Wedding photography

A New Video and the London Eye.

For some time, I've been wanting to put together a showcase / advertising video – but a lack of ability and a lack of time to gain the ability has held me back.  However, I came across an IOS app made by Adobe called ‘Voice’.  This lets you create short annotated videos with ease, adding photos and music.  Whilst quite limited, the limitations encourage you to focus onto just putting the clip together.  I’ll probably re-do the clips over time, adding different pictures etc, but I’m actually quite pleased with the result.  I've added the video to my FaceBook page, and it’s also heading up the Weddings page on this site.

Here it is, let me know what you think:

Also this week, I found myself in London and I finally got around to photographing the London Eye.  I tried a number of angles, from directly across the Thames, from Westminster Bridge, the Golden Jubilee Bridge, and right next to the wheel (which produced by favourite image of the session.)  I think I’ll try the session again closer to dusk as opposed to night as – in my opinion – it produces a more interesting sky.  Still, I think I’ll get at least one of these printed out for display.

The London Eye at Night.

Remember that if you’re looking to book me for weddings or events get in touch as early as you can to ensure I’m not already booked up (as bookings are steadily rolling in!)

Thanks for reading!

Al.

Where has the time gone?!?!

Soooooo, it’s been quite a while since my last blog update – and I really have no excuse apart from being busy busy busy!

My last post was about the great time I had photographing the Summer Ball at RAF Cosford – and the good news is that I’ve been given a repeat-booking to cover their Christmas Ball next month!  I’ve got lots of ideas for this next ‘event’ assignment, not least a better way of wirelessly getting the photographs from the camera to the laptop.  At the Summer Ball, I tried to use an EyeFi Mobi Pro memory card – essentially a memory card that generates a WiFi bubble for transferring photographs over to a laptop or tablet.  Although it worked flawlessly in testing ahead of the night, it wasn’t playing ball at all and I had to resort to a very (very!) long USB cable.  I’ve since invested in another WiFi solution, this time from Nikon themselves – again it’s been totally reliable in testing but I’ll be keeping the long cable handy just in case!

Should've been great - but was a big frustration.

Should've been great - but was a big frustration.

Those of you with eagle-eyes may have noticed my FaceBook feed has had some more wedding pictures appearing, it’s been a great year for weddings, and it’s been an honour (and lots of fun) to be able to document these really special days.  At the most recent wedding, I offered the couple an extra of a photobooth-style setup for their reception.  That was a great deal of fun, with the addition of a few props their guests really let their hair down and it added a wonderful extra set of pictures for the couple.

On a personal level, I’m building a portfolio of sufficient quality to qualify for a Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), which will allow me to use the post-nominals LRPS, which shows that the quality of my work has reached (or exceeded) the very high standards of the RPS.  To that end, I attended an advisory day in Nottingham to have my current set of images examined with a view to suggest improvements.  As luck would have it, my set of images were first up – and I got a lot of positive feedback, with some pointers on areas for improvement.  These were mainly related to technical aspects rather than artistic ones – the LRPS process is largely aimed at proving a photographer’s technical ability ahead of their artistic vision.  For example, I have a photograph on the site of a bride looking out of a window; I hope you’ll agree that this is a great image; however, as much of the picture is pure white, it’s deemed not up to standard.  No big deal, I now know what the judging panel is looking for, and I need to get a collection of 10 images that meet the full guidelines.  I should (other commitments notwithstanding) be ready to apply early next year.  I will of course let you know how I get on!

My 10 images ready for critique (along with my daughter's ballet bag!)

My 10 images ready for critique (along with my daughter's ballet bag!)

An Interview

I was recently contacted by one of my listing partners, and asked for a short interview, you can see the results below - I hope it give you a bit of an insight into my me and my approach to the business.  The original text can be found at the Cylex listing site:

http://www.cylex-uk.co.uk/company-interviews/a-d-hall-photography_23672235.html


A D Hall Photography is a small company dedicated to helping you capture memories that will last a lifetime.  Alan offers wedding photography services, along with portraits, engagement shoots, concert and event photography. We asked him a few other questions to get a better understanding on what he does.

Cylex 1. What represents you as a photographer?

A D Hall Photography: That is a very good question!  At the very basic level, I'm a husband and Dad, which I hope helps me connect with my clients as I've 'been there, done that' myself!  Helping people capture their special day or event also brings me a great deal of satisfaction. The other side of what I do, the landscapes etc, lets me explore the more artistic side of photography, which I can then fold back into the weddings and portraits.

Cylex 2. What sort of equipment do you use?  

A D Hall Photography: I currently use professional Nikon DLSR cameras, with a variety of Nikon and Sigma lenses, and Nikon Flashes. Aside from the camera equipment, I also use a portable studio setup.

Cylex 3. Do you shoot with an assistant?  

A D Hall Photography: I don't have an assistant, but as the business grows I may consider it for larger jobs.                                     

Cylex 4. Do you shoot in RAW? What about the the vintage look?

A D Hall Photography: I do shoot in RAW - I find this gives me much more detail in the images, and allows more creative freedom once the image is in the computer. It also helps to achieve whatever 'look' the clients want; there is currently a trend for the Instagram-style colours, but I can deliver whatever style the client decides upon.

Cylex 5. Do you offer albums? What’s the average cost?  

A D Hall Photography: As part of my Wedding package, I offer an A4-sized hardback photobook - I personally prefer these to the traditional wedding albums, as they look great and are actually likely to be pulled down from a shelf and looked at!  Additional books can then be ordered - depending in the number of pages, these cost around £35 - £45.  I can, through my print partners, offer the larger wedding albums, along with mini-photo books.  The range is so diverse (number of pages, finish etc) that pricing is incredibly varied.  I talk to my clients and then price up exactly what they want.

Cylex 6. Will you post the photographs online on your web pages?

A D Hall Photography: Aside from using images on my site for advertising / demonstrating my skills, I upload all the clients pictures to a password-protected gallery for them to view, or to share with friends and relatives.  The images are then available for purchase as prints or downloads directly from the site. (Wedding and portrait clients get all the images on DVD or USB stick so are free to order prints themselves.)                          

Cylex 7. What’s your favorite subject for your photography?  

A D Hall Photography: Weddings are great fun, but can also be quite hectic and stressful, so I do also enjoy the slower pace of long-exposure landscapes from time to time!

Christmas, sales integration and some new toys.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'm sure I'm not unique in having a very busy festive period, with the usual last-minute shopping, some very excited children on the big day, a night at the panto and some new toys to play with!

But first, I've made another tweak to my website, so that clients can buy prints or full-resolution downloads of images.  This is enabled through a company called Fotomoto (www.fotomoto.com) - they're based in California, but have European print partners to keep postal costs down. I can see this will be really useful for selling prints at events, without having to worry about handling payments at the event itself.  I can easily set up a password-protected gallery and give the required details out on cards.  The clients can choose size and finish as they require and the print is then posted directly to them.  Another nice touch is the ability to send an ecard to anyone, and they get a web-quality picture with your message attached. They can then click direct-links to buy the print or download if they like it.  The Fotomoto system integrates with the Squarespace site pretty seamlessly, so overall I'm really happy.

The new toys I mentioned are a nice little pile of studio kit from my good lady - backdrop frame, lighting stands, lighting umbrellas and some continuous lights.  Continuous lights aren't ideal for event portraits, but they're excellent for pet or baby shoots as there's no flashes to make the subject jump or blink!  For the occasions that I do want to use flashes, the stands etc all still perfect.

I was also lucky enough that Santa brought me a Blackrapid Yeti camera strap.  The Blackrapid (www.blackrapid.com) system is different from the standard camera strap in that it fits over one shoulder, rather than around your neck.  This is really comfy, and keeps the camera out of the way if you're not shooting.  The Yeti adds another strap to the standard set-up, allowing 2 cameras to be carried - this is great for weddings or parties where I need to be able to quickly switch between long and short lenses.  I'm looking forward to trying it out on my next shoot!

The photo at the top of this blog post was taken outside of my in-laws' house.  I was hoping to get a long-exposure shot of Santa / International Space Station flying by, but cloud ruined that!  I then decided to try a shot of the neighbour's Christmas decorations!  I had to place my tripod in the middle of the street, but as it's a quiet cul-de-sac I felt pretty safe!

Thanks for all the support in 2014; I hope you've all had a great Christmas, and that you've got a fantastic 2015 ahead of you.

Many thanks,

Al.

Bookings Bookings Bookings! (and a new project!)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with wedding  bookings rolling in for 2015, and already some tentatives for 2016 (including the winner of my 20% discount competition.)  I have an August booking for a central London wedding that includes an open-top bus ride and formal pictures inTrafalgar Square – I’m sure that’ll produce some great images!  So with my 2015 weekends filling up fast, if you’re planning on getting hitched next year, get in touch soon to guarantee my availability.

I had a spare hour (and it was only an hour!) last Saturday and I had a quick look at the arboretum in Lincoln near the hospital.  I’d seen it on a couple of road signs in Lincoln and then searched it out on Google maps, thinking it may make a great photoshoot location.  All I can say is what a great spot it is!  With fountains, a bandstand, large stone staircases, a wide boulevard, a mini-maze, ornamental ponds and a giant statue of a lion, there are loads of possibilities for family shoots, engagement shoots and post-wedding trash / cherish the dress shoots.  Here are some of my rapid iPhone pictures: 

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In other developments, I have started on a project to build a photo-booth for use at parties or wedding receptions.  The concept is that guests can then enter the booth, and with a remote control take their own picture that will then be added to a slideshow on a projector.  I’ve had a bit of play with my gear, and after lots of faffing with various bits of software, I’ve got a workable technical solution.  I had hoped to use Lightroom for everything, but I ran into a couple of issues: 1 – my laptop was still running Vista (which won’t run Lightroom 5), 2 – the camera I want to use for this isn’t supported, and 3 – the slideshow module doesn’t auto-update with new images as they’re taken.  So, I’ve upgraded to Windows 7 and I now have the tethered shooting handled by a free programme called digiCamControl; the images are then auto-imported into Lightroom.  I then use a free plug-in called ‘Show Biz’ that handles the slideshow element (and supports the addition of images as they’re taken.)  It sounds like a mess, but in practice it actually works seamlessly – the user / customer doesn’t see the workings, just the final slideshow of their self-shot photos appearing!  There are a couple of things I need to now sort – a projector to display the pictures, and then I need to actually build a booth!  I have some plans (see pic) and I think I’ll build it out of PVC pipe for lightness and portability.  I’ll try and document how this little project goes in future posts.

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Thanks for reading,

Al.

Who will win? (Plus some MotoGP and a festival.)

Well it's been a busy couple of weeks, firstly - have you entered the competition to win 20% off the price of a wedding package? Just comment on the post on my FaceBook page to be in with a chance - competition closes on 20 Sep.

The next thing is I had some fantastic luck in winning tickets to the qualifying day of the MotoGP at Silverstone. It was a good day - you can see some pics on my Facebook page and there is perhaps my best one of the day on this site - British rider Scott Redding pulling a wheelie after the last session.  I think my long-ish lens wasn't really long enough, to get really close to the action, so maybe I'll rent something next time.

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The other event was a 'Fake Festival' held just round the corner. This is a mini-festival featuring a number of local bands, with some top tribute acts as headliners. After talking with the organisers I was kitted out with a makeshift access all areas wristband and filled my memory card up with photos. As I'd not done this kind of photography before, I was keen to give it a go - I've put some galleries of the specific bands up on the Facebook page, and I've started a new gallery on this site. Take a look and tell me what you think - I'm really pleased how they came out.

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Remember to enter the 20% discount competition - I select a winner on 20 Sep!  

Al.