27 April 2010

Craig & Kelly, Where are they now?

I've been sorting through my stuff recently throwing lots of it out and generally de-cluttering when I found these two signed pictures of Craig Titus & Kelly Ryan.  I had met them both briefly at the Olympia Expo in Las Vegas a few years ago.  I never did get around to working with either of them.

For those who don't know their dark story, Craig and Kelly were both involved with the death of their live-in assistant Melissa James.  According to Wikipedia Titus was "sentenced to 21 to 55 years in prison.[2]  With time served from the date of capture, Craig Titus is eligible for parole release on December 23, 2026." and Ryan was "sentenced to two consecutive terms of 3–13 years in prison. With time served from the date of capture, Kelly Ryan is eligible for parole release on December 23, 2011".

23 April 2010

Video Blog - Visa Applications

I'm rubbish with paper work, red tape, and all things like that, so I'm very glad we've got Ashley to organise all the visa stuff for our charity road trip across the middle east.

Video Blog - Fitness Photoshoot

Words really aren't needed, but as a brief introduction - this is a video blog filmed during my first outdoors fitness photoshoot of 2010.  Location was the stunning Portland Bill in Dorset.  The model was the wonderful Cat.   To see some of the photos from the shoot...  click....       here!

22 April 2010

Keyring Competion goes to Snowdon

I'm loving this entry for the keyring competition.  It's from my good friend Tina, and apparently that's Mount Snowdon in the background.

Fitness Photoshoot at Portland Bill

Finally it was warm enough to get outside and shoot.  Shooting inside is all well and good, but outside working with natural light is where I'm in my element.

We'd made the long drive down to Portland Bill because I knew it was a fab location.  At first we struggled with the light, the sun was high in the sky, no clouds to soften it, and we didn't have anyone to hold a reflector.  So we had to pause the shoot, drink tea until the sun was low enough for us to work in direct sunlight and get good results from.

I'd met the model, Cat, at a breakfast networking meeting a few months before.  This was our first shoot.  Although the shoot was mostly fitness, we did do a little bit of fashion and swimwear as well.

Once we got going properly the creativity started to flow and we got some cool shots.

After seeing the proof images Cat said "Put simply, a great day, a great location, UNBELIEVABLE shots".

NB.  As with all of my shoots no photoshop trickery was used to create the final image.  Everything you see here was as it was.  Captured real time.

21 April 2010

Something new – An Image Sequence

I was inspired after watching Doctor Who Confidential the other day.  They were explaining how an image sequence was filmed using a still camera, but edited together to form part of the 'movie'.

Basically it involves taking a photo, moving slightly, taking another and so on.  It's kind of like animation but with real life subjects.

So while I was shooting with the lovely Cat the other day at Portland Bill I decided to give it a try.  It's a technique I'll be returning to as I think it has some interesting potential.

Below are the three attempts we made.  Not perfect, but for a first try I'm rather pleased. Next time I'll be trying it without the sheer drop behind me. Taking photos while trying to look into the view finder with one eye and trying not to fall over a cliff with the other is not exactly what you'd call easy.

20 April 2010

The Book

My portfolio book (seen here on the right) is really starting to make an impression at networking meetings I attend.

The other day, without really thinking I just placed it at random on a table and left it there.

Half way through the 60 second round pitches someone asks in front of everyone "whats the big book on the table?" .  Up goes my little hand.

After the meeting I chatted with several people who looked through at every page.  I'd got a reaction, made an impression and hopefully will be remembered.  The book may have cost me almost £100 to produce but money very well spent me thinks.

19 April 2010

Wedding photography in Romsey

I had my first wedding of the year on Friday, just up the road in the lovely little market town of Romsey.

The wedding took place at "The White Horse" hotel.  A lovely little hotel, perfect for a small wedding like Catherine & Jerrys.

Unfortunately the happy couple would have had to have found a "plan b" for their honeymoon.  Originally their plan was to fly to Italy, but with all the airspace over Britain being closed due to the Icelandic volcano that wasn't going to happen.  I've no idea where they ended up, but I'm sure they had a great time!

It was my quickest ever wedding, the couple only wanted me there for just over an hour.

I really must visit Romsey more often, it's only ten minutes away and really rather nice.

18 April 2010

Photoshoots 'Up North'

I'll be heading up into the frozen north (of England) from around the 21st May 2010 for several days.

My main reason for travelling up country is to attend BodyPower at the NEC.  However I'll be spending a couple of extra days up there, most likely in the Leicester area.

If you'd like to shoot, fitness, business, family, or otherwise, please let me know and we'll get something in the diary.

Cheers :)

What are you looking at?

I photographed this bird in Southampton, and it scares me.  Alot.

17 April 2010

A tiny photo published in Oxygen

The latest issue of Robert Kennedy s Oxygen magazine arrived on my doormat this morning.  In the Future of Fitness section is a tiny photo of Christine Taylor from our shoot last summer in Quebec City.

It was my first and to date only shoot in Quebec City so I didn't really have much idea for locations.  Christine suggested we shoot in the Parc des Champs de Bataille.

The weather can best be described as "meh".  It was a rather cold mid Septembers day, the sky was grey, and it was all a bit rubbish.

We started shooting in the park.  Nothing sexy or provocative - just "Oxygen" type fitness shots.  Brrr it was cold.  I was in my coat and gloves so after doing a few shots I suggested we move somewhere lower (we were on top of a big hill) in the hope of finding somewhere a little more sheltered from the wind.  At the same time we were leaving a police car pulled up - I figured it was just doing its rounds and making sure nobody stole any tress or something, so I didn't think anything of it.

We found another spot in the park and were about to start shooting again when the same police car pulls up and out gets the obviously very bored policeman.  Clearly not enough crime in Quebec City.  He muttered something at me in an angry tone in French, which of course I understood nothing off.  He translated and said something about naked girls in the park...  I was bemused because a) there was sadly no nakedness, b) there wasn't anyone else around, and c) this cop was being a complete and utter dick.

He moved us on, we found a better location, the sun came out, and everyone was happy!

I've almost never had a problem with doing photoshoots in Canada.  The only other place in Canada I've had an issue is when trying to shoot in the park where they hold the formula 1 grand prix in Montreal.  The rest of Canada, never a problem.  Ever.  Pains me to say because I love Canada, but Quebec is weird!

Published on a gym window in California!


I was just sent the above photo by my friend, model, and client Karla Adams.

She's used the tearsheet (right hand window) from a magazine which featured one of our photos from a shoot in Las Vegas and got it printed up real big for one of the windows of her new gym.

The gym is in Riverside, California.

It looks great Karla!  :-)


16 April 2010

That Pash Mental Attitude

Pash you are missed.


I shoot mooses

Yes, I know the plural for moose is moose, but mooses sounds more amusing so I'm using it.

I was at a CityLocal networking event at Eastleigh Football Club earlier today.

Anyone who has networked with me knows I don't really do the whole public speaking thing - which is partly why I use the "I talk in pictures not in words" catch phrase.

It was a slightly odd 60 second round because everyone was getting a polite ripple of applause after they'd said their bit.  I've been to loads of networking events, and this was a first.  Even BNI wasn't that bizarre.

So this morning I had to stand up and give my "60 second" pitch directly after another photographer.  This guy was the polar opposite of me, loud, outgoing, well spoken.  He'd done his pitch standing on his chair.  Upon finishing he turned to me and in a friendly way said "follow that".

I stood up, held up my moose postcard and said, "Hello, I'm Michael Palmer, another photographer.  I don't stand on chairs, but I do shoot mooses." and sat down again.  At the risk of offending some of my fellow networkers, some of the 60 second pitches I hear are so deathly boring that they made you want to self harm yourself.  My current marketing thinking is to make an impression and to be remembered.  The moose theme does actually seem to be helping that somewhat.

It was the first public outing of my new moose postcards and I was rather pleased with the reaction.

Being different and original is where it's at, and it's starting to work.

15 April 2010

Stop using stock images!

So when my client that I photographed earlier today was booking the shoot they were telling me how currently they were using stock photography.

Now there is nothing wrong with stock imagery as such, I've just started to submit my work through the fotolia library.  I've only got 3 images there at the moment, and I haven't sold anything yet, but these things take time and I'll be uploading loads more images over the coming weeks.

They'd bought 10 images from I believe iStock (not that I'm singling out iStock by any means, it just happens to be where they bought their images from).  The images they were using were all excellent photos, technically perfect, with pretty models.  The trouble with stock images is that they are kind of generic, and my client was telling me that they were starting to see the same or very similar images on their competitors websites.

It's hard to stand out from the crowd when your rivals are using the same images.

Their solution to this was to call in a professional.  That's me by the way!

Interestingly, and while we're on the subject of standing out from the crowd, it was by doing just that that got me the call to do this job.  I'd met one of the company directors at Business South at the Rose Bowl a few weeks earlier, and we engaged in a conversation about road trips around the USA because of the moose photo on my business card.  Now if I'd  have had my old business card with 'boring' sensible photos on, would we have had that conversation, would I have stood out in his memory and would I have got the gig?  Chances are slim on all counts.

The client had a good idea what he wanted, and infact had printed off some images from iStock for us to use as a guide.  They photos as I said were excellent.  No point trying to re-invent the wheel.  The big difference being that the new photos were of his staff, in his office, and no other bugger would be using the same images.

The end result is that for a relatively small amount of money my client now has (or will when he gets the photos and uploads them) a more original website, original imagery and a better chance of standing out from the crowd.

So if you're guilty of the same stock imagery crime, give a photographer a bell, talk to them, you might be surprised at just how cheaply you can get your own original images done.

I've included a few photos from todays shoot, with the wonderful people from Frontline Telephone Answering Services.  I enjoy my work most days, but today was really quite fun.  There are some good people working at Frontline.  It was a pleasure to shoot them.

14 April 2010

Bridal Wear Fashion Shoot

A few weeks ago I was asked for a favour from a friend to do a quick shoot in Bournemouth one evening.  It was for his daughter who is on a fashion course at Bournemouth University.  The subject was bridal wear for young women, or at least I think that's what they said.  What would I know about fashion?

I had to keep the lighting very simple for the shoot - so just a pop-up background and a couple of lights.  Its quite hard to be creative when you're shooting in someones living room, so the results are fairly generic, but I still quite like them.

Apparently...  "The clothes shot were wedding guest garments for an 16-25 year old who wants to feel and look mature on the day. The outfits were loaned on behalf of Fab Frocks of Westbourne."


Sponsors for the charity road trip I am involved with are starting to come on board.

Some are sponsoring their services & time, others might be making a donation or loan of their product, while the rest are donating that good old fashioned resource called cash money.

BIG BIG thanks go to everyone on this page for their help and support.   Each and every one of you rock!

I'll be updating this page as more join me and the charities involved.

  1. Lisa Blackler / Honesty Marketing - Lisa be helping me with marketing.

  2. Russell Hewer / Tailored Tours UK - Cash donation.

  3. Teresa Francis / Feminine Wear - Cash donation.

  4. Denise Meredith / Sponsalis - Denise has sponsored one of my rabies injections.  Sponsoring pain rocks!

  5. Emily Cagle / Emily Cagle Communications - Emily will be working hard to get me some good PR!

  6. Denise McCallum / Prime Investigations

13 April 2010

What makes for a good profile photo?

What makes for a good profile photo?

Normally the first thing you we see is the persons profile photo.  People click around quickly, and have the attention span of a goldfish, so its vital to have a picture that people are going to notice and remember.  If it isn't then you've failed in the first step of creating your personal brand and you may have lost your chance to make that positive first impression.

Take my photo as an example.  The hat started off life as something practical, to keep the sun out of my eyes and rain off my glasses.  However over the months its taken on a life of its own and is now a part of my personal brand.  People recognise me because of it, and if I'm meeting someone for the first time I'll wear it and finding each other in a crowd is always easy.  So I use it in my pictures.

Get a decent photo to start with.  Do you really think its the best impression to show people a photo of you half pissed at a party?  It's all about the image.

Obviously I'm going to recommend getting professional photos done, but if you don't have the budget or just want to try something yourself to start with, then do just that.

I've never been a fan of using the self timer for portrait shots as the end results normally look staged, so better to get a friend to take a few photos of you, that way you aren't expecting the "click" and hopefully the results will be more natural.

Don't fart around using a tripod, and unless you know what you're doing turn the on camera flash off.  Get outside on a cloudy day, or if its sunny find some shade, or better still a shaded area that has some sunlight bounced into it (maybe from a building), and shoot.  Take lots of shots, it's digital, it ain't costing you nothing.  So take 30, 4o, 50 shots, or more if you want.  The last time I got a friend (thanks Jules) to take my photo I think we ended up taking over 100, of which I liked maybe 10, and use just 2 or 3.

Be really critical in the selection process.  It's a lesson I learned while shooting my first wedding.  I'd been invited along by another photographer as a "second shooter", and he said I could use 20 images from the wedding for my portfolio.  Having taken over 500 pictures and being forced to get down to just 20 was hard.  At first I thought he was being mean, but in hindsight I was learning a valuable lesson.  I was only using and showing the very best images from that wedding to the world.  This is why I often limit the number of pictures I give to my clients.  Not because I'm being tight, but because I want them to use only the very best images that show both them and me in the best possible way.

Once you've found a picture you like, stick with it.  Don't go changing it every few days or weeks, leave it alone.  I refer you back to people having the attention span of a goldfish while on the internet, so give them something to remember you by.  Consistency is the key word here.

Personally I hate images that are "dicked around" with.  Sure you can use photoshop effects, make yourself look like a work of art or a cartoon, but my advice for what its worth is don't.

Keep it simple.  Keep it natural.  Keep it you.

So there you go, just my views on what makes for a good profile photo.

12 April 2010

Photos from the Mayflower Park

I was concentrating more on filming the events on Saturday evening than taking photos, but here's a few anyway for your viewing pleasure.

These were all taken during the celebrations in Southampton's Mayflower Park on Saturday evening to coincidence with the naming of the new P&O boat the Azura.

Pay to see my pain

So my marketing lass has come up with the idea of getting people to pay to see me in pain.  Personally I think it's a really rubbish idea because everyone likes me so much that surely no one would want to see me in any form of discomfort?

This is what Lisa the marketing guru has to say.

"Our friend Mr Michael Palmer is going to embark on a mammoth journey, fraught with danger in support of an amazing charity,  The first danger he face is a series of injections to protect the locals from his germs (that is what you said, isn't it, Mike?)  The good news is that they hurt.  A lot.

So please, support Mike in his adventure and pay for his pain - he needs money for the injections and for his flight etc.  Let's show him what we think of him and give money to send him miles and miles away for weeks and weeks..."

So that's Lisa from www.honestymarketing.co.uk

Thanks Lisa.  I think.

I'm on the sponsorship trail

I've had a few other things on the go over the last couple of weeks, but the Roof of the World charity road trip has been on my mind for most of it.

Now I really  have to start raising some funds to actually make the thing happen for me.

I need money for all kinds of things, from flights, vaccinations and insurance.   There's also something I forgot.  I don't think I've ever needed to get a visa before visiting a country before, but we'll be visiting 5 countries and I believe all of them will require getting a visa.  Hopefully they won't all be charging $100 USD like Azerbaijan does.

Okay I'm doing some Googling....   Turkmenistan is $61 USD, Uzbekistan is $25 USD, Kyrgyzstan is $100 USD and finally Tajikistan is $80 USD.

I might have got these wrong - this is just from Google and it might even be higher if we need assistance in getting them.

Interestingly that the countries we're visiting all appear to require a "Letter of Invitation" .   I guess being British / European we're a tad spoiled.  I'm not used to this whole needing a visa and other complications before visiting foreign lands.  Thankfully our leader and chief and driver, Ashley, is in charge of getting all the visa documents together so there's a much better chance of it all actually happening than if it was left down to me.

So that's another $400 or so I need to raise now, bringing the total closer to the £1000 that was originally mentioned.  Of course I want to raise more than £1000 so that I can get some money for the charities involved as well.

You can read more about the trip through my blog entries.

It would be great to have your involvement and support.  It's looking like I'll  need all the help I can get.

11 April 2010

Shooting children

I often joke that I really don't like children, but truth is sometimes they can be quite fun and pleasant.  Although I couldn't eat a whole one.

For some weird reason, and I don't think I'll ever work out why, kids seem to like me.

Anyway, these are a few of my favourite photos from the family photoshoot I did in Southampton over the weekend.

I hope you'll agree that these are loads nicer than the stuffy and clinical typical school photo that all kids get sent home with once  a year.  I don't even see that as photography - it's just a production line money making machine for the companies involved.  Do yourself a favour parents, don't waste your money on generic school photos, treat yourself and your family and get a real photographer to get some real photographs that will actually capture the character of your children.

Mrs Smith aka the Mum had this to say about the shoot.   "Mr Palmer, the pictures are fantastic!!!!   Could not want for more!!!  You are great at doing your job and you were great with the children.  Many thanks for shooting my children we all had a great time all round !!!!  I shall be telling people about MR MICHAEL PALMER !!"

I filmed a video blog during this photoshoot - have a look down to see it...

Video Blog at a family photoshoot

So here we have it, just a short 24 hours after the first we have the second instalment of my video blog.  This one is a little different as I've included my subjects - Mr and Mrs Smith and their 4 and 9 year old daughters.


PS.  Look up to see the photos from the shoot.

Celebrations for the Azura naming in Southampton

So, my first ever properly put together movie.

It's the first time I've gone out with my Canon 5D Mark II with the sole purpose of putting together a short film from the footage.  My subject was the celebrations in the Mayflower Park, Southampton for the naming of the P&O boat Azura.  As I couldn't get near the boat I was concentrating on the goings on at the park and the firework finale.

I shot everything except the fireworks hand held and I know I'd have been better off using a tripod.  I'm quite pleased with the results, and very pleased with the amazing quality from the 5D.  The quality of this little camera is so good even the professionals are starting to use it.  The season finale to House has apparently been filmed exclusively with the 5D.  Interesting times indeed.

If there are any proper film makers reading this, I'd quite like to pick your brains.  I feel my editing is kinda "meh"...  "so so..." at best.  I'd like to improve it, but I really don't know how.

Update:  Yes I'm aware the music is kinda awful.  It's all I have.  If anyone would like to donate me 3 minutes of music that would work for this film it would be muchly appreciated.

My first video blog

So here we are, my first ever video blog.

I videoed it yesterday while photographing and filming the celebrations going on in Southampton's Mayflower Park for the naming of the new P&O boat the Azura.

If I've learned one thing from doing this blog, and that is that I come across as a seriously grumpy bugger.  Truth is I was actually really rather happy yesterday evening.  I was doing what I love.  Trouble is it doesn't show on my face.  Note to self - must try and appear more cheerful.

The real film from the evening will be post next - look up....

08 April 2010

Photowalk in Southampton

Okay so it wasn't exactly much of a walk, from one end of the Town Quay to the other and back again, but I managed to sneak a few photos in, and even got some that I rather like.

I've played around with some HDR on some of them, and the lead photo with the Red Funnel ferry in is one I particularly like.