Holiday Photography

From Camera to Wall - Part Two - Meeting the Family and Planning the Shoot

Welcome to Part Two, in a series of six fortnightly newsletters, unraveling the passage we take "From Camera to Wall"

Part one covered Framing and Hanging - today it's - "Meeting the Family or Individual and Planning the Shoot" - a paramount piece of the puzzle to achieve the desired creation. Taking place during an initial relaxed consultation to discuss the purpose of the shoot, be it a special occasion, family get together, leaving the country, gift for relatives, and many other big or small milestones.

Planning the Shoot

Finding the most suitable location makes all the difference to reflect the moment in time, such as a fun family environment or a bustling cityscape to solidify the right tone and emotion.

A location alone may not have meaning, however by simply adding a person or more to the frame naturally creates an emotion.

The images below show a small sample variety of ideas.

Some of the many factors to consider when choosing a location are:-

  • Time of day 
  • Ease of access
  • Camera angle
  • Number of people and animals in the shoot
  • Where the sun is at certain times of day (cloud often works better than harsh sunlight)
  • Wet weather plan
  • Sunny day (back lighting works best)
  • Colour and style of clothes to suit the person, background/location
  • Window/ambient light for inside shoots
  • Composition
  • Professional hair & makeup? (Oh go on!)
  • Time to do the shoot (usually one hour plus)
  • Special permission to use certain places
  • Pathways and foliage to create depth

Please join me in two weeks time for Part Three - "Photo Shoot and Equipment Used" to learn a little more about the process "From Camera to Wall".

Thanks for reading, I hope I've inspired you!

Bye for now.


Summertime Photography


Whilst you're away sunning yourself or at home relaxing, take time out to enjoy the moment. Grab your camera and photograph something tranquil, you can refer back to my last newsletter if it helps. Once you've got your image just a little post production can make a huge amount of difference to your summertime photography. Let me show you...

The photograph above was taken in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean in Barbados. It was an overcast day with a storm brewing. The contrast of clear water and the stormy sky were difficult to capture in one shot, but I knew I could improve this in Photoshop.


I always shoot in RAW, the RAW file records a greater number of pixels, giving you more freedom to edit an image. These files need to be processed in Photoshop or Lightroom allowing you much more creativity. Using layers like Levels and Curves, Hues/Saturation and Shadows/Highlights, the image can look infinitely better and true to what you had seen.

Don't be afraid to experiment. The photograph below is the end result, which in my mind is true to what I saw.


The same goes for the photograph below taken at the Soco Hotel Hastings, Barbados. It's not possible to capture an even exposure for the out and inside in one image, this can be achieved by using HDR which I mentioned in my previous newsletter . However without the use of a tripod to shoot multiple images you can still achieve this in one shot. You will need to enhance the exterior view by using the techniques mentioned above and below.

Using a layer mask and playing with a levels adjustment layer I have been able to retrieve the data lost by the harsh sunlight in contrast to the shade inside.

The final image below gives a pleasing result.

I hope this has been useful and has set you on your way in post production, for others of you who are more advanced, keep experimenting, it's the best way to learn as you can find some original tool combinations by making errors.

Enjoy the weekend, I'll be back in two weeks time with more news. Bye for now!


Photographic Exhibitions


10 Days Left Until Christmas

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday for the Oxted Christmas Festival, it was a brilliant start to the festive season.

There is still time to book a photo shoot with prints and acrylic blocks ready in time for Christmas, but hurry, Thursday 18 December is the last day to guarantee this. Appointments available this Saturday 13 December, please call 01883 722282 to make yours.

Creative Inspiration

Over Christmas why not stop and take some time out for some creative inspiration. Let your mind wander and explore some fascinating photographic exhibitions. It's such a beautiful time to capture some golden moments and see things from someone else's perspective. Or plan to visit new ones in 2015.

National Portrait Gallery are currently showing the 60 winning photographs from the Taylor Wessing photographic prize competition until 22 February 2015. This competition encourages photographers to submit contemporary portrait photographs to evoke an emotion. With over 5,000 entries from sixty different countries the winning ones are well worth viewing. I am determined to get one of my photographs accepted in the not too distant future.

Whilst at the National Portrait Gallery stroll over to Lord Snowdon's exhibition A Life in View to see a fascinating collection of images from the Queen's one time brother-in-law, on until 21 June 2015.

The Photographers Gallery Viviane Sassens work as a fashion photographer, her powerful photographs are more contemporary art, on until 18 January 2015

Somerset House will be  showing an exhibition to celebrate beards, yes that's right, beards, but not until 5-29 March 2015. This link will tell you more about the 80 prints on display.

Tate Modern Conflict Time this moving exhibition focuses on the passing of time, on until 15 March 2015.

Atlas Gallery are showing Celebrated from some of the most iconic photographers until 24 January 2105

Victoria and Albert Museum are currently showing the work of Horst one of the 20th century's master photographers until 4 January 2015.

EVE Edenbrige, Top Foto Gallery For something closer to home, if you missed this when it was  it was hosted at Chartwell, Westerham in October, my classic and supercar exhibition 'A Drive Down Memory Lane'  now on until 2 January 2015.

These exhibitions are just a few of the many out there, enjoy!

Thanks for reading.

Bye for now.


P.S For Classic and Supercar lovers, the ultimate gift of a bespoke book, please visit my website for more info...

Tips on Night Time Festive Photography

Photographing Festive Lights at Night

Don't you just love this time of year with the vibrant autumnal colours by day and the variety of colours the Christmas lights project at night? Let me tell you more about photographing festive lights at night.

I want to share with you the best way to photograph at night to capture how spectacular the lights look. Don't leave it up to your camera to decide what setting is best, you'll be disappointed with the results.

Just follow the tips below to get the best out of your DSLR.

  • Use a good sturdy tripod or a gorilla pod if travelling light or want to attach your camera to railings.
  • Select manual mode on your camera.
  • Set White Balance (WB) to AUTO
  • Select 200 ISO
  • Use a memory card at least 8GB - 32GB if selecting RAW files
  • Select L file size - I like to shoot RAW as well as JPEG to record maximum data- this will use a lot more memory.
  • Find where the delayed timer is on your camera and select 10 seconds, this will help settle your camera once you have pressed the shutter to prevent camera shake.
  • Set your aperture to f16.
  • Set your shutter speed to 10" (seconds).
  • Find where your histogram is so you can check the exposure after the first shot.
  • You may need to select manual focus if it is too dark for auto focus.
SMS Creative Photography Oxted Christmas Lights at Night Photography

Now You Are Ready

First find a spot where you want to position yourself and attach your camera to the tripod, make sure it is tight and secure, especially if it is windy and/or there are lots of people walking by.

You don't always have to shoot at eye level, some of the best shots taken are just above ground level, decide what you would like to create.

I have taken many classes at night shooting in Westminster looking over the bridge towards the London Eye, with the camera settings as above.

The benefits of the low ISO and the slow shutter speed are that it allows the camera sensor to pick up the variety of tones and colours, especially if the colours are changing during the 10 second exposure or something is moving.

During the slow exposure the water on the Thames appears very smooth and the wheel is blurred. Take a look at the example below that a participant took during one of my classes.

One thing not to forget is the 10 seconds you have selected to allow the camera to still itself before the exposure, most cameras flash during this time. Don't be tempted to touch your camera until after the full exposure.

You can tweak the exposure by increasing or decreasing the shutter speed once you have seen the image and checked the histogram.

SMS Creative Photography Night Time Photography Westminster

The image below, with the trail lights from a passing bus was taken in the same way as the Oxted and Thames photograph. The skill of this image is the timing as you can miss the moment and is often trial and error, but worth the results.

SMS Creative Photography night Time Photography Class Westminster 1

Would you like to come to one of my classes to achieve great results?  Gather a group of four friends to spend a couple of hours in Oxted or Westminster to produce your own set of photographs like these, please get in touch on 01883 722282

I hope you have found this newsletter 'Tips On Night time Festive Photography' informative, just keep persevering to achieve the results you want, it will be well worth it.

You may just get the photograph you want to use as this years Christmas card.

Christmas Fun

A reminder that next Saturday 6 December is the 'Love Oxted Christmas Festival' for a fun filled family day to get into the Christmas spirit. On this day only, our studio sitting offer, take a look at this link to find out more, just two appointments left.

From 6 - 21 December American Express card holders can use their card with us and and they will give you a £5 statement credit, this is to promote their 'Shop Small' campaign to support local participating businesses.

Thanks for reading

Bye for now.


Beach Wedding Watergate Bay Hotel

Where and When On Friday 20 June 2014 I had the pleasure of photographing Charlotte and Jon's wedding at The Watergate Bay Hotel.  Jon's birth place is Newquay in Cornwall so it was the obvious choice to marry the woman he loves at this stunning coastal resort. It was going to be a wedding to remember for a long time to come. The Watergate Bay Hotel is on the north Cornwall coast and a surfers paradise. The weather was spectacular, I had to keep reminding myself that I was in the UK and not the South of France. An ideal place for beach wedding photography.

Watergatebay Hotel newquay wedding photography SMS Creative Photography

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

Watergate Bay is also home to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant. It really wouldn't have been right if I didn't experience a meal there and support Jamie's quest to empower unemployed young people in Cornwall with the kitchen skills and experience to flourish in the world of work. With views across the bay you feel like you are part of the vista. The food is exquisite and extra special attention is applied to presentation and detail. The atmosphere relaxed but professional, a fantastic recipe for success. The restaurant sits above The Beach Hut which is part of The Watergate Bay Hotel, I look forward to going back to try this place as it came highly recommended!

Jamie Olivers Fifteen Watergate Bay Newquay SMS Creative Photography

What the Bride Wore

Charlotte's dress was chosen with the location in mind and was a delicate chiffon pink under skirt and cream top skirt with lace bodice and delicate buttons at the back with a bow. Designed by Naomi Neoh who works from her design studio in Dulwich, South London and bought from Victoria Allinson Couture in Limpsfield, a stones throw from Oxted. Her three bridesmaids complimented her in blue and mother of the bride in a deep blush pink with contrasting lace bodice, all colours reminiscent of the seaside. Shoes were by Jimmy Choo. As we were going to be on the beach for some of the photographs and it was National Flip Flop Day the bridal party changed into theirs!

Watergatebay newquay wedding photography SMS Creative Photography 1

Photographing The Wedding

The wedding photography started with Charlotte getting ready in the bridal suite, the beautiful ocean views really leant itself to available light photography, shooting on a high ISO which added to the high key nautical feel. We had access to all areas of the hotel and took advantage of this. The ceremony took place in The Events Space with the windows folded back so it felt like you were elevated above the beach with nothing but blue skies to look at and the walls decorated with bunting made by Charlotte's mum. The chairs in the aisle graced with a delicate pink rose all set the scene for this fairy tale wedding. For photographing groups on the balcony after the ceremony with the seascape as the background and backlit by strong sunlight (remember it was like being in the South of France), it was important to use flash at maximum output so they weren't in silhouette. As June 20th was the day before the longest day we took full advantage of the sunset and now was the time to get that silhouette with the sunset as the backdrop. For anyone wanting to recreate this you'll need to turn off the flash and expose for the background light. I always shoot in manual mode and don't rely on the cameras internal metering and use my judgement and experience to get what I'm looking for. You can try bracketing the exposure of this and choose which works best for you, experimenting is the ideal way to learn.

Watergatebay newquay wedding photography SMS Creative Photography

Silhouettes convey an emotion that the imagination can decide upon.

I am so glad I got to be a part of this truly magical day and toast Charlotte and Jon to a lifetime of magic moments.

Watergate Bay Hotel is the perfect location for a beach themed wedding.

Thanks for reading, my next newsletter will be in two weeks time.

Bye for now.


How To Take Great Holiday Photographs You and Your Family Will Love

Time To Get Ready

It’s that time of year when the days are getting longer and warmer so we can think about getting the suitcases out of the attic ready for the summer hols!

Don’t forget to pack your camera too and get those important holiday photographs that will keep the memory alive.

An Accessory To Make Taking Photographs Fun

When packing your camera it’s always useful to pack a small tripod and I always take my Gorilla Pod this friendly gizmo is ideal to pack in your case as it’s flexible, small and capable of great things, to get shots in awkward places and for putting your camera on self time for a group shot you want to be in. Check out the website to see what this little monkey can do

Before You Leave Home

It doesn’t matter what camera you have, whether it’s a big DSLR or a compact point and shoot if you aren’t confident using it you’re not going to get great shots, so spend some time getting to know your camera if you haven’t already.

Pack a couple of extra compact flash memory cards or buy them at the airport, the cost of these have come down considerably in recent months. Best not to have all your images on one card so spreading across two or three makes good sense in case you lose your camera.

  • Set your camera to the large file size option so you are getting maximum quality, you can make smaller if you need to on your return. You can’t make a small file bigger so start how you mean to go on.
  • Check you know where your flash option is so this can be easily triggered when the occasion arises.
  • Clean your lens with a soft cloth and take this with you, it’s so easy to have a greasy, sandy lens which will impair the quality of your images.
  • Check you are familiar with the different shooting options. You may prefer to shoot everything on ‘auto’ or ‘A’ for aperture priority or ‘S’ for shutter priority.
  • If you don’t get time to check this out before leaving home and are taking a flight this can always be done on the journey. The advantage of doing this at home is anything you aren’t sure about can be looked up and understood on You Tube, you can bet there is someone demonstrating exactly what you are looking for, just enter your camera make and model and what you would like to know, much easier than fumbling through a manual.
  • Don’t forget to take your battery charger and adaptor depending on where in the world you are going.
  • Two spare fully charged batteries are always worth having and carrying with you, we have all been in the position where you miss a crucial shot because your battery has expired, depending on the temperature of where you are this can happen sooner than you expect.
  • Just one point worth remembering about battery power is it will expire quicker if you are a ‘chimper’ ( "chimping" frequently looking at every exposure captured on the back of the camera after exposure). Try and resist the urge to do this if your battery power is low.
Holiday Photographs Flash SMS Creative Photography

Flash I always use my flash when shooting people in harsh sunlight especially with the sun behind your subject otherwise they will be in shadow so just flip up your flash option to increase the contrast.

Avoid using flash indoors if you have enough ambient light , especially for a portrait shot by the window the light is much softer and more flattering. Experiment with your flash on and off and see the difference. You may need to increase your ISO (sensitivity of your digital sensor) or if you have this setting on Auto the camera will do it for you.


Regular readers of my newsletters will know I love my 70mm – 200mm lens as it will allow you to shoot from a distance and get great results as far as shallow depth of field is concerned, so whether it’s people or landscapes you are keen to shoot this lens is ideal. For shooting groups and in confined places you’ll need to use a lens with a wider angel so a 24mm-70mm is a safe bet. However it isn’t always practical to carry a few lenses so if you can have a 24mm – 200/300mm this one lens will do the lot but you will have to compromise on your widest aperture as you may only get f5.6 when you are using it at its maximum 200/300mm

Holiday Photographs SMS Creative Photography

Composition For shots that are capturing a moment you really don’t get much time to think before you shoot otherwise the moment has gone, but for shots where composition can make all the difference between a good shot and a stunning shot, just give yourself a little time. Your subject doesn’t always have to be in the centre just by moving your camera to the left or right if you have an interesting background will make a difference. You don’t have to always shoot at eye level you can crouch down, tilt the camera on the ground, hold the camera above your head, just have fun and experiment and find what works for you. For shooting landscapes the best time of day is early morning as the sun is coming up or at dusk as the sun is going down. Try over or underexposing to get a more atmospheric result.


Photography should be about capturing a moment for future reflection and to enjoy the process, don’t let it get in the way of actually enjoying a moment and absorbing it, taking a great photograph is also about knowing when not to take it.

Experiment as much as you can as this way you’ll see what works for you.

On return from your holiday download your images and back up on external hard drives too, only when you have done this clear and reformat your memory cards ready for the next time.

If you want to get the best pictures possible feel free to join us for a photography Masterclass. Create memories from your holiday to last a lifetime; investing a small amount on learning how to use your camera properly is worthwhile when you are spending so much on the holiday us on 01883 722282 to enquire or visit the Masterclass section of our website.

Holiday Photographs SMS Creative Photography

Bye for now!