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.

My Personal Plain

Casual visitors to my website might be a bit confused if they read my blog. I’m supposed to be all Mr Corporate Headshot, Mr Corporate Comms and so on, yet my blog is often about my personal work.

Certainly SEO “experts” would have a thing or two to say about the fact that I’m not plugging the corporate work week-in, week-out, but I’m not sure they understand photography (or people), which in my view is a bit of a shortcoming.

Those experts will presumably have some understanding of search engine algorithms, but I’m more interested in posting material which allows potential clients a more three-dimensional view of my practice.

Which is why this week I am posting pictures from Salisbury Plain*, my current personal project.

After months of barely leaving the house, I was so pleased to be able to get back on the project and I’m happy to share a few of the latest results with you. Some, if not all of these, will be made available as fine art prints via my takeagander website where you can see more images from this project which I made before lockdown.

But given that this blog often veers away from the pure business of corporate communications work, how does a project like this help potential clients choose me over the next photographer? Why do I post personal work here? Let’s turn that around and ask, “What kind of photographer would I be if I didn’t do personal projects?”

Go to a dozen photographer websites and the majority will tell you at some point just how passionate they are about photography. All too often this doesn’t show through their work. I believe they are passionate about being a photographer, but mostly because they like having, or being seen with, cameras. There’s a chasm of distinction between being genuinely passionate about photography, and liking taking pictures (or liking owning nice camera gear).

My personal work is mostly shot on film using a variety of relatively low-tech, often un-glamorous cameras, because photography is the important part to me, not owning the gear or being seen to have the latest equipment. Working this way is also part of my “keep fit” regime in that it keeps my photographic eye honed even during quieter periods (lockdown being an extreme example).

In a world where “everyone’s a photographer” my passion isn’t just about being a photographer, it extends to the purpose of photography, its purpose and value to society. Getting heavy now, huh? Sorry, that’s really a whole other blog post there.

Perhaps next time you’re looking to book a photographer other than myself for a job (yes, I do know this happens!), take a look to see what personal projects they’re working on. If there are none, ask yourself if they’re genuinely as passionate as they say they are.

*I haven’t yet settled on a permanent title. I’m passionate about finding a good one.

Anyone for Tea?

In February this year I received an enquiry from a completely new venture. So new, in fact, that it hadn’t actually launched yet, which is always interesting because it often means I have even more opportunity than usual to add some of my creative input into the project.

The client, Tea for Three marketing and communications, consists of three directors, Helen Rimmer, Debbie Clifford and Michelle Gordon-Coles, and together they make a very dynamic team with backgrounds in journalism, public relations, charities, corporate communications and education.

It also has to be said, I’ve rarely worked with a team so completely on the same wavelength as each other. It’s obvious their personalities just mesh perfectly and I think this will feed their undoubted future success.

I gleaned all this from the pre-shoot planning meeting I had with Helen and the few hours I spent taking photos with the trio.

We started in a beautiful stone-walled meeting room at Glove Factory Studios where, having arranged Debbie, Helen and Michelle around a table in such a way as to keep the composition tight, I just left them to chat, smile, laugh and drink tea while I captured a series of moments from different angles until there was a good selection of images to draw on.

They had also arranged a trip up the road to Merkin’s Farm cafe for more tea (clearly their fuel of choice) so I could take more individual shots as well as a couple of more posed groups with a less “officey” look, aka outside with some nice countryside in the background.

During both sessions I was keen to not only fulfil the brief, but also to look out for angles and details that would give them those extra shots which are so necessary on a website; you know, those photos nobody knows they need until it comes to actually building it and realising they don’t have quite enough!

The end result is a set of photos which really show the coherence of this vibrant team as well as their very relaxed, friendly (while still utterly professional) approach to marketing. And judging from the testimonial Helen sent through (shamelessly requested by myself), I think Tea for Three were either very happy with the results or had got slightly tipsy on Darjeeling.

We had a very specific brief for Tim to follow, we didn’t want to come across as too corporate or stuffy and wanted our photos for our website to show us as friendly and down to earth. We were a little bit nervous but Tim soon put us at ease. He was great fun to work with and very patient when we laughed too much!

“Tim has a great eye for detail and came up with lots of ideas we hadn’t thought of. We were really pleased with the end results and would definitely recommend Tim.”

Helen Rimmer, Tea for Three Ltd.

My 2014 In Pictures

This, dear reader, is the last post of 2014 and as such it’s become something of a tradition for me to do an annual roundup of images, choosing one for each month of the year as it comes to a juddering halt.

The middle of this year was rather dominated with work for University of Bath as I stepped in while their staff photographer recovered from a cycling accident, and while I could have filled more months with student profiles and university events I’ve tried to keep it more varied than that.

I hope you enjoy this year’s selection. It just remains for me to thank all my clients for their custom and support over the year and to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Tim

Rotating milking parlour on a dairy in Wiltshire

January – Rotating milking parlour in Wiltshire for an article on the benefits of mechanised dairies

Jolly's of Bath store assistant Josh Gottschling in Revolutions Bar in Bath

February – Portrait of Jolly’s of Bath staff member Josh Gottschling in his favourite bar for an in-house magazine article

Nigel Lawson talking to an audience at University of Bath

March – Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson addresses an audience at University of Bath on issues surrounding renewable energy – he’s not a fan of it

Two silhouetted faces in profile talking with Future Everything Festival signage displayed between them

April – The Future Everything Festival in Manchester for client Digital Connected Economy Catapult

 

Mechanical Engineering student Robert Ford of University of Bath works on his design for a vertical climbing robot

May – Mechanical Engineering student Robert Ford of University of Bath works on his design for a vertical climbing robot

Student  Noel Kwan poses for the Humanities and Social Sciences prospectus for University of Bath

June – Student Noel Kwan poses for the Humanities and Social Sciences prospectus for University of Bath

Hundreds of new University of Bath graduates spill from Bath Abbey to be greeted by friends and family members

July – Hundreds of new University of Bath graduates spill from Bath Abbey to be greeted by friends and family members

A street at dusk in the historic part of Hall in Tirol

August – Finally, a holiday in Austria and I get to take pretty pictures of picturesque streets

Business portrait of Andy Harriss

September – Andy Harris of Rookery Software Ltd is a man every bit as interesting as his hair

Eight-year-old Scout Adam Henderson concentrates on packing customer bags for charity at Tesco's store in Salisbury

October – Eight-year-old Scout Adam Henderson concentrates on packing customer bags for charity at Tesco’s store in Salisbury

Chef John Melican stands at a farm gate with the sign PLEASE SHUT GATE nailed to it

November – A fresh portrait for chef John Melican’s new Melican’s Events website

Yarn-bombed tree in Melksham, Wiltshire

December – On the way back to the car from a job in Melksham I couldn’t resist a shot of this yarn-bombed tree in the December sunshine

 

 

 

What Kind of Photographer Am I? (or not)

Scene of a section of Cley Hill, Wiltshire, at dusk with blue sky and the sun just touching the edge of the hill.

Cley Hill is a favourite area for me to walk. I find detail shots work better than trying to capture the whole thing, which always ends up looking like a small pimple in the landscape.

It’s quite possible I’ve mentioned here and there that while my main photographic work concentrates on taking pictures for businesses and publications, I don’t try to fill diary gaps with weddings. I repeat I DON’T DO WEDDINGS.

I believe in concentrating on what I do best, marketing my strengths and leaving my weaknesses to those who can fulfil those tasks better than I.

But weddings aren’t the only discipline I don’t cover. I haven’t shot sport in several years. I used to do a fair bit of football for the Mail on Sunday when I lived in Portsmouth. I can’t say I enjoyed it especially, not helped by my general disdain for football, and I’d certainly never claim I got to be anything as good as any of the top sports photographers in the land, but I turned in good quality results on deadline and even got the occasional exclusive. I covered Wimbledon a couple of times, but really I think it’s best these things are left to people who have the experience and the passion to turn in stunning results time after time. Otherwise, I’m just another person with a camera clogging up the photographers’ pit.

If there is one area I wish I was better at, and which I really need to give myself a kick up the arse to do more of, it has to be nature and landscapes. Not because I expect these to be an important part of my business in the sense of making a living from them, but because on the odd occasion I get to take such images, I enjoy the challenge and sometimes the results.

One thing which is true of all good (or great) photography is that it’s not the camera or any of the other fancy equipment, but the eye, experience, foresight, passion and determination of the wetware behind the eyepiece (the photographer) which makes it great.

Now I’m setting myself a goal; I may never be a ground-breaking landscape photographer, but I’m going to try harder to get out there, shoot landscapes and find a style and an angle which pleases me, which might also inform my corporate work and which might actually please others too. You never know, it might become a respected body of work, but I appreciate that might have to happen posthumously.

I wonder if anyone fancies forward-dating a cheque for the first million-pound image I sell after I die?

 

Butter Papped

Well ok, I don’t know if the milk from the cows I featured a few weeks ago went into this particular butter, but it would be lovely to imagine it did because this is butter which won gold in the Danish International Food Competition, a competition the Danes have won consistently for the past decade. Rather like beating the Australians at cricket *ahem*, moving swiftly on…

Tim Gander in full protective suit for hygiene purposes during a visit to Westbury Dairy

On my first trip to the site, suited and booted for a visit to the production floor

I’ve been to Westbury dairy a couple of times now, and it’s always fascinating from experiencing the extensive hygiene regime (I have to scrub in at least twice, and even the feet of my stepladder and lighting stand had to be dipped in disinfectant bath) to seeing the incredible production line, with packs of butter whooshing around like the buttery equivalent of Willy Wonka’s factory.

The brief on this one was to get a punchy, upright shot for the company magazine. Group photos rarely make good upright shots, but I don’t mind a challenge and luckily it wasn’t a vast group. The lighting in the factory is very mixed, and can make everyone look very yellow, so I used two flash heads to cover the group and the gubbins around them in order to reduce the colour cast.

The shoot went incredibly well, with the production line chaps being very friendly, patient and obliging, though my throat was a little sore after from having to shout instructions over the noise of the machinery. Plus we all had to wear ear defenders, making communication that bit harder, but we got through with shouting and sign language.

So next time you buy Asda Unsalted English Butter, you know it’s not only local, but an international winner. I might even have photographed it! Mmmm, famous butter really is the best.

Westbury Dairy production team holding butter and certificates while standing on the production floor.

Some of the Westbury Dairy production team with their gold award and lovely butter

Pixelheads: Nicola Jones

Pixelheads is a new and occasional feature for this blog. When the mood takes me and circumstances allow, I will interview a random person about their photography. The interviews will not be with professional photographers – those can be read in abundance elsewhere. I’m interested to find out what makes a non-professional photographer tick.

Here is the first Pixelheads interview:

Nicola Jones, aged 34, of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, is a keen photographer, budding graphic designer, and founder of the Bradford on Avon Photography Group.

I asked her about her life, photography, influences and tastes.

Graphic Designer Nicola Jones of Bath

Nicola Jones likes to shoot grime and decay.

What do you do for a living? 

I’m an office manager and designer and to progress my designing career I’m interning at a Bath design agency.

When did you get into photography? 

When I moved to Bradford on Avon in 2009, the place inspired me to start taking pictures.

What cameras do you use? 

I have a Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm kit lenses, and a 50mm f1.8, which is my favourite lens, a Canon Powershot S90 and a Polaroid 500.

The S90 is my main carry-around camera, with the D3000 being for more complicated stuff. I love using the Polaroid camera, but the new film doesn’t work well through my camera because it’s a bit volatile in daylight, so I need to find packs of old stock.

What kind of pictures do you like to take? 

I’m a bit of a mixed bag really. I went through a big macro phase when I had a macro-enabled bridge camera – shooting things like Lego minifigs (Minifigures), but I’ve got into shooting derelict buildings because I like grime and decay. Street photography too, though not so much of that now.

Lego minifigure with Free Hugs sign.

Nicola's minifig phase...

Tell me more about the minifigs shots. 

I started with standard figures, then they brought out series of figures (Star Wars, Batman) and I’d buy a handful of those. I’d set up film themes like Psycho, Forrest Gump sitting on a bench, that sort of thing.

Titanic? 

No, the arms don’t go out the right way for that, but I did The Shining. But I stopped doing those pics and sold most of the minifigs. I go through phases really.

Why not the street photography so much now? 

I enjoyed it, I used to snap away and not care, but had some run-ins with people complaining and I sort of lost confidence. It doesn’t float my boat as much now.

And the derelict building photography; what draws you to that? 

I’ve been to a few places; hotels old factories, that sort of thing. Obviously you have to be very careful, but it’s so interesting to capture the essence of a place. Getting a sense of what was there before, the life that was there and what used to happen. One hotel I visited still has a website as if it still takes bookings, which is quite funny.

Interior view of derelict building

Vanished lives haunt Nicola's derelict building photos.

Which photographers do you admire? 

Martin Parr; I understand his approach. I just think his photos are amazing. The New Brighton series especially.

Don McCullin also, his conflict work. The landscapes don’t do it for me, but I understand why he had to do them – to get his brain back together again. Then if we’re talking portraits, it’s got to be Jane Bown.

What’s next photography-wise for you? 

At the moment I’m devoting more time to my design work, but looking forward to seeing Martin Parr’s exhibition at the Bristol M shed when I go with the Bradford on Avon Photography Group soon.

Case Study: Studio & PR shots

Here’s a slightly unusual scenario; A client requires one set of pictures for their website, and a couple more for press release. They only have one slot in which to get everything done, so who they gonna call?

Hilton Vending is a local business owned by Martin and Sarah Killian, set up in 1992 installing drinks and snacks machines. They recently ventured onto the internet and got their first website built, but they needed a few images to personalise it. After all, their clients know them and they’ve got a friendly approach so hiding behind stock images of anonymous people was leaving their website looking a little sterile.

At the same time, they needed images to go with a press release regarding the change that is coming to, er, change. To be precise, 5p and 10p coins will be changed to coins with a different alloy content and makeup (you can find out more here) and this will result in a cost implication for any business operating coin-based services – drink and snack machines, auto tolls like the new Severn Bridge crossing, parking machines. All these systems will need to be re-calibrated. Martin wanted to publicise this change with a press release, so needed a photo to go out with the story.

Martin and Sarah Killian of Hilton Vending, Wiltshire

This cutout was destined for the home page.

Luckily for Martin and Sarah, I was able not only to create a set of studio pictures for the website, but also illustrate the PR story with a suitable shot.

We spent a couple of hours trying different set-ups for the web photos, and in the end we got them some options which were suitable for use on various pages of the site. Originally Martin and Sarah thought they only needed a home page photo, but having got them to try various ideas we ended up with pictures they could use to spruce up the whole site.

Sarah and Martin Killian of Hilton Vending with snacks

This "bonus" shot made a fun picture for the Snacks page.

Having got the studio shots done, I took Martin outside and worked on the idea of money being poured away as a result of the forthcoming coin change. I came up with the idea of Martin pouring coins out of a coffee cup to illustrate the waste, and the kind of industry that would be affected all in one shot. Oh, and I may have snuck the company name in the background too.

Martin Killian pours money away

An eye-catching press shot, and of course there's an upright shot too.

By combining the two shoots, Hilton Vending saved time and money, and got a few extra shots they hadn’t realised they needed. We were all ready for a coffee by the end.