Staff Awards Ceremony

Yesterday evening I covered a staff awards ceremony for the Hertfordshire Probation Trust. The event took place in a large function room at the County Council’s base in Stevenage and featured speeches and presentations by the Chief Executive and local dignitaries, including the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Lord Charles Cecil.

The brief was to photograph the speeches and presentations, take general shots of the event and to provide digital images for web and media use, together with prints of each award-winner being presented with their awards, in presentation folders.

As with all such assignments, I visited the venue  a week or two before the shoot to get an idea of the environment – lighting, availability of space, potential shooting locations and angles, as well as practical things such as the availability of power sockets should I need to use my own lighting. As it was the room was modern and spacious with plenty of of lighting, as well as a few specialist stage lighting units (which you can see in use in the above photo). The only potential issue with the stage lighting was colour temperature, with the stage lighting being tungsten, whilst the ambient lighting was closer to natural daylight. However, this didn’t present to much of a problem as the zones they served didn’t interfere with each other from a composition point-of-view

The wider shots of the general event I covered from the side of the room, whilst for the speeches I chose to shoot from behind the audience using a long lens. I positioned myself both directly behind the audience and to one side, giving me a nice 45 degree angle that included slides accompanying the speakers. Other shots from the rear showed speakers addressing the audience.

For the individual presentations themselves (not shown here), each award comprised a list of nominations, followed by announcement of the winner, who was then presented with a certificate and glass trophy. Following this I would swiftly come on from the wings and position myself immediately in front of the audience to capture a posed shot of the winner with their award, flanked by the High Sheriff and Chief Executive. This had to be a fairly swift exercise so as not to interrupt the flow of prioceedings, so I took just a couple of shots using flash, typically a wider shot and a second close in. This provided a pair of composition to choose from, with hopefully at least one with no-one blinking!

Overall the evening was a great success and I’m happy to report that the client was very pleased with the results.

For more information about corporate and family functions and events please visit my website at

Olympus SP560

Despite now being some five years old, I still occasionally use my Olympus SP560-UZ, an excellent camera with a wealth of features and a good lens.

Being an ultra-zoom camera, the standout feature of course is the 18x zoom lens, equivalent to 27-486mm on a 35mm camera. There’s also the macro and super-macro functionality that allows you to focus as close as 1cm, which for me can be very handy when doing product photography with smaller items and need to show detail.

There’s also a wealth of other features, including aperture and shutter priority, as well as full manual exposure; optional 3×2 aspect ratio, ISO sensitivity up to 3200 and RAW mode. The digital image stabilisation is also very good.

As well as the useful macro mode, I like to take this camera out when I want to use something a little better than my point-and-shoot Canon IXUS but without the weight and bulk of my dSLR.

The Birthday Party

Whilst my last post talked about wedding photography and why I don’t offer it, I also highlighted those family functions that I do cover and an assignment I attended last Friday illustrates this.

The event was a 50th birthday party held at a The Hoxton Hotel & Grill in Central London. Attended by around 40 people, the brief was to capture the evening and present an online gallery for the client and guests to view shortly after.

Due to the relaxed lighting it was necessary to use flash, and here I used a flashgun with diffuser. I’m no fan of flash photography  as it can produce somewhat flat and unnatural images. It can also be quite intrusive if you’re taking a lot of photos, especially if your also using auto-focus assist illumination, which immediately distract’s the subject. Once you’ve drawn attention to the fact that you’re about to take a photo, the subject’s attention can be shifted to you, rather than enjoying the conversation or whatever they were engaged in, hence you’ve lost the element of surprise and a natural photo. This does however depend on the subject and how they react. Some people will tense up a little whereas other will ignore you. In spite of the these issues, I was able to get some excellent shots.

The even itself took place in the corner of a London Hotel and Grill, having been set aside for the event. I always try to make a point of being as unobtrusive as possible (notwithstanding the flash issue). I also like to vary angles so that whilst some shots will be head-on, others might be taken with the camera held up high (can be a bit hit-and-miss) and others from lower angles. I’m also keen on taking photos discreetly over people’s shoulders.

My choice of lens was a kit 18-55mm lens. I would normally use a longer lens for such events but the lighting issue precluded this.

Overall I was pleased with the results, and most importantly, so was the client!

For more information about photography for family functions, celebrations and anniversaries, please visit my website at

Not A Wedding Photographer

Many people ask me if I do wedding photography. I do not.

Wedding photography is a highly skilled area that involves not only photography, but dealing with large numbers of people as well. You have to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you in terms of environment, weather and “personalities”. And you have to get it right first time, every time. You can’t take chances by asking an inexperienced wedding photographer to cover such an important event. I have no such experience and therefore I don’t do weddings.

However, I am more than happy to cover informal family functions, such as anniversaries, christenings etc. And if you’re looking for a photographer to informally cover your wedding reception without the wedding photographer price tag, I’m happy to do that as well.

To find out more about the photography packages I offer, please visit