Winter is a great time to update the family pictures and having snow as a backdrop is a big bonus. As soon as you step out of the house you have the perfect setting for some shots. No long trek out to look for the right place, and a quick step back in doors to warm up with soup when you finish. Here’s some suggestions:

Work with a high ISO setting. At least ISO400. You can set this manually on your camera rather than leaving it on automatic. This will help with the dark light, that we don’t tend to see when taking the shots.

Wrap up in fluffy or furry – particularly with hats and scarves, and take close-up head and shoulders shots. Focus on the eyes for this. Fur works really well for young children making them look as cute as bunnies.

Be outrageous and risk stepping out of doors with unsuitable clothing. This will add a real sense of fun to the shots. Step back and show the whole scene for this, but watch for great facial expressions!

Have fun x

Photography is one of the only professions that I can think of where you don’t need formal qualifications to practise. This really makes me think. Especially when you consider some of the random ways of making a living that these days require qualifications of some sort before you can start.

 With my training hat on this is great news. It means that I can train people to become professional photographers from beginner level but also ensure that they have some skills and experience before they start working with the public (Amazes me how many requests I get to teach camera skills to people already taking paid work!).

 On the other hand, it also means as a qualified photographer ( 3 years degree study plus 2 years masters) with 20 + years of industry experience I am also out there competing with people who bought a camera yesterday and can sell a convincing story on their ability to use it.

 But they have a good web site with some great looking pictures on it.

 This may be true, but are they images from ‘real shoot’ situations or are they set up with models on training sessions? There are an abundance of portfolio days on offer, particularly with ‘mock brides’ – but I’ll cover wedding photography on another occasion.

 Anyway, I thought it might be nice to mention a few of the letters that you may come across displayed after photographers’ names. These organisations work in similar ways. You join the organisation for a yearly fee, and then have the opportunity to submit some prints (usually 10 or 20 prints again at a fee) for their experts to evaluate. If they consider them good enough they allow you to use their letters after your name. If not, you are encouraged to have another go.

 It is usually a three tier system, often starting with Licentiate and then moving on to Associate and Fellow. As far as I am aware, you need to be a Licentiate first and then submit more images to upgrade. Some of these organisations allow degree qualified photographers to use the Associate Letters and diploma qualified to use Licentiate without going through the submission process, providing you pay the year’s membership fee.

 In no particular order:

 LMPA, AMPA, FMPA Master Photographers AssociationLSWPP, ASWPP, FSWPP Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers

 LBPPA, ABPPA, FBPPA British Professional Photographers Associates

LBIPP, ABIPP, FBIPP British Institute of Professional Photography

LRPS, ARPS, FRPS Royal Photographic Society

LNPS, ANPS, FNPS National Photographic Society

Qualified, Craftsman, Master Craftsman, The Guild of Photographers

Qualifications are often transferrable from one organisation to another. i.e. if you are an associate with one, and would like to switch or join a second it is worth telling them of your existing status. The Guild of Photographers doesn’t appear to have a letter system, but does allow you to submit the first set of images free of charge, providing you have public liability and indemnity insurance.

So, are they worth spending money on? Well having just done a random search on for photographers I found very few who actually displayed letters after their name. If you have formal training it’s worth including this on your site. If you haven’t then letters may give you a competitive edge. But spend the money on insurance cover first.

Okay, maybe this is obvious, but if you’re putting your picture out there in cyber space, it needs to be saying exactly what you want it to, and sadly, so many photographs do the exact opposite and give the viewer a totally wrong impression of who you are. This may not be important, if your picture is on a site such as twitter, and your appearance isn’t relevant to your job. However, if you are on a dating site, for instance, your picture is of key significance and will be the first thing potential partners see.

If you are able to work with an assistant the end result will be that much easier to reach and you have the benefit of a second pair of eyes assessing your assets before launching your mug shot onto an unsuspecting audience. However, since these sites are generally for people on their own, here are my top 6 tips for taking your own pictures. (I have put this together with dating sites in mind, but the tips will also apply to those taking pictures for networking purposes).

1. Invest in a camera

This is your future you are talking about. Whether you like it or not, if you are on a dating site, this is a competition, and you need to stand out from the crowd. Taking a picture on anything other than a camera will put you at a disadvantage. However, the good news is that this need not be an expensive one. Don’t get too hung up on the pixels, but go for one that has a self-timer mode. And the other positive – you own a camera now and can add this to your list of interests!

2. Ditch the webcam

Urrgghhh!!! Okay, if you’re a fresh faced sixteen year-old with heaps of creativity and a lot of time to mess around after midnight, this may work for you. For anybody else, though, the webcam image is a total disaster. The picture is poor quality to begin with but then manages to reflect a really unfair image of who you really are.  It is right by the computer, which adds an un-natural, unflattering light on your face, the webcam is probably low down, so then capturing you at bad angle and highlighting all the areas that you want to avoid. Add to this the fact that it shows the rest of the room to your viewer (suggest carefully selecting the books you have on display here!) and showing yourself as a sad person whose life is spent in front of a computer screen – not good.

3. Grow longer arms!

Arm length doesn’t really work for you either, as it’s just that tiny bit tooooooo close. You know I’m right on this – you’ve been trying to stretch your arms just that bit further than they want to go. Okay man with very long arms – you may just have got away with it. If you do really have to use this method then here is my recommended exercise: Hold camera in dominant hand, stretch arm out to the side of your body, as far as it will go, now raise the arm up at a 45 % angle above you., swing arm slightly to the front but not too far and angle the camera down towards you. Now turn your head towards it, tilt slightly and smile. Alternatively – switch to self timer mode on your camera, which will work much better.

4. Use self timer mode

The down side of using self timer mode is that you are going to be leaping backwards and forwards a number of times before you get the camera set up at the right angle. But this is a small amount of time to invest, really, isn’t it? Set up at around 10 seconds, which should give you time to settle yourself in position and smile sweetly before it leaps into action. If you don’t have a tripod, set the camera up on a table or a chair, with a pile of books on top. Trial and error works here.

5. Avoid the mug-shot

Standing with your back to a wall face-on to the camera is not particularly flattering. Move a couple of feet away from the wall if you can, to diminish harsh shadows, and make sure you have a clear wall behind you. Standing at an angle from the camera and then turning to look towards it, will be much more flattering.

6. Take your picture outside

 You’ll look great photographed with a natural backdrop and will come over as a person who has an interest in life, and being out of doors. This is your window of opportunity – showing yourself sitting on a sofa only tells the world that you spend time sitting on a sofa. It is always worth remembering that,

 You never get a second chance to make a first impression

 Need more advice? Personal picture consultations are available from C B Photographic from only £24.99 enabling you to work via email, on a one-to-one basis to improve your self-portrait.  Please email for further details and a profile pack:

These days the dreaded ‘red eye’ is less of a problem to us, due to our familiarity with editing software. The great picture that once would have been discarded due to the horrendous appearance of red eyes is now salvageable with a little bit of knowledge (or the friendly expert you can turn to on these occasions). However, isn’t it much nicer to be able to ensure that you don’t have a problem in the first place?

  In day’s gone by professional photographers were the people that could be relied upon to produce a portrait without the dreaded disease. This was due to an understanding of the techniques involved in avoiding it, and the professional equipment that eliminated the problem in the first place.

 Moving on from this time,  the camera-making ‘powers that be’ introduced a new function called ‘red eye reduction’ which helped make life easier for the happy snapper. If and when they remembered to set the function properly, the camera’s built in flash unit would fire twice and thus help to prevent it happening. Of course, in those days you had to wait until your film was processed to see whether it had worked correctly, or to establish that you had forgotten to set it in the first place. The idea, however, was that (without getting all ‘techy’ here) the dreaded red eye frequently occurs when the subject’s pupils are dilated. By triggering the flash to fire twice, the first flash could induce the pupils to contract, and the second flash would then be less likely to cause the problem.

 Professional photographers use a separate flashgun, which is situated a little higher on the camera and can be angled independently. This helps avoid firing the flash directly into the subject’s eyes. Often the flash can be ‘bounced’ by aiming it in the direction of the ceiling. The light then falls in a more subtle and even manner on the subject, creating a strong picture without heavy shadows.

 If you do need to use the flash indoors for your portraits another neat trick, to avoid the problem, is to get your subject to look out of a window first. This minimises the need for the double flash and will therefore help to avoid a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look.


Welcome to my world…

I went to a marketing talk yesterday held by Dee Blick of The Marketing Gym and realised that it was high time that I got involved with the world of blogging. As I’m a person with lots to say, blogging seems actually more favourable to me than trying to fit my whole life activities into a few characters via twitter etc.

So, business. Basically my blogging will be about all things photographic. Rants and raves at the industry in general, but also hopefully advice for anybody wishing to book a photographer or train to be a photographer. Happy to help where I can on these matters.  I train people across the whole of the UK and may even be able to recommend a photographer in your area.

On  a more personal note I am also into complementary therapies in a big way. I am qualified in Colour Therapy, Flower Remedies and Reiki to name but a few. These therapies, I feel, enhance my photographic practice. On a teaching level, I look to nurture people and use gentle techniques to bring out that creative side, hidden deep in the heart of all of us. Hopefully my learners find me patient, calm and supportive. On the photography side, I use this calm healing approach towards all of my clients, and have a strong understanding of how colours can enhance or distract from the visual message.                 

Wisdom of the Cedar

It is your vision to become all that you can


I hope you enjoy,