Posts Tagged ‘event photographers’

After covering the superb wedding at Loch Lomond in March it was back to the regular bread and butter work. The equestrian competitions were now up and running across the region though we did have two gymnastics events to cover also.

First up was the North West Disability Championships in Wigan. This was our second year of coverage, having been booked at the close of the 2017 event. We have also been booked to cover the 2019 event too. We love them, they love us and the work is most engaging and grounding.

Disabilities come in all shapes and forms so it would take me an age to describe all of the categories we saw over the two days. I can however say that the competitors are fabulous, with no bickering or snide comments that we hear at other events. Lots of encouragement from both fellow competitors and public alike makes a wonderful gymnastics competition. With floor, beam, bars, vault, horse & trampoline disciplines we certainly have our work cut out providing a balanced coverage, though the organisers do help us with staggered starts etc.

Our second main event of the month also saw us covering gymnastics, though this time it was able bodied gymnasts and at Bridlington. A four piece competition, which we have covered for the last few years, saw some excellent routines on the floor, beam, bars and vault by a large cross section of competitors. The morning session was all of the juniors which are usually year 6 and below, with the afternoon being year 7 and above.

We are looked after at both of the mentioned locations with tea, coffee, meals & even cake.Whilst this doesn’t sway our choice to cover its always a plus point when we are driving there early on a weekend morning.

Some of the medallists from both events.

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March was one of those months that just flew by, was solid with bookings and when you get to the end of the month you sit back and think, yeah we did it.

The month kicked off with us covering the UK BSGA Trampoline Finals in Belfast. We had been booked for this since our coverage of the previous 2017 event. The organiser had approached us, asked us if we were prepared to travel and after some brief discussions we were booked again.

The journey and ferry was simply a repeat of the January travelling I had done for the Steel Panther & Wayward Sons tour, though this time there was no issue with snow. I’m pleased that this event was just outside the normal poor winter weather possibility as when the van is full of gear, I wouldn’t want to be driving in snow. We set off late on the Friday and arrived at Cairnryan around 2am on the Saturday morning. Into the ferry queue and heads down for a couple of hours before waking to embark on the ferry. Once on it was find a comfy seat and fall asleep again for the two hour crossing. Arriving in Belfast at the crack of dawn, already tired, was not the best start yet the only way we could do this. A quick stop for coffee’s and breakfast still saw us arrive nice and early at the venue.

Once in we got the desk set up, the camera settings agreed and then the show started. It was absolute mayhem from start to finish, as had been the previous years finals. Several hundred school kids vying for their places on the rostrum. Parents & teachers screaming instructions at them whilst judges & helpers tried to maintain some kind of semblance and organisation to it all. To be fair the day could have been a lot worse, the PA kept failing and so communication was sporadic and at times confusing for some, yet everyone in authority just pulled together and shoved the whole machine to the finish line, just over an hour or so late.

We knew things would overrun so booking a ferry back on he same day would be almost impossible to predict and I would be seriously sleep deprived. We had therefore booked a lovely B&B just outside Belfast and, it transpired, from where we could see Stormont on the hill too. I had barely sat down and I was nodding off so an early night was had by all, to which our slumber was only disturbed by our alarm the following morning. Up, showered, breakfast and then back in the van for the ferry, the crossing & the subsequent five hour drive back to home. We arrived home mid afternoon after a no rush, plenty of coffee stop, journey.

Photography wise this was quite simple other than the open glass ceiling lights. The sun was bright and so large sun spots moved slowly accross the trampoline beds throughout the day. Altering your exposure is easy enough, though when you have just done so and the sun pops behind a cloud things can go dark. Thankfully Lisa, on our desk, was up to the job of getting these images onto our screens in a suitable state and as always did an excellent job of selling them too.

Flag bearers from the final awards ceremony.

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March also saw us cover, for the third year, the Yorkshire Gymnastics Regional Finals at Haltemprice Sports Centre. This is an absolute gem for us as its so local we can literally leave home 15 minutes before our access time. As it was our third year we knew exactly what was involved, what was expected and how we would deliver it all.

The day went smoothly and actually finished on time, which is a massive bonus for us, allowing us to have an evening meal at a most sensible time for once. Photography wise this location does not have the best of lighting and so the ISO’s are rather high. As this doesn’t bode well for cropping the pressure to capture things in an almost printable version is high. Not the easiest thing to do though once you work out what sells, where the gymnasts are doing those moves, you simply position yourself and hope things fall into place along with some good general imagery.

Its also great that they all have such a sense of fun too.

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The remainder of March was mopped up with equestrian work and another superb, one off, job which will be getting its own entry on the blog. Loch Lomond anyone?

February saw us have an almost complete calendar filled with equestrian competitions other than one weekend of gymnastics in Wigan for the NDP 3 qualifying.

The equestrian work continues to grow and our images have been used in both the Equestrian Life and Horse & Hound Publications since we began. As I have mentioned before the work is not particularly difficult other than standing outside for several hours at a time. When the weather is kind, the job is great though if the weather is not so good then it can be a real headache. With persistent rain I usually start shooting and see how things go. Sadly if the images are being spoilt by the intensity of the rain and its affect on the images then I pack up and go home. I did stick it out in the early months of 2017 though quickly realised that we had not, and still have not, sold a single image when it is either raining or misty.

Thankfully all of the dates that I covered in February all stayed dry and so I captured full days of competition.

The NDP 3 Qualifying event at Wigan was almost a repeat of the NDP 2 event, the previous month. More fierce competition with competitors trying to grab the all important points to take them into the national rounds. Again the day was a success for us on both the image and sales fronts, though thats now it at Wigan until the Autumn when the NW Championship series returns.

Some equestrian images including jumps.

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January is usually a quiet month for us. Gymnastic competitions are few and far between and most outdoor events, including our equestrian work, have yet to start. 2018 however started with two large events for us.

Firstly there was a re scheduled North West NDP Qualifier weekend in Wigan followed by a weekend at Huddersfield for the BSGA Northern Qualifying Event. The Wigan event is one of three qualifying events which can see competitors continue onward to national event qualification. The competition is fierce, qualification places are limited and the entire weekend is absolutely superb to watch and indeed cover. The weekend as a whole, for us personally, was a success and we left having fulfilled what we set out to do as always in deliver the best coverage possible. Starting as we meant to continue throughout 2018 we captured a rather modest 6000 images.

Secondly we covered the BSGA Northern trampoline competition qualifier for the finals which are to be held Northern Ireland during March this year. We are booked to cover the Finals too so it was interesting to see who, as in individuals and indeed schools, qualified. At this stage a large amount of the competitors are known to us from other competitions, with mostly the school groups having individuals we have not seen before. Having not been able to cover the North East qualification event in November this also let us see what they had on offer to challenge at the finals. Again the weekend went well, some 7500 images were taken and profit conversion was excellent. February was fast approaching and we had big smiles on our faces already.

So the social media image for the NDP 2.

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And the social media image for the Northern BSGA Regional Qualifier.

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I had the privilege of being at this event, in the capacity of photographer, to capture the Wayward Sons Set. It also allowed me to capture some of the other bands on stage too. This is not only good for the portfolio yet, as I found out, also good for networking with other photographers and indeed bands too.

The drive to North Wales was uneventful and as smooth as I could have hoped, arriving around lunch time on the Friday. Booking in and getting laminates was pleasantly easy and the staff were absolutely superb. Odd events have a big “I Am” around who likes you to know it & its really not necessary at all when I’ve found 99% of the bands to be fully approachable and chatty.

The event as a whole went superbly and I met some really nice individuals, some of whom I will be staying in contact with. Photography wise it was a doddle. I had unprecedented access to the band, the entire pit to myself after the first three songs had been completed, and with proper stage lighting I was able to shoot at decent resolutions too.

The Wayward Sons set was superb and they are really starting to gel as a band. The sound was tight and had the entire audience bouncing along with them for the duration. One minor blip was an amp giving up, though that was replaced in just a couple of minutes allowing them to continue. This band can and should go places in the coming year. They certainly deserve to on the album and performances to date.

Not too much on the side of images, as those of you who read this blog will know I have a gentleman’s agreement over images for Wayward Sons. I am however popping a couple from Friday’s headline set on here. Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, played with his solo band which was a big moment for me. Absolutely loved him in TS all those years ago in my teens yet never managed to see them live. Access to the photography pit and he’s on, see’s me standing there for that first three song opportunity.

Things rounded off drinking a few beers with WS at the after show, kipping on a settee in the bands chalet, followed by an early rising and the long drive back home.

As an experience of work this was fantastic, as an experience of a small festival it was superb and for interaction with other gig photographers it was also fabulous. I just love this side of work and though it pays peanuts I’ll be continuing to slot the gigs in where I can.

Can’t show a Wayward Sons pic so how about an artistically focussed image? I’ve started doing this so I can at least pop something on here rather than repeating the small montage.

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The legend that is Dee Snider

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And you just have to love it when a band member poses for you.

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November is an odd month for us in that we have been booked to cover the Yorkshire, North West and North East Schools BSGA Trampoline Competitions for the last four years. This leaves us with little room to squeeze anything else in. This year however saw the North East committee leave things so late that the only weekend they could secure a venue we were already booked (covering the NW event) so we had to decline the booking. Whilst we were saddened not to be covering it, and indeed it wasn’t covered by any photographer, we did have the backup of the equestrian work and a late gymnastics event booking too.

The Yorkshire weekend was first, followed by the North West with the gymnastics event being on the third weekend of the month. The equestrian events fell nicely into the gaps and so yet again we had a full month of events to work at. With only the League Finals in December this is the time when some good sales carries us nicely into the new year when things begin to happen again.

Again this was our fourth year of covering these BSGA events and so we knew exactly what was coming. The entire set of weekends went as planned and we came out of November in a very buoyant place. The gymnastics event was also a success as they had not previously booked a photography company to cover the event. Lots of first time purchasers there then.

Finally and yet again the equestrian work filled in the gaps. Yes its getting cold and the purchases are slowing, due to the drop in competitors, though any business is better than no business. To be honest its not much fun standing outside, for several hours, in November. I’m wrapped up like an eskimo and should the sun decide to make an appearance I will face it, absorbing its brief moments of warmth, until it becomes obscured by clouds again. The wind chill is the absolute killer now and so if there’s no wind at all I’m a happy Chappy standing beside the competition rings.

BSGA Yorkshires

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BSGA North West

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Gymnastics

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Equestrian competition in November, with sunlight.

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And just to prove that gymnastics can be fun too …..

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Firstly I would like to state that all images on this blog are copyright to Cecil Paul Studio’s and we do not give any permission for any individual or company to copy, transfer, alter or amend any image in any known or unknown format without permission. Don’t be a digital thief and pay for the image if you like it that much!!

The above statement comes after one particular radio station robbed an image from here and used it for a promotion. Unbelievably another radio station then robbed that copy for their own radio promotion. The music industry complains about kids downloading songs for free and yet they are thieving when it suits them. Double standards at work which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

So onto September –

Things kicked off for us on the first weekend with the third series of the National Trampoline & DMT League, held at Birmingham University. This was a superb venue and being almost new gave us possibly the best balanced lighting of any event this year so far. When you can have your speed with a nice low iso its almost xmas as a photographer and this place delivered in swathes of light.

The weekend as a whole was manic as expected with some 600+ competitors over the two days. We were constantly busy and without barely time to visit the loo for most of both days. The evening meal and a few cold ones, on the Saturday evening, to wash it all down makes things worthwhile though and helps us get a nice nights sleep.

We took some 8500 images in total and had our usual excellent response to the quality of our image and montage offerings over the weekend. Sadly the organisers hadn’t produced the promised event program and so, with no advert, all things regarding our gallery codes went out of the window which had a knock on effect to the subsequent online sales. You’d think they would learn from this, as we were not the only disappointed sponsor, yet you’ll see in Octobers roundup they never. Incompetence at the highest level.

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One thing can always be said for the competitors though is they have a good laugh when there and will happily pose for images such as this one below.

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Our equestrian coverage also continued with several dressage events over the month, one of which was our own business dedicated event. This was a lovely day not only with the quality of competition shown but we had our own branded rosettes. Manor Grange Stud had commissioned a whole series of garlands and rosettes with our name and logo on which was absolutely lovely to see.

The other equestrian events were, as usual, slick and with no messing about. Thankfully the weather held out and so there were no monsoon days where I end up hiding under the main building canopy to shoot from. Our business from these events continues to grow at a steady rate and thus I believe we will chose to continue providing coverage into 2018 and possibly beyond.

These galleries remain our only open event galleries and can be found here – Equestrian Galleries

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Gymnastics also played a key part in September with two competition weekends hosted by Bridlington Gymnastics. This is proper grass roots stuff and we love it. No big arenas, no ego’s, just lots of enthusiastic kids and parents doing what they do. The competitors start around 4-5 years up to the seniors around the 16-17 age group. We are well looked after by the hosts and have a fantastic rapport with both the organisers, adults and kids alike. We are already booked for the 2018 events and look forward to them as its just a fun set of weekends.

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Back in July this year I did a bit of work with the band Wayward Sons when I covered their first ever live gig down in Bristol. This had come about from my involvement with their promotional videos for the new album which can all be read about in an earlier post.

September saw them out supporting UFO on their 2017 UK Tour. One particular date, the 15th, was also the official release date for the album. Thinking it would be a good idea to capture that night I emailed Toby and he said thanks, yes, pop along and do your thing. The night was superb and in my personal opinion the Sons were head and shoulders above UFO in musical deliver and enthusiasm. The crowd were bouncing along to the music, which noticeably stopped once UFO had taken to the stage. The UFO set was slick and polished though I feel lacked a raw feel. I could honestly say that you could have listened to this on the radio as visually and engagement wise things were seriously lacking. To put it into context I was sat uploading and editing my images in the main hall area whilst they were on. Looked up a few times just to make sure things were still going when the music stopped.

On a working basis the Picturedome at Holmfirth is not actually too bad to work in. Yes it is compact though the fans are all stood on a sloping floor leading upend away from the stage. Tis allowed me to move up and down and simply shoot over the top of those in front of me. Non of the usual clamouring about to secure a gap between heads and phones which is nice. Setting were mediocre as though the lighting operator did give some light it wasn’t nearly as much as that given to the headline act. Thank the lord for full frame cameras and f2.8 lenses.

The night finished, I had a good chat with the band and then it was away home, still damp from sweating in the pit for a nice warm shower and bed.

The images from this event are behind a secured gallery and only for the band to see. Images from the gig will be released as and when they see fit which is sad in a way as I like to see my images out there in the wild. To stop any thieving radio stations or any other publications grabbing images of the band you’ll just have to put up with this montage again. Shame how people spoil things for others.

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The month was topped off with a visit to City Of Leeds Trampolining & Gymnastics to undertake a specific shoot of gymnasts who had qualified for a host of national and international competitions. With all new leotards the head coach wanted a series of portrait images taking to help promote the club within the Yorkshire region.

The whole thing took around 4hrs to complete and with a happy head coach, general coaches, kids and parents I headed home.

That was not quite the end though regarding this as we are returning in January to film a whole series of short films about the club, their offerings and what kids can expect to be doing if they join the club. Really looking forward to that.

This image was a fun pic taken after all the kids had individually paraded in each of their leotards for their portrait to be taken. I know from my school photo experiences this isn’t fun so when the coach suggested a pic in the foam pit, we ended up with this.

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I’ll try not to leave things too long before blogging our October exploits.

 

Sunday saw us booked to cover a regional qualifying round for the British Riding Clubs UK Championships. Winners and, I believe, certain others would be qualifying for the National finals in a few weeks which is quite some achievement when you consider what they have to do on a horse.

Horse jumping has always intrigued me, especially those jumps where the height simply doesn’t appear achievable, yet the horse somehow gets over without knocking off the poles. So, as a non rider myself, the fact that people can actually make a horse complete any number of manoeuvres, which include almost dancing, to me, is exceptional. I know full well that many hundreds of hours go into practicing and training so when something goes wrong even I tend to be a little disappointed for the rider. Equestrian riding is almost an art with the subtle ways in which they guide and instruct the horse. There are no verbal commands just fine control of the reigns, stirrups and seating position of the riders. There may be more and I’m happy to be corrected if there are.

So take the difficulty of equestrian competition and place a twist into the mix, with the twist being two horses doing the same routine at the same time. Oh yes and with a maximum of 20% of the allotted time spent apart with the other 80% of the routine side by side, around the arena.

I saw this “Pairs” riding for the first time on Sunday and was totally impressed with the four groups of competitors who took part in their respective groups. The look of concentration was clear for all to see on their faces throughout the routines, with the elation of finishing what they obviously knew was a solid routine visible too.

As a photographer this was no different to any other equestrian event I shoot with just one exception, capturing the 2 horses in complete harmony and literally mirroring each other step for step. Now that sounds easy yet I assure you it isn’t. This actually happens only a few times in any routine owing to all the turning and change of step etc. Ideally, so one pair told me, they have 2 horses of the same size etc etc. As this is not too easy to find at club level you tend to get one horse which is slightly bigger than the other. This is like having one tall human walk alongside a smaller human and expected to walk stride for stride for 8 minutes. It rarely happens but thats the image they want capturing.

Knowing my strides and turns I was able to second guess when the pairs were likely to come together in that perfect harmony moment. Even then only two of the four actually achieved this whilst travelling in a direction that gave a suitable image. Standing and watching this happen as they trotted away down the arena, away from you with bums and backs onshore, is rather demoralising. In those instances you simply capture what you can from the opportunities given when they are correctly positioned in their line of travel.

The day for us was great with the lovely weather and a few cool drinks to boot. With many of the competitors asking about images we also hoped for a good response with the galleries which I am pleased to say has actually been superb. We have also received several messages complimenting the quality of our images.

I know, from a riding friend, that a lot of the local clubs either use someone they know i.e. a rider or parent for photography, with some clubs having serious amateur or even alleged professionals shooting them. Now I am not here to slag anyone off so I will just say that a lot of these  images tend to be somewhat lacking in technical ability.

On Sunday and ,as an example of this, we had a very ice lady who came to stand near us to photograph several different horses, all from one club. She quite openly declared herself as the club photographer, for those horses, and was most impressed with our setup and the way we conducted ourselves. After the first horse she captured, someone came over and asked her to turn the camera flash off. She had a Canon DSLR, with pop up flash, the camera set to auto and was just clicking away happily with the flash trying to doing its thing against the sun. She asked for some advice and I suggested changing the settings to either TV or AV and adjusting those to shoot what she wanted. She admitted to having not much of a clue so I showed her two options that would improve the images shot and, more importantly, not require flash. Did she listen …. nope she went to the other end of the arena so the sun was more to the side of her. Oh well you try and help lol.

So the images we took. I’m going to keep this down to the usual couple of images I like to add at the end of a post.

If you would like to see the days images click here – Cecil Paul Studios Equestrian Galleries

Image One :

The one where it all comes together, just at the right time, right angles, riding positions and just togetherness. Riding like this for an 8 Minute routine is not easy.

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Image Two :

When you just know it was excellent. The elation at completing a quality equestrian pairs routine. I do believe these two ladies came first and thus through to the national finals.

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So January saw yet another new venture for us at the Manor Grange Stud & Show Centre in Yorkshire. As previously mentioned we were put onto the availability of a photographers position by someone who we knew through regional gymnastics. I will be perfectly honest in that word of mouth and existing customer recommendations have been the most beneficial component to our business growth over the last few years and this was no exception.

A random comment on an equestrian thread which mentioned us, followed by a couple of emails and we find ourselves invited to try things out. We made no excuses to the management that this was a filler job, to our main event work, and as such we would not be able to cover every event. With this in mind they initially took on a second company, though sadly this didn’t work out owing to the rather irrational outlook they had on event photography.

Quite simply event photography is totally hit and miss on sales. You can cover an event one week, take a serious four figure amount with little effort, to barely covering your costs at a similar event the following week. I think the other company simply saw the cost of keeping horses etc and thought that this would transfer into a weekly cash bonanza for them. As a product example they offered a 20×16 framed portrait print of your horse for £600. Yes a whopping £600 for a portrait image framed print. Now I won’t go into markups and profit here yet with our associated costs, for a similar product, I can only see that price as obscene and attempting to take advantage. Oddly they never sold any and found this odd …….. go figure. When the cash didn’t begin flowing weekly they began pressuring the management for the bigger events and trying to squeeze us out. Thankfully the management refused to budge and so the other company bailed on them leaving us a sole photographers. The management subsequently decided to keep us as the primary business and invite random guest photographers in when we are busy. This is certainly working, things are settled & people are happy so we hope it continues without interference. Sales vary at every event and no two are the same even with similar entry numbers.

We are now six months into the contract, things are going just fine for us and the management are happy too. We have developed our imagery with multi image montage options that differ from the gymnastics montages. The equestrian customer prefers soft blending of images and no particular text, other than the location. As a business you listen, tailor and develop your product until people are happy. We have done this and sell quite a few of the montages per month.

An example of a montage –

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At manor we cover two styles of equestrian competition which are dressage and jumping.

Dressage is, when it all goes to plan, a wonderful demonstration of harmony between horse and rider. From the basic entry level tests, for beginners, to the advanced where the horses even complete the routine to music is something to see. As someone who has never even sat on a horse I respect every rider out there for the hard work and dedication to just reach these regional rounds.

When it’s all going nicely –

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And when things require that exceptional extra control –

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Surprisingly I have captured several of these rear-up moments which can appear a little scary at the time. The riders I have subsequently spoken to all seem to laugh it off with the lady above almost resigned to this happening as her horse had been ‘flitty’ all day, as she put it. Well I for one am still impressed at their control of such a situation.

The jumping side of things is far simpler than the dressage side. Dressage riders like the horse to look all flowing and majestic, which can be difficult to capture, whereas the jumpers are simply that, jumpers who like to see them and their horse coming over a jump. A slight angle is normally preferred to show the horse in its fullest so the only real thing we can’t guarantee is the weather. When it rains this particular eventing is awful to cover. Standing in the middle of the arena, wrapped up in waterproof clothing all day, shooting through a steady downpour is no fun. Thank the lord for Canon’s Pro sealed weather sealed cameras and lenses.

A typical jump image –

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We have had several of our images published too. Publications Horse & Hound, Equestrian Life & British Dressage all help spread the word that we are out there. Will the call from a major event organiser or publication come asking us to cover a major ever come. Well I never thought I would have been booked to cover gymnastics finals at the Olympic Park, this year, for the third year running so anything is possible.

Horse & Hound –

I have blurred out imagery which is not mine.

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Equestrian Life –

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The next six months sees us filling all of our gap days on weekends along with some steady weekday work also from this venture. We have made some new friends, gained a whole new customer base and hopefully something that will grow as the gymnastics has over the years.

Until next time ……

The year certainly kicked off in style and other than the first weekend we were booked for all subsequent weekends. Year on year this was a large increase as have been the bookings for the entirety of 2017. We either have odd days on a weekend spare or no space at all until the second week in December. Word of mouth has seen us be snapped up over several regions and now with the equestrian work a weekend off will be rare. We have however reached agreement that for 2 weeks in August I will not take any bookings and leave 2 weeks empty as agreed in 2016.

The middle two weekends were both gymnastics with the North West BSGA Zonal Qualifiers followed by the North West NDP Individual & team qualifiers. Both huge weekends for not only ourselves but those involved I would say some 800-1000 competitors were involved over each weekend. A massive undertaking for both organisers and ourselves which I am pleased to say ran smoothly for both sides.

We now offer some new versions of our popular event montages which have gone down well. Maintaining prices at £10-£25 depending on how many images are chosen we have simply mixed the orientation of imagery that can be selected. This has allowed imagery such as team photo’s that tend to be landscape in orientation to be mixed with action images that tend to be in portrait orientation. Further options are currently being trialled for offerings.

January ended up being our busiest January for the last five years. It also yielded the highest take and subsequent conversion to profit too. With repeat bookings for next January we can hopefully rely on a good start to 2018 also.

This blogs image is a triple montage from one of the gymnastics events.

Jan 17