From The Stig to a Rolling Stones gig, I can get satisfaction!

Another busy month with a variety of commissions from a trade show an international conference and even a Rolling Stones gig.

The Rolling Stones live onstage at Hyde Park
The Rolling Stones live onstage at Hyde Park

We had the chance to photograph The Stig for one of our clients after persuading him to road test a mobility scooter on an obstacle course set up at The International Center in Telford for the Mobility Roadshow. The marketing director was very pleased with this coup and after the pictures were taken even encouraged a little competition between The Stig and myself, having never driven a mobility scooter myself The Stig naturally won.

London’s famous Dorchester hotel was the setting for The Global Citizen Forum London event. Set up by Forbes list billionaire Dr B K Modi the Singapore based oorganisation bought together experts in business, economics and human rights and attracted politicians and business tycoons such as Lakshmi Mittal and the Hinduja brothers.

As for being a global citizen myself I did a count on how many countries I have worked in on photographic assignments and was astounded that it came to 37 and that does not cover passport stamps from Australia to Mexico for holidays. I am very grateful to be in a career I love so much and have the privilege of visiting so many cities and countries.

Dr B K Modi at Global Citizen Forum London
Dr B K Modi at Global Citizen Forum London

Another commission was across Park Lane to cover The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park. After hours of preparation I finally got the chance to photograph probably the biggest and best known rock band in the world. I was only allowed to photograph the first two numbers and was then escorted backstage and out. In those first two songs I managed to shoot over 400 pictures that I had to edit and send 20 pics of different shapes to meet the Sunday Times  deadline for who I was working. After completing this task in record time I was given a cold beer and allowed back out to the Barclaycard VIP area at the front of the stage minus my camera equipment that had to be left backstage as a condition of re entry.

It doesn’t get much better than that and unlike Mick Jagger and the boys I did get a lot of satisfaction.

MENSA chooses us for their event photography

It’s official smart people use Smartpicsuk.com MENSA choose us for photo coverage of their Spring Ball.

Mensa Summer Annual Ball
Mensa Summer Annual Ball

We were delighted to be selected as official photographers for the MENSA annual Spring Ball at the Hilton London Canary Wharf / Docklands. The theme was a Moulin Rouge style Parisian evening where all the guests dressed appropriately thus making for excellent photographic opportunities which we were keen to oblige.

It makes a huge difference to the success of an occasion when guests take the time and effort to get “glammed up” and party goers are delighted when they receive a print in their hands within a few minutes. Many guests made repeat visits to the studio throughout the evening for more variations and poses as they relaxed and let their hair down a bit.

Guests kept telling us how impressed they were with the smart technology that enables them to walk away with studio quality pictures without having to make an appointment and visit a studio, indeed we were located adjacent to the bar which is always handy!

Whilst the technology and lighting behind the pictures is very clever and needs professional skills and experience to get the best from it ; it’s not rocket science but it is smart and that’s coming from the people at MENSA

Private birthday party photography
Private birthday party photography

Elsewhere we have attended a couple of very select private parties including an 18th birthday party for the daughter of one of our corporate clients and a retirement party for one the country’s top medical consultants at The Great Hall, St Bart’s Hospital. Both commissions needed different styles of photography which is something we are always keen to accommodate.

Whatever or wherever your party, to us it’s always a special occasion and we are happy to work whilst you play.

Longer days means lighting challenges

British Summertime starts this weekend (so we are told) and we are looking forward to a bright and busy summer of events.

Children with cancer fundraising event photography
Children with cancer fundraising event photography

We love variety and like to capture different styles of pictures at the same event or party. The pictures above were both taken within minutes of one another showing guests at the same charity fundraising function.

The fundraiser was held at The Warren ; The Metropolitan Police Social Club on behalf of Children with Cancer (formerly children with leukemia).

We set a studio and print station in the bar area and guests were soon queuing to have their photographs taken. As well as more traditional poses, we encourage guests to try different set ups especially with larger groups. These days every person in the country has a camera with them in the guise of a mobile phone and we are very aware that our photographs need to stand out as a professional product in this digital age.

For those interested in technical details the pictures were shot with a Nikon D3 and lit with 3 Elinchrom studio heads one on either side at 90 degrees both fitted with gridded softbox’s and a shoot through brolly at 70 degrees for fill light. Backdrop was the new custom made Lastolite Panorama. Pictures were transmitted in seconds via a dedicated wireless network to an Apple computer running Adobe Lightroom with some custom modifications and printed on a DNP dye sub printer for guests to take away with them.

Uniserve UK Ltd 18 tonne Rigid trucks - Corporate Event Photography
Uniserve UK Ltd 18 tonne Rigid trucks – Corporate Event Photography

Another very different commission, although not one you would class as an event, was for a corporate client who were upgrading their HGV fleet. The client who is the largest privately owned logistics company in the UK had a new delivery of HGV trucks that morning and even though the vehicles had never been used on the road and were hours old we had to make sure they were cleaned and spotless. Lining them up in formation also took a lot of time and effort and if I had been one of the drivers I would have cursed the photographer!  Being a working dockside terminal meant all sorts of operational challenges for us from carrying out a risk assesment to wearing Hi Vis clothing to having someone watching my back in case an HGV reversed over very expensive equipment or me!

The shoot was on the sunniest day of the year and created more problems with harsh shadows (even an HGV lorry deserves flattering light!) and needed sophisticated and powerful lighting to fill in the shade. It also made for a wait of a few hours before shooting the final picture at dusk which was lit by 4 Elinchrom powerpacks fired by radio flash triggers.

We are always looking for new picture opportunities and challenges so do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions as to what we can photograph and how we can deliver the right images for you either party fun or serious corporate branding and marketing campaigns.

Fun at the British Heart Foundation Fundraiser

We have enjoyed a busy start to the New Year with a variety of events and the spring diary is beginning to get booked up.

Charity fundraising event BHF Grand Hotel Brighton
Charity fundraising event BHF Grand Hotel Brighton

Our most recent outing was to The British Heart Foundation Grand Ball which was held appropriately in Brighton’s famous Grand Hotel. The event was to raise funds for the “Mending broken hearts” appeal which is aiming to raise £50 million over 5 years literally mend hearts broken by disease. Whilst there we were lucky to photograph up and coming boy band ClassA who supported the cause by entertaining everybody and posing for pictures with guests and sponsors. A great bunch of lads who are definitely going places. http://www.bhf.org.uk/mending-broken-hearts-appeal.aspx

We are beginning to notice that some of our clients are asking for new ways to commission and receive their pictures in addition to printing onsite from the event. Many are now asking for downloadable pictures from our secure online web galleries as well as or sometimes instead of taking prints away with them. These galleries can be password protected and in some cases are even invisible on our site unless you have the correct link. In addition to hosting the pictures that are all licensed for yourselves,guests and sponsors to use for promotional, PR and marketing use USB memory sticks are also becoming popular. We are even in early budget negotiations to cover an overseas international event that will be available on a custom made smartphone or tablet “app”

Whatever your requirements we will produce the pictures you want and deliver them by whatever method suits your needs and your budget.

Next week see’s the annual Focus on Imaging exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC. The show is the UK’s premier photography trade event and we look forward to seeing some of our friends and colleagues there. I suspect the Smartpicsuk.com budget may take a bit of a hit as all the major manufacturers and dealers display their new products and display their special offers.

Production at Pinewood Studios

The annual dinner and awards season is now underway and we’ve been busy covering various corporate events over the last couple of weeks including one for internet tech giants Webfusion at the famous Pinewood Studios. It was a memorable time setting up our backdrops and lighting on the site of most of the James Bond 007 films. We have also covered the trade awards for Essential Install magazine at Sandown Park racecourse.

Awards night
Awards night

In between I also covered a last minute rush job which involved me getting a phone call at 10.30am on Sunday morning whilst still in bed drinking tea and reading the paper after working late the night before. The client wanted to know if I could make Paris by that lunchtime. I managed to make it but it was a good job it was a long lunch! The client was very pleased and I was rewarded by a very very nice evening dinner on top of our fees.

We are still surprised by how late some people are leaving it to book photographic services at this time of the year and a lot of people are going to be disappointed that they cannot get the photographic services they require. It is however nice to receive advance enquiries and we already have jobs penciled in for next August and December.

Between now and Christmas day we are attending a few parties ourselves as guests. I wonder who will be taking our pics?

Wishing all our friends and clients a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

New studio equipment available

Our clients have been delighted by our brand new purpose designed portable studio backdrop. We were very lucky to take delivery of one of the first available 4m wide panoramic backdrops by British company Lastolite. Designed in conjunction with the best professional photographers in the industry it is ideal for bigger groups especially at award ceremonies where fairly large groups of people can be posed on a plain background with studio lighting.

Annual Fundraising ball photography
Annual Fundraising ball photography

One of the first events we covered using the new kit was for the Covent Garden Tenants Association annual dinner dance. Held at The Park Plaza Riverbank hotel for 400 guests it was a very lively and successful evening which culminated with the association handing cheques for over £65,000 to their chosen charities; The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and The Trinity Hospice of Clapham, a splendid effort by a fine bunch of ladies and gentlemen.

Now we are coming to the height of the dinner dance and awards season we are getting rather busy with enquiries and bookings we are very surprised how late some firms and organisations are leaving it to book their event photography requirements. We very recently managed to cover a large event including onsite printing with less than 48 hours notice after they had been let down by another firm…..we do say we are flexible and adaptable!

If you are having a party have a great time and remember we work whilst you play to provide a lasting memento of your evening.

Picture helps raise funds for Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital

I was incredibly proud that one of our pictures helped raise £10,785 for Great Ormond Street Hospital in an auction of photographers by Fleet Street photographers. The appeal is named after Yasmin Parsons aged two who has been diagnosed with Leukemia; Yasmin is the daughter of Andrew Parsons a fellow photographer and it was decided to rally round and help the appeal for a good charitable cause.

Oxford Street Shoppers
Oxford Street Shoppers

http://ourlifewithleukaemia.blogspot.co.uk/

The picture of Christmas shoppers walking past Selfridges during a snow storm was originally shot for an editorial feature in The Mail on Sunday and was subsequently published in both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Elsewhere this month we have been kept busy with one rather hectic weekend which seemed to have a theme of royalty through it. First off I had to photograph “Pop music Royalty” in the shape of Kylie Minogue for The Sunday Times at the BBC Proms in the park.

The next day we deployed a team of photographers and print production staff to the Liberal Jewish Synagogue at St Johns Wood to cover the Bat Mitzvah for the daughter of one of the congregation. The entire hall had been bedecked with Union flags and bunting as well as patriotic decorations to rival this summer’s jubilee celebrations and events.

Our new updated onsite printing worked a dream with every one of the guests being able to take away a high quality professional photograph of themselves and family with them on the night.

As the nights are drawing in and the winter and Christmas/New Year’s Ball season is rapidly approaching now might be a good time to use the contact form to inquire about any bookings you may wish to consider.

Greek Olympic fancy dress & games at the Regimental Summer Ball

Now the Olympic Games are over and London get’s back to normal we can reflect on an exhausting and busy couple of weeks. Apart from numerous editorial commissions we have covered a number of events with an Olympic theme.

Greek Olympic Fancy Dress
Greek Olympic Fancy Dress

These include an ancient Greek Olympic fancy dress and games at the regimental summer ball in the NCO’s mess at Pirbright. As well as socialising the guests engaged in their own version of the games with challenges requiring strength, stamina and skill which would have tested even the elite athletes in the Olympic stadium in Stratford! Work hard and play hard; it was great to see the British Army letting their hair down in a rare break from their duties.

We were also invited to cover the opening of the corporate HQ for the Uniserve Group on the opening night of the Games. As the largest privately owned international freight and logistics company in the UK they certainly knew how to organize a large party with no detail overlooked or left to chance. Large screens were placed around the grounds of historic Upminster Court so guests could watch the Games opening ceremony whilst enjoying a lavish sit-down four course dinner with silver service and live entertainment until the early hours whilst our team mingled with the guests to record the nights’ activities for all to remember.

Smartpicsuk.com has recently been investing in new equipment to improve our onsite printing capabilities and we have upgraded to the latest Apple computers and DNP dye sub printers. Using the latest professional software we can offer enhanced photo editing and in some cases retouching of images; just as you would expect from a top studio or production house on location at your event.

We have a number of high profile events booked in the near future both corporate and private; if you would like to be added to our diary or just make a general inquiry as to what we can offer you please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Official opening of a certain stadium with Lord Seb Coe

We recently undertook a commission for one of my editorial clients to cover the official opening of a brand new sports stadium just across the river from our Greenwich base

Unfortunately we can’t mention the event because we are not official partners or sponsors. However we can tell you that the events will be watched by a worldwide audience of billions of TV viewers for a couple of weeks this summer.

A lucky local schoolgirl was chosen at random to officially open the stadium at one of the preparation events to prepare our capital city. It was a fantastic experience to stand in the center of the stadium as the lucky schoolgirl posed with Lord Seb Coe and TV presenters to perform the honours. I even got to stand on the finish line where the men’s 100m final will be the most watched sporting event ever. I don’t think I can say any more without infringing the stringent laws and regulations of the event but wish Team GB every success and a large haul of medals.

Olympic stadium test event
Olympic stadium test event

It’s just as well we stick to the laws and regulations of the land as our next event was at the Warren in Hayes which just happens to be the Metropolitan Police Social club in South London.

The evening was a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis and thanks to the management and staff at The Warren a very successful and fun evening was had by all. We even had the honour of having our auction donation of a private family photo shoot raise the highest bid of the evening. Is good photography worth more than a case of fine champagne? We like to think so: after all the pictures will be treasured long after the champagne has gone.

The coming week finds us making final preparations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant when we are on one of the official flotilla of boats. As well as photographing the lucky guests we will be printing glossy photographs on board as we sail down the Thames.

Wishing a fantastic Jubilee holiday to all our clients, friends and colleagues.

Sports Relief Mile & Downs Syndrome Fundraising Events

As another new month begins we have decided to start a blog here at SmartPicsUK.

2012 Sports Relief fun .The Mall
2012 Sports Relief fun .The Mall

Looking at the rain and clouds got me thinking what a difference a month makes. On March the 25th we were having fun as one of the London event photography teams photographing the Sport Relief Mile for charity. The sun was shining and I was drinking almost as much water as the many thousands of runners and regretting not bringing my sunglasses.

A month later found us at the Royal Blackheath Golf Club in Royal Greenwich for the” Up’s and Down’s” charity golf day a fundraising event for the Down’s Syndrome Association. The heavens opened as the rain poured down from a gloomy looking sky which must have put a smile on the faces of the groundsmen and gardeners at the immaculate looking course. Am I the only one wondering whether this is the wettest drought since records began ? The weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players though; everyone smiled and enjoyed an excellent day’s golf whilst Suzanne was printing the photographs as I took them. The rain finally ceased and everyone retired to the clubhouse to collect their photographs and enjoy a well earned drink followed by dinner. A big well done for all the and supporters.

We’re now wondering what the weather will be doing in another month from now when we will be on a luxury boat as part of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on the river Thames where over a thousand boats will sail down the Thames in one of the biggest floatila’s ever assembled.

As well as the cameras ,portable studio lighting and and onsite printing equipment should we pack sunblock or umbrella’s for probably one of our biggest events of the year? Answer’s on a postcard please or just click the contact form.

Corporate, Charity and Private Event Photography in London, and the UK