It is no secret that interest in the creative business has risen in popularity over the past few years, this is particularly true of photography. Having worked in the photography industry for many years I’m often asked what my ‘go-to’ tips are etc. So, I recently hosted a Q&A with my followers on social media (you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn), which I thought might help.
I pride myself on having an approachable, candid style of business, so I thought it may be useful for you to know a bit more about me and what separates me from the others out there.
- What does C stand for in Simply C?
Candid. I enjoy taking photos that give off that easy and relaxed feeling. For me, the most natural thing is light and I have only ever wanted to capture things as I see them naturally, using natural light. Everything I do is with that in mind. Natural light adds so much to an image, such as the different tones, textures and emphasises the depth and weight of an image. For me, the light is beautiful and it is such a useful tool. It can soften an image or heighten contrast in a scene. Working with natural light can be challenging because the light comes and goes as it pleases, so to get that natural candid shot isn’t always easy, but it’s so worth it. It’s both challenging and inspiring. You can read more about my blog on natural light.
- What made you want to go into the commercial side of photography?
Commercial photography is exciting. It tells the story of a business, plus it is crucial as it is the first impression people get when they visit a business’ website. For me it is not just about getting images of products or services it is about producing images that convey who the business is, what the business offers and what that company is all about therefore I get to know people and about their business ultimately to help them share their story creatively. Plus it is so diverse, no two jobs are the same; one day it’s product photography with a white background perhaps for an E-Commerce site, the next it could be corporate headshots, a property or capturing a business for a website. In addition to that, every job and every client has a different brief. I love being able to learn about people, their story, their business. Being able to be creative in capturing that is something I find fulfilling. I love to learn and find something new about photography on every job I take. Photography challenges me, plus as a bonus, I get to meet new friends and acquaintances along the way.
- What inspires you to be creative?
A few things. For me, beauty in light and the simplicity and beauty of nature. As I mentioned above, I love capturing everything using natural light, in essence all things as they naturally are including people using natural expressions. Bringing smiles to people’s faces once I’ve taken their headshots I find really rewarding. People’s positive reactions to my work and their happiness pushes me to be better at what I do. For me being creative is about finding something unique to help tell my clients story and convey that with a commercial focus in my imagery. I find having a different perspective exciting, my motto is “always look up” and I apply that to both my way of thinking and my perspective with my camera angles when it comes to photography, seeing things differently from a new angle but always naturally, that in it’s challenge is inspiring.
- If you wanted to get into photography as an amateur, then what is the best type of camera to get started with?
As the market is constantly changing, I would not recommend one particular camera, nor would I only dictate it has to be a certain brand (I use Canon). Instead, I would suggest going to Jessops or WEX Photographic; the advice they would receive would be based on their budget and needs. However, I always recommend a camera with interchangeable lenses. That way you have more control than a fixed zoom lens camera and can add to your skills as you experiment with different types of photography. It is incredible learning how the different lenses and apertures change the image.
Photography is not static, and you can never know it all, I am still learning every day and that is part of the pleasure of photography for me.
- What is your favourite “go to” lens?
Now that is a hard question! I love what they each bring individually. Generally, it is about what I’m photographing, the light levels and depth of field. I have quite a lovely collection of lenses most of which come on a photo shoot and are used according to what I’m capturing. In answer to the question though (here is where I get technical) my most used is the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L. The lens gives me really good control over the range of my shooting, plus at F2.8 it helps in lower light levels if that is an issue I have to manage.
- What are your top 3 tips for taking a good picture for a beginner in photography?
There are so many things I could say but If I had to narrow it down, the top three vital elements in photography would have to be:
- Composition – This is vital and the difference between a “snap” and an “image”. If you have not composed the shot well, with balance and attention to detail, such as levelling the image, it will lose it’s impact. I talk about composition in my previous blog which you can read here
- Light- A photograph can be altered significantly if you don’t understand the importance of how light works. For example, shoot into the sun and you’ll get a silhouette but take the same shot with the sun behind you and you’ll get a well-lit image. However, if you shoot with the sun at a 45-degree angle, you’ll get shadows across the subject.
- Time- Take your time in really looking at the image and seeing if there are elements in the shot that don’t add anything. For example, a lamp post is on your left, does it need to be in the shot? Does it add anything? If not, then perhaps zoom in slightly to cut it out or move your camera to the right a little so it’s out of shot. Look at what you are capturing and ask yourself what you are trying to convey.
- How do you approach the editing process? How do you know how much to edit?
Editing can sometimes be a huge challenge but it depends on the expectations of the client. As you know I like to capture and present images as they are and the shot has been well composed before the shutter is pressed therefore I tend not to do too much to my images post production in Lightroom or Photoshop. I upload the images I’ve taken on the photoshoot, then identify which images are the best for the clients brief and story. I will whittle down the agreed amount with the client, but I do sometimes end up editing more because if there is an image there that really stands out the client Simply has to have it.
- What should I wear, and should I have my hair done for the shoot?
Once we have established if the headshot or portrait image is to be formal (white background suit/jacket etc) or more relaxed lifestyle style headshot, then my biggest statement regarding having a headshot or portrait taken is you need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. A headshot does not have to be boring even if when it’s on a white background. Clothes say a lot about our personality and that is what I’m looking to capture – you, so if you want to wear bright red, then bring it on, I say.
Remember your image is how you want people to be seen and I talk more about makeup and hair etc. on my post ‘What should I wear for my corporate headshot’ blog which you can read here
- What do you say to business owners who think “I can do that with my mobile phone”
I’d highlight the differences between a snap and an image, it’s more than just having a camera and pressing a button, but in all honesty, I would wish them luck.
- How do you improve the lighting to show commercial products at their best?
I identify where the light is strongest and see where it falls. I would use reflectors to bounce that light and use specific lenses with apertures that can cope well under low light levels. There are also ways around this using the camera, but there are issues in that, it’s all about balance – so complex and challenging. I love it!!!!
- If you could tell business owners one thing what would it be?
To regularly ask your self why did you start your business and what do you love about your business? From that you can find the details that tell the right story and give your customers a clear view of why they should buy into your brand. I’d also add that in order to create a strong brand identity and stand out from your competitors, it is vital that your website and marketing materials deliver a consistent message. One of the best ways to do this is through the images your brand uses, not just by having a new website. The images on your website are the first thing most visitors see before they even decide to read the words on your pages. So with that in mind I’d advise to every now and again review where you are and where you want to be. Within that ask yourself how do you feel about your current imagery? Are you happy with it? Does it give people, at a glance, the right impression of who you are, what you offer, and what your company is all about? If you are not sure perhaps I can help.
Thank you to everyone who submitted your questions and if you have any others you can ask me over on my social media. If you’re looking to work with someone who is passionate, easy to work with, and has an eye for commercial photography call Cherry on 07775 851827 or email me to find out more.