Bits ‘n’ pieces.

Yes it’s still quiet on the whole, but business is definitely happening.

My Salisbury Plain project has been keeping me busy, and now with film stock secured for the next several months thanks to the generosity of those who support my work, I’ll be able to carry that on for quite some time to come.

In the meantime, I’ve continued updating and tweaking my website with new Testimonials and portraits being the main focus.

On top of all this, work has been coming in. Not thick and fast just yet, but there are promising signs of new clients contacting me as well as old ones getting back in touch.

I’m actually really looking forward to encouraging clients to be more adventurous in the style of business shots I take for them. I have the kit, the skills and the imagination. Now all I need is the right client and the right opportunity.

So if you’re a business looking to get your marketing back up to speed, drop me a line and let’s get the ball rolling.

2020 and BEYOND!

Often at the close of a year I’ll put together an annual review, but 2019 was different in that it was the close of a decade.

So why didn’t I do a review of the decade? Simply put, I ran out of time. After three months of Bunker conversion, the end-rush to get it ready to coincide with the looming termination date of my tenancy at The Old Church School (eight years there!) PLUS client work PLUS admin PLUS Christmas, I had to make some harsh decisions about what I could and could not fit in.

In fact I was so busy, it barely sank in until quite late in December that we were in fact staring down the barrel of the 2020s. By the time I’d twigged, it was too late to put anything meaningful together. Sorry about that.

However, I’m now fully set up in the new space and although it’s early days, so far it’s working very well and I’m proud of what I accomplished in renovating what was a tatty-looking concrete structure, turning it into a genuinely usable, some may say attractive, workspace. I’m particularly chuffed that the only part of the project I didn’t tackle was the electrical installation. I may be insane, but I’m not mad! My general DIY skills have definitely improved with this project though, just don’t ask me to convert your shed/bunker/garage for you.

Returning to the subject of the turn of the decade, perhaps it’s a shame I didn’t get to look back and reflect, but I actually feel more in the mood for looking forward. After all, my photography of ten years ago is nothing like the work I’m doing now, and even further removed from where I want to take it in the coming years.

Through this year and the next few years, I’ll be working hard to build the fine art projects and prints side of my business (takeagander.co.uk) while continuing to invest in my corporate work, which still represents the bulk of my business.

The launch (see previous post) of the open air exhibition of panels from What Happened Here was a great end to the year and an indicator of the kind of outcome I’m looking for with my personal work – getting it out there and noticed and looking for new opportunities to shoot fresh work and see where it takes me.

With the corporate work I will of course keep developing my style, skills and services, but this relies in part on the personal projects which help me develop new practices outside of client time; I don’t believe in using my clients as guinea pigs for experiments.

What I’m aiming for is more of the same as in recent years, only bigger and better; my corporate work feeding my ability to shoot personal projects, with income from fine art prints and other uses of that work building up into it’s own sizeable income. I have plans, some vaguer than others, but plans nonetheless.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sign off now and start putting those plans into practice. In the meantime, do watch this space for news on forthcoming deals on fine art prints – I hope to announce something big soon.

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.

Space – Time Continuum

A recent experience reminded me once again of the importance of two particular aspects of a corporate portrait photography session, namely space and time. In fact as these two elements are inextricably linked, we can refer to them as a continuum.

Setting aside the fourth dimension for a moment, on this particular occasion I was shown into a vast board room, which would have been perfect except it was mostly filled with immobile boardroom furniture; massive table and countless chairs. At the same time I was told I could only have the room for half an hour, which is approximately how long it would have taken me to set up the lighting kit even if there had been space to do so.

This would have left no time for any photography to happen, let lone the two hours I was booked for. A continuum conundrum, no less.

Thankfully we were able to find an alternative room which, though smaller, had much more clear floor space. It was also available for two hours, which was just about enough – not perfect, as I was booked for three (and could happily have filled them with the shots listed as required), but better than zero minutes by quite a considerable percentage.

Of course when you’re setting up a photo session, coordinating the schedules of everyone involved is often a headache, but it’s worth thinking of the room and the time required as if they were two more people in the schedule. If a room or the time in that room are unavailable, it’s a no-goer.

The time required will depend on how many people are to be photographed and the brief to which I’ll be working (more varieties of poses etc will obviously require more time) and at least 30 minute’s set-up and break-down time should be factored either side of the session.

How much space is needed will depend on whether it’s close head shots or full-length portraits required (full-length requires a great deal more space), but as a rule of thumb for headshots, you need to allow approximately 2.5 – 3m width x 3m length (length being the distance between where I’ll stand and the next wall or immobile obstacle).

This is approximate, but it is a realistic guide. You can easily add another couple of metres to the length for full-length portraits.

The photo on this article shows an example of where I’ve had more space than I knew what to do with (it was in fact one half of a hotel ballroom!), but seeing the set-up gives you some notion of how that space is used.

So remember, when you’re booking all the executives and colleagues for that all-important photo session, don’t forget to plan the room and ring-fence the time. Without those two elements, the space – time continuum breaks down and everything else becomes academic.

Post Apocalyptic?

Yesterday I was nominated by my friend and office colleague David to take part in a Facebook seven-day black and white photo posting challenge. A personal photo each day, no people, no caption or explanation and I’m meant to nominate someone else each day.

Now much as I love David, he knows I’m not a massive fan of this kind of thing, but he’s a big fan of my photography so couldn’t resist just to see how I’d handle it. He also likes to watch me squirm, so that’s two excellent reasons for him to nominate me.

You might wonder why I’m not a big fan of this kind of thing then. Well, since you’ve made the mistake of asking, I’ll tell you.

I’ve been on Facebook for, oh I dunno, many years. Twitter and Instagram too. Over the years I’ve posted pictures I’m very proud of and some junk I probably should have left on my hard drive or in my head. Of late I’ve been working to get my feeds looking more consistent in quality, more coherent in style and less scattered with random junk. This kind of posting challenge may not help.

Therefore I’ll have to be careful that what I post adheres to qualities I can be proud of. Tough to do every single day. But that isn’t the only reason – When I post pictures online I’m aware there is a trade-off happening; I’m exposing my work to a wider audience, getting more eyeballs on my pictures and helping my search engine optimisation, while the social media platforms are benefitting from a constant supply of free content and data they can mine, monetise and aggregate for future, as yet un-defined purposes.

Perhaps I’m being too conspiracy-theorist about this, but here’s a final point to consider; I’m meant to nominate one person every day of the challenge. That’s seven people over seven days (and even I remember from my school times tables terrors, that comes to 49). Each of those 49 people is meant to nominate 7 people, so that’s 343. 343 x 49 = 16,807. You get the idea, if nobody drops the chain we’re quickly into millions of people posting more millions of photos (I tried to work it out, my brain melted).

So mana for Facebook as it keeps people going back to their pages, interacting and laying rich soil for the advertisers who pay Facebook to display their wares in our feeds. We’re all working to feed it like we’re being paid, feeling guilty if we don’t, and so it goes on.

Thankfully we’re not all robot slaves. I was the only person David nominated during his 7 days. My wife got nominated, made it to day 4 and then forgot to continue. There is hope for the human race when we don’t follow the peer pressure and the made-up rules.

So my plan is to post a photo each day, only nominate if I can think of someone who would like to be nominated and I’ll state here that I won’t be accepting future nominations for this kind of thing. If it’s a nomination to be King of the World, I might accept that, but not another photo challenge please.

Crossing Borders

Happy New Year to all my lovely readers, I hope you all had a fun Christmas and that 2016 brings nothing but good stuff.

Photographically I had a pretty hectic Christmas because I’d decided that since my travels would take in Austria, Switzerland, France and Germany, I really should make the most of this and come up with some kind of mini photographic project to share on my return. Besides the inevitable holiday photos, I already had a couple of mini projects lined up, but these were for clients and I wanted something I could work into a narrative post.

Taking in four countries didn’t mean huge distances were travelled, we (my partner and I) just happened to start in Austria and then went to stay with friends in a corner of France which converges with Switzerland and Germany.

In fact the border area on the outskirts of Basel in Switzerland is so complicated that I quickly turned my attention to this as the focus of my project. I only had a few hours to get the project shot, but here’s a flavour of what I found.

Basel itself is a pretty city with historic winding streets, a handsome waterfront and grand public buildings, but I’m not so drawn to photographing obviously pretty places, and I was more intrigued by the area we were staying in; Huningue in France and Weil am Rhein in Germany.

One feature of this district is a huge shopping mall where Swiss residents take advantage of the cost of living differential by making a tram trip from Switzerland (incredibly expensive) to Germany (cheaper), their destination being the Rhein Centre where they shop for food, clothes and electrical items without the Swiss premium.

Please click to enlarge and view the gallery:

The tram passes through Swiss/German border controls without let or hindrance thanks to the Schengen agreement between European countries. Though there is a border station there it seemed mostly shut for Christmas and I don’t imagine border guards check passenger passports very often.

Even more open is the border between Germany and France which is literally a few hundred yards down the road from the Swiss/German border. A bridge (Dreiländerbrücke / Passerelle des Trois Pays) joins the two countries and hundreds of people cross by foot or on pushbikes every day. It’s rather like any bridge in any town except it has a plaque and a pair of flags to denote the joining of the countries.

In this segment of Europe a walk in the town or countryside will involve crossing various borders with often little more than a small sign on a metal post to let you know which country you’re in. There were times when I lost track of which half-remembered language I was supposed to be speaking, but I don’t think I embarrassed myself too badly.

This is an area I’d be interested in returning to as there seems to be more than one story quietly playing out against the domestic and industrial backdrop. Youth culture, poverty and the social mix would all be interesting subjects given enough time to cover them. In the meantime, I’d best brush up on my French, German and Swiss-German at the very least before I go again.

Press Space for Storagebase

At a time when online marketing seems to dominate marketeers’ minds, it’s worth remembering that the local press still has the power to communicate your business to a well-targeted audience.

This is where the press release comes into play. Sometimes maligned, often mis-used or treated like a slightly grubby, distant uncle to all the shiny online marketing channels, press releases often fail through lack of appreciation of their importance.

Done properly though, a press release will get your business valuable editorial space. You can pay a high price for an advert, and while adverts are another good way to get in front of your audience, they’re viewed and treated differently by readers. Editorial is more trusted and allows you to get more of your business’ story into your message.

As an example, I was asked by Avalanche (a creative PR and social media agency, so local to me that we share an office) to work with them and their client, Storagebase, on a press release about their new self-storage facility and head office in Frome, Somerset.

The brief was to take press release photos to introduce the management team, the brand and the building to the local population.

I popped along to meet Storagebase’s MD Ben Morris and Jennie Wood from Avalanche for a pre-shoot site visit so I could get a sense of what shots would work best. Plus I love seeing the insides of buildings before they’re fitted out. This one had some really eye-catching internal structures and I couldn’t resist popping off a couple of shots during the visit.

On the day of the photo session the weather was a little tricky. It had been lashing with rain that morning, but it was dry by the time of the shoot. I’d hoped for blue sky so I could get some dramatic wide shots of the facility, but the sky was the same colour as the building and there was still a lot of construction going on, so I opted for something tight and punchy.

Making sure I included only the important elements (manager, assistant manager, hire van and the branding on the building) I ended up with a couple of photo options to put forward to the local press. Importantly, these included upright and landscape-oriented photos to ensure they would have a picture to fit any available page space.

The result was a picture and copy across three columns of the printed edition as well as an online article, again including the photo.

So when thinking about PR, don’t dismiss the press release. Done with care and skill you not only get eye-catching coverage in print press, but it’ll go in the online editions too. Plus you can often use the same images for other areas of your marketing such as newsletters, tweets, Facebook pages and so on – not always so easy with an advert, even less advisable with poor quality content.

I think I might POP!

This is one of those “apropos of nothing in particular” sort of posts where I just update you on what’s been going on lately. It will also explain why I didn’t post last week, and why this week’s post is late. I apologise for both failings.

To say things have been busy would be an understatement. I’ve been incredibly hectic with work for University of Bath since their lovely and wonderful staff photographer Nic broke his collarbone in a cycling accident (or did I sabotage his brakes as one client suggested?) Of course I wish Nic a rapid recovery, especially as having broken my own clavicle a few years ago, I know just how ruddy painful it is.

I found out about Nic’s mishap while I was working for two clients in London a couple of weeks ago, and since then it’s been full-on with assignments in London (again), Gloucester, Bath and even Chard in Somerset; not somewhere I get called to regularly, but work is work and the session was a fun little PR piece.

Architectural detail of a grey building in London with wavy walls

Weird architecture in London caught my eye

 

In amongst all the professional fun and games I’ve been finding a little time to take photos for fun. While in London I got to stroll about with my Fuji X20 one evening and came up with this shot.

Perhaps even more exciting was when I discovered a classic 1980’s camera, a Konica Pop, in a Frome charity shop and snapped it up for the princely sum of £15. I popped a roll of black and white film through to see what it could do and I have to say I’m impressed! Not that I’ll be using it for client work. It’s a bit hit-and-miss, but I’m sure I’ll be using it for more fun stuff soon.

You’ll have to be patient for that though because the coming weeks don’t look like they’re going to let up much. I’m going to have to beg your forbearance if my blog posts are occasionally late too, but at least you’ll know it’s because I’m busy rather than that I might be ignoring you. I could never do that.

Tree and wood-slatted wall at University of Bath

A detail of University of Bath campus taken on the Konica Pop

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

This week’s blog is going to be mercifully short because today I’m working feverishly behind the scenes to get my newly designed blog and website up and ready (exciting and scary!)

However, I hate to disappoint all the beautiful people out there who like to swing by every Tuesday in search of some nugget of information, entertainment or um… can’t remember what the third thing might be, so I’m taking this opportunity to give you an early alert to one of the changes you’ll see on the site.

Angled detail view in black and white of cobbled street, Frome

Now available to buy as an enlargement

It’s all a bit work-in-progress at the moment, but if you look at the Personal Project Photography gallery you’ll see that the images there are available to buy as prints or enlargements. New options will be added and updated, as will images from my archive and (in time) new images which I’ll add as and when they’re ready.

You’re welcome to have a look, and if you see something you like you’ll be welcome to order it! If you see a photo you like which isn’t available in a size or finish you’d want, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

For technical reasons, not all photos will be available in all sizes because I want to ensure that whatever you buy looks fantastic on your wall.

This is just one feature of the new site which will have a different look and will incorporate this blog far more seamlessly, making it easier for everyone to see and access the bits they need.

So exciting times all round! I’m hoping that by the time you read my next article, the new site will be finished and live. Wish me luck, and thank you for your patience during this construction work.

My Year In Pictures

This being my last blog post for 2013, it’s time to do the annual round-up of pictures (YAAAAAY! – I don’t hear you saying).

It’s been an interesting year though, with a mixture of former clients returning and new clients finding me and becoming new regulars. In fact it’s probably been my busiest year since I went freelance 15 years ago, but I’d say the variety of work has narrowed as I’ve been doing far more corporate headshots than ever before.

Rather than showing you a business portrait for each of the twelve months, I’ve dug a little deeper for a mixture of shots including one or two personal ones, un-commissioned by clients.

Of course I would like to extend my heart-felt thanks to each and every client that has booked me this year and I very much look forward to working with you again in 2014.

Thanks also to all my beautiful blog readers (yes, I can see you, you lovely, lovely people). I hope you’ll stick with me for another year and put up with my overt self-promotion, my rants and lucid musings. If I could hug you all I would.

All that remains to say is happy Christmas and have a fantastic New Year. I think my next post will be January 7th, so see you in 2014!

Tim

In Bolton a police officer directs traffic in heavy snow

January: Bolton is hit by a blizzard and traffic grinds to a halt

A scientific instrument glows green in a dark surrounding

February: No, I have no idea what it is, but I can tell you it’s a highly sophisticated piece of technology at Porton Down

March: At the Renewable Energy Market Place event in Exeter, two designers explain their concept vehicle to a visitor

March: At the Renewable Energy Market Place event in Exeter, two designers explain their concept vehicle to a visitor

Farmers at Standerwick farmers' market watch as cattle pass through the gate after auction

April: From my Standerwick personal project, cattle come through the gate at auction

CEO Phil Brockwell in front of a Citation 525 jet aircraft at Bristol Flying Centre

May: Phil Brockwell of Bristol Flying Centre poses in front of one of his Citation 525 jets for a trade magazine cover shot

An out of focus boy sitting at a table with in-focus paint brushes in the foreground, taken for Cornerstones Schools, Warrington

June: A shoot for Cornerstone Schools requires use of blur to obscure subject identity

A young man in a lecture theatre holds up a white card with the number 46 written on it as part of a maths Summer camp event at University of Bath

July: Students enjoy maths games at University of Bath Summer School

4 seated people and one standing, backs to the camera, with a view overlooking Branscombe bay, Dorset

August: A weekend break results in a 74 mile cycle ride to Branscombe with office colleagues

A nurse is blurred as she pushes a wheelchair at Frome Medical Centre with smooth plastered and painted wall dominant to the left of the frame

September: Tasked with photographing the plaster-work of a contractor, I had to make a wall at Frome Medical Centre look interesting

A group of seated business people in an auditorium listen to a presentation as one man leans forward to hear better

October: It’s not always easy to find interesting images at a business symposium, but this audience member does at least look interested in the presentation

Sophie Wessex smiles as she holds a netball aloft and aims to take a shot at the net

November: Sophie Wessex takes a shot at netball during a visit to University of Bath in which HRH Prince Edward was installed as the new Chancellor

Waitress poses in the street in front of a photo flash on a stand with a white brolly

December: Eleonora, waitress at Frome’s Paccamora Café, poses for a Wex Photographic article demonstrating flash photography techniques