Quick tips – how to be in front of the camera:

If you are one of those people who feel mighty uncomfortable in front of a lens and you’ve not had the opportunity to work with a professional, I wanted to share a few ‘rules of thumb’ and tips to help, that you can take away and actively put into practice.

First of all, I firmly believe that the responsibility lies with the photographer to capture a good shot of someone – not that of the people being photographed. Everyone without exception can take a good photograph, no arguments – and if you are working with a professional, they should have the knowledge to guide you all the way through it.

There are exceptions to the rules and as a professional photographer, I work with the individual and capture what is right for them, as we are all different.

However in a ‘non’ professional situation, you have more control that you may imagine, because it’s unlikely there will be any guidance of where and how to be, whether you are seated, standing, on your own, or in a group. It’s also very doubtful you will be given an indication when the image is about to be taken.

When standing full on, or square to the camera, this is your widest angle and gives little opportunity to show your personality. If you stand sideways onto the camera, it’s going to look quite awkward turning your head so far to look at the camera and also shows all your outlines. 45 degrees towards the camera is your best angle and streamlines everything.

2 – Stand comfortably, either equal weight on each leg, or, place your weight on your back leg and allow your other leg to casually point forward. Hands can either be gently clasped in front of you, or behind.

3 – Angles to the camera are good – we’ve already mentioned in Tip1, but SMALL tilts of the head also help. The camera is at a more flattering angle if a little above you and less flattering if below you.

4 – All the above also applies to being seated in front of the camera.

5 – If you find yourself in a group, say at a party, wedding or family gathering, apply the above tips, focus on the fun of the event, allow a smile to come to your face and resist the urge to chatter. Watch the camera and wait until they have taken the image and put the camera away.

 

 

People can be amazingly kind in their testimonials…

Christmas 2018 seems long gone now, however wanted to share a pleasant surprise last month, from the contact who booked my services to cover their Christmas Parties. Along with two other very good photographers over 13 evenings, we captured several hundred people all enjoying the festive time at both The Apex and The Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds. To receive the attached testimonial was brilliant!

I’ll let the following link do the talking!

Penny Morgan Photography Testimonial

The Athenaeum Christmas Parties, 2018, Bury St Edmunds The Athenaeum Christmas Parties, 2018, Bury St Edmunds

A little reflection can help in moving forward…

I may have written about this before (and hope it’s not too far into January to mention again), but it never fails to amaze me how varied a year can be and how much has been achieved. Not just for me, but for others too. It’s been a year of  achievements, losses and above all, a journey and hope you can look back at an incredible 2018 with everything it brought you.

On the photography front – wildlife, Portugal, equestrian, music festivals, workshops, Christmas parties – family, lifestyle, commercial and headshot shoots… have all been in the mix, so a thoroughly creative time, with many plans for 2019.

I used to think that looking back in reflection was not the best thing to do and we get to December and say “where has the year gone”. But I’ve changed that thinking and try and live for the here and now at whatever point of the year we are in … savour it, deal with it, enjoy it … and always knowing life never stands still – and here we are beginning the second week of 2019!

So all those moments that have been created, happened and shared, all help in moving into the new year, however you choose to see it and hopefully with a positive expectation of whats to come.

Penny Morgan Photography 2018 review Penny Morgan Photography 2018 reflection.

Boring old headshot… really??

I recently saw a statement on social media that made me read further… it read ‘don’t want a boring old headshot?’ It occurred to me that I’ve never seen a ‘boring old headshot’ – a poor one perhaps, but not boring. It might be poor in its technical production, for example, poorly lit and too dark, too much contrast, out of focus, an old holiday snap, wrong angle… and then there’s the expression… stiff, nervous, apprehensive, serious and decidedly questionable. So if the offering to pep up a ‘boring old headshot’ is to put someone on a brightly coloured background,  what about that expression??

90% of the success of a good headshot is in the expression. Many people who dislike their photograph being taken, will also say they would like to be captured as ‘friendly and approachable’. Yes you can have a fantastic fine art portrait of someone with a non-smiling expression. It could be wistful, contemplative, cheeky, thoughtful… but for business engagement that’s probably not the best style to go for. There is a friendly and approachable expression in all of us… after all it’s part of our personality.

Our image says a great deal about us and if you form opinions of others by their online image before you get to meet them, you can be sure others will be doing the same about you.

So if you want to encourage trust and engagement with others in your business world, friendly and approachable is the best way forward. Not fixed and posed, but natural and spontaneous… and definitely not boring, whatever background is decided upon.

Professional headshots - wall of fame

Professional headshots on different backgrounds.

Professional headshots packages for those less than comfortable in front of the camera.

Getting in front of the camera…? Presentation skills… how are yours?

It’s becoming the normal thing now – search online for what you are looking for and watch a video about it. I’ve done it, there are umpteen videos on cameras and their functions and you find the one that makes sense to you and ‘ticks all your boxes’. 

BUT what causes us to stick with a video we choose to watch, whether it’s for information, in one form or another or entertainment? I’ve seen people having a rant about so many poorly produced videos. We are all used to people complaining about what they don’t like, but if you view something that’s really good and keeps your attention, tells you what you want to know and/or keeps you entertained – do you remember it, decide to follow them, recommend it to others, go back and watch more???

With the technology easily available to everyone on their smartphone, tablet, laptop, it’s no wonder in our ‘instant’ world people expect to be able to do this straight away with little preparation or thought.

But that’s just it, when they try and realise its perhaps not so easy and give up – with a little prior planning, consideration AND practise, it is achievable. 

Yes we want people to be themselves, which is very important, but nerves and distraction get in the way and turn people into something quite different!

No film producer ever gave someone a script and expect them to become word perfect straight away. 

We are running our third Video Presentation Skills Workshop on 31st October, at the lovely Nowton Court venue just outside Bury St Edmunds. This workshop brings its main focus on ‘why to do it’ ‘what to say’ and ‘how to say it’, keeping the technical aspect very simple and straight forward.

#videomarketing #mediatraining #newskills #howto #BuryStEdmunds  

Video Presentation Skills Workshop

Video Presentation Skills Workshop

NEW PROGRAM OF HELP – 121 tuition – ‘Animate Your Image’

The Video Presentation Skills Workshop ties in nicely with the launch of a new 121 program of help, which is ideal to really get those presentation skills to camera nailed confidently.

Animate Your Image

Animate Your Image

It follows on and adds to the existing brand of help with ‘Love Your Image’ and ‘Evolve Your Image’. These were developed to specifically help those who are less than confident in front of the camera for photographs and provides them the tools to change this habit of thinking and behaviour.

Our image says a great deal about us and if you’ve formed opinions of others when you’ve seen a headshot or avatar, then its likely others are doing the same about you. 

Knowing how to get in front of any camera and be yourself without nerves and anxiety is a real bonus for you and your business. 

#confidence #loveyourimage #headshots #avatars #bodylanguage 

Video… hang on, I’ve never talked about video before??

Are you one of those people who find yourself saying “I really should get started with video marketing”? What holds you back? Is it technical know-how, or perhaps not knowing what to say, or just complete fear of putting yourself in front of the camera?

Perhaps you are like many others and are now watching several self made videos online. You probably watch some all the way through and are happy with what you’ve seen and learned, or just been thoroughly entertained… it did what it said on the tin! But how many do you tire of all too soon and switch off? It’s pretty important to understand ‘why’ you like some and not others, if you are going to start creating your own.

Creating your own video doesn’t replace working with a professional videographer, but getting to grips with it, can set you up to confidently engage with and grow your audience, because today it’s all about building that trust and engagement. Photographs and videos can be the first thing people ever see of you.

Let me ask you this – if you were to employ yourself to represent your business or company in photographs, presentations and videos … do you think you’d get the job?

Hang on… I’m a photographer, I’ve not talked about video before, so what’s going on? Firstly, I’m not about to venture into this skill set. Having always concentrated on helping people be more confident in front of the camera for photographs, it’s been a natural progression to also build people’s skills and confidence in front of the camera for video.

You have the perfect resource to use… that’s yourself, because you and what you do, are who your audience are interested in. Learning to develop these skills is within your reach.

On the 23rd May, I will be running a half day Video Presentation Skills workshop just outside Bury St Edmunds, in collaboration with MarleyBird Communications, focusing on the importance of ‘what you should say’ and ‘how you should say it‘ to create great marketing content without costing you much more than your time.

Be one of those businesses others talk about, recommend and share your videos.

'I've really got to get to grips with Video Marketing'
‘I’ve really got to get to grips with Video Marketing’

Video Presentation Skills Workshop

Perceptions of value.

What do you consider to be a bargain?

What is ‘good value’ – buy cheap buy twice?

We are bombarded with offers, reductions, sales, time limited deals, bogof, interest free & deferred payment.

Pricing for the modern consumer is a minefield of pitfalls for the SME. If you pitch a low price quote then you may be perceived as ‘too cheap’, on the other hand charge too much and you may put yourself out of the consumers budget.

Even after you have submitted a competitive quote there could be further ‘negotiation’. We would like a discount. But can we feasibly work for minimum wage, does it make your business viable?

If you truly believe the work/product that you produce meets the standards expected by the client then why do people feel so awkward in their pricing structure reflecting that high standard? Despite researching and obtaining a comprehensive brief from the client and meeting the exact specifications of the proposal how many providers have gulped and lost confidence at the prepared quote?

Preparing and calculating for all the possible scenarios and outcomes is a time consuming exercise and ultimately is comes down to the perception of value in your work. If providers do themselves a disservice then why should the client respect the value of their product?

Image copyright Penny Morgan Photography.

 

Is this you?

We’re introduced at a networking meeting and a professional rapport was established. I viewed the photographers website and checked out their online presence. All the people in the images must be professional models as they all look great/at ease with their poses

Emails are exchanged. Hard questions have to be faced. What do I want? How can this ever work? All the what if’s………………? I really don’t like my photograph being taken. I need to do this but I’m really not comfortable in front of the camera.

Time and date agreed, deposit paid, confirmation received – there’s no backing out now!

The dreaded day arrives, I have a plan, take it steady, arrive calm and relaxed – not. What a calamitous morning, heavy traffic encountered all the way to the shoot (Oh the irony, strike me down now!) running late. What do I wear – grabbed a selection of shirts – some are slightly smaller than I remembered!

I arrive at the venue and I’m greeted at the door, my nervous laughter mixed with babbling small talk – explaining the small shirts – why? What  do we want to achieve – professional, friendly, approachable? All the while my insides are churning like a washing machine on spin cycle!

A backdrop, big lights with reflective umbrellas, but strangely an air of calm slowly begins to descend over me. The offer of a coffee delays the impending failure / gory experience. This is not going to work, how can I look good in a picture?

Lights, camera and action! Seated on a posing block, the heat radiating from the lights is akin to basking in the midday sun. Calming, soothing words of guidance, helping me find a comfortable position. Slight tilt of the head, right hand onto thigh and just drop those shoulders. I interact with the photographer and their assistant, use my hands, my expressive side showing through. Big smile, drop the chin, a serious look. A slurp of coffee between poses, hey, this isn’t too bad!

Wow, I have a best side, but I knew that all along and this is all feeling so much better than I had anticipated. And relax.

I’ve been sat here for thirty minutes already and time is flying by. All change and into the “smaller than I remember shirt” . I do believe that I can carry this off. The talking continues, adjusting position, lean forward from the waist, turn my face a little and back the other way.

And it’s over. Gather my things, the images will be ready within ten working days and I can view them in a password protected folder. Choose the ones that I prefer and they will be mine.

On reflection, that was a goods experience. I left feeling a lot better about how to be myself in front of the camera. Gone is the awkwardness and the toothy grimace masquerading as a smile.

Having a professional take the shots is so much more than someone just pressing a button. They can understand you and get the best out of you. That is when great shots are achieved.

 

Image copyright Penny Morgan Photography.

‘I could never be on stage!’

The driving factor of networking is to engage with people, promote your business and build those trusted relationships for future work.  Being amongst 30 – 40 people together in a room, grabbing a coffee just to separate a little from the throng and watch. Listening to one conversation while eaves dropping on three others in your periphery. All kinds of folk, suited and booted, leopard print heels, jeans, casual shirts and the odd donkey jacket.

The organisers are making introductions, surreptitiously moving the participants in the ever changing dynamic of the room. PA, PR, building management and a holistic health practitioner is just brushing the surface of the gathered expertise. The noise, the communication, the body language, to be heard and observed. You could interject with a yes or no, a nod or a smile. Listening to people, don’t we all like to talk about ourselves? Looking for common ground, shared ethics and views, commonality is the driver.

But what has being on stage got to do with any of this? 

What if running your own business or a valued member of a bigger organisation could be likened to being in the best production you’ll ever perform in? You don’t have to learn a script, you already know it inside out… it’s the business you work in… and being yourself. Your personality, the way you dress, stand, behave and share your skills and knowledge of what you do, all tell an unfolding unique story of authenticity, honesty and personal leadership. How many of the connections you make leave you wanting to hear more, like you might in a gripping production?

Stop the room and bring a camera in, many of the participants will melt into the wings and tuck themselves away from the forefront, they will appear distracted and their demeanour will change. But helping people to be themselves, help them get over their apprehension and nerves, in front of the greatest audience they could wish for, is all the camera is facilitating… something we here at PMP Towers have made part of our own unique production.

What’s your experience networking and do you find it easy to be yourself?

Image copyright of Penny Morgan Photography

How much priority should we give ‘down time’?

Easter is around the corner bringing with it a term holiday for those with children in school. Now what to do with the them? Is it a holiday for those in charge? ’I’ll do that, if I have the time’, or, ‘we’ll do it later’. Do we find the time, or are we chasing our tails and it feels like another working week? Remembering the simpler times when we could work out where our friends were by who’s house they’d left their bikes outside and being told as kids to be home by tea time!

No mobiles or internet, just our bikes and imagination.

Not pining for rose tinted nostalgia, too many reminders of dodgy clothing choices and shocking/questionable haircuts, but how much downtime do you book for yourself and your loved ones? The benefits of ‘head space’, enjoying the great outdoors and doing the things that bring enhancement to your life… why on earth don’t we give it a higher priority?

Future memories are being made today.

Outside is free. These things don’t have to be financially restrictive. Build a blanket den, hide & seek or get crafty – make stuff from, well, stuff! But are teenagers going to want to be involved with a ladybird search? Our past experience has included tame pheasants, quad bikes, dogs, sport, music, oh and imitating Mo Farrah and Usain Bolt, to name a few things we’ve captured with the teens of the family.

Picnic in the park, beach walks and nature trails, liking these simple things for what they are, not for the ‘likes’ it may achieve on social media is still pretty priceless.

Create your future memory this year.

Create your future memories this year.    Photograph copyright of Penny Morgan Photography.