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Farm Studios
London End, Earls Barton, Northampton, NN6 0EZ
United Kingdom

01604 812465

Charles Ward Photography is one of the most versatile and innovative photographic studios in Northamptonshire. As a commercial photographer for over 30 years, Charles and his team been fortunate enough to work with a whole range of clients, from leading blue chip brands to small and medium-sized local companies in all kinds of sectors to private individuals. And we’d like to work with you.

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Blog

The Photography Show 2017

CWP

Busy aisles on all the days that I visited.


The new Panasonic GH5. Stunning 180 fps and 5 axis in-body stabilisation


Can Sony break into the pro photography market? Check out the Sony A99 II


Phase One being very precise with the size of their IQ3 digital back - over 101 million pixles!


Shootproof - does what it says in the tin - brilliantly!


The 'box brownie' for 2017 - 360 virtual tours re-invented.


The Hasselblad X1D - feels great in the hand, but is it ready?


Lume Cube - simply illuminating.


If you shoot square, then print square - simples! 


If you are looking for one of the best 85mm primes - then the Sigma f1.4 EX DG Art lens is a must.


A very enthusiastic model on the Fuji stand and the XT2 was probably one of the most popular cameras at the show


Hasselblad Phocus software just gets better with every release.


One of the best exhibition stands - Loxley Colour


If you Vlog and own an iPad - this will do nicely.


Meeting up with an old friend


.... and another!

.... and another!


Does my body look small on this?

Does my lens look big on this?


Why are photographers so expensive?

CWP

The short answer to this question is that we don't think we are expensive - but we would say that wouldn't we! When we send out a quotation, our prices are usually based on an hourly, half day, or full day's time and they take into consideration the experience of the photographer and the kit they are using. In my own case, I have been a commercial photographer for 32 years and I have approximately £250,000 worth of kit at my disposal and a very well equipped studio. 

However, it's the experience that you are really paying for and I would be the first to admit that I might be too expensive for a simple PR shot, but very reasonable when your need a full day in the food studio or a stunning aerial photograph of your new premises.

I always try and emphasise that good quality photography is an investment, that should pay for itself many times over - otherwise, you are wasting your money. People are becoming very 'image aware' these days and are constantly taking their own photographs for social media ect.

One mistake that a number of people make, is avoiding commissioning professional photography by using cheap stock images instead. I was recently shown a website by a colleague that had cost several hundreds of thousands of pounds to create. In this case, you would think that the design agency would have told my friend that they needed to personalise his site with his own photography and video. Unfortunately, they took the easy route and purchased cheap American stock, which spoilt the site in my opinion.

I did notice a wonderful article recently where the photographer listed 10 reasons why photographers are expensive. Copyright acknowddged to  http://pixelpluck.com/

1. Time
You might see it as a 2 hour assignment. But what you may ignore is the Travelling time to reach the location, the set up time, time spent talking to the clients at venue, time spent in negotiations before the shoot, the actual shoot, transferring and backing up the data, post processing, reviewing with clients,  delivering the photos or scheduling a pick up. And we are not even going into time spent building relationship with client, marketing and office hours. Post processing itself may take over a day or many depending upon the number of photographs. Especially in case of wedding Photographers.

2. Gear
Professional photographers don’t compromise with the quality of their gear. They buy professional equipment. They spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars getting multiple camera bodies, the finest lenses, flash equipment for every situation, tripods, light stands, backdrops, props, carrying and storage cases. Not only this, they buy professional licenses for software and different cloud back-up storage solutions and many other things.

3. Premium Services
Pro Photographers join communities to further learn and explore new dimensions. They have to pay for their membership to different premium photography communities. They pay for a premium account on photography services like Flickr, 500px and others. They pay for maintenance of website. They even need consultation with lawyer sometimes. Premium services may also include office and studio rent, electricity and phone bills etc.

4. Skills
Apart from being a good photographer, they have to be CEO, marketing manager, financial manager, salesperson,  production worker, buyer, negotiator, driver, networker, organizer etc. That’s the kind of skill-set of Professional Photographer.

5. Compromise
Professional Photographers don’t compromise. They will give you the best they can. They don’t back off from tough assignments. They would travel to any possible location and will shoot to the best of their ability. They give you their valuable time. They don’t run for multiple assignments within a day. They would rather do one quality assignment.

6. Technology
Pro Photographers keep themselves and their gears up to date with the rapidly evolving technology.They find things that perfectly match their clients taste. Their equipment are not of a hobbyist. They will be using the best technology available.

7. Experience
Experience is the one thing that may beat everything. And the Professionals are vastly experienced. They can advice you over a number of thing which you would not be able to decide. They know whats right and what could go wrong.

8. Uniqueness & Quality
Professionals have their unique style yet every shoot will look different. They know how to infuse freshness. The quality of photos are supreme.

9. Returns
The truth is that you get what you pay for. You will get photographs worth the money involved. And you know that there are no second chances.

10. Assistants and Help
They may have a small team working with them either on location or back in studio. The Photographer pays them for their work from his income.

What do your think? 

Cameras don't take pictures!

CWP

If you want to annoy a professional photographer, then mention the word 'snap'... 'any chance you could take a quick snap of that?' But if you really want upset them, then say 'I bet that camera takes really great photographs!'

Think about what you have just said - 'The camera takes photographs'. In reality, a camera is just a light tight box with some very clever electronics inside, but without a photographer to see and press the shutter at exactly the right moment in time, then it will stay on the shelf without doing anything except gather dust.

So the next time you think about uttering these dreadful words, consider the photographer at the side of a track as Lewis Hamilton speeds by at nearly 200mph. Using every ounce of talent and experience, the photographer carefully frames the car (having carefully set the camera to exactly the right settings) and then expertly tracks the speeding projectile until just the right moment, when they fire the shutter. The result a perfectly sharp and stunning photograph that is transmitted around the world for everyone to enjoy.

Do you still think cameras take pictures?

 

Why everyone loves 'Live View'

CWP

We have been using the 'Live View' feature of Capture One for a number years, so I thought it worthwhile explaining exactly what benefits this feature can bring to a photoshoot.

Firstly, let me explain exactly what Live View is (hereafter referred to as LV). LV utilises the video feature on our camera to display a real time view in our image processing software - Capture One. Take a look at the screen grab below and you will see the art director's hand making a last minute adjustment within the video window. The real benefit here is that we are all seeing the adjustment happen live and thus avoids taking multiple shots before we are satisfied. This is especially important, when you consider the size of the images produced from our 100 million pixel camera!

But seeing LV is only part of the story. The really exciting additional feature is the ability to import a graphic over the top of LV, providing us all with an exact layout for the finished artwork. in practice, this means we only take a photograph that will exactly fit the aperture allowed for by the designer. Again, if you look at teh iamge above, you will see that the text wraps aroudn the image area, with teh menu copy clearly showing to the right hand side.

The image above is now awaiting the pint of beer to be added. Notice we have left exactly the right amount of room for it to be placed next to the burger and the words 'add a drink for £2 appearing in just the right spot over the lager. 

In summary, LV is a wonderful feature and we do recommend that your agency are aware of this method of working. Please ask them to send us a PNG file with any backgrounds removed teh day before the shoot and we will have everything ready. No guesswork, just perfectly alighned photographs that everyone is happy with before they leave the studio.

The 'Dubai Fraud'

CWP

Around 6 weeks ago, I was emailed by a company called Max Events (see below)


Max Events Dubai <maxeventsllc@gmail.com>

1 Nov
Dear Sir/Madam,

We are Max Events, a reputable event planner located in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.  looking for professional Photographers to shoot our incoming event which is 26th,27th & 28th ofJanuary 2017 in Sheffield ,England
Job Description
Behind the scenes images of 50 People during annual meeting for 3 days for Annualreport and company&#039;s internal use Includes post-productionand upload to online archive system for either viewing,download or further distribution.
This will be for unlimited worldwide usage for 25 images
Time...Between 12pm to 5pm Daily
Total cost for 3 days including transport, travel, accommodation and meals:..
Kindly email us Quotation for the Jobs as soon as possible
Please get back to us as soon as you received our message

Regards
AliFarid

.... Like me, you are probably thinking 'scam' already, but let me explain how this works:

Out of curiosity, I immediately checked Max Events out on Google and confirmed they had a website. So far so good. I then emailed our friend back and asked the usual questions about the event and the job in question. With my questions answered, I then submitted a quote at 3x my normal rate and requested a 50% deposit up front.

Not surprisingly, the quote was immediately accepted and our Mr Farid asked for my bank details, which I duly provided (it's on the quote anyway).

A week goes by and no money is paid into my account, so I decided it was indeed a time waster and forgot about Max Events. After a few more days, I suddenly received an email from Farid, telling me that (shock horror), he had paid the entire hotel conference fee into my account by mistake! However, he went on to reassure me, that this would not be a problem. This is what would happen: I would see £43,800 hit my account in the next few days, and I could simply deduct my entire photography fee (around 10% of the 43k) and transfer the remainder back to him.

What a lovely Christmas present and how kind of Mr F to be so generous!. I immediately contacted the Natwest fraud team to report the scam and was told it's called the 'Dubai fraud' The website is obviously fictitious and simply put togther with stolen content to give the impression that it's a trading business. They trawl your website to discover a little about what you offer - in my case they chose event photography as it fits quite nicely with the hotel scenario of the scam. 

Here is the clever bit: They will now 'pay' a cheque into my account for £43,800, which will take the normal 4-7 days to clear funds. The unsuspecting business owner now sees this huge amount of money 'in their account' and faces a dilemma - what to do next?: 1) Keep the money and go on a Christmas shopping bonanza 2) Increase their fee and pay back the company, say 50%?  or      3) Simply deduct your quoted fee and pay back the balance. (Probably, the most likely)

For the scam to work, you need sufficient funds in your account to cover the balance of any funds paid back to Max Events, but I guess you can now see what happens:

The cheque will bounce and any amount you pay to this company is Dubai is part of the scam. You will never see or hear from them again and they will move on to the next business owner.

Chris Mann This scam relies on the fact that "cashier's cheques" drawn on an overseas bank actually take weeks to clear - so you may think the money is safely in your account, you send out the "overpay", then a few weeks later your bank tells you the cheque was a forgery and takes the money back again.

Having reported all this to the NatWest fraud team and having sent the entire email thread to the Met's own team, I continued to receive emails from Max Events pleading with me to pay back their funds, so I simply blocked their email. I hadn't seen any huge payment into my account, so i guessed they knew I was on to them. 

End of story? .... well not quite. Guess what appeared in my account yesterday? You've guessed it £43,800 (I wonder how long it will take to disappear?) ....... Hmmm, that would have been a nice deposit on the new Porsche! :) 

I am sure you will never be taken in by such a scam, but please be warned and tell your friends

Have a safe Christmas and New Year.

Update: 2 days later the cheque bounced. What a surprise!

Caterham of the Skies

CWP

Having just taken delivery of the DJI Mavic Pro, I can report that it really is as good as everyone has been saying - probably better. For the first time I have a drone that I really want to take with me everywhere I go. Rather like my trusty Ricoh GR camera that is always in my pocket, this little drone will almost fit in your pocket and can be ready to fly in seconds.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not really a drone enthusiast, more an aerial photographer who needs various camera platforms for a particular job. Sometimes it may be a Robinson R44 and my Phase One IQ3 100 fitted with my Kenyon gyro, other times it's this little drone, ready to zip into tight spaces at low level.

I owned the Inspire One too, but have just sold it to my son James who makes films and he has recently upgraded the camera to the X5 raw. I liked the Inspire, but it's huge and cumbersome compared to the Mavic - which made me think of cars. The mavic really is the Caterham 7 of the skies, small compact, fast, lightweight and perfectly designed for the job in hand.

Right - time to fire up the Caterham and go for a burn (with the Mavic on the passenger seat of course!)

My son's Caterham Supersport R. 

The build quality of this little drone is just superb.

Does this remind you of anything? I think it's a fish eye view of a pond skater about to land on the water!

When 100 million pixels meets 12mp. Phase One IQ3 100mp photographing the Mavic in the studio today.

A view of the Mavic fully folded and ready for your (large) pocket. No need to remove the rotors!

Touch down on the Caterham's bonnet - it really is that light!

Behind the scenes.

Snipers and Machine Gunners

CWP

Photographers often refer to ‘shoots, photo shoots and shots’, terms that probably have come about because we tend to take aim at our subjects, thankfully not with a Kalashnikov, but simply our SLRs.

Years ago, when we all shot film, each time we pressed the shutter release, it cost us money. Therefore, we tended to think a little more about the process of taking the shot and you could say we were ‘snipers’. These days, with most people shooting digitally, it doesn’t cost anything to fill up a CF card, (except quite a bit of time processing the images), and I do see quite a few ‘machine gunners’ on my travels.

I attended a wedding this year as a guest, and was interested to watch a young female photographer who had been commissioned to take the official wedding photographs. Although, most people know me as a commercial photographer, I once ran my own wedding business, which I ran separately from the commercial studio. These days, it’s great to go to weddings as a guest and watch the young photographers and the different styles they adopt. Returning to my female photographer, I was interested to see that she appeared to be a ‘machine gunner’, simply firing off as many shots in the direction of the bride and groom, in the hope that one of them might find their target. Never mind, if ‘Aunt Flo’ got in the way, during this barrage of digital bullets, she would simply be ‘trashed’ at edit!

So intense was the shooting, that it reminded me of the last war in Libya, when everyone seemed to be pointing their AK47 around a building and then ‘spray and prey’ for a hit.

Photographers from the school of ‘machine gunning’ will often tell you that they are ‘lifestyle’ photographers and this is the modern style that the bride is looking for. While I do agree that the more relaxed approach is certainly better than lots of stiff group shots, I still feel it’s important to slow everything down and carefully ‘take aim’, or as we always say, ‘see the picture before you think about pressing the shutter’.

Back to the world of commercial photography, which I have known for the past 30 years, I was recently asked to take nine photographs for a well-known high street builders’ merchant’s annual report and accounts. Having done the job for a number of years, I met the client and the designer to plan this year’s shoot. Instead of supplying them with a number of alternative images from each branch, this year I would just deliver nine portrait shape photographs. This format would fit the right hand page of the accounts. I was given a list of the nine branches, located around the south of England and was left to make my own plans.

It’s rare these days for a client to trust a photographer to take just one photograph per day. Most would feel cheated if they didn’t receive a disc full of images from a day’s shoot, especially at the rate we photographers charge, but my client recognised that they wanted ‘quality, not quantity,’ something I always find refreshing.

I mentioned earlier that I come from a film background, having converted to digital back in 1996. One of the benefits of taking photographs on film was the lovely ground glass screen that could be found on the back of a large format technical camera, usually in 5 × 4 inches or 10 × 8 inches. Although the image was displayed upside down, the ground glass was a wonderful place to compose a photograph, and we would often use it to overlay a trace of the proposed image as we composed the photograph in the studio. This type of camera is rarely used these, but you only have to see photographs taken on plate cameras to appreciate the superb quality. I believe there is still more detail in a 10 × 8 negative than any digital frame.

Which brings me to the point of this article: the iPad. My previous article detailed my appreciation of a nice little app called Shuttersnitch and how my clients love to walk about with the iPad during a shoot, watching the images appear on the screen. I decided to take my iPad along for my Annual Report & Accounts (AR&A) shoot and I came up with a new digital workflow that I thought I would share with you.

Walking into a builders’ merchant armed with a case of expensive cameras, doesn’t always go down well with a busy branch manager. They have a job to do, and any interruption of their daily routine is often seen as a nuisance, and certainly an inconvenience. It’s therefore really important to be polite and take the time to win over their trust, usually by carefully explaining exactly what you would like to achieve during the day. When discussing AR&A with the staff, I often make reference to the fact that I have been sent by head office and the Chairman will see the photos, hence the importance of a good image! This often works wonders and suddenly our sullen branch manager is full of smiles and helpfulness!

Enter the iPad. Everyone knows how to operate an iPad – pinch, swipe, scroll – these are now all come naturally to anyone handling a tablet device of any kind. Having a full day to take a single photograph provided me with the time to develop (pardon the pun) a new way of working. So here it is:

  • Spend an hour walking around observing the working environment, the lighting (or lack of it). Stoop, climb, reach – look for different angles.
  • Bring out the iPad and start taking images of your favourite angles. Use the zoom facility to replicate lenses with different focal lengths. Remember, we are not looking for a quality image from the iPad, just a representation.
  • Having found the best angle, use a drawing app on the iPad to show how you would improve the final image.
  • Perhaps, something needs moving or adding? Do you need people to stand in a particular place? – Draw it. By the way, I use Penultimate but there are loads of alternatives.

Having prepared the combined drawing and iPad image, we now return to our new helpful manager and enlist his/her help. Carefully, explain that you have taken the time to find the best possible angle of their branch and you now need their help to take the perfect photograph to accompany he AR&A. By asking for their help and providing them with the iPad, they now feel fully engaged with your shoot and anxious to direct staff to help prepare the area for photography.

Love it or hate it, Health & Safety rules will always apply to a commercial shoot that involves staff, so I always make a point of ensuring H&S rules are applied and everyone is wearing the correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). You can take the the perfect photograph, but if head office spot a photograph that does not comply with the company’s H&S rules, it will be rejected. Again, by delegating this job to the manager, you can leave them to ensure everything is in order, while you concentrate on the photography.

I will also have drawn on the screen to show areas that need things adding or removing. Perhaps, a stack of bricks is needed in the foreground, or a machine needs to be placed in the background with an operator. Again, by showing this clearly on the iPad screen and handing it to the manager, they will happily carry on with this work while you act as director.

We have seen the photograph in our ‘mind’s eye’, captured a low-resolution version on the iPad, so it’s really important that we now direct all the components into position to make the perfect picture.

I spent about six weeks travelling around the country using my new approach to this year’s AR&A photos and I do feel that by adopting this system, we achieved a really good set of photographs that fit my original brief. Due to prior commitments, the agency’s art director was not able to attend this year’s shoot, so I took time to explain my new method of working with the iPad. He was so impressed, that he asked me to provide all the iPad reference images together with the final photographs, in order that he could use them as part of his presentation to the client … which reminds me of my final piece of advice:

"Always make the art director look good and they will come back and use your services again."