Tag Archives: commercial photographer

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.

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.

Choosing the right corporate or commercial event photographer

Written by Martin Neeves – Commercial Event Photographer Leicestershire

Choosing the right corporate or commercial event photographer

Getting the right photographer for your event, exhibition or conference is something many people do not take seriously enough.  Often it gets left until the last minute so you end up getting whoever is available rather than the photographer who is going to best match your needs. Let us not forget that you only have one chance to capture the full glory of your event.  Publicising next year’s conference or exhibition is best done by using this year’s great images.  Words are fine, but good photographs will illustrate the spirit of the event.  So unappealing photographs are going to make future promotion to the next generation of attendees less than easy.

If you say thousands of people attended our event, that statement tends to just float over people’s heads.  Show them a photograph of the event buzzing and full of people, and then they get an immediate feeling of the vibrancy of the event.  This helps encourage them to attend, after all their first thought is “is it worth my while attending”?

Quite often the job of photographing the event falls to a staff member or someone we know who is an amateur photographer or who has a “super duper camera”.  Worse still, someone is designated to go round and “take a few photos of the day”.  They use a mobile phone or the office camera that they are not too familiar with.  Well I would say this wouldn’t I, but if you use an amateur photographer you will more than often not get amateur photographs.  It stands to reason that they will not have the necessary range of professional equipment and (more importantly) they are likely to lack experience.  It may be that people attending your event may take some great images, which they pass to you – but they might not. But that is a random solution to ensuring your event is recorded effectively.

Professional PhotographerIf your budget is tight then why not consider having a professional photographer for the keystone moments, rather than all day.  Two hours of professional coverage will be more effective and useful than eight hours of amateurish coverage.

So how do I choose that blessed professional photographer?

The very first point is to ask around and get recommendations.  Then ask to see their portfolio.  Ideally they will have past experience of photographing shows, exhibitions and conferences.  Look at their past work.  Does that work look like something you would be proud to use?

Next ask for a quotation.  If you give a good brief of what you want they should be able to give you an idea of the cost.  Remember to include the following in the brief:

  • What times does the event run for?
  • Where is it?
  • What are the important of keystone moments and when do they happen?
  • Are there going to be any formal photographs needed?
  • What is the purpose of having the photographs taken for (PR, marketing, website, general purposes)?
  • Are there any deadlines that you need the photographer to meet?
  • What parts of the event do you want them to cover?
  • What are the copyright implications with the images you wish to use?
  • Can you use the images once or as many times as possible or are there charges for each use of the images?
  • Will the photographer’s contract require permission to use or to be credited with each use of the images?
  • Are you looking for a particular style of photography – posed, press style, informal, reportage or what?
  • Are there going to be any lighting issues?
  • Are there going to be any restrictions on the use of flash or supplementary lighting?
  • Are you going to sell the images afterwards?
  • What happens if someone at the event is not prepared to be photographed and they are someone who you particularly wanted to associate with your event?  You can help with this by giving your photographer a badge to show that they are officially accredited.  Also, put a note in the programme and publicity material that you will be having an official photographer present.

If you choose a good photographer for your event then you are investing in the present and future publicity of it.

If you are looking for a highly experienced commercial event photographer then why not call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME to find out how I can help to record your event in a way that you will be very proud of….

View some more of Martin Neeves Photographs

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Why is photography important in advertising and marketing?

Commercial Photographer LeicesterPosted on Thursday, February12th, 2015

Click on image to see larger version
Couldn’t you just eat them?

Advertising and marketing is an important part of selling products and services.  This is not just true in business, but also for local authorities, charities and educational establishments.  Imagery can perform many functions from catching a prospective customer’s eye, simplifying concepts, enhancing the appeal of a product or service, or just pulling together an idea. But it is often the part of an advertising campaign that is left to last, but strong photographs in advertising can make the difference between being just “okay” to being very effective. Photographs play an important role in advertising and marketing because they can tell a story. As the ancient Chinese proverb so rightly stated: “one picture is worth ten thousand words”.

Rather than seeing it as a drain on your business expenses, you should see them as a return on that investment. Using high quality marketing images should be used to ensure the growth of sales. I worry because quite a few businesses focus on the cost of photography for a marketing campaign and forget the benefits it can bring. I agree that high quality photography is likely to cost more than stock images or self-help photographs.  But and it is a big BUT the overall benefit against cost is comparatively greater. It is frustrating that companies will happily spend large amounts on printing and distributing, but scrimp on photography costs. This will mean that the funds invested in the overall campaign have been wasted by a poor final result.

How do I use photography in advertising and marketing then?

Click on image to see larger version
Make sparks fly with your marketing

Good use of photography can tie a whole advertising concept together.  Now stock photography has a place in advertising and marketing, but it can also portray a lack of originality of the product or service. Poor use of photographs and pictures can weaken or destroy a campaign because it does not have real impact.  Photography can bring that Impact. Just remember, we are bombarded by marketing messages.  In the 1970s we were exposed to about 500 ads a day back, whilst today it can be as many as 5,000 a day today.”  Because of this incessant bombardment, consumers are only able to give their attention to brochures and advertising materials for a few seconds before discarding it and moving on to the next piece.  After that, be it in print or online – it goes in the rubbish bin. It is here that great photographs can make a real difference and extend those precious seconds to “a good read”.

A good professional photographer will produce high quality images that will be unique to your business.  They will be unique because only you will have them.  But more importantly, they will be photographs of you and your business.  Done well, they will help your products and services stand out from your competitors.  They can be tailored to fit with your brand, which will help target the right customers.

Getting your message across effectively

Message photography in advertising and marketingRather than hiring a jobbing “professional photographer”, it is always more effective to deal with a photographer who has some experience with advertising photography. The product has to stand out, not disappear into a background.  It needs to stand apart from other adverts in the field.  A good photograph will grab a viewer’s attention and make an impact on their through processes.   Getting a message embedded in a photograph takes someone with a real eye for the product and its opportunities.

When planning your marketing and advertising campaigns, you should always allow an element in your marketing budget to cover photography.  Paying for a professional photographer makes good business sense.

If you hire a photographer to do a photo shoot for you, you will have original images to use when you want.  But do not forget to consider the license agreement you have with the photographer.  Do they give you unlimited use of the images, are they for one project only, do you pay them a fee every time you use the photographs.  Many photographers retain the copyright pf the images, even if you can use them exclusively.  What that means is that you can use them, but you cannot resell them.

Different types of advertising photography need different skills.  Food photography is not just a simple case of putting a bit of food on a plate and taking a photograph.  To make it appetising it needs to be shown at its most desirable, which may require using materials that hold a products look.  This can range from cocktail sticks, food varnish and other tricks of the trade. Fashion photographers need other skills to make a shot feel active, attractive and desirable.

Final Words about using photography in advertising and marketing

Managing an effective advertising or marketing campaign can be a daunting task.  But with good photography and a clear message you can grab the attention of customers.  This will help them take the next step towards a purchase of products or services.

If you want to find out how great photography can help your advertising and marketing then call Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now

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How to use photographs to help your business press relations

Posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Good photography can be a powerful addition to your PR armoury.  Poor photography will often be ignored.  If you see a page of print in a newspaper, magazine, on your website, on social media pages or other publication, the eyes are immediately drawn to any pictures on the page.  At this point, the viewer can make an instant decision to click the back button, turn the page OR read the text.  After all, it is usually the text that carries the real message that you want the viewer to read.  My message is that photographs help business press relations.

GDHowever, the eye can grab an image and process it in the brain in less than a second. So if you want the reader, wherever they are, to carry on and engage with your content in more depth, it really does help to have great imagery.  If your photographs evoke a quick eye scan and nothing more – your chances of further engagement are severely diminished.

If this article was just using this photo, it would be terribly uninspiring – after all how many head and shoulders shots do we see?  Just another mug-shot with a tie.  Would it make you want to read further in this article?  No, because you have seen this type of shot time and time again.  Rather than having a simple mugshot, it would be far better to include a photograph that says something about his business or him.  Something to grab the eye and make you think, “Well what is this all about?  What does he do?  What is his company?  Is he a one man band or the CEO of a bigger company?”  None of these and many other questions answered visually. And the photo is not great quality.

SGP Commercial Property Services - photographs help business press relationsSo what do these folk do?  Is there a team?  What is their company?  What are their corporate colours?  Do they look friendly?  Does your eye get pulled towards this photograph?  Do they look enthusiastic?  All these questions are answered in less than 2 seconds and if you are interested in their services and want to find out more you are now more likely to read the editorial content, whatever it is.

Another factor is that if you want a newsroom or editor to run a story about your business, they will be looking for something to engage their readers.  They are desperate for copy, but they are even more desperate for great copy supported by good photographs.  In my experience press releases and stories without good images to support them get fed in as fillers or little short pieces – often referred to as NIBS (News In Brief).

So what sorts of photographs are good for PR and how photographs help business press relations?

If you want your PR package to have an impact when it lands on an editor’s desk, you have got to understand that an editor is looking for.  Well first understand how they make decisions – the first one, “Is there a good reason to include or exclude your story?”. That gets the story into their decision pile and they will often have loads of press releases crossing their desk.  So want can you do to get them to choose your story? My experience is that one factor that increases the odds of selection is having a great picture because that is more likely to catch their eye.  Next, make sure that you get the story into the photograph. If your photo looks like old passport photo above it says nothing.  Whereas the taxi image leads straight into the story that it is designed to support.

You can bet your life that a low quality photograph will reduce your chances of not only engaging with the editor, but more importantly the readers of article, webpage etc.  From my past experience in the press industry, I know that it is not unusual for a great story not to be published because the photos accompanying it were poor.  Your photographs have to help the busy editor seeing the potentials in your piece. Not only will it get your current story better coverage – BUT they are more likely to ask you again for other articles because they can rely on getting quality from you.

So, this leads me to my next point, it is well worthwhile investing in a professional photographer who is able to understand your subject area.  It is also important that you do not think of a photograph as a one shot use.  It can be used on websites, uploaded onto social media sites, in marketing collateral and even potentially in future press material to display a consistent branding message.  However, you should always check the photographer’s terms and conditions to ensure that you can re-use the images.  .

How can you provide a good people portrait?

cook - photographs help business press relationsFirstly, as I said avoid head and shoulders photos, they should be appropriate for the position and industry of the person being photographed.  A good professional photograph will find a way of bringing the image to life.  They are very likely to offer suggestions about location, dress, poses, and they will light the image well to give it some atmosphere.

So, with the photograph on the right you can have the executive or staff of a restaurant chain pose in a kitchen. The photo has personality and is more likely to stand out from hundreds of other similar pictures.

What is going to be a good photo?

Firstly, they should be high resolution with a quality of at least 300 dpi and, ideally, be nine inches (or more) on longest side. The reason for this is that larger, high-resolution photographs keep their quality when they are resized, usually downwards.  Mobile phone cameras are getting better, but the photographs produced by a digital SLR are going to give you the quality required.

Another consideration is that an action picture is going to have more visual interest.  I find standard posed shots of groups can be uninteresting because they are less likely to grab the viewer’s attention. This is where a good professional photographer will come be invaluable. They have the right equipment and they have the experience to get good innovative photographs for you. They know how to make sure that your photographs help business press relations for you.

Call me now on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME to find out how I can provide your business with PR photography to make your business stand out and explain how photographs help business press relations.

Will Cameras on Mobile Phones Destroy Photography – the view of a Leicestershire Professional Photographer?

Martin Neeves - Leicestershire Professional PhotographerPosted on Monday, August 27th, 2014

Leicestershire Professional PhotographerIt is now the norm to see anyone and everyone taking photos on their mobile phone. It is impossible not to notice the mobile phone invasion.  From “selfies” to impromptu photos of news events to the dreaded flashing light at concerts.– they are used everywhere.  In the past it was obvious if someone had a camera and was taking photos.  But now anyone with a mobile phone could be an “undercover” photographer.  For professional photographers the occasions where they used to be to “main attraction” everyone is snapping their version of events.  So does this destroy photography or mean that professional photographers are a dying breed.  I examine this thought and give you my views, as a Leicestershire Professional Photographer, below…

There is no doubt that over the past 100 or so years, conventional photography has become a highly developed art form and profession.  We have seen the camera evolve from a simple pin-hole in a box to complex electrical, digital computers with lenses on the front.  This evolution has spawned the digital camera embedded into mobile phones – it might be said to have democratised photography.  It is now easier to bring a competent level of photography within the bounds of most people.  Professional photographers can now deliver high quality photographs to their customers with greater ease because of decades of evolution of their craft.  But it is also true that it is possible for anyone to become an amateur photographer with their mobile phone that is always with them.

So back to the question: Will Cameras on Mobile Phones Destroy Photography?”  I think that the question needs considering across three audience types:

  1. The professional photographer – is this the end of the world and your profession?  Is it possible that the humble, but highly technical mobile phone will destroy your customer base and make you obsolete?
  2. The aspiring photographer – do you have a future?  Is it worth your while investing in training or sophisticated equipment; after all we have been led to believe that makes a professional photography so superior.  Is it worth all the bother if mobile phones are going to make all that training and investment obsolete?
  3. The consumer – can you avoid hiring a professional photographer and get the same quality of photographs using yours or a friend’s mobile phone?

Obviously as new technology appears to make inroads into a profession many of the traditionalists in that profession are going to feel threatened.  Remember the cry that television came along and the media predicted the demise of radio.  In the music industry, digital recording has caused shock waves, but you know these industries don’t necessarily die?  They evolve.  These industries adjusted, evolved, got better and prospered all the more – I think the same will happen with photography.

Let us examine the situation in more depth.  I think there are sensible reasons to think that cameras on mobile phones are not going to destroy photography as we know it:

  • Cameras on mobile phones may be able to increasingly take better quality images, but they are unlikely to be able to achieve the same levels of quality as a larger format camera with all the lighting and ancillary equipment that a professional photographer brings to the party.  The reason a professional photographer invests in highly, sophisticated equipment and a studio is that he or she can bring high quality imagery to the client.  And let us not forget, no matter how good the equipment, it still takes the knowledge and experience – as well as the trained eye, to produce a stunning photograph.  The difference between a technically correct photograph and a stunning image is easy to see.  Photography is more than a camera – it is a whole range equipment that has precise instrumentation to allow the photographer to handle lighting issues and frame each photograph correctly.  It is in scenarios like weddings, portraits, commercial photography that customers do not want “just a technically competent” photo – they want a stunning professional quality outcome.  Do you really think that forensic photography, fashion photography and photography for publication will ever accept the lower standards of quality that are produced on mobile phone cameras.
  • Let’s face it, when see people holding up their camera phones at a concert to steal a picture with their mobile phone, it is not going to result in a professional quality shot.  At a live event like a concert there are going to be a heap issues like lighting, visual noise and many other problems that require a level of sophisticated instrumentation that a mobile phone will not have.  So let us be clear, mobile phones are an amateur photography device that allows the amateur to get better, and as such they are great for that niche.
  • I believe that mobile phone cameras are great because they allow the amateur to take better photographs and it encourages more recording of events in our world.  But their limitations, and the limitations of the amateur photographer mean that without a professional the standards of the final product will be compromised.  What customers and professional need to focus on is that high standards of quality will continue to be what make professional photography of supreme value to its customers.

So I do not believe that it is time to read the funeral rites of professional photography, nor do I wish to cast mobile phones in a negative light.  Mobile phones have their place and they provide great fun for people.  Professional photography only has something to fear if it does not adapt and continue to work out how it will continue to be valuable to customers.  Customers will continue to demand quality for those important shots and that is where the professional eye and equipment will continue to be required.

Please call Martin Neeves for top quality commercial photography by a Leicestershire Professional Photographer on 01455 271 849 or 07973 638 591 or email me.

15 Steps to Find the Commercial Photographer of Your Dreams in Leicester

Commercial Photographer LeicesterPosted on Friday, July 28th, 2014

Too often I talk to people who want commercial photography but they either do not know where to start when they have to choose one, or they are disappointed with the end results.

It doesn’t have to be that way if you follow some straight forward steps.  Like any project – good planning will help you find the “Chosen One”, get the best out of the photographer and allow them to do the best for you.

1.   Decide what you want to use the photography for. Are you looking for traditional brochure style photography, or do you need something edgy and modern looking?  The photographer will want to know who your target audience is – young old, national, regional, trade etc.  They will want to know is this for – publicity, website, brochures or printed material or all of these?  How will the imagery be displayed?

2.   Think about how and where you want the photographs taking.  Are they at one site or does the photographer have to travel?  Are they at your premises, at one of your customers’ premises, in a studio or out on a job location?

3.   Do you want Video as well?  Some photographers will “do video” but they have no real experience of real video production procedures.  Will the photographs be used in conjunction with the videos because there will need to be some sensible coordination by the photographer.

4.   How many images do you need? Some photographers charge by the number of images produced, some by the time they have to take to produce the images, others will produce a gallery of images and you pay for each image you chose to buy.

5.   How do you want the images delivering to you?  Do you want them in print, as digital images, on DVD, USB memory stick, or to download from an online web-gallery?

6.   What is your Budget?  Do your research and find out what sort of budget you are going to need to spend to get a quality photographer that you are looking for.  Is the photography budget set in stone or open for negotiation? As with most things in life, you normally get what you pay for.  Cheap photographers are cheap for a reason!

7.   Make sure you involve all in your business that will use the photographs.  I am always amazed at the number of times that I have started a shoot, based upon the brief of a Marketing Manager or Business Owner, only to meet other people in the business.  They express disappointment that the shoot will not cover their needs or they have a chat with the relevant person, only for the brief to be changed “on the hoof”.  Had I known the changes before the event then I would have considered other equipment.  For example, I would need to bring continuous lighting instead of flash if video is needed in addition to still photos.

8.   Research photographers.  There are several avenues to do this and they are all important:

  • Get online.  All reputable and worthwhile professional photographers will have a comprehensive website (and many will have blogs) showing what they do.  They should also have a string of testimonials to look at.  Check their Facebook and Twitter pages – is the feedback from clients good? How does the photographer respond to comments (especially any negative feedback)?
  • Ask your business acquaintances for recommendations.  Ideally, these recommendations will be from people who have used a particular photographer, rather than I have a mate who “does photography” or who “owns a decent camera”.
  • Create a shortlist.  Write down a list of criteria for your project and as you go through the research you can add potential photographers and score them on a grid.  You can then analyse which photographers seem to fit your criteria.
  • Read reviews.  If you find a photographer that interests you – make sure to check for any reviews they might have online. This will allow you to judge their track record and if they are worth pursuing.
  • Remove from your list any individuals with less-than-stellar records, weak references, or a style that you dislike.
  • Expensive equipment does not make a good photographer.  Just because somebody has purchased an expensive camera doesn’t mean they’re a professional photographer.  You are interviewing the photographer not his equipment.

9.   Face to face meeting.   After you have completed your research and reviewed your shortlist – meet your prospective photographer(s).  Be prepared to talk about your specifications in detail.  This should only be necessary for commissioning a photographer for an extensive amount of work.  Telephone conversations should be sufficient for one-off jobs.

An experienced photographer will want to ask their fair share of questions, including the location of the event, the days and hours he will be expected to shoot, the kinds of images you’re looking for and how you’ll be using the pictures. They are almost certain to want to compile an event schedule or shot list.  This will give the photographer a clear understanding of where they need to be at specific times, who and what you want captured and any scheduling conflicts. Communicating specific event details helps the photographer define the job, create an accurate estimate and prevent surprising, last-minute cost add-ons.

When interviewing – make sure to ask questions about public liability insurance, VAT, and whether they have a back-up camera equipment or not.

Give the photographer a realistic deadline for when you want the photos.  Make sure that you specify how you want them delivered, whether online or via portable drives. This will help both you and the photographer come to an agreement on needs, expectations, price and terms, it’s time to draft the contract.

10.   Ask About Your Rights.  Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken.  In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even use them in ads).  That also means that you can’t just use any of the digital proofs they send you.  Most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them.  This may mean that you have to buy the rights to the images, or that you are granted usage rights in certain territories for a specified length of time.

11.   Get the Post-production Details.  How long will it take to get the photo proofs back from your photographer? A good photographer will be shooting enormous RAW files not your conventional JPG that your snapshot digital camera takes.  The photographer uses RAW files because it gives them greater colour depth and a higher dynamic range than shooting jpegs.  More importantly, it also takes a longer time to upload, process, edit and output all those files.  They will ensure they get the correct colour balance, exposure levels, tone curve and lighting effects. You should ask:

  • How many images should I expect?
  • Will they be high-resolution or low-resolution?
  • Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images?
  • Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want?
  • Are there retouching options and special effects.  This might range from simple colour balancing to air-brushing out small details or selectively lightening or darkening particular areas in the photos.

12.   Ask for references.  A good professional photographer will always be happy for you to take references from previous customers.  Take the time to call and ask whether they were satisfied with the photographer’s work.

13.   As with any major decision, sleep on it.

14.   Make your choice.  After your face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations, make the decision.

15.   Use a contract. Again, most photographers will provide you within a contract to stipulate how long he or she will be present, whether they’ll use a second photographer or assistant, and how many pictures you’ll receive and in what form and arrangement.  Beware of any photographers do not offer a contract – you may find it difficult to tie them down to exactly what they are going to shoot for youAlways read what you sign.

The End – you should now have your “Dream Photographer”.  Once this process is all complete you should have the basis for a successful relationship with your chosen photographer that leads to some great photographs.

If you would like to discuss any commercial photography assignments from a “Dream Photographer”, please Contact Me or give me a call on 07073 638 591.  Martin Neeves – Commercial Photographer Leicester.

Homer Simpson’s™ Guide to Professional Photographers in Leicester

Our thanks go to the creators of Homer Simpson for all the fun they have given us over the years.

Homer Simpson™ has become the archetypal image of the stereotype of stupidity and laziness. His failure is based upon a guy who can never beat the system. Looking carefully you see that the reason that he never gets ahead is that he uses lazy logic to justify taking short cuts and reasoning that his failure is someone else’s fault.

Many of the myths about photography could have been generated by Homer Simpson.

Anyone can take a great photograph, hell you just point the camera and press a button

So Homer thinks that the advent of digital cameras has made everyone a great photographer. You can just point the camera and shoot a great photo. It is not the camera that takes the photos, it is the photographer – the camera is just a tool.

Bad PhotoGood photo
“Portrait from the Homer Simpson™ library” – How it could have looked on the right

I just been down to Walmart and got an expensive camera – now I’m a pro

Homer boy, you can have all the kit in the world – commercial photography is more than just taking pretty photos. They need composing correctly, you have got to understand how to exploit different lighting conditions and you have got to take a good image in all conditions.

Just buying a better camera or getting the latest one will not make you a pro or ensure you produce top quality images. In fact, with modern digital cameras they open up new horizons because of their complexity. However, if the professional photographer does not master the high-tech equipment they cannot take great photos. I have seen some outstanding photographs taken on low-tech basic cameras by those who are masters of their craft. OK, a modern digital camera will be able to take photos in focus and correctly (ish) exposed), but it will not have the imagination to create or see a photo, compose it, light it, cajole subjects into giving the right expressions and press the button at the decisive moment.

Too often website owners play at Homer Simpson™ – as can be seen below. Which image is going to entice someone to buy your products? It is not the product that fails but the photograph.

Sorry Homer your shot on the left ain’t a good product shot – here is how it can be done on the right.

CakeNice Food

Do’h – anyone can take photos on a mobile stupid

Mobile cameras are designed as a utility camera to take snap shots on the move, they do not have the lenses or settings or lighting to take professional photos. Again, I have seen some astounding images taken on mobile phones, but it is the photographer not the camera that did that.

So I fluffed it a bit – we can fix it in Photoshop

Now Photoshop is good, but it cannot make a bad photograph good. It can optimise a good photo to show it best characteristics but Photoshop requires a lot of skill set altogether. However, Photoshop can make a great image exceptional in the hands of an expert.

Photoshop cannot cover up a critical mistake such as poor composition, poor expressions by the subjects or a shot that is out of focus. No Homer, you cannot claim that the out of focus shot you produced was your artistic interpretation – let’s face it we know you cannot take good photos.

Pah – if I tell people I’m a professional then by gosh I am one

Homer mate, being a professional photographer is more than just a name. It is about the way you conduct business. It is about the expertise and experience you use to produce great images for your clients. And by the way Homer it is also about the way you handle your clients.

Being a professional photographer is like mastering any skill like driving a car. The more you do it, the more experience you have – then the better you become. A qualification can be an indicator but a true professional will have a credible portfolio to demonstrate his or her skills. I have been a full-time professional photographer for 27 years (and I’m still learning), but when my clients hire me, they are hiring all that experience too.

What do you mean, “What lighting will I use?”? – the freeking camera has a flash on it

Hmm Homer the built-in flash on cameras is for general (very amateur) use and cannot cover all lighting needs. It cannot be angled to bounce the light or used off-camera so it will create harsh shadows against the wall behind subjects and it will often give subjects the dreaded red-eye (which is so attractive – NOT!). All professional photographers know that good lighting is the key to every image. More than that it is also about knowing how to set up a shot is critical to a photograph’s success. A photographer cannot blame a bad shot on the light they have to deal with whatever light they found and enhance it by making the best of their lighting equipment.

Avoid the Homer Simpson™ Professional Photography methods

Thanks for your insights Homer, but you know I think you must stop selling your online book “How to become a professional photographer” because too many business people seem to have read it and taken it as gospel. Daily I come across websites, newsletters, mail shots and flyers that have photography that might well have been produced by the Homer Simpson Photography company. A good shot from a professional photographer will pay you back in spades because it will give your business a professional image. Take a look at your publicity photos. What do they say about you? Do they show you really care about your business and your clients?

If you want to find out how your business can avoid the Homer Simpson approach to professional photography, call Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or use my contact form to get in touch now.

7 Signs You Should Invest In Commercial Photography

The quality of the imagery you use in your marketing, both on and offline can play a big part persuading potential customers to use your products or services.

Customers make judgements about your business based on what they see, so getting good commercial photography is important for any business operating in today’s world.

So often I see so many obvious signs that websites or marketing documents are let down by photography that does not support the words in the message. In reality, there is a likely return on investment that makes hiring a professional photographer is something your business should seriously consider.

We are living in an increasingly visual world, and images can have an enormous impact (positive or negative) on your business. This has probably never been greater than right now.   This lead me to consider these 7 Signs You Should Invest In Commercial Photography.

So what signs can give you a clue that you need to invest in?  

  1. You are using stock photographs to represent your business in your marketing.

You will get great quality with stock images and depending on your size and licence requirements, they will often be available at a pretty reasonable price.

Searching to find the right images takes time. In addition, people are now very aware of stock images and it is highly likely that other businesses will be using those same images, especially if they are good. So how will you stand out in the crowd?

If you use stock images, your potential customer may assume you are a small business. Even if you are you will appear much bigger if you look more professional – that is what good images can buy you.

Additionally, your business is unique and how much better to have photographs of real people and real situations linked to your business. This will make your images look so much more authentic.

  1. Your photos look like you have taken them on your mobile phone

Now that everyone has a reasonable camera on their mobile phones, everyone thinks they can produce acceptable photographs.

Take a look at these 2 images to see the difference:

Poor Quality mobile imageGood quality professional image

Basically what we’re looking for is authentic and real stand-out images that deliver a great return on investment.

A profile photo you took for Facebook on the mobile does not look professional in a business context. Selfies work in certain situations but it is not suitable for your business profile.

  1. Your images do not communicate your business messages effectively

Professional photography is an easy and great way to promote your brand. We all have mates down the pub, or a relative who “really has an eye for a good picture”. Modern digital cameras have allowed us to take shots that may be just good enough for the web and look good. BUT perception is everything. A good commercial photographer will do more than just take a good pic – they will take the image of your brand from good to great.

Brands are much more than a logo – they are like people – they have personality. Communicating that “personality” will have a real impact on customers and potential clients. A good commercial photographer can do more than produce a “good pic” their photographs can demonstrate your business’ passion, reliability, approachability, professionalism and charisma.

This can be portrayed in one image like this:


  1. Your images are not stimulating business – they lack creativity

If a potential customer is comparing two new suppliers one of which is your business.  You both offer similar products, services and costs, BUT your website has poor product images that make it difficult to see anything in clear detail. Then your competitor has images that showcase their product and company well.  Who will they buy from?  It doesn’t just stop with products, good head shots, staff, office images all display one key element “professionalism” and that equals more business!

A “professional photographer has the experience, technical knowledge and creative skills to take a perfect image to showcase your business to best effect.

  1. Your images do not stand out from the crowd

Dull and poor quality imagery that does not stand out from the crowd will hinder your business.

Instead, focus on the services you provide that separate your business from the other photographers shooting the same subject matter. What do you offer that’s different? How do you go above and beyond to provide great customer support for these services and products? How do you provide a truly unique experience for your clients while on the job? Also think about how you can differentiate your brand by which you target, or your location.

A professional photographer has all the necessary equipment and knowledge. Making sure the lighting is set up correctly is not as simple as it seems. Also taking the photograph is only half the task – the photographer will do post-production editing to get the best from each image.

  1. Your images lack impact.

To create the right impact your business needs to have beautiful images that stand out from the crowd. Poor images will probably lose you sales and average ones won’t really grab people’s attention or encourage them to find out more, so you really have to make sure the images are the best they can be.

A professional commercial photographer will bring style, creativity and high quality images to your brand.

The photos below show the difference a good photograph can make – the second shot is an amateur group shot with poor lighting, uninspiring composition, and a distracting background.

D1217_02hp-business-people-framed-by-a-gasket-in-a-factoryAn amateur group shot with poor lighting, uninspiring composition, and a distracting background.

  1. The products or key information is lost in the background

There is so much to getting a photograph just right. The photographer will avoid clutter – they know simplicity and clarity is the key! They know all the tricks of the trade to make the space look more appealing and attractive. Taking detail photographs of products needs special equipment, lighting and backgrounds. Having all these considerations right can make your product or business stand out in the imagery and not get lost in the back ground.

Remember Red Adair’s famous quote:

“If you think it is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

You can be assured that Martin Neeves has the experience to provide you with a professional commercial photographic service – to find out more Call 01455 271849 or 07973 638591.