Backup! Backup!

Have you ever lost precious photographs? Some treasured family photos which you accidentally erased, or can only find on an unreadable hard drive? It’s a fear I share, except for me it’s not the photos of personal memories I worry about so much as the corporate website or brochure photos I’ve taken.

Perhaps worry is too strong a word, but it’s true that the minute I’ve finished taking photos for a client, I start taking precautions to ensure the safety of the photos.

Much of my work could be re-shot in the event of a disaster, but think of the inconvenience for my clients to have to re-organise colleagues for a head shot session. It will have been difficult enough to coordinate diaries the first time around; it might prove even trickier the second time. Other events are impossible to re-stage, which means image security is even more critical.

For starters, let’s take the journey back to the office. If I need to stop at a service station (or anywhere) on the way home, I’ll make sure I remove the memory cards from the cameras and take them with me. The same goes for any occasion on which I need to leave my car unattended. In the event of a break-in, all my kit is covered, but I don’t want my client’s photos stolen too.

Once I get back to base I’ll transfer the images from the memory cards and onto my laptop. I duplicate them onto an external hard drive too, so if the laptop suddenly dies I’ve already got one backup copy of the work.

I’ll do my captions and edits on the laptop version, but once that’s done I re-write the work to the external drive again. I then back up the external drive to a duplicate drive before erasing the job from my laptop. In the meantime, I’ll upload the edited high-resolution jpeg files to Photoshelter, which is where my clients access the files from.

At this point I’ll format the camera memory cards ready for the next job, but as you can see, by this stage the image files always exist in at least two places, with the high-res jpegs providing a third backup should both my external drives fail/go up in smoke.

For additional security the primary external hard drive stays at the office and the backup version comes home with me, so in the event of flood, fire, burglary, act of God, I should (SHOULD) be safe in the knowledge that one copy will always survive whatever disaster befalls the other.

All of this means that not only have I minimised the risk of not being able to deliver client images in the first instance, but that should the client subsequently lose the work, I should be able to re-supply it promptly.

Of course if a massive Solar flare strikes Earth, all my hard drives will get wiped. But then so will most of the internet and our energy supplies, water and transport… in fact modern life as we know it will come to a sudden halt and the army will be on the streets fighting pitched battles in a zombie apocalypse.

Some things you just can’t guard against.

Real People in a Digital World

When I think of the kinds of businesses which rely on stock images to illustrate their websites, I’d probably place IT support companies quite high in the table. I mean they’re into digital, noughts and ones and code, which has nothing to do with the real world, right? Well not really, but that helps explain why so may IT websites look the same – slick, but ultimately sterile.

Perhaps this is because IT companies don’t normally perceive that their clients would be interested in seeing anything beyond the service offer and price structure. Perhaps they don’t think personality is important, but as Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “Personality goes a long way”.

Ok, so Jules ends up machine-gunned to death on the toilet, but don’t let that put you off showing your personality! Sorry, this went downhill quickly. Let’s get back on track.

Certainly if you’re happy to run your business without properly engaging with your clients, I don’t recommend spending money on anything other than cheap stock photos, but one recent job reminded me that businesses with a positive culture will always benefit from featuring their own people in their website photography.

Netitude is a business which has grown fairly rapidly and is still expanding. Given it’s based in my home town of Frome, not known (yet) as the Silicone Valley of Somerset, Netitude is one of those business which most locals probably aren’t all that aware of, but which is doing remarkable things within its sector.

When the marketing assistant Lily got in touch the broad brief was to spend some time in their office working through a series of images to illustrate various areas of their website which needed a refresh. All the photos would feature real members of staff in genuine roles, not models pretending to do what Netitude does and not in an office potentially 1,000s of miles way.

The character of the businesses also shows through the images because the culture within Netitude is such that everyone I photographed knew why I was there and how to present themselves – friendly, approachable and professional. This character and culture is so important when communicating with current and potential clients.

Now rather than showing you a gallery of the images I came away with, I think it says far more to show the results in context which is why I’m showing a selection of screengrabs here. Alternatively, head over to the Netitude website for more information on what they do.

If you’re in the IT sector, don’t hide behind a bland website. It doesn’t matter what service people buy, they buy from people and if they can see your team, this helps build confidence. Of course I’ll be happy to discuss your options, so drop me a line any time via tim@timgander.co.uk.

The Need for Speed

It’s been a few years since my last major website redesign, but my current site appears to be working very well for me. Clients seem to like the simplicity and ease of access, so I see little point in making any design revisions for now.

However what I have become aware of over the last few months has been a gradual, but noticeable, slow-down in loading speed and that, I think, isn’t good enough so I’ve spent some time tackling that this week.

I know my clients are busy people, and a new client looking to find out more about me doesn’t have time to sit there waiting for the homepage to load. They may be looking for a photographer with my style, skills and qualities, but if they can’t get in to see the work, they may never find out what I can do for them.

So I’ve worked with a colleague to do some behind-the-scenes tidying up and optimisation, and I have to say the difference it’s made has been quite startling. It’s possible, depending on how you came to this blog article, that you will have noticed too.

There are still a few more tweaks I need to make; optimising key images is probably the main one, but also as I update and replace images I’ll be fixing those issues by default.

On which note, what I hope to do next is give the content a bit of a polish. Again, it’s been a little while since I updated the galleries with more recent work. I try to keep on top of this, but what with corporate jobs, admin and launching my fine art print site takeagander.co.uk I’ve had to prioritise tasks.

I’m always grateful for feedback, especially from business clients who are always my priority when it comes to setting out how the website works, so do feel free to throw bouquets or brickbats my way so I know how I can do things better.

After all, this website doesn’t exist to massage my ego; it’s there for you, the business client, to find out quickly, easily and with high quality presentation what my photography can do for your business.

Storms Now, but Storms Ahead Too?

Two nights ago we experienced the weirdest lightning storm anyone seems to remember witnessing. I had only seen something similar once, about 30 years ago in Germany, but even that was nothing compared to this more recent event.

Accompanied with Biblical rain, for almost an hour lightning lit up the night sky with astonishing frequency with BBC Weather reporting some 48,000 strikes nationally. It never struck Earth in my bit of Somerset, it was all cloud-to-cloud, which is what made it and its accompanying Hollywood thunder noise all the more eerie.

It happened to be the day we learned Boris Johnson was to be our new prime minister, and some speculated that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were about to burst through the clouds and lay waste to all that lay before them.

Of course politics and the weather are not so closely related. Setting aside political decisions which might cause or reduce global warming over generations, we can safely say this lightning storm and Bojo’s appointment are not that intertwined. However, as metaphors go its timing could not have been better.

So what of this new political future? Are we moving to the sunny uplands? Or hurtling towards a terrible storm? Anyone who knows my politics will be aware that I happen to believe Brexit is a very bad idea (putting it both mildly and diplomatically). However, it seems that’s where we are headed and whether we are inners or outers, we’re going to have to deal with whatever Brexit means.

It’s practically impossible to know how Brexit will affect my business. I know it will affect a great many people whose work takes them regularly in and out of the EU and their futures more than mine will rely on a sensible deal being reached about freedom of travel. For my part, looking back at my books over the period during which we were meant to leave, I’d say the uncertainty has definitely affected the willingness of businesses to press ahead with new projects. It’s been a real stop/start year so far.

Perhaps with a definite date in mind clients will feel better able to plan for October 31st and freer to make investment or expansion decisions. Sadly I suspect there is still a great deal of doubt about what Brexit will ACTUALLY mean. For all Mr Johnson’s energetic promises, he still has to deliver what Theresa May couldn’t and it still might not be the Brexit some people had in mind (while still managing to be the Brexit many never wanted).

I worry about the effect Brexit will have on those who have less control over their lives and fewer resources to deal with any negative consequences. I also know business will carry on one way or another. What is absolutely certain though is that nobody, not even Boris Johnson, has any real idea what to expect on the other side of all this. I think we can assume Boris will be ok, but beyond that, not much can be said with any certainty.

Possibly the most inconclusive conclusion I have ever written.

Sweet Luxury

The other day I was asked to come into a business in Bristol to undertake a portrait session so members of staff could post to Twitter and LinkedIn with fresh, up-to-date (and importantly, professionally-taken) profile photos.

The pictures were taken at the end of an in-house social media training seminar, and I suspect this helped convince attendees of the importance of a decent avatar portrait. I believe this kind of training is an excellent idea for businesses wanting their staff to help promote the brand on online platforms, and of course a clean, clear profile photo gives their posts greater gravitas.

What made it for me though, apart from the lovely welcoming people I got to work with, was the huge amount of space I was given to work in.

If your business has just taken over larger premises and you haven’t quite expanded into it just yet, take the opportunity to make headway on your headshots. While the entire office isn’t crammed with furniture and people, it makes a great space to work in and I can light the portraits better than if I’m shoehorned into a stationery cupboard, or a board room with an immovable table filling it.

Of course once you’ve filled the space, I’ll need to come back to photograph all the newly appointed team members. Don’t worry though, as long as there is room enough, I can make the lighting work. It’s just so much nicer when there’s space a-plenty.

 

It’s all happening here!

Yesterday was pretty eventful as a couple of projects finally came to fruition.

I was in the middle of setting up my exhibition of prints from What Happened Here at Black Swan Arts cafe in Frome when I noticed a mention from Ilford Photo on Instagram to say they’d just published an article I sent them a few months ago.

The article was a fun little thing about how to get extra creative with a Konica Pop, a classic 1980s point-and-click camera. I’d rigged one up so it could fire a flash that wasn’t built into the camera and some of the results were (I thought) pretty interesting.

The exhibition and the article aren’t really connected, other than they both involve film photography, but they’d both been planned some time ago. I just hadn’t expected them launch at the same moment, but that’s no problem, it’s all part of the fun!

So now you have a choice of physically seeing a bit of What Happened Here in Frome (just 13 prints for this show), or virtually seeing my article on the Ilford site here: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/making-photos-pop/

Of course you have the choice of doing neither, but I hope you do. They’re very different projects, but I hope equally entertaining.

Whatever you end up doing, have a fun and safe weekend.

What Is Commercial Photography?

While I’ve been having great fun with personal projects, launching a new website and planning for an exhibition, I feel it’s time to bring this blog back to the subject of commercial photography. Which already raises a question: What is Commercial (note the cap C) photography?

Strictly speaking, I don’t often do Commercial photography. If asked to put myself in a pigeon hole, I describe myself as a corporate communications photographer. This is because although I take pictures for (lowercase ‘c’) commercial gain, Commercial photography in its strictest sense means pictures taken to be used in advertising. This distinction can be an important one in certain contexts.

For example, many people believe that a photo taken for a newspaper or magazine editorial article is automatically Commercial because the photographer got paid (hopefully) and the publisher is a commercial enterprise, but this muddies the waters when it comes to describing such issues as data protection and rights to how a photo can be used.

If I go out and take a photo in the street to illustrate an article, it is covered by editorial standards and can be used without obtaining the permission of every single pedestrian who happens to appear in the recorded scene.

Likewise if I take a picture for a personal project, this is covered by an artistic right for the work to be taken and exploited by me. There would be a vanishingly rare chance that the image could infringe anyone else’s rights provided I didn’t use it in a defamatory context. Or, and this brings us back to my central point, a Commercial context such as an advertisement.

Commercial photography with that now familiar capital ‘C’ refers to pictures taken for the purpose of promoting or advertising a product or service. This extends to advertorial, where a business or organisation pays for the placement of an article within a publication which is made to look like it was written by a journalist, but these by law have to be clearly marked as ‘Advertisement”.

Of course the waters get muddied further by images used in social media where the client may have paid for placement, such as on Instagram, where it’s sometimes less clear. All sponsored posts on Instagram are marked as such, but if a client commissions or buys a photo and puts it on their Instagram feed or on Twitter with a view to it bolstering their brand, well that’s now transformed the image from editorial to commercial and we have to be wary of this.

As a rule, any client who commissions me to take photos for their corporate communications (which includes social media feeds), needs to ensure they have all permissions in place at the time I take the shots. It is the client’s responsibility to organise this and it may include property rights too.

So yes, that capital ‘C’ can make all the difference and it’s important to know and respect

 

 

More New Plans!

As if the launch of takeagander.co.uk wasn’t exciting enough, I’m now also preparing for an exhibition!

On June 20th I’ll be launching a small show in the cafe space at Black Swan Arts in Frome. Rather excitingly, the exhibition will run for a month and will span the very busy Frome Festival period (5th – 14th July) and will feature a very select choice of prints from my Saxonvale (What Happened Here) project.

The prints will be certificated one-offs printed on fine art paper and simply framed, matted and ready to hang. I’ve yet to settle on final prices, but I’m hoping to keep them as accessible as possible.

At this stage I’m very keen to hear from local businesses or organisations interested in part-sponsoring the exhibition. It’s worth noting that the Black Swan cafe is extremely busy at any time of year, but come Frome Festival it is almost always full to capacity, so an excellent chance for some valuable exposure.

With or without sponsorship, the exhibition will be a really exciting first public outing for What Happened Here and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes down, especially from people who aren’t from this area or familiar with the Saxonvale story.

If you or anyone you know is looking for some additional publicity in conjunction with what I promise will be a beautiful and thought-provoking photographic exhibition, do drop me a line tim@timgander.co.uk. At the very least, let me know if you’re planning on coming down and perhaps I’ll see you there in June.

Tah Dah!

Well I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, but I hope you’ll think it’s worth it. My new site takeagander.co.uk is now live!

The name comes from my Instagram handle, takeagander, and since that’s where I’ve been posting work from my personal projects it seemed fitting to create a website which tied in with that. I was also incredibly lucky that the business which was holding the URL takeagander.co.uk had let their subscription lapse and they didn’t renew it before it expired. Get in there!

So now I have a site where I can bring projects together and offer high-quality fine art prints of the images, which I hope will fund new projects in turn. Of course that’s the dream and it’s very early days, but with the site having been launched less than a week ago, I’m thrilled to have made sales already.

I’ve kept the offer simple for now, just two paper types and a range of sizes, but if there’s anything you’d like to see (framing options, canvas prints perhaps?) let me know and I’ll look into the possibilities.

The galleries are set to grow in size and increase in number as I add new images and entire new series, so I hope you’ll bookmark it for regular visits. You can even sign up for updates, which I promise will be kept infrequent.

Of course this is all in addition to my on-going corporate communications work, but I have found that personal projects have really helped keep me fresh and energised when tackling commissioned assignments. It’s great to have both sides of my career up and running.

Please do let me know what you think of the new site, or perhaps more importantly the photos on there. I have to say the quality of display is impressive compared to how images render pretty much anywhere else on the web.

Of course if you see something you’d like to hang on your home or office wall, I’d be thrilled to make your custom, but you’re welcome to just say hello.

Nothing to see here… yet.

Don’t you hate it when a brand shows you a shadowy teaser photo of some slick new product? Often weeks or months before the product is on the market, Camera companies do it all the time and I’m sure other manufacturers do it to.

Well the good news is, I’m not about to show you some largely obscured piece of high-tech loveliness. No top-lit, low-key photo of a stippled aluminium surface designed to make you want the thing even before you have any idea what the thing actually is.

However, this week’s post is a little bit of a teaser (I almost typed “little teaser”, but decided that had unfortunate connotations).

Cutting to the chase, I am “this close” (holds forefinger and thumb of right hand approximately 1 3/4 inches apart) to launching a new website.

The new site is quite separate from this one because I’m very much continuing in the corporate communications photography business, but I felt that after 30 years as a photographer I should be stretching my creative wings even more.

The site will feature many of the works I’ve posted to Instagram, including chosen works from the Saxonvale and Skip Art projects and a lot more of my personal film photography, but re-digitised to a standard more suited to fine art prints than was originally the case.

Saxonvale was mostly scanned on a flatbed scanner which was destined for landfill, which while poetic in the context of the project, didn’t really give me the file quality I sought for anything beyond Instagram.

Once the site is live you can be sure I’m going to be banging dustbin lids together until everyone knows about it, so watch this space for more news, or just listen out for the clanging of cheap pressed steel.