Showing posts with label Commercial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commercial. Show all posts

17 Feb 2017

What Makes a Good Press Photograph?

A good press shot has to be nice and clean, and doesn’t always necessarily need to have the client’s brand in shot, as some of the following images demonstrate. 

Over years of experience I’ve learned that some pictures just happen right in front of you, while some need to be created. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to ‘see’ or create a shot, for instance if I’m photographing Prince Charles I can’t very well ask him to repeat a certain handshake. Part of getting good press pictures is being able to think quickly – I’m sometimes moving between two or three jobs in the same couple of hours so spending more than 20 years as first a press photographer and then a commercial photographer was good basic training.

When I photographed the Santa Run at Central Square in Middlesbrough I was high above the crowd and asked them to come forward so I could crop in tight and create a close shot with lots of cheery red and white making the picture very appealing to the media, particularly at Christmas.

When Redcar and Cleveland Council asked me to photograph County Durham artist and former steel fabricator Ray Lonsdale at the official unveiling of his weathered steel installation at the new £3.5m South Bank Eco Village I was pleased to see a great picture opportunity as the ‘Blank Canvas’ piece was in the form of two men holding a slab of steel between them. The artwork made an ideal bench that, shot from low down, created a very pleasing shape against the sky. The picture had much more punch than a group of dignitaries lined up and obviously appealed to press including the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette and Darlington's Northern Echo, and also appeared across online media such as Flickr and Pinterest and even on Ray Lonsdale’s own Facebook page.  If you haven’t seen Ray’s work do look him up – he is receiving increasing artistic acclaim and he’s also the creator of the now iconic WWI ‘Tommy’ statue that stands in Seaham, County Durham.

The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge over the River Tees is the longest working transporter bridge in the world, and this picture was taken at the opening of the new Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project in November 2015. Artist Mackenzie Thorpe is very engaging subject, and usually attracts lots of interest from the media. First job was go up in the new glass viewing lift to get some shots of Mackenzie against some panoramic views, before descending to cover the official opening of the car barrier. My suggestion that he stood in front of the barrier and appeared to push it to form a frame for the picture worked well shot with a wide angle lens, and fitted with the ‘opening’ theme and the forward-thinking approach of Middlesbrough Council.

You might recognise Jason Bradbury from his time on the Channel 5 Gadget Show, and I took this cool photograph of him for the Tees Valley ‘Get your head into digital’ campaign launch in Middlesbrough. To create a fresh, original shot I asked Jason to take a selfie with his iPad and turn the screen towards me, so I could create a shot of the two halves of his face, one real and one on the screen.  Jason declared the results to be ‘awesome’ and liked my tweet about the picture, which was retweeted loads of times. 

To sum up what makes a good press picture I’d say it must tell a story in one shot, be different, get creative, and include some real energy. Sounds simple? I’ve been doing this job for two decades and I’m always learning something new every day!  

12 Jan 2017

Tees Valley 'Less Fuss By Bus' Campaign Photography

A recent North East commercial photography job saw me spend half a day on a bus doing photographs for Middlesbrough creative marketing agency The Creative Alchemist, who hired me to take the pictures for Local Motion and Connect Tees Valley’s ‘Less Fuss by Bus’ campaign the advantages of travelling by bus.

At our planning meeting we discussed the type and range of shots that were needed, and any restrictions such as not using easily identifiable landmarks, as the campaign was to cover Tees Valley and South Durham. We also looked at how the pictures would be used, as this has a big impact on what and how I shoot. In this case the agency wanted a flexible range of shots for potential use in everything from web banners and skyscrapers to print and large format for outdoor advertising, including the side of buses themselves.

Having agreed in advance that both night and day pictures were needed, on the day I turned up armed with greaseproof paper and masking tape to prevent light streaming through the bus windows, which could have made getting the right shots difficult and would definitely have spoiled the night time look we wanted. I carry light diffusers as part of my portable kit, but being someone who prefers a ‘belt and braces’ approach, as well as portable studio lights and a mobile power pack I turned up ready with all sorts of useful bits and pieces just in case.

Our stage was a brand new bus which had a permit to park all day in the centre of Middlesbrough.  With two clients present, the team from The  Creative Alchemist, several models from Tyne Tees Models plus yours truly, there was quite a crowd of us at the photoshoot, which lasted around 3-4 hours so we scheduled several breaks in to keep everyone fresh.

I went along with lots of ideas in my head for potential shots, but that’s the funny thing about being a professional photographer, you often arrive at a job and decide that while an idea done one way won’t work, approached in a different way it becomes a great shot. Over the years I’ve learned that every job evolves, it’s an integral part of the process.

The Models were Libby Hancock, Grace Bungoni (night), Craig Ord and Camillia Priest (daytime) who were all fantastic, accommodating team and fun to work with as we moved around both decks of the bus taking pictures from various spots. Thanks to everyone’s professionalism this was a really enjoyable and rewarding commission, and you may already have spotted the resulting pictures across the North East in the run up to Christmas 2015.

12 Nov 2015

Knee Operation leads to Healthcare Photography for Nuffield Health Tees Hospital

It’s not often a knee operation leads to a north east advertising photography job but that’s exactly how a recent two-day session photographing the Nuffield Health Tees Hospital in Stockton came about.

Following my operation (wear and tear and too much running around with heavy camera equipment in my press and sports photography days, if anyone is interested) I had used social media to praise the care I’d had there. The hospital’s marketing contact checked out my website at and got in touch to discuss me adding to the hospital’s image library with a series of new advertising pictures that can be used for marketing and advertising purposes, some photography also for the website and brochures.  

It was important that the new pictures fitted in with Nuffield’s corporate style, which is fresh and clean and sits perfectly with my own style of documentary photography and a big emphasis on natural light to keep pictures real. 

I’ve seen lots of health sector companies use stock shots in their marketing and while they can be effective, I honestly believe real pictures work better, particularly when it comes to people making a big decision about which healthcare provider to choose.

The shoot was broken up into two days so I would be able to access all areas of this busy hospital, which operates on a tight schedule. After discussing the shots list with my client and adding in some thoughts and suggestions of my own, I was able to access all areas, photographing everything from equipment, treatment areas and the comfortable, well-equipped patient rooms through to some signage and branding, and even the convenient car park set in the leafy surroundings of Norton.

We also included lots of pictures of key staff, both in real working situations and through portrait shots that can be used across brochures, the website and social media, capturing a natural look that sums up the professionalism and cheerful attitude that made them a pleasure to work with. 

Working unobtrusively and with formal patient permission of course we also captured a range of photos showing patients booking in at reception, being assessed by the doctors, receiving physio and other treatments and sampling the beautiful food.

Having been a patient at the hospital it was interesting to see it from the other side, and I was pleased that my client was as happy with the results of the job as I am with my revitalised knee.

23 Sep 2015

North Yorkshire Industrial Photographer | Lotte Chemicals in Wilton

I was pleased that clients DTW agency in North Yorkshire chose me for some industrial photography near Redcar recently.

Industrial Photographer at Wilton Redcar
The job involved an Industrial photography shoot at Lotte Chemicals on the Wilton International Site. Wilton is just 10 minutes from Middlesbrough and is a major process industries complex where security and safety is paramount.  As an experienced commercial and industrial photographer I’ve visited Wilton many times so I’m familiar with the detailed safety and security arrangements that every visitor must comply with, and arrived 30 minutes early to go through the briefing.

North Yorkshire Industrial Photographer
Chemical plant photography means being around volatile substances so I also had my camera equipment, including a portable, foldable flash kit, gas tested for safety.
The job brief included taking pictures of the directors and senior staff, the operation itself and a series of shots to celebrate the company’s commitment to young apprentices, and help it recruit more young people. Lotte Chemicals is a long-standing supporter of apprenticeship schemes, being named North East Medium Employer of the Year 2011, and counted among the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers of that year.  

I arrived at the job kitted up with a range of different lenses and lights. I’ve got the lighting and equipment to accommodate any type of job, including a high powered lighting kit that can light up a large factory floor, gymnasium or school hall.

Chemical plant product shots

Industrial portraits in Wilton, Teesside
Although I carry a range of lights so I’m ready for any conditions, I prefer to shoot using a mix of natural light and reflectors to keep the images real, over the years I’ve found this always gives the best results.

With the help of people who kindly held reflectors and the flash for me, I was escorted around the plant so I could get a series of shots of apprentices at work in a live environment, studying plans, putting kit away in the lockers and operating machinery and equipment.
A branded pop up banner provided some colour and contrast to the clean white environment. A photographer’s job is to tell the story, and I always like to include some branding and interiors shots to help to explain what a business is about, and give the people shots some room to breathe.

Industrial portraits in Redcar
The shiny steel pipework outside gave me a chance to bounce light off it, and in some cases use reflections to frame shots.  Inside, the factory floor colour palette was great, with the blue of the machines contrasting with the pipes. And where I needed a splash of colour, a bright yellow hard hat worked a treat.

Lotte’s meeting rooms presented a light, clean background against which to photograph senior figures in the business. Corporate portrait photography is not always about getting the subject to face the camera square on and smile, if a company’s PR agency is issuing sober news, they need pictures that reflect the tone of the story so I was careful to get some serious as well as smiling shots.

chemical plant management portraits in the north east.

Industrial portraiture in Teesside
Switching to the close up product shots was fascinating work. I used the back of a whiteboard as a base on which to arrange differently shaped glass containers and some products in the form of tiny  white beads. A member of staff wearing a hint of pink nail polish was happy to act as my hand model, adding some colour contrast to the pictures.

The client was very happy with the three sessions, which generated a good set of pictures flexible enough for a wide range of uses, and I’m looking forward to seeing the photos being used in the media, marketing material and across the internet.   

Early Dawn Industrial Photography on the River Tees in Stockton

In the course of my career as a North East Commercial and PR photographer I’m used to working odd hours to get the right pictures, and a commission to photograph some maintenance activities on the River Tees between 1am and 3am whetted my appetite for some night time photography.

The job involved taking night shots of a huge crane on top of the Tees Barrage on Navigation Way, in Stockton on Tees. This was part of some planned maintenance by the organisation responsible for the barrage, the Canal and River Trust, which is based in Little Venice, London.

Tees Barrage was the largest civil engineering project in the UK when it was built 20 years ago, and controls the flow of the river, preventing flooding in the surrounding area. It also controls the flow of water to the Tees Barrage Water Centre, which is a popular spot for white water rafting, sailing, rowing, powerboat racing and other water sports.

The Trust needed the crane in place to lower a huge temporary dam into the river so the water could be pumped out to allow access to staff carrying out vital maintenance work to the four huge 50 tonne 'fish belly' flood gates. The work was being done at night to cause minimum disruption to the flow of traffic and to the David Lloyd Health Club, the pub and other businesses in the immediate area, hence the night time photoshoot.

The large crane against the backdrop of the night sky made for a range of dramatic pictures and as the sun started to come up on a beautiful July morning, the soft pinks and blues of the dawn melted into some stunning colours as the area started to come back to life.

I was pleased to see the industrial pictures distributed by the Press Association and picked up by regional newspapers such as the Middlesbrough Gazette, make national titles such as the Guardian, and get used in BBC and ITV website news items.

The Dave Charnley Photography byline on the photos led to a crane company getting in touch about future industrial photography commissions, saying they worked with a lot of photographers but ‘hadn’t seen many like you, who’ve got it’, which was very flattering.

The Tees Barrage is an impressive feat of engineering which took four years to build and contains 650 tonnes of steel, and it was a privilege to see it up close and from a viewpoint most people would never see. If you missed the special open day in August for the public, keep an eye on the Canal and River Trust’s website at for next year’s maintenance schedule and you just might get the rare chance to go down 40ft and walk on the bed of the River Tees – a tale to tell the grandchildren, for sure.

21 Jul 2015

North East Creative Photographer | Corporate Photography Neednt Mean Dull

With a dash of creativity, corporate photography needn’t mean dull, stereotypical shots. I often start by thinking about where the pictures will be used. An annual report or press interview shot can require a very different feel to those used on the web or in e-DMs (e-mailshots).

Another consideration is whether to shoot in landscape or portrait. An upright shot would be no use for a web banner, although if I’ve done my job the designer can often use part of a landscape picture by cropping it. Some pictures are ideal for converting into gritty black and white shots, for a band or fashion marketing for example.

Whether I’m doing exhibition photography at the Harrogate International Conference Centre, arts photography at the Sage Gateshead on the banks of the Tyne or a networking event at a small venue I try to use my years of experience to bring something fresh to a picture, illustrating something like a speaker on stage quite simply, but in a different and engaging way.

From a designers point of view I also put some thought into how they might want to use the pictures in page layouts, and often include some space around the subject so the picture can be overlaid with words if necessary. For instance the shot where someone is reflected in the table surface would be ideal. This is a good example of a multi-purpose shot, with its fresh blue colouring and light feel making it ideal for a summer newsletter, even though it was actually shot in winter. 

Although I always carry a portable lighting set, the light conditions I’m presented with when I arrive at an event can deliver a very different look, as evidenced in the back shot taken in a dark room with the Evolution branding highlighted on the wall.

The picture taken through some vertical blinds was a group of people looking round a new building, and because I was careful to frame this visually very pleasing shot you wouldn’t know the building wasn’t finished. It’s a generic shot with many potential uses. 

At the MIMA gallery in Middlesbrough the spotlighted framed piece with vienneted edges created a striking shot that showcased the artist’s work. You could even have some fun with this style, using a client’s own picture in the same frame.  

Taking creative corporate photographs is not about getting the tight, bright shot of PR photography that newspaper and magazine picture desk editors want. For instance the shot taken from behind the man facing out towards the crowd at a Middlesbrough Business Forum event gave the viewer a bird’s eye view of proceedings and while it probably wouldn’t be used to illustrate a news story, it’s perfect for a range of other purposes and I’ve seen it used several times. 

My aim is always to take a thoughtful look behind the actual event and spot picture opportunities as I work. For example the shot of Ranulph Fiennes’ name badge was taken as part of a set to cover a talk at Crathorne Hall in North Yorkshire, for a petrochemical company based in Aberdeen.

I’m really pleased when I get comments from client and designers, who appreciate pictures that give them flexibility of use and I like to think the reason I get so many enquiries coming in from new and existing clients looking for creative corporate photography is that people can see how my pictures have a lot of mileage in them.

A professional photographer must be able to read each client, they are all different and have different expectations from a photography shoot so it’s important to add value to every single job I do.