Copy-write What Copy-write?

LaCrosse event 2014

LaCrosse event 2014

Who’s images are they anyway?

We do event photography and one of the problems you always have is people stealing the images.  I don’t mean they physically steal the prints, no they photograph our photographs.

People don’t seem to realise that the images we take belong to us, they are our copy-write and it’s illegal to copy them.  If you designed a new vacuum cleaner and patented the design, how you you like it if I stole your idea and used it myself?  It’s theft and it’s illegal.

What people do

This weekend we photographed a sporting event, at the event we printed out contact sheets of all the images.  While I was busy dealing with other customers I noticed one gentleman and his daughter going through all the contact sheets and photographing all the images with his daughter in.  They are my work, my property it’s what pays my bills.  If I couldn’t pay my bills I would not have a business, if I didn’t have a business I would not be able to photograph peoples events, and people would not be able to benefit from all the images we take.  I’ve even had people photographing the computer screen showing the images.

Photography is a profession not just a hobby

For me photography is my living, yes it was a hobby for many years but it’s now how I make my living.  Respect the copy-write laws, if you like the images enough to steal them, then you should like them enough to buy them.  If you liked a new laptop in the shop would you steal it?  I’m hoping the answer to that is no, if it’s yes then this whole article is a complete waste of time for you.

Theft is illegal whether it’s stealing cars or copyrighted images.

Anyone can photograph a wedding?

My Wedding Photos were terrible

Have you ever been disappointed when you had your wedding photos back?

Photographing a wedding is not easy, despite what some people would have you believe, it takes years of practise, training and patience to get the photographs that a bride would be proud of.  So why do so many people trust photographers with no experience to photograph their wedding?

I have met so many brides that have got married in the past, who have paid a nominal amount for their wedding photographer and received few, or no photographs of their wedding.  Cheaper is not always better.

The amount of potential brides I’ve had ring me for a quote for their wedding, and all they are after is a price, they have no interest in what experience I have, how I will work on the day and worst of all don’t even ask to see samples of my work.

I refuse to quote for any wedding until the prospective bride has had a meeting with me, I show them my work, explain what they can expect from me on the day.  I listen to what they require, and build the wedding around them, and only then will I quote for their wedding.

Never buy just on price

Obviously price is important, but it should not be the only consideration.  Ask questions find out all you can about the photographer and their work.  If after that you would still like to use that photographer then discuss price, if you don’t thing you can work with that photographer then price is irrelevant, find someone else.

It’s better to take your time and find the right photographer for you, than hire the first one and regret it later.  Take your time find someone who’s work you like, and someone you are happy to spend your big day with.

Event Photography

Event photography image

Burlesque Event

How to do Event Photography

Event Photography can be a great way of making a little extra money, but be warned it’s not always as good as people would have you believe.

What you need

To do event photography there are a few thing you need.  The first thing is a partner, it’s much easier doing event photography with two people.  One doing the photography, and the other manning the printer and dealing with customer orders.

You may decide that you are not going to print at the event so there’s no need for a second person, but if you don’t print at the event you are going to restrict your earnings.  If you compare the amount of people that buy on the night to those that will buy off the website, you will find that it’s only a small proportion that will take the trouble to buy from the website.

As well as a studio setup it’s a good idea to have two camera’s, one set up for the studio set up, and another for shooting away from the studio.  This saves a lot of time having to swap between camera settings.


With event photography there are a few things you have to watch out for.  The first one is to make sure there is actually a market for you?  in the past we’ve offered to do events for free and just make our money on the sales, the problem with that is people will always have you at the event if they don’t have to pay.  If you charge a fee they then think seriously about whether they need you or not.  There’s nothing worse that attending an event for 7 or 8 hours and make £50 between the two of you.

Another thing to watch out for is people who try to photograph the computer screen on their phones when you are showing them their photos, you would be surprised at how many people do this.


Event photography can be a profitable way of making money, but don’t be tempted to take every job you are offered, always qualify the client beforehand.


Studio or No studio

Photography studio or not

If you are a photograph you will at some point have to make the decision, should you get a studio or not?  It not a simple decision, there are many benefits and drawbacks to both.

For a studio:

There’s no doubt that having a studio is certainly convenient.  Whether it’s for portrait photography or product photography, having your own studio means you can book any work in instantly.  No phoning around to arrange to hire a studio, this convenience goes a long way.

There is of course the added advantage of being able to hire out the studio to other photographers that do not own their own studio, so another good way of getting more photography work, and in this day and age any additional means of making money is always good.

Against a Studio:

In this day and age there are a number of reasons for not having a studio.  With the increase of mobile phone images people tend to visit a photography studio less and less.  Apart from Christmas there are few times of the year when a studio is really busy.  Whether you are busy or quiet in the studio the rent still has to be paid, so you need to way up if the rental costs can be covered in quiet times.

People can be reluctant to pay studio prices for their images, I’ve had people have an hours photo session then pick one photo then complain that I’m charging them £20 for the image.   I don’t charge sitting fees so take out the cost of printing, postage and the electricity I don’t make much from that image.

So deciding whether you set up a studio or not can depend on many things, locations is a big deciding factor, if you are in a good location in a good area it could be very profitable.  But remember most studio photographers around the country are giving up their studios and working from home.  So way up all the options before you decide.  Photography studio or no Photography studio, the decision is yours?


Three stages of a sales call

Three stages of a sales phone call

Stage 1

If unlike me you have not problem making sales calls to potential clients, then this will probably be of no use to you, and probably no point in reading on.

Six months ago I joined a coaching company to help improve my business, at that stage there was no way I would ring a potential client, as stupid as this may sound I guess I was afraid of the phone.
If I had a choice, and I almost always did I would email a potential client rather than ring them.  As far as I was concerned if I emailed them and they didn’t reply, then I’d done all I could, if they didn’t reply then they are not interested in what I have to offer.  At least that what I kept telling myself.

We probably all know that unless we ring potential client, we are almost always not going to get the work, but there are many ways to justify not ringing, and I think I know them all.

With the help of the folks at Sales Academy 2012 I got through stage one.  This means that given the choice I would now ring clients rather than email them.  This was a big step forward for me and you might think that’s it job done?  Unfortunately not.  But from never ringing a potential client to ringing Joe Bloggs at Bloggs and co was a massive step forward for me.

Stage 2

Stage 2 in the process is researching and ringing a potential client where you have no idea who you need to speak to, I guess that’s what you would call true cold calling (which I don’t do).  Having mastered stage 1 stage 2 is simple right?  After all it’s still just picking up the phone and ringing the company simple?
Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.  Ringing a company and asking for Joe Bloggs is one thing, ringing a company and explaining who you are, what you do and why you want to speak to someone is completely different from stage 1.

Adam at Sales Academy explains this better, but it goes something like “the need to ring someone has to outweigh the fear of picking up the phone ringing them”
I think despite all the training from Adam and Amanda and despite the fact that deep down you know you have to ring potential clients if you want the work, there has to be a trigger to make you do it.  What the trigger was for me is unimportant as the trigger is probably different for everyone.  But last week the need outweighed the fear.

Over the last week I’ve phoned numerous companies, one company I’ve phoned six times, on the last call it became obvious that they are not interested in my services, so I stopped ringing.  Over the last week I’ve spoken to some really nice people who are genuinely interested in what I have to say, and yes I’ve spoken to a few that are not.

I’ve spoken to receptionists who have given me the names of people I need to speak to, I’ve emailed them details of what I do then rang them a few days later.  I arranged one meeting that turned into a £600 sale, emailed samples of my work to others that wanted more information and to see samples of my work, and arranged call backs for a few days time.  But in all these cases I know now the people I need to speak to in each business.

I probably should be ringing more companies, but at present my method is slow but I hope effective.  I spend time researching each company, looking at what they do, and how my work could benefit them.  So when I ring them I have answers to their questions before they ask them.

Stage 3

I’m still at stage 2, but with help from Adam and Amanda at Sales Academy 2012 hopefully I will soon get to this stage.  This is having a better sales technique when making the sales call, I’m not a great sales person and definitely not when on the phone.

So hopefully things will improve over time, but at least I’ve made a start.
Am I great on the phone? No
Do I like making these calls? No
Would I prefer not to make these calls? Yes
Will I ever like making these call? No

The point is I am making these calls, and no matter how much you hate the calls, or how much you think you will never be able make these calls eventually you will find your trigger, the point at which the need outweighs the fear.

If like me you hate using the phone for sales calls I hope this helps in some small way.

Do you need professional product photography

Is professional product photography important?

Product Photography

Leather handbags

First Impressions count

It’s claimed people make their minds up about your website in around 0.05 seconds.  Now I don’t know about you but personally I can’t read an awful lot in that time.  So images are vital, a good image can make the difference between people staying on your website, or leaving and finding another.

If you are selling product on your website then the images need to be top quality, professional product photography can make all the difference.  People often say “everyone knows what my product looks like so why do I need to pay for professional product photography?  As I said earlier people will decide if they like your website, or if they want to buy from you in 0.05 seconds, do you really want to take the risk of loosing a sale because of the images on your site?

There’s no such thing as a bad product photograph on the internet

That’s quite a statement which I’m sure you will disagree with?  everyone has seen bad photography on the internet right?  Well I believe when it comes to product photography there is no such thing as a bad product photography, why?  Because people don’t see bad photographs, they see bad products.  I’ve proved this many times with all sorts of people, if people are looking for a product of any description, they look for good quality images to show what the product will look like.

If you don’t believe me, I ask you, have you never been to a website and thought, I don’t like the look of that and moved on to another site?

Good product photography can make the difference between someone buying from you, or someone else.  Do you want to take that risk?

How to create a 360 Degree Image



Stage 1 to a 360 Degree image:

Stage 1 of the process is to get the image, or more precisely the images.  Depending on what equipment you are using the number of images required will vary.  If you are using a fisheye lens then you will only need 24 images to create the image.

Once you have your camera setup using a tripod and pano head, it’s simply a matter of taking a series of images, as mentioned using a fisheye lens means you only need 24 images to create your 360 degree image.  The pano head allows you to find and use the nodal point of the lens.

One thing to think of when you are taking a 360 degree image, is what you want the image to look like when it’s completed?  Where you start your image will have a major effect on what the image will look like when it’s compiled.

Stage 2 to a 360 Degree image:

Stage 2 is where you find out if you had your setup correct to start with.  If you failed to setup the pano head correctly then all the images will not align and you will not get your 360 degree image.

For all my images I take the images using RAW, this is not absolutely necessary but it ensures you get large good quality images.  So for me the first stage is to convert the images to TIFFS, after that I convert the images to jpegs and resize, I generally size all the images to 6 x 4.

Once all the images are sized I load them into my chosen software, for me this is PTGUI.  Provided you had all your setup correct you will get your 360 degree image.

In the image above I really like the effect of the wooden slats and the light shinning on the slats.



360 Virtual Tours

What are 360 Virtual tours

How to create a virtual tour:

How you create 360 virtual tours depends on what equipment you are using, in particular what lens you have.  All 360 virtual tours are made up from a series of images stitched together to create a starting image.  This image is then input into your chosen software to create the tour.

What equipment is needed for 360 virtual tours:

What camera you use is down to your own personal preferences, personally for all my virtual tours I use a canaon 5D MK11, it’s a full frame camera and is perfect for my needs.

My chosen lens for all my  virtual tours is a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.  The reason for this is it allows me to capture a full 180 image in one shot.  Before using this lens I was using a standard 24mm to 105mm canon lens, although the results using this lens are good, to get a full 360 x 180 image requires me to take 72 images, using the fisheye lens I can create virtual tours in just 24 images.  This not only saves time but also cuts down on the possibility of mistakes.

Additional equipment for creating 360 virtual tours:

Two essential pieces of equipment for creating virtual tours are, a good quality tripod and a panohead attachment for your tripod.  The panohead allows you to use the nodal point of the lens so all the images are stitched together perfectly.

If you are using a fisheye lens and you’ve setup your equipment correctly you can take 24 images to gain all the images required for your virtual tour.  If you are using a standard lens and you want to create a full 360 x 180 virtual tour you will need 72 images.  you would effectively do three tours and stitch all the images together.  So you would do one standard rotation with the camera, then point the camera up 45 degrees and do another rotation, then point the camera down 45 degrees and do yet another rotation.  So you now have three complete rotations around the room.  You put this into your chosen software to create one complete 360 x 180 image.  The rest is down to your chosen software.

Software for creating Virtual tours:

There are lots of different softwares available for creating virtual tours, but the two I use are PTGUI for the initial stitching together of all the images.  Then I use Pano 2vr for creating the Virtual tours.

So what are 360 Virtual tours:

They are an interactive animation created using a series of static images stitched together into a single images to create an interactive Virtual tour.



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This commercial photography South Wales page is posted “By Mike Armstrong” from MA Consultancy Marketing Company

360 Photography

If you are looking for 360 photography then you have come to the right website.

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This 360 photography South Wales page is posted “By Mike Armstrong” from MA Consultancy Marketing Company