Archive for October, 2014

Indifferent Weekend

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Firstly both the kids were ill, Josh with S&D and Chloe with a fever so Saturday was one of consoling cuddles and some seriously lame television whilst they dozed. 100’s of channels showing some seriously unappealing viewable content which is just typical when you have, what was an effectively, free day. Chloe had attempted training in the morning but had withdrawn after only 20 minutes looking like a ghost and sweating profusely. You really know when your kids are ill when the enticement of chocolate fails to muster a response.

Sunday brought an improvement with Josh yet Chloe was still running a temperature. Today was an initial round of the Kingston League Gymnastics competition in which Chloe was entered and I was covering as official photographer. With Chloe dosed up we arrived nice and early to set up. I like to have everything tested, erected and the television screen showing examples of our work as competitors and parents arrive to the venue. I have also found that arriving early allows us to grab prime space within a venue before all the bric’a’brac, raffle and clothing sales people all turn up. Maximum footfall and eye contact is what we need at these events and the simple act of being a half hour early ensures this.

As a local event there were only just over 120 competitors yet with large junior groups we have a good opportunity for first time sales. Many parents, like ourselves, are fiercely proud of our children and their achievements so the opportunity to have an excellent quality image as a keepsake. It is true that after several events the collection is only added to when something, like a podium, has been achieved. It is great to see the parents, and kids, smiles as they receive their chosen image which may be the first ever event entered or first podium etc. It does sadden us though when children have seen themselves on our big screen yet the parents refuse point blank to purchase an image. Sadness, not just at a business level but with the glum face of the children as they are walked away. That show & tell image for school or the entire family, friends and anyone else who will look and discuss opportunity and of course the memory, all lost in an instant.

A constant healthy queue of parents and competitors ensured business was brisk. We know we are cheaper than other competitors yet our volume sales make up for that. It’s rather like the supermarkets in that some will sell 10 tins of beans at an inflated price whilst some sell more, but cheaper, for the same % profit margin to be made. My philosophy is to get our name out there and expand our customer base being competitive. Being exclusive may appeal to some but I love being busy.

Anyway, here’s one of the arena after we had set up and I was testing out the custom white balance of my camera. Even though the arena has a new sponsor, Airco, nothing has been done about the amount of blown lighting. Embarrassing levels of light which not only spoils the spectacle but shoves my iso at 1/500th and f/2.8 through the roof, metaphorically speaking.

Calm before the storm.



The Great War Centenary

100 Years have now passed since the start of the Great War in 1914. A war to end all wars, it sadly was not to be; with many millions of people, an estimated 16 Million, both military and civilian perishing during the conflict.

100 Years represents many generations and thus a distancing from the horrors of being involved in such an event. Much modern day conflict is localised, and very specific in location. The Great War simply engulfed Europe and as with World War 2 no civilian could escape it’s effects. This gave many a story to be told by those affected within a war surrounding. My grandparents would reminisce about life as children during WW1 and then their own contribution during WW2. As one of my Great Grandfathers had died in France during WW1 our family had, as many others did, lost a future head of family. Both my Granddads saw action during WW2 and were lucky enough to live and tell such tales to at least one interested Grandson. That interested Grandson who listened intently to those stories of war signed up to H.M.Forces himself, saw live action, served in hostile environments and now sits writing this blog cherishing a life others never had the chance to live.

This image represents a continuance of the thoughts, which resulted in my images from the Eden Camp Shoot earlier this year. Those initial images were my way of a small gesture of thanks to the not so mentioned ladies of the Great War and their huge contribution to the effort and sacrifice given.

I had also decided to create a studio image of my daughter holding a poppy as a final image representing or reflecting upon World War One. Teachers have not, and will not, discuss the war at her school, and I felt that discussing the symbolism of the poppy whilst we conducted a shoot might be of enlightenment to her.

I allowed my daughter to choose the poppy, growing wild in fields near to our house, that we would use for the shoot. Once back in the studio we were discussing war, as an 8 year old would, and I was quite taken with her questions and understanding on the subject. When it came to the scale of horror and death this is where she fell down.

My daughter asked me how many people had died; I had replied a lot of people and continued adjusting lighting and taking the odd image. My daughter then placed a figure on the deaths with a comment of “More than ten Daddy?”. I had replied with a rather muttered and ambiguous “Many more” comment to which she replied “More than one hundred?” My simple reply of “Yes” seemed to place her in thought and she went quiet. Ready to shoot and with an agreed pose by my daughter I began to capture images of her. Minor direction to the position of her hands and things appeared to be going well until a single tear formed in her eye and rolled down her cheek. I took the picture, I don’t know why but I just did. Should I have discarded my camera and hugged her or asked what the problem was, possibly, but I took the shot. An incredibly powerful moment for my daughter as the concept of war, its horrors, misery and ultimate sacrifice dawned within her youthful carefree conscience. A tear for the fallen or a tear for humanity only she will know though her statement of horror at that amount of deaths, within her concept of numbers, speaks volumes itself. My camera was immediately discarded after this image had been captured and the shoot abandoned.

My decision to add the poem “Flanders Fields” by Major John McCrae was one that I felt appropriate in the circumstances. A direct connection to the Great War and complimenting the Poppy that Chloe was holding. I chose the typeface colour by simply colour picking a leaf of the poppy.

I also chose two additional images, for reduced opacity within the primary image, to add depth. One is of the war graves at the Flanders Fields memorial site and the second is an image of soldiers walking across no mans land during WW1.

As a final touch I added the “1914-2014 lest we forget” wording to the base of the image. This hopefully makes the purpose of this image obvious to even the most ignorant within society.

I would now like to thank my Great Grandfather, William Ernest Cropper, my wife’s Great Grandfather, John Henry Gill and the estimated 16 Million others who gave the ultimate sacrifice during that war so that we could be free.

 William Ernest Cropper

Died – 28th May 1917 & buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France.


John Henry Gill

Died – 29th April 1918, during heavy bombardment, with no remains found.

A plaque is placed in Tyne Cot memorial, France.

And my image….


A great day.

Posted: October 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

The morning was one of fun and joviality shooting two classes of ‘My Baby Can Dance’ sessions. Primarily a mother and toddler group it’s also great to see some dads there having fun which takes me back to when my two were young. Lots of music, activities, song and of course dance.

Took the mobile studio with us thus offering portraits of any parents and toddlers who wanted them. Far more popular than I anticipated which meant a late get away with the poor caretaker helping us tidy our kit away to set the hall up for the next booking.

My primary role was to capture the coordinator, adults & children all having fun. The images will then be transformed into a new advertising poster for the expanding group within East Yorkshire, similar to the way in which the ‘Tumbletime’ poster was used.

One from the day with a giant parachute style sheet being the focus of all the fun.


My afternoon was spent in Sheffield watching my son compete in the Yorkshire ASA Championships. A magnificent swim, with a PB, in the 100m Free of 1:01:04. That certainly rounded off a fun day on a high so finally home for a rest as suffering with a head cold which seems to come complete with a 24hr headache. I feel a small single malt with an early night may be in order.

Edit: 13th Oct 2014

Poster completed with the customer extremely happy with the result. Now to be printed and distributed throughout the community centres where these classes are taken.


Got to love it when…

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

…a business you did a shoot for uses one of the images as the front page image of their website. All the other images from the shoot are within the site and a lovely credit given too.

The shoot was completed at the Holy Trinity Church in Hull. I also did a complete studio shoot, for this young designer, and she’s used all those images too.

Again you’ve got to love it when people genuinely appreciate your work.


As my previous post explains I spent this weekend away in Perth, Scotland as the official photographer for the Home Nations Trampolining/DMT championships.

The journey up was horrendous as the weather was simply appalling. Torrential rain whipped up by high winds made driving a total nightmare. Even with my ‘Quattro’ there were times when the vehicle aquaplaned in the rivers of water crossing the motorways. Suffice to say that when we finally arrived at the hotel there was a palatable sense relief, throughout my family, at our safe arrival.

Both days of competition produced some fantastic routines from the 400 competitors. I was shooting from an elevated judging panel mezzanine which gave me an elevated and less restricted view of the competitors. This elevated position also saved a great strain on my neck and shoulders with the reduced angle of my shooting position. Whilst I certainly still had fatigued arms and feet after each 8 hour day of continual shooting I woke on Monday morning quite sprightly and with no stiff neck.

A total of 1293 images, from 1400 taken, were deemed, by myself, suitable for sale and we were indeed busy, on both days of competition, selling the images. All are now live on the website, password protected & via the client access page, for people to purchase post event. I have found that parental attendance at events such as this is lower. Many clubs travel using mini busses as it’s far more cost effective so only local parents usually attend along with coaches who have driven the mini busses. We were inundated by kids wanting our web address and the gallery password so parents could be shown, and hopefully purchase images post event. The gallery has already been viewed by a decent amount of visitors and products have been purchased.

Our regular offering of prints, frames, key rings, mugs, jigsaws and collages are all available to purchase and are very popular. I found that offering too many options for purchase actually generated less sales. Narrowing the options to something easily viewed, rather than a 400 item list of product options, appears to work. The less is more thought.

So onto the photography. The stadium lighting was superb allowing more than adequate shutter speeds along with low iso’s. I found a simple balance allowing me to freeze all action with a suitable iso and an aperture of f/2.8. Custom white balance completed and I was ready to go on my elevated platform. From a power point of view I flattened 4 LP-E6 batteries over the 2 days.

So the big opening ceremony and competitor parade.


My superb shooting position in the main arena meant even my 70-200 was rarely over 150mm unless it was the juniors competing. This allowed the subject to easily fill the frame with absolute minimal cropping to most images. Image taken on iPad by my daughter with only colour correction applied.


One of the many contact sheets to show just how monotonous this event photography can be. There’s certainly no glamour with this work but possibly an RSI after a few years of doing it.


My final comment with this post is about the now growing number of parents who feel they can ‘out do’ the “Pro” with their bridge cameras and phones.

On Sunday a man approaches the desk and asks to speak with me about images. At my next available opportunity I attend our desk to see what he wants, thinking he wants a deal on several images as we will negotiate price on bulk buys.

Oh no…… this guy has been snapping away, from the stands, with his Canon 400d and has an SD card full of blurred images with a serious yellow hue owing to the sodium lighting.

His request is for me to correct the lighting, attempt clean up and reduce the blurring of his images so that they looked like the ones we had of his daughter competing………….for FREE !!!!! and secondly to let him know my settings !!!!!

Short conversation with that chap who, as he toddled off, had a parent queuing let him know how rude his requests were.

Onward to Liverpool in a few weeks for another round of nationals before the finals in December.

Off to Perth we go.

Posted: October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Just before anyone gets too excited it’s Perth in Scotland we are going to. Beautiful countryside and scenery and no time to shoot any of it though which is a real shame. We are up there as official photographers for the National UK Clubs Trampoline & DMT League. A first for us covering an event in Scotland, though as we are now actively pushing our ability to cover any UK event I hope it’s the first of many more. A full weekend programme of gymnastics with some 400 competitors over the two days will hopefully keep us busy. Competition events are from 9-5 Sat & 9-4 Sun with us having access to set up from 7.30am both days means no time for recreational shooting.

One thing I will be keeping an eye on is the shutter count on my 5Diii. Two days of constant shooting with 4 beds and a DMT to cover adds a serious image count. The last 4 bed competition I covered a total of 1600 images were taken. I’ve just cruised through 50,000 clicks at my last event and with another 8 gymnastics events and 3 weddings booked, between this event and Xmas, this 12 month old body may need a worthy companion soon. Whilst Canon list the 5Diii shutter with a typical 150,000 click life this will soon be exceeded at my current work rate and advanced bookings for next year. The question is another 5Diii or a 1Dx?

Financially this event is unimportant, as it’s being used as a platform to show what we can do in image quality and delivery. I know my images are superior to certain other photographic providers, currently on the circuit, and I hope that our lower prices for the images make people see what an excellent choice we are in covering their events. I do however expect to make a reasonable profit after overheads and incidental costs are taken into account.

Here is a screen shot of the sponsors and businesses. I’m not 100% happy with the banner I recently submitted for the programme and website and uploaded our main image which is now being used on their webpage. I had thought that something a little more bespoke to the event would be better however, now it’s there, I don’t like it which will teach me to tinker. Our main logo is much simpler and with a better impact to any page it will be the logo of choice from now on.

The image supplied for the programme is below. There is also a write up about us and services offered within the booklet.


My preferred image for future events will be.

CSP Logo Mobiles

I’ll pop a review and maybe some images on here next week 🙂