A quick look back before a big launch forward…

This week has been all about setting new goals for Ross Willsher Photography and thinking about all the exciting shoots I have coming up over the next 12 months. However, with the festive season arriving and departing – as ever – in such a blur, I haven’t had a proper chance to reflect on my successful first year as a professional photographer. Therefore, I think I can afford a quick look back at some my photographic highlights from 2016 before turning my attention to new challenges and successes that lie ahead.

I am lucky enough to shoot both commercial photography (headshots, food, products & events) as well as wedding and family photography, so my workload is diverse and I get to meet a wide range of interesting people as a result. That also means whittling down my favourite images was pretty hard to do. Therefore, I have chosen my favourite shot from each genre of photography I had the pleasure of shooting. I hope you enjoy this (extremely brief) overview of what I do. If you are looking for professional photography – be it to capture personal memories or to market you business – please do get in touch. I pride myself on taking images that reflect the individuality of my clients.

Website Shot

Working with the friendly professionals at Limeberry Catering was one of my highlights of 2016. The team are dedicated to delivering high quality service & produce and in doing so they make my job very easy. They also put an equal amount of work into their premises to ensure that each of their venues have the perfect atmosphere for an exquisite dining or drinking experience. I love the vibe at Bottle Bureau in Chelmsford – its dark walls and dimly-lit tables (along with a fresh and funky drinks menu) make this a must-visit bar. The team are also responsible for The New London and The Ship Inn – both of which I have had the pleasure of photographing and can recommend just as heartily.

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Wedding Shot

As wonderful as they always are, weddings can be chaotic and crazy occasions. The planning alone can be extensive and exhausting and the day can be over in the blink of an eye. My job is to not only capture all the wonderful and magical memories of the day but  to create images that serve as a reminder of what the occasion is really all about. The very essence of every wedding day is simply two people in love. I think that this photo sums it up perfectly.

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Headshot

Ah headshots…suited and booted, crossed arms and bright white background time eh? Well…probably not if you’ve booked me! I like to do most of my headshots outdoors when possible – not only does it provide more interesting and vibrant backdrops, it also helps my clients to relax and forget their emails and Outlook calendars for a short time. I feel strongly that your headshot should reflect not only your brand but also your personality. Jeannie from Real Revolution Healing is a yoga instructor who likes to offer her clients an escape from hectic city life during her workshops and classes. To reflect this, we shot her portraits in the countryside as the evening sun was golden and this was the result. I love how the light, the colours and Jeannie’s expression all work together to bring a sense of warmth to the photo.

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Food Image

I love food photography. It’s something I definitely want to do more of in 2017. Colours, textures, shapes; food photography offers it all. However, photographing food can be a lot more challenging than people think – you have to ensure the images make the food look appetising and fresh; with enough shadow to create depth and texture but not too much that the lighting is too harsh. Obviously the colours are the first thing that hits you about this image but I also love how the composition isn’t overly perfect. Some of the spices have overlapped into each other giving a sense of movement and culinary creativity.

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Family Portrait

Before I became a photographer, I spent 10 years working with children with special educational needs. I’m so happy that as a photographer I still get to work with children and young families as they can be the most rewarding shoots of all. Again, I like to do these shoots outdoors as it helps everyone to relax and results in a set of images which tell much more of a story. Often we will take a walk around a venue and stop at various locations to take a range of group and individual photos. I think forced smiles on perfectly behaved children make boring images! Muddy hands, cheeky grins and the odd strop make far better memories in my opinion. This image sums up my approach to family portraits – beautiful locations, natural smiles and moments that can be treasured on living room walls for years to come.

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Street Image

Street Photography is simply “people-watching” with a camera. I love trips to the city to capture entertaining images of the everyday things people do. In the image below noone is screaming or shouting, there’s no romantic moment or comical character. However, I just love the moment-in-time captured and the questions one could ask on viewing it. What is the lady so engrossed in? Where have they been to and where are they going? Of course, we will never know..but it won’t stop us speculating!

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Event Capture

Events can be great fun to photograph – in 2016 I photographed concerts, Hollywood-themed balls and even a Santa’s Grotto. However, one of my favourite images from last year was this shot from the Peterborough Memory Walk in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. I take a similar approach to weddings and event photography – letting much of the action unfold organically and capturing natural moments as they happen. My event photography is all about ensuring the shots capture the magic of the day so the they can be used to promote future events for businesses and charities. This shot highlights how much fun you can have raising money for a great cause.

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These are just some of my highlights of 2016 and you can see more of my work on my websites below.

Weddings and Portraits – www.rosswillsherphotography.co.uk

Commercial – www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk

Thank you for reading. Click here to contact me if you would like to know more about how I could help you capture memories or promote your business in 2017. Who knows – maybe you will feature in my “Best of 2017” blog.

I hope you have a fantastic 2017 and I look forward to working with you soon.

Ross

Ross Willsher is a social (weddings and portraits) and commercial photographer based in Chelmsford and covering Essex and London who is passionate about creating images as individual as you are.  His work can be viewed at www.rosswillsherphotography.co.uk / www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk 

facebook.com/rosswillsherphotography | @RWIllsherPhoto | instagram.com/rosswillsherphotography

A quick look back before a big launch forward…

Stronger Together – Photographing Colchester Military Wives Choir

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One of the most exciting things about becoming a professional photographer is never knowing who you are going to be asked to photograph next. This year alone, my work has introduced me to creative yoga instructors, passionate charity workers, dedicated business owners and a whole range of groups and individuals whose stories I am privileged to capture through my lens.

One of the most inspiring group of people I have had the pleasure of working with on a number of occasions this year is Colchester Military Wives Choir. Each time I have worked with the ladies I learn a little more about their talent, their passion for singing and the support network that they provide for one another. Following their successful performance at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester earlier this autumn, I chatted to their chair, Helen O’Neill to find out a little more about this talented group of ladies.

 

Tell me a little bit about the history of Colchester MWC – when was it established and how has it grown in members and stature since it commenced?

Colchester Military Wives Choir was established in July 2012. Since then it has earned a formidable reputation with a string of concerts including appearing at the House of Commons for three consecutive years to mark Remembrance Day, a sell-out joint event with the Band of the Parachute Regiment at St Botolph’s Church in Colchester and a joint concert with Men2Sing at Chelmsford Cathedral. 

In 2013 the choir was invited to take part in the Canadian Military Tattoo, along with the Corps of Drums of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, which was staged at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton Ontario.

In 2014 the choir was also represented at the War Horse Prom, an event commemorating the start of WW1. This endeavour involved being part of a BBC television series culminating in a sell-out performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2015, the choir was privileged to be asked to sing the British and US national anthems at a sell-out NBA basketball game in the O2 Arena in London. As well as performing in front of a sell-out audience, the game was also live on television in both Britain and America. 

Later in 2015, our ladies were also invited to take part in West End Heroes at the Dominion Theatre in London. The show united some of the country’s top military musicians in a dazzling display of show stopping numbers, and also included special performances from top west end musicals. This particular event raised money for the charity Help For Heroes. 

2016 started with a bang for the choir, when we were invited to perform on stage with Lulu. Lulu and her brother recorded a song which was re-written specifically for the military wives and serving members for the military. It was an amazing experience for our ladies singing on stage with Lulu.  

In November 2014 and 2015, the choir staged an evening at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester where it performed to a full house. In September this year we performed two concerts at the Mercury theatre, which allowed more people the opportunity to see us, and as always we had a great time entertaining our local audience.  We are also fortunate and proud to support local charities at this annual event.

The choir is part of a growing network of Military Wives Choirs across the forces community worldwide. Currently the choir has approximately 40 members, including serving reservists, mothers of soldiers and of course military wives. The choir is fortunate to have the dedication and talents of Musical Director Mrs Sally Leung and accompanist Mrs Sharon Tidbury.

 

It is clear that the members of the choir are a very cohesive unit – how integral is the choir in providing a support network for the military wives?

 

Our ultimate aim is to be a support for the military community within our area, and to reach out to women and families in a similar situation.  We are a group of ladies who enjoy singing together, and because of our common bond, are able to support one another in the unique challenges we face.
Your repertoire seems very eclectic which is great – who decides on the songs that you perform? Are there certain songs that members of all Military Choirs need to learn and how often to you collaborate with other MWC?  

 

Yes, we do have a large repertoire, and we work hard to learn new songs every year, in order to both entertain our audience and challenge ourselves.  We also perform core military wives choir songs, and these songs are an integral part of our repertoire which our audience expect to hear.   We have also been very lucky to perform alongside other military wives choirs, both at local and international events. Our choir members and musical director have input into the songs we learn and perform.
You have had a very busy year – what have been your highlights of 2016?

 

As stated above, performing twice this year at our local theatre here in Colchester has been a real highlight for our choir.  We do enjoy performing around the UK, and the wider world, however there is something very special about performing in our home town.
This year the choir was also represented at Carnegie Hall, New York, and amongst other songs performed a new composition by Paul Mealor, who wrote the number one song Wherever You Are.  This was a wonderful experience for all those involved.
Your performance at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester was exceptional? Why did you choose the Mercury Theatre and was the concert in aid of any cause or charity?

 

We very much enjoy entertaining our local audience here in Colchester, and for us, the Mercury performances are a real highlight of our year.  This year we were delighted and honoured to support Colchester and Tendring Women’s Refuge at this particular event.

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I was delighted that you contacted me to once again to photograph the event, can you tell me why having professional photographs taken of the performance was so important to you? 

 

We are absolutely delighted with the photos you have taken of our ladies, and for the patience and professionalism you have shown in helping us create these wonderful memories.  Having you present at our rehearsals and at the concerts meant that you were able to capture many special moments for us, which we greatly appreciate. 

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Finally, what is next for CMWC? What can we look forward to before Christmas and into 2017?

 

We are a very busy choir, and Christmas will be an increasingly busy time for our ladies. Among other events, we will be performing with The Braintree Male Voice Choir, at Braintree Arts Theatre on Saturday 3rd December. We are also performing at Colchester Town Hall on Thursday 15th December for a charity event organised by the Mayor of Colchester, so there are still opportunities for people to hear us this year. Please see our website for further details of our performances, http://www.colchestermilitarywiveschoir.org.uk/ 
Many thanks to Helen O”Neill and Colchester Military Wives Choir for their participation in this blog post. I can guarantee that if you do go and see the ladies perform, you will not be disappointed.  Please visit their website (above) for more information. Alternatively you can contact the choir by emailing colchester@militarywiveschoirs.org.  The choir also has it’s own Facebook Page –  facebook.com/ColchesterMilitaryWivesChoir/ 



Ross Willsher is a social (weddings and portraits) and commercial photographer based in Chelmsford and covering Essex and London who is passionate about creating images as individual as you are.  His work can be viewed at www.rosswillsherphotography.co.uk / www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk 

facebook.com/rosswillsherphotography | @RWIllsherPhoto | instagram.com/rosswillsherphotography

Gallery

Meet Modern Mint – The go-to local business for garden design and quality products

The first in a series of photography blogs looking at some of Essex’s most exciting and innovative small businesses.

Earlier this month I met up with the charismatic trio behind Modern Mint to find out about their bespoke and ethical approach to catering for all of your gardening needs.

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Upon meeting Darren, Chloe and Stefano, I was immediately impressed by their passion and knowledge for all things horticultural and was eager to find out more about how Modern Mint is fast becoming the go-to business for garden design and products that are as beautiful as they are practical. Read on to find out what Chloe had to say. 

What is Modern Mint?

Modern Mint is the place to go for all things gardening. There are three of us that work here. Darren is the plantsman in the Essex and London area, Stefano works on the garden design drawings, and me – I run the online shop.

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What made you take the plunge into the world of a start-up?

The idea and challenge of setting up a shop from scratch really excited me. Perhaps its in my blood as both my father and grandmother ran shops!  Before I joined Modern Mint I worked as an PA to the President of a large company. This work gave me the opportunity to get involved in running different areas of the business, discovering the nitty gritty of how it all worked – an experience that was brilliant training for Modern Mint.

Getting the confidence to run your own business takes time, it is worth starting small or building some career capital from the job you are in, but now I have done it I wouldn’t want to work any other way! You learn something new everyday, stretch your skill base and it has been a positive and healthy change of lifestyle!

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The shop was never in the original plan – how did that come about?

We decided to add the shop after a year or so of setting up the garden design business. It was a natural progression. Going to garden centres we kept seeing the same stuff over and over again. With Darren’s gardening work he had grown tired of working with tools that kept breaking, planting up pots that were ugly (or even worse, boring) or using synthetic fertilisers that harmed the environment. He had gradually tested and refined a palette of products he could trust and start with for the shop.

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What was the first product you sold online?

It was the Seedballs. When we made our first online sale, our merchant bank refused to work and the customer called complaining that she couldn’t pay. We were in a state of shock that someone was actually buying something off the website and calling us up about it along with utter frustration at the bank for being so unhelpful! Thankfully it was all resolved quickly, and our first customer has turned into a regular one.

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How do you source your products, and is there anything exciting coming up?

The garden industry is not really that green – which seems ridiculous really as it is all about working with the environment. There is lots of waste in the form of plastic pots, overuse of chemicals and excess waste that ends up in landfill. We didn’t want to part of this.  We garden organically so it would be totally against our ethos to just buy mass produced items, poorly made with a negative effect on the environment and community where it is made.

We sell items that we know are good quality, have come from suppliers and makers that care and use recycled materials if possible.  A good way to run a business is to sell an amazing product and avoid customer dissatisfaction. Who wants to deal with complaints? We like our customers, enjoy getting to know them and want to build up a long term relationship with them.

The new ideas come from listening to our customers. When we first launched the shop last year we were told constantly our stuff is great for gifts. So we are spending the summer putting together a gift range for all our products, with gift wrapping options too ready for the Christmas season. We aim to launch this in September, along with a very exciting range of indoor gardening products.

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How does professional photography benefit your business?

We pride ourselves on only selling high quality, ethically produced products. Therefore it’s really important that these are photographed in a way that visualises the craftsmanship and skill that has gone into creating each item. Professional photography helps Modern Mint to communicate our brand to potential new customers, who may not have had the opportunity to experience the products in person and are viewing them for the first time online. We also feel that by photographing our products in the environment in which they are to be used, we can clearly communicate a sense of size and scale and help clients to see how great an addition they would be to their own gardens or homes.

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I had a great afternoon photographing the team at Modern Mint. To see more of the products Modern Mint sells you can visit their website at www.modernmint.co.uk

 If you run your own business and require professional photos to help you sell your brand, please visit www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk to see more examples of my work or email info@rosswillsherphotography.co.uk to arrange a complimentary consultation. I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

 

Meet Modern Mint – The go-to local business for garden design and quality products

Relax…it’s in the bag – Part 4 – The back-up camera

 

Part 4 of a series of blog posts exploring what essential pieces of kit I keep in my bag and how each item helps to promote your brand.

Sometimes – despite all the planning and preparation in the world – things can go wrong and a camera can malfunction, get dropped or become damaged during a shoot. That’s why it’s important to carry a back-up at all times.

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The Canon 7D is never far away in my kit bag; ready and waiting to step-in should my 5D fail on me (touch wood this hasn’t happened yet). However, the 7D is far from just a back-up camera as it has some really great features of its own and in some areas even outshines my main camera.

Here are few reasons why the 7D can handle anything during our photoshoot;

Awesome focussing – the 7D is far superior when it comes to focussing for action shots as it has a wide range of focus settings to choose from. It produces sharp shots of fleeting moments that can be missed in the blink of an eye.

Custom functions – as with the 5D, I can assign particular functions to a range of controls on the 7D and so this means I can easily switch from one camera body to the other and shoot just as quickly and comfortably with each camera.

Lightweight – with a slightly smaller sensor than the 5D, my 7D is lightweight and easy to handhold which means I can happily lug it around on a shoot; whether around my neck being used or tucked up safely in my kit bag as a spare.

Multi-lens compatibility – You may have already read my previous blog post in this series all about my different lenses and how they help me get great shots during our shoots. These lenses work just as effectively with my 7D as they do with the 5D so whatever camera body is in use – we can still get a diverse set of images.

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What this means for you. 

Peace of mind. Knowing that I have a back-up camera means you don’t have to worry that your shoot will be cancelled last minute or end prematurely due to kit failure.  It also means high quality images are guaranteed regardless of which piece of kit I use.

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So if you’re looking for a relaxed and fun-filled headshot or portrait shoot or are on the hunt for a reliable event or product photographer please get in touch. I’d love to use my skills and my ever-growing kit bag to help you to promote your business, skills or products.

Have a great week.

Ross

www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk 

info@rosswillsherphotography.co.uk

07590 520539

Relax…it’s in the bag – Part 4 – The back-up camera

Relax – It’s in the bag: Part 2 – The Camera Lenses

Following on from last week’s blog where I talked about some of the features of my camera body and how it helps me to take great photos of you and your business, this week we are looking at my lenses and seeing just what they do for us on our shoot.

Canon 50mm f1.8

The Canon 50mm is a fixed lens meaning that it only has one focal length (and cannot be zoomed in or out). The number 1.8 refers to its largest aperture setting (the hole through which light enters the lens and into the camera). The smaller the number, the larger the aperture and therefore the more light the lens lets in. At f1.8 lots of light can flood into the camera to create the shot. This lens is small, lightweight and exceptionally sharp.

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What this means for you

Your business premises might not be the brightest and most spacious location in Essex but that doesn’t mean we can’t get some great shots for your website or social media platforms. The 50mm lens is unobtrusive, and with it’s ability to let in lots of light, we don’t have to use vast amounts of artificial lighting setups that might interrupt your workflow and take up valuable business hours.

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Canon 24-70mm f2.8

The Canon 24-70mm is a great all-round lens that can be used for wide-angle scenes and flattering portrait shots. If I only have space for one lens when ton assignments, this is the one I take as it allows me to shoot such a variety of subjects quickly and to a high quality. It can let in lots of light for hand-held shooting in dark locations but also has impressive manual focussing abilities for landscape photography on a tripod.

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What this means for you

To make your website engaging and a cut above those of your competitors, you need a variety of high quality images that provide prospective clients with a strong insight into the property, personalities and products behind the brand. This lens has the versatility to take shots ranging from exterior location images through to close-up product photography. To be able to switch quickly from a close-up image to a staff group photo helps me to save you time and get back to more pressing tasks.

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Canon 70-200mm f2.8

The largest of my lenses, the 70-200mm is great for taking shots of people and objects a little further away. It still lets in lots of light in dark environments but is also great for photographing moving subjects: be they mechanical, human or animal. The 70-200mm lens is great for creating soft blurred background as it compresses all objects in the frame.

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What this means for you

Many people are a little concerned when this large lens is pointed in their direction as they feel it will highlight all of their (perceived) flaws. In actual fact the focal length of this lens and its ability to compress objects to make them appear closer together really flatters faces. Take a headshot with a wide-angle lens and you will see how distorted and unattractive your face looks – this lens does the opposite. So don’t be intimidated by its size. This lens also helps you to really stand out from the background and make your portrait “pop”.  At events this lens allows me to capture expressions and gestures of guest speakers without obstructing your audience and attendees.

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To see some more of the work created with these lenses please take a little look at my website. Alternatively, please get in touch if you would like my lenses and I to create some images that will help you promote your USP.

In my next post I’ll be talking about memory cards and batteries and their importance. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions for future posts.

Have a great week.

Ross

info@rosswillsherphotography.co.uk | www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk 07590 520539

Relax – It’s in the bag: Part 2 – The Camera Lenses

Relax…it’s in the bag: Part 1 – The Main Camera Body

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Part 1 in a series of blog posts exploring what essential pieces of kit I keep in my bag and how each item helps to promote your brand.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be blogging about the essential items I carry in my commercial photography kit bag and how they help me to get great shots of you and your business. For part one I thought it best to start with the most obvious piece of kit – my main camera body – the Canon 5D Mark ii.

Here are 5 features of the 5D Mark ii that help me as a commercial photographer to help you sell your brand..

1. The Full-frame Sensor

A camera’s sensor size ultimately determines how much light is captured within each image. The larger the sensor, the more light that is captured in each shot.  The 5D Mark ii is fantastic for shooting in low light situations due to it’s full-frame sensor. The large sensor also helps to capture the tiniest details in highlights and shadows as well as a broad spectrum of colours and tones.

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What this means for you.

My camera can help me to capture concerts and events using only the ambient light available in the room whilst still maintaining high quality in my images.  I have and can use an external flash unit to enhance a low light scene, but often the most interesting images can be created by utilising the Canon 5D’s ability to capture brilliant detail in far from ideal natural lighting conditions. So when you book me to cover your events you need not worry about low light at the venue – I have the equipment to overcome this and take great shots.

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2. Long Battery Life

Whilst I use fully rechargeable batteries (more on these in a future blog) and always carry spares on my shoots, I have rarely – if ever – needed to replace the battery midway through a shoot. The 5D Mark ii will take 1000 to 1500 shots before the battery needs replacing so I can shoot without fear of having to stop just when we’re getting into our photographic groove!

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What this means for you.

Sometimes it may take a while to relax during your headshot shoot or we need to keep trying different angles and poses to capture your personality. The long battery life of my camera means that we only have to stop our photography shoot when we decide we have nailed the shots and not when the camera says “Enough!”

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3. Total control over every setting.

This camera lets me take full control of every aspect of each photograph – from exposure (brightness) to how much is in focus, the image’s colour balance and whether to freeze or to blur motion.

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What this means for you.

My camera helps me to ensure that the colours and tones of your products are represented accurately in all promotional material. Using the Canon 5D, I am able to light and shoot products in a way that highlights their USP and thus increases sales of your produce or stock.

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4. Interchangeable lenses

The Canon 5D – like most DSLRs – allows me to fit and use a range of lenses according to the photograph I am taking. I will talk in a future post about what each individual lens does for me (and you). Having a camera body that fits so many top-range lenses means that I can creatively shoot from a range of distances and angles and compose shots that help to promote your brand and products.

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What this means for you.

From head shots that really capture your unique personality through to wide-angle captures of your premises or event venue, being able to switch lenses to creatively capture what is important to you is a real feature of my photography style.

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5. Custom Functions

The Canon 5D Mark ii enables me to personalise which button controls each function. For example, I use a button on the back of the camera to control focussing instead of pressing down the shutter. This means that I can work in a way that suits me best and quickly make adjustments without having to stop and look at the camera body itself.

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What this means for you.

Knowing these controls so well means I can focus my attention on you. I can check that you  are feeling relaxed and happy with how the day or shoot is going. I can help to guide your posing and answer any concerns that you may have. It also means that I can work more efficiently which – due to the fact that I charge per hour – ultimately saves you money.

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So there you go – five ways in which my camera body helps me to promote your business. To see some of the work created with this camera please take a little look at my website or get in touch if you would like my camera and I to create some images that will help you promote your USP.

In my next post I’ll be talking more specifically about my lenses and how each one makes you look your best. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions for future posts.

Have a great week.

Ross

info@rosswillsherphotography.co.uk | www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk 07590 520539

Relax…it’s in the bag: Part 1 – The Main Camera Body