Creating Video that matters

When I started my commercial photography business, I always wanted to create more than just a pretty picture. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty pictures as much as the next person. But they are a waste of time on a business web site if all they do is provide some free entertainment to the viewer.

So I combined my marketing background with my photography skills to create images that help put dollars in the till of my clients. That is, I look carefully at the target audience and find out what turns them on. I then set about creating an image for my clients that relates directly to that audience and builds a demand for their services.

Whilst I have been doing videography for many years, I have tended to keep it to the basic interview type of work. But the more I look around the more I see videography trying to be very pretty, but not really relating back to the market. Stunning shots using drones is great fun and makes impressive viewing. But as above it’s just free entertainment unless it somehow creates a demand for the businesses product or service from their ideal market.

So I’m now looking for clients who want to create some impactful videos for their businesses.

I look forward to sharing some on future blog posts.

Oh and I still create pretty pictures, I just sell them direct for people to put on their wall.

How to build brand imagery

How to build brand imagery

A logo is a mark or symbol that is unique for simple and immediate recognition of your brand.

Brand imagery is how you build your brands aesthetic. They convey emotions to the viewer (known as brand feelings). They build trust and confidence over time and repeated exposure.

So how do you create the best imagery for your brand?

Think of your ideal customer. What is important to them and what does their day look like. The better the visual is of your ideal customer the more you will understand what visuals your ideal audience will respond to.

Different demographics respond to different designs. Its crucial to think carefully about colour, composition, type face, content and style working together to create different moods. EG dark colours and heavy fonts project seriousness, pale neutral palates can give a modern or even futuristic vibe.

Knowing the ideal customer allows you to pick the design elements to focus on. 

Test different images and see what works best. Once you have that mix then stick to it.

Images should not be bland, but they should resemble each other on some level. Images and video being rolled out across different on line platforms and in print need to be part of an overall communication strategy. They should fit together to tell a story.

Promotional Video

In my photography I like to capture candid moments. I don’t particularly like scenes that are overly posed and I am trying to bring that same authenticity into the video work I am doing. Here’s a promotional video I did for the BNI Gateway chapter and I tried to approach it with the same idea of capturing the meeting as it really is, and not make a typical corporate style promo.

Adding Value

Once I have a new brief, I take the time to make sure I fully understand the clients needs and the purpose of the photographs or video. I block out the time for the research, travel, the job itself and then block time afterwards for the editing, making sure that the work is delivered to the client well in advance of their deadlines.

Then I look at how I can add value to the job. What else can I add that the client is not expecting.

In the video below it shows the additional environmental / location images that I obtained for the client whilst in Dalby. I arrived the afternoon before the day of the shoot, which gave me plenty of time to check out the area and get some nice sunrise shots with the drone as well as others of the local area.

6 tips for low cost product photography

The internet has seen an explosion of new online businesses selling pretty much everything. And I suspect we have only just seen the beginning of what this means for retail.

Any business selling something needs photography, but this can be expensive if just starting out. However with some clever planning this product shoot I did for a new business earlier this year cost under $2K and involved shots in two different locations over two days. There were over 24 products and a variety of packages and on location shots to be done. CLICK : Check the PDF brochure. to see the PDF.

If you are going to do your own photography then it needs to look great. Here are 6 tips to make it easier for you:

1. Use a tripod. There are some cheap ones on line these days as well as the flexible low cost gorilla type stands. A tripod will give you a consistent look and feel. And if you are using an IPhone then buy a stand for it, don't prop it up! If you only need a couple of shots then sure hand held is OK. But there is nothing worse as your business grows to see inconsistencies across the range.

2. Lighting. Lighting is the key to any great image. Lighting gives depth to your product and shows off its attributes. Unfortunately most people ignore this and their images are flat and uninspiring. It has to look 3D and inviting. Lighting rigs in studios are very expensive, as are good quality speed lights. So, use natural light! Position your product near a window with clean light coming through it. Then go to Bunnings and buy some white foam board card or any white reflective surface. Position this on the opposite side to the window and the light will bounce back onto the other side of your product. Its very effective and arguably a much nicer light than some studio lights.

3. Bounce cards. As above, buy more cards of different reflective values and bounce light around your product to give a softer more enveloping light.


4. Clean white background. Don't get too fussed about a pure white background unless you have use of some good editing software. But use some white card that can flex against the wall. This way there is no corner and the focus is on the image.

5. Shoot the product in its natural surroundings, how it will be used. This means you do not have to worry about the white background etc. You will still need to bounce light around to get a good image, but overall its easier and can help the sales process to see the product benefits in use.

6. Shoot lots of images. Shoot lots of variety and one will naturally feel best for you. Remember its not about what you think, but what your ideal customer will think. Practice makes perfect and try different locations and times of day. 

And if you want a lesson in how to best set something up for your future needs then give me a call and I'd be happy to help. 

Great Article on Business Portraits and Branding

The link below will not display on this page for some security reason! Not sure why. But, just copy and paste the URL below into your browser. The article covers off well areas such as:

1. 82% of consumers trust a company more if the founders use social media

2. Why your business portraits on your social sites and business sites need to be on brand

3. Posture for business portraits

4. What to wear, casual or business, or maybe a mix of both

5. Best locations for a business portrait

6. And the best bit, why you should pay for professional photos! 

It's a good read. Enjoy.

4 reasons collaboration works better than my way!

The video below is stunning. It's creative, on brand and more than met the clients expectations. But neither one of us could have done this alone.

Four reasons why this collaboration worked:

1. When you are forced to articulate your ideas to others in the group, it brings about a deeper level of clarity. What you are good at becomes very clear, as well as what you are not so good at. By being clear on your strengths and weaknesses gaps appear for others in the group to step in and help. This honesty and self awareness allows you to focus on what you are good at.

2. Friction within the group is inevitable. However, this friction does not need to be negative. If you throw your toys out the pram and stomp off then of course this is negative to the group. However, within the friction there is an energy that if worked through can evolve to give a much better result. Both parties can be right. It does not mean that someone has to win and someone has to lose. By working through the friction it can mean both points of view are right and then it becomes a discussion around how to use both points together.

3. 1+1 = 3. Large businesses have departments, but that does not mean they collaborate well. Indeed, they are often at war! Smaller one person businesses are often scared to collaborate as they may see others in the group as competitors. But as the saying goes, two heads are better than one. Sharing ideas, skills and resources means you can reach new markets and pitch for bigger projects. Individual businesses are still part of a greater whole and there is power in that.

4. Collaborating with others allows you to learn from others. Rather than sticking to your narrow field you can learn from others in different areas of the business. This in itself helps your own business as well as the overall project you are working on. It allows you to extend beyond your comfort zone and stretch your boundaries.

The above video was a collaboration between:, producer/director and drone videography director / drone and videography/ post production/editing Story telling and scripting Beautiful music  - Our client who was very much part of the team

Doing something creative everyday boosts your well being

It does not matter whether you consider yourself a creative type or not. Research has found that people are happier and more energised when engaged in something creative everyday. That positive mood goes hand in hand with creative thinking.

It's nonsense to you say you are non creative. It might not be your natural inclination, but everyone has a creative side to them. And by expanding that creative side it can lead to feeling better and making better decisions.

Some ideas for the so called non creatives to do on a daily basis are: write a journal; photography; cook; draw; paint; paint furniture; paint a room; sing; play an instrument; do a different work out; dance; ice skate; knit; write a story; write a poem; it's endless!

For my daily creativity on top of my day job of being a photographer, I have started project water 365. I have to take a photo of something to do with water everyday for a year. I can't take several on one day and then take a few days off! One photo to choose per day for a year.

I'm up to day 43 and you can see my images at the link below.

So far I have found that the harder I try, the harder it becomes. If I rush it also has a limiting effect on my creativity. Best results seem to come when I set time aside and don't pre plan anything. Just take 30 minutes out of my day to wonder and see what comes up. Or, play with stuff in the studio.

Apparently the real benefits come after about 3 months. We'll see...!

Can you use staff photos?

Can HR use employee photos?

Many companies like to use employee photos in their marketing materials, web sites, board reports, company intranets and in social media. 

It adds some personality and authenticity to their brand. It says we are real. It helps transform a faceless company so that customers can relate. It gives a company an approachable brand personality.

Who do you select to use and on what criteria. Like any selection process it has to be without bias or prejudice. The best way here is to work with the photographer or agency involved to write specific criteria and then leave the selection with an outside source.

And what happens when they leave? 

It is not a good look to Photoshop someone out! As the one that leaves is never standing at the end of the line!

However, with the above aside, the key question these days is can you legally use an employee photo, and in what circumstances.

It’s unlawful to use the likeness of a person for commercial purposes without their prior written consent.

Obtaining written consent when an employee joins the business to use throughout and beyond their employment is usually sufficient, or has been up to now. 

They key is to stipulate exactly the different ways the images may be used by the company and ensure the employee understands fully and gives permission for all uses.

If you want to use employee photos for a particular advertising campaign then separate written consent should be sort. An employee can argue that it was not stipulated or understood that their image can appear in advertising. This then leads into social media and in some countries laws are at their infancy in how employee images are being used.

In addition it may not be long before unions start to stipulate that the employee is being used as a model and therefore an appropriate fee should be payable. It’s not part of their normal roles and responsibilities. It’s very much about how and what purpose the image will be used.

An employee may be happy to have their image on a company intranet for staff, but not so happy to appear along side the chairman in a company report.

Detailing exact potential uses at the outset is recommended, and further consent for social media and advertising campaigns and specific marketing materials should be gained.

At all times an employee should be able to opt out.

A good photographer should advise you of the use of images, and provide model release forms stipulating the use of the images. 

I am a photographer and the above is only my opinion and not legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained when in any doubt.

Copyright infringement can result in big fines

Here's an example.

An architect appoints a photographer to take some photos of one of their designed and newly built houses. They are extremely happy with the outcome and share, at no fee, the photographs with the builder who then posts them onto his web site.

The architect has paid for the photos and therefore feels they own them.

Unfortunately whilst the architect is trying to be nice and sharing the images with the builder, they are now in breach of copyright. They have no right to pass on the images whether a fee is paid or not.

In Australia the copyright is automatically held by the photographer. There is no requirement to put the copyright symbol on the images, although that can help highlight it in advance.

The photographer provides a license to the architect to use the images for the promotion of their business. They have no right to pass the images onto third parties, alter the images, charge for them or give them away. They do not own them. They have a right through the license to use them for the agreed purpose of promotion of their business.

Even if the photographer does not make this clear when quoting, the law still states that copyright remains with the photographer unless there is a specific agreement to hand copyright over. (Which is highly unlikely, as the photographer can then no longer use the images for the promotion of their business or otherwise). 

In this example the architect should have communicated with the photographer and asked what the procedure would be for the builder to utilise them. In most cases the photographer will be more than happy to have the builder pay a small fee for the use of some or all of the images.

Think of it like this. You can't go an buy a painting and then take a photograph of it, and sell the prints. It works exactly the same.

Photographers have a program to embed code into images and can see where on the web they show up. 

If you are unsure, just ask the photographer and get any agreement in writing.

There is more information at

Number one killer of creativity

Fear of failure has to be the number one killer of creativity.

The fear that you might make a huge mistake or look stupid trying something new can stop most people in their tracks. How embarrassing it might be to do a painting or some pottery for the first time since you were a kid and it looks like it was done by a 7 year old!

Interestingly 7 year olds don't give a crap. Neither do most people as they get into the later stages of life. What happens in the middle is this horrible thing called judgment and fear of that judgement.

But the thing is, you can't start to get better if you don't start. And, more importantly who cares if it's no good? Being an outstanding artist is not the reason most people start painting. It's the process of painting (or any other art form), that brings the joy and personal benefit. 

I strongly believe we all have creativity, even accountants! Whilst there are some guidelines to various forms of art, the creativity comes from the right side of the brain where rules do not (should not) exist in developing your creative side. 

If you fancy taking photos, painting, pottery, acting or singing or whatever, then just start. When the voice in the head comes along with doubt just tell it to piss off.  Saying that out loud is very satisfying!

The worst case scenario is the outcome might not be very pretty, but you will have a great time. The chances are, there will be something that works and takes you into a different direction than you anticipated.

In order to develop my creativity further I have undertaken project water365. This entails me taking one photo every day for a year about the subject of water. I could choose any subject, but I have always been drawn to water. I don't know what it will bring, but I am told after about 3 months when I am sick of the project, the left side of the brain starts to give up. That pesky voice in the head! And then, when pushing through this tough stage, the right side of the brain comes out to help. Ideas just start to flow. The less you try the easier it becomes.

And then...... well let's wait and see.


Creative product photography ideas

For a potential buyer to be interested in your product or service, you need a web site. Everyone agrees with that, although surprisingly there is a high percentage of new businesses that do not have a web site. But that's for another blog post!

On that web site people want to see what they are buying. Whether its a service or a product, videography and photography will help the sales process. The issue is how do you get your product stand out from the rest.

A lot of products are shown on clean white backgrounds, and whilst there is a case for some products to be shown in this way, it's not utilising the space to help sell.

One key idea is to use the background to put the product in place in the buyers mind. Different props and environments can help potential buyers imagine how they would use your product.

In addition to having a more creative backdrop, the backdrop and positioning of props should help to tell a story. A story will engage the viewer on a deeper level. In the case below, the brief was for a glass of wine to appear on the front of a wine menu. Here I decided to show where the wine came from and combine the grape and the finished product in one shot to tell the story of its origin. Although we did opt for the plain black background in this case!

The key is to brainstorm ideas in the first instance that will resonate with your audience.



Preparing for a promotional video

In preparation for a promotional video, or any video for that matter, the most important aspect is to understand the branding, the message you want to portray and to what audience. Then with the basic information at hand start to create a story to engage the viewer and make them the hero.

Listening to stories is something we all enjoy, and if we can relate and immerse ourselves then we can easily get lost in the plot and time disappears. Just think of the latest Star Wars movie. Over three hours long and it went in a flash!! or may be not quick enough for some!

I work with one of Brisbane's most creative collective groups including designers, marketing and branding strategists, videographers, drone pilots, web and graphics teams. We work together to create a story that will bond with your potential customers.

The below video is from a location recce in preparation for a promotional video. We have not yet developed the story, but what an amazing destination to start with!


Illegal drone use can end in hefty fine!

The rules for drones changed last year and generally made things a little easier and clearer.

If you are flying for fun, and there is no commercial use for the video footage then the basic rules are:

* Keep under 120 metres

* No general public within 30 metres

* Not within 5.5 KM of aerospace.  If there are any other aircraft in the area, EG a helicopter then land immediately.

* Only fly during the day and keep the craft in line of sight. 

* No flying over people, buildings or populated areas like a busy beach.

* Do not fly over emergency situations such as forest fires, accidents etc.

* Depending on what state you are located, you may need permission to fly in national parks.

If your craft is below 2KG and you wish to fly commercially then you have to apply to casa at and the above guide lines still apply. If you want to fly within these restrictions then you need a Remote Pilot License and an Operators Certificate.

I have fully licensed and experienced pilots who can offer the full service.

The video below outlines other threats lurking to take you down!

PLEASE NOTE the above are general guidance notes and should not be taken as being correct for your location or situation. Visit for full details. If in doubt ask!



Why builders need professional photography on their web site

It is more imperative for a new building company starting out, to have great photography on their web site than it is for an established builder.

An established builder already has clients and word of mouth. A new builder does not, and potential customers will want to see their work before engaging them. Below are some key benefits to having professional photography and also some tips to help make it as cost efficient as possible.


1. The photos on your web site represent you and your business. A poor quality image taken with an phone or low quality camera, will say to the viewer this is what your work is like. You will be judged on this first impression.

2. Potential customers want to see your work for themselves before making a decision. An image is worth more than a 1000 words. It's your evidence of your work and your opening pitch to a new customer.

3. Optimised images help your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The image will help search engines preference you in rankings.

4. Use of stock photos give a false impression. It's not your work or you. Stock images are easy to spot and starts the relationship off on a deceitful and false manner. 

5. If you do not have many projects to show, then take more photos and different angles of the projects you have. Also do not show them on your web site as 'House/Project A' and then House B' etc. This simply highlights the number of properties you have completed. Rather, show a range of photos across different projects and do not mention the number of projects completed. For example, you may show several bathrooms all together.

6. Do close up shots of key design work and good craftsmanship areas. Potential customers want to see the detail in your work and it allows more images from the one project.

7. Have a profile image of yourself on the web site, either directing work on the job, or talking to a customer. The key here is to show an image of a scenario that will appeal to the type of customer you want to go after in future.

8. Cost of photography can be shared between an architect or building suppliers. 

If you would like to know more about the costs and time involved for me take your professional photos then please do not hesitate to contact me.

How to look good in photos

Almost everyone starts by saying they don't look good in photos, and hate having their photograph taken. When I take a portrait of someone, I take time to relax them and we chat about the process and get to know each other. Trust in your photographer is essential to have some great final images. Below are some tips and tricks to help you take a better portrait.

1. The double chin! Common amongst many of us. To avoid a double chin, stretch your neck upwards, push your face forward slightly. It's a bit like dipping your chin down slightly whilst sticking your forehead out at the same time. It feels very awkward... but try it a few times in the mirror and it certainly helps.

2. Take a look at some past photos of yourself and see which ones you like best and why. For most people the left hand side of the face is the 'best side'. Don't ask me why, it just is and this was proven in a research paper in the U.S. a few years ago.

3. Make up. A qualified make up artist works wonders. If the foundation is too pale for the skin then it can become very obvious when the flash hits the skin. Advice seems to be, to match your skin to your chest and add a thin layer to your neck if the neck is paler. 

4. If you blink in photos. Close you eyes and then open slowly just before the picture is taken.

5. Putting your tongue behind your teeth when you smile has a couple of benefits. It stops it peaking through when you mouth is open and it helps to prevent a too wide grin.

6. Hair sprays prevent the fly away hair.

7. Avoid looking straight on at the camera. Try turning your head slightly and keep the eyes on the camera only. It's more flattering.

8. Point one foot forward and think of your body being in an S shape. It helps to elongate the body and stretch parts out!

9. Try to look up at the camera. If I have someone taller than me, I will normally get them to sit on a chair or I'll use a small ladder.

10. A good photographer will get you to laugh and relax, producing a more natural smile.

11. Laugh quietly to yourself. It produces a more gentle and genuine smile.

12. Clothing. This is a whole new blog post on its own. But I suggest to clients to wear something they feel comfortable in. If you squeeze yourself into something you don't normally wear then you will not look at ease. Best to avoid check clothing as it dominates in black and white photos.

13. Take lots of photos! The more photos taken the more relaxed you become and you might even find yourself having fun!