Monday, 4 May 2009

Indoors, up-country

With the weather getting better (well, I am an optimist!), it would be nice to think that all our assignments will be set outdoors from now on. Being realistic, of course, this won't be the case - by default, some projects dictate an indoor set-up. Think product and food photography, room sets and medical sector - that sort of thing.

April saw a trip up-country to Cumbria, to undertake a follow-on shoot for a hotel set in the glorious Lake District. I love the outdoors and this area of the country always holds great appeal, so the long drive up there didn't seem half as bad when faced with such a backdrop.

The task at hand was to photograph a number of recently-refurbished bedrooms and some of the finer details contained therein. For this, I used one of my favourite setups - one tripod-mounted camera, two lenses (wideangle for overviews, standard for closer details), and one/two mains-powered lights, each bounced off the ceiling.

Now, the joy of lighting any subject is that there exists a great deal of flexibility - and therefore potential visual results - in the equipment we can use. On location outdoors, for example, regular readers will know I am a great fan of using small, lightweight flash guns, making the most of wireless technology.

However, when photographing room sets, I nearly always turn to the use of 'continuous' lamps, specifically a set of 1000-watt halogens. These are great, and typify the essence of lighting. Simple and 'no-frills', they produce a very natural light, enabling me to see immediately how the subject is looking, where shadows are falling and where any unwanted highlights might appear, even before I take the first test picture.

Having spent many thousands of pounds on the refit, it made sense for our client to again make use of strong imagery in the marketing of their hotel. And as GBP produced the previous set of pictures, it also made sense to have us back so as to keep a continuity.

In these tough economic times, there is a tendency for businesses to hold back on their advertising/marketing activities and, unfortunately, one of the first casualties of this action is frequently professional photography. Out of this, two observations can be made:
  • Firstly - 'in-house', 'DIY' photography often has a negative effect on your business. For example, you might have a nice website and a great product, but many is the time we have seen poor 'snap-shot' imagery not just completely undermine the efforts of a web paid designer, but also make a company's product/staff/service look second-rate and amateurish when compared to those of their competitors.
  • Secondly - any marketing company will tell you that when times are tough, the last thing you should do is cut your marketing spend. Rather, you should invest (within your budget, of course) in keeping your product/service in the minds of existing and potential clients. When things calm down, you will then be ahead of those competitors who have held back - clearly an advantage.
A final note about these last points, in something of an ironic twist - It doesn't have to cost as much as you think to employ such professional services, but not heeding these warnings can/will have a profound effect on your business, to the point where it is very difficult to recover from such a 'cutting corners' approach.

It doesn't cost anything to ask for advice or opinion, so feel free to get in touch or speak up in the comments section of this post!

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