Monthly Archives: August 2014

Branding And The Business Portrait

According to Wikipedia, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

It follows from this definition that freelancers are their own brand. The way they act in social situations, respond to email, their physical appearance and their LinkedIn profile picture clearly are features that identify them from their competitors.

This is why I’m always astounded that people who would never dream of going to a business meeting improperly dressed have terrible LinkedIn or website profile pictures. On the one hand they do understand that they are their own brand, yet they don’t seem to grasp that the pictures of themselves they show to the online world are just as important, in terms of the impression they make on people, as their physical appearance at a business networking event.

As an example of branding, a few weeks back, I had the chance of taking some business photographs for my accountant, Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting. Mark is personable, professional, and he is not your stereotypical accountant. He is also interested in attracting start-ups and high-tech businesses as clients. I was looking to create some photographs that would reflect that.

The business portrait is not something you want to get to too creative about. There is some kind of expected standard so I gave Mark a traditional picture against a white background.

Business portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a white background

A traditional business portrait against a white background for Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting. With men, I like to use more directional lighting than I do for business portraits of women

Now since the clients he wants to attract are the young and up-coming entrepreneurs, I thought we could go for some edgier photographs that could appeal to that audience and clearly differentiate Mark from his competition. This is what we came up with:

Portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a black background and holding a 'Scots Law' red book.

Just changing the background to black gives a more dramatic atmosphere to the picture. The drama was accentuated with contrasty lighting.

Portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a black background and holding a red 'Scots Law' book. Two of the lights are coloured red.

Red is Mark’s favourite colour, so I created a slightly different look by putting red coloured gels on the two side lights.



Event Photography: Edinburgh City Singers

In my previous blog post, I discussed how photography can help promote club events. It turns out that event photography can benefit other kinds of businesses or organisations.

Edinburgh City Singers concert wide shot from back of St Cuthbert church

Establishing shot showing the choir in their concert venue, St Cuthbert church

A few weeks back, I covered the Edinburgh City Singers’ summer concert at St Cuthbert church. While it is perfectly fine to use a flash and freely move about in a nightclub, this was not possible when photographing the choir during their performance. Therefore I had to use the available light in the church and do the best possible job given the circumstances.

Close-up photograph of one of the female members of the Edinburgh City Singers

Since it was not possible to get really close to the choir during the performance, I took some close-up pictures during the rehearsal before the concert.

Edinburgh City Singers is a new choir that started in January 2014. It offers a singing outlet to anyone who wants to get involved. The photographs of their concert will help them in many different ways.

Medium close-up of solo singer of the Edinburgh City Singers at St Cuthbert's church

From the aisle of St Cuthbert church, I was able to capture a few photographs of the solo singers using my telephoto zoom. It was a real challenge to remain still enough to get some sharp pictures given the low level of the ambient light in St Cuthbert.

Good photographs make the organisation look professional. The pictures show the visitors to their website and Facebook page what their concerts are like, and encourage them to join the organisation.

Establishing shot of the choir in St Cuthbert church from the balcony

During the second half of the concert I was given access to the balcony of St Cuthbert, and that allowed me to document the event from a different point of view.

The photographs also preserve the memories of the event for the current singers and the members of the band. For this reason I tried to take a wide variety of shots to get as complete a coverage of the event as possible.

Choir photograph taken from the balcony of St Cuthbert during the concert

My elevated point of view allowed me to take a picture of the choir in its entirety.

It is always important to look for other points of view so that your event photographs don’t look the same as those taken by the people in the audience. I was able to get some pictures of the choir and the band from the balcony that could not have been taken from the church’s floor.

Vertical photograph of the Edinburgh City Singers choir taken from the balcony of St Cuthbert church

I learned to look for both horizontal and vertical compositions. This photograph of the choir shows more of the background than the previous picture of the Edinburgh City Singers framed horizontally

I was ultimately able to deliver over eighty photographs of the concert to the choir .

Photograph of the pianist, guitarist and drummer accompanying the Edinburgh City Singers choir at their St Cuthbert's concert

Last but not least, I thought it was important to get some pictures of the accompanying musicians, since they obviously were an integral part of the concert.


Promote Your Events With Nightclub Photography

Suppose that next weekend, you’d like to go to a different club than the one you frequent regularly. Now you do a little bit of research and there are a couple of venues that grab your attention, and you obviously check their Facebook page.

One of the clubs has a lot of beautiful photographs of their previous events, and the other does not. Which one are you most likely to go to?

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh with club lights in the background

The key to good nightclub photography is finding the right combination of ambient light and flash. You need to be able to see that the photo was taken in a nightclub. Your customers with their phones or point-and-shoot cameras won’t be able to take pics like the one above. So they’ll have to go to your Facebook page to see the really good photos from the night. This picture was taken at Madisons nightclub, in Musselburgh.

The nightclub industry is going through a tough time. According to the Economist, the value of the industry has fallen from £1.8 billion to £1.4 billion in 2007. But it is during rough times that advertising and promotion is most important. And nowadays, nightclubs have the powerful tool of social media at their disposal.

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh, in front of the bar

Beautiful young ladies are a must for a good night out. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Since Facebook posts with photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than regular posts, it is important for businesses to use imagery in their social media strategy. Good nightclub photography can help you promote and market your club nights.

Three young men having a great time at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

It’s important to show people having a good time at the party. Showing is way more powerful than telling. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Apart from the increased number of likes and comments to your social media posts, good photographs give potential customers an idea of what your events are like. It is much more effective to show than it is to tell. They can be confident they will have a good time.

Lady and man pointing to the camera with a funny expression on their faces at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

When people are enjoying themselves, they’ll do some amazing things in front of your camera. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Moreover, good nightclub photographs give you the best possible kind of exposure, in that your customers will do the advertising for you. In my experience, people will quickly look up the Facebook page of the club they went to and look for the pictures. They will like some of the photos, tag themselves and their friends. The pictures of the night will thus appear on their friends’  news feed. If they really like the photograph, they will use it as their new Facebook profile or cover picture, with a status update for all of their friends to see. According to the Guardian, half of the 1.23 billion users have more than 200 friends while the average user has 338 friends.

Young man kissing young lady on the cheek, in front of the bar at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

Nightclub events are not just about the banter. There can be moments of tenderness as well. I love to catch those. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Your events may get advertised to thousands, potentially, by people they know and like. This is the best kind of referral your business can get. Good nightclub photography gives your venue a lot of exposure, week in and week out. A professional photographer adds value to your events, makes your customers feel special, increasing customers loyalty and adding to your bottom line at the end of the night.

Three young ladies posing for the camera in front  of the club lights at Madisons night club, Musselburgh

You can never get too many pictures of the lovely young ladies at the event. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.