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.

"It's Good" product photography shoot

It's Good Product Photography

"It's good to shop." Well, I'm certainly not going to disagree with that! Especially when you can shop with a clear conscience because this bit of retail therapy is going to help people who are less fortunate than yourself!

"It's Good" is the brainchild and hard work of Wendy Taylor. All the products in her beautiful range of bags, jewellery, scarves and gifts for the home are eco friendly, ethical and fair trade. 

I was thrilled to bits to be asked to photograph her new Autumn / Winter 2016 range for her new online shop. It was very tempting to get paid in throws, necklaces and bags, but common sense prevailed... just! I might still go back for one or two things near Christmas!

Here are a few of the photographs just to whet your appetite. If you'd like to know more hop across to the It's Good Ethical Boutique Facebook page.

A very big thank you to the beautiful Botanist restaurant at Alderley Edge, the location for the shoot. Its gorgeous interior was absolutely ideal for showing off these products to their very best.

Beautiful products deserve stunning photography that make your business stand out from the crowd! If you would like to find out more, please get in touch for an informal chat about your requirements.


Using white card to fill in shadows in your product / still life photographs. By Cheshire photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Taken by one of my photography students
Natural light photography is wonderful: it has a beautiful, soft quality about it and it's "free", as you don't have to invest in a studio and lighting equipment. This shot was set up on my dining table near a large window and using a couple of pieces of board with a grey wood grain printed on them. I had these made specifically for the purpose but you could use pieces of wood, card, slate etc that you might find around the house.

Dark shadows on the left side of the vegetable.

When we did the first shot we realised there was a lot of shadow on the left side of the vegetable - the side furthest away from the window. This might not be a problem for certain shots, as shadow can add mood and interest. For the purposes of what we were doing we wanted to reduce the intensity of the shadow. This is easily done by using a piece of white card to bounce the light from the window back onto the subject. You can easily see the change as you move the white card around. You need to ask someone to hold it for you or prop it up against something.

Sometimes you may need 2 or more pieces of card to fill in shadows, as was the case with this flower shoot.

The final edited shot

A few tips to finish off with:

  • Make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/60th of a second to avoid camera shake.
  • If it's too slow, increase your ISO or use a tripod.
  • If bright sunlight falls on your table top set up, move it away from the window until you're in even shade.
  • If you want a really soft blurry background set your f/number as low as it can go.
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! Like Picture It Big on Facebook to see more tips like this.


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!

50/50 project #34/50 Bad laundry day (by Cheshire photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 34 Bad laundry day
50 days with a 50mm lens
Call me sad but I love this cheap little laundry dryer. It makes hanging out socks and smalls so much easier - less bending down to the peg bag must be better for my poor aching back!

This pic also gives me chance to "air" one of my grievances - people who tumble dry all year round and don't ever peg out laundry outside, even on sunny days. What wanton wastefulness and idleness!! I just can't understand it and don't believe that being supposedly time poor or not wanting stiff towels are valid excuses. Even when I'm in a hurry, the sight and scent of freshly washed clothes hanging in orderly rows lifts my spirits.

Folding warm washing fresh from the tumble dryer is a pleasure I save for wet days like today.

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!

50/50 Project. #32/50. Summer stripes (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 32. Summer stripes
50 days with a 50mm lens

The best summer in years is drawing to a close and one of the things I'll miss about it the most is lying in dappled shade in my hammock, swaying gently whilst looking out over the garden, reading or snoozing.

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!

Learn how to take great photographs for your blog, Pinterest and online shops (photography course Cheshire)

Calling all bloggers...and eBay and Etsy sellers, in fact anyone who regularly posts pictures of their products online and can't call on the services of a professional photographer every day, for obvious reasons. Are you taking your own photographs but getting frustrated and a bit embarrassed because they don't do your yummy product justice?!

I knitted these gorgeous hats for my newborn photography shoots and decided to photograph them for the website. I didn't use any fancy kit - just an entry level SLR and natural daylight  - oh and I used some simple photography basics to get a really nice shot:

I made sure that it was an overcast day - bright sunlight would have killed this shot.

I knew that diagonals make a nice strong composition. And I'd spotted a similar shot in a knitting book which "inspired me".

And I used a zoom lens to make the background nice and blurred.

And that was more or less it, apart from a few simple tweaks on the computer to crop the shot and saturate the colours to make the hats really stand out.

Of course practice makes perfect and I have taken a fair few pictures in my time! But you could do this too, with some simple and practical tips and probably with your existing camera. I offer photography classes on an hourly basis, tailored to your requirements and experience. I'll work with you at your place of work, using your camera and show you how to dramatically improve your photographs.

I charge £40 for the first hour and then £25 for every hour thereafter. This rate includes:
  • A telephone consultation to find out what you are looking to gain from the tuition.
  • A proposed schedule for the session.
  • Travel to and from the your home or another location*.
  • Follow up notes from our session.
There's no truer saying than "A picture is worth a thousand words" and it's well worth investing in a little help to make your products stand out from the crowd.

* I am based in Cheshire and my fee includes travel within 30 miles of CW9. Any distance in excess of this would be charged at 40p per mile.

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How professional commercial photography can give a boost your business

A picture can be worth a thousand words ...or can even bring you new business as it did for chimney sweep, Simon Barton. Simon spotted an opportunity to sweep aside the competition when he realized that no local chimney sweeps featured photographs on their websites. He decided to get some pictures of himself at work cleaning a domestic chimney, aiming to clearly demonstrate his emphasis on cleanliness. "Clients are very worried about soot getting everywhere and I wanted to show how my system completely seals the fireplace so that not even a speck of dirt can escape", Simon explained to me before the shoot. He even wears blue shoe covers to avoid bringing in dirt from outside.

I took a series of photographs of Simon as he set about cleaning a chimney and conducting a smoke test. Since posting the pictures on his website he has seen a significant increase in business, with new customers mentioning that they picked him because they liked the way he worked, having seen his website. "I'm really glad I had the photographs done as it's had a real impact on my business" Simon commented. "Jane found a great venue and made the whole shoot feel very relaxed and easy. I just got on with my job!"

Prospective clients can often be wary about what to expect when they book a new service - seeing images of you at work can help to remove their concerns and make them pick you and not the competition.

The small investment you make in professional photography can reap great rewards, so get in touch. My commercial photography rates start at just £125.00.

Thanks to Simon Barton for his great testimony.

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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