I was lucky enough to do some photography for Delicatessen UK magazine, shooting Shropshire based food expert Sabrina Zeif for their cover. Sabrina is a colourful character and her company Cooking Thyme is a real success, focusing on Caribbean and Cajun based recipes. She'd just finished the Shrewsbury Food Fair (one of the biggest events on the Shropshire calendar) which was really busy, no doubt a lot of interest came from people looking at something refreshingly different - her style of cooking is internationally cultured and involves a huge range of exciting ingredients and spices, including her own range.
We had a great time setting up and moving everything around until we had a shot that were both happy with, these things usually take a little bit of time to get right, it has to be if you're going to look at your face on a magazine cover! We settled for a fun shot in the end ( with a coconut!) which really captures Sabrina's sense of fun!
I was editing everything on the fly because of the deadline for submissions, well done to editorial teams who work over the weekend! A quick call to the magazine editor and an upload of some sample shots let me tailor the balance of the photo to suit his layout, what would we do without the internet!
heres what Sabrina says about her product:
“Fabulous Creole food is part of Cajun culture, and Trinidad has an exceptionally diverse international cuisine due to the mixed population. Both cultures are rooted in sharing good food and socialising. The aim of Kitchen Thyme is to bring the best of Cajun and Caribbean traditions to create a culinary experience different to any other cookery course.”
Absolutely spot on going by the spices that Sabrina gave me to experiment with!
We had an interesting shoot yesterday - advertising hampers for a classic car show! Now we're fortunate enough to own two classic cars (fortunate to the extent that they break down in beautiful places and I love them both despite that) - an MG Midget and a VW Camper. I'm always on the lookout for props to help my photos really stand out so this shoot fell naturally to a) pulling the MG out of the garage and b) getting a nice hamper to fit the scene. What could go wrong with that?
Well...mainly the weather! It's been lovely for the past week, with sunshine and puffy clouds, but yesterday it was drab and grey and my top down drive saw a bit of rain as well. Undeterred I set the shot up, with Andrea modelling alongside our picnic hamper. I have a clear view of what it should look like beforehand and I had a blue sky in my mind's eye. It's not a particularly difficult shot to lay out and light but come on, a bit of sunshine in June would help! Thankfully some post production skills helped here. Lighting the subject to give high contrast meant that I could work on the overcast sky later. As a rule I believe that the photo should be 90% "in camera" - I don't agree with the photographers who forsake time behind the camera and spend hours in front of a computer making something that at the end of the day doesn't look like what was shot on the day - I guess that's because I've always believed that you're capturing reality and need to reproduce that, not an artificial substitute. But there's a reality here, I can't abort shoots because of the weather - and the skill is in making the "in camera" element fit with the post production work. So, loaded hamper in hand(s), I set about lighting everything (in the wind) and got some great shots, which will be used for staged marketing in the run up to the event, with weekly and daily posts to increase interest.
I love a horse show. I've said it before but I'm happily saying it again. The competitors are great fun to talk to, and it's good to see kids involved in something that involves skill and dexterity and care - a far cry from a PS4 or an xBox. So we're delighted to be covering the shows at Penkridge again this year, it's an event that I look forward to - apart from being a challenge covering three rings and show jumping I always manage to get great shots across ridden, in hand and jumping, and we're managing to fit in some really nice equine portraits as well.
Over the winter I had a good think about how best to present the 700+ photos that we publish after the event, so now I'm organising them into separate galleries on our web site to make it easier for people to sort through and see their photos.We spend a long day at a horse show, here's how it pans out.
The day before: Load the car with all the equipment for on site printing and check everything. I come from an IT background and making sure everything works is key. We run a Mac network with 3 mac minis, monitors, secure wireless network and generator to run it all. Photos are transmitted wirelessly and it all has to work, so the event equipment gets tested the night before to make sure that there are no problems.
08:00: Set off. We do like to arrive early ?
09:00 Arrive at the show. On occasions I've had to turn back because I've left something behind, like lunch! We set up and run test prints and shots to test the network. Sometimes it works fine, other times there are teething problems, e.g a camera refuses to transmit, despite being Canon's flagship kit. We have a backup process but I do like to get everything ticking along, it's a distraction otherwise. There's a lot more here than taking photos, getting the network up and running is fundamental. Today I'm shooting my usual lens, a 200mm f2 which blurs the background beautifully, it's been my main lens for three years. I'm also shooting a 400mm f2.8 for the jumping, which means I can stay out of the ring, so there's no risk of distracting anyone. I don't mind going in of course but once there I don't like to move - and if there's something going on elsewhere I want to get there quickly.
09:20: Restart the generator and glare at it. That normally fixes things and it behaves. Have a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea, I probably won't have time to eat anything else during the day!
09:30: Have a chat with Dave, who's a fellow photographer. I like to arrive early at any event for a chat with everyone, including the nice couple who have the mobile coffee bar 🙂
10:00: Showtime! I'm working whatever ring is active, which is often all of them. I'm not just aiming for the rosette shots, I want to capture the emotion of the day, so a lot of the time when people view photos they're not in sequence because I've shot them at different times during the day. The cameras send photos in sequence and we'd love to be able to sort them but it isn't always possible to do that as the day gets more hectic - and there are a lot of photos taken.
12:00: Andrea arrives if she hasn't come with me. It's a relief because this is the time people start to want to look at their photos and she's wonderful with customers and won't pressure a sale, and she's brilliant at finding the shots from an ever increasing catalogue. We've talked at length about how to make her life easier as the day progresses but the workflow is fine and that's great for me. I continue to work in the rings and try to spend an equal amount of time in each, including the jumping, and I cause chaos with sales when I come back for a cup of tea and help out and then go off to take more photos. To be fair we do keep in touch by radio and I do come back to fix anything that's causing a big problem 🙂
16:00: A cup of tea and start to fold everything down. We keep the core computers running in case anyone wants to look at photos, it's the last thing to pack up, which is quite amusing really because we often turn it off and someone comes up and asks to see their photos - and I'm always happy to turn it on again!
14:00: Someone has taken a heavy fall today and the air ambulance is on its way. I'm not paparazzi so I won't photograph it. We do hope he's ok, it's not something anyone wants to witness and we're relieved later to find there's no broken bones. As an aside I've seen photographers who think that sort of photo is worth taking. Sorry, it isn't.
17:00: We're all packed up. We always find somewhere to have a drink afterwards and talk about the day and relax a bit, it's good fun but still quite intense if there are any problems so it's good to unwind because there's a lot more to do tonight. We talk about what worked well and what could be improved. It's an evolving thing, we've done a lot of shows but there's always something to talk through and ideas to make things work better. Today we had a persistent problem with one of the viewing stations where transmitted photos made everything jump around - I'm keen to hear what the problem was so I can fix it, we keep spares like keyboards and trackpads in the flight case and I suspect it was a bit of faulty kit that caused the problem - I'm keen to reproduce the problem so we don't run into it next time. It must have been frustrating for Andrea to cope with so I want to get this sorted out for the next show.
18:00: Home! Copy all the images onto the backup drive straight away - I don't want to risk losing anything and they then get copied onto network storage. There are usually 1500+ images. When they're backed up they're copied to a cloud drive for security. Then we sit down and start to select the images to put onto the web site. We aim to post around 700 images for the gallery which are the best from the day but we'll always post anything that a customer asks for, e.g if they've seen a shot on the day and want us to post everything.
19:00: Start the gallery upload. We aim to have the online gallery posted by 9pm at the latest and the upload can take over an hour if there are a lot of clicks on the day. I can see a lot from our web logs - downloads and of course people trying to view the gallery so it's important to get it loaded quickly. I want to have everything there for people to look at the same evening. The gallery upload is automated and we also have automation for online sales of low resolution images which is really great, it means customers can get their photos immediately. While that's running we process orders where customers have bought high res images, and send out free Facebook copies, we offer that for show purchases.
21:00: Select images for Facebook, post and release the link to the gallery. Have a shower and a hard earned glass of wine and something to eat and collapse in a heap! Good day!
It was interesting to meet a cheese maker recently - something I've always been curious about (due in no small part to eating a lot of it!). Not far from where I live is Mr Moyden's cheese - where an incredible range of cheeses are produced, with fatastic local names like "Wrekin Blue". Martin Moyden, who runs the business with his wife Beth, have won numerous awards both for their cheeses and for their growing business - their range is on the shelves of discerning shops where high quality is sought after by their customers.
so it was a delight to see inside the workings of a cheese maker - from the point where the raw product (unpasteurised milk) starts the process, through to the maturing and finally the selection of the end product. I even got to take some home with me - in this case an award winning Apley Cheshire which was amazing (I almost pulled over in the car and scoffed it).
The type of photo I wanted was something traditional - outside, cows grazing in the background etc etc. But the field is some way away from the business and it wasn't the best of weather! So we shot a portrait inside - although I always carry a backdrop the cheese making environment is very carefully sanitised so I really didn't want to introduce anything that might have caused any problems - so I used one carefully positioned soft box on low power to just light Martin, letting the background go dark. It worked really well as a dramatic black and white shot.
Very pleased to have my photos published in The Shropshire Cookbook by Meze Publishing! I've been the photographer for Apley Farm Shop in Norton, Shropshire for the past 18 months, covering their events, commercial and even portrait photography with some fantastic marketing shots which have really fitted in well with their growing business! I'm looking forward to getting my copy of the book, which covers restaurants, recipes and some great places to visit!
Now this is somewhere that's very exclusive, tucked away in the courtyard at Apley Farm Shop in Norton, Shropshire. While I race around with event photography I do like to find time to shoot marketing and commercial photos (all part of being a diverse photographer!) and I enjoyed spending a bit of time talking to Ed, one of the three partners and was impressed at his incredible knowledge when chatting to customers.
I know big garden centres are springing up everywhere but honestly, finding people who know their business and can advise on absolutely everything is really hard to find nowadays - lets face it if you want advice then you need to go somewhere where the staff know their stuff and take the time to impart their knowledge and this place wins hands down for that. It's a really high quality plant centre and the prices are certainly very competitive as well - the range includes some very unusual plants and classy garden ornaments. I came away with some lovely photos along with pots of Fuschias and Geraniums!
Product photography is a staple for us, it's surprisingly varied and we always aim to get something that's "standard" and something a little different. A lot of it is about matching the product with a good background - we see a lot of photos taken with the traditional "top down" approach which is great, but it's getting a bit well used now and were often asked to introduce a suitable background as well. Sometimes we can do that easily enough, other times we're shooting against a green screen so we can "drop in" a suitable background later. I quite enjoy the challenge of green screen - everything has to look natural, so not only the lighting but the blend between the studio subject and the drop in has to be right. Sometimes it works really well - individual products are good - others it takes a lot of time and I sit and wish I'd approached the shoot differently! We always get a good result though.
So this first shoot was for two pieces of marketing for Apley Farm Shop. The barbecue box is to push a very reasonably priced box of (you guessed it!) barbecue items. I wanted to get the feel of a garden with the barbecue in the background rather than a top down shot of the contents of the box - so this was shot with a 1/2 CTO gel on the flash to warm it up a little (to hopefully blend it with the barbecue shot, which is early evening.
Overall it works ok - all ready for advertising text to be dropped in!
The second shoot was to promote the "Apley Bake Off", where customers can bring their baking creations and have them judged. I wanted to get the warm country kitchen afternoon tea feel here and so a green screen with a stock photo from a previous shoot, with a slight blur added was ideal.
We don't use them all the time, but they're certainly useful to give a different feel to the shot - and to give a bigger range of photos for our client (Apley Farm Shop) to choose from.
I hot footed it from a very hot and sunny Venice to get back in time to photograph a Gardener's Question Time session, organised by Chris Mackrell from the Telford Rotary Club and hosted by Paul Shuttleworth (Gardener's Question Time, BBC Shropshire) with a panel comprising Phil Allen (Head Gardener at Apley Walled Garden) and David Wassell, MBE (Landscape Architect). This event was for a really good cause - hosted by the Rotary Club to continue to pursue their aim to eradicate polio - more information can be found here https://www.rotarygbi.org/polio-eradication/
Despite a rather large difference in the weather (it thundered at one point!), it was a really good evening, with informative tours to the Apley Walled Garden hosted by Lord Gavin Hamilton and an excellent summary of how things are grown organically, using techniques dating back hundreds of years by Head Gardener Phil Allen. The Question Time session was equally good, with questions ranging from how to screen off a neighbour's unsightly camper van to getting rid of slugs!
All very interesting and very busy for everyone (including me). I got soaked twice - once on the Walled Garden tour and then sheltering from the rain a couple of hours later when the gazebo I was standing under tipped about a gallon of water on me (most of it went into my pocket!).
I had the pleasure today of photographing (and chatting to) Shropshire's Thai Chef of the Year, Suree Coates. I've previously photographed Suree at food events against the backdrop of a big crowd and enjoyed her banter and most of all, her beautifully prepared dishes. Well through a lens at least - I have to photograph the ravenous hoards when she invites them to try her dish, so I don't get a chance to "enjoy" it in terms of tasting it (and I didn't today either!).
Today it was a demo/masterclass for a relatively small group of people., based at Suree's restaurant - The King and Thai in Broseley. She works from scratch and prepared a fantastic Thai Yellow Curry and an equally amazing soup. Suree is great to talk to, we had a good chat about the success of her book (some of the photos are hanging in the restaurant and look fantastic) - it's been so popular it's sold out! Her restaurant is wonderfully atmospheric and the menu has a great range with "specials" often added - Suree told me that keeps the interest going for customers and gives her the opportunity to constantly bring new ideas to the table.
I wanted to get some nice natural shots but didn't want to be obtrusive - the last thing people want is a photographer blocking their view, so I set two soft boxes up and worked from the back of the room with a 200mm lens.
We're looking forward to quite a few diverse events this year! Our first one will be next month, a vintage tractor rally which is in aid of the Air Ambulance. It sets off from Apley Farm Shop, Norton, Shropshire and goes (slowly!) into Bridgnorth and then returns in the afternoon. We covered this last year and got some great photos - I was surprised at the amount of interest the event attracted - there was a continental market in Bridgnorth and a lot of curious people lining the narrow streets as the tractors squeezed through. Here's hoping for a bit of spring sunshine again although sometimes our weather can produce the most fantastic photos! I'm never discouraged by a bit of rain, it just needs some careful preparation to make sure everything is protected - cameras and lenses are weather sealed but they're not submersible and having had the experience once of a waterlogged camera (Newport Show 2016!), I always have a (somewhat convoluted) rain cover in the depths of my bag - although you can't beat the luxury of having an assistant standing next to you with a large umbrella 🙂
We always make a donation for events like this, it's a really good cause. If you're reading this and you've got some free time then come along, it's a great event and very interesting for adults and kids to see some very old machinery - some of the tractors are still in use I think while others are kept in pristine condition and arrive on trailers. I'm quite tempted to ask if I can have a sit on one this year!
This sidebar is empty, or you've tried to assign a sidebar that doesn't exist. Nurture this space via your admin.