Come along to an Instameet in Winchester

Winchester in early morning sunshine

Next Saturday, 12 August, at 4pm, talented local photographer Matt Savage and I are hosting an Instameet in Winchester, Hampshire. It’s one of a series of meet-ups of Instagram users taking place across the South West that day, organised by The Southern Collective. Similar events are taking place in Wells, Exeter and Cardiff, and on the Isle of Purbeck.

We’re meeting in front of the West Door of Winchester Cathedral and, after a quick group photo, we’ll take a leisurely stroll  for about an hour and a half around photogenic parts of the city, and the tranquil water meadows on the south side of the city. There might well be an ice cream van along the way; we’ll head off for a drink near the cathedral after the walk.

The event is completely free, so pull on some comfortable walking shoes, bring along your DSLR or just your smartphone, have fun and make friends with the people behind some of the profiles you follow.

If you’re a Facebook user, sign up for this event so you get a reminder in your news feed. To whet your appetite, I’ll be sharing images of Winchester on my Instagram travel feed, @3dbrenton, this week.

To recap: meet Matt and me at the West Front of Winchester Cathedral (Google Map) at 4pm next Saturday, 12 August – we’ll try to make ourselves obvious. See you there!

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Brand photography for HTEC Ltd

HTEC branding image

In mid-June, I was pleased to help a former colleague from Ordnance Survey in her new role at HTEC, a point-of-sale technology company based near Southampton Airport. Melanie had been appointed Marketing Manager a couple of months previously, and urgently needed corporate photography.

Thus I reported to their offices at 7am two mornings later, to be met by Francesca, her Marketing Executive. I was lucky with the weather: mild, with clear skies.

My first task was to take shots of their brand new fleet of vans. At Melanie’s request,  a driver parked six of them diagonally along the front of the building and I began with shots of the vans alone:

Sunrise over HTEC office, with vans parked outside
The sun rises over HTEC’s office, with new vans parked outside.

Then I asked for men to stand in front of them. In the first shot, the men adopted the same pose in front of the vans:

Men standing in front of vans outside HTEC office
Posing with the new fleet of HTEC vans outside of the company’s office.

In the next one, they stood in a line:

Men standing at ease in front of vans outside HTEC office
Posing stiffly with the new fleet of HTEC vans outside the office.

This felt very stilted, so I asked them to relax and talk – much more natural:

Men chatting in front of vans outside HTEC office
Chatting in front of the new fleet of HTEC vans outside the office.

Next was an archetypal shot of the cheery man in a van, which would be ideal for leaflet, brochures and the website:

Smiling man at wheel of HTEC-branded van outside HTEC office
At the wheel of a new HTEC van outside the office.

Then he stood by the van and I was able to include the rest of the fleet:

Man standing in front of row of HTEC vans outside HTEC office
Showing off the new fleet of HTEC vans outside the office.

Finally, a shot focusing on the vans:

Row of HTEC-branded vans
The fleet of new HTEC vans.

The next segment of my morning took me inside for headshots of senior managers. The sittings were brief and cordial; I got the shots needed. This is one of the final results:

Man in front of satellite photo of Great Britain
Man in front of satellite photo of Great Britain.

Finally, Francesca took me upstairs to their customer service desk, where I captured a range of action shots. The team were very helpful, closing their curtains and moving mugs off desks:

Technicians in front of screens in darkened control room.
HTEC employees in front of screens in darkened control room.

Real-time information displayed onto a wall across the front of the office made for a great backdrop.

Service desk employees at work in front of displays projected onto a wall of the office.
HTEC employees at work in front of displays projected onto a wall of the office.

Despite having worked there for only a fortnight, Francesca was very good at approaching people on my behalf, asking them to move mugs, bottles and the like.

Post-production notes

I felt it was important to remove as many distractions as possible from the images I delivered, so that HTEC could present a positive brand image to the world. For example, a car park barrier and white markings needed to come out of the shot along the building facade:

Man standing in front of row of HTEC vans outside HTEC office (distracting car park barrier in background)
Showing off the new fleet of HTEC vans outside the office (photo before retouching)

When it came to the headshots, I brought a large softbox to the shoot for my main light, and a small umbrella for my fill light – both lit using flashes. Although I had a white fabric background to hand, Melanie and Francesca wanted me to use a wide exhibition panel featuring a shot of Britain from space, as used in HTEC branding. I quickly found that I was getting a white reflection from its slightly glossy finish but, despite trying different flash settings and positions, I couldn’t avoid a white cast on the background:

Man in front of satellite photo of Great Britain (distracting white flare on background)
Straight-out-of-camera headshot with white cast from flash on background.

This needed to come out, but initial results using cloning and healing tools in Photoshop weren’t great:

Man in front of satellite photo of Great Britain (background clean-up partially successful)
Background clean-up on left side of photo only partially successful.

In the end, I dropped a clean shot of the corporate background into images of each of the directors. Luckily, the service centre shots required less retouching.

Final thoughts

Melanie received the photos urgently for a presentation this week, which I hope went well for her. I look forward to seeing how they use my imagery.

If you’re running a business and need photos to project your brand with impact, please get in touch – I’ll be delighted to help.

Should you be banned from photographing beauty spots?

Bergün/Bravuogn, a picturesque village in an Alpine valley

From PetaPixel comes an intriguing story: the council in the Swiss village of Bergün has banned photography of its buildings and the surrounding landscape, lest viewers on social media suffer from the ‘fear of missing out’. It reserves the right to levy a symbolic fine of five Swiss Francs (£4). It’s a good way to garner some publicity for a very picturesque part of Switzerland – the story would be perfect as an April Fool.

Yet there is a serious point here. In spending so much time looking for the next ‘photo opportunity’, it’s so easy to forget to pause, stand back and take in the scene ourselves, rather peering into a screen or down a viewfinder. I’m certainly guilty of doing this myself. So let’s put down the camera or phone once in a while and enjoy the moment.

I can think of a few other places and occasions where it would also be good to ban photography: Paris, Venice, wedddings, meals out. But only once I’ve taken my shots, of course…