Tag Archives: Leicestershire Professional 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.

My mate can take better photos than you

Written by Martin Neeves – Commercial Photographer Leicestershire

better photosDuring my long working life as a professional photographer I have been availed of much worldly wisdom from various people that has amused me.  Some belittles the photographic profession as being “dead easy cos all you need is an expensive camera mate”, others talking without thinking.  When you look at these statements of “fact and wisdom”, it is apparent that many people do not know what a photographer really does.

Well let’s take the main statement – My mate can take better photos than you.  OK so why isn’t he/she here now? Or usually more to the point why are they not running a photography business?  So many people are dabbling at being photographers and digital photography has enabled people with less talent to “get away with it”, but most still produce pretty mundane photos (even if the technology has helped them to correct their mistakes).  It’s not for me to say, as others will judge my photos on their own merits, but I have been a full-time professional photographer for 28 years, so I do have quite a lot of experience under my belt.

Anyone with an expensive camera can take a great picture.  This has a similar statement as well: All you need to get a good photograph is to have a good camera. Well yes, having a decent camera helps you get to grips with some of the technical aspects of photography.  However, if you just point a camera at a subject and press the shutter release, it usually won’t take a great picture.  It is definitely the photographer who composes the photograph, decides on the way to photograph the subject, and decides on framing the scene – etc.

Photography is easy.  Hmmmm yes so it is.  After all I do not have to visualise how an image should look before taking the photograph.  And what about framing and composing the picture to make it tell a story.  Oh and I forgot about getting the exposure right, choosing the right Martin Neeves -  better than your mateshutter speed, using the right ISO, picking the correct aperture, focussing the image, choosing the right lens.  Nope all that is automatic – I wish.  Taking boring photos on a point-and-shoot camera is very easy, but taking original photos, knowing the effect of altering each variable and taking a photograph at the decisive moment takes a lot more skill and experience.

Why do you watermark your photographs on your website?  It ruins them.  To stop unscrupulous “photographers” from stealing my work and passing it off as their own.  Unfortunately, this dishonest practice is very common these days.

Why do photographers make the background blurred?  Is it because you are not good at focusing the camera?  No, sorry to disillusion you, it is because we ARE good at focussing the camera (and choosing a suitably large aperture), by blurring the background it makes the Deputy-Prime-Minister-Nick-Clegg-makes-a-speech-on-the-Made-by-Apprentices-stand-at-The-skills-Show-at-the-NEC-in-Birmingham.-Photography-by-Martin-Neeves-Photography-Film-www.martinneeves.com-07973-638-591important object stand out in the final photograph.  If you are looking at an image of a bride or a company executive, do you really want to see the detail of the hedge or office in the background?

Do you shoot with a UV filter on; will it keep the prints from fading?   You can use all the filters and gizmos on the camera you like, it will not stop an image from fading etc.  Once the light has passed through the filter and lens then that equipment has done its job and it can have no effect on what has been recorded.  It is all about the storage or print medium used to record the image.  For the record, UV filters are mainly used to protect the front element of the lens, but they also cut out unwanted UV light too.

I see you have a DSLR camera; what film do you use in it?  Well I will tell you a secret, there Martin Neeves Professional Photographeris no film in it – it’s magic.  It stores the image digitally on a memory card – the “D” in DSLR stands for DIGITAL.

You are a bit of a fraud; after all you just set the “p” for professional mode to get all your photos! At this stage I usually almost wet myself laughing because I realise that they have no idea of what they are talking about.  In case you wondered “P” mode means Programmed Automatic which allows the camera to decide on which shutter speed and aperture to use, so the photographer has no say in it at all.  I NEVER shoot in P mode.  I use the manual mode for the vast majority of my work, but occasionally I will use aperture or shutter priority automatic if I am in a situation where the light level will change within a short space of time.

So if you want someone who can take better photos than your mate, why not contact Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now

My mate can take better photos than you

Written by Martin Neeves – Commercial Photographer Leicestershire

better photosDuring my long working life as a professional photographer I have been availed of much worldly wisdom from various people that has amused me.  Some belittles the photographic profession as being “dead easy cos all you need is an expensive camera mate”, others talking without thinking.  When you look at these statements of “fact and wisdom”, it is apparent that many people do not know what a photographer really does.

Well let’s take the main statement – My mate can take better photos than you.  OK so why isn’t he/she here now? Or usually more to the point why are they not running a photography business?  So many people are dabbling at being photographers and digital photography has enabled people with less talent to “get away with it”, but most still produce pretty mundane photos (even if the technology has helped them to correct their mistakes).  It’s not for me to say, as others will judge my photos on their own merits, but I have been a full-time professional photographer for 28 years, so I do have quite a lot of experience under my belt.

Anyone with an expensive camera can take a great picture.  This has a similar statement as well: All you need to get a good photograph is to have a good camera. Well yes, having a decent camera helps you get to grips with some of the technical aspects of photography.  However, if you just point a camera at a subject and press the shutter release, it usually won’t take a great picture.  It is definitely the photographer who composes the photograph, decides on the way to photograph the subject, and decides on framing the scene – etc.

Photography is easy.  Hmmmm yes so it is.  After all I do not have to visualise how an image should look before taking the photograph.  And what about framing and composing the picture to make it tell a story.  Oh and I forgot about getting the exposure right, choosing the right Martin Neeves -  better than your mateshutter speed, using the right ISO, picking the correct aperture, focussing the image, choosing the right lens.  Nope all that is automatic – I wish.  Taking boring photos on a point-and-shoot camera is very easy, but taking original photos, knowing the effect of altering each variable and taking a photograph at the decisive moment takes a lot more skill and experience.

Why do you watermark your photographs on your website?  It ruins them.  To stop unscrupulous “photographers” from stealing my work and passing it off as their own.  Unfortunately, this dishonest practice is very common these days.

Why do photographers make the background blurred?  Is it because you are not good at focusing the camera?  No, sorry to disillusion you, it is because we ARE good at focussing the camera (and choosing a suitably large aperture), by blurring the background it makes the Deputy-Prime-Minister-Nick-Clegg-makes-a-speech-on-the-Made-by-Apprentices-stand-at-The-skills-Show-at-the-NEC-in-Birmingham.-Photography-by-Martin-Neeves-Photography-Film-www.martinneeves.com-07973-638-591important object stand out in the final photograph.  If you are looking at an image of a bride or a company executive, do you really want to see the detail of the hedge or office in the background?

Do you shoot with a UV filter on; will it keep the prints from fading?   You can use all the filters and gizmos on the camera you like, it will not stop an image from fading etc.  Once the light has passed through the filter and lens then that equipment has done its job and it can have no effect on what has been recorded.  It is all about the storage or print medium used to record the image.  For the record, UV filters are mainly used to protect the front element of the lens, but they also cut out unwanted UV light too.

I see you have a DSLR camera; what film do you use in it?  Well I will tell you a secret, there Martin Neeves Professional Photographeris no film in it – it’s magic.  It stores the image digitally on a memory card – the “D” in DSLR stands for DIGITAL.

You are a bit of a fraud; after all you just set the “p” for professional mode to get all your photos! At this stage I usually almost wet myself laughing because I realise that they have no idea of what they are talking about.  In case you wondered “P” mode means Programmed Automatic which allows the camera to decide on which shutter speed and aperture to use, so the photographer has no say in it at all.  I NEVER shoot in P mode.  I use the manual mode for the vast majority of my work, but occasionally I will use aperture or shutter priority automatic if I am in a situation where the light level will change within a short space of time.

So if you want someone who can take better photos than your mate, why not contact Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now

Why use a professional photographer for your website or business photography Hinckley?

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

The Internet has opened up many opportunities for businesses to promote their goods and services to a much bigger audience. Great images have an incredible impact, but conversely, poor images tell another story.  An out of focus or poorly produced photograph can put the site visitor off your services or products.  Imagine you are selling a television in an offline shop and it is dusty, scratched and nor displayed to attract a sale – would you put up with that?  Or perhaps you have a printed flyer that has spelling mistakes, looks amateurish – is it going to convince someone to use your services unless they are after cheap and cheerful, and do not care about quality.

Poor quality tells the customer you do not care about quality!

Poorly lit, fuzzy photographs are not going to sell your business.  Poor images tell the potential customer that YOU do not care about quality! If your business photography is poor, then what else in the business is poor?

Mobile phones and digital cameras have made us think that taking photos is easy; anyone can produce “good enough” for the web.  But that is actually not true, it is often the attention to detail and the creative way that an image is photographed that makes all the difference.

For example, the shine back of the flash causing a glow or the reflection of the photographer in a shiny image distracts the potential customer and are classic errors made by a camera owner who thinks they are a photographer.

business photography
Let us play a game – spot the photographer.

Or oops the flash shows up the polish marks.
Or oops the flash shows up the polish marks

Stock images then?

Okay got my point, but of course you might say that you can use stock images. In most cases stock images look generic; they do now show your real-life business. They look posed, set-up and “acted”.  One stock image usually comes from a suite of up to 100 variations of the same theme and models from the same photographer, so the chances are that you will not have a unique image.  Half the battle for businesses these days is to stand out from the crowd – to be unique.  Your business is unique, so it needs to have a style of imagery that compliments your brand, instead of mimicking someone else’s. You will not do a good job “shoe-horning” a hotchpotch of stock images to fit your corporate brand.

Okay, okay so why the professional for business photography?

A good professional photographer will understand your brief and work out an image set that expresses your brand in the way you want it.   This will help your company to portray itself in your unique and individual way with great business photography.

Because you are briefing the photographer and working with them, you will have control of the way the images are produced.  Poor quality photographs or littering your website, brochure and sales leaflets with cheap stock library images can cost you a lot more than using a professional photographer.  The damage poor imagery can do to your brand, corporate identity and the image is too big a risk.

If you wants exclusive photographic images that sets your business apart from your competitors, then think carefully about using a professional photographer. Remember a great artist is not a great artist because of the equipment they have but because of the knowledge and skills acquired over many years.

A professional photographer, who is experienced in producing business photography, knows that things can go wrong during a shoot, and leaves nothing to chance. They will have planned your shoot, and have fall-back ideas to cope with weather, lighting, equipment failure. When an amateur photographer takes a photograph with good or bad equipment they tend to just point the camera and trust the equipment to do the work.  Whilst it can be possible to produce reasonable photographs, you can quickly see the difference from a professional shot.  A professional photographer can take into account exposure times, lighting distance to the subject, and the benefits of using different lenses.  With all these variables considered, the professional will frame the image to generate best visual effect.  Your photographs, and hence your business will stand out from the crowd.   That is business photography in action, working for your business.

See examples of my business photography.

Call me now on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME for an estimate or to discuss how my professional business photography can add real value to your business by the Professional Photographer Hinckley.

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.