Category Archives: Events

Music Festival Sponsorship

I’m delighted to be sponsoring Hertford Music Festival for a second year. This is one of two events I sponsor, the other being Run For Their Lives, a 10K charity fun run. As part of both events I provide photographic services, both on the day and for promotional materials in the weeks leading up to the events.

On Saturday I met up with Festival organiser Kev Saunders at Rigsby’s guest house and restaurant in St.Andrew’s Street, Hertford. The business is the festival’s main sponsor and the brief was to shoot some promotional material featuring some of those involved with the festival using the location and branding as a backdrop.

Left to right: Nigel Grint, owner of Rigsby’s, festival organiser Kev Saunders and Matt Cass, logo designer.

Every job comes with its opportunities and challenges and this was no different. On the plus side we had an interesting location, accessible branding and good weather. On the downside we had the combination of bright sunlight and shadow.

From left:bookings & event co-ordinator Natalie Aylott, Mayor Jane Sartin,
Kev Saunders and Verna Akers of band Wasted Rhymes

I took a variety of shots in different locations and these two compositions appear to have worked best.

With bright sunlight you’re always in danger of either shooting into the sun or having your subjects facing it and squinting.

With both of these shots I’ve used Photoshop to adjust the levels, lighten the shadows and add a vignette. In the top picture I’ve also used a high pass filter to add local contrast after lightening the shadows, which has given it an almost stylised look.

Hertford Music Festival opens on Sunday 6th August with Rock At The Castle and runs for three weeks until the Musical Mystery Tour on Sunday 26th August.

Hertford Theatre Week

I dropped in to Hertford Theatre yesterday to take some shots of The Company Of Players’ rehearsal of “A Few Good Men”, which is their Theatre Week entry for 2012.

The production is one of six plays being staged as part of the annual festival in Hertford.

My aim was to get a range of shots, showing the production in rehearsal, including actors (both on and of stage) and crew.

At the end of the week I’ll be photographing the winners after the awards ceremony on Saturday night.

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

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

Civic Society Awards

Yesterday evening I photographed an awards ceremony for the local civic society. These are presented annually to local projects of outstanding architectural merit.

I only had a few seconds after each presentation to capture the host Russ Craig (left) congratulating the recipient.

I used a flashgun and diffuser with the camera set on Program mode and an ISO of 1000, so that the flash intensity was balanced with the ambient light. Although the different colour temperatures can be observed, I don’t think it’s too distracting. I also didn’t have a lot of space, as the room was very crowded. The subjects were only about 3m in front of me and the picture is quite tightly cropped to hide the Powerpoint presentation to the immediate left and the seated guests out of shot to the right.

This photo is particularly interesting because it’s a composite. I took two shots of this presentation, just a few seconds apart. In the first image, the host on the left blinked, and in the second the recipient was looking off to the right. Despite both shots being 1/60th at f7.1, there was a slight difference in flash intensity, which meant that one image was slightly darker, so as well as marrying the two images together, I also had to adjust the levels in one to match the other.

Wilkestock 2011

I spent last weekend covering Wilkestock, a two-day boutique festival that takes place deep in the Hertfordshire countryside. The event features a main stage with live music, a dance tent, chill-out teepees, the Wilkestock Lodge bar area and a campsite.

Having attended the festival last least I was pretty clear about what I wanted to achieve in covering the event and the challenges. It’s about capturing the performances, the audience and the setting, both on and around the stage as well as the wider environment.

Weatherwise the festival was gifted with warm sunny weather and with a southwesterly facing stage, lighting during the day was not going to be a problem. The layout of the stage area also makes it easy to get near the front, so a 55-200mm zoom lens was perfectly adequate.

Having once been a drummer in a couple of bands I always try and get a few shots of the man (or woman) at the back. Whilst angles can always be a bit tricky here but I was happy with what was able to achieve.

The audience at Wilkestock is predominantly young and more than happy to demonstarte how much of a good time they’re having. I frequently had people coming up to me asking if I would take their photos.

As daylight fell the lighting conditions on stage changed of course, as daylight was replaced by stage lighting. The strong colours can sometimes be hard to catch and it’s best at this point to disable AWB (Auto White Balance) and choose a suitable setting. I find that either tungsten or cloudy setting works just fine.

As well as shots close to the stage I also got some very good pictures further back, showing the audience and wider stage environment.

For many of the evening shots I used a fast f1.8 lens, although this is only suitable for front-on shots. Given the narrow depth of field at the wider aperture it’s not suitable for shots from the side of the stage unless you can closely crop the image, which of course depends on the suitability of the composition.

I took over 1500 images at Wilkestock and posted over 200 on my Facebook page at There are two galleries – Gallery 1 and Gallery 2.

Rockin’ The Car Park

The Farmer’s Boy in Brickendon staged a charity festival in their car park at the weekend. This was the third year that the public house have held the event, which features local bands, real ale and a hog roast.

The bands perform on the trailer of an articulated lorry, kitted out with rudimentary lighting, amps and monitors. Whilst the set-up allows for some good angles the lighting can be a bit tricky, especially towards the end of the day.

Another downside of the staging is that the backdrop can be quite ugly. No amount of bokeh is going to hide an unpleasant background so close behind a performer. However, this isn’t a problem with closely cropped shots such as the one below.

Opportunities to capture a whole band are also limited by the angles and staging, given the low height of the trailer.

Despite the limitations there are opportunities for plenty of good shots at such events, not to mention the great music.

Rockin’ The Car Park is held in aid of the NSCPP.

If you’d like to know more about the event photography services I offer, please visit

Muscle Warriors Cricket Tournament

Another assignment for The Muscle Help Foundation this weekend just gone. The charity held a fundraising cricket tournament at Hertford Cricket Club, with a series of 6-a-side matches throughout the afternoon.

This was an interesting prospect for me as I don’t have a lot of experience photographing field sports. Not being the owner of a fast long lens of the sort normally associated with sports photography, I was going to be at the mercy of the elements when it came to lighting. A good light obviously allows a faster shutter speed at a reasonable film speed. This was particularly important as I was hoping to use a modest 200m lens (300m 35mm equivalent) and then crop the shots.

As it was, the light was kind to me and I was quite pleased with the results.

Continue reading Muscle Warriors Cricket Tournament

Music & Motors

Once a year musicians and motorists join forces in Ware’s Tudor Square for an afternoon of acoustic music and classic cars.

The event offers plenty of photo opportunities, with both performers and cars making excellent subjects. Sadly, on this occasion the performance area did not offer good sightlines with engineers and officials hanging around in the background.  The cars however were a lot more accommodating.

When photographing cars I like to concentrate on design and detail. Features such as badges and  instrumentation make for good close-ups.

Shapes and lines also make for good studies, particularly front and rear ends, as well as lighting equipment.

The Cadillac pictured below has some particularly dramatic features.

Other focal points can include engines – especially if they’ve been kept looking their best, interiors and any period artefacts. Many proud owners will also dress up for the occasion.

And if it happens to rain you can always take advantage of the classic raindrops on paintwork theme!

To find out more about the event photography services I offer please visit my website at

Rock At The Castle

Just finished post-production work on Rock At The Castle, Hertford’s annual open-air music festival. Despite a couple of showers the event was well attended and much enjoyed by everyone.

As well as live music on two stages, there was also plenty of food and drink, facepainting, clothes & jewellery, inflatable gladiator jousting and the ubiquitous bouncy castle.

Popular acts this year included the amazing human beatbox Dee Sharp and Juan Zelada, who’s current single Breakfast At Spitalfields was recently BBC Radio 2’s Record Of The Week.

You can find more photos on my Facebook page.