R Gill Photography: Blog https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog en-us (C) R Gill Photography richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) Thu, 09 Sep 2021 11:15:00 GMT Thu, 09 Sep 2021 11:15:00 GMT https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/img/s/v-12/u828535713-o676194562-50.jpg R Gill Photography: Blog https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog 120 120 Breathe New Life Into Your Social Media Content https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/9/breathe-new-life-into-your-social-media-content The days of sporadic marketing are long gone. If your business is to succeed you need to look beyond boring brochures, stagnant websites and hit and miss mediocre social media and look closely at the kind of content your target audience will lap up. A well thought out content strategy will see clicks convert to sales.

Still need convincing? Think about the number of times you check your phone each day. You pull it out because you want to be entertained. If the content bores you, you’ll very quickly scroll down in the hope of finding something else to grab your attention. The average person spends over six hours online every day, so it’s worth making it time well spent.

Builders looking at images on mobileBuilders looking at images on mobileBuilders looking at images on mobile

The trick isn’t to churn out content in the hope that something sticks but to keep on top of content trends and learn how people access content. A production line of blog posts won’t result in higher Google ratings so let’s take five and talk about how you can create content that performs.

Research your Audience

The best way to build an online audience is to get to know it. Visitors to your social media channels expect to be rewarded for their time with meaningful content that is easy to access and presented in different formats. 

Your first step is to define who your target audience is and you can do this by creating your ideal customer. Creating great content is much easier if you can imagine that you’re holding a conversation with the perfect customer.

By researching your current customers and taking the following variables into account you can build a realistic customer profile:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Pain points (what are they struggling with?)

Your Customer AvatarYour Customer AvatarCustomer Avatar

With this information develop a pen portrait of your target customer. Here’s an example of a fleshed out customer profile for a brand designing business that wants to appeal to female business owners:

NAME: Amy            

AGE: 35                    

INCOME: £50,000+                    

BUSINESS: Amy runs a quirky furniture making business. She runs it with her family and they’ve decided to invest in the business with some well thought out branding.    

HOBBIES: Wine, tea, reading, family time, london markets, visits to National Trust properties.                    

FAVOURITE SHOPS: Boden, Joules, Oliver Bonas                    

IDOLS: Instagram influencers for home accounts   

 

Social media analytics are also incredibly useful at helping identify your most regular visitors, their age, location and interests. You’ll find that, generally speaking, older users prefer Facebook, while Twitter and Instagram appeal to younger audiences. What does this mean for your content? That the one size fits all approach doesn’t apply! When creating social media content remember that what appeals to the average Facebook user might not impress your Instagram audience. So, plan your content in advance and always modify your copy depending on your chosen platform.

Talk to Your Current Customers

If you’re an established business struggling to reach new audiences, survey your current customers about the kind of content they like to consume and why. Find out who they’re following. This simple exercise can clarify the social media platforms best suited to your product.

Check Out Your Competition

After a while writing compelling content that leads to hard sales becomes difficult. You feel like you’re repeating yourself and the stats show that engagement has dropped off. Find inspiration in your competition by looking at their most popular posts. What tone of voice are they using? Are they maintaining brand consistency across all of their channels? Are they using a mix of video and audio to reach browsers? What hashtags are they using? 

 

Monitor Relevant Keywords and Tags

To get some really valuable insight into your brand and current trends you should participate in a spot of ‘social listening.’

Listen to your audienceListen to your audienceListen to your audience

Social listening is when you track your social media channels for mentions of your brand. But it’s not just about monitoring and gathering data; it’s about understanding the ‘mood’ of consumers and supporters of your brand. You can use this understanding to both proactively respond to negative conversations and shape future marketing plans by being one step ahead of the crowd.

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If your business is crying out for a fresh approach to its social media content, taking a few hours to think through your planning strategy really will pay dividends. Get to know your target audience and your competition and engagement will soon pick up.  If you need further help call me for a chat on 07557 780336 or drop me an email

See More

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) marketing photography put social media social media content video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/9/breathe-new-life-into-your-social-media-content Thu, 09 Sep 2021 11:14:58 GMT
Cumbrian Photographer Undertakes County-wide Project for Council https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/cumbrian-photographer-undertakes-county-wide-project-for-council Kendal-based photographer Richard Gill of R Gill Photography combined his technical skill with local knowledge to produce a series of diverse photographs for Cumbria County Council. In all, he snapped 400 photos and travelled over 1,500 miles.

Reception area of Cumbria HouseReception area of Cumbria HouseCumbria Count Council HQ, reception area

Cumbria County Council was in the process of updating its Highways Asset Management Strategy and wanted more visual material than previously, which is where Richard stepped in. His expertise in architectural photography coupled with local insight clinched the deal and so he was commissioned to photograph over sixty locations from Bewcastle in the north east of the county to Barrow in the South West. No mean feat, particularly with changeable Cumbrian weather to contend with! The timeline was also tight; he was awarded the commission in early February and expected to produce a body of work by the end of that month. But Richard likes a challenge and so, armed with his kit and knowhow, he embarked on this extraordinary journey to snap his way around Cumbria. 

 

Stage One - Meeting

First things first, County Council staff gave Richard a list of assets that required capturing for inclusion in the updated strategy. They ranged from schools, council properties, highways and sheltered accommodation to libraries, bridges and ports. “You’ll get to know Cumbria very well,” said project lead, Kate Stark. And she was right.

Richard was supplied with a specific contact person for those assets that required special access and a little extra planning, like schools and highways depots.  After discussing the project at length Richard requested 24 hours to consider how he would execute the piece of work. 

Stage Two - Execution

Richard returned to the Council with a timescale of 10-14 days, weather depending. He developed a detailed project plan that included proposed visitation dates which would allow the Council to carry out any necessary risk assessments in advance. Flexibility was key here as Richard had to contend with not one but two weather fronts: Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara, both of which wreaked havoc nationwide. When it wasn’t snowing or blowing a gale, Richard enjoyed a handful of lovely sunny blue-sky days that resulted in stunning photographs of some of Cumbria’s most picturesque sites.

The devastation caused by storm Ciara on the road to Silloth, looking across the SolwayThe aftermath of Storm CiaraThe devastation caused by storm Ciara on the road to Silloth, looking across the Solway

“On one particularly freezing cold day I had to coordinate with Highways to photograph a gritter on top of Kirkstone Pass,” said Richard. “This is a well-known spot with an altitude of 1,489 feet so it’s more than a little difficult to navigate on a normal day, never mind in the depths of a Cumbrian winter! But with a lot of teamwork we managed it and got some great shots." 

Gritter on Kirkstone PassGritter on Kirkstone PassGritter on Kirkstone Pass

Photographing schools was much less troublesome and a lot more fun. “One school, Sandgate Primary, was great fun to photograph. The children were very excited to hear that their school was going to be ‘famous’ and keen to get in shot. This meant that I had to pixelate their faces to avoid any privacy issues but the resulting photos were very lively.”

Pupil in the ball pit at Sandgate SchoolSandgate schoolPupil in the ball pit at Sandgate School

Richard even managed to rope his wife into the scheme. “The new A6 cycle path in Kendal hadn’t yet opened but the Council wanted a photo of it ‘in action’, so my very obliging wife agreed to get on her bike, and now she features in the Strategy!”

A slightly reluctant cyclist on the A6 cyclewayThe A6 cyclewayA slightly reluctant cyclist on the A6 cycleway

What Richard appreciated most though was the obliging spirit of County Council staff. “On the whole I have to say the CCC staff were very helpful and obliging. They allowed me to disrupt their normal working routine in some difficult circumstances, for example, allowing me to photograph gritters that were working to the clock to keep roads open.” 

Loading a gritting lorry at the depotLoading a gritting lorryLoading a gritting lorry at the depot

His shoot at Port Workington was particularly enjoyable as the crew arranged for him to photograph the site from a crane, 60 feet in the air. “I was escorted into the heavens by an employee and managed to get some wonderful bird’s-eye shots.”

View from a crane at the Port of WorkingtonPort of workingtonView from a crane at the Port of Workington

Stage Three - Presentation

Following a whirlwind exploration of Cumbria and having taken hundreds of shots Richard got to work editing the collection for County Council. “Every shot went according to plan,” said Richard, “bar Kendal library which was shrouded in mist, so another visit was arranged. After that I knuckled down to edit the snaps, ready to present to the Council.”

Kendal LibraryKendal LibraryKendal Library

Cumbria County Council was very happy with Richard’s work and has had its Strategy approved by government. Richard delivered a professional, engaging body of work within a tight timeframe and with the minimum of fuss. The Highways Asset Management Strategy can be seen here Highways Assets Management Strategy 2020 -2025

Richard’s enthusiasm for hobby photography flourished at a young age but was put to one side when he entered the workplace. His career in lighting took him all over the world, but the stress of work soon forced Richard to reassess his life which took him right back to his adolescent hobby. After developing his skills and with mentorship from top professionals he embarked on this exciting new path and established R Gill Photography in 2013.

Richard uses video and photography to create promotional materials that can be used over and over again in multiple ways. He can be reached on email at richard@rgillphotography.co.uk or by telephoning 07557 780336.

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) content council cumbria cycleway gritting highways kendal photographer photography solway storms strategy weather https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/cumbrian-photographer-undertakes-county-wide-project-for-council Thu, 30 Jul 2020 13:44:55 GMT
BBC Film Footage for International Lighting Company https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/bbc-film-footage-for-international-lighting-company Thanks to extensive experience in the lighting industry, l was recently commissioned to produce a short film showcasing international lighting controls company, Casambi Technologies.

Late last year I was appointed by Finnish-based company Casambi Technologies to make a short video case study of their work re-lighting BBC offices throughout the UK, to take still photographs of one of the sites and to produce short teaser videos for use on social media. My existing body of work and in-depth knowledge of lighting were instrumental in earning the commission and the first vital step in what turned out to be a very interesting piece of work.

Casambi Technologies planned to present the video case study at the 2020 Frankfurt ‘Light + Building’ fair to demonstrate their wireless lighting controls.  It was imperative that I delivered a polished and professional package within a set timeframe.

Being in a position to combine my lighting industry knowledge with my photography skills was pretty exciting.  There were three companies involved in this piece of work: Casambi Technologies, Holders Technology (Casambi’s UK partner) and Wila Lighting and it was a previous contract with Wila that was a contributory factor in winning this piece of work. 

The Process

In their brief Casambi Technologies requested internal footage of New Broadcasting House, London and the Glasgow site on Pacific Quay. The film had to capture Casambi’s newly installed energy-saving, wireless lighting controls and the new LED luminaries from Wila. 

BBC Scotland building Pacific Quay, GlasgowBBC ScotlandBBC Scotland building Pacific Quay, Glasgow

Before embarking on the project I liaised with company representatives to develop a plan. There were location shoots and interviews to arrange with people travelling from all over the country which took extensive organisation.

Not everything went smoothly from the get go. My first day on site in London didn’t quite go to plan. Storm Brendan saw to that!  During my train journey power lines came down near Preston and I ended up stranded for over four hours. But I managed to rearrange and get to London to carry out the work.

The Challenges

  • All of the filming had to be done after 6pm while the offices were mostly empty, however some staff remained on site to film the ‘Ten O’Clock News’ at New Broadcasting House and “The Nine show” at Glasgow.  
  • To ensure staff were not recognisable I had to avoid getting any close ups of people in shot.  They also stipulated that its main logo should only be shown a maximum of three times which was an added test.
  • I was required to film areas that contained the old lighting as well as areas which had been upgraded so his window of opportunity to get on site was limited.  Getting access to the buildings themselves was also a challenge as it meant liaising with both the BBC and their facilities management company Interserve.
  • There were three companies involved: Casambi, Wila and Holders, so trying to coordinate interviews and getting all of the right people in the right place at the same time was challenging.

Filming inside the BBC was fascinating. For such a familiar institution the whole experience was very surreal. In New Broadcasting House there were meeting rooms named after famous television personalities, like Jeremy Paxman.

The news area in BBC ScotlandNew area BBC ScotlandThe news area in BBC Scotland

I relished the logistical challenge of the project. Arranging face to face interviews, getting the go-ahead to enter the buildings and creating a polished film that highlights Casambi Technologies’ lighting control solutions required a great deal of planning and flexibility.

In the final stages of the project I collaborated with Lancaster-based firm SBS to edit the film. Because of time constraints I brought SBS on board to edit the clips. They did an incredible job helping me shape the final product.

Relighting the BBC

All in all I produced thirty photographs and three video clips: the main clip, which came in at around seven minutes long and two teaser clips for use across social media. Wila wanted their own shorter clip and so the footage was edited parcelled up specifically for their use.

Stephen Jackson from Casambi commented “we are really pleased with the videos Richard has made.  They do a great job at showcasing our unique technology and are already helping us to generate new business.”

If you need video and photography to create promotional materials that can be used over and over again in multiple ways you can be reach me on email at richard@rgillphotography.co.uk or by ‘phoning 07557 780336.

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) BBC Broadcasting Casambi controls Glasgow Holders House LED lighting NBH New photographer photography photos video Wila https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/bbc-film-footage-for-international-lighting-company Wed, 29 Apr 2020 13:02:51 GMT
3 Step Approach to Connect with your Customers in a Crisis https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/3-step-approach-to-connect-with-your-customers-in-a-crisis It’s time to step up.

Coronavirus is dominating every conversation, every action and every thought, so how can we rise above it all and think clearly about the future? How can we possibly help our current (and potential) customers when we’re worrying about symptoms, shopping and social isolation?

Have you ever considered that social isolation might have its plus points? Not to detract from the devastating effects that this illness is having on the population and national infrastructure but why not rally some of that British grit and find the bright side in this unique situation?

So, if you have to self-isolate then make the most of your downtime and take steps to not only help protect your own business but boost the confidence of your fellow entrepreneurs.

Step one: Reassure your customers

Your customers will want some reassurance from you, so why not consider putting together a series of social media posts or blogs with vibrant images that outline your current position, your plans for the future and measures you’re putting in place to ensure continuation of service? Are you offering an new take away service from your cafe or restaurant? Show your customers how fabulous your food is.

Steak bresaola presented in a beautiful petal shaped arrangementSteak bresaolaSteak bresaola presented in a beautiful petal shaped arrangement

Additionally, offering useful hints and tips on how your peers can manage their business affairs during a crisis will also be welcomed. Why not bring someone in to help you produce a professional video clip (or set of clips) that will create an instant bond and offer an extra level of encouragement. Everyone appreciates a friendly face in times like these.

On the lighter side, there has been a plethora of feel-good videos flooding the web, all aimed at giving us a good laugh and taking our mind off the obvious. Why not create your own uplifting clip? It might go viral! 

 

Step two: Showcase your business

The current crisis actually presents a wonderful opportunity to knuckle down and do that thing that 99% of business owners hate: blowing your trumpet. Prepare your company for the coming upturn (it will happen) by reviewing how you promote your product/service. Could your website do with a facelift? Are you product photos and videos dated? This is the time to refresh and rejuvenate the public face of what you’ve worked so hard to build: your livelihood.  Now is the perfect time to offer a virtual tour of your premises or business.  Customers can still visit you without putting themselves or your staff at any risk.

We’ve seen a lot of artists hold impromptu gigs via video link over the past few days, so why not do the same yourself? If you can’t take the product to them, take them to the product! A virtual exhibition is an exciting (not to mention money-saving) way to showcase the best of your business. Start by taking some shots or video of your products then send to a professional for editing. They can provide a voice-over, captions and any number of bells and whistles to make your products sing. When you’re ready you can upload a polished piece of work that will offer customers a fun way to experience your company without leaving the house.

Step three: Reach and teach

There are going to be a lot of people sitting at home feeling insecure about the future. Demonstrate your leadership capabilities and give them a shot of confidence by designing and delivering a webinar or online training/coaching programme on your chosen subject. Not only will this develop your profile but it will offer anxious workers and business owners a lifeline and much needed hope.

There is no limit to what you can do during this, hopefully brief, period of stasis. Combine imagination and humour with professionalism and you’ll confidently make your mark.

If you need any support to develop these ideas, or if you have some of your own you’d like to explore further, then please get in touch for a chat.

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) connect content customers digital food photographer food photography marketing photographer photography photography tips photos tips video videography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/3-step-approach-to-connect-with-your-customers-in-a-crisis Fri, 20 Mar 2020 10:30:24 GMT
How to Create Engaging Content That Your Audience Will Love https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/how-to-create-engaging-content-that-your-audience-will-love “All content is good content.”

“As long as you get it out there you’ll reap the rewards.”

As much as we’d all like that to be true, it just isn’t the case!

To build long lasting relationships and brand familiarity your business must seriously consider creating content, whether video, photography or the written word, that will strongly engage with its target demographic.

photo of a range of spice ingredientsIngredientsNot all content is good content

To begin with let’s consider the marketing that permeates today’s marketplace.

Funnel Marketing

The objective of funnel marketing is to engage new customers and convert this engagement to sales.

The acronym AIDA is a long held and celebrated marketing model used to describe the process a consumer goes through when purchasing a product.

So, what does it mean? It’s self-explanatory, simplistic yet effective:

A -    Attention or Awareness through eye-catching advertising

I -    Interest in the product must be maintained through additional marketing

D -    Desire is aroused through more targeted strategic and emotional advertising

A -    Action results in a sale

AIDA is a form of funnel marketing that takes the consumer through a series of steps to engage interest and ultimately end in a sale. Generally speaking, it is product-focused with the end goal of making a sale.

Brand Marketing

The objective of brand marketing is to drive engagement and encourage followers to spread the word of your business/product/service. People listen to their peers and make purchasing decisions based on these opinions. If you buy their product not only will your problem be solved but your life will be better.

At one time branding was limited to slapping a label on a product; now it’s an all-encompassing phenomenon that aims to build relationships between business and consumer. Branding expresses company values and gives it a ‘voice’, all the while maintaining consistency and reacting to current trends. In simple terms, It’s not just about the product but about the whole business, and if you're a personal brand it's about your customers getting to know you.

portrait photoPortrait photoCustomers like to buy from people they know

What works best?

In today’s environment brand marketing is the go-to means of building awareness. I’ve said it before but people buy from people, so your content needs to really speak to your target consumer on a personal level.

How to Create Engaging Content

You can’t engage with your audience without understanding it. 

So first things first, create an ideal customer profile. This can be done by:

  • Learning what they value
  • Discovering what kind of content they engage with (video, photographic or written) and on which platforms
  • Researching Facebook groups, forums, feedback/review sights
  • Empathising with them and getting to grips with their gripes

Secondly, do a deep dive into your competition and study their successful (and not so successful) marketing campaigns. 

Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty.

Top Tips

  • Keep it consistent - your brand message must be the golden thread that runs through all of your marketing
  • Maintain authenticity - clued-up people won’t fall for falseness
  • Use language that your audience will understand - keep up with the vernacular of your target demographic
  • Don’t lose sight of your business values and message - this is what you customer has bought into
  • Have a clear call to action - shouting about your business is the goal but what do you want people to purchase?
  • What’s the problem you can solve for your customers? - identify their pain points and develop solutions to suit
  • One size does not fit all - develop your content to suit the medium (i.e. website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, You Tube etc)
  • Ask your audience - simply post a question or a poll on your social media
  • Have a click-worthy title and an intriguing thumb nail with eye-catching colours
  • Create an interesting headline that draws in the reader
  • Test different styles to see what sticks
  • When creating video clips consider the lighting, wardrobe and palette -  create a look that’s uniquely and distinctively yours.
  • Become the business that’s known for “..............”
  • Make videos and create images about topics that you’re passionate about and that people can relate to. Source a respected photographer and videographer for a guaranteed bank of reusable photos and video clips.
  • Make content regularly to remain on the radar of your audience but don’t go overboard
  • Research and test optimal posting times on social media
  • Regularly study your social media analytics to identify the content that’s working or not working
  • To create intimacy with your audience express feelings about your topic
  • Study what works in terms of response and incorporate these aspects into future content

Tour of Tapestry MuseumThe Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal

By doing this work you can confidently create written, video and photographic content that will prove popular with your demographic. Avoid complacency and bear in mind that marketing trends change at a rapid pace so it’s worth keeping on top of them and reacting accordingly.

I’ll finish with this: always remain true to your business values and ethos and the rest will follow.

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) 2020 commercial content digital marketing photographer photography tips trends video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/how-to-create-engaging-content-that-your-audience-will-love Tue, 03 Mar 2020 07:22:57 GMT
How to Create 50 Pieces of High Quality Digital Content in less than 4 Hours https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/1/how-to-create-50-pieces-of-high-quality-digital-content-in-less-than-4-hours Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second most popular search engine? Simply put, if you want to learn how to unblock a drain or bake a cake are you going to scroll down reams of tightly packed text or watch a short video that shows you how to complete your mission in a few easy steps?

There’s no denying that right now video content is king and if you’re not on board you’re at risk of missing out on a ton of exposure and ultimately, business. Tweets with video clips are retweeted much much more than those without. Never rely on text alone, no matter how sparkling the copy may be. And video content has a positive effect on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Research has shown that websites with video content are 53% more likely to end up on the first search engine results page.

To reiterate what I’ve stated in previous posts: brevity rules. If you can convey your message in short and snappy clips your viewers (and potential customers) are more likely to watch until the end and remember what they’ve heard and seen.

So, right now you can’t afford to dismiss the power of the visual. Granted, not everyone feels comfortable in front of the camera and most understandably baulk at the idea of putting themselves out there but with an experienced professional to put you at ease you could generate some wonderful content in as little time as half a day.

Of course, it should go without saying that photography done well is an incredibly effective way to position your brand. I say ‘you’ and your business because as the old adage states, `people buy from people’. Consumers want to see the face behind the product. If they like you, they’ll buy from you and with clever, intuitive digital marketing, they’ll continue to buy from you.

By marrying video and photography you can easily create a broad body of work ready to market your business on your website, on social media and YouTube. And it won’t take longer than half a day.

Working with a professional might initially seem daunting and pricey. Be rest assured that you will save time and money by bringing an expert on board. How? Taking your own photos (regardless of how good you think you are!) is a laborious process and if you don’t have the skills or the kit your snaps will sadly lack that professional touch. You could spend days setting up your shots, taking them, being disappointed in the result and then capitulating and bringing in a professional. You’ll lose hours of productive work time and money.

By budgeting for a half or full day shoot a decent return on investment is pretty much guaranteed (but don’t quote me on that!). Your snaps and video clips can be used multiple times in multiple ways and will pull together your business brand like nothing else will.

There’s so much potential. Here’s a flavour of what you could do:

By allocating 4 hours a month you could create:

  • 3 x 1-2 minute videos - from these you can also get  3 x 15 secs clips per video  - that’s another 9 videos to use on your website, on YouTube, on social media etc. (Thats 12 pieces of content)
  • You could also get 20 -30 still photos that can be utilised for blog posts, website articles, editorial pieces, social media, special offers and so much more. (That's another 30 pieces of content)
  • Dialogue from the long form video could easily become podcast material or transcribed into a blog post. (That's another 2 pieces of content)
  • You can take photos and video of the whole photo shoot giving you a bunch more content to post in the coming weeks. (That's another 8 pieces of content bringing your total to 50!)

If you want to see how much information you can convey to your audience in just a short clip then take a look at this:

If you feel confident enough and plan accordingly you could do this yourself or hire a professional to make it a stress free and dare I say it, a fun experience! The professional will help you brainstorm ideas for the content, sort out a venue, do all of the editing and present the final work in a consistent format.  They will put you at ease in front of the camera and advise you what to wear and how to perform.  All you need to do is turn up with a couple of outfits and appropriate props (bearing in mind your company colour palette).

Your professional will immediately help you to relax in front to the camera, and work with you to accurately and imaginatively reflect your business objectives, values and message. In advance of the shoot you’ll discuss particulars like target audience, your end goal (to sell a product, increase brand awareness etc) and budget. The final result will be a high impact body of work that can be utilised in any number of ways.  

People will always respond better to visuals than text so place yourself in the best possible position to benefit by creating responsive, versatile digital content that will convert to sales.

It’s as simple as that.

Want to know more - see here

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) blog content digital marketing media photography photos podcast social video videography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/1/how-to-create-50-pieces-of-high-quality-digital-content-in-less-than-4-hours Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:08:50 GMT
How to Market Your Brand with Confidence https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/12/how-to-market-your-brand-with-confidence Mention the phrase ‘Brand Photoshoot’ and many of us will stick our fingers in our ears and run in the other direction.

But it you want your brand (business or personal) to stand out in a crowded marketplace then it’s imperative that you develop a strategy that allows you to sell yourself effectively while remaining authentic.

Photos are processed 60,000 times faster than text alone, so presenting potential customers with walls of text isn’t going to work. Don’t worry if you ordinarily shy away from the camera: there is always hope and a helping hand. This is your time to get creative and yes, lens-ready.

So, we can all agree that visuals are important in marketing. But what about video? THE online trend of 2019 has been utilised in multiple ways, from simple ‘live’ clips destined for Facebook and Instagram stories to slick promotional videos that feature loud and proud on professional websites. 

Highlight Reel for R Gill Photography A collection of clips to highlight the video and photo capabilities of R Gill Photography

But how can you, a sole trader or small business owner, employ photography and video to promote your brand? Where on earth would you start? Your to-do list gets longer and longer so you’re forced to push marketing to the furthest reaches of an already busy mind. 

The trick is to outsource. Your Zone of Genius is your business, not marketing and promotion, so why would you pull your hair out trying to organise a brand photoshoot?

Here are some tips that will make marketing your brand a breeze.

  1. Clarify your goal. What do you want to achieve from your brand marketing? Have you identified your audience? Before you do anything else sit down with a notepad and pen and brainstorm what you want your brand campaign to convey to customers. If you want to demonstrate confidence and trustworthiness your promotional images and videos should reflect these core company values. 
  2. Bring a professional on board. This is bread and butter to a photographer/videographer. Ask around for personal referrals because you don’t want to bring someone in that doesn’t gel with your vision. Once you’ve found them ask them lots of questions! They will guide you on this important journey, so open communication is key to success. The more you interact the more relaxed you’ll be during the shoot. Ideally, a pre-shoot brainstorming session will give you both the chance to iron out any kinks, leaving you both ready to go. The end result will be a collection of beautiful images and clips that can be utilised for multiple promotional campaigns: completely worth the initial outlay!
  3. Try DIY. If you own and are comfortable with a DSLR camera, can set up shots and create the correct lighting then give it a go! Just ensure that your brand image is consistently represented throughout. You don’t want consumers to be in any doubt that this is your brand.
  4. Be prepared. You know your brand inside out so consider how it could translate visually. Your logo should be reflected in your chosen colour palette for the shoot. For example, if your company colours are peach and grey, then you’ll want to incorporate those into your marketing campaign for consistency. Top tip: Pinterest is your go-to for inspiration. Arm yourself with material and props that will help you communicate your brand to the masses. The day before your shoot ensure your clothes are clean and pressed and that you’ve had a good night’s sleep.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. As I stated previously, the relationship with your photographer/videographer is paramount. Don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions and ask for advice.The more you do this the more natural and authentic your campaign will be. Your photographer will be practiced at putting clients at ease and prompting them to get the most of the experience.

I hope you found this useful. With the right preparation and support your brand marketing campaign can be a painless and bountiful experience.

If you want to promote your brand with confidence get in touch now tel: +44 (0)7557 780336 or email: richard@rgillphotography.co.uk

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/12/how-to-market-your-brand-with-confidence Wed, 11 Dec 2019 16:02:34 GMT
5 Ways Video Can Build Your Business https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/11/5-ways-video-can-build-your-business It’s the marketing trend of 2019 you can’t ignore, no matter how much you’d like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

What am I talking about?

Plain, old video.

Now, video isn’t a new thing but it has progressed surely and steadily from grainy VHS to silly, Youtube videos to slick viral marketing campaigns. Long gone are the days of print media and spending a fortune on newspaper adverts. They still have their place of course, but if you want to make a real impact on the market then video is arguably the way to go.

We all know that video catches the eye much more than a wall of text. Consider your daily social media browsing: how many times do you quickly scroll past lengthy text but stop at a fun, informative video? It’s the medium that speaks a thousand words, but in bright, moving pictures.

The wonderful thing about video marketing is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to create an effective clip that will convert to sales. Another good thing is that you don’t necessarily have to get in front of the camera to build your business. So, relax and read on.

5 ways video can build your business

1. It Draws Attention to your Brand

I know I mentioned previously that you don’t necessarily have to put your face in front of the camera but it can help because we all know that people buy from people! Consumers love to see the people behind the product and form an emotional connection. It encourages a sense of trust, builds confidence in your service and hopefully a boost in sales. The internet is a crowded marketplace but if you can portray yourself in a positive, professional and creative way through the medium of video your business can only benefit. If you really don’t want to show your face then consider a voice-over; after all, the focus should be on the product and the features and benefits that set it apart from its competition. If you’re worried about going over budget you can make your own video and there is definitely space for fun, amateurish clips online. However, if you main concern is portraying your business in a professional fashion then consider bringing in someone who knows what they’re doing!

My StoryShort video telling you a little about my background and how I became a professional photographer. This is a video on my about page.  Despite my reluctance to be in front of the camera (I much prefer being behind it), I continually get feedback from clients about how much they like it.  It helped them get a sense of who I am and what it would be like to work with me.

2. It Creates Brand Recognition

The more consumers see your product in full technicolour using a consistent medium, the more they will relate to and ultimately purchase from you. Simple. But when you’re running a small business marketing and promotion can easily slip down your list of priorities. It’s something you know you should do, but you’re far too busy to do it (and maybe a little bit nervous). Don’t worry, there is a wealth of online guidance like this starter pack from Hubspot that demonstrates how you can use video cheaply and effectively. However, consider outsourcing the job to a local professional if you don’t wish to dip your toe in video marketing.

3. Ask Your Customers to Do It For You

There’s nothing quite like hearing it from the horse’s mouth. Video testimonials, when done properly, can be a very effective marketing tool but make sure that you use real testimonials from real customers if at all possible (and if you can persuade them). Some video testimonials scream fakeness so keep authenticity at the forefront of your campaign.

Video testimonials like the one above not only promote your own brand but help your clients to get more exposure too.

4. Exclusive access to new products/services

Consumers love nothing better than being ‘in on the secret’, so why not give them early or exclusive access to a new product? You can do this via your email list or within a private online group. Or, alternatively, you can let the whole world know about it from your favoured social media platform. Consider giving people a sneak peek at the production process; it will give them a thrill to know that they’re some of the privileged few to see your work in action. I particularly like speeded up video clips of a process in motion. It’s quite mesmerizing and it gives the viewer a deeper understanding of your business, your ethos, your plans for the future (you get the picture).

This product launch video from a lighting company shows the benefits of their new design in a visual format. This is much easier for viewers to grasp than in long form text.

5. Vlogging is the new Blogging

Kids everywhere seem to have at least two YouTube channels these days, and entrepreneurs are regularly doling out solid business advice using the medium of video. Regardless of your thoughts on getting in front of the camera you can’t ignore the popularity and effectiveness of vlogging. In basic terms, vlogging is the video equivalent of blogging (putting your thoughts online in article format). Business and entrepreneurs use it as a form of content marketing (content that doesn’t explicitly sell a product but is intended to attract interest in the business) and it can be extremely compelling, especially if the person in front of the camera is engaging and authentic. Vlogs are published regularly via social media and/or on the business website and are generally treated fairly light-heartedly. They are great at maintaining a consistent level of interest and again, don’t need to be filmed in a professional setting.

This vlog style video is great way to share more about yourself.  If you are building a personal brand your clients will be interested to see more of what excites you and what else you get up to!

I hope at least one of these options will give you food for thought. The video medium isn’t going away so consider jumping onboard and find out how it can increase engagement and sales for your business.  Every year new technology makes it easier to use video content and with the roll out of 5g video looks like it will be the predominant way to share content going forward.

 

If you’d rather a professional came in to get your started then get in touch at: richard@rgillphotography.co.uk

What to read next:  The best 3 video you can make to boost your business

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/11/5-ways-video-can-build-your-business Wed, 13 Nov 2019 12:51:15 GMT
How Virtual Reality Can Power-Up Your Business https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/10/how-virtual-reality-can-power-up-your-business Have you considered how transformative virtual reality could be for your business?

Most people imagine clunky eyewear and clips of gamers tripping over furniture in an attempt to run away from VR predators.  But what is VR? In simple terms it’s software that invites the user to experience an immersive, 3D experience.

Two users experience virtual realityTwo users experiencing VRTwo users experience virtual reality

It’s everywhere: online articles illustrating its miraculous money-making potential, high street brands jumping on the bandwagon and kids adding VR games to their Christmas wish list.

But as any business owner will know, video and VR are key marketing trends and we either jump on board with them or miss out. We live in a digital world and we need to exploit the possibilities at our fingertips.

So, as pleasurable and fun as VR might be for an adventurous night in, there are multiple ways to utilise this fascinating tech for the good of your business. 

How many times have you been in a property, hotel room or AirBnB property that on closer inspection didn’t live up to its online pictures? Or maybe there was an aspect of the house that you didn’t like when browsing online, so you immediately dismissed it. This particularly rings true for buyers who want to relocate elsewhere in the country. Why travel half a day in the driving rain just to be disappointed? So many wonderful homes discounted.

The virtual reality tour could be a solution.

3D dolls house model of a house for VR tour3d dolls House model3D dolls house model of a house for VR tour

Mapping out an entire property using VR technology is key to bringing the authentic house-hunting experience to the customer. All the potential buyer needs is internet access and they’re touring the property avoiding exorbitant fuel costs and the dreaded house viewing fatigue. 

Tourists can take a VR tour of a museum before deciding whether it’s worth a visit. See your dream kitchen in 3-D before you commit a large amount of money. The possibilities are endless.

VR tour of a tapestry museumVR tour of a tapestry museum

Regardless of whether you’re selling a home, a hotel resort or a kitchen, the VR tour offers the viewer a unique experience, a means of interacting with your brand on a deeper level: something that can’t be achieved by a one-dimensional print ad. Even video can’t compete with virtual reality. By clicking on a VR tour you’re in complete control of the experience from start to finish. Rather than the camera operator dictating what you look at, you hold all of the cards. You can zoom in, go back/forward and take charge of your experience.

VR tour of a holiday letVR tour of a holiday let

And of course, VR can be utilised for so much more than property sales. For customers struggling with visualisation, Ikea is employing VR to demonstrate their ideal home layout, complete with Ikea products.  For larger retail outlets VR can also be used in-store to show customers what is available elsewhere in the store to encourage them to visit the other floors.  This is exactly what Clocktower Electrics does to show visitors to their showroom the range of furnishing on display on the first floor at the Lakeland Sofa Company 

Furniture display showroomVR tour of The Lakeland Sofa Company furniture showroom

Consider staff training. It’s a chore to arrange and logistically difficult. One-off training sessions frequently prove to be a case of ‘in one ear and out the other’. This is by no means the fault of the participant; the methodology is flawed. An excess of information with no real opportunity to apply it results in a wasted day. 

By incorporating VR into staff training you can drop your employees into real-life situations without risk of injury, enabling them to repeat and complete an exercise multiple times in order to learn and perfect a chosen skill or technique.

So, in conclusion, what’s in it for you?

  • Access to up-to-the-minute tech with the added reassurance that you’re keeping up with the latest (practical, cost-effective) marketing trends
  • An exciting means of reaching customers anywhere, at any time
  • The ability to update/adapt your ‘product experience’ in real time

What about your customers?

  • They can experience your product/service in a totally immersive way
  • It will save time, money and effort; a complete win-win
  • They’ll choose your immersive 3D experience over a one dimensional print ad

It’s too good an opportunity to ignore.

For more information on how I can introduce VR technology to your business, please get in touch by email or telephone me for a chat on 07557 780336.

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/10/how-virtual-reality-can-power-up-your-business Wed, 30 Oct 2019 10:44:01 GMT
Photography Trends for 2020 https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/10/photography-trends-for-2020 Photographic images and video are big part of the marketing mix and it looks set to grow rather than diminish. There are so many devices capturing images from, smartphones, dash cams and hidden cameras to regular DSLR’s and video cameras that we have more opportunity to share these than ever before. In addition technology such as 5G mobile will make it even easier to share and stream video content. Below are some of the photography trends I expect to see in 2020.

Documentary photos and videos will be on the rise

Story telling videos and documentary pictures put together into video slide shows are fast replacing single pictures and photo essays. It is fast becoming a case of let the pictures do the talking. You no longer have to explain footages to someone who was not there as videos and documentary are self explanatory. Not only is this a simple way to get your marketing message across but in can be used in training and other communication platforms too. The major social media platforms have dedicated story telling functions and this trend looks set to continue. I also see big brands commissioning documentary style programmes that they plan to release through the major streaming channels.

 

Drone photography will become even more prominent

Drone photography is set to become increasingly prevalent. The cost of the technology is decreasing at the same time as the quality of imagery improves. Drones give you a glimpse into areas that were impossible to photograph before. Whilst there is still some controversy over their use it doesn’t seem to be diminishing. The demand for drones is still growing and new suppliers continue to enter the market.  

 

The cost of drone video footage continues to reduce making them an ideal tool for getting those previously impossible shots. Capturing that perfect moment or prefect angle because you can fly a camera into an inaccessible place becomes easier every year.

Natural and environmental photography will demand more attention

Environmental issues are becoming a more prevalent news item. The awareness of global warming and the increasing number of protest and events centred around environmental issues means that the media and business need to pay attention to their environmental policies. Marketing teams will be keen to show how a company is living up to its environmental goals and strategy. Photography and videos of green spaces, the natural world, recycling and environmental projects will become more prevalent.  

 

Photography will be about a true self expression

The work force demographic is changing.  Millennials are set to become 50% of the workplace generation on in 2020.  This is a generation that has grown up with smart phone technology. It is second nature for them to share images and videos of themselves.  They are so used to taking selfies that they are inherently less camera shy. They feel comfortable striking natural poses while being filmed.  It won't see the end of the corporate “passport” style head and shoulder portraits, but you will continue to see a rise in natural candid images of people in real situations.  This will carry over into the general photographic style with marketing images looking less filtered or "instagrammy" and more natural and real.

 

There are sure to be lots of other trends I have missed. Let me know your thoughts and what you think the future holds for photography and video.

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) 2020 commercial digital marketing photographer photography trends video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/10/photography-trends-for-2020 Mon, 07 Oct 2019 11:33:24 GMT
The Best Photos to use in your Blog Posts https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/4/the-best-phots-to-use-in-your-blog-posts When you're focussed on creating content that will inspire your audience it's easy to forget that images are the key component that can stop your marketing collateral falling flat.  Photos and images are a particularly important part of content marketing.  32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business (source Hubspot).   Carefully chosen photographs allow you to show the human side of your business, the real people that work there.   They also give a unique behind the scenes perspective that intrigues your customers and help them to relate to you in a real way.

Well composed photographs work especially well in marketing assets, spicing up the written content and helping to evoke emotion from the audience.  Video too is an ever increasing trend that isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

Articles with images get 94% more total views than those without according to Jeff Bulas.  They make your blog posts more interesting, help get your point across, make the post easier to read and remember.  When people hear information they are only likely to remember 10% of the information 3 days later.  If a relevant image is paired with that same information people retained 65% of that information three days later. Girl sat on a log deep in thought Deep in thoughtYoung girl thinking

Adding a photograph that is relevant to your copy is the perfect way to increase your blog post reach and influence.

In an analysis of over 1 million articles Buzzsumo, found that articles with images once every 75-100 words received double the social media share as articles with fewer images.  Adding images doesn't just help your audience digest your post it also helps them find it.  Google favours blog posts with images.    Blog posts with images that include meaningful alt text will rank higher than those without.  Don't just use pointless text like IMG12345, use words to describe the image.  For the photograph above I used the alt text "girl sat on a log deep in thought".

Here's the key "takeaways" you need:

  • Create a folder of photos and images for each blog post.  This makes it easier to stay organised and you can group your images into header shots, feature photos and supporting images.
  • Credit the creator of the photo or artwork.
  • Make sure your photos are relevant to your copy, don't just add them for the sake of having a photograph in your article 
  • Add an image every 75-100 words.  It makes it easier for your audience to read and helps add emotion and relevant context to your post.
  • Don't forget to include alt text.  This will help your post rank higher on Google searches.  
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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) content images marketing photography photos video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/4/the-best-phots-to-use-in-your-blog-posts Mon, 15 Apr 2019 15:32:47 GMT
Making Customer Service Problems your Best Opportunities https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/2/making-customer-service-problems-your-best-opportunities Some of you may have seen I took Twitter to express may disappointment at a bacon sandwich I ordered in the Sainsbury's Cafe at their Kendal store, recently.

bacon sandwichBacon SandwichA disappointing bacon sandwich   

I had an engine warning light showing on my van so based on the recommendation of a friend I took it to David Breaks a local garage and a renowned Jedi at sorting out diesel engined vehicles.  Whilst David was working his magic I made the short walk to Sainsbury's cafe for the rare treat of a bacon sarnie.  The sandwich was only £2 so I wasn't expecting too much, but when it arrived I was totally under whelmed.  There was hardly more than a rasher between the two slices of bread.  The bacon was very well done and on the verge of cremation.  The lady behind the til was not over blessed with bonhomie so I was reluctant to take it back.  Instead I decided to vent my frustration on Twitter and LinkedIn.

In all honesty I also had an ulterior motive.  Together with a colleague, Jenna Vernon of Collective Comms, I am running a seminar on getting more out of social media and I had an inkling that this might yield some anecdotal content.  Boom! It sure did. 

In fairness to Sainsbury's within a few minutes of my tweet I had a reply asking me a few pertinent questions. 

Had I talked to a "colleague" at the store?

Did I buy it in the store or from the cafe? 

Could I send them a photo of my receipt? 

By the end of the morning they had refunded twice the cost of the sandwich in points onto my Nectar card.  Fair enough I thought. 

However I started to contrast this with my experience at David Breaks' garage.  This is a small local business that relies on goodwill to get its customers.  Whilst I was having a disappointing breakfast, David had plugged my van into his diagnostic system identified the problem area and cleared the fault.  He explained it in glorious technical detail to me when I went to collect the van. 

"Take it away and try it for a week and make sure it is ok"  he said. " I am not 100% sure if the fault is more serious or if it's just a sensor playing up."

"Great, how much do I owe you?" I replied.

"Nothing, no charge! If it does turn into a bigger fault we will sort it then!" 

I came away feeling very grateful, impressed by David's honesty,  and his willingness to help out.  There is nothing more he needed to do to turn me into a loyal customer and advocate of his skills.  Next time I have a problem with my van, I will go back and I will also recommend his services to others.  I have already written a 5 star review for him on Google.

My experience at Sainsbury's on the other hand left me feeling letdown.  Ok they had given me a refund, but it was to my Nectar card. I had to go back into their shop to take advantage of it.  Having had an unpleasant experience in there, I am in no rush to return.  The refund was also intangible, there is nothing I could physically grasp onto to get a sense of well being or to reassure me that they cared.    I then recollected the out-take I had seen of their CEO last year.  He was singing "We're in the money" while waiting to be interviewed about the merger with Walmart.  I couldn't help feeling that this greed and off-hand attitude to their customers had pervaded the whole organisation.  

They had so many opportunities to overwhelm me at little expense. They had a golden opportunity turn me into a loyal customer who would sing their praises.  Good marketing is about creating moments that your customers will remember in a positive way.  Here was their chance to create a moment of magic for me.

For example, the bacon sandwich incident took place on the 13th February, they could have offered to send my wife a bunch of roses for Valentine's day - making me look like a hero and unlikely to forget their generosity.

Or

A meal from their £10 dinner takeaway range?

A hamper of a few items from their taste the difference range?

A donation to a local charity?

RoseRoseRose

Giving me something physical and generous in value compared to my loss would have won me over.  And in fact it would have cost them less than a tenner!  They could also have generated a positive story to use on their own social media.  I would have happily shared a photo with them of my wife's bunch of roses! But they blew it! Instead of a magic memory, I feel like they did the bare minimum to keep me satisfied.   How much do they value their customers? Not much!

End result: David Breaks has a positive review on Google, and my custom for the foreseeable future.  Sainsbury's have had their shoddy service shared with my network of 3000 connections.

If you need help turning your problems into opportunities then please get in touch.  Call me for a chat on 07557 780336 or email me.

 

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/2/making-customer-service-problems-your-best-opportunities Wed, 13 Feb 2019 14:53:58 GMT
Stop your sales team wasting time! https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/1/stop-your-sales-team-wasting-time What should sales managers being doing when they are not with customers trying to secure new business? 

Making appointments to see new customers or chasing up opportunities with current customers. But sales staff often get dragged into other meetings with customers that have little to do with new opportunities. Let me give you an example. A customer buys some equipment from your company. It's installed by a third party, an electrical contractor for example. The contractor gives a cursory glance to the instructions, completes the install, checks that everything is working and leaves.

Your customer then starts to use the newly installed equipment to find it is not doing all the things he expected. So he calls the sales manager of your company and explains the problem. The sales manager suspects that something went wrong during installation or commissioning. He now visits the site to check and sort out the problem. Of course this results in a delay before the customer has the equipment working properly as well as the time and costs of sending a sales manager or perhaps a support engineer to the installation site. While this visit may help keep the customer happy the sales managers’ time would have been better spent landing the next opportunity.

Now imagine you had a video that explained the common problems with installation and commissioning. When the sales manager receives the call from the unhappy client he sends the customer a link to the short video. The customer can see exactly what he needs to do. The equipment is fixed straight away and it’s a win win all round. The customer has a working product and the sales manager has only spent a few minutes directing the client to the video link. He hasn’t wasted much time and he didn’t make a trip to the customer and he can get on with developing new opportunities.

Here is a an example of a typical how to video. 

A common problem I see with photos taken on a mobile phone is when there is a bright background (like a window or some bright lights) behind the subject. The phone’s camera is exposing the photo for the overall brightness of the scene, and the consequence is that the subject ends up dark or under exposed.  

However if you touch the screen of the phone where you see the subject it brings up a yellow box. The phone now adjust the exposure for what is inside the yellow box. If you are still not happy you can adjust it to make it brighter by sliding your finger up the screen near to the sun symbol. If you want it darker you do the opposite and slide it down.

Now you have the subject properly exposed, and you get the photo you wanted.

Could you use some “how to” style videos save your sales staff a lot of time and allow them to get on with developing new business. If so, lets talk - give me a call on 07557 780336.

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) sales time video wasting https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/1/stop-your-sales-team-wasting-time Mon, 21 Jan 2019 14:48:14 GMT
What is the best content to use in 2019? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/1/what-is-the-best-content-to-use-in-2019 Are you looking for the best content to use in 2019?

Check out our analysis below to get some inspiration.

Looking for contentLooking for contentDog with its head looking into a washing machine

Here are some of the key takeaways I got from a selection of the top marketers in a report for Social Media Examiner, which examined the trends for digital marketing in 2019:

  • Smart audio (Alex, Siri, Cortana....) is the thing that the big brands are focusing on. More voice content, commands and assistance will be prevalent.
  • Social media will get back to being more social - that means having a conversation not just broadcasting information about your company or products.  It means creating an entertaining experience. Marketing has changed the way social media works.  In 2019 a human centred approach to customer relations will be the way forward.  Social media gives you an essential opportunity to connect with your customers.

  • Consumers will return to  passive ways of devouring content like YouTube or Podcasts.  This is your chance to educate, inform and entertain your audience. 

  • People are becoming increasing distrustful of social media with one exception - LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is gaining prominence, and has maintained the trust of its users.

  • Content strategy will shift from highly produced video to a story based format.

  • Virtual and Augmented reality will play a big role in the future of social media marketing.  

  • Facebook is determined to monetise video in all its formats.

You can read the full report here

 

What are your thoughts and predictions?

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) content marketing video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/1/what-is-the-best-content-to-use-in-2019 Mon, 07 Jan 2019 10:21:25 GMT
Is this the Future for Social Media Marketing? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/is-this-the-future-for-social-media-marketing For those of you short on time.  I believe content marketing is moving to be more entertainment based.  Below, just for a bit of fun is a video about Settle Flower Pot Festival.  This has been edited and produced with dramatic music and titles to give it a more entertaining look.  Let me know in the comments if you think it works.

 

Can you imagine how much content is on the internet today?  With the internet predicted to grow by 5x over the next 5 years how much more content is there going to be? 500% more!

More than 3 billion people around the world use social media every month. Almost 1 million people started using social media for the first time every day over the past year – that’s equivalent to more than 11 new users every second.  How are you going to make your posts stand out? Let’s face it your competing with grumpy cat and cute dogs so your posts will need to be interesting and entertaining.  

Content marketing has been the buzz recently, but it is evolving. If you look at the leading innovators they are already moving onto the next stage. Amazon for example, realised they wouldn't be able to sell many cds and dvds and that streaming was the future for audio and video.  But also they saw a major marketing opportunity if they had their own media channel. They deliver other peoples content and they are making their own programmes. Together with Netflix they are disrupting the media industry. And big companies are seeing the benefit in this too.  Have you noticed that on Netflix and Amazon there are documentaries about companies appearing in your feed now? 

Small innovators have also been able to disrupt the markets too.  Take a look at Bosh.tv and how they disrupted the recipe book space.  By creating beautifully crafted recipe videos backed by a clear simple marketing message they had publishers tendering six figure sums to publish their book. 

Marketing on social media is developing from content to entertainment.  Technology will undoubtedly play a part in this too.  The quality of photos and video taken on smart phones has improved dramatically and there are tons of apps to help with editing and enhancing.   That means in the future, that content which is well produced as well as entertaining will help to get you noticed.

My tips on the future for social media marketing would be:

  • Look at what the major innovators are doing Amazon, Netflix, Tesla  
  • Focus on quality of content
  • Make it interesting and entertaining
  • Don't look at the traditional publishing industries for inspiration many of them didn't see Amazon coming!
  • Look at businesses in industries that have to keep reinventing themselves - fashion, fast food etc

Let me know your thoughts on the future for social media marketing and share them in the comments section.

If you want help creating interesting and entertaining content then give me a call on 07557 780336 or send me a message

 

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) digital marketing photographer photography social media video video tips videographer videography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/is-this-the-future-for-social-media-marketing Wed, 11 Jul 2018 12:08:30 GMT
Ohh and I Need it by Friday! https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/ohh-and-i-need-it-by-friday When I read the quote below posted by Ruth Power I didn’t realise what an impact it would have on one of my clients as well as myself in the following few days.

“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine”  Bob Carter

Jayne Moorby marketing manager at Oxley Group in Ulverston,  had just received an email giving her three days notice to provide a twenty second video to showcase the company at the Farnborough air show.  Oxley produce a world leading range of aerospace lighting and needed to show their full capability from design, through prototyping, to in-house manufacturing and testing.  The video would be used to promote the Oxley capability and attract foreign visitors to the show.

Realising that the timescale would be a major issue, Jayne consulted with her business network and Lisa Hudson, Marketing Manager at Bender UK, another Ulverston based company recommended that she should call R Gill Photography. 

Its not unusual for me to receive urgent calls from clients who need projects turned round in very short time frames.  I knew that if I gave Jayne the right guidance and if all the preparation work was done as requested then there was every chance of meeting the deadline.

For the project to be successful it would need some careful planning.  I told Jayne what needed to be done:

  • Draft an outline script 
  • Inform the other departments, products and staff who would be filmed and get them prepared for filming on short notice.
  • Be available to review the draft of the video and provide feedback on a quick turnaround 

 

We arranged to meet the following morning to finalise the script and do the filming.  Jayne had done a great job preparing the team.  All the areas of the factory that were involved had got their equipment set up ready for filming, and I was able to capture the footage in just 2 hours.  

There was only one other thing that might derail the project.  Jayne’s boss was keen to include some footage of one of the Oxley products, an aircraft landing light, being used on an aircraft.  So she needed to source a clip of a Gulfstream 500 aircraft  coming into land.  Jayne tracked down a clip from YouTube from an overseas source.  The only contact details for the copyright holder was via a Twitter account and fortunately he responded to the request for Oxley to use his clip.   The bad news was, he had lost the original footage in an IT crash! 

After a bit of research I worked out a way to download the clip from Youtube in high enough quality format to include in the final video so that it would blend in seamlessly with the rest of the content.  

After a couple of edits and revisions the video was finished and ready  to be sent by the deadline.  

Jayne commented afterwards:

“Absolutely delighted with a video that Richard has made for us. He was very responsive, creative, helpful and realistic and worked within a particularly tight timeframe to deliver. We'll certainly use Richard again and if you're looking for someone to work with on a corporate video I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that you contact Richard.”

Oxley Aerospace LightingA short video showing the capability of the Oxley Group to produce aerospace lighting

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) aerospace lighting marketing photography video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/ohh-and-i-need-it-by-friday Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:39:20 GMT
Don't be a Hero https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/6/dont-be-a-hero Don’t be a Hero

If you are using story telling in your marketing and promotional material (and if not you should be!).   Then you might think that you or your business should be the hero of the story.  We all like to think of ourselves as the hero, and in our imaginations when we are thinking about something that might happen we will picture ourselves as the hero.  And that is the very point I would like to make.  Just as much as you picture yourself as the hero, your customer or prospect is also picturing themselves as the hero.  

So if you want your story telling to be effective then don’t make yourself the hero- make your customer or prospect the hero.  

Most good stories, especially movies, contain the same basic elements.  A character (our hero) encounters a problem or apparently unsolvable mystery.  The hero then goes on a journey (or if your a hobbit - a quest) to discover a solution to their problem / mystery.  During the journey they will suffer some trials and tribulations along the way before reaching their final destination, and solving the mystery or difficulty encountered at the start - then everyone lives happily ever after.  Or at least until the sequel comes along.

A busker in York dressed as Yoda in for to sign prohibiting busking!YodaA busker in York dressed as Yoda in for to sign prohibiting busking!

There is one other key character in the story. There is a guide who will help our hero overcome their difficulties and show them the way to their final destination.  For example in Star Wars think of Obi-Wan Kenonbi or Yoda role’s towards Luke Skywalker, Donkey to Shrek, Gandalf to Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, Haymitch Abernathy to Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and so on.  

This is your role in the story - you are the guide helping your customer solve their problems using your solutions and advice.  You empathise with your customers situation and guide them to possible solutions - usually one that your business provides, but you might also include alternatives to demonstrate your overall knowledge and credibility.  Finally you can then tell them how much better their lives will be after adopting the solution you suggest, so that they can envisage a better future using your suggested product or service.

If you need help with using story telling in your social media and digital marketing please drop me a line - you can email me: richard@rgillphotography.co.uk or give me a call on 07557 780336.

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) marketin marketing tips photography photography tips storytelling video videographer https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/6/dont-be-a-hero Tue, 12 Jun 2018 12:55:57 GMT
How do you market an unsexy product? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/5/how-do-you-market-an-unsexy-product How do you market an unsexy productHow do you create interesting content for a product or service that is very technical or a bit unsexy

To get people interested in your story you need to see things from their point of view.  To empathise with them.  Before I became a professional photographer I sold industrial lighting.  Not a sexy product and normally one where you spend lots of time talking about light distribution and lumens/watt and other technical issues  — are you already getting bored? One of the applications for the products was in the dairy farming industry as the light source in the farm buildings where the cows spend the night or winter months.  If you have ever tried selling something to farmers you know what a tough gig that can be!

I could talk to them about all the great features and benefits the lighting had - It was sealed to IP66 so it wouldn’t let dust or moisture in.  An LED light source so it came on instantly, saved energy, an IK rated lens that wouldn’t leave nasty glass splinters anywhere if it got smashed, easy to control ….yada, yada, yada, yada.

Truth is while these were all great benefits it was not something farmers really care about.  The one thing dairy farmers really care about is the price of milk!  So as soon as I said “when the price of milk falls by 10% you can dim these lights so they use less electricity.  You can maintain the same profit margins because you can cut what you spend on electricity by 10%  without affecting your productivity.”  Now I had their attention.

In today's world of digital content and sharing on social media I would create a short case study video showing this story.  Then target all the people on Linkedin or Facebook (or where ever your audience hangs out) who work for diary equipment suppliers or manufacturers. They were the people who would sell this lighting to farmers.  Maybe there is a LinkedIn or Facebook group for dairy farmers where I can share the post too.  - I am sure you get the point 

The best content you can create - is simple stories that see things from your customers view point or even your customer’s customer.  Then target it to that audience.  

If you want help or advice about creating engaging content to help sell your product or service then give me a call on 07557 780336 or send me an email

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) content digital marketing product story technical telling tips video videographer https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/5/how-do-you-market-an-unsexy-product Thu, 10 May 2018 11:23:28 GMT
The best 3 videos you can make to boost your business? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/4/the-best-3-videos-you-can-make-to-boost-your-business  

 

 

The three videos you make need to help your buyer progress through the journey they go on when buying your product or service .  This journey can be broken down into three stages Buyer journey Graphic showing buyers journey

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision 

 

If you have a well developed opportunity funnel then you will have buyers at each point of the journey and you need different videos to cover all three stages. The video you make needs to provide the information that the buyer needs at each stage of the journey.

Awareness:  

In this period the buyer has started to realise he has a problem or opportunity. They are looking to get educated and fully define their problem. You can get some good ideas of the subjects you need to cover in your video from keyword research.  If you know what your buyer is searching for then you can make a video to answers those questions.  This stage is about gathering new leads so you will be sharing the videos on social media and anywhere that your buyer hangs out.  You have a solution to your buyer's problem / opportunity but your buyer does not know you yet or that you have that solution.   Typically at this stage you will make informative and educational videos.  This might be a video version of your blog or an overview of a relevant topic. For example if you sell domestic appliances you could make a video covering all the different types of washing machine and the benefits of each type.

Here's another example:   5 Activities to teach your child how to deal with anxiety

Consideration:

At this stage the buyer has a well defined problem or opportunity and is researching the solutions.  This is when you want to build trust and show them that you are a respected authority on the subject they are researching.  Videos at this stage will again be more educational but the subject matter will be more specific.  "How to" or webinar / tutorial style videos are perfect.  You will not be pushing your specific product or service, but giving your buyer quality information so that they can make an informed decision at the next stage.  You are establishing your company as a respected authority on a subject.  To go back to the previous example of a domestic appliance retailer you could make a video giving 5 tips on how to select the perfect washing machine for a growing family.

Here's another example: How to replace a fridge thermostat

Decision:

This is the point when the buyer is shortlisting the solutions to their problem or opportunity.  Videos you use for this stage should help convince the buyer that you have the right solution and are the best company to work with.  You can do this using video testimonials, or a detailed review of your product or your company.  It is good to have a personal touch in these videos.  This is your chance to show what is unique about your business, how you are different from your competitors and give your buyer confidence that you are the right supplier for them. For our domestic appliance retailer you could make a testimonial video from a happy customer.

Here's another example: James Cropper - Tailor made packaging

To summarise, the best 3 videos you can make would be one for each stage of the buying process e.g. an educational video, a "How to" video and a testimonial video.  In this way you have video working for you at every stage of the process.  As you build up your library of videos you will naturally have more content covering the awareness stage, then a good number of videos for the consideration stage and a smaller number for the decision stage.

If you haven't the time or inclination to make those yourself then give me a call on 07557 780336 or email me.  Or you can learn more about my video service here: 

 

 

What to read next : Why you should be using video in your marketing

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) marketing photographer photography social media tips video video tips videographer videography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/4/the-best-3-videos-you-can-make-to-boost-your-business Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:50:51 GMT
The One thing you Need to Understand about Food Photography Lighting https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/the-one-thing-you-need-to-understand-about-food-photography-lighting Do you ever look at food photographs and think "aarrrgh that doesn't look very tasty"?  That's the worst result you can get if you are trying to promote a food related business.   

I follow a lot of "foodies" in my social media, and am frequently appalled at the poor quality of the food photos.  When I analysed what was going on I found the same underlying cause in the majority of the shots -  the lighting is bad!  

There is one particular characteristic of lighting that these photographers do not seem to be aware of.   Colour Rendering Index or CRI.  For those of you who are technically minded you can find a full defintion of CRI here. In simple terms the important thing to understand is that CRI determines the ability of a light source to accurately portray colours.  And this is the critical point for food photography.  If the colours of your delicious meal are not accurately reproduced it won't look delicious.  What you may not realise is that some artificial light sources will never accurately reproduce colour because the CRI is just not good enough.  For most tasks this is not an issue, but for food photography it is critical.  To illustrate the point take a look at these two photographs of an apple below:

Apple under Natural LightApple under Natural LightPhotograph of an apple taken in natural daylight


Apple under artificial lightApple under artificial lightApple photographed under artificial light

In the top picture the reds are vibrant making the apple look appetising and ripe.  This is taken under natural daylight.  In the bottom picture the same apple is photographed under a low CRI fluorescent light source  The effect is to wash out the red colour making the apple look pale and much less appealing, (and incidentally the skin of the hand that is holding it.)  

Commercial food photography almost always makes the food look appetising. It makes your mouth water, because the photographer understands lighting and how to get the best out of it. If you read articles giving food photography tips you will notice they often recommend taking photographs using diffused light from a window this is so you can use natural light as it reproduces colours accurately.  If you do need to use an artificial light source then you need to go for an high CRI LED, or an old incandescent light source (the old fashioned bulbs) or if you have the budget a specialist photography light.  For owners of restaurants, cafes and pubs that want their diners to share food images, the implications of this might be wider than you think.  You have to think about what lighting they will be using when they take those photographs.  If you have got natural light coming in from windows then you don't need to worry too much.  However if you are heavily reliant on artificial lighting in your dining area then make sure you specify lighting with a high CRI (90 or above).  Most reputable lighting companies can help with this.  For example lighting manufacturers like Factorylux can supply a diverse range of attractive fittings with good CRI values.  Not only will your diners have the chance to share their experience with great looking food photos, but they will also see your food looking at its best when you serve it in your well lit dining room.

If you don't have the skills, equipment or inclination to take your own food photographs then please give me a call on 07557 780336  or send me an email and I can help you out.  You can see some examples of my work here

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) commercial food photography food food photographer food photography food photography lighting marketing photographer photography photography tips https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/the-one-thing-you-need-to-understand-about-food-photography-lighting Wed, 07 Mar 2018 09:33:51 GMT
5 Tips for Posting Video on Instagram. https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/2/5-tips-for-posting-video-on-instagram  

5 Tips for Posting Video on Instagram5 Tips for Posting Video on Instagram

  1. Before you start filming think about how you want the finished video to look.  Then plan the shots you need to film and write a script or shot list.  Try and make your video without sound - this will allow people who have a hearing impairment to fully enjoy your film.  It also means viewers who are in a public place and don't want to disturb their neightbours will be able to watch the content without embarrassment.
  2. If you are making the video on a smart phone, the good news is that the Instagram format is no longer constrained.  You can film in either portrait or landscape format.  One quick tip - filming in landscape orientation will allow you to use two hands and this helps to keep the camera steady.
  3. Avoid wobbly shots!  The best option is to use a tripod.  From my own research I have found that a lot of tripods that are sold for mobile phones are too light and flimsy to create a stable platform from which to film.  Try a small or lightweight camera tripod such as the gorilla pod from Joby and then put a mobile phone adapter on it.  This will give you a versatile set up that you can use on almost any surface.
  4. Make sure that the camera is focused on your subject. On most smart phones when you touch the screen it focuses on whatever is by your finger.  Best practice is to lock both exposure and focus, which is normally achieved by holding your finger on the screen for a few seconds  This stops the camera making adjustments while you are filming - it never looks good if your subject goes unintentionally out of focus half way through a clip.
  5. Use you phones video editing software to tidy up your video before posting, or if you used a camera then edit your video using software on your pc, laptop or tablet.  iMovie which is included in IOS is an easy to use option which has plenty of templates to make your video look more professional. Samsung phones also have their own video editing programme.  After it is edited the final step is to share your video on Instagram.  

If you don't have the time or inclination to create your own videos then give me a call on 07557 780336 and I can create some content for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) photographer photography social media video video tips videographer videography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/2/5-tips-for-posting-video-on-instagram Mon, 05 Feb 2018 13:03:47 GMT
Why you should be using video https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/1/why-you-should-be-using-video 6 Reasons why you should be Using Video Content in your Marketing

 

1) People Like It!

It is one of the most convenient ways to get a lot of information across to your audience quickly and efficiently.  Food and fitness businesses have really embraced this. Just take a look at the success of people like Joe Wicks  who has more than 2 million followers on instagram to see how powerful video marketing can be. 

2) It's Mobile User Friendly.

The use of mobiles for accessing the internet is continuing to increase. It's much easier for someone looking at your website to watch a short video clip than to scroll through a page of text especially when they are looking at it on a small screen.

3) It Builds Trust.  

For a consumer to be able to see the real face of the company helps to build trust.  This is true for businesses that trade just online as well as new customers browsing the website of a bricks and mortar business.  When they first visit your site they dont have a relationship with you and haven't experienced your service or product.  Video is a great way to engage with them giving them confidence and explaining what you are about and what you do. 

4) It Improves your SEO Rankings.  

According to moovly you are 53 times more likely to show up on page 1 of Google if you have a video embedded on your website.  

5) It Gives your Business a Personality.  

If you include people in your video it immediately gives your audience a face to your business (see point3).   You can make it serious or lighthearted - whatever personality you want to create just be sure that you chose the right one for your company.

6) It increases sales.  

Not only can you showcase your products you can explain them.  If you have a complex product and want to show your audience the benefits in a simple and effective way then video is an ideal way to do it.  You can show them quickly and easily all the great things about the product, how it compares to your competitors, how easy it is to use, and what benefits it will give them.  You can also create explainer videos, -  how to fit or install your product for example.  These have all been proven to increase sales.

Don't where to start?

Ok - you understand why you need video but you don't know what to post.  Here are a couple of ideas that are quick and easy to create.

1) If you are a small business then a great video to make is one that tells your clients about you.  Imagine you are being interviewed by a journalist.  Write down a few questions that you would like them to ask about you and your business and them film yourself answering the questions.  You can break this down into a series of short videos that you can then post on a regular basis.

Here is an example I made myself

How I became a photographerWhy I gave up a dream job to become a professional photographer

2) Product review:  why not review one of the products you sell.  Explain the key features and benefits of the product and film yourself whilst you go through them

 

If you would like some video content creating for you or some training on how to create your own videos then give me a call on 07557 780336 or send me an email

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) content content marketing food photographer marketing photography photography tips video video marketing https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/1/why-you-should-be-using-video Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:19:55 GMT
10 Food Styling tips to help you get the best Food Photographs https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/12/10-food-styling-tips One of the most important things to understand in food photography is that the camera sees food differently to how our eyes do, so when styling food you are correcting for what the camera can't do. We have two eyes but the camera only has one, it does not have any peripheral vision.  When styling you need to help the camera see texture and depth.   Whilst digital technology has made things easier and you can play with the food to try different compositions, this can make the photoshoot very time consuming and if you are photographing a fragile food the dish may have past its best before you have found the ideal shot.   Here are ten tips that will help you get things right. R Gill, Food Photographer, Ham Hock TerrineR Gill, Food Photographer, Ham Hock TerrineHam Hock Terrine with a melba toast

 

  1. Find the Hero Angle.  There is usually one angle that makes a dish look at its best.  For example if you are shooting a beef burger in a bun, a 45 degree angle shot will work well and so will a straight on shot depending on how you style it (see point 2 below).  Overhead shots work great for plates the have an artistic design and where the food is flat (e.g  an open sandwich or omelette) or for liquid dishes like soups. Straight on at plate level works well for foods that have layers like cakes.
  2. Always arrange the food looking at it from the angle you are going to photograph from.  So if you have a dish that you think will look great from overhead then make sure you arrange it looking overhead and that the photographer takes an overhead shot.
  3. Choose the colour of your props carefully.  The right colour will enhance the food, the wrong one will pull colour away.  Complimentary colours are the safest bet, for example if you have a dish containing lots of red tomatoes a green plate or cloth beneath the plate will help. It is usually best to avoid bold prints as they detract from the food.  If you are using white be aware that there are many shades of white.  A warm white (yellowish) will usually look better than a cold white (blueish).
  4. Choose the right plate size and shape.  Small plates make food look larger and allow the photographer to shoot the food close-up.  So if your goal is to show that you provide abundant portions this is the right choice for you.  Flat plates are important for items like cakes where you will want to show a slice removed.  Cakes have a flat bottom and will cave inward if they are placed on a plate with a rim. Plates with tall sides and rims are difficult to photograph well at low angles.
  5. The bowl in a bowl trick.  If you are photographing soup with a garnish on top the garnish will tend to sink after a few minutes.  To avoid this put a small inverted bowl inside the main serving dish and and then cover this with your soup.  The garnish will now sit nicely on top of the invisible bowl which is hidden in the soup.
  6. Refrigerate a pie before slicing. A delicious hot pie will definitely smell and taste great but may not look great. The filling will ooze out over the plate leaving a gaping hole in the pastry.  If you refrigerate the pie beforehand the filling and pastry will remain in place making the pie full and satisfying and if you want to create that oozed out look just have some additional filling or sauce available to pour on to the plate.
  7. Use layers to make your dish more interesting.  As a guide use a minimum of three layers in addition to the food.  A typical example is to use a cloth, napkin or table mat, dish and then garnish.  The important thing is to use items that are appropriate. Use items that help tell the story of the dish, a slice of raw apple to go with an apple pie and don't use garnishes you wouldn't eat.
  8. Undercook your vegetables.  Overcooked vegetable look bland and limp whereas undercooked ones look vibrant and firm and much more appealing.
  9. Brush or spray with oil or water to create a moist or chilled look.  A clear vegetable oil lightly brushed on to a piece of fresh grilled fish can give it that extra sparkle to make the photograph pop.  Similarly spraying the outside of a glass with fine droplets of water will make a drink look chilled.  If you really want the drip to stay there carefully coat the outside of the glass with a clear water repellent substance like vaseline.  Only coat the glass as high as the liquid contents so that it will look natural. R Gill, Food Photographer, Apple juice on iceR Gill, Food Photographer, Apple juice on iceAn ice cube falling into a glass of apple juice
  10. Melt butter or Ice cream with a hair dryer.  Cold food is much easier to work with as it will maintain its shape.  But if you are looking for that melted look - a knob of butter on freshly toasted artisan bread, put your cold butter on the toast then using a gentle setting on your hairdryer melt the butter a little just before you take the shot.

As it's Christmas and many of you will be sharing pictures of your Christmas dinner or party food online here is a bonus tip for photographing roast turkey.  Pour boiling water over the bird before roasting, this tightens the skin and keeps it from wrinkling as it cools after roasting.  

If you would like to have your special food, drinks or ingredients photographed or you would like to share some of your experiences of food photography please get in touch by calling 07557 780336 or emailing richard@rgillphotography.co.uk

Have you signed up to receive my guide on how to take food photos on your smart phone?  If not click here

You can see a selection of my food and drink photos here

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) food photographer food photography food styling marketing photo photography photography tips styling https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/12/10-food-styling-tips Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:11:47 GMT
Bowlander selects R Gill Photography to take Photos for new Website https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/11/bowlander-selects-r-gill-photography-to-take-photos-for-new-website Bowlander Ltd is an innovative supplier of natural ingredients.  They specialise in Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) ready to use chopped herbs and spices, vegetables, fruits and citrus ingredients, as well as many bespoke concentrated ingredients which are delivered to a diverse range of businesses from artisan farm shops,  to market leading meat and vegetable processors. When they chose to update their website, it was critical to ensure the quality of the ingredients in the photographs was evident.  This meant selecting a photographer who was creative, technically capable and one who really understood food photography.  One who could make sure the colours were accurately reproduced, who could work fast under pressure, match the existing brand style and bring in elements of creativity.

After receiving an email shot from R Gill Photography and reviewing his work, Carole Jones, MD at Bowlander, got in touch with Richard to discuss the project.  A brief was developed and the list of ingredients to be photographed was finalised.   As the list included both frozen and dried ingredients it made sense to have two separate photo shoots.  The frozen ingredients would need to be photographed on site to avoid any chance of them defrosting.  For the dried herbs, ambient pastes and other less perishable items these would be photographed in Richard's studio. 

Frozen vegetable portionsFrozen red peppersFrozen red pepper portions

Richard explained "The photography of the frozen ingredients needs to be done quickly whereas items like herbs and spices need careful attention to detail to bring out the subtle differences in colours and textures. Having a clear and well thought out brief made a big difference to the success of this photoshoot.  For the frozen ingredients shoot the creative process started well in advance sourcing props and backgrounds that would bring the products to life.  For example Richard bought an orange and whisky ginger cake to use in the background of the photos of the citrus ingredients, for the spices using a hessian background helped empahisize their origins Frozen orange piecesFrozen orange piecesFrozen orange pieces (IQF), with and an orange whisky and ginger cake in the background

Carole commented  "We are very pleased with the photos Richard has produced.  He worked very quickly and professionally with the frozen ingredients, showing their frozen structure but still producing an image that was eye catching and creative.  The dried ingredients photographed in the studio also look fabulous.  Richard has been careful to match the style to the branding of our other photography. We are already seeing an increase in enquiries from our updated website, which is a very useful part of our commercial offering in New Product Development, ( see www.bowlander.co.uk to view the results).

Dried herbs and spicesDried herbs and spicesA selection of dried herbs and spices

Behind the Scenes  - Tips for Working with Perishable Goods
When working with items that will perish or change their look quickly then you need to have everything set up in advance.  I worked on the creative look and style of the shots before arriving on site.  I had a selection of backgrounds that matched the current branding style.  The shot was setup using dummy ingredients so all the lighting and camera settings could be worked out in advance.  When the composition was right the real ingredients were then substituted for the dummies.  With just couple of tweaks to get the configuration right the shot could be taken while the ingredients were still completely frozen. 

 

If you would like to update your website with some new images give me a call on 07557 780336 or send an email to richard@rgillphotography.co.uk

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) food food photographer food photography photographer photography photography tips https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/11/bowlander-selects-r-gill-photography-to-take-photos-for-new-website Tue, 21 Nov 2017 14:39:22 GMT
Trust is always earned never given https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/10/trust "Don't worry about it Richard, I trust you."  For me this is one of the greatest compliments that a client can pay to you.  It came from a conversation with a property developer. He was asking for a price on a new job and I wasn't quite sure how to cost it. It involved several visits to a building site over many months and the travelling time and hours spent on site would vary. The story behind this remark goes back to a conversation from a year ago.  

The same client asked for a price for creating a time lapse video of a new property development.  Producing a high quality time lapse video for a project that lasts many months can be expensive as they require frequent visits to the site to check the cameras, change the memory cards and download backups of the data. I knew his marketing budget was rather meagre and that it would not cover the costs involved.  I declined to quote and instead sent details of a low cost waterproof camera that had the ability to create time lapse video without much user input.  I don't think they ever went ahead with that project but my honesty in turning down a potentially lucrative job and offering them an alternative solution created a new level of trust in our relationship.  They knew straight away I was not going to rip them off, that I would give them an honest opinion of the best way to do a job and they were grateful for advice that gave them a practical solution.  I understood their needs, and the constraints they had to work within.   Elevated photos of a new houseNew housing development

A year later when they came back to ask for a quote on another long running project I was hesitant about quoting a price.    They new they could trust me and that I wouldn't take advantage of them, so when I tested the water by suggesting what I thought the cost was likely to be they knew they were getting an honest quote. "Don't worry about it Richard, I trust you." was the reply to my pricing suggestion.

Marketing gurus promote that you need to "know, like and trust" a person before you will do business with them and this was a great example of the mantra in action.  In photography it is especially important.  If you want your portrait taken how are you going to relax and feel at ease if you don't like the photographer.  If you don't trust them then you will always be worried that they are not going to make you look your best.

 

One of the problems of working as a professional photographer is that everyone is your competition.  Anyone with a camera phone can take a good shot and if its not critical to get "The Shot" then it doesn't really matter if they produce a bad photo. Potential clients will often choose a mate with a good camera or a colleague who is handy with a smart phone.  They might well "know, like and trust" them, but not necessarily for the right reasons.  If they don't know their photographic ability or expertise, can they really trust them to produce a great shot?

There are always going to be some occasions when getting a great shot is vital. For example when you are going to use those images to market your business and they are going to be in circulation for many months. Photos that you use on your website or printed brochure.  Then you need to have someone who understands the key details of photography:  

  • compostion
  • lighting
  • the technicalities of the camera
  • depth of field 
  • current trends and styles
  • matching the photo style to your brand

Above all you are going to need someone you can trust to get it right.

As well as general commercial photography I specialise in property and food photography.  When I walk into a property to photograph the interior I know straight away what to look for, the unsightly dangling wires of table lamps, the waste paper bin, objects hidden under the bed, all these will need to be moved out of sight. I will be paying particular attention to where the light is coming from.  What can you see out of the window?  Is the view an important part of the picture?

LibraryLibrary in country house

If you are a business which sells food, you will never question the importance of employing a highly trained chef.  One who has years of experience getting all the ingredients, flavours, textures, colours and the look of the dish just right. Are you going to throw all that away for a quick snap on a phone of his classic signature dish? No, you are going to choose someone who you can compose a beautiful image and who knows the technical aspects of the camera and gets it right first time.  A person who won't disrupt your kitchen but who can work quickly whilst the food is still looking at its best.

If you are thinking about getting some new marketing photos then give me call.  We can get to know each other and if you like me then we can build up the trust and produce some beautiful images to showcase your business.  Here's my number 07557 780336, I look forward to speaking to you.

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) food photographer food photography photo photographer photography property photography trust https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/10/trust Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:34:15 GMT
Swallow Your Own Medicine https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/9/swallow-your-own-medicine I regularly bore people with the virtues of how good photography can make a difference to the sale of your product or service.  I believe it is especially true for property, holiday lets and food.

Recently I had the chance to put my money where my mouth was.  Marketing my own home.  The one big advantage of living on site was that I could choose the best days to photograph the house.  For the outside I chose a sunny day with blue sky and clouds behind the house.  The house faces east so the front had to be photographed in the morning, when the sun would be shining on to it.  This would be the opening shot of any brochure or online posting so the most important photograph. The front of the house on a sunny dayOld School HouseThe front of the house on a sunny day The sun moves behind the house in the afternoon and early evening and shines onto a secluded deck area at the top of the garden so this needed to be photographed in the late afternoon. Not many people will have the chance to do this, but some high end estate agents will book a photographer for the day so they can follow the sun round the property.   You could even have the property photographed at twilight to take advantage of the "golden hour" - ask any landscape photographer or artist and they will tell you that this is a lovely soft golden light that enhances colours and makes the pictures look warm and enticing.

Sitting roomSitting room with character oak beams

As my house is a late 17th century country cottage with small windows I knew the interior would always be difficult to photograph.  I deliberately chose a slightly over cast day as this would give the soft light that would make the interior look at its best.

As well as making sure the photographs were technically the best they could be I also took the trouble to stage the rooms.  I do a lot of work with the hospitality industry, photographing holiday parks, chalets, and holiday lets as well as hotels and restaurants.  The savvy marketeers in these businesses know that they have got to sell the lifestyle, - relaxing by an open fire, enjoying a drink in the evening sun in the garden... I am sure you get the picture.   Having worked with a number of property staging professionals, I don't pretend to be an expert, but I felt I knew enough to do a half decent job of selling the lifestyle of our home, so I did some basic staging of the rooms.  I also know a property stager so if I didn't get a satisfactory result I could always call in a professional at a later date.

We have a multi-fuel burning stove in the sitting room so posing a couple of glasses of red wine in front of the fire was an obvious set-up.  Doing some basic things like having fresh flowers in the rooms, a recipe book open in the kitchen,  and setting up the garden furniture with a jug and glasses of sangria were easy and quick to arrange.

I was also aware that when the photographs are used they would end up in two formats.  They would go on to Right Move and other property portals where the size would be limited to only 1200 pixels.  They would also be used in a full colour A4 size brochure.  They would only be used in a landscape format.  As well as shots of the complete rooms it was important to capture some of the details of the property and its character in close up shots.  These needed to look good even if the image size might be limited to a small format.

Wine in front of the fireA glass of red wine before a welcoming fire

 

Sangria on the deckSangria on the deck area

So when the day came to launch the marketing of the property I was on tenterhooks to see if my belief in quality photographs would be vindicated.  Within 2 days of the property going online we had 6 viewings arranged and within 4 days received an offer of the asking price.

Of course good photography is not the whole story behind this success, but without doubt it helped to a get good level of interest.  The photos did their job, they got viewers through the door.   It is not only property that benefits from well thought out images, food, products or the people in your business need to look their best if you want to get customers through your doors.  Having mouthwatering photographs of your food will encourage diners to your restaurant, pictures of friendly welcoming staff will encourage visitors to your business and engaging product photos will help you secure buyers for your produce. 

R Gill, Food Photographer, Mackerel starterR Gill, Food Photographer, Mackerel starterWarm Cornish mackerel, pickled cucumber, horseradish and dill mayonnaise

 

You don't have to take my word for it.  Marks and Spencer's, probably the best known brand for their food photography, recognised how powerful their images are in influencing shopping trends.  They recently decided to stop using images of high fat foods to encourage shoppers to buy healthier products see the full story here

 

 If you think your business or property would benefit from good quality photography and lifestyle staging, please give me a call on 07557 7780336 for an initial chat.

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) food photography marketing photographer photography property property marketing property photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/9/swallow-your-own-medicine Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:08:02 GMT
What Do the Images You Use Say about Your Brand? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/what-do-the-images-you-use-say-about-your-brand "I'll have one of those please", my wife said pointing to the picture of a starter on the menu.

"Errrm, No you won't.  We just cut and pasted that from Google images - I think it is actually Chinese food!" replied the waiter.  

We were sat in an Indian restaurant at the time and just burst out laughing at this response.  Rather than head out the door to the nearest Chinese restaurant, my wife chose Chicken Chat as usual. However the response from the waiter pretty well sums up our view of the place.  The "wow" factor isn't there.  You will just get a tasty meal at a resonable price and the staff are good for a laugh.  If you stop and think about this in more detail you might draw a few other conclusions:

  • They probably don't make everything from scratch
  • They don't care much about the provenance of their ingredients
  • They are not good to surprise you with any innovative cooking

The images you use tell your story, they build or destroy your brand.  If like the restaurant above you use someone else's photos, apart from the copyright issues you are not telling your customers anything about you or how great your business is!  They are not going to connect with your brand and they are unlikely to become a loyal customer returning time and time again. Not the best way to grow a successful business.

The same can be said of stock images.  I follow a local business on Twitter which regularly uses stock photos in their feed.  The business is based in the English Lake District, an area which has just been awarded world heritage status for its outstanding beauty.   The stock photos they use are obviously not taken in the Lake District, in fact most of them look like they are not even taken in England, but in a completely different country! With so much beautiful scenery on their doorstep and so many competitors that are smart enough to show pictures of the Lake District I really wonder why they bother.  The message they are sending out to the world is confusing at best.  It certainly doesn't encourage me to use their business or recommend it to anyone else.  I wonder if I can trust them as their feed is not authentic, and I get no impression of what their business is really like.

So when you are choosing images to post on your website or in your social media feed here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself:

  1. Do they tell your story?
  2. Are they authentic?
  3. Do they engage with your target audience?
  4. Do they make your product or service look amazing? 
  5. Are they consistent with your other marketing?

Here are two examples to show you what I mean:

Story telling: Jack Holden from Mountain Oak WoodCraft in the shot below produces hand made gates - here is part of the story:

Shaping part of gate using a draw knifeGate MakingShaping part of gate using a draw knife

Authentic: This is a photograph of a Chocolate Mousse dessert from the A la Carte menu at the  Punchbowl Inn at Crosthwaite - if you order this, this is what you get!

 

It may not be practical or affordable to use a professional photographer for every image you want to use on your social media.  But if you are using your photographs where they will be seen for several weeks (e.g. on your website or printed brochures) by hopefully thousands of people then you do need to use images that reflect your brand and what your business stands for.   Your engagement with customers will increase and they will grow to love and respect your product or service.  If you are not convinced just look at the photography in Marks & Spencer's food advertisements.  The food always looks mouthwatering, beautiful and of high quality - right in line with their brand strategy.

If you think you need some new pictures that more accurately reflect your brand's values lets's have a chat, please give me a call on 07557 780336.  Check out this special offer for Food Photography shoots booked in August - see here

If you want to see more on how good photography can help your brand here is some Further reading

Words and photographs by R Gill

 

 

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) brand food food photographer food photography images marketing photographer photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/what-do-the-images-you-use-say-about-your-brand Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:47:11 GMT
Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite chooses R Gill Photography to capture Summer Menu https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/7/punch-bowl-inn-at-crosthwaite-chooses-r-gill-photography-to-capture-summer-menu Case Study: Food Photography Shoot

R Gill, Food Photographer, Mackerel starterR Gill, Food Photographer, Mackerel starterWarm Cornish mackerel, pickled cucumber, horseradish and dill mayonnaise

For an award-winning restaurant like The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite (Cumbria Life’s Dining Pub of the Year 2017), having the quality of its food reproduced through stunning imagery is hugely important. 

We’re proud of the fact that the food at The Punch Bowl is creative, exciting and pushing the boundaries of traditional pub food, and our photography needs to reflect this. Investing in good photography can make you stand out from the crowd and should capture the juiciness and texture of food on the plate. We want people to look at our dishes – whether they are on our website, social media or in a magazine - and immediately want to taste our food. 

Being a busy inn and restaurant delivering up to 140 meals a day, it’s of course hugely important for us to know exactly what to expect in advance from a photoshoot. Our kitchen team need to focus on our customers so we can’t expect them to spend lots of precious time cooking up dishes over and over again just to photograph. That’s why we needed someone that could get it right first time. A successful photoshoot is about more than just the photos; the photographer needs to understand our business, our style and our expectations. 

The brief for R Gill Photography was to fully capture and embrace The Punch Bowl’s new summer menu. Richard communicated well with us before the shoot and established clear timescales, which were followed on the day. He had proposed just three hours to photograph 10 different dishes from our new summer menu, which we thought might be slightly ambitious, but on the day everything ran perfectly to plan and schedule. 

Richard arrived at 9am to give us a couple of hours for the kitchen team to focus on each of the dishes prior to lunchtime service. He came along fully equipped with everything needed to get the best light and angle out of all of the dishes but the equipment wasn’t intrusive at all. We had decided to use two rooms for different backdrops as well as going for a mix of overhead, close up and rustic style shots. Richard found the best light in each area, which was a must for bringing out the texture of our food.  

Once the shoot began, Richard was focused and swiftly established an efficient routine with each dish, which didn’t involve moving backwards or forwards between dishes or delaying over minor issues. He was quick between shots and had a good eye for seeing anything that might not be quite right on the plate and subsequently tweaked it – whether this was just turning a leaf or a piece of garnish the opposite way. As Richard worked quickly, the dishes were shot at their very best - whilst still warm - ensuring the food didn’t lose its overall fresh look and shine from cooling down. He was comfortable working with head chef Arthur and the team, and immediately grasped and captured The Punch Bowl’s style and what we expected from each shot. 

Richard discussed and explained everything with us throughout the shoot and was reassuring and confident when putting forward his own ideas. He also offered specific and clear direction on styling. For example, we thought the carpaccio dish should be more of a rustic shot, but Richard convinced us it would work better from overhead and the finished results with its true-to-life, vibrant colours proved this.  

R Gill, Food Photographer, Cumbrian Beef CarpaccioR Gill, Food Photographer, Cumbrian Beef CarpaccioCumbrian, beef carpaccio, 36 month aged Parmesan, rocket, toasted pine nuts.

Richard is a very friendly and personable photographer with great experience and knowledge, which came through in abundance during the shoot. He got the right lighting and the perfect shots to help us promote our new summer menu and everyone at the Punch Bowl is very happy with the finished photographs. We wouldn’t hesitate to use Richard again for future photography and would recommend him to anyone looking for a relaxed but 100 per cent focused and skilled professional food photographer. We wish him every success in his art. 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) award winning food photographer food photographer food photography photographer photography richard gill https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/7/punch-bowl-inn-at-crosthwaite-chooses-r-gill-photography-to-capture-summer-menu Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:35:09 GMT
We are in the News! https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/we-are-in-the-news Here is a copy of an article which appeared in the press this month showcasing some of my awards for food photography, .

 

Food shots are photographer’s bread and butter

R Gill, Food Photographer, 3 Chilli Sourdough bread loavesR Gill, Food Photographer, 3 Chilli Sourdough bread loavesA group of 3 chilli sourdough bread loaves arranged on a baking tray

An artistic shot of artisan bread from the Lake District has won a Kendal photographer the judges first prize on an online photography website.

Richard Gill’s photograph of Lovingly Artisan’s bread entitled ‘3 Loaves No Fishes’ was the judges’ top pick of almost 300 online entries to the photography community website, Photocrowd. 

Richard, from Sedgwick, has already had previous success in the Photocrowd food & drink category when his close up shot of a cherry covered in bubbles was runner up in the public’s vote and received a judge’s commendation last December. 

R Gill, Food Photographer, A cherry covered in bubblesR Gill, Food Photographer, A cherry covered in bubblesA single cherry immersed in a fizzy liquid, covered in bubbles

 

He said: “Having stunning images of food is increasingly important for food producers and restaurants to show on websites and social media. Clients really appreciate help with styling to make the dishes look beautiful and the food to look mouthwateringly tasty, whilst ensuring the colours are accurately reproduced, and the image is well composed and focused. So I’m really pleased that the judges have picked up on these elements in my photos to award me the top spot.” 

Photocrowd’s judging panel is made up of more than 100 professional photographers from all over the world. Expert judges choose a winning selection in each category as well as members of the public – the crowd - being able to vote for their favourites. 

On awarding Richard first place, judges said: “The set up and composition work well and the small piece of hessian peeping into the top left corner is a small but essential element in the success of this image, and adds to the whole rustic feel of the wonderfully captured crusty loaves. The lighting and colouring used suit the subject completely and it is an image we could see in a food magazine or on the wall of an artisan bakery. Congratulations.” 

Richard took a leap into professional photography just four years ago after being employed in the corporate world for over 20 years. He works with some key national companies including Savills, Hoseasons and Alliance Medical, as well as local Lake District businesses and tourist attractions. He has also recently completed a shoot of all of the Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite’s dishes from their new summer menu. 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) Gill Richard food food photographer food photography photographer photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/we-are-in-the-news Thu, 29 Jun 2017 10:48:09 GMT
90% Imitation, 10% Inspiration https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/90-imitation-10-inspiration Commercial photoshoots are often the most interesting as it gives me a chance to be creative.  Although the client will give me a detailed brief of what is required, there will be a bit of time for me to try out some other ideas.  It is often these unplanned shots that produce the “wow” shot of the day.  

I am often asked how did I come up with that idea, and the short answer is, they just happen!

My goal is to give every client at least one wow shot.  Sometimes it is just not possible as the brief or the subject doesn't allow for much creativity, but whenever possible I hope to exceed my clients expectations.

Having set myself this challenge I realised I needed to understand how these shots are produced.  I started to research the behaviour of other creative people.  I soon realised that many other artists just have things happen.  I watched an OkGo video and was intrigued to hear when they were asked, “where do your ideas come from?" They replied “it feels like we just find them.” (If you haven't heard of OK Go, check out this TED talk).

In Will Gompertz’s book “Think like an Artist” he points out that most artists steal their ideas.  They look at the work of other artists work for inspiration. They review the old masters, or other emerging talent and prime their subconscious, and during their training they might spend many hours copying the work of other painters.  It is this priming of the subconscious with old ideas that triggers the creative process.  When these images are mixed with the uniqueness of our own personality and temperament then a new idea or image emerges or hits us like a brain wave. 

Although I hadn't really appreciate it before studying this, I realised this is what I had been doing.  Before a photoshoot, I plan carefully the shots I want to take, but also include a few ideas that I just want to try.  I am not sure if they will work until I get to the location and see the lighting and conditions, but hopefully one of them will just become the "wow" shot of the day.

At a recent photoshoot for a home made ice cream manufacturer I studied lots of food photographs before the shoot.  On the day I took this shot (below) inspired by an entry I saw in the PinkLady Food Photographer of the Year competition.  My shot is different from that entry, but my subconscious was definitely primed by it.  This turned out to be the shot that my client loved.

A family looking into an ice cream cabinet to choose their favourite flavourWhich flavour?A family looking into an ice cream cabinet to choose their favourite flavour

In another example this photo below, taken for a pet portrait competition, was inspired by a photograph of the interior of a washing machine which had been entered into a competition on Interiors.  This definitely turned in to a "wow" shot as it won the competition.

A dog looking into a washing machineAny socks in here?A dog looking into a washing machine

So next time your are planning a photoshoot leave a bit of time and space for the photographer to be creative.  Then maybe you will get a fabulous surprise shot.  If you like my creative style and want to work with me for your next photoshoot please give me a call on 07557 780336 or email me richard@rgillphotography.co.uk. 

If you are interested to see more of my creative work - take a look at my latest project Food Film Puns

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) creative creativity food photography inspiration. photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/90-imitation-10-inspiration Wed, 07 Jun 2017 07:57:57 GMT
Lessons from a lifestyle change https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/5/change-of-career Richard GillRichard GillRichard Gill

One of the most common questions I get asked when I am in the middle of a photoshoot is, "how did you get into this?"  I usually get the feeling that the questioner is not quite happy with their own lot, maybe envious of what I am doing or just intrigued about the lifestyle choices people make.  When I explain that I decided to switch careers after spending 20+ years in the corporate world working in the lighting industry, their interest is even more piqued.  Consequently I thought maybe it was time to put this into a blog post and share my experiences with you of how I made a lifestyle change in my career.

From the outside it looked like I had a great job.  For the last ten years of my corporate career I was an international sales director, jetting off to a different country every week.  Moscow one week, Munich the next - how glamorous? But the reality was something rather different.  The sights I saw were mainly airport lounges, hotel rooms and meeting rooms.  It was an endless slog of 4:00am get ups to check in at the airport for 6:00am combined with CEO's pushing me to meet the monthly sales target. Then when the month ends, it all starts again with the next month's target breathing down your neck.  

On previous occasions when I got really fed up with this cycle I would look for another job.  The change of job would satisfy me for a few months, but then the honeymoon period would fade and the same old gripes would get me down.  I realised I needed to do something completely different.  As you go through life a few major experiences also focus your thinking.  For example the death of a close relative, or a friend contracting a serious illness makes you realise what is really important to you.  On a Sunday evening when I started to check my emails I wanted to be excited about the coming Monday not dreading what messages I would find in my inbox.  I knew working for myself was part of the answer, but I also knew I wanted to do something that I would love doing.  I looked carefully at all my interests and hobbies to see if one of those could be my new way of earning a living.  I had been keen photographer since I was seventeen and thought that I could make a living from it if I focussed (no pun intended) on some specialist areas.

As my children are all grown up, my financial needs were not as great as they used to be.  So I started saving a business start-up fund and read everything I could about photography.  I went on courses in my holidays and booked days with professionals who could mentor me. Having done some research on what other photographers in my area were offering I decided to specialise in property, food and commercial photography.  My sales and marketing background was a great help. Although pitching to a prospective client is quite different when you are not representing a big brand, now I am representing Richard Gill - it's personal!  I also realised that the routes to market for creative industries are quite different to those of manufacturing and lighting.  It took me many months to figure out the best route to get customers.  

Richard Gill photographing foodRichard Gill photographing foodRichard Gill photographing food

Three years down the road I can honestly say I don't regret my decision.  I love what I do.  My old colleagues and friends joke that I am semi-retired, but the truth is I work as hard and as many hours as I did before.  One big difference though - now it is my choice. My working week is not defined by normal Monday to Friday hours.  If I haven't been booked to do a shoot on a Tuesday and the weather is fine I might choose to have a ride round the Lakes on my motorbike.  I will often be working at the weekend which makes up for anytime I have off during the week.  

It's by no means stress free. I don't have a CEO chasing me to meet my sales target, but that doesn't stop me worrying about the number of bookings in my diary and whether I will earn enough to pay the mortgage this month! If I am not booked I am not earning, that is a major motivator.  I also have to earn enough to cover the lack of benefits - no paid holiday, no sick pay, no company pension.    

Lessons I have learned

  • Do you research thoroughly - don't just look at the customers and market size, but really figure out who buys your product and the routes to market.
  • Don't spend forever doing the research and writing the plan.  You won't figure it all out,  at some point you have to go for it.  If the plan isn't working change or modify your plan. As the business grows your plan will need to be revised and updated anyway.
  • Be flexible at the start, you just need to gain some momentum, you can come back to focus on your core interest as you get the income rolling in.
  • Have a contingency fund so you can get through the lean months at the start and the quiet times of year.
  • Don't be scared to make the leap, the net will catch you, opportunities you weren't expecting do come along.

 

 

 

 

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) career change lifestyle photographer photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/5/change-of-career Thu, 18 May 2017 08:04:21 GMT
Is it Worth Persevering with a Boring Book? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/4/is-it-worth-persevering-with-a-boring-book If you have a short attention span or if you think this post is going to be boring here is the quick answer - 

If it is recommended to you by someone who's opinion you value.  

Personally I don't like to give up on something I've started, but occasionally when I get bogged down in book, I put it away and move on to something more inspiring.  Recently though I had a booked recommended to me that is possibly one of the most boring books that I have ever read,  but I was still compelled to finish it.  Whats more the book changed the way I work, improved my efficiency and save me a lot of wasted time and stress. The book is Digital Asset Management for Photographers by Peter Krogh.  Apologies to the the author for being rude about the book as it is very well written, the content is very useful and relevant. It is just that the subject matter is dull so it was never going to be a thrilling read.    

The title does give you a big hint that the book is not a thriller so why did I even pick it up.  I spend a lot of time photographing inaminate objects (buildings or food) and last year I was looking to enhance my photography of people.  Part of my work is to tell the story of my clients.  So after doing a short course on photo journalism I was lucky enough to be mentored by Stuart Freedman.   For those of you who may not know, Stuart is an award winning  reportage photographer whose work has featured in many national and international publications like Time, The Sunday Times Magazine,  and Paris Match so he knows his stuff.  Whilst we were reviewing my portfolio together he asked if I had any pictures showing a particular theme (I forget what theme it was now).  I hunted for that particular photo on my laptop, but couldn't find it.  I could picture the photograph in my head but couldn't remember where it was stored on my hard drive.  You need to read "The Dam Book"  Stuart told me.    

My photography of people had dramatically improved in the short period I worked with Stuart.  I learnt how to structure a photo essay and how to capture compelling images that would help me tell the stories of my prospective clients.  So when he recommended the book I trusted his opinion and ordered a copy and started to read it.  The hard back version was very heavy going so I then went to the authors website and found the electronic version.  This included instructional videos and made the book a whole lot easier to cope with.  I can't say I ever found the book exciting, but I did find it extremely useful.    It tells you how to organise a photo library, how to store your files, how to label and categorise them.  How to organise keywords and assign them to the photos so when someone asks you for a specific photograph you can find it quickly and easily.  

I take close to 10,000 photographs a year.  Many of which I don't need to keep longer than a few months, but many that I do need or want to keep for future use. That leaves me with a catalogue of more than 35000 photos. I'll admit to being not very good at housekeeping because admin bores me, but now I do know that within my catalogue I can isolate all the shots that I will need to delete easily and quickly.   I have a well organised library that allows me to find photographs of any subject in less than a few minutes.  This saves me a lot of stress, and helps me avoid missed opportunities.  If I need to find all my best food shots to prepare a pitch to a new client I can find them in seconds.

If Stuart hadn't recommended Peter Krogh's book I would never have heard of it, let alone read it.  Maybe that says more about the power of recommendations than about the power of boring texts.  How about you?  Have you read anything boring that really helped you?- let me know in the comments section. 

  

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) food photographer food photography photographer photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/4/is-it-worth-persevering-with-a-boring-book Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:02:00 GMT
What Can you Learn from Cheap Chocolate? https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/what-can-you-learn-from-cheap-chocolate I recently bought a book simply titled "Chocolate".  I am not a chocaholic. I am an aspiring food photographer and I bought the book because I was blown away by the stunning photography.  The book was a collaboration between Pierre Hermé and Sergio Coimbra.  For those of you who don't know, Pierre Hermé is one of the world's best pastry chef's and Sergio Coimbra is one of the world's best food photographers.  If you have seen photographs taken for Marks and Spencer it is likely that you have seen some of Sergio Coimbra's work (you can read more about him here). He is one of my sources of inspiration.  He has photographed dishes from many of the worlds top chefs. He has even built a chef's experimental kitchen at his photo studio so that he can observe the culinary masters at work right inside his studio.

To understand how Sergio took some of his photographs I set about trying to emulate one or two.  I bought some cheap chocolate bars, set up my camera and lighting and took some photos.  Straight away I noticed key differences in the chocolate.  The shine of the chocolate was just not there.  There was a number of defects in the surface, air bubbles, surface discolourations, pockmarks, tiny bumps, scratches  and blemishes.  

Chocolate close up Chocolate squareClose up of a square of chocolate in a chocolate bar

My first lesson was a reminder that the choice of ingredients is critical.  Any chef could have told me that.  Provenance and quality of ingredients has direct affect on the quality of the finished product. 

Having discovered these defects I was intrigued what had caused them.  I started to research the chocolate making process, blending, conching and tempering. Many of these processes were familiar to me as I studied metallurgy at university and they are all used in metal processing.  My distant memories of fluid mechanics lectures helped me understand the effects of viscosity on bubble formation. A dusty appearance can be caused by humidity being too high and this excess moisture might also be the cause of a gritty appearance. Get the tempering right, control the temperature properly and you get a beautiful sheen and the chocolate to hold fine detail.   All this made me realise that having an understanding of the subject would help me to take a better photograph.

My final lesson was to embrace what I had. I knew and more importantly understood what was bad about the chocolate I had bought.  I knew I couldn't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, but could I make something ugly appear beautiful? Realising that there would be defects throughout the chocolate I decided to highlight them. I set up a light with a yellow gel and shone this onto a broken piece of the bar. The white sugar crystal defects that were littered through the chocolate bar gave contrasting lines and spots of yellow against the dark chocolate. The yellow light gave warmth and vibrance to the picture.

My main lesson from this experience - it doesn't matter what you are photographing: a person, a building, food or a product if you take the time to get to know the subject and understand what is important to them, then you will get a better photograph.

If you would like to work together photographing your products, business or people please give me a call on 07557 780336 or email richard@rgillphotography.co.uk

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) chocolate food food photographer food photography photo photographer photography https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/what-can-you-learn-from-cheap-chocolate Fri, 10 Mar 2017 11:37:35 GMT
Gin and Juice https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/gin-society-festival-lancaster It's not often you spend a night drinking eleven gins and are still able to remember the evening, but that was my first experience of a Gin Society Festival.  In truth I had four gin and tonics and a small sip of the other seven.  Gin is not my usual tipple, but I do enjoy one now and again, usually before a meal or on a summers evening relaxing outside.  When I discovered there was to be a gin festival in Lancaster it was good opportunity to learn more about this libation and do something different on a Saturday night.  I went along with my wife, my son and his fiancé.  Without realising it at the time this was a smart move as we could all try something different and so experience a wide selection of different gins and mixers.

The festival was held in Lancaster Town Hall which had a lively relaxed atmosphere.  There was music playing and a group of swing dancers performing to the tunes.

The first thing that struck me was how many different varieties of gin were on offer.  Not only a wide selection of gins (I counted almost 100) but a wide choice of mixers and 10 different garnishes including basil, ginger, lime, orange, rosemary, cucumber, lemon, mint, pink grapefruit, and strawberry. 

As well as the Gin Society's bars, a few British distillers had their own stands.  This was a marvellous opportunity to talk to the distillers and learn more about all the factors that go into producing the unique flavour of a craft gin.  

I am not qualified to give you a meaningful critique of all the gins we tasted, but can share with you a few of the highlights we found during the evening.  

  1. Boodles Mulberry mixed with rose lemonade, if you like something a bit sweeter this was like drinking Turkish delight.  
  2. Silent Pool Orange Gin with a pomegranate mixer, was a lovely refreshing drink.  
  3. Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger mixed with ginger ale was gingerbread in a glass!  
  4. Brockman's Gin which includes blueberries and blackberries as well as traditional botanicals was reminiscent of drinking ribena.
  5. Manchester Gin with its subtle citrus flavours served with traditional tonic water was a lovely mellow classic G & T. 

My personal favourite was the Alnwick Gin mixed with pink grapefruit and rosemary.  It had a lovely summer feel to it and I could imagine sipping one of these sitting by a barbecue on a balmy summer evening.

There are several Gin Society festivals running through out the rest of the year including; Manchester in March, Carlisle in May and  Saddleworth in June. Check the Gin Society Facebook Page for more details.

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) alcohol cocktail cocktails craft drink drinking festival food gin gin and tonic lancaster photographer photography tonic https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/gin-society-festival-lancaster Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:22:04 GMT
How to Take Great Photos of Food with your Smart Phone https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/how-to-take-photos-of-food-with-your-smart-phone If you are a chef, an avid food blogger, or just someone who likes to share pictures of delicious food on your social media channels then you will most probably be taking lots of pictures on your smart phone.  If you would like some tips on how to do it better then read on.

Lighting

Ask any photographer and they will tell you that lighting is the most important aspect of any photograph.  For food soft natural light is the ideal.  There is a good reason for choosing natural light and that is that it will render the colours in the food accurately.  Artificial light can dramatically alter the colour of items, remember the story about the colour of a dress that went viral a couple of years ago?  You also want to avoid direct sunlight as this is harsh and will exaggerate unsightly details.  Cloudy days are ideal.  If you can, position your food next to a north or east facing window.  Then stand so you are perpendicular to the light source i.e with the window by your left or right shoulder.  This will give beautiful soft lighting over the food and help you to create a great shot.

If you are taking the photograph outdoors find an area that is in the shade, then even if the sun breaks through the clouds you will still have some soft lighting.  

Which Angle?

The most common and usually the best angles to take photos of food are:

1. From Above

2. At 45 degrees

3. At Plate Level

Which one of these you choose is down to the shape and aesthetic of the food dish you are photographing.  "From above" works well for food that has been carefully arranged on a plate to have an artistic quality typically a starter or main course.  It also works well for showing ingredients or a collection of dishes.

"At 45 degrees" works well for most situations and is the most common angle.  This is often a shot you will take as well as one of the other formats.  It gets the viewers attention as it focuses the eye on the main subject.

"At plate or table level" is ideal for food that has height.  Dishes like desserts often benefit from being taken in this way. Close ups of food items, the crust of an artisan loaf for example also look spectacular when shot at this level.

sourdough breadCrust of a sourdough loafClose up of a sourdough loaf

Whichever mode you choose try to ensure your phone is parallel or perpendicular to the food, especially if the dish has a straight edge.  For example if you are taking the photo of a dish at plate level you might be able to rest your phone on the table so that it is perfectly level and have the food or plate parallel to the phone.  Taking the same picture at an angle can work and produce a more artistic shot, but does need very careful composition otherwise it will look odd.  The best option is to take a level shot first and then if you want to experiment take one at an angle.  If the angle shot doesn't look right then you will always have a good level shot for back up.

Photograph of cheesecake taken at an angleCheesecake Photograph of cheesecake taken at an angle

Composition

Composition is a blog topic in its own right, however there are a few key things you should think about about when composing a food photograph.  The rule of thirds is a good starting point. Position your subject so that it is on a line a third of the way into the frame.

 

Divide the frame into thirds using two horizontal and two vertical lines

If you are doing a close up, you may well have the food in the centre of the frame, but look at the dish carefully and see if there are elements that you could position on one of the intersections of the lines (maybe a fork if you have cutlery in the shot).  If you are taking the picture at plate level then position the plate on the bottom third line and have the top of the food on the top third line. This will give a pleasing composition (see dessert pic above).

Look round the frame. It is very easy to get obsessed with the main subject and not to notice other items that have crept into the photograph. Train your eye to look round the edges of the frame,  it is a good habit to get into which will improve all your photography.  Is there anything in the photograph that looks unsightly? Conversely would the picture benefit from introducing something extra in the corner, a tea light candle, a flower or some cutlery?

Are you going to take the picture in landscape or portrait format? The size of the dish may determine this as you may only fit it into the frame in one orientation.  If you have a choice then consider where the photograph will be used.  Platforms like Pinterest lend themselves to photos taken in portrait mode. However other platforms like Facebook and websites are better suited to landscape mode photos.

Further information 

Do you need some food photographs taken for your website or marketing materials that need to be better quality than those from a smart phone then please give me a call on 07557 780336.  You can see some more examples of my work here- food portfolio.

If you have got the bug for food photography and want to take your skills to the next level then there are some excellent courses on food photography and styling run by Aspire Photography Training

An essential part of making food photographs look appealing is the styling of the shot.  For some expert tips on food styling check out this article from Stylist magazine.

 

Thanks to Rebecca Gill for the illustrations used in this article to see more of her amazing work click here rgillustrate

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) composition food food photography lighting photography smart phone tips https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/how-to-take-photos-of-food-with-your-smart-phone Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:45:29 GMT
English Literature Inspires Heritage Craftsman https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/10/english-literature-inspires-heritage-craftsman As a teenager, instead of sitting in front of a screen playing the latest game Jack Holden discovered English Literature.  He went on to study a degree in English Literature at the University of Cumbria, but on qualifying realised that a life indoors was not where he should be.  Inspired by Lake district authors such as Ruskin, Wordsworth and Coleridge he sought a life outdoors.  He won a place on the Bill Hogarth Memorial Apprenctichsip Trust (BHMAT) scheme and is now training in coppice crafts.  I followed him over a period of a few weeks this summer as he created an oak gate.  These photos show the manufacturing process from the felling of a tree to the installation of the finished gate at a Lakeland farm house. You can see more details on Jack's website here

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/10/english-literature-inspires-heritage-craftsman Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:57:14 GMT
Latest Apprenticeship Scheme Doesn't Help Creative Youngsters https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/latest-apprenticeship-scheme-doesnt-help-creative-youngsters If you are not academically minded and want to pursue a career in a traditional craft industry you will be hard pushed to find an apprenticeship. When you think about this maybe it is not so surprising.  More than 200 000 people work in the heritage craft sector, but almost 80% of them are self employed. Consequently they don't qualify for government support to take on an apprentice.  Many of these crafts can be highly lucrative and lead to an international career.  Andy Goldsworthy for example has commissioned work installed in San Francisco

In my part of the world , the English Lake District, dry stone walls are a dominant feature of the landscape.  Maintaining and building these structures is typical of the heritage industries that need young people to learn this skill.  One solution the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) has iniatated to help solve the problem is to use a heritage lottery grant to fund the training of five apprentices.  I spent a day watching them practice their skills at the DSWA base near Kendal.

Dry stone walls are an integral part of the rural landscape.

Master Craftsman Andrew Loudon explains what the apprentice's are expected to build today.

‚ÄčAs you can imagine the walling profession is dominated by men, but one of the apprenticeships was awarded to female participant,  Tracy Cumberbatch .  Tracy had been trying to get a job in the countryside with local agencies such as the National Park Authority but was continually losing out to other candidates with degrees.  Not able to afford today's university fees Tracy looked for alternative ways to enhance her skill set and the bursary scheme offered by the DSWA was an ideal way to get an additional qualification.

Just like a wall built frorm bricks the stones in each row should overlap so that you don't get a continuous vertical gap running down the wall.

Today's exercise was to build a wall end and unlike the wallers from the past todays students can capture their efforts on their smart phones to share with their friends and family.

Handling rough stones all day can take its toll

At the end of the exercise there is only one thing to do - exchange walling banter over a brew!

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) annual countryside craft dry heritage labour rural stone wall walling workers https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/latest-apprenticeship-scheme-doesnt-help-creative-youngsters Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:54:35 GMT
Residents Pull Together to Support those Still in Shock https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/12/residents-pull-together-to-support-those-still-in-shock Although the clear-up has begun in earnest, 4 days after the horrific floods in Kendal, Cumbria many residents are still in shock.   House Contents on the StreetWater damaged goods are piled on the street for collection Water damaged goods from houses are piled on the pavements waiting to be taken away

Water Damaged ItemsWater damaged furniture is piled on the pavement

St George's Church has a team of volunteers providing hot drinks, soup and a place to chat.

St George's ChurchVolunteers provided hot food and cleaning materials

When I spoke to this gentlemen, he told me had only just come out of his house.  He hadn't felt able to leave before now. The shock had been too much for him.  Thanks to the volunteers he was enjoying his first hot meal in 2 days.  Electricity supply is intermittent and there was no power in the Church when I visited. However the gloomy candlelight seemed to provide the right sombre feel for those lost in their thoughts.  

Two neighbours worrying about what will happen next.

Undeterred by the lack of electricity, the volunteers still provide hot soup.

Team of VolunteersVolunteers at St George's church prepare to hand out hot soup.

Local residents are also doing their bit

A welcome cuppa!

Managing to show a brave face.

For businesses and residents life goes on and a sense of humour still prevails.

This sign was on the window of a flooded business

The river level has dropped significantly.  The environment agency are visible in the community, but I am not sure that is of much comfort to those that were flooded.

If you want to help you can make a donation to a support fund set up by the Cumbria Community Foundation click here for details.  For businesses affected by the flooding there is useful information on how to obtain grant funding and support on the Cumbria Growth Hub page here

 

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) Cumbria Desmond Kendal Storm floods https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/12/residents-pull-together-to-support-those-still-in-shock Wed, 09 Dec 2015 18:21:49 GMT
Preparing for a Special Event https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/11/preparing-for-a-special-event Behind the scenes look at preparation for a Thomas weekend at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

Equipment getting prepared, a Ruston Bucyrus, RB17 crane.

Ruston Bucyrus CraneRuston Bucyrus CraneRuston Bucyrus Crane at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

Fuel is added using a hand pump

Fuelling upFuelling upFilling the fuel tank

A freight tanker is washed ready for the big day

Washing the TankWashing the TankCleaning a rail liquid tank transporter

Boiler tubes need to be swept

Steam EnginesSteam EnginesSteam Roller and Steam Ploughing Engine

Feeding the brush up the tubes

Cleaning the TubesCleaning the TubesSweeping the boiler tubes on a steam roller

Magnetic stripes are added to a tank engine to make it look like Thomas the Tank engine

Adding the StripesAdding the StripesStripes are added to the Tank engine

Bunting is used to decorate the station buildings

Putting up the FlagsPutting up the FlagsPutting up bunting in preparation for a Thomas the Tank event weekend

Discussing the preparations.

Steam RailwaySteam RailwayEquipment at Haverthawite station

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/11/preparing-for-a-special-event Thu, 19 Nov 2015 11:01:03 GMT
Glass Blowing at Cumbria Crystal https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/11/glass-blowing-at-cumbria-crystal  Getting the Glass Hot In the Melting PotIn the Melting PotGetting a glass nugget up to temperature for blowing

Blowing into the correct shape with the use of a mould

BlowingBlowingBlow glass into shape

Blowing hard!Blowing hard!Blowing the molten glass

Heating up to check the form

Working the shapeWorking the shapeWorking the shape of the glass

The Glass Blower

Glass blowerGlass blowerGlass blower

Engraving

EngravingEngravingEngraving a glass vase

The finished products

Candle holdersCandle holdersEngraver candle holders

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richard@rgillphotography.co.uk (R Gill Photography) crystal furnace glass glass blowing hot https://www.rgillphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/11/glass-blowing-at-cumbria-crystal Tue, 17 Nov 2015 18:06:16 GMT