The last 14 months have been a challenging time for everyone, especially if like me your income depends on live events, social functions, or anything that involves human being interacting with each other.
As we move in to the summer of 2021 and lockdown eases, there is now more freedom for people to enjoy their lives, so I was delighted recently to photograph my first public event in well over a year.
‘Cars At The Castle’ is an annual car show staged by Hertford Town Council in the grounds of Hertford Castle, featuring modern and vintage cars. The event was cancelled for 2020 so this year is the first time in two years that the show has gone ahead.
Fine weather and a thirst for public entertainment meant that the event was well attended, with people queueing to get in to the castle grounds.
The following images were taken with a Sony RX100 VI that I recently bought second-hand to replace an RX100 II. The image quality is outstanding for a one-inch sensor and the 24-200mm zoom covers most situations. The images were edited with Affinity Photo and Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
During April I worked on a series of postcard-like images of villages in the countryside around Hertford. These photos included local buildings, village ponds, rivers, churches and pubs.
Locations include Little Amwell, Chapmore End, Sacombe and Stapleford.
The photos were taken with a Fujifilm X100S using the Fuji Velvia film simulation. The border was added with Nik Collection Color Efex Pro (Type 1 width 20%). Tone and colour were processed with the
Nik Collection Analog Pro Classic Camera 2 filter. Finally the titles were added with Affinity Photo using French Script font.
The X100S is a recent acquisition and I’m delighted with it. Not only is it a gorgeous looking camera but the image quality is excellent, especially when combined with Fuji’s film simulations. This is my first Fuji camera (my pro gear is Nikon) but I suspect I’ll be tempted toward their interchangeable lens range at some stage in the future.
I’ve since bought a lens hood and filter adapter, allowing me to use my favoured polarising filter with the camera.
I find that Spring is an ideal time to photograph the countryside, just as the sun is higher in the sky and leaves coming out on the trees,
I took these shots of RiverCity Studios after I was called by an existing client who needed some publicity shots at short notice. They needed some wide views of the premises for their website and printed brochure. I was called at lunchtime and took the shots later in the afternoon, delivering unedited shots in the early evening for review.
I’ve written previously about the fact that I don’t do weddings, due to the fact that it’s a specialised skill (you can find the article here). However, I’m happy to cover less formal (and lower budget) functions, such as christenings, anniversaries and other ceremonial events.
One such recent event was for a couple who wanted to mark their ten years of marriage with a Renewal Of Vows.
The ceremony took place at Hertford Registry Office in front of around 20 guests and I was asked to cover the afternoon from the arrival of guests to formal photos, taking in the ceremony itself and the happy couple exiting the Registry Office to flurries of confetti.
I met the couple a few weeks before the ceremony to discuss their requirements and to look over the location to get an idea of the environment and best places to take formal shots.
I also made a point of keeping an eye on the weather forecast in the days before the event as this can have an impact on the available shots.
If you’re interested in having a family function or social occasion photographed you can find out more about what I can offer by visiting my page about Party & Family Function photography.
Last month I was asked to take some promotional interior shots for Parkhurst Music Studio to be use on their website. The two floor studio is used for teaching a variety of instruments, including guitar and drums. The former stable block has recently been renovated and is light and airy.
The studio is south facing and on my first visit there was strong sunlight streaming in to both rooms. This is far from an ideal lighting situation due to the strong shadows and high contrast between the direct sunlight and ambient light, so I returned an hour later when the position of the sun had changed.
The ground floor studio has plenty of light, with large windows along two walls. I used off-camera bounce flash to light the darker corner of the studio to balance the lighting with the rest of the room.
As well as wide shots of both studios I also took photographs of instruments on display in both the studios and entrance hallway.
To get a greater feel for the environment I included some close up shots of instruments, music books and sheet music.
If you’re interested in promotional material or interior shots please feel free to get in touch using the contact form on my website. My catchment area covers much of Hertfordshire and the Essex borders.
I was delighted to be invited to provide some promotional material for a new delicatessen and café in Hertford town centre recently. The business were looking for images to submit to a local magazine and annual restaurant guide showing the interior and exterior of their premises, together with images of their products, including hampers, panettones, cakes and pasties, meats, pasta and other Italian produce.
As with all such jobs I spent a while on the premises in the days before the shoot to get an idea of the environment – the space, the lighting, the angles and the backdrops. The retail premises is on a corner plot and glazed from floor to ceiling on two sides, giving plenty of light, albeit of a different colour temperature to the internal lighting. Immediately opposite is a vacant shop with whitewashed windows – not the best view out of the premises and something to avoid when taking shots that are meant to look appealing.
The shoot took place during working hours so it was important not to get in the way of customers and staff. Some shots had to wait until there were less people around whilst others had to be composed to minimise their presence. In a couple of shots it was necessary to airbrush out the odd head or other body part!
The product shots were probably the simplest as the displays were already well lit, with the fresh pasties and cakes looking especially pleasing. The staff also provided me a some excellent displays of cured meats and freshly made coffee.
Finally, we shot some of the packed goods on shelves and in the refrigerated displays.
The idea of photographing a funeral may at first appear to be somewhat unconventional. After all, grief does not make a pretty picture and why would anyone want to record such an unhappy event anyway? Well, the reason I was asked to cover a funeral recently was because the deceased had close family in Australia and New Zealand and were unable to attend the event. I was approached to provide a photographic record of the day and provide an online slideshow of proceedings so that those who were unable to pay their respects in person could get an idea of how the day went.
One of the first things to establish from the client is exactly what they want, and just as important, what they don’t want from the coverage. For this particular assignment I was given a pretty free range, with the obvious commitment not to intrude on grief or picture sobbing friends and relatives. It is also very important to be as discreet as possible.
As with many such assignments, where you’re providing a photographic documentary of the day, planning is key. Before the event I visited all the locations and met some of the key players, such as undertakers, priests and gravediggers. My plan was to cover the day from the moment the hearse left the undertakers through to the wake following the burial. I visited the funeral director to make them aware of my engagement and to discuss timings. I also visited the church to meet the priest and to get an idea of the layout of the church so that I could establish the best positions from which to take photos so as to get the best angle and make the most efficient use of light. It also helps to think about how and when you are going to move about the church quietly and discreetly during the service without becoming a distraction. I then visited the graveyard to view the location for the burial and introduce myself. Obviously the sight of someone with a long lens photographing a burial is going to arouse suspicions so it’s important that key people are forewarned as to what’s happening.
A word I often like to use to describe my photography is “observational“. This can mean photographing people, their environment, and the things they surround themselves with, either personally or professionally. Yesterday was a good example of this kind of work, when I was invited to photograph Nick Blishen at his workshop in Hertford.
Nick is an accomplished guitar maker and lectures on the subject at London Metropolitan University. I was asked to provide some promotional shots for forthcoming classes in guitar making being offered by a local music retailer.
The setting I was given was ideal – informal and relaxed, with a handful of visitors taking an interest in the various stages of the craft. I was able to photograph Nick chatting and talking about his work, as well as focusing (quite literally) on some of the tools and work in progress. The workshop was also light and airy so there was no need any artificial lighting.
The shots were delivered to the client the next day after post-production editing.
This year’s pantomime at Hertford Theatre was Sleeping Beauty, presented by Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society.
I’m no particular fan of pantomime as entertainment but as photographic material it’s marvellous! Lots of bright colours, animated characters, comedy expressions and plenty of light!
I do a lot of work for HDOS and as well as photographing the shows I also provide displays of images during the run so that cast, crew and support staff can order prints and photo CDs of the production. These can either be collected later from The Society’s HQ or delivered to the customer’s home.
More photos of the production can be found on Facebook – just click on the link below.
I caught Sofasonic when they headlined Sunday Live at Hertford Corn Exchange. The locally-based four-piece are recently back from The States and have a handful of gigs lined up for the rest of the year.
I’d not seen Sofasonic before but any band with a female bassist has got to be good and they certainly didn’t disappoint, tearing through a 50 minute set.