MANCHESTER Commercial photography | wedding photography | landscape photography
Inspiring Awards Ceremony 2017
I spent a super afternoon spent in the grand surroundings of the Midland hotel in Manchester photographing the award ceremony for Inspiring Awards. An incredible event, it is held every year and this year was also their 25th anniversary. The awards do itself is wherethey celebrate women in business and the community achievements. A great cause in aid of charity arranged by the splendid Jacqueline Hughes Lundy.
It was a great afternoon spent photographing the nominees and winners for use in PR and websites channels, and generally just wandering around with my cameras, looking for those moments.
I find myself doing photoshoots in some bizarre places. From a tiny boardroom or B&B bedroom, tothe 17th floor of a construction site, to a crypt under a church.
Yes. I said a crypt. Over a period of 3 months I’ve done 3 separate shoots from London to Edinburgh for Ramtech Electronics. Ramtech design and manufacture innovative wireless safety and security solutions. In particular, they wanted to photograph their WES+ fire alarm system which has been developed for construction sites. The system is able to wirelessly connect to the base station, usually in the site office, and can be placed in every aspect of a construction site. With fire wish being quite high, a wireless system was very innovative. However, the devices themselves are quite small, and basically a white box. The brief was to photograph the system in place in and around various construction site settings, each had their own unique fire risk element to them.
I photographed an apartment site in Manchester, and house build in Romford, and the start of a coffee shop fit out, under a church in Edinburgh, or more specifically in a crypt. The idea was to not just show the system in situ, but to show it in context. For example, to photograph it near a tradesman using a blowtorch to plumb radiators, or grinding some stone, that generated sparks in a dry and dusty environment.
A great project, all with very difficult and challenging circumstances to work in.
Handrail Creations Photoshoot
I especially love doing commercial photography with local business. And although I’m very happy to travel all over, there;s something nice about keeping the local economy ticking over. As such it was great to work with Handrail Creations in Bolton. An interesting photoshoot too. Handrail Creations design and manufacture beautiful wooden handrails, and they approached me to capture the various manufacturing processes and skills they have.
Working in dusty and dark environments is always a challenge, added to the fact that they are w working business, so speed and adaptability were the order of the day. Working with two Canon Speedlite 430s connected wirelessly and umbrellas I was able to significantly improve the lighting without having large power units or cables running everywhere. In an ever changing environment this was particularly handy, so I could move quickly to shoot some hand finishing, or get out of the way as and when I needed to.
The most challenging aspect was photographing a detail of one of the processes without giving too much away. After the machine was set up, I climbed inside the machine and, under strict supervision, shot some extremely close up details using only available light.
My particular favourite part of the shoot though was shooting the two young craftsman who did all the hand finishing. Again shooting and setting up quickly, I was able to capture some great shots of the lads.
Haighton Manor Opening
I was delighted to be asked to shoot the soft launch of the refurbished Haighton Manor on Sunday 4th September for Brunning and Price as it joined their family of pub restaurants.
Strictly by invitation only, Haighton Manor opened its doors at 12.00 until 4.00 for a limited number of guests so they could iron out any potential problems and get it perfect for the main opening on the following Wednesday.
The brief was fairly extensive, and I’ve outlined some below of the main requirements below:
Outside • Plenty of exterior and interior shots • Overviews / wider shots of all the the different rooms (busy tables of people - staff waiting on etc) • People in the bar area • Bar tender serving (pulling pints / handing drinks over etc etc. • People being served • General / wider compositions that show the pub as a busy place and capture the atmosphere. • Close ups of the cask ale pumps/ back bar of whiskeys, back bar of gins • General closer details that show the style of the pub etc
Team photo Shots showing off the location along with closer details of hanging baskets, flower beds etc.
Food and drink Food shots are important and each of our pubs have their own menus so we try our best to avoid using food photos from one pub in another. So, starters, mains and desserts
Unfortunately, where it was anice day, it was a bit on the chilly side so the beautiful terrace was empty so very few of the guests got to enjoy the fabulous views and surroundings.
NG Bailey team and event photography
I love the variety being a photographer and designer brings to my daily life. Gone are the days when I was chained to my desk, sometimes spending 12 hours or more staring at a Mac. Sure, I still have days like that. The main difference is now I get to go to new places and meet new people sometimes 2-3 times a week. This post is an example of that.
I was contacted by Phil at Hobs Reprographics in Manchester about photographing some team members at one of their clients who they were pulling a tender together for. Happy do help the out I was put in touch with their contact and I arranged a time to come down and shoot the corporate portraits that were need for the bid. As ever with a job like this I got popped into a small conference room. Makes for a bit of challenge fitting the lights and background into such a space, but, you work with what you're given. You have too. And you make sure the results are spot on.
I must have done something right (I joke of course), especially when the person I had been liaising with, Sue, got back in touch about shooting and event they were holding for the same bid at the Copthorne Hotel in Salford Quays. The event was to introduce their supply chain to the project and get them interested should the bid prove to be successful.
A breakfast event, I was asked to capture a variety of networking images before the presentation. Then once inside, try and show the presentation and audience engaged. Not easy in these environments, but the end result was pretty good.
Now a memberof the same supply chain, I’m looking forward to continue to work with Sue and her team at NG Bailey.
Galloways Print location photography
Going into a working business to photograph it’s working day is always a challenge. Particularly when it’s a deadline driven company like Galloways Print is. This photoshoot was part of a larger project that involved the redesign and build of their website (see here). Like a few projects I’ve undertaken over the years I was able to offer the photography to go along side the design and build of their new site. This really enabled me to control the style of photography and what I needed to photography during the shoot.
The photoshoot was split over two half days the first was concentrated on capturing the business end of the company. Print processes, finishing, packing, checking where all photographed. Even the less glamorous side, the storage and fulfilment areas where captured for the purposes of the website design. But the best part of the shoot was capturing the heroes of the business. Like many small companies, their reputation and quality is build on the skill and workmanship of their team. So where possible, I set about photographing a number of employees at work. The style was mixed between looking directly at camera or doing their job. All with the purpose of portraying Galloways as a professional and skilled outfit!
The second shoot was the meet the team. It was great fun trying to get some of the less comfortable folk to relax in front of camera. Made worse by shooting them in the middle of the shop floor in front quite a few of their colleagues.
I had to pop back and finish a couple of shots off, due to the logistics on my scheduled days, but that’s part of the job. All in a great day photography, with some cracking images for the website.
Product and set photography for Showerdrape
With any trade I think you are always learning so when the opportunity came up to do a type of studio photography I hadn't done before, I leapt at the chance. This project in question, was to shoot the product photography for Showerdrape Ltd, a Manchester based bathroom accessories trade supplier in February. This was part of a bigger project I had been commissioned to do for them - which was to design and artwork their catalogue supplement. This was a fabulous project to work on which included studio photography, set photography in the studio and on location. All with design in mind.
All of the product photos needed to be approved as I shot them as well, so I took the decision to shoot straight to laptop and using Lighroom CC I processed them and emailed them straight to the client. this approach certainly helped and was almost like having the client in the studio. A useful efficiency technique.
There are a number tricky challenges to overcome with selective products, and shooting varying types of product can mean having to constantly change the lighting setup. But despite all of this I turned the photography around in 2 days in a studio, and the whole design and artwork on the project in 2 weeks.
I truly love what I do. Be it capturing a wedding, shooting architecture or photographing an event like this, it provides me with such a diverse range of photographic challenges (and great nights out as well). So you won’t be surprised to learn I was delighted when Andrew Nutter, celebrity chef, Rochdale Man of the Year and all round Mr Nice approached me asking if I could help shoot the opening night of his Lancashire gastropub, The Bird. Located down the road from Nutter’s Restaurant, the pub was packed to the rafters with 150 guests.
Andrew was handed the keys to the dilapidated Bird i’ th’ Hand pub on Rochdale Road, by his Mum and Dad for Christmas in 2014. Since then it has seen an incredible £1million restoration project. Designed by his dad Rodney Nutter with the construction carried out by H Bells and Sons in Rochdale, The Bird has been transformed into an architecturally beautiful venue, serving stunning local fayre with gorgeous views over Ashworth Moor.
The night started with drinks on the forecourt before, with a background of mission impossible music, Andrew helicoptered in typical flamboyant style to the rescue when Hannah, the pubs new landlady ‘couldn’t find the keys’.
Once inside, with live music playing downstairs, the guests were treated to freshly cooked treats and a free bar, with all the proceeds of the ticket sales going the Nutter’s favoured charity, Springfield Hospice in Rochdale, with over £5000 raised.
As the guests were then introduced to upstairs and the gorgeous balcony, and more live music by local artist Aaron Welby. Speeches and thankyous were made by Andrew and the party went on into the night!
One thing i know for sure. is by the end of the night, the Bird had truly flown.
DMM Product and Factory Photography
Two photoshoots for DMM Professional - the arm of DMM International that designs and manufactures working at height safety gear, rather than climbing equipment - but both used in the same catalogue.
I had worked on the DMM account from a design point of view for a few years so I was fairly knowledgeable about the various processes they used to manufacture their world class products. I had even art directed one or two photoshoots for the retail catalogue they produced every year.
Having this experience and relationship with the business was always going to help. Because the catalogue was home to several hundred pieces, these had been shot as and when they had them in stock by a local studio. So the brief for the photography was only to capture some of the manufacturing processes used in the making of the products, and then produce some hero product photography that made them look sexy but strong!
The factory shoot was the hardest. With it being a small North Wales based business, the plant itself was very busy. Lots going on in a small space, so setting up lights was never going tobe an option. Instead, I had to make use of any natural light there was, withnobody flash and exposure times. The brief being to capture the hands on approach and care they have when manufacturing their wares.
The hero shot was much easier. Shooting wide open with a macro lens and strong side on lighting made the metal and anodised colouring really stand out, made sexy by the very shallow depth of field. Even capturing some of the strength ratings and British Standards marks. Overall the shots looked great, but when seen in context of the brochure they looked amazing, even if I do say so myself.
Landscape photography for a landscape company
It’s always fantastic to pick up new commercial photography clients. When Hultons Landscapes got in touch a week or so back, I was excited. The brief was to shoot a number of ongoing projects across the northwest for use online and in awards entries.
Once we knew we were going to have the weather, the arrangements were made for the Thursday and I set off to meet the site manager at their offices in Dunham Massey.
After I shot three new starters, we set off to location number one: Aldi Distribution Centre in Farnworth. This was a huge site and they were still cultivating parts of it for planting. I was asked to make sure the Aldi logo didn't appear in any of the shots as well!
An hour spent here shooting overall views, details of wild flowers and grasses, they have to include in new developments, we set off to site number two in Huyton, Merseyside. This was a new development of apartments opened by Lord Coe. Hultons Landscapes were hoping to have the contract renewed for the grounds maintenance so site was immaculate. A gorgeous courtyard was the main feature.
Site number three was a little harder to cover. Still classed as an active building site, PPE had to be worn, fences surrounded the landscaping so it was a challenge to get the photos to show how nice the landscape design was without making it look like a building site.
Finally, and as an extra, we scurried to Altrincham Grammar Schools for Girls, where Hultons Landscapes are responsible for maintaining the grounds. Although not absolutely necessary, it was a nice to have during school holidays. It would have been impossible to photograph during term time.
All the images were needed urgently. Friday morning was spent processing them and uploaded them to Dropbox for the client to download as high resolution and web resolution versions.
Importantly the client absolutely loved the images and hopefully I’ll be doing a lot more over the coming weeks.
Portrait photography for Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald
As well as being a photographer, I also provide high end graphic design to businesses large and small. One of which I recently completed (read about it here). It was large graphic design job for Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald. This particular joint venture business was responsible for maintaining the network of roads in Kent called Area 4, for Highways England.
Unfortunately, after 13 years, they lost the contract so decided to produce a celebration book of some of the many stories and achievements the business had to tell.
As part of the creative pitch I proposed, I was very specific about how I felt the interview photographs should appear. Because I’m also a photographer I was able to provide this service as well, and not have to art direct another photographer. The benefits to this were I got exactly what I wanted for the book, and the other was that they were able to save some money.
The plan was for the book to contain a number of interviews with key team members who had compelling stories to tell. So, on two separate occasions, I jumped in the car and drove to Kent. I’m pretty used to long days and long distances, but I have to say this was a stretch!
The first shoot took place in their offices, using portable lighting and a white background. The second took place at a motorway service depot. I’ve never seen so many gritters! As will most photoshoots that involved normal people, employees, managers and so on, they aren't particularly comfortable in front on the camera.
One thing I do pride myself on is helping people to relax and almost pretend I’m not there. Forced smiles don’t show the character or personality of them, so I think it's always good to capture them when their guard is down.
Hotel and B&B photography for Amazon
One thing that hotels and bed and breakfast establishments need to do is sell rooms. A lot of hotels and b&bs use the likes of laterooms.com or Groupon for example. Regardless of which platform they do use, one of the best ways to do this is for prospective customers to be able to see what those rooms are like. I find it incredible as one of the people when I look online and the room photography either doesn't do it justice or there just isn't any decent photography!
Amazon Destinations offered the sort of deal Groupon would email you about. Signing up with Amazon meant hotels could advertise their reduced rate deals to Amazon’s huge database of customers. A great idea, especially for some of the independent hotels and B&Bs that don’t have the marketing backup from a large hotel group. These special offers would also be featured online. Unfortunately due to a change in the market, Amazon pulled the plug on the site after only a few months.
The project itself was massive. Over the course of 4 months I photographed over 30 hotels and B&Bs all over the country. Travelling as far a the New Forest, to Pembrokeshire, and all the way to the Lake District.
The brief was very thorough too. A minimum of 20 architectural, interior, or detail photographs of each hotel and B&B, that captured a documentary view of the building and its facilities. Each hotel met with a different photographic challenge though and it was a superb project to be involved in.
Even though this didn't work out it really does emphasise the need to have good quality photography to sell your hotel or B&B to prospective customers. The same could be said for office space or even if you were selling your house.
If you are a business in this sector and think you could do with some snazzy photography to help sell your offering, then get in touch here.
Portrait photography with an urban twist
I recent photoshoot for scriptwriter and local poet, Argh Kid (David Scott).
Tagged a "thinking man's Shaun Ryder" he combines monkey business, melancholy, grit and wisdom. From hilarious drug escapades 'Tripping with Jackie Chan', to questioning race and identity 'Beige Boy' and championing home with civic pride on '...So Much To Answer For'. Argh Kid "Brings humour, heart and a whole range of genuine emotion to his work." With tales of friendship & fighting to drugs, music & love. It's a superb fresh mix of stinging social commentary and pub-toilet-sink realism.
Already a self confessed fan of my Manchester photography and my gritty black and white urban style, he called me asking if I could help him out with a photoshoot in Manchester City Centre. The brief was to try and capture Manchester’s industrial heritage merged with the modern day version - in a style that suited his own unique voice. The photographs are to be used on his press releases and made available for download from Greater Manchester Fringe Press Info section where he is due to perform in July.
Time was limited though - because of his job as a freelance writer - so we headed to the most Mancunian location we could think of that was instantly recognisable - Castlefield. It is used a lot for this kind of shoot but ultimately it does what you want it to do. And that is to provide an urban background that spans the ages.
David was great to photograph and it was great fun, although it was hard to concentrate over his posing and constant chatter which was for the most part incredibly funny.
Nutters Restaurant - interior and exterior photography
Over the past year I have done quite a lot of exterior and interior photography for hotels and restaurants, so you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to shoot one of the best restaurants in the North West?
I met Andrew Nutter, celebrity chef and the proprietor of Nutters Restaurant in Edenfield about two years ago when he bought several of my Manchester landscapes. An encounter purely down to Twitter I might add.
The chance purchase Andrew made eventually led to me doing some new photography of his restaurant for marketing and website use.
It was one of those amazing autumnal days we occasionally get. It certainly brings into stark contrast the horrendous weather we have had for the best part of the last 6 months. With beautiful blue skies, low sunlight and stunning oranges and yellows adoring the trees, it made for a magical morning photographing the outside of the former stately home and war one hospital.
The venue itself is stunning, both inside and out it is no surprise that it’s a popular wedding venue as well as restaurant. Quite rightly, Andrew and his family are proud of what they have created.
The shoot took place on a Monday when the restaurant was closed. As this was more about the venue than atmosphere it made sense not to have their guests tripping over my tripod as I went about my business. I arrived around 11.00am, and took advantage of the gorgeous late morning autumn light touching the beautifully restored exterior of the restaurant.
Fast forward to lunch and the man himself pops by to say hello, giving me the chance to take a quick photograph of him out of his usual chef attire.
The interior met with a few challenges, for example the best table had been cleared away for a charity event, but overall I was able to get what I wanted to achieve for him.
GE Robinson location photography
A location shoot for GE Robinson, a timber yard that operates out of several branches across the UK. I was referred via design agency in Northern Ireland who had been commissioed by the parent company Haldane Fisher to design and build a new website for GE Robinson.
A lot of my work comes via referrals so I am always rather pleased to get approached to undertake a commercial shoot which involved photographing the timber yard in Salford for GE Robinson, for their new website.
The challenge around shooting in a business environment, especially one like a this means you have to be aware that they are an operational business, so being able to turn up with models, stylists and so on just isn't going to happen. You also have to ensure you follow their strict health and safety rules!
But I actuallu enjoy this type of photoshoot. Commercial business premises, particularly those which serve the construction industry are real. They're not clean or shiny. They're generally a bit untidy and dirty.
Trying to capture these business doing what they do, in real time is why I get commissioned. The brief was to capture working processes, the overall operation, people and some products they produced.
Corporate portait photography for Greyland
A morning’s photography for Greyland, a Manchester based cleaning product company. I was approached via my website to see if I would come to their head office and take 8-10 head shots for their new website.
When I turned up with all my equipment they were a little surprised. 'It’s actually quite simple to be honest', I responded, as I took an hour setting up and getting the light just right. In an open office with light streaming in, this changed a lot, so it was important I got it right!
One of the hardest things to do when taking corporate portraits is to get the subject to relax. Most people don’t like having their photo taken despite the selfie craze, so it can be a real challenge to get a photo where the person in front of the camera doesn't look like a startled rabbit.
I like to think this is where my cheeky mancunian charm comes in… I usually tell a funny story about something I had just done or try and get them to tell me something… anything that relaxes them and takes their mind off the camera and two lights flashing away.
I do think it’s important if you want to have a ‘meet the team’ that the photography is at a standard that matches the professionalism of them and your business. Moreover, it doesn't take long to arrange or shoot - start to finish on this project was just over a week.
‘It’s a lot more involved than it looks, but these are brilliant’ was the feedback made by Jamie at Greyland.
Amaze 20th Birthday Event Photography
I was delighted to be commissioned (via a third party Marketing Agency - Bluestar Marketing) to shoot an important event for Amaze, a digital agency founded 20 years ago, who work with some of the works leading brands. The event was their 20th birthday conference and party.
This took place in September 2015 at the famous Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
I was asked to capture candid moments of the days events, from arrival of the team of 200 employees, lunch, the conference with the guest speakers, the art exhibition and through to the evening entertainment which included a roller disco - quite a day.
Doing any sort of event photography like this can be great fun - in many respects, its very similar to wedding photography. But it can also be quite challenging, for example, with the varying levels of light can make it hard to expose correctly, made even harder by not being able to shoot with flash. But i love a challenge a thrive off it. Over the course of the day I shot several hundred images, using an array of techniques - longer exposure to capture the band as the danced through the lunch area just being one.
Plus it’s also worth considering that many people just don't want a camera shoved in their face. Which is where I like to think I’m quite good… I try not to impose myself too much on the proceedings but try and capture the essence of the event in the photography that i do.
These photographs were then used throughout a 20th birthday celebration book that I designed and print managed. It was certainly nice to be able to see the event photography through to the end and I know Amaze were delighted with the end result.
Congratulations on making it 20 years Amaze. Happy Birthday!
Interior and team photoshoot for Strictly Waxing
You can probably imagine the thoughts running through my head when I got a call asking if I could come a photograph a waxing studio in my home town of Radcliffe. Well… no, it didn't involved photographing the look of agony etched into their latest victims faces… it was for a new mobile smartphone and tablet app, Jolene, the owner of the business, had decided to commission.
Jolene wanted me to do two 1/2 day photoshoots to cover what she needed. The first was an interiors shoot when the salon was closed, so no customers felt uncomfortable with me wandering around with my camera and tripod. The purpose of this shoot was to show how lovely the salon’s environment is—and it actually is very well done—on the app.
The second shoot was to again for the app, but was more involved. One of the key aspects of the app was a meet the team section—where the customer could see the team and the various skills each one had. It was a tight squeeze but we managed to get the white backdrop in the salon and the lights and we had an hours fun photographing each member of the team individually, then again as a full team for a billboard advert.
All good fun though and I was pleased that Jolene was extremely happy with the final photographs.
It even turns out Strictly Waxing have even waxed Liverpool comedian John Bishop, before he did a cycling challenge for charity.
At least being a commercial photographer isn't boring. Far from it in fact. I write this post in a non moaning manner. I try and avoid negative posts - so this won’t be one. However I think it’s important to understand that in the case of photography, time literally is money.
Later than planned here’s my choice for August’s wedding photo of the month. Taken at Whitehead Gardens in Bury, next door to Bury’s Registry office it just summed up the wedding and the lovely bride and groom.