About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

Say cheese! Capturing the close partnership between a Yorkshire dairy farm and an award winning cheesemonger

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a wonderful cheesemongers in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The Courtyard Dairy is a specialist cheese shop and cafe, selling thirty varieties of cheese from the UK and continental Europe.

Kathy and Andy Swinscoe
The owners, Kathy and Andy Swinscoe, are passionate about promoting and supporting the few remaining independent farmhouse cheese makers in Yorkshire.

They have formed a strong partnership with Tom and Clare Noblet of Whin Yeats Dairy Farm, about ten miles away.

The photography brief was to convey the story of the two  businesses and to promote their locally made farmhouse cheese.

We visited Whin Yeats Dairy Farm and were warmly welcomed by Tom and Clare and their four children. The working day on a dairy farm is hard, with 5am starts and no real time off, but the couple were very laid back and their children delighted in their 'giant playground'. They take part in daily chores like feeding the lambs and know the names of the many cattle.

In the milking parlour
Life on the farm at Whin Yeats

Tom and Clare produce two varieties of unpasteurised, pressed, cloth bound cheeses that are both sold at the Courtyard Dairy. Whin Yeats is one of just two farms in Yorkshire that produce farmhouse cheeses.

Andy and Kathy are very passionate about the cheeses they stock in their shop and use in their cafe and it's fair to say that cheese is their life.


Tell your brand story in pictures and stand out

I did a photoshoot for a client recently that gave me pause for thought and helped me to resolve a problem I'd been struggling with for a while. I knew I wanted to take my photography business in a slightly different direction but was finding it difficult to shape into a clear story.

In my head and, importantly, in my heart it's crystal clear. I want to work with people who are their brand - passionate individuals who have built up their businesses based on their love for what it is they do and out of values that guide them in their lives. I've made some progress already steering my business in this direction, working with artisan bakers, artists and florists, photographing not only their products but also their work place and them as the heart and soul behind the business. 

This is Emma, the driving force behind the Cheshire Flower School.

And this is Jenny of Parsley Pie Art Club Hale
(read more in my blog about this shoot)

These photographs can all be classed as commercial or business portraits but they are actually much more than that, incorporating clear signs of what the person does and also an insight into their personality.

When Naomi of Branching Out Online asked me to do a series of photographs of her that she could use throughout her marketing materials I was delighted. I know Naomi really well and am a big admirer of her ability to maximise businesses' online presence.

Naomi doesn't sell products that I could photograph beautifully for her, she sells her skill, knowledge, experience and passion for online marketing. She's certainly not alone in offering these services but she does stand out in how she "puts herself out there": she is her brand. She is bright, bubbly, friendly, open and insanely enthusiastic about what she does. That's her point of difference.

One of Naomi's trademarks is her use of vibrant colours and she put a lot of thought into how to make this come through in the photo shoot. All the way through we used props and colours that reinforced her branding and her vibrant personality.

Having a great online presence using apps like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope.

Using appropriate props to allow you to get maximum use out of the images. This is how Naomi is using the images on social media.

Naomi also employs positive messages as a way to motivate and make images talk and I loved the props we used to convey this.

We were also very conscious of leaving space in the images to put marketing messages.

If I go back to the "light bulb" moment I had when I worked my way through these images, it was that I knew that I wanted to be more than a commercial photographer taking head shots for LinkedIn profiles... I want to tell people's story in pictures, capture what makes them and their business unique. Naomi knows the power of telling her story and uses it to build trust and loyalty, to make a powerful emotional connection with her target customer base.

She isn't afraid of sharing the low points as well as the highs and 2016 was a very tough year personally. We did some shots that reflected that and will allow her to share how she turned things around and has moved forward in a very positive way.

Have you thought about your brand story? It gives your brand a very powerful voice, makes it stand out, makes people want to connect with YOU. Why do you do what you do? If you can communicate this in words and then in pictures there'll be no stopping you!

If you are interested in booking your own photo shoot to tell your story get in touch


When you love what you do... make sure your photographs say it too!

When you run your own business you pour your heart and soul into it and then throw in a large amount of blood, sweat and tears. It's impossible to separate yourself from the job, you are one entity. Its life blood is your personality, passion and commitment.

This is why I firmly believe that the photographs of you that promote your business and tell people about you should capture this. A static head shot against a white backdrop is going to be hard pressed to do this. I much prefer an editorial style that gives you much more freedom to be yourself and communicate via a single image your absolute passion for what you do.

When Jenny Bent from Parsley Pie Kids Art & Craft Club asked me to do a photo shoot of her to celebrate 15 years in business, we both had a very clear idea of what we wanted to achieve and I was so pleased and excited that Jenny was willing to inject her personality and love for teaching art into the images.

What followed was a lively, energetic, hilarious and messy photo shoot in Jenny's studio. She is a strong and striking character (I think you get that from the images!) and was a joy to photograph, willing to try anything and with lots of inventive ideas of her own.

We shot lots of different poses with a number of props so that Jenny has a good choice of images for her social media going forward.

To book a photo shoot that tells your clients how much you love your business get in touch!


Commercial photography shoots ARE fun!!! by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Let's face it, most adults hate having their photos taken, especially as we get "older" and clients that come to me to have a commercial head shot or portrait done are usually dreading it. And I know where they are coming from, as I don't enjoy having my picture taken. Is that really me? Is that what I look like? I don't get how I can look so different from the woman I see in the mirror.

Of course I only see myself from one angle in the mirror and my face is in repose (or in my "mirror face" according to my husband!). At other times we are photographed from all angles and in mid sentence, mid frown, mid unflattering looking down - our faces and bodies frozen for  a split second in the most unforgiving light.

I needed some new shots of me recently and decided to invite some of my photography students to have a go. They loved it as an opportunity to learn and, surprise, surprise I really enjoyed it and was very pleased with the results. The secret was lots of laughs and jokes to make me relax and them knowing which poses and light and angles would work. There were some pretty dreadful shots of me where the light and my pose were wrong but we deleted them quickly and moved on.

Shots taken by my photography students
I use the same strategy of fun and laughs when I photograph clients - children or adults - and I love it when people tell me they are surprised that it was so much fun! Last weekend I met a lovely couple, Russ and Teresa, who wanted images for their businesses. Russ needed a very corporate shot and was dreading it! Teresa runs a successful garden design company and wanted pictures that reflected what she does. Fresh from the hairdressers she was also quite nervous before we began.

I always have a coffee and a chat with my clients before we begin and right from the outset I'm working to make them relax. Once the shoot starts I gauge how far I can go with being a bit cheeky, teasing and getting family members or colleagues to help make people laugh. On this occasion I had a great little assistant in 10 year old Ashley and then Russ and Teresa took it in turns. The sight of Russ wielding two enormous umbrellas and a pair of stepladders was enough to guarantee smiles.

Lots of laughs behind the scenes
Teresa's final images
I offer commercial photography services on an hourly, half day or full day basis. I can shoot in a purpose built natural light studio or on location. If you would like to have a chat about your photography requirements please get in touch.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


Chelsea Buns and a spot of food photography

I love Chelsea buns - that lovely sweet, stretchy bread, caramelised brown sugar, delicate cinnamon and fruity sprinkles of raisins! Still warm from the oven and perfect with a cup of coffee, or a glass of cold milk if you are my 12 year old son!

I surprised the family with these, as I am rarely seen in the kitchen baking from scratch. My husband, Nic, is a great cook and finds it relaxing, so we have a long established habit of letting him rule the roost in terms of food shopping and cooking. I can cook the old student staples of spag bol, cottage pie, chilli con carne, lasagne and toad in the hole, but my confidence runs out beyond that. I recently went on a Taste of Spain cookery course and discovered that I can cook (find out what delights I made in a separate post about this). This newly discovered confidence and interest, along with a massive love of food photography, has given me a new zest for home baking.

I won't pretend to be perfect or experienced, far from it, but I thought it might broaden the appeal of these foodie posts, if they extend beyond nice photographs of food and share the recipes  I use too.

So, here goes, my first proper foodie recipe post.


For the enriched white dough:
500g strong white plain flour
1 tsp fast acting dried yeast
100g mixed dried fruit
2 tbsp milk powder
2 tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 medium eggs
200ml water

For sprinkling on the rolled out dough:

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp golden syrup

We have a bread machine and have worked out that the 45 minute pizza dough setting creates an amazing and versatile bread dough. So Nic chucked in all the ingredients (except the currants, which should have gone in at this stage) and left it to do its thing. It was sat in there for a good hour or so after the programme finished and had already risen quite bit when I got it out (1).

I knocked the dough about a bit and then rolled it out into an oblong approx 20x50cm (2). In hindsight I should have rolled it a bit thinner and bigger, as my buns were quite chunky!

I then sprinkled the sugar and currants on (better late than never to include them!) and drizzled with the honey and golden syrup (3 & 4). I rolled the dough into a long sausage and sliced into 5cm mini sausages with a very sharp knife (5).

I placed the individual sections into an ovenproof dish that would give them plenty of space to expand (6) and then left them to rise for about another hour (7). I baked them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they were golden brown and firm on the top.

At this stage you could brush them with a little glaze of sugar dissolved in water or alternatively apricot jam for a slightly stickier option!

Once they'd cooled for a short while I transferred them to a wire tray (8) and a little while later separated them into individual buns by pulling them apart and then dusted them with icing sugar. Et voila!

They were a real hit, especially with Sam, who was quite cross with me this morning when I told him he couldn't have one for breakfast as they'd all gone! Will definitely be making these again soon.

I offer commercial photography services, including food, on an hourly, half day or full day basis. I can shoot in a purpose built natural light studio or on location. If you would like to have a chat about your photography requirements please get in touch.


A taste of Spain in Cheshire (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Lamb stuffed aubergines with manchego cheese
Had a fab foodie and photography day yesterday in the Cheshire countryside. I've wanted to go on a cookery course for ages and the opportunity came out of the blue when I got the chance to bid for a ticket for the charity C.R.Y for Matthew via Redshift Radio founder, Liz Southall. Liz was also on the course along with Jamie, who is the "go to guy" if you have a problem with potholes! I bet he's kept busy!

Anyhow. we all had a fabulous day away from our normal day jobs (although Liz and I couldn't quite resist combining cooking with promoting and photographing respectively!). The course was held at Cheshire Cooks, Lakeside Barn close to Oulton Park. The venue is spectacular, purpose built for running cookery courses, as well as offering optional luxury accommodation with spa facilities.

Our course was "A Taste of Spain" and we cooked an astonishing 14 courses, including lots of tapas dishes, speciality bread, meringues and desserts. We were expertly guided by Philip Martin, who effortlessly had us kneading, rolling, chopping, stirring, mixing and laughing a lot! Lunch was, of course, delicious, as we ate some of what we had cooked so far, but there was far too much to scoff during the day so we left with very generous doggy bags (a crate full).

Few further words are required as I hope the photographs show what a fabulous time we all had.

Getting stuck in with bread making and baking

Learning lots of new skills

Reaping the rewards of our labours

Philip and James of Cheshire Cooks


Shoot to live or live to shoot? (By Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

As a professional photographer of course I have to shoot to live i.e. take photos and get paid for them in order to earn a living. I do this by taking portraits of people, occasionally animals, and of businesses, products and events. However, there is another way to earn a living with a camera that I haven't explored yet: shooting for stock, that is taking photographs and submitting them to image libraries, where, hopefully, they will be purchased by people. Stock photography is big business, with photographic images needed for newspapers, magazines, websites, brochures, greetings cards, calendars, point of sale material etc etc. and it can be seen as "easy" money; you post your pictures and wait for the cash to come rolling in.

I've sold one image from a stock library and that was more by accident than design. Before going professional I posted a few of my best images onto a library that was a bit like Flickr and promptly forgot all about them. Several years later a cheque for £75 dropped through the letter box; someone had bought an image of some masks that I'd taken in Venice. I was really chuffed and started to look into how to get images accepted onto the more well known galleries like Getty and Shutterstock. I quickly concluded that I hadn't got enough images of the type required and that I still needed to focus on building my portraiture and commercial business.

Cut to the the present day where I now have an extensive library of photographs of all sorts of subjects and every now and again someone tells me I should be selling via image libraries. I was browsing the internet a few weeks ago when a course on how to get into stock photography caught my eye. I realised it was being run by someone who sold a lot of flower and garden photographs and decided to sign up.

The course was yesterday and it was great, really informative and I came away with all the knowledge I need to start submitting to image libraries. But something's been bugging me since and I've been mulling it over and over. The course leader is a successful stock photographer, selling tens if not hundreds of images per month, some at less than 20 pence per image, others for £400. This is no mean accomplishment and it has taken her about four years to get to that stage. But what struck me was how cynical she was about the industry and how "un-passionate" she was about her trade. Photography for her was now only a means to earn money and she didn't shoot the things she enjoyed photographing, just the ones that she knew would sell. "If it won't sell, I don't shoot it."

Now that is just good commercial discipline and I get that. When I'm photographing a newborn I avoid unflattering poses and ugly angles as I know the parents won't like the image and it won't end up as a framed print, so why waste my valuable time. What I couldn't get my head around was that this photographer would shoot stuff that was mediocre, uninspiring and in her own words "not a great photograph" purely because she knew it would sell. She laughed about us not reacting to her images with "oo's" and "aa's" and didn't seem to mind that we weren't blown away by her work. I spoke to her at lunchtime and she said she couldn't remember the last time she'd picked her camera up for pleasure and just taken it out with her.

I couldn't do that, I love what I do and every picture I take has to be the best I can do or it doesn't make it into my galleries, in front of a client, or in the future, into an image library. I know who will make the most money from stock photography and it won't be me, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my  passion and enjoyment for the sake of earning more money. I've been trying to think of a comparison with other industries and I guess it could be a bit like a talented chef giving up working   in a top restaurant serving fine cuisine and instead setting up a fast food restaurant  because it would earn him more money.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

How professional photography will make your business stand out from the crowd (by Cheshire commercial photographer Picture It Big)

Lexington soft furnishings for Arighi Bianci
Never was there a truer saying in this age of the internet and social media. Hopefully I'm preaching to the converted and you already know that having great imagery of your product or service has a major impact on how you are perceived by your target market.

But the accessibility of digital photography - snap an image on your phone and upload it in a matter of seconds - means that many people are still tempted to do their own. This can seem to be a sensible way of saving money - and we're all trying to do that at the moment - but unless they know what they're doing it's a false economy.

Why spend all that time, energy and passion creating a brand new product or  renovating new business premises, to simply present a second rate view on your virtual shop window i.e. your web site!

Many people are worried abut the cost of commissioning a professional photographer - even sounds expensive doesn't it?! But I work with a wide range of clients, with differing needs and budgets. From the outset I work with you to understand what you can afford to spend and what you would like to get out of the shoot. It's surprising how much can be done in a half day's shoot if we are organised and have planned out exactly what we are doing beforehand.

PR shot for the Managing Director of White Rabbit England
I have done several shoots for White Rabbit England, designers and producers of a range of very cute products for children - bone china animal shaped lamps, soft furnishings and lots more. Each time we have packed a lot into each day long shoot, including individual product shots, rooms and PR shots. It's important to know how the final image will be used, whether it's for a catalogue or product listing, a  piece of editorial or banners for an exhibition. I have to admit to getting a real thrill when I see the final images displayed on leaflets, web sites etc!

White Rabbit England home page
I was approached recently by a company called Kraamzorg, offering private postnatal care (I wish I'd had access to this!). Their shoot was a little more complicated as they required models - a baby, a mum and some slightly older siblings! Rather than go to the expense of using professional models we called on friends and acquaintances and accomplished everything in a half day shoot - you don't waste time when babies and young children are involved. The resulting images are lovely, communicating the caring professionalism of the Kraamzorg service.

Kraamzorg UK home page
For private dental care company Beyond Orthodontics it was extremely important to show prospective clients that their reception area was more like that of a spa than a dentist's waiting room! This shoot, including shots of "patients" in the treatment rooms, was accomplished in a two hour shoot.

Reception and client consultation area for Beyond Orthodontics
If you  require product shots on a frequent basis e.g. cupcake companies, some crafts etc, I can work with you to show you how to take better shots with your own camera. These shots shouldn't be the showcase images of your web sites or promotional materials, but will provide you with decent images to post onto Facebook and Twitter. Usually a couple of hours tuition is enough to teach you some easy tips and techniques.

For more information, for a no obligation chat about your photography requirements or to book a shoot contact me (Jane) on 07868 750505 or email jane@picture-it-big.co.uk. I cover Cheshire and the South Manchester area.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!
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