Google | Digital Garage

I was booked to photograph the Google Digital Garage event in Wrexham at the new Enterprise Hub.

 

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https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage

 

THE BRIEF:

You will be required to capture:

 

The space:
  • Shots of the actual Digital Garage event space – overall set up and close ups for social media campaigns
  • Shots of people interacting with the space – avoid closing up on anonymous faces
  • People talking with our staff members
The event:

 

  • Capture broad range of ages, gender, backgrounds to highlight diversity in our audience
  • Shots of guests enjoying themselves e.g laughing
  • Any branded decor, inc catering etc
  • Speakers presenting and guests asking questions
  • General event atmosphere (including speakers interacting with delegates)

 

The light was a bit tricky in the main room, I didn’t want to use flash because for one its an annoying beep when people would be listening to the person giving the talk and also it’s distracting for the people. I had people putting their hand in front of their face when they seen me with the camera in their direction so I felt like flash would be even worse.

I used ISO500 which did give a bit of grain to the images but not a distorting amount.

The Google PR team also wanted the images the same day so I only had a few hours in the afternoon to edit and get them all over to them. Normally I would have spent a little more time on the edit to refine them but I had to comply with their timeframe.

Here is a selection of the images that I sent to them:

 

 

 

 

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Business Cards

Since completing my website which lead to the creation of my new logo I was excited to start using it on promotional items. First in my list was business cards, here is one that I was using prior to opening the studio in 2016, these were made by Vistaprint:

When Kamila and I opened the studio in 2016 we had business cards made for the studio which had our own individual contact details on the back. These were made by Helloprint and are what I have been using up until now:

 

I ordered some samples from Vistaprint and Moo to compare the different types of card and finishes available:

MOO:

I loved their Luxe range, 600gsm and with a coloured strip around the edge.

 

VISTAPRINT:

They also had a good range of different thickness cards and nice finishes like spot glossing.

The Moo Luxe range was definitely my favourite though, I wanted something really different to what I’d had before and chose the square format. Another option with MOO is that you can have 50 different designs, so you can upload 50 different images to have on the back of each card. This is something that I will look at doing when ordering my next batch. The reason I didn’t this time was because I didn’t have the time to carefully choose all the different images and then make sure that I had consent from all the clients for their images to be on promotional items. So I opted for a really simple, minimal design with just my website and social media name. All of my contact details are on my website so it makes sense to direct people through that, creating more online traffic which is good for seo.

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They arrived within a week which was really good, MOO focuses on design and presentation and their packaging doesn’t disappoint:

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I also ordered some labels for me to use on my packaging when I deliver products to clients:

Really really pleased with my purchases from MOO, they aren’t the cheapest but you get what you pay for!

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SWPP | April Competition

I have entered my ‘Earth’ Image into the SWPP Monthly competition. I never enter into competitions but it seems to be a good way of improving your status. Lots of photographers class themselves as ‘Award Winning’ which is an attractive title to prospective clients. So I’ve been brave and submitted for the April 2018 Newborn Competition….. I’ll try and not cry if I don’t get anything ha.

 

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***MAY 3RD UPDATE***

swpp

Earth -FB

Oh woweeee I received a Highly Commended!! YEY!! 😀 It’s so exciting to receive an award !! Feeling really pleased about this, always been nervous about entering competitions and not bothered in the past but I will definitely enter more now.

certificate

KOOKIE Magazine | 3rd Edition

Yesss…. back again to shoot the cover for the 3rd edition of KOOKIE!! This time it was a little different because unlike shooting my Soph for the 1st one and then Viv’s daughters friend for the second, Viv hadn’t met this girl before.

At first I thought Emily was going to take a while to relax, it’s a daunting situation being in a studio when you’re young and don’t know the people around you. BUT she was a natural! And her character burst out in front of the camera she was brilliant! Sophie took some behind the scenes footage for us, using my phone on a gimbal and I used that to put this little video together to promote the third edition:

She had loads of energy and that was exactly what we were looking for, we let her do her thing with the odd prompt now and then, a few outfit changes and we were done in an hour! Getting good at this now 😀

Here is a selection of some of the shots:

Currently waiting on their decision for me to do the final edit.

KOOKIE Magazine | 2nd Edition

I was delighted when Viv contacted me to ask if I would photograph the front cover for their second edition. I wasn’t expecting it, the magazine is co-run by Viv & her friend Nicky who is based in Australia. In the back of my mind I had just assumed that they would want to shoot the second cover over there. So it was a lovely surprise to be asked to shoot Number 2! There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a cover shot, it just depends on the model and how the shoot goes and I will admit I was a bit nervous incase I had just got lucky the first time round!

Viv brought along Zoe, a friend of her Daughter. Instantly a natural in front of the camera, with a relaxed and beautiful smile. The only issue we had in this first shoot was Zoe’s hair, Viv had an idea for her to have ‘space buns’ so the first hour was spent trying to get those right but a professional was definitely needed. Regardless, we went ahead and did the shoot, trying different things and got lots of shots to see what worked.

They want the same relaxed, fun, energetic feel for all the covers so we tried to get Zoe to be as animated as possible.

We re-scheduled for the following week and booked a hairdresser to be in charge of the ‘space buns’. It’s very rare a session just goes to plan, there’s usually always something that doesn’t go to plan so being versatile really pays off.

They chose one from the second session, Viv was much happier with the buns it was the look she wanted. I tidied up her skin and then it was made into black and white ready for the illustrations to be put on:

It was released in March 2018 in the UK & Australia, it also gets shipped all over the rest of the world to those who order online or subscribe.

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https://kookiemagazine.com/themagazine/

Eddie | Spotlight Profile

I was asked to photograph Eddie Caswell, he is an actor that needed Spotlight Profile updating. This was a new type of project for me, in the past the only performers that I have photographed are DJ’s like Radio One DJ Kutski:

 

https://www.facebook.com/djkutski/

 

And other hard dance DJ’s like MKN for their promo packs, these are images which are used for all their up & coming gigs and events:

https://www.facebook.com/DJMKNOfficial/

 

Spotlight has different specifics though so I did some research before the shoots.

 

 

Spotlight: #1 UK Casting Calls Website

What’s Spotlight?

Spotlight - Leading UK Casting WebsiteIn the UK, aspiring actors who are serious about pursuing this career must be members of two websites/organizations: Equity (an actors’ union, more on it here) and Spotlight. Even though this is not required per se, if you’re not a member of these, then you’ll be viewed as an amateur.

https://actinginlondon.co.uk/uk-casting-the-spotlight/

 

How To Create The Perfect Spotlight Profile

Danielle Tarento is a freelance producer and casting director whose recent musicals have included Dogfight, Titanic, Mack And Mabel, and Parade. Here, she shares with Spotlight her tips for creating a great Spotlight profile.

Every actor knows that if they aren’t on Spotlight then they might as well not be in the business. It is the best artist directory in the world… and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing this blog for them! Whist it’s career suicide not to have a Spotlight page, just having one isn’t enough either. You must make the most of all the information fields that your page allows so that casting directors have the best possible chance of finding you.

 

https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/tips-and-advice/how-to-create-the-perfect-spotlight-profile/

 

TIPS:

Lots of really useful information on these sites, the main points that I noted in regards to the type of images that actors have on there are:

  • Portrait not landscape
  • 10-15 images
  • Mainly colour, only a couple in Black & White
  • Headshots – shoulders up
  • True to the person – they must look like who they are
  • A mixture of light & scenes to show how they look in different situations

 

 

THE BRIEF:

Two separate shoots were to be done, the first at Eddy’s home before he went on holiday. This was to get some relaxed images of him in various outfits and the second shoot was to be done in the studio once they came back from holiday while he had a tan. In all, a mixture of relaxed & character shots in mixed lighting situations was required.

 

SHOOT 1 – EDDIE’S HOME

PIC OF ROOM

Eddie lives in a beautiful little house in Overton, small cosy rooms full of character and tiny windows. I used the room that had the most space and best light as creatively as possible. There was only one window so this was going to be the only light source. Not wanting to use flash because the studio shoot was going to be using studio strobes and we needed natural light images as a contrast. Ideally we could have taken some outside but it hadn’t stopped raining for days so that wasn’t an option.

The window was fine in this case, if I was photographing more than one person then it wouldn’t have been enough light. I had to use a very wide aperture to let as much light in as possible.

Eddie had chosen different outfits so I used the light and things in the room to compliment each outfit.

I have added a few images from each of the ‘looks’ below with a brief explanation to go with each:

Standing at a 90 degree angle to the window gave strong shadows on the face which worked well for the shirt and braces, the contrast of light and dark works suits a powerful character.

 

 

With his ‘Grandad clothes’ I moved a desk to near the window so that he was still being lit by the window but i was able to put a lamp on in the background to create an ambient light. This worked well with these clothes and gave the feel that you were in a cosy living room.

 

 

For his shirt and cap set I had him leaning over the banister on a 45 degree angle to the window. We were going for a rugged, workman, truck driver vibe for this one.

 

 

Then we removed his cap and I shot down the wall while he was looking out the window, which could be portraying an old man in his country home.

 

 

Lastly, we went for a detective / chief / sergeant look, he was standing almost face on to the window which I was shooting from and this gave more of an even light on his face, could be in an office environment.

 

 

EVALUATION

This was really enjoyable to do, I didn’t know where we were going to be shooting until I arrived and had a look round to see where would work best. This was quite a small time frame with only 1 hour to get a varied selection of different looks. These looks could have been enhanced with further editing but that’s not what’s required for the Spotlight profile, just clean images in different light and surroundings. I think we achieved this really well with the location and time we had.

 

SHOOT 2 – STUDIO

I went for the same approach as the shoot that we did at his home. He brought along the clothes he wanted and then I chose backdrops and lighting that i felt suited the character of the clothes. The lighting set up was kept simple, for all of it i used one strobe from different angles, mainly directly in front of him and raised high or off at a 45 degree angle. Apart from with the white backdrop which i used one strobe directed at it and one directly in front of Eddy.

 

 

EVALUATION

We completed the studio session in 1.5 hours and again it was really fun to do, Eddie was brilliant to work with. It was a refreshing experience because I generally have to choreograph adults positions but with Eddie being an actor he was at ease running through different expressions and stances.

I will continue to work with Eddie with the selection and upload of his images for the Spotlight Profile and I look forward to seeing the final result.

This was a really rewarding project, I learnt a lot about what is required in creating a professional actor portfolio, utilising lack of space and light, quick thinking with limited time and using studio lighting for varying looks. I really hope I get the chance to work with more actors in the future.

NEC | The Photography Show 2018

Third year attending The Photography Show with Kamila and every time we go we stay for longer and it still isn’t enough time!

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We travelled down on friday night and stayed in the IBIS Styles Hotel which is just a few minutes walk from the NEC. The hotel is lovely, we had food and drinks in the restaurant after we arrived…. and were up early ready to get to the Show as soon as it opened!

It was really busy, hundreds of eager faces to test and buy all the new gadgets on offer. We had quite a tight schedule regarding the talks that we wanted to attend so it didn’t leave much time for browsing on the saturday.

I didn’t take a DSLR because they both need their sensors cleaning:

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I didn’t have any idea that they were that bad until I was photographing this flower against the light backdrop…. HECK!!!

I had my Samsung S8 and the intention to either buy a compact camera for vlogging or get a Gimbal for my mobile. During both days at the show I took mainly videos on my phone so most of the images in this blog aren’t great quality because they are screen grabs from the vids.

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Yearly photo in front of the Nikon sign of course!

 

Saturday 10:30am Helen Bartlett – Great Family Photos and How To Take Them

This was our first talk on the Canon Live Stage. Helen has run a successful family photography Business for 14 years. She specialises in Black & White Photographs and really tries to capture life and personality in each of her images. She discussed what photos meant to her, the ones that she treasures most from her childhood were the ones that tell a story and documented that time not the staged photos. This is what she has focused her business around and she gave us an insight into how she does it.

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11:00am Tom Barnes – Portraits Under Pressure

Tom was on the Live Stage and was demonstrating how quickly you have to work in a commercial setting, sometimes only getting up to a minute with the model to get the photograph. He was really funny, very honest, and it was interesting to find out how he would work with a model in such little time. His lighting set-up consisted of 4 lights (2 facing the model from behind and 2 at the front that he can use together or separately) and a black & white reversible backdrop, this all had to be set up ready to go as soon as model arrives because he explained how they often come with a PR and they will give you limited time so you have to be ready to shoot from the get-go.

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11:30am Simeon Quarrie – Turn Your Passion Into A Living

I attended Simeon’s talk last year so I was keen to see him again. He always gives a great talk and engages with the audience by asking what we want to know. He is full of enthusiasm, loves his job and is passionate about bringing his visions to life.

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He talked about how creating behind the scenes videos increased his social media followers and his client base. People like to know what goes on and what they are paying for.

 

AND I finally got to meet Helen Sloan, the head photographer for Game Of Thrones.

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I am a massive fan of the series and was so disappointed when I only caught the end of her talk last year so I was keen to get a front row seat this time. When she finished I managed to speak to her and asked if she would consider someone (me lol) for work experience. She explained that unfortunately HBO won’t allow it, because of the nature of the filming they are in dangerous scenes & sets. They aren’t prepared to insure anyone that assists on work experience….. GUTTED! But hey, you don’t get if you don’t ask do you! She took my details and said that if anything else comes up or if she knows of anyone that needs a hand on set closer to me she will pass on my details.

 

 

The 2 days at the show were fantastic, we always have so much fun, I’d love to be there everyday it’s on…. maybe next year! 😀

I came home poor but a happy woman with lots of lovely goodies, backdrops, baby props and blankets…. and a gimbal for my mobile!

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…… Looking forward to next years show already!!

Building A Website 2018

www.perfectmoments-photography.com

As part of our Creative Futures module we are required to build a website, which I originally found slightly frustrating because I have already been working on my business website using WordPress this past year. It’s not the best layout but functions really well and I get a nice steady stream of traffic through it:

 

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By making sure all my pages had lots of key wording throughout and building up my Google reviews I have manage to nestle my site at the top of Page 1 on the Google search if you type in:

Newborn Photographer Wrexham

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Also if you replace ‘Newborn’ with Baby / Wedding / Child / Family etc I am in the first few listed on the first page.

For the website requirement for our Creative Futures Module it was suggested that we build a website using Squarespace or Webflow. Squarespace is similar to WordPress but has a more user-friendly system. Webflow is more advanced and allows you full creative rein to build your website from scratch with a blank canvas. Both interested me but I was feeling nervous to change anything, I don’t know enough about moving my domain onto a new site and hosting.

First I thought about building a Squarespace site how i need it with the commerce included and then have it running alongside my WordPress site for a while and then phase it out to just leave the Squarespace site….. but this doesn’t seem the right way to do it so I’ve abandoned that idea.

Nerves aside, I decided that i needed to rebuild my WordPress site and hope that it doesn’t affect my position in the Google search. Apart from the un-inspiring layout it also doesn’t allow me to have commerce on it which I need because I am currently using a sub-site for my bookings (perfectmomentsphotography.bigcartel.com) 

 

WEBSITE PLAN

TIME FOR A FULL REBUILD AAAAAAARGH!!

STEP 1 – Upgraded from the PREMIUM to the BUSINESS WordPress package. This allows you to buy WordPress themes from places like Themeforest, Siteground, themisle which can be installed and customised. After looking through a mountain of live demos on those sites I couldn’t really find any that had the LOOK that i wanted. I then began to look at current websites from other photographers & videographers and fell I love with this one from Indiego Photography. I love their wedding videos they are so full of nostalgic loveliness I wish I had them to video my wedding! Their website has such a simple sophisticated clean look, the full screen images draw you in and I like this layout where the images do the talking rather than lots of distracting icons:

 

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http://www.indigophotography.uk/

 

They have used one of Flothemes templates, which are quite costly in comparison to other sites:

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$249 OUCH!

 

As much as I love their templates i couldn’t afford to buy one after upgrading my website subscription to the business plan. I needed to find a template that was similar and perhaps I could customise it to look & function how I needed it.

This was time-consuming, I spent about a full day just going through different live demos of themes on different websites. I also looked at articles discussing the best templates for photography sites:

51 Best Photography WordPress Themes 2018

https://athemes.com/collections/best-photography-wordpress-themes/

 

One that cropped up on quite a few articles was the Divi theme:

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This one has a builder plugin and a user-friendly interface and looked really straightforward to use. The only issue I had with this was that it was $89 a year or $249 for a lifetime subscription, both more than what I wanted to pay.

Eventually I decided on the Oshine Theme from Envato, it had really good reviews and only cost $59 which is considerably cheaper than the others that I had looked at.

 

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Apart from the price the reason this theme appealed to me was because it comes with a builder plugin allowing you to fully customise each page. Starting with a blank page you build it up using sections then adding columns which you can then fill with text, images, buttons etc.

 

 

WordPress has really good online help, and they reply within a few minutes. They became my best friend whilst building my website. They recommended that I use a plugin which allows you to create a landing page so anyone that comes across your website won’t see what’s going on while you’re building it. I was able to put all my contact details on the landing page and let people know what was happening. Also by doing this, announcing a new website was coming soon, the pressure was on! I really didn’t want my website to be down for long so I set myself a deadline:

 

DEADLINE: 1 WEEK TO BUILD A WEBSITE

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Every step was like baby steps and took ages because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. When I uploaded the theme there was plugins that had to be uploaded for it to work and even though I followed the instructions the Slider plugin wouldn’t install, and I spent hours trying to figure out why. Eventually the WordPress team had to step in and fix it their end.

 

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After the installations were completed I turned to YouTube tutorials to help me get started. There is endless videos on how to use WordPress but only a few that concentrated on the Oshine theme and the Tatsu builder plugin:

 

 

CREATING THE HOME PAGE

I wanted the home page to have a full width slider and minimal distracting menu, options etc. With the slider revolution plugin you have full control over the layout, appearance and functions. This was difficult to understand, I spent hours making a change then refreshing my website which was on another tab to see if it had made any difference….definitely not the fastest way to do it! Again I turned to YouTube and found this tutorial on how to use the slider:

 

 

This really helped me and I put together a slider that had changing images with text overlayed and a button with a click function scrolling to the next part of the page:

 

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I liked it initially but felt it was still too clunky with all the text over the images, plus I didn’t have a logo and wasn’t sure where that was going to go. Not wanting to spend any longer on the slider, it had already consumed a day of trial and error i moved on to creating the rest of the site.

Time Spent:

21st 9:30am – 3:30am (18 Hours)
22nd 4pm – 2am (10 Hours)
23rd 7am-8am, 9am-10:30am, 1pm-midnight (13.5 Hours minus 1.5 hours for errands = 12 Hours)
24th 9am- 11:30am (2.5 Hours)
TOTAL HOURS – 42.5 for the basic rebuild (there was still some tidying up to do, logo to be created & seo to master)

 

Hurdles:

Getting to grips with the general dashboard of the Oshine Theme, figuring out what all the menu options meant and how they worked. It was a big experiment of clicking on something to see what it did then turning it off again.

Unlinking the pages that were from my old website to replace with the new ones that I was creating with the TATSU Builder plugin. This took me ages, my own fault because when I had created my original website I had bumbled through it and made lots of mistakes. I had Pages that weren’t actually pages they were categories and my blog posts were attached to the wrong pages. It was a

Choosing a selection of images for the slider on the home page, you only have a few seconds to appeal to a visitor the images were really important. They had to represent the style of photography that I offer.

 

SEO 

 

In this YouTube video he explains why content is so important in getting your website noticed by Google. Using the advice from this video I put together a blog about top tips when choosing a newborn photographer, after I posted this my site was sitting higher in the searches. It was filled full of keywords relating to what people search for when looking for a newborn photographer and questions relating to that.

https://perfectmoments-photography.com/2018/03/28/choosing-a-newborn-photographer/

 

I plan to keep my website refreshed with several blogs each month choosing relevant content for my client base.

 

Yoast Plugin

This plugin highlights what you need to change in the written elements of your website so that it appeals to search engines. Taglines, Meta data & the content of your pages all have to work together. Also it flags up issues in the readability of your pages, it also makes suggestions on what to change.

It’s quite a lengthy process if you have a lot of content over multiple pages to go through and optimise each one using this plugin. I still haven’t finished the whole website, I just concentrated on the Homepage, Newborn & Wedding page but I will continue to work on the rest. Definitely would recommend this plugin to anyone wanting to improve their seo.

Evaluation

Setting out to build my website again from scratch was such a nerve-wracking project and not something to be taken lightly. As you can see from the hours spent on the build and then the seo it is already over 60 hours and will continue. I had to shut myself off from everything else to complete this, learning new software is time-consuming with trial and error being paramount to the learning curve. This website also needed to reflect me and my style so that took some thought in choosing the colours, fonts & layouts which worked for me.

I am extremely pleased with what I have made, no doubt I will keep tweaking and adding but that’s just the nature of what we do. As it stands if I had paid someone to build this for me I would be over the moon with it so I’m happy that i have fulfilled the brief!

http://www.perfectmoments-photography.com