How to use photographs to attract more customers

Although the economy is starting to stagger back into life, things remain tough and we find that we're working harder than ever to grow our business.  In conditions like these, it makes sense to ensure that everything in your sales and marketing armoury is working as hard as it can. Here's how photography can help.

Display your added extras

Things lodge far better in people's brains if they see something instead of being told about it.  So make sure that all your added value extras are nicely photographed and placed in a suitably high profile place.  If you're a hotel or guest house, include images of the extras you offer, such as champagne or chocolates, on your website. A retailer or service company with a loyalty scheme, such as a free haircare product after six haircuts, could add an image of their loyalty card to their website's homepage. 

For example:

Costa.jpg

Its loyalty and gift cards are clearly important to Costa Coffee.  Not only are they featured on their website's home page, but each section is accompanied by an image of the relevant card.  Why tell when you can show?

Display what's special about you

It might be your cheery delivery drivers, or it could be the homemade jam you offer your B&B guests at breakfast.  Whatever differentiates you from your competitors or helps create a great customer experience, make sure that it's highly visible in your marketing materials. You can tell potential customers that your wedding venue has wonderful views, but highlighting them on your website is even better.

For example:

Gosby-House.jpg

In addition to a wonderful breakfast, Gosby House Inn is distinguished by the free wine and nibbles offered to guests in the afternoon.  So what better way to depict such a treat than the giant photograph of wine being poured at the top of this web page?

Spotlight your employees

Often a business's staff are its greatest asset, and using employee images can often bring a business to life.  (And no, we don't mean cheesy stock photos of smiley models sporting call centre headsets.)  People are interested in people, and showing off your staff - including the business's leaders - really resonates and can help potential customers feel a connection with your business.  Alternatively, if your organisation has a real hero, business-wise or otherwise, make a picture of them a feature of your website.

For example: 

Outperform.jpg

Dawn and Rachel are familiar to anyone who's dealt with Outperform Training.  As the company's trainers, they are pivotal to the success of the business and contribute a heap of personality to their training courses.  And they are also at the centre of the company's website, which is expertly designed by Kate Watkiss.

Build a brand

As our sister business, North Shore Marketing, can testify, creating a brand means that you are more attractive to potential customers and are no longer dependent on price.  (Just ask Apple.)  But to do so, you need strong, resonant images that encapsulate what your business is all about.  Photography can be used on your website and in sales and marketing materials to make you look approachable, cool, elegant, traditional - whatever resonates with your target audience.  A picture speaks a thousand words, so using photographs which depict your business's personality are an ideal shortcut to creating a brand.

For example:

Captain-Bathtime.jpg

Plenty of businesses sell toiletries, but few have the impact of Captain Bathtime.  In addition to the product photography you'd expect, the Captain Bathtime website, designed by Curlykale, uses retro style photographs to build a very different kind of brand.

We hope that this has given you some ideas for how photography can help to optimise your sales and marketing.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 07925 679724 or by email if we can help in any way.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

4 pitfalls of using a photographer (and how to avoid them)

hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy.jpg

For a small or medium-sized business, hiring a photographer isn’t something that happens every day.  And the photography industry, although full of really nice people, can sometimes be prone to making things tricky for its clients.  So we thought we’d bring you the main pitfalls to look out for, along with suggestions about how to avoid them.

Pitfall 1: The cost of the photoshoot is competitive, but the extras just keep on coming

We're not sure why, but often the photography industry seems to pile on the extras.  Fair enough, some extras take up a lot of time and should be charged for, such as advanced photo editing or sourcing models.  And in almost every industry we can think of, travel is charged as an extra, because not every client lives in the same place.  But charging extra for putting the images onto a CD or memory stick?  Or for simple post-production tasks such as removing a splodge of bird muck from a roof?  Or for getting a prop out of the prop cupboard?  Or for providing high resolution images? Really?

What to do: Check the quotation carefully to make sure that everything you may need is covered.  How will the images be delivered to you?  Will your photographer carry out simple post-production tidying up?  Some do and some don’t, so it’s best to check.

Pitfall 2: Licensing means what, exactly?

You’ve paid a handsome sum for this photoshoot, so the images are yours to do what you want with them, right? Well, not always.  Photographers almost always retain the copyright for their images, even straightforward folk like us, as it means we can use them in our portfolios.  (Of course,  copyright ownership doesn’t stop you using them too.  And if you request ownership of the copyright, that’s fine with most of us too.)  But some photographers will also only give you ‘your’ images under licence, raising the possibility that you might have to pay a fee to use them in the future. Even though they’re ‘yours’. Hmmmm….

What to do: Make sure that the quotation states that the images are yours to use as you like, forever.  Or some legal version thereof.  The Association of Photographers has a good article for clients on licensing and copyright.

Pitfall 3: Help! I don’t like my pictures!

Everyone has bad days, and photographers are no exception.  Thankfully, it’s not happened to us, but we hear the odd tale of woe, particularly from the wedding industry.  This is really unfortunate, especially in the case of weddings, which (hopefully) only happen once,  However,  there are things that can be done to minimise risk. .

What to do: Find out whether your photographer has done your kind of work before, particularly when it comes to posing people.  Does his or her portfolio have the kind of look you’re aiming for?  Are there plenty of alternative pictures from a single photoshoot in the photographer’s portfolio, not just one cherry-picked shot?  For weddings, can you find a two person team to make sure there’s back-up? And for everyone: does your photographer carry back-up equipment in case of any malfunctions?

Pitfall 4: Someone else is using my pictures!

As mentioned above, copyright ownership means that the photographer can use the images taken on your behalf for things such as promotional materials or a website gallery.  Sometimes, though, it also means that the photographer will sell your images via a photo library.  This means that the images could end up being used by third party companies for their own marketing purposes.  We don’t mean to be alarmist – the risk of this is small – but it happens.

What to do: Some photographers, like us, simply don’t sell to photo libraries, so this scenario will never occur.  Others, however, do.  It’s worth asking your photographer what his or her position is on this.  At the very least, if your photographer will only licence the images (see Pitfall 2), make sure that the licence is exclusive to you for a number of years.

For more help with choosing the right photographer for you, download our free, detailed checklist on finding and choosing a photographer.  And please get in touch if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane

7 vital questions to ask a photographer before they’re hired

There are a lot of photographers around, so it can be hard to distinguish one from another and to know which to choose.  To help you find the photographer who’s right for you, here’s a round-up of some of the questions you might like to ask.

1.  What type of photography do you specialise in? 

Each type of photography requires different techniques and often different equipment.  Someone like us, who specialises in commercial photography, may not have expertise in photographing babies (we wouldn’t know where to start!).  And conversely, someone who mainly photographs weddings may not be aware of all the techniques, styling and angles that we use when photographing interiors and exteriors.  Many photographers claim on their websites to do everything, so pin them down a little more closely.

2:  Who are your existing customers? 

This isn’t so much an issue for a photographer who’s clearly a wedding or portrait specialist.  But commercial photography, in particular, covers a wide range of different specialities, from advertising photography for multi-nationals to product photography for small business websites.  You’re likely to get the best results if the photographer has already done plenty of work for clients similar to you.  So for instance, if you’re looking for someone to photograph a hotel, keep an eye out for a photographer who’s done plenty of hotels previously.  Understanding the size of their clients is also useful, in that it gives you an indication of the level of their fees and avoids any awkward “can you afford me?” moments.  We publish our photography rates on our website for complete transparency, but we’re firmly in the minority.

3.  Do you carry back-up equipment?

This is mainly a question to ask wedding photographers.  Obviously, there are no opportunities for a re-run of a wedding, so everything has to work first time.  You would hope that a wedding photographer carries a back-up camera and lenses as standard, but they don’t always (just ask our electrician, whose wedding turned out photoless following an equipment malfunction).  As commercial photographers, we always carry back-up equipment too, as no client wants to prep the premises, staff or products twice over.

4.  Are you CRB checked?

Photographers who work with children or vulnerable adults have usually been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau. Of course this isn’t fool-proof, but it’s something to check if it’s of concern to you.

5.  Is post-production editing, image hand-over and travel included in the quote?

Hopefully they will be, but it’s best to check if you’re unsure of anything.  Photographers do tend to add extras to their prices.  Also check that any special Photoshop effects that you require are included in the quote, along with high resolution images if you need them (for instance, for literature or exhibition stands).

6.  Can I use the images for anything, now and in the future?

Many photographers offer unlimited image usage to their clients as standard (after all, you paid for the photographs to be done in the first place).  However, some photographers will offer a licence- or royalty-based model; in this instance you need to be clear about whether there will be any charges in the future.

7.  Do you belong to any trade associations?

Trade associations often require their members to reach a certain level of competence and to subscribe to a particular standard of behaviour.  UK trade associations to look out for include the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Master Photographers Association (look for a photographer with Full Membership).

For more help with choosing a photographer, download our free, detailed checklist on finding and choosing a photographer.  And please get in touch if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net 

What to expect at a photoshoot: A guide for clients

For many businesses, having a professional photographer conduct a photoshoot at your premises isn’t an everyday occurrence.  Hopefully you’ve already had a chat with the photographer and established a connection, but an extra bit of reassurance never goes amiss, so here’s where we hope we can help.  This article is based on our own procedures, and other photographers may differ, but this should give you an idea of what will happen at the shoot.

Arrival

Depending on the job, the photographer will bring a camera, a selection of lenses, a tripod, a set of lights and a multitude of bits and bobs.  So providing the opportunity to park close by is a kindness!  Whether or not an assistant also comes along to help out with equipment or styling will depend on the job and on the firm you choose to carry out the shoot.  If you have requested professional models for the shoot, they will arrive at the allotted time, usually when the photographer arrives.  The models will need a room in which to get changed, with good lighting and a mirror, and access to a bathroom.

If he or she hasn’t visited you already, the photographer will ask to be shown around the area you’ve arranged to have photographed.  This is a good opportunity for you both to talk through your requirements, so make sure you point out any particular features that you’d like included in the shoot.

During the photoshoot

You know what?  Unless you or your staff are being photographed, it’s perfectly fine to leave the photographer alone to get on with it!  The photographer has to set up his or her equipment, get the lighting right and think about the angles, so being given the mental space in which to do this will be much appreciated.  It’s a good idea, though, to let the photographer know where to find you in case of any queries.

The length of the shoot will of course depend heavily on what’s being photographed.  As a rule of thumb for property photography (our speciality), expect a photographer to spend thirty minutes to an hour per room.  We allocate half a day to photograph a holiday home or guest house, and up to a day for larger premises.

After the photoshoot

This is where the work continues! We estimate that, for every hour we spend at the shoot, we spend at least twice that perfecting the images in the editing suite.  (We are a little bit perfectionist, so other photographers may differ.)  So don’t forget, you’re likely to be getting a lot of unseen value from your photographer!  We usually allow five working days for editing, though of course we can go faster if you have a tight deadline.

While you may see your photographer taking a multitude of images at the shoot, many of these will be similar angles as he or she experiments with what works best in your particular environment.  Part of the editing process will be to whittle these images down to a manageable selection for you to approve.  So don’t necessarily expect to get hundreds of images, and –trust us – you really wouldn’t want the job of sorting through them all!  But if you do want all the files, that’s fine too – just ask your photographer.

Once the images are ready, most photographers will provide them on disk, on memory stick or via a secure area of their website.  We like to present the images in person, particularly with new customers, so that we can talk through each image and make sure that the client is entirely happy.  Most commercial photographers will let you have all the edited images – you don’t have to pick out a shortlist in the way that customers do for portrait photography.

Is there anything else you’d like to know?  If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 07925 679724 or email us

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net 

6 great examples of how hotels use photography on their websites

Images are an integral part of a website, and can make a website (and the hotel it represents) look exceptional.  But how do you choose the best images for your business? Here are six examples of hotels whose images do a great job.

Lifestyle magic: 60 Thompson, New York

 

60-Thompson.jpg

There are certain things technically wrong with the images on 60 Thompson’s website. But we don’t think it matters, because they capture the feel of the hotel perfectly. Operating at a level which is all about lifestyle, the hotel’s home page showcases an image which perfectly encapsulates summer in New York City.

Using a model brings life to the image, while the view and the sunbeam are quintessentially NYC in the summer months. The image is particularly clever because only the back of the model is visible, enabling the viewer to put him or herself in the model’s place.   It’s also a perfect reminder of the hotel’s beautiful roof terrace. 

Click here to visit 60 Thompson’s website (the images appear in rotation, so look out for the one with the model photographed from the back).

Things to think about: Don’t be afraid to break the rules, if the finished result provides the perfect reason for people to stay at your property.

Decor focus: Escape Boutique B&B, Llandudno

Escape.jpg

Escape positions itself as a stylish, contemporary place to stay, a positioning reflected in the individual, eclectic décor in each of its nine rooms.  Escape’s website accordingly showcases the style and decorative details in every room, such as luxury shower heads, stylish retro furniture and relaxed seating areas.  The look and feel of each room is abundantly clear, enabling the viewer to choose his or her own perfect room and illustrating what makes Escape different to the other guest houses in the area.

Click here to visit Escape’s website.  (Disclosure: we've photographed Escape.)

Things to think about: What makes your hotel or guest house special?  It could be your cosiness, your views or your pets.  Whatever your point of difference, make sure that there’s images to reflect this on your website.  You might find our guide specifically for hotels and guest houses useful: Things to ask your photographer to include in a photoshoot.

Going large: Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall

Hotel-Trensanton.jpg

We’re not massively keen on the Hotel Tresanton’s website, but one thing we do like is the use of a large image on the home page.  If your rooms are lovely, like the Tresanton’s, then there’s no better way to entice potential guests than showcasing the property in this way.  Do bear in mind, though, that the images – and the subject of those images - should be top-notch in terms of resolution and quality.

Click here to visit Hotel Tresanton’s website.

Things to think about: For your next website design, identify any aspects of your hotel that stand up to close scrutiny. Then ask your web designer to make them the hero of the website.

Show all the extras: The Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside

Drunken-Duck.jpg

The Drunken Duck is another property which makes great use of large images.  But the Duck goes one step further by including all the things that make a stay at the Duck special: home-made duck biscuits, a seat by the tarn, morning coffee delivered to your room…the list goes on.  And the way that these items are photographed – as close-up vignettes – provides a nice contrast to the conventional main images of the rooms.

Click here to visit the Drunken Duck’s website.

Things to think about: We all know that a picture says more than any words, so do you have images of every extra you offer? And everything that makes it special? Showing these can help to differentiate your business from your competitors.

Switch on the cosiness: Hôtel du Jeu de Paume, Paris

Hotel-du-Jeu-de-Paume.jpg

Hôtel du Jeu de Paume is a small hotel, tucked away on the Ile Saint Louis.  It is an old building full of wooden beams and that, coupled with its size, makes it an ideal candidate for a spot of what we call the cosiness treatment.

Natural wood, warm colours and plenty of images of lamps, fires and warmly-lit areas…it all creates a cosy, inviting effect.   The Hôtel du Jeu de Paume shows its interior with lights on, lamps in the foreground and plenty of reflective surfaces.

Click here to visit the hotel’s website.

Things to think about: You may not be the largest hotel, or the most contemporary, so can you communicate cosiness instead?  Lighting is a technically more difficult thing to photograph, so this is one area where we really do advise hiring a professional photographer with experience in creating these kinds of images.

Maximum personality: Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton

Hotel-Pelirocco.jpg

Well, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but Hotel Pelirocco has a very definite target audience and they’re aiming straight at it with their photography.  A procession of weird and wonderful images on the website’s home page firmly positions the hotel as a place for rock’n’rollers.  Hipsters, music lovers, plenty of alcohol...the images chosen really do encapsulate the hotel’s brand.  Even the token room shot includes a pole dancer.

Click here to visit the Pelirocco’s website.

Thinks to think about: Do you have a particular target audience in mind?  Think beyond images of your rooms and depict what your target really wants from their visit. It’s often not just about nice rooms – it’s about the whole experience and the images on your website can reflect that.

Posted by: Jane

We hope that this has given you some ideas for your photoshoot.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 07925 679724 or by email if we can help in any way.

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

4 of the best photographers in North Wales

Looking for a photographer in North Wales?  We see a lot of photographers’ work on a daily basis, so here is a round-up of our own personal favourites.  We’ve excluded our own photographer, Geoff Steen, although of course we love him most of all :-).

Number 7 by Roj Smith

Number 7 by Roj Smith

Roj Smith (landscapes)

Roj’s landscape photographs are truly beautiful.  His work has great depth and drama, driven by changing light, weather and sky.  In particular, his black-and-white photography is highly atmospheric.   Click here to visit Roj’s website.

Darryl Lonsbrough (landscapes)

Originally from North Wales but apparently living elsewhere, Darryl Lonsbrough has nevertheless been included in our selection for the quality of his landscape work of the region.  In particular, we love his ‘Along the Line’ series, which provides an unusual, almost eerie depiction of the North Wales coast.  Click here to take a look at the ‘Along the Line’ book.

John Rowell (landscapes and weddings)

We first met John at the Snowdonia Arts Festival, and were struck by his enthusiasm and willingness to share knowledge.  In addition to creating beautiful landscapes, John lectures, publishes books and photographs weddings.  Click here to visit John’s website.

Michael Potts (wildlife)

An ex-BBC cameraman, Michael is based in North Wales and takes beautiful images of wildlife and landscapes.  In addition to travelling the world to photograph wildlife, Michael also runs workshops on field craft and techniques.  Click here to visit his website.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

 

When is it safe to use a cheap photographer?

Photographers come in all kinds of price brackets and it can be hard to tell who’s going to do a good job and who isn’t.  In the current economic climate, it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest photography that you can find, but is it safe to do so?  Here are our thoughts on when it can be safe to opt for an inexpensive photographer.

1.        When they’re building a portfolio

Every photographer needs to build a portfolio when they’re starting out, and one of the ways to do this is to offer low prices or even to work for free. The photographer in question may be brilliant, or awful, or completely OK.

Just be very careful about assessing every aspect of their work.  In particular, make sure that you see a whole series of images already taken for a client, not just cherry-picked images from a range of photoshoots.  We’d very strongly recommend that you download our free checklist for choosing a photographer to make sure that you check everything thoroughly.  And we’d have to say that we’re not convinced about using someone inexperienced for a big event like a wedding or christening.

2.        When it’s a tiny job

While it’s nice to have the reassurance that your photographer is going to be great,  let’s be realistic. Sometimes you have a tiny project and, accompanying it, a tiny budget.  And sometimes there wouldn’t be too much hassle involved if the images need to be retaken.  An example could be a newly decorated bedroom in a hotel, when you just need a single image for your website, or a new product for a thumbnail on a product page.  Not, repeat not, a wedding!

A good approach, if you’re uncertain about a photographer but his or her prices are compelling, is to ask to pay for the work when you’ve seen the images and are happy with them.  We offer this as standard – we don’t ask for a deposit upfront – so it should be something your photographer can accommodate too.

3.        When their extras are affordable too

Don’t be distracted by cheap photography prices that are followed by expensive add-ons.  Make sure that the quote you receive includes everything that you need, including post-production editing and hand-over of the images.  Sometimes portrait photographers in particular will offer a cheap rate for a sitting, but their prints of the finished images can be very expensive.  So be clear about all the costs in advance.

For pricing guidelines to help you budget, please visit our article on photography prices.  And if you have any questions, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.  Thank you for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net 

How to take photos (without hiring a pro)

Welcome to our hints and tips for taking good photos.  While we’re focusing mainly on how to photograph a building, we hope that there’s something to help everyone in the ideas below.

If you’re a hotelier, a property developer, a restaurateur, an interior designer or a holiday home owner, you’ll know how important good images of your premises can be.  Of course, as professional photographers, we’d much prefer you to hire us to do your photography.  But times are tough and sometimes a little bit of DIY is the only viable option.  Or maybe you just have one newly decorated room to show off and don’t want the expense of hiring someone to photograph it (although do check out our room-by-room hotel photography service if you’re in North Wales or North West England).

We’re not going to tell you how to work your camera, as this will vary from model to model, and we’re not going to get all technical.  But we will touch on the non-technical aspects that can help your images to look good.

Switch the lights on

Even if it’s a sunny day, switch on every single light in the room.  This maximises the light available, helping to create a good shot, and also makes the room look cosy.  This is particularly important for bedrooms, pubs and rooms with dark colour schemes.

Make sure that your image is straight

One of the most basic tasks in professional photography is to ensure that everything in an image is straight, including walls and the horizon.  Doing this is a big step forward in making your results look as good as possible.   So take a careful note of the position of the architecture or landscape in your shot, focusing  particularly on vertical walls.  Sometimes you will find that, for technical reasons that we won’t go into here, your camera goes a bit Alice In Wonderland and throws out all the walls in a room at slightly different angles.  If this happens, choose  the most prominent vertical wall (it may be the one in the foreground or it may be a feature wall) and make sure that this is the one that’s straight.

Dress the room

We don’t need to tell you to tidy up (loo seat down, duvet straight), but have a think about how you can dress a room to make it look as appealing as possible.  A bouquet of flowers is the obvious choice; but do make sure that you vary the arrangement and don’t take the same bouquet from room to room.  Also make sure that dining rooms have their tables laid, as a bare, unoccupied room can look very sorry for itself.  If you’re a hotel or B&B which offers extras such as flowers or chocolates, show a representative selection in one of the rooms – without going overboard, as this can look unrealistic.

Holiday home owners have a particularly strong opportunity to dress their rooms.  Your aim should be to draw a picture of the kind of holiday experience a customer can expect.  Avoid personal items such as toothbrushes and think about your target audience.  Creating evocative vignettes that reflect your target audience can be highly effective.  Think about scenes such as croissants at breakfast, butterfly nets at the back door, wine on the patio and so on.

Note where the sun is

If you’re photographing the exterior of your premises, stop and take a look at the position of the sun in the sky.  Shooting into the sun, which is what occurs if it appears directly in the shot, can make an image seem over-exposed and blown out.  It’s much better to wait for a time of day when the sun has moved out of the way.

Think of interesting angles

Most websites and literature show a room in its entirety, or a large portion of it, and that’s usually highly appropriate.  But you can make your premises look more interesting by including architectural or decorative details as well.  Get into a crouch so that luxuriant plants frame the foreground of an exterior shot.  A close-up of a wooden heart hanging from a doorknob can look contemporary yet homely.  Even a simple close-up of a bedhead with fluffy pillows and cushions will be cosy and inviting.

Is there anything different about your business that should be included in the photographs?  For instance, are you a B&B that makes your own bread, or a farm with pedigree animals?  Anything that makes you special or different should be included in your list of items to photograph.

Strong-arm some models

We would only ever recommend using professional models, as they know how to relax in front of the camera.  And yet, people can add life and vitality to an image.  There are two options which can work – with a bit of luck.  The first involves people doing what they do without looking at the camera, such as a bartender mixing a cocktail.  The other involves letting some children run around and play while you take pictures.  If you’re concerned about the kids’ privacy, have them run away from the camera so that you can photograph them with their faces turned away from you.

Post-production (when the image is edited)

Professional photo editing packages, such as Photoshop, are expensive and complicated.  There are some options, however, that let you perform basic tasks to make your pictures look much better than in their raw state:

  • Rotate an image to straighten     the lines
  • Crop an image to make it look     tighter and more aesthetically pleasing
  • Lighten a dark room.

There are several free photo editing packages that you may like to look at: Picasa, PhotoPlus and Photo Pos Pro.  Even the Microsoft Office software that you probably have on your computer can be used to perform a simple crop (click on an image to open Microsoft Picture Editor).

And what about the camera?

Well, yes, good question.  Our main cameras cost thousands.  At this level you get a degree of depth, detail and clarity that an everyday camera cannot provide.  But there are plenty of point-and-click options that will do the job at a simple level.

New cameras are launched all the time so we won’t go into them here, but some useful places to check them out are these websites: What Digital Camera and the Which guide to choosing a digital camera.

We hope that these tips will help you create some good images.  Any questions? Just get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to answer them.  Thanks for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Geoff

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net 

A guide to professional photography prices

If you haven’t commissioned professional photography before, it can be hard to find out how much a photographer costs, especially when you’re at the early stages of budgeting and not quite ready to ask for quotes. In this guide, my aim is to give you a starting figure to help you decide how much you will need to spend.

These outline photography prices are based on my part of the UK (North-West England and North Wales), but I hope that they will help you get started with budgeting wherever you are.

Wedding photography prices

Let’s get the painful bit out of the way first: a mid-range wedding photographer is likely to charge around £1,000 for a standard package covering the main parts of the wedding and a good quality album of prints. But prices do vary wildly: you can get a budget package for £500, particularly if only part of the day, such as the ceremony itself, is covered. Or you can find a master photographer for thousands.  In a way, the most crucial thing isn’t finding the cheapest photographer (or the most expensive!), but finding one with plenty of experience and whose work you love.

Need to know: As you might expect, the more you ask for, the more expensive the wedding photography package will be. The more time the photographer spends with you, the greater the cost, so think carefully about whether you really do need bride-getting-ready shots, for instance. And the final output in terms of albums, DVD slideshows and so on will also have an impact.  At a quiet time of the year, such as the winter months, it may be possible to get even a highly expert photographer at a more affordable rate by compromising in these areas.  (I did this for my own wedding: a shoot with a wonderful photographer, excluding the ceremony, was £800 including a beautiful album.)

Commercial photography prices

The sheer difficulty of finding out commercial photography prices is what originally inspired this article.  It also gave us the idea of pricing our photography transparently (click here to see our prices).  Based on my research, I’ve found some guidelines which will hopefully help you to get an idea of how much you’ll need to spend.

Most photographers charge by the hour, day or half day, which isn’t much use to you if you’re not sure how long your shoot will take.  As a rule of thumb, we find that photographing small commercial premises (for instance a guest house, show home or office building) will take about half a day, while larger premises will take about a day.  Product photography tends to be charged by the half day or day. As a very loose guideline, a half day with a commercial photographer will cost around £300-£500, while a full day will be charged at £600-£1,000.

Need to know: Commercial photographers can charge for many extras, from post-production editing to travel; from licensing to simply putting the images on a disk.  So you need to be absolutely clear, when looking at a quote, about what’s included.  If you’d like more help, download our free, impartial checklist for finding and choosing a commercial photographer.

Portrait photography prices

Portrait photographers often charge for a sitting, with a separate fee for each print.  The sitting charge in a studio is often £50-£100, although we’ve noticed prices sliding closer to the £50 level as the recession continues.  A session away from the studio can be a little more expensive, unless the photographer offers a mobile-only service. Often the sitting fee will include a print, although these are usually of a relatively small size.

Need to know: The important thing to find out is how much the photographer will charge for any extra prints that you choose.  The cost of a print large enough to hang on your wall can reach £100 or more, and seeing wonderful images of your family and not being able to afford them can be a real pain.

As mentioned at the start of this article, these prices are based on what we’ve been able to find out about photography prices in our part of the world, so you may find that the quotes you get do differ.  If you have any questions, please do get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer them.  Thank you for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net