slow shutter speed to record a combination of frozen and blurred motion.  Well that’s what I would normally do, however, Mother Nature had different plans as it was extremely foggy last Saturday night and while the fog added to the eery atmosphere, as soon as I put even the smallest amount of fill-in flash, it hit the fog and bounced straight back at the camera, just like the headlights of a car bounce back in fog.  All very challenging indeed.  I certainly needed to draw on my 29 years of experience as a professional photographer that night.  Here are some of my photos from this assignment:

If you want to hire a highly experienced professional photographer who knows how to get the best images from any situation, then call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849.

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Published Date: 22nd December 2016
Category: General, Uncategorized


 

11 
Jul

Promoting your business with Instagram

Written by Martin Neeves – Commercial Photographer Leicestershire

glass-factory-worker-hard-hat-promoting business instagram
Click on Image for larger photograph

So your photographer has produced a portfolio of photographs for your business and you have used them on your website and your printed marketing material, what else can you do with them?  Do you just keep them in your media library to use if and when the opportunity arises, or is there another way to make your investment in the imagery work harder for you?  After all, as a business owner you are looking for any and all opportunities to promote your products or services.   Much of modern marketing is about attracting new customers and engaging existing ones.

So what can Instagram do for me?

Being a visual platform Instagram can make an instant impression.  It grabs attention.  Business owners assume that Instagram is just for retailers, restaurants, or travel companies.  This is not true; it is a very effective brand-building tool.  People use the platform to judge the visual impact of a business.   Forester proclaimed Instagram as being “…The King Of Social Engagement”.  Forrester concluded that if you were unhappy with the social engagement your business is getting on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, then Instagram may well work for you.  Forrester found that Instagram delivered 598 times more engagement per follower on Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.  So tell me that you are not now interested, especially if you are using Facebook or Twitter.

How can I use Instagram?

chemistry-lab--promoting business instagram
Click on Image for larger photograph

Firstly, you must create a strategy to use it. If you are using other social media platforms, how does it fit into your overall social media strategy? This begins with defining your objectives for the platform, which may include to increase:

  • Website traffic,
  • Sales
  • Brand awareness

Then decide how often you are going to post. This will be determined by the type of audience, the time you have available and what is needed to attain your objectives.

See what your competitors are doing.  If nothing then you have a head start.  If they’re on Instagram, what are they doing and what is successful for them.

Next Steps.  Set up and optimise your Instagram account.

Tell people you are there.  Use Facebook, twitter and emails to let people know that you have arrived on Instagram.  Put an Instagram icon on your website to allow people to follow you.  Put an icon to follow you in the footer of your emails.

Build Trust.  Post frequently, using interesting images.  Now here is the rub, what is an interesting image.  Well for some audiences it will be humorous or wacky.  For other audiences it will be sophisticated and stylish.  If your business is about looks, say a photographer, designer or shop selling style items, then it will be about the style and sophistication of your products.  If your shop  or business is something like a brewery, then a little humour can go a long way to promoting you and your products. This is best started by providing the posts that your followers want and being interesting.  Here is another platform that allows you to post testimonials, maybe overlaid on your images.

Enable engagement.  If you create a community based upon  engagement, then allow notifications to those following you so you can push notices of new posts.  Also allow re-posting, which will  promote your business to others.  Allow people to comment and rate your images, this will get more interest.

Use the Analytics.  Instagram Analytics allow you to track the effectiveness of your posting.  This will inform the frequency and type of posts that you are going to use.

Use Hashtags.  I know hashtags have become very prolific, but they are an effective manner of promotion on Instagram.  They are effective because they give a larger reach.  But but but, only use hashtags that are relevant to your photographs.  Do  not contrive ridiculous hashtags, it is not big, not clever and it puts people off your business. So make sure you research the hashtags most popular or searched for in your industry or sector.  You can use http://iconosquare.com/instagram-analytics to measure the performance of your hashtags, and other Instagram measures. Create your own hashtag and use it.

Post frequently and regularly.  This is no different to any of the social platforms, posting every 6 months is not going to cut it.  Instagram works in real time, which means that it is refreshing content constantly. So you need to post frequently to help ensure visibility in your followers’ feeds.  So how often should you post?  There is no magic formula, you need to find out what works for you.  Measure and test your results and see what works, then do more of the same and ditch that which is not working.

So how do I grow followers?

SKY-private-aeroplane-charter-executive-travel-promoting business instagram
Click on Image for larger photograph

Firstly connect to your Facebook account and make sure you are consistent with hashtags.  Some images will be ideal for posting on both Facebook and Instagram.  Start out by following others and encouraging them to follow you.  Then as your following grows, other people’s followers’ will be seeing your posts and liking you.

Engage don’t sell.  The modern marketing gets people to buy from you, not for you to sell to them.  Social proof plays a major part of peoples’ decision to buy your services of products.  The imagery will “sell” your products and services.

Use Professional Photographs.  Yes, I know I would say that wouldn’t I.  But it is a fact that a very good photograph will be much more effective than and “okay” snap.  A blurred image or one that has so obviously been cropped will detract from your message.

Remember that Instagram needs your images to be at least 1080 pixels wide, although they don’t need to be square any more.  At that size they need to be high quality.  You could save the images at least double the image resolution and let Instagram resize them to a width of 1080 pixels.

Instagram has Editing Tools.  Do not forget that Instagram has a range of free tools.  These are available in the app for you to use.  These range from colour filters to artistic tools.

If you decide that you to get started on Instagram and need professional photographs that will stand out then call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME to find out how I can help make your business stand out in the crowd.

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Published Date: 11th July 2016
Category: General


 

04 
Mar

Is having professional photography cost effective for my business?

professional photography cost effective

Now we all have smartphones and digital cameras, the question on many business owners lips is “Is having professional photography cost effective for my business?”  It is a fair question in these cost conscious days, especially when people have an expectation of “getting a bargain.”

Well marketing, advertising and publicity are the life-blood of lead generation for all businesses, even if they are getting all their business by word of mouth.  Obviously if you are going to use any imagery it has to look professional in order the represent your business effectively.  If your images look amateurish then it will not give potential customers confidence in your business.

The old adage that a picture paints a thousand words is often bandied about.  It is true, but photographs using your smartphone cannot use the power of the professional photographer’s equipment.  The little flash on the front of a smartphone can only light up a relatively small area, whereas the professional’s lighting sets will provide a variety of lighting strengths and capabilities.  This will allow a photograph to look more professional, show fine detail more effectively and allow moving parts to be frozen in time more clearly.

scientists in silhouette

The lenses on a smartphone have improved dramatically over the past 5 years, but thy still cannot compete with the larger, more expensive lenses that a professional will use. This means that fine detail can be captured more effectively and with better focus.  A major factor that is often not considered is that a smartphone can only take photographs in JPEG or PNG format.  The professional digital camera can take these formats, but where a professional photographer will score highly is that their cameras take images in RAW format that can be manipulated and optimised to ensure the best possible image.  I have covered the benefits of the RAW format in my blog on my wedding website:  My wedding photographer wants to shoot our wedding in RAW – will they be naked?

While equipment is important, it is far less important than the eye behind the camera.  A smartphone in the hands of a professional photographer would be able to produce far better photos than the same phone in the hands of an amateur.  However, professional photographers would of course use professional camera equipment to give them far greater control and quality.  A professional photographer will use his or her skill and experience to come up with highly creative ideas for photographs and then have the ability to turn them into reality with lighting techniques far beyond the capabilities of anyone without those skills.  They will also use their charm and powers of persuasion to get their subjects to do things for the camera that they would not normally do – but all in the cause of taking a great photograph.

You may save a few hundred pounds by using your own smartphone or digital camera. But unless you can produce photographs to the same high standard as a good professional photographer, then it is going to cost you in lost sales and website visitors.  Uninspiring photographs will lead to people thinking that yours is an uninspiring business, so the cost effective question becomes very relevant.  If your competitors are promoting their products and services with professional photographs and you are not, then I am afraid you will be losing business to them.

If you want to hire a highly experienced professional photographer who will make your business shine through then why not call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849.

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Published Date: 4th March 2016
Category: General


 

11 
Jan

So what will a good professional photograph look like?

How to Win or Lose Customers With Good or Bad Photographs

good professional photographIn most market places, competition is getting fiercer and fiercer and a good professional photograph can make all the difference.  It is becoming much harder to stand out from the crowd and win new customers.  Whether it is on or offline our customers are being bombarded by huge amounts of imagery.  They are learning to filter out a lot of the clutter and just take in the relevant or eye catching imagery.  The images, adverts, websites, magazines, TV or other messages that catch the eye are those that engage us.  It is all too easy to have really good products or services but not engage potential or existing customers.  I acknowledge that it is more than just images, but they are a good starting point – or should I say losing point if they are not good enough.

I am sorry, here I am going to have to disagree with a large number of people, but there is a huge difference between well-shot professional images and the vast majority of smartphone photographs.  It is not just the equipment; it is also the eye, skill and craft of the photographer that makes that great professional photograph. If the image is not good enough then your image is going to get lost in the rest of the visual clutter that gets filtered out at source.  Here I am not just talking about product images, or brochure website images.  I am talking about everything you do that is image based. If your images look like you don’t care or they have been done on the cheap, then that is the way people will view your business.  If you couldn’t be bothered to get the right photographs then what hope is there for your products or services?

Yes there are stock images, but these tend to be generic and others may be using the same image as you.  We are also getting attuned to recognising what is a royalty free stock image and what is a photograph of a real person or thing.  A really great image with some well-chosen words and tied up with a good design are going to attract, engage and convert your potential customers.

It will look very personal to your business

Stock images have a place, but they are not YOUR images and they are not YOUR business.  The more you can use photographs of your goods, services, premises and people, the more you will engage with your target audiences.  I know stock images are cheap, but they do not carry through the personality of your business.

Being interesting enough to stand out in the crowd

D290_044hp-colourful-pantomime-dame-belgrade-theatre-coventryWe have already said that your potential and actual customers are bombarded with thousands of images.  How can you stand out to them and not get filtered out?  Your photograph has got to grab the attention of the viewer and look professional. If it doesn’t you will have the same impact as going into a sealed room and shouting.  No-one will see or hear you.

Try not to have generic type photographs

Your viewer should get part or your entire message by looking at your image. You need to have something specific in the photograph – a view of a nice green field tells me nothing.  The image has got to portray the subject you want the viewer to engage with.  The subject should be in  the foreground and everything else should be blurred out or use a crisp clean background.

Don’t be outdated

D2156-161-glass-manufacturing-derbyThe numbers of websites, adverts or marketing materials that I see with photos that are out of date is shamefully high.  I met one client in his sixties who had a photograph of himself in his early forties on his website and brochures. His business was a consultancy business and the photograph looked a bit “jack the lad” because the clothing was dated and he was smoking.  The simple message here is that what was cool 20 years ago is not now.

Quality or “good enough”?

The photograph you should never be “good enough” – it has to be the best possible.  This is where the professional photographer and their better imagination, lighting skills, experience, training and equipment will score over the mobile phone.  Also, if you are just being “good enough” and not excellent then that is what people will expect of you and your business.  My argument is that is the vast number of instances, “quality” means hiring a professional photographer if you want to get the best photographs for your business.  A good professional photograph will earn its keep and get you more customers.

So if you want photographs that are far more than “good enough” but are really professional then call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME to find out how I can help make your business stand out in the crowd.

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Published Date: 11th January 2016
Category: General


 

01 
Jan

Celebrating 20 Years in Business as a Freelance Photographer

 

20-years-freelance-photographer-Martin_Neeves
Martin Neeves has been a freelance photographer for 20 years and a filmmaker for 6 years.

 

Well 2016 is now here and I am celebrating having been in business for 20 years as a freelance photographer (and also as a filmmaker for 6 years).

It only seems like yesterday that I handed in my notice from my staff press photography job to set up my new venture as a freelance photographer, not knowing whether I would be able to make ends meet or not.  Little did I know when I started my business in 1996,  that it would take me twice to Buckingham Palace to photograph the Queen in her music room.  I have seen many photographers come and go over the years and many only had photography as a part-time job, but I have been fortunate to always have it as a full time career for 29 years.  It has been quite a journey and a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun.  I have loved the variety of work that I do – everything from corporate editorial photography, to commercial photography, food photography, architectural and aerial photography as well as natural and unobtrusive reportage wedding photography.  It’s the variety that keeps me fresh.  Then six years ago, I started doing corporate videography professionally too and I have steadily seen more and more demand for this service.  I love that too.  I have great satisfaction in working my way through the whole film production process from concept to planning, to filming and then of course endless hours of editing.  I have a great feeling of pride when I see my films coming together.  Over the last 20 years, my photos have been used in national newspapers and magazines, on advertising billboards, in books, brochures and on websites.  My videos have been shown on television news, on clients websites in presentations and even on Christmas e-cards.

Finally, I have been getting lots of lovely reviews and ratings on Free Index business directory (120 on the last count) over the last few years and I have steadily been rising up through the ranks to be listed as one of the top 5 photographers in the UK, but at such a high level, rankings fluctuate frequently as freelance photography is a highly competitive business.  However, in 2015, I was consistently ranked as 2nd out of over 3,500 UK photographers with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 (judged on quality, professionalism and on value for money) and throughout last year, my ranking didn’t drop once.  I’m incredibly proud of that, but I’m not complacent.  I apply myself 100% to every assignment, as I am passionate about quality and in pleasing my clients.  After all, what better way to get satisfaction from a job than to make your clients happy?

So if you need the services of a freelance photographer or filmmaker with longevity and high standing in the industry, then contact Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now to find out how professional photography and film can be used to make your business stand out from the crowd.

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Published Date: 1st January 2016
Category: General


 

22 
Dec

What are the benefits of using Clip Art, Illustrations or Photographs in business?

clip art, illustrations or photographsI listened to an interesting discussion about using Clip Art, Illustrations or Photographs in business the other day.  It was interesting to hear the very strong views being voiced.  Interestingly the main protagonists were a graphic designer and a photographer.  They both fell into the trap of “fighting their own corner” without any thought of the “customer perspective” or a having a balanced view.  Naturally the photographer really pitched in hard that photographs trumped clip art or illustrations very time because of the reality they portrayed.  She also said that “people doodling with crayons tended to make things look Mickey Mouse-like”.  She felt that many people saw illustrations as “clip art trash” or “cartoons” with no style.  The graphic designer countered that a photograph often lacked character and it was easy to “point and click” and get a static image that did not get the full message across.

This got me to thinking about the subject a bit more rationally. I did a bit of research and it became apparent that there is not a lot of research on this type of subject – just loads of self-opinionated logic that just seemed to justify the writer’s standpoint.  The more I thought about the subject, the more I realised that there is a balanced point of view.  The answer lies somewhere in the middle of the extreme views – I guess just like a lot of things in life. So here are my thoughts on this subject.

Factors that may affect your choice

It seems to me that there are a few issues to think about when making a choice between using clip art, illustrations or photographs:

  • Purpose of the image.  If an image is required to show mood, precise details of a product or fine detail, then it may be that a photograph may be a better solution. If you are aiming to show a process or get an idea across, then clip art or an illustration may be more appropriate. In both cases it can be difficult to find the right illustration or photograph to suit your exact purpose. It may be that you need a combination of an illustration, clip art and a photograph to get exactly the concept or message you are trying to get across.
  • Creativity and Adaptability.  If you are trying to use existing imagery, it can often be easier to modify an illustration than recompose a photograph. If you are going to have to produce a series of images that show progression, then an illustration may be easier because you can use a consistent look or theme. This can be more difficult to do with photographs unless you are using a professional photographer.
  • Look and Feel. Many people in business feel that photographs can offer a more polished or professional image. Many argued that people wanted either to see real people who worked for their company (real employees) not line drawings or cartoon characters.  Well produced illustrations can often be more effective than photographs because they are very focussed on the message you need to convey. I have to say much of the clip art I have seen is very much comic book like and poor quality.  Indeed, much of the free clip art fits into that bracket.  Clip art can often look “cheesy”, but then so can some photographs.
  • SafeLiftImpact Required.  Different types of imagery provide different levels of impact. Sometimes the use of illustrated characters can get a message across better if you want the message to be key rather than the impression of the photograph.  It can be easy to get distracted by a photograph that you make value judgements about if the message is more important.  Counter to that a good photograph is more likely to portray a feeling more effectively.

And the winner is…

The more I have looked into this, the more I realised there is no winner or loser.  What was more important was to make sure you understand the function of imagery and to consider whether a photograph or illustration.  We have all become used to emoticons, but they are often poorly used in business communication and look really out of place.  So I feel that there are situations where photographs have more impact while at other times a graphic is better.

lifting-box-heavy-fragile-delivery-business-cartoon_MyFeUk_uI feel that if I see a photograph of a car, then people are more likely to relate to it more than they would do to a drawing of a car. It feels more real to the viewer because it allows me to relate new information to the existing knowledge that they have about cars.  Again, if I am trying to get some ideas across about using a car, then a diagram may be better – so in the Highway Code there are more drawings because it is the concept that is more important.

It may also be that the use of illustration versus photography may depend upon the culture of the target audience you are trying to communicate with.  Interestingly quite a few British people view some photography and images found on Stock Image websites as being “too American looking”.  In some cultures this might even be seen as offensive.

As I previously stated, many corporate clients seem to prefer photographs but it should be remembered that they can become dated more quickly than an illustration. Illustrations or simple drawings contain less specific characteristics and can be easier to communicate better across different geographical regions.

So the conclusion is to use “horses for courses”.  If you decide that photographs are going to be the best way of communicating your message with a professional photographer then contact Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now for stunning photographs to complement your marketing words.

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Published Date: 22nd December 2015
Category: General