24 December 2009

John Wood Photography is now on Facebook – become a fan!

John Wood Photography is now on Facebook and I’d love you to become a fan. Simply click on this link to view the John Wood Photography Facebook page and then click on the ‘become a fan’ icon.

I’ll be posting details of special offers from time to time which will only be available to my Facebook fans and not posted anywhere else, so keep on checking the page to ensure you don’t miss out!

You’ll also be able to see sneak previews from my latest photo shoots and find out about what I’ve been up to with my photography.

17 December 2009

Full range of photographic products now available

John Wood Photography is now offering a complete range of photographic products from a range of specialist suppliers. Clients can now make a feature wall portrait of their photos with a range of different sized canvases and acrylic prints.

Canvases are available in a wide range of sizes, formats and frame depths from a square format of 12x12 inches up to a portrait / landscape size of 60x34 inches. All canvases are printed onto ultra white cotton weave Matte canvas 415gsm using Epson 9800 professional wide format printers with 8 colour K3 UltraChrome inks. The canvases are printed, hand stretched and constructed in the UK. All canvases include a hanging bracket so it is ready to be displayed in your home.

My acrylic prints offer a new and exciting way to show off your portraits. Giving the impression that your photo is ‘floating’ off the wall, they really are a spectacular sight and certainly a conversation piece for family and visitors alike. The acrylic prints I provide have your photo printed directly onto the rear surface of the 1cm thick acrylic and then an opaque backing is applied. Many inferior so called ‘acrylic’ prints are just printed photos which are either bonded to the rear of a piece of acrylic or sandwiched between two layers of the material. The technique of printing directly onto the acrylic gives a perfect finish with no chance of air bubbles or the print coming away from the material over time. It also gives it a hardwearing finish that can be cleaned with a damp cloth without worry of damaging the picture. Furthermore, to assist with displaying your acrylic print, a computer cut template is supplied to enable you to ensure that the fixings are placed in the correct position before it is fixed to the wall.

I also offer clients the option of having large format prints of their portraits which can be supplied on their own or ready mounted and framed. Prints can be of just a single photo or one made up of multiple apertures (smaller images within the same overall print). Again a wide range of sizes is available from square prints of 20x20 inches up to 40x40 inches and portrait / landscape sizes from 20x16 inches up to 48x32 inches. There is a virtually unlimited range of options in between to get the perfect print to suit your needs and your home.

Finally, I offer you the choice of having your photos in a stylish photobook which you will cherish for years to come. Books come in a range of sizes and finishes. You can have softback covers, hard backed books with photos printed on the cover or hardbacks with fully printed dust jacket covers. The layout of the books is totally customisable with double page spreads possible. The books look great on your coffee table (you won’t want to leave them tucked away on a bookshelf for long!) and smaller format books make great presents for family members like grandparents.

With all of the above range of photographic products, I have chosen suppliers with a dedication to providing the highest quality finished products and excellent attention to detail, all at an affordable price.

Whatever way you choose to display your photos, I want you to be happy with that choice for years to come.

15 October 2009

Jane’s maternity shoot

On Sunday morning I had a maternity photo shoot with Jane who is expecting twins in just over a month’s time. We have been planning the shoot for just under a couple of months now and it came about after she saw some examples of my other maternity photos.

Earlier in the week I had sent Jane a set of posing ideas that I have put together and which would give her an idea of some of the setups that she might want to try. I feel that this is an important step to undertake with maternity (and also boudoir) photo shoots as it can give the client some ideas that they may not previously have thought of trying out.

After setting up my portable studio in their living room, we set went over the posing sheets I had sent her and discussed what she might like to try. We then started with the photo shoot itself. As Jane has a young daughter, I thought it would be good to get some shots of her with her mum and connecting with her soon to be new sisters. Ellie was a star in her own right and we got some great photos – one of which can be seen below.

We then built the series of shots up to include the whole family and brought in her husband to get them all together for a few photos. When working with children, I feel it is very important to get them involved but also to make sure that if they are taking part in the shoot that they take part at the earliest opportunity. They can soon lose interest and want to go back to playing with their toys or watching their favourite DVD! When that moment arrives, there is little point in making them carry on as children will just play up and you can’t easily get what you need. Letting kids do their own thing for a while will usually also mean that they may well come round to the suggestion of having a few more shots later in the session – it certainly worked in this case!

With Ellie off playing, I was able to spend some more time getting shots of Jane using a selection of the different backgrounds and voile drapes that I had brought with me. As the shoot progressed, Jane’s confidence grew and she was up for trying out more adventurous shots. I never push clients into trying things that they aren’t fully comfortable with – hence one of the reasons for sending over the posing ideas sheet before the shoot. That way, clients can get an idea of what they might want to try and what they might not. I very much see a photo shoot as a two way collaboration which needs both the photographer and client to connect in order to get the best from a session. With Jane’s increasing confidence she was happy to try some of the more challenging poses as she wanted to get as much a record of her pregnancy as possible – the twins are likely to be enough to keep her hands full for a while! The following are a few more photos taken during the session.

The last photo in this post (above) showing Jane lying down with her legs pointing in the air to the ceiling really shows off her neat bump and was a shot we obviously had to catch quickly for Jane’s comfort! Luckily the effort paid off and the result is great.

For me (and hopefully my clients!), the real essence of maternity photography is to capture the mum-to-be in her blossoming stage and her bump in the most flattering way when I take the photos. By directing Jane into different poses, with subtle placement of her hands to protect her modesty and careful lighting set ups we have ended up with a set of fantastic photos that I hope she will treasure for years to come and want to show her new girls when they are old enough.

If you are interested in having a maternity photo shoot of yourself, or perhaps you know someone who would be interested, then please make contact with me via the website John Wood Photography and I would be delighted to talk you through the various options and packages I offer - ranging from one off ‘bump’ shoots through to a 5 session ‘Bump to baby’ package which includes a maternity shoot and then 4 shoots during baby’s first year.

I generally find that maternity ‘bump’ shoots are best undertaken during the 34 – 37 week stage of your pregnancy but that doesn’t mean that shoots taken any earlier or later than this won’t capture you at your finest as every woman is different.

23 September 2009

Busy times

Well it's been a hectic couple of months since my last post. I've been very busy with some exciting projects which have turned out very well. I've even managed to fit in a holiday to Cornwall which as well as being a relaxing time, also allowed me to capture some great shots that I plan to use over the next few months and year.

An event of note has been finished off today with the launch of new offices for a local pharmaceutical company which asked me to decorate their walls with several of my photos including a large 56x34 inch canvas of one of my London landscape scenes. I also supplied them with 3 other framed prints from my series of photos taken in London during the twilight time.

Seeing the finished canvas and framed prints on the wall was very satisfying for me and even more so to hear that the client is also delighted with the finished products.

I was kindly invited to the launch party and it was well attended event with several large companies and trade organisations from the Watford area all present. Our local MP - Claire Ward, was also there and she sounded impressed with the new offices, company expansion plans and of course the use of the work of local artists to brighten up the working environment!

Here are a couple of shots of my work in place in the new offices:

The photos are located on the main stairway to the offices in the building so any visitor will pass by them and see my bio which has also been included (you can just see it between the framed prints in the second photo above).

My revised search engine optimisation has obviously started to pay off as the company found me just by doing an internet search. The search engine optimisation I've talked about in earlier posts is an ongoing process but I feel it's making good headway so far.

Another event I've been busy with that is a first for me is the photographing of a large Muslim wedding. I photographed the first ceremony - the Nikah, back at the start of August and now there are two more ceremonies to cover before the wedding is finally considered complete. The final ceremony is expected to have a couple of thousand guests attending so it's going to be an interesting day but one I'm really already looking forward to!

One final upcoming shoot I've got coming up in a few weeks time is a maternity shoot for a friend who is expecting twins. I'm really looking forward to this shoot though it's going to be right at the limit of when maternity photography is considered at it's best - typically 34-37 weeks for a single pregnancy and a bit earlier for twins.

Check back soon for some sneak peeks of some new images I've taken over the last couple of months and have been working on.

17 July 2009

Summer dreaming

Originally uploaded by John Wood Photography
Sitting here today looking out at the rain falling, my mind takes me back to when this photo was taken last month. Hopefully the sunshine will come back - and soon!

Time as ever seems to be running away with me and with over another month's gap since the last post I thought I would post this shot.

I've had a busy month but have managed to get in a couple of shoots ranging from this landscape to a boudoir portrait session. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!!

I was lucky with the skies on the day I did the poppy shots - they were a rich blue with lovely fluffy clouds dotted here and there. Couldn't really ask for more. There's a few more shots of the poppy field on my flickr stream so do take a look.

As mentioned above, my other shoot was a boudoir portrait shoot. This was my second boudoir shoot so I was a little apprehensive but keen to make sure everything went well and we captured the shots we were after. Looking back, I had no reason to worry as the collection of images we've ended up with are stunning. Joanne (my client), is thrilled with the shots she's seen so far and I've now got the task of assembling a book of her favourite images. You can see a selection of the images that Jo has approved for posting and a write up of the shoot from her experience over on my dedicated boudoir photography site: Beautiful Boudoir Photos
Thanks to Jo for a great photo session.

You can also see a slideshow of the images on my YouTube channel: John Wood Photography on YouTube - just select the show "Joanne's boudoir photoshoot"

Until next time.

9 June 2009

Increasing web traffic to my site via SEO

I'm currently turning my attention to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for my website John Wood Photography . The site has been up and running for over a year and in that time has had quite a few updates to the content as things have progressed and new examples of my work have been produced.

I want to give the site a bit of an overhaul to focus more on the type of work I'm doing these days so a redesign (nothing too major) will hopefully be coming this way in the coming months. In the meantime I want to boost my presence in the search engine rankings. I'm currently in the no.1 spot on both Google and Yahoo when searching for 'John Wood Photography' which I'm really pleased about but I know that there's room for improvement. I want to get a boost up the rankings when people search for more general photography service terms.

Obviously the way to do this is to ensure that the site is being indexed correctly and most efficiently by the search engine crawlers. For that, SEO becomes critical - the combination of key words and descriptions is all important.

I'm making some inroads into this and reading up as much as I can. I've come across some really useful information and articles that I'm going to start to put into practice very soon. Hopefully it will start to pay off.

In the meantime, watch this space and when the site is revamped, you'll find out about it here.

7 June 2009

Water drop photography

After reading another great post on the Strobist blog the other week, I decided to have a go at the water drop photography technique that was shown. Cue Friday evening and the first chance I'd had to have a go at this so I cleared a space on the kitchen table, got myself a glass dish to catch the drips, set up my camera on the tripod, readied the flashes with coloured gels, put up a piece of plain white card behind the dish to use as the reflector and then set about creating a frame from which to hang my water dropping bag.

This latter part of the set up was to prove the most challenging but luckily I had an old support frame that I'd built for another photography project that would do the job just perfectly. Once that was in place, I was able to suspend a small plastic bag from a piece of string on a clamp right over the centre of the dish.

I added a couple of litres of water to the dish so that the water would have something to drop into and create the effect I was after. Then I was pretty much ready to go.

Using my D300's in built Creative Lighting System, I was able to control the speedlight flashes from the camera and vary their power as I wanted quickly and easily.

I put a small pin prick in the bag and then let the drops fall. I had to focus carefully on the point where the water was hitting the surface and then once that was set, start firing off shots.

As the drops are coming down so fast, you need to take quite a lot of shots to get the ones you are after. Guess that's another one of the joys of digital where you can instantly see whether you've managed to capture what your are trying to achieve or whether you need to keep trying to get that elusive shot.

I tried several different angles, coloured gels and positions and managed to get quite a few good shots of different drip formations. In the post processing I was able to tweak those that I really liked and make selective crops so I could show them off to their best. The final shots have been put up in my Still Life gallery on my flickr pages.

Have a look and let me know what you think.

21 May 2009

John Wood Photography website update

Well, it's not spring any more so I guess this could be called an early summer clean! I've updated the portraits gallery page on my main website with some newer examples of my work. I felt things needed a bit of a freshen up and I'm pleased with what I've changed.

It also gave me a chance to fix a couple of small things I'd been meaning to do for a while and correct a couple of links that were pointing at the wrong page.

Making these changes has also got me starting to think about the next redesign of the site as a whole. Plans are already being mapped out on paper for some revised layouts and categories to reflect where my photography is now focussing (no pun intended!). Hopefully I'll be able to get some of the changes I want to make implemented in the next couple of months.

One thing I have been really happy about is that my site - John Wood Photography is the no.1 site in both Google and Yahoo search engines when looking for me. Guess the early key wording and search engine optimisation that was done when the site was built is paying off. Still, there's always more to be done to improve things.

7 May 2009

BIG format prints!

I just received my large format print (above) for a client and I'm absolutely delighted with it. Overall it measures 80x80cm and each picture is 20x20cm within that.

It was the first time I'd used this new supplier and from what I've seen, it certainly won't be the last! The quality of the print finish is superb and it certainly arrived well packed and protected.

I can't wait to see it finally mounted, framed and up on a wall in their home.

I had a few problems with setting up the multi aperture layouts but these have been well and truly solved now and I have created a series of different sized templates with different layout apertures which I can create some stunning wall art from.

I've been having a go with quite a few styles and layouts from different shoots and these test creations are available for viewing on my flickr stream. The large format prints certainly do create an immediate impact and show off the photos to their fullest. Combining several prints in one also shows the wide variety of moods and styles that can be captured during a photo shoot and is good for showing all the family together or for just following a theme.

I think the large format and multi-aperture prints should prove a popular product offering and give customers an innovative way to display their photos for all to see.

24 April 2009

Current readings

I'm working my way through a very interesting book at the moment. The Hotshoe Diaries by American photographer Joe McNally shows examples of his work and how he has achieved the looks in particular shots using just small speedlight flashes.

It is full of inspiring ideas and is written in quite a humourous way. Joe certainly has all the equipment I think he could ever need, including the latest Nikon D3x cameras and SB900 speedlights (several in fact!).
He's been known to use up to 12 speedlights at once to get the look he's after which is more than enough to worry about!

The book is certainly giving me some ideas about how to be even more creative with my photography - I just need to get out there and try some of the things out now. It's a book that I can see myself dipping back in and out of as a kind of reference manual in the future. Should be some fun times ahead.

Bumper pack of lighting gels!

I want to start experimenting more with flash and learn about colouring my lights with gels. You can use gels to correct white balance, or gel lights to create coloured backgrounds or similar creative uses. I've had a brief go at this in the past and through the very simple use of an old Quality Street sweet wrapper, I managed to turn the whole of my living room red! The effect was way more than I had been expecting and was my first, early foray into gelling.

LEE Filters are acknowledged to produce the best filters in the world, and their range is outstanding. I discovered that it was possible to sample the delights for FREE; using their contact page I requested a sample pack. It just so happens that the sample pack gels are the perfect size for use on my Nikon SB800 and SB600 Speedlights too!
Now I will be able to to add colour into my shots in new and exciting ways. Hopefully I'll be able to get some shots done soon and then I'll post up the results.

15 April 2009

Best image in class!

My shot of Mount Burgess (above) in YoHo National Park received the 'Best In Class' award in the lastest competition I've entered and scored a 20/20. I was really pleased with the result as I had the competition set subject in mind when I took the photo during last summer's trip to Canada.

It took a bit of work to get the right amount of detail in shadow areas of the trees without blowing out the brighter areas of the photo and I think I managed to pull it off OK.

The 'Reflections' competition was the last of the regular print league competitions of the year and all that remains now are a couple of one off competitions in May. I'll hopefully find out how I've done over the course of the year quite soon.

20 March 2009

It's a girl!

Congratualtions to Sarah and Ben. We got the exciting news in the early hours of this morning that Sarah had given birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 8lbs 9oz at around 3am.

Both mum and baby are doing well and we're really looking forward to seeing them soon.

Looks like the newborn shoot will be in the offing imminently too!

Great news.

11 March 2009

Sarah's maternity shoot - follow up

Following on from the item a few posts below in the blog, I've now shown Sarah her photos and she's been really pleased with them - something which I'm obviously really happy about! It was a great shoot and we got to try lots of things out on the day, so thanks again Sarah for that.

With her baby due any day now, I hope everything goes well and am really looking forward to seeing your new arrival (and taking your baby shots for you!).

I've put together the slideshow in this post which picks out my favourite shots from the session. I hope you like it. It was put together with my slideshow software - Proshow Gold, and then uploaded to YouTube.

Happy viewing and any feedback is really welcomed.

10 March 2009

Bits and bobs

Can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Time certainly flies! It's been a busy month - though not photography wise unfortunately.

I had a week's holiday towards the end of February and spent some time up on the Suffolk coast near to Southwold and Aldeburgh. I had a bit of a foray into landscape work again and also had a try at some more HDR work which was fun. I've posted a few images on my flickr photostream that I took whilst I was away.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't really ideal for photography but I made the best out of it as I could. I got to visit some areas that I went on childhood holidays to and it really did bring back some good memories. Hopefully I'll be able to return at some point in the next couple of years.

Other things that have been happening include the good news that I have been booked to provide the event photography for a charity ball in May with around 200 attendees. My first go at event photography in February this year was a good learning experience and has helped me to refine my workflow and given me a taster of things to come. I'm also going to be offering a chance for guests to bid for a portrait session with me in the charity auction at the event. At least I've got some time to prepare!

Finally for this post, I came across a really inspiring post called "Transform" over on Zack Arias's blog that he did for fellow photographer Scott Kelby over in the States. The post is a video blog that Zack made and really shows some inner feelings of a talented photographer and how even the most dedicated can hit the buffers some time. If you have a spare 10mins, it really is worth having a watch of it here.

That's about it for now. The next post is a follow up to my maternity shoot with Sarah back in early February.

4 February 2009

New lens for the collection

Well, after much deliberation, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR lens.

It is something I've been considering for quite a while and after saving up, I decided to go for it. The lens arrived yesterday and it certainly is a big beast! Weighing in at just under 1.5kgs it's probably not the sort of lens I'll be carrying around with me day in and day out but for those occasions where it does get used, it's going to be a cracker.

I've only managed to have a quick play with it but initial results are that the speed of focussing and image quality are superb. Having the f2.8 aperture available throught the zoom range will allow for some great creativity with the depth of field.

The lens should compliment my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens and I'm hoping that the extra low light performance will add a new depth to my photography that has been harder to achieve in the past.

Check back soon for some test shots when I've had a chance to get out and about with it.

Sarah's maternity shoot

Following on from the trial run back in November, I had the main pregnancy shoot with Sarah at the weekend. We set up the 'studio' in her conservatory and spent a good couple of hours shooting different poses and set up.

I ended up with some great shots that I'm working through at the moment but have been very happy with what I've done so far. As usual, Sarah was game for a laugh and we got some fun shots of her in her partner's Liverpool football shirt along with the more classical shots taken during a preganacy shoot.

The shot below is just a quickly caught portrait from the session and hopefully once Sarah has seen the final images she'll be happy for me to post some of the bump shots so you can see the finished results.

One prop I did find really useful during the shoot was a couple of lengths of voile fabric which allowed Sarah to remain covered up but with careful positioning let us catch the real magic of her pregnancy.

With more and more women wanting to capture memories of the wonderful changes they are undergoing during their pregnancies, this is an area of my photography that I hope to expand into when potential clients see what can be produced.

Thanks again to Sarah for the fun shoot - am sure you're not going to be disappointed with the results.

22 January 2009

SWPP Trade Show

Last Friday (16th Jan) I attended the SWPP Trade Show at their annual Convention in Hammersmith, West London. The show filled 2 halls of the venue and had a really good mix of quality photographic trade suppliers on hand demonstrating and showcasing their products.

It was a very useful day for me and I made good contacts with several suppliers and discovered organisations that will be of use to me and my photography. I was able to get hands on experience of some of the dye-sub printers I have been investigating and also met up with some quality printing and framing companies whose products were very interesting.

I was also lucky enough to get some time to do a mini-shoot with one of the models (Jade Cartwright) who was on the Photomart stand. The session was being run by pro-photographer Jon Gray and was being used to showcase Bowens lighting equipment. I got a good selection of shots, some of which should be appearing on my flickr pages soon.

Another successful evening

Well I had a fantastic evening last night at XRR's 3rd print competition of the year. My shot of the Ucluelet Fishing Boats was chosen as the photo of the night after scoring a 20 out of 20 earlier in the evening. The judge, Dr Robert Mathie FRPS, DPAGB liked the print commenting on the bold colours of the boats and the tonal quality of the shot overall.

The photo has done really well for me in the competitions this year and it certainly is one of my personal favourites at the moment. The HDR technique gives it an added boost on what was a dull and dark early evening in Ucluelet last year. I had always wanted to get some shots of the North American style fishing boats and this location provided the perfect setting for me. It was a shame that we only had a couple of hours at this location on Vancouver Island.

Another of my shots also scored the maximum 20 points last night - this time for the set subject of Person(s) at work or play. My entry was of one of the Covent Garden street entertainers who was performing for the crowds on a tall unicycle whilst juggling a set of clubs at the same time.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening and the overall standard was again very high.