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R Gill Photography
Food, Property and Commercial Photography
Food, Property and Commercial Photography


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Swallow Your Own Medicine

I regularly bore people with the virtues of how good photography can make a difference to the sale of your product or service. I believe it is especially true for property, holiday lets and food.

Recently I had the chance to put my money where my mouth was. Marketing my own home. The one big advantage of living on site was that I could choose the best days to photograph the house. For the outside I chose a sunny day with blue sky and clouds behind the house. The house faces east so the front had to be photographed in the morning, when the sun would be shining on to it. This would be the opening shot of any brochure or online posting so the most important photograph.
The sun moves behind the house in the afternoon and early evening and shines onto a secluded deck area at the top of the garden so this needed to be photographed in the late afternoon. Not many people will have the chance to do this, but some high end estate agents will book a photographer for the day so they can follow the sun round the property. You could even have the property photographed at twilight to take advantage of the "golden hour" - ask any landscape photographer or artist and they will tell you that this is a lovely soft golden light that enhances colours and makes the pictures look warm and enticing. Read more

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"I'll have one of those please", my wife said pointing to the picture of a starter on the menu.

"Errrm, No you won't.  We just cut and pasted that from Google images - I think it is actually Chinese food!" replied the waiter.  

We were sat in an Indian restaurant at the time and just burst out laughing at this response.  Rather than head out the door to the nearest Chinese restaurant, my wife chose Chicken Chat as usual. However the response from the waiter pretty well sums up our view of the place.  The "wow" factor isn't there.  You will just get a tasty meal at a resonable price and the staff are good for a laugh.  If you stop and think about this in more detail you might draw a few other conclusions:

They probably don't make everything from scratch
They don't care much about the provenance of their ingredients
They are not good to surprise you with any innovative cooking
The images you use tell your story, they build or destroy your brand.  If like the restaurant above you use someone else's photos, apart from the copyright issues you are not telling your customers anything about you or how great your business is!  They are not going to connect with your brand and they are unlikely to become a loyal customer returning time and time again. Not the best way to grow a successful business.

The same can be said of stock images.  I follow a local business on Twitter which regularly uses stock photos in their feed.  The business is based in the English Lake District, an area which has just been awarded world heritage status for its outstanding beauty.   The stock photos they use are obviously not taken in the Lake District, in fact most of them look like they are not even taken in England, but in a completely different country! With so much beautiful scenery on their doorstep and so many competitors that are smart enough to show pictures of the Lake District I really wonder why they bother.  The message they are sending out to the world is confusing at best.  It certainly doesn't encourage me to use their business or recommend it to anyone else.  I wonder if I can trust them as their feed is not authentic, and I get no impression of what their business is really like.

So when you are choosing images to post on your website or in your social media feed here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself:
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Case Study: Food Photography Shoot

For an award-winning restaurant like The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite (Cumbria Life’s Dining Pub of the Year 2017), having the quality of its food reproduced through stunning imagery is hugely important.

We’re proud of the fact that the food at The Punch Bowl is creative, exciting and pushing the boundaries of traditional pub food, and our photography needs to reflect this. Investing in good photography can make you stand out from the crowd and should capture the juiciness and texture of food on the plate. We want people to look at our dishes – whether they are on our website, social media or in a magazine - and immediately want to taste our food.

Being a busy inn and restaurant delivering up to 140 meals a day, it’s of course hugely important for us to know exactly what to expect in advance from a photoshoot. Our kitchen team need to focus on our customers so we can’t expect them to spend lots of precious time cooking up dishes over and over again just to photograph. That’s why we needed someone that could get it right first time. A successful photoshoot is about more than just the photos; the photographer needs to understand our business, our style and our expectations.

Read more ...

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Great to see this article in The Westmorland Gazette today

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Doesn't this dish evoke summer? It has such a fresh look.

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Commercial photoshoots are often the most interesting as it gives me a chance to be creative.  Although the client will give me a detailed brief of what is required, there will be a bit of time for me to try out some other ideas.  It is often these unplanned shots that produce the “wow” shot of the day.  

I am often asked how did I come up with that idea, and the short answer is, they just happen!

My goal is to give every client at least one wow shot.  Sometimes it is just not possible as the brief or the subject doesn't allow for much creativity, but whenever possible I hope to exceed my clients expectations.

Having set myself this challenge I realised I needed to understand how these shots are produced.  I started to research the behaviour of other creative people.  I soon realised that many other artists just have things happen.  I watched an OkGo video and was intrigued to hear when they were asked, “where do your ideas come from?" They replied “it feels like we just find them.” Read more ..

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Whoop whoop!

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Thinking about change your career to move to a lifestyle business?
One of the most common questions I get asked when I am in the middle of a photoshoot is, "how did you get into this?" I usually get the feeling that the questioner is not quite happy with their own lot, maybe envious of what I am doing or just intrigued about the lifestyle choices people make. When I explain that I decided to switch careers after spending 20+ years in the corporate world working in the lighting industry, their interest is even more piqued. Consequently I thought maybe it was time to put this into a blog post and share my experiences with you of how I made a lifestyle change in my career.

From the outside it looked like I had a great job. For the last ten years of my corporate career I was an international sales director, jetting off to a different country every week. Moscow one week, Munich the next - how glamorous? But the reality was something rather different. The sights I saw were mainly airport lounges, hotel rooms and meeting rooms. It was an endless slog of 4:00am get ups to check in at the airport for 6:00am combined with CEO's pushing me to meet the monthly sales target. Then when the month ends, it all starts again with the next month's target breathing down your neck.

On previous occasions when I got really fed up with this cycle I would look for another job. The change of job would satisfy me for a few months, but then the honeymoon period would fade and the same old gripes would get me down. I realised I needed to do something completely different. As you go through life a few major experiences also focus your thinking. For example the death of a close relative, or a friend contracting a serious illness makes you realise what is really important to you. On a Sunday evening when I started to check my emails I wanted to be excited about the coming Monday not dreading what messages I would find in my inbox. I knew working for myself was part of the answer, but I also knew I wanted to do something that I would love doing. I looked carefully at all my interests and hobbies to see if one of those could be my new way of earning a living. I had been keen photographer since I was seventeen and thought that I could make a living from it if I focussed (no pun intended) on some specialist areas. Read more ..

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Just started work on a new food photography project - Food Film Puns. Here is the first one. Just for fun can you guess the title of the film?
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