Ashley Morrison's Blog

February 27, 2017

Taking a gamble to live the dream.

As one commission lead to us shooting 9 homes which resulted in 12 magazine features – and the best part (besides the amount of money that we ended up earning), was we had the time of our lives – which is what I would call “Living the dream” smile.

Which 10 years ago, is what we would have regularly done – and so day I’m going to talk about the one that we were actually commissioned to shoot, by Rachel from the BBC Worldwide – who was the Houses & Property Editor at that time for a magazine called Good Homes.

The commission by the way, like most of the commissions that I would receive from magazines (as well as from other types of clients too), was simply what I would call a Purchase Order – as it just informed me that they would agree to pay me X amount afterwards, for the Rights to use my images – but ONLY IF after having seen the final results, they did still actually want to use them (so be sure to read the small print too) wink.

So no, this wasn’t a “Work Made For Hire” type of agreement – which is where the client would agree to pay me for my time & expenses, irrespective of the results – this commissioning document that the BBC had sent to me beforehand, was just to let me know how much they would be prepared to me afterwards, for the Rights to use my work – should the Editor (after having seen the final results) want to use my images for a one time only editorial feature in one of their magazines.

Which like I said before, is pretty much the standard deal with most magazines – as they only want to pay for the use of the work, rather than pay me to do the work for them.

And so when I would have agreed to take on these type of assignments, especially the ones which would have involve a lot of travelling – I would have looked upon the original commission as being like ‘My ticket to travel’, to see what I could produce in that part of the world – not only for the commissioning client to use, but also for others to use as well.

A gamble – yes – but it was one that usually paid off – like it did in this case, as I managed to turn the original commissioning amount, into around £14000 worth of sales over the next few years. So with that sort of money to play with, naturally we had a lot of fun – as we tried to make the most of these opportunities that I had been presented with.

And what an opportunity it was, because if there is one name that will help open doors in almost any country in the world, it’s the BBC.
Which is another story for another time wink.

Anyway, like I said before, the original commission here was for me to provide the BBC with some images of Helen and Peter Hannick’s 18th century Italian farmhouse here…
Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. for them to use in their magazine called Good Homes.

Lying between the Tiber and Nera rivers, Poggio le Stalle is a 250 year old estate, not far from the town of Amelia here…
The Italian town of Amelia near Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse.
.. in the Umbria region of central Italy.

Inside was quite dark…
Behind the scenes at Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. so I was glad we had driven over with all the lighting gear – as this was one that I actually needed to punch quite a bit of light into – which I did while Marie & Rachel worked on what was in front of the camera – before it was time to photograph Helen here…
Helen Hannick in the living room of her Italian farmhouse near Amelia.
.. looking like she was “rather pleased with herself”, as Rachel would often say wink.

So while the girls turned the place upside down…
One of the first pictures taken in Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. before putting it all back together again…
One of the first pictures taken in Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. I worked away on the lighting – and this was the final result…
The dining area in Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. before moving into the kitchen…
One of the first pictures taken in Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. after some serious tidying up from the night before – as Rachel had flown over with some of her friends, who were also enjoying Helen and Peter’s hospitality here, as well as some of the product from the local vineyards wink.

So no shortage of bottles – especially empty ones – which obviously were removed along with the dishwasher…
The kitchen in Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. before doing the return shot…
Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. and then it was time to go up the stairs…
Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. to shoot some of the bedrooms and bathroom.

After that, we headed outside…
Behind the scenes at Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. to shoot Helen once again…
Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
.. this time with Michael, who helped her maintain the place – and who also over the next few days, not only show us around but also introducing us to the locals too…
Marie & Michael talking to the local polizia in the Italian Umbria region town of Amelia.
.. as he informed them all that The BBC was in town smile.

Anyway, that was the commission – and this was the result…
Pages 140 to 149 in the March 2007 issue of BBC Good Homes magazine.
.. which meant I did get paid in the end – for having taken a gamble to live the dream smile.

So a big thanks to Rachel from the BBC for this, as well as to Helen and Peter for inviting us in – and should you ever be in Italy looking for a place to stay, then Poggio le Stalle may be the prefect spot for you to live the dream too smile.

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February 10, 2017

You’re a Genius.

Which is what Dizzi Alfons said to me several times throughout the day – when we were shooting his 18th-century former farmhouse here…
Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. called La Fattoria – which is set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.

Words which I naturally always remember – as that was obviously quite a compliment – especially from someone like Dizzi here…
Dizzi Alfons outside his 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. who was originally from Austria, but now owns property in Paris as well as here in Italy too – which in my book makes him the Genius, as I have never been able to figure-out how I could afford to do that wink.

Anyway, they say in the photography world:

“Amateurs talk about equipment, Pros talk about money, Masters talk about light”.

So from a Pros point of view here, since that is what I see myself as, the big question for me therefore was: What did he actually mean by that ?

Was it because of my photography skills or my lighting skills – or was it in fact to do, with me having obviously worked-out a way beforehand, to enable me to afford to do this type of work at this level ?

Because let’s face it, what I was actually doing here…
The sitting room in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. wasn’t exactly Rocket Science.

However, to be able to afford to travel to Italy with a professional stylist like Marie here…
One of the first pictures taken outside Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse near Luccan in the Tuscany region of Italy.
.. wasn’t exactly a cheap thing to do – and since without her help…
One of the first pictures taken outside Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse near Luccan in the Tuscany region of Italy.
.. I knew my images wouldn’t look anywhere near as good – then the real ingenious part as far as I was concerned, wasn’t so much to do with the work that I was actually producing here…
The sitting room in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. it was more to do with me having figure-out beforehand, how I was going to be able to afford to do this type of work, at this level…
The second floor library in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. that we were now doing here.

Because I’m 99% sure that there are hundreds of others photographers out there, who could in fact produce just as good an images as I did here…
One of the guest bedroom in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. IF ONLY they had the budget to play with and/or IF ONLY they could figure-out how they could possibly afford to work at this level…
The kitchen in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. with a professional stylist like Marie here…
One of the first pictures taken in the dining area of Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse near Luccan in the Tuscany region of Italy.
.. who’s main job is basically to make sure that whatever is in front of the camera looked great…
The dining area in Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. which in-turn therefore made my image look great too smile.

So personally – since I tend to think of myself as a professional, rather than an amateurs or see myself as a Master – I think what Dizzi really meant when he said: “You’re a Genius Ashley”, is more to do with the money side of things – because “No money, No Funny” as one of my friends at college used to say smile.

Which is actually very true, as far as I’m concerned – because if you know that you don’t actually have the money to play with in the first place, then you simply can’t even begin to think of what is really possible.

Anyway, having already figured-out how licensing works (as I’d jointed the AOP back in 2002 and had read their book Beyond the Lens from cover to cover several times, in an attempt to move my business forward) – I was now not only able to live the dream but was also able to afford to create the dream too…
The swimming pool outside Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. for others to see & read about – in the likes of the BBC’s GoodHomes magazine…
Pages 84 to 89 in the February 2009 issue of BBC Good Homes magazine - featuring Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. which is where our work here finally appeared, on pages 84 to 89.

So when I look back at what we did here – The Italian Job – and remember those very kind words of Dizzi’s: “You’re a Genius Ashley” – which obviously made me smile at the time and still do – I can’t help but think to myself, “Yes I was” – because I’d managed to do something here that most will only ever be able to dream of doing.

Unless they too one day, can somehow figure-out a way first, to be able to afford to do what they would love to do – because it basically does all come down to The Money, as that is ‘the thing’ what will ultimately determine what you can afford to do or even think of doing before you begin.

Anyway, all of this happened long time before I started my Blog here, so I’m simply remembering the past today – as I look to the future, to see if I can come-up with another ingenious way to move my business forward – now that I’m older and possibly even a little bit wise too… than a Genius wink.

Seriously though, a huge thanks goes out to Dizzi here…
Dizzi Alfons outside his 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. for making us both feel so welcome at La Fattoria – as we obviously loved ever minute of being part of your dream…
Marie sitting outside Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.
.. which even to this day, we still both talk about – as that was definitely a day that we will never forget, nor do I ever want too – especially as it not ever often that someone will says to me: “You’re a Genius Ashley” smile.

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