September saw the 4th round of the Uk Trampoline / DMT League take place in Newcastle. These events are huge and extremely demanding for us not only as a business yet also on a personal level.

The weekend starts a few days before with the preparation of online galleries being set up correctly and with coordinated passwords for guest access. Equipment checks follow with essentials such as all batteries receiving a last top up charge to ensure we at least have power. We drain at least 4 of the Canon LP-E6N’s each day depending on usage. Usage obviously varies depending on the amount of competitors which dictates how many clicks are required per day.

We aim to capture at least one present to the judges followed by as many of the 10 subsequent moves as possible or look good and then the final present at the end of the routine to the judges. This can provide a maximum of 12 images per competitor. Consider that every competitor does 2 routines and it becomes obvious that with a minimum of 400 competitors at an event we easily reach 10,000 images when podium images are included. Earlier in the year at Cardiff there were 800 competitors over the 2 days and we came away with some 15,000 images to process.

The weekend starts with a drive to the host city on the Friday evening where we have a pre-booked hotel for the 2 nights. If there is time we visit the venue and start our setup if possible. This saves us a little time on the Saturday morning yet as we have been doing this some time now we can set the desk up in some 10 minutes from bare tables to fully functioning sales desks.

The weekend then just steam rolls along taking us along with it. Photographers almost hold the 4.5kg of camera & lens to our faces for 9hrs straight. This can be extended if delays are incurred by competitors crashing out and requiring medical assistance. This has a massive effect on your arms and back which can start to stiffen by lunchtime. The Sunday becomes a mind over matter exercise with the pain that just doesn’t go away. The desk is a continuous queue of people wanting to view, and hopefully purchase the images taken. As Sunday ends for the photographers the desk continues to run. It can, and has, run on for over 2hrs after an event has finished. Still with a queue of parents waiting, the venue almost cleared and up to a 4hr drive in front of us every potential purchase is important so we stay. We arrive home late on the Sunday night, sometimes gone midnight, and after unloading the van its bedtime.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and sometimes even Thursday are then solid editing and uploading of images to the respective galleries.Whilst most people understand the process I can guarantee at least 2 emails are sent on the Sunday, whilst we are still shooting the ongoing competition, asking what they can’t yet see any images in the gallery. We even place a notice at the start of every gallery notifying visitors of the process and yet they still email. Sometimes you just wonder how some people cope with life.

Once Friday arrives its simply time to check everything again if we have work on that upcoming weekend too. We are working almost every weekend of 2017 with just a few free or deliberately crossed off because of birthdays or holidays etc. You have to be busy to survive yet sometimes you just wish things would stop or at least slow down.

This particular weekend produced a reasonable 10,100 images which were edited by the Wednesday. With just one more qualifier to go in a few weeks time it’ll soon be the finals down at the Velodrome in London and thats a big one.

The images are simply what we post on social media to announce when certain panels and beds have completed galleries, though the second one just goes to prove that the competitors can still have time to enjoy themselves too.

You can read all about the league here – Trampoline / DMT League

All serious but with smiles –

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Having a bit of fun too or in one case how not to bounce –

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The following image is one of a series that I have undertaken with a very lovely young lady who has participated in several ideas I have had over the last few years.

The idea of body painting someone in either a single colour or multi colours is certainly nothing new yet something I would recommend to any photographer who has the time, a studio and a willing model. The whole experience is something different to the usual humdrum high key imagery normally produced in the studio. With the right people involved you can also have a jolly good laugh as we both did on this occasion.

The model is simply painted in silver dust mixed with body oil. This allows the dust to spread easier whilst giving it a shimmering almost alive look. We had sampled just applying the dust in its raw form yet I believed, and the model agreed, that it looked somewhat dull in comparison to the liquid version. When I say painted the silver was literally applied with a 1″ paint brush from the pot in which it was mixed. Nothing fancy about that at all.

There was nothing outstanding about the shoot and things progressed as with any other shoot trying out different lighting and poses. A whole series of different image styles and poses were accomplished however I will keep the imagery appropriate for all to appreciate whilst retaining the dignity of the model on such a public forum.

The gold liquid was added towards the close of the shoot to simply add a different dimension within the colours. This almost made it look as if she was either melting or indeed oozing the gold from her mouth which we both agreed was a quality look.

With the ‘melting’ idea firmly afloat I added the flame effects in Photoshop to create a set of finished images the model was extremely pleased with. All in all it was a most satisfactory finish to what had initially been a “what if?” idea.

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September started with a specialist image created to highlight the rather awful Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. An issue which amongst other things causes hyper mobility and degradation of muscle tissue amongst other things.

This an inherited condition owing to faulty DNA and is seriously debilitating. The model in this image is an actual sufferer. Her hand pose shows one of the hyper mobility issues created whilst the joints fail. The DNA strand is to highlight the hereditary link.

We have allowed the unlimited use of this image by the EDS group to highlight and promote the professional assistance available to sufferers.

For more information read – Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

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The end of August saw the studio turned into what looked like and explosion at a cake factory. A young lads first birthday was celebrated with a cake smash shoot for his family. He however  wasn’t too impressed with whole thing and simply kicked off regardless of what the parents tried to appease him with.

Mum and Dad however were in a superb jovial mood and made the most of the time available having what could only be described as a personal cake fight. I just sat there capturing it all having a jolly good laugh as it happened.

Experience has taught me that covering the floor with one of the clear plastic dust sheets, readily available at most DIY stores makes tidying up so much easier. Simply tape it down and once everyone has left drag it all up carefully into a large bin bag before disposing. Leaves the studio floor almost spotless other than where cake got through the odd minor tear created during the shenanigans.

Usual equipment used as for any high key shoot with just some plastic coverings over the electrical and vulnerable items for protection.

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An all too rare family portrait session in August was also a pleasure to do. I don’t push the studio at all and I really should because the rewards can be quite fruitful. I am actually wanting to rip it all out, place full wall to ceiling windows in and have an option of natural light, mixed natural/flash or just flash. I also want a raised apex ceiling with additional skylights too. I will probably then push the studio side of things and see if we can make a real go of it. My issue is that most people just want a high key family photo. I can see why yet I would just love to undertake something a little more alternative with a more adventurous family. Patterned backdrops or sat on seats with low key or coloured lighting. Well just about anything other than high key. We undertook only 14 such sessions in 2016 yet the yield far outweighs the effort required to complete things. I must push this side of things.

A family who wanted the simplest of portraits which we managed in three clicks of the shutter with a 4th being of just the daughter. Here probably 30mins at most, immensely happy with the 24×16 framed print they purchased. I’ve included this as the daughter was an absolute credit to her parents. Big smiles, polite and thoughtful you wonder why so many other kids just couldn’t be like her.

Usual kit used, namely a gripped canon 5Diii, Bowens 750pro’s, sun dish, couple of brollies etc etc providing a nice clean high key image.

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As with most gymnastics eventing and as per the previous two years of covering more regional and national events August was a relatively quiet month for us. Two weeks were spent on holiday with the two weeks either side allowing for some additional R&R.

We did cover a couple of events with a fun day at the Humber Bridge photographing the jet ski championship competitors preparing to travel down to the marina area where they were racing. Some of the warm up stunts we saw really opened peoples eyes to what level these guys are at in their sport. At high speed it would appear that simply keeping the thing attached to the water, for propulsion, along with speed and stability gives you the best chance of winning. The variable is wave intensity which can throw a serious spanner in the works for even the most experienced of riders. Thankfully the river was calm and so we saw some fun warm ups in our time down there.

A couple of summer weddings were also completed, one of which was our first same sex marriage. This was slightly damp though that never dampened the spirits of those involved and indeed an excellent day was had. Even a mishap with our rainbow brolly and the breeze simply caused waves of laughter throughout those there.

All in all August was as expected with just enough tick over work mingled with a nice rest abroad in the sun.

Below are a couple of images with one showing a selection of jet skiers just before a warm up and the second showing the unexpected moment that wind crashed the wedding party.

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When the wind blows…….

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Back again….

Posted: February 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

Yes it has been a while again and with no other excuse than I had underestimated the power of the online image working alongside a quality SEO system.

I have recently won work because of imagery on this site which, whilst not forgotten about, I did not feel relevant. I now know that what may have been a one off image or job can lead to further commissions using similar imagery. The same images are also elsewhere on the web but it would seem that the quality SEO features given with blogs on WordPress actually work.

My main website is held via a Zenfolio account for which the SEO options are modest at best. Many technically informed users complain that the SEO on Zenfolio is not great at all and indeed deliberate attepmts to show this flaw seem to fall on deaf ears. I was going to start a blog via my main site options only to read that again it fell down on the SEO options. Writers would continually refer back to the readily available blogs such as WordPress and others. With this in mind I have thus decided to resurrect this blog and use it as another outlet for our ongoing work.

Over the next few weeks I will be playing catchup from last year and then continuing on with things as we go.

I’ve been meaning to catch up with this and splash a mediocre editorial overview in here but to be perfectly honest I’ve just been busy.

Since my last entry we haven’t had a weekend off from work. A total of 35,000 more images have been added to our galleries and today represents a totally clear day from editing or compiling montage images from eager customers. It’s all back to normal this Friday when we have a local Academies prom to cover which should be eventful.

So what have we been up to? Several local gymnastics competitions, 3 x regional competitions and 1 x two day national competition over in Cardiff. 1 x wedding and a couple of family portrait sessions complete the recent workload. The event photography is now so slick it’s almost a pleasure to do other than holding 4.5kg of camera for several hours which is like being down the gym all day. After the second day at Cardiff we stopped off for tea, as we left, with both my lad and I having the shakes from holding that weight all weekend. Arms, shoulders and back muscles certainly take a pounding.

The wedding was breeze as were the studio shoots. I have my first gay wedding next Monday in Scunthorpe which I am seriously looking forward to. Both are mad as hatters and lovely with it so ready for some fun imagery to be captured.

I would love to undertake more wedding photography yet I fear the market is being undermined by individuals whom don’t know their worth. I was sat in a certain coffee shop last week with my wife where a photographer was peddling her wares to an eager couple. We could both hear her pitch, which was fine, as she removed an assortment of large photo albums from a carrier bag. Her final price for covering this couples all day wedding, night function and large A3 style album ……….. £200!!!!!! I nearly choked on my coffee and the look on my wife’s face was classic. £200 for what would be some 12-14hrs work plus editing and the cost of the album. Take the album at £50 (ish) leaves her working at roughly 14p/hr on the day. Suggest double the time editing the images and creating the album and it becomes less than minimum wage. Why I have no idea.

Back to our event work we now have further multi image offering we give at events. This is a deliberate move to continue maximising net profits. Whilst the cost of the print, mount and bag remain the same the increased customer purchase cost of the multi image prints enhance our profits substantially. Whilst I won’t discuss the exact monies these multi prints have increased our revenues by some 40% year on year making things far more comfortable when we come to replacing hardware. It is still interesting that the southern part of the country will happily purchase multiple prints for their kids who are competing along with one for grandma & grandad etc where the more Northern we get money is more sparingly spent. There’s certainly a divide of some sorts in this country.

So the next few weeks see us at weddings, nursery portrait shoots, gymnastics, trampolining and swimming events. Given the time I’ve spent editing all the images from the last few weeks I should be updating this around August time lol.

Until then here are the 2 new additions to our event print options –

Test 4a

Edit – After feedback from the young lady on these images a small border was placed between the images on the left image.

4 test line

I have always believed that you should charge customers what you believe is an honest price that reflects the quality of your work whilst returning a good solid net profit at the same time.

My lad now shoots with me at weddings so we openly offer this twin photographer option along with the white wall photo booth and party box too.

To date we have covered many regional weddings together from as low down as Spalding up to York and across to Scarborough. We had been asked to cost up a wedding in Cornwall this year but sadly it clashed with one of our National Event Weekends. What a nice weekend away that would have been.

In the last couple of months we have had further bookings come in from York. They have been recommendations from previous work, which is great, yet one couple intimated that our “low price” was also a key factor for the quality delivered.

Now let’s not beat about the bush here. We have not covered a wedding in York for less than £1000 with several having healthy increase on that figure too because of our time spent working and post event editing. I work out an hourly rate plus costs for both the business and ourselves. The fee is non negational and we don’t discount against alleged competitor prices which can sometimes be laughable. One recent alleged “competitor” was prepared to cover a 12+hr wedding day for the princely sum of £250 all in and yes they had a written quote for this too!!!!  I was not surprised, as too many part time togs will do this for almost free, though I did ask if they had seen any imagery. A quick comparison between his Facebook page (no official website) and my portfolio of prints won us the booking.

At the other end of the spectrum we have those who think that wedding photography is a cash cow for the ill informed or do I have this wrong. Again we have won a booking in York which commands a good 4 figure sum. When all was signed and agreed the mother of the bride announced her pleasure of the saving we had given them. I again explained why I thought our fee was honest and reasonable to be told that they had not had a quote under £3,000 for local photography coverage.

I was shown couple of business cards and subsequently did a few searches of the details given. There were indeed some lovely images shown on the mentioned websites but nothing that I would justify a charge of £3k+ for. Two of the sites clearly stated usage of the latest professional DSLR’s and associated equipment so not even Medium Format costs and quality to justify the prices.

So….

Am I underpricing? I feel Not.

Am I overpricing? Definitely not.

Am I undervaluing myself and our product at times? Possibly.

Am I happy with the product and price I give? Yes

Should I review regional pricing by others? Yes

 

I finally decided to change the image on our Facebook business page from the single portrait image and title to a multi image showcase of our work.

This change has come about in an effort to stem the amount of messages we receive asking if we cover weddings and portraits etc.

It’s an absolute pleasure being told that we are wanted for weddings owing to the quality of our event imagery and indeed since I changed the banner I have received a booking for a family portrait because they ‘liked’ the imagery shown.

For someone who reluctantly created the Facebook business page I’m now warming to it in the face of work it has brought us.

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