Ashley Morrison's Blog

January 9, 2014

What difference does it make ?

Six months after Marie was pictured here smiling, in the living room of a new property…
Marie standing in Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. which she & her husband Alan had just bought – she was once again pictured smiling, as she sat on the stairs…
Marie McMillen on the stairs in her 1950's cottage in Belfast on the 1st February 2010.
.. of this exact same room.

Wow, I hear you say, what a difference !!.

But what is the real difference here, between this image…
The living room in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and this one…
The living room in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950s cottage in Belfast on the 1st February 2010.
.. from a Professional photographer’s point of view ?

A photographer [the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning “light”, and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light”] is a person who takes photographs. A professional photographer uses photography to earn money; amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person.

So why on the 29th July 2009, when I took this image…
The living room in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. did I as a Professional photographer, not think it was worth my while to use anything more than just a basic point & shoot camera system – whereas when I took this image of the exact same room…
The living room in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast
.. I felt I needed to spend a lot more time – use a medium format ’tilt & shift’ camera system, thousands of pounds worth of lights and shoot to a laptop – so as Marie could then tweak things and style it to within an inch of her life.

What difference does it make to a Professional photographer?

Because let’s face it, from my point of view as a Professional photographer – what I’m looking at here…
The kitchen in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and what I’m seeing here…
The kitchen in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. is just two pictures of basically the same room.

Okay, so the first images don’t look that good – and the other one looks really nice – but besides what Marie had done here…
The dining area in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. over a six month period, to transform this space into something very different…
The dining area in 36 Ascot Park on the 1st February 2010.
.. what’s the real difference between these two pictures?

Is this picture better…
The TV area in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. than this one…
The TV area in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. or could it be the other way around?

For example, if someone wanted to use this image…
The master bedroom in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and was prepared to pay me for that – even though I didn’t spend much time on shooting and just used a point & shoot camera system – and no-one wanted to use this image…
the master bedroom in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. even though Marie had spent 6 months working on it and we then spent hours shooting it with top-end camera gear, etc – would that mean the first image is actually better?

Because you see, from my point of view – as a Professional photographer, rather than just someone who likes to take pictures in their spare time – the only real difference between this image…
The master bedroom in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and this image…
The bathroom in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. is to do with the amount that someone else may be prepared to pay me for use it – and that’s really about it.

Sure, I’d much prefer to take pretty pictures – but being a Professional photographer isn’t really about taking pretty pictures – it’s about making money or making a living – from producing images that others will want to use, and use enough that they will be prepared to pay you some money for.

So in theory, as crazy as it may seem – from a Professional photographer’s point of view, Marie didn’t do anything here – besides provide me with something, which I now felt was worth spending a lot more time on shooting.
The reason being, because I now felt others may want to use these images and would, therefore, be prepared to pay for that use – so that’s why I went the extra mile.

Take that incentive away, and all you are left with is two pictures or two sets of images – that are worth the same to the guy behind the camera.

So to answer my own question here: What difference does it make ?
As a Professional photographer, the difference has to do with the use of the images and the amount that others are prepared to pay for that.

Little use = Little value.
Greater use = Greater value
… to both them & me.

Anyway, as a Professional photographer, I’d just like to say big thanks to Marie & Allen for making a difference here – because I really don’t think that anyone would have wanted to use those first set of images – no matter what camera system I would have used or how much time I would have spent on the lighting them wink

Smiling from behind the camera smile
Ashley
www.ashleymorrison.com

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July 8, 2011

Old House New Beginnings.

Is the title of our latest published work in the August 2011 issue of Period Ideas magazine…
Pages 30 to 36 in the August 2011 issue of Period Ideas magazine featuring Mairead Anderson's thatched cottage located near Portaferry in County Down.
.. on pages 30 to 36 – featuring Mairead Anderson’s thatched cottage located near Portaferry in County Down.

“At a crossroads in life, Mairead decided to head for the hills and an idyllic rural cottage with a lifestyle to match.”

Plus ‘Passport to Perfection’ is the other one in this issue…
Pages 38 to 45 in the August 2011 issue of Period Ideas magazine featuring Melissa Thompson and Rod Moore's first floor apartment in a Victorian house on the coast near Bangor Marina in Country Down.
.. on pages 38 to 45 – featuring Melissa Thompson and Rod Moore’s first floor apartment in a Victorian house on the coast near Bangor Marina in Country Down.

“Melissa Thompson transformed her home with influences from around the glode.”

So a big thank you to everyone involved – especially to Steve at Chilli Media, who once again made it 2 in a row.

Marie, Mandi and me @ ampimage.com

April 1, 2011

All go in Hove…

.. as the ladies pushed, shoved and rearranged things throughout the day…
Setting up the living room shot in Kiya Salim's Victorian semi in the south coast town of Hove near Brighton.
.. in this amazing Victorian semi…
The sitting room in Kiya Salim's Victorian semi in the south coast town of Hove near Brighton.
.. which was a massive refurb job for homeowner Kiya Salim.

Marie & I both loved what Kiya had done here – and with some help from her friend, Charlie Davis, a budding young Interior Stylist…
Charlie Davis in Kiya Salim's Victorian semi in the south coast town of Hove near Brighton.
.. who would love to do more of this type of work – we all had lots of fun with this one 🙂

So it was all go in Hove
Setting up the living room shot.
.. as there was some great ideas and features in this home – including the kitchen work top…
The kitchen work top which came from the old Brighton pier.
.. which came from the old Brighton pier and wooden flooring…
Kiya Salim in the living room of her Victorian semi in the south coast town of Hove near Brighton.
.. from old scaffolding planks !!

A truly amazing home – so a big thanks to everyone involved – and we will keep you all posted once we hear back from the various Editors.

Added Note on the 26/4/2011: 25 Beautiful Homes magazine have said Yes to this home – so all the images produced, should be appearing in it sometime later on this year.

Added Note on 5/7/2011: Out Now and worth waiting for.

February 10, 2011

Praise is indeed bread to an artist.

Noticed we have been receiving a lot of ‘hits’ recently, from different parts of the world – so decided to check-out where they were coming from.

There’s been a lot of worldwide debate over the past few years about US-style interior photography (which is often extensively lit in a ‘glamorous’ movie sort of way) vs European style interior photography (which is all about ‘natural’ looking light). And also Real Estate photography (showing space and USP’s) vs Magazine photography (which is more about lifestyle and decor). Different markets, different clients, different trends – but some of these recent posts show that there is certainly a growing interest in some level of crossover which I applaud.

Really pleased to see that experienced photographers have been debating how we shoot interiors and seem to like what we are doing.
Praise is indeed bread to an artist.

By way of background, I’m Irish and am based in the north of Ireland but I went to college in Texas, so I guess I’ve been fortunate to learn from both sides of ‘the pond’.

Looking at some of these recent posts, it’s both interesting and encouraging to read what others are saying about us – below are some of the comments from 3 different forums – which we hope they don’t mind us recording it here, for keepsake when we are old(er) and grey(er).

These comments are not really about us – they are about interior photography – a field that is open to interpretation. Because everyone sees things differently and sees different things when they look at a picture.
Anyway, we’ve had an amazing decade but are still learning – so we always love to hear what other’s are thinking and seeing – especially when they look at our images.

The recent posts:

DPreview / Pro Digital Talk – Interior design Photography.

Hi folks
How are the Pros doing it? HDR? multiple strobes? ambient lighting?
I’m currently scratching my head here hearing all sorts of stories into which type of photography for interior/real estate images. A lot of the images I have been seeing online look very ‘lucis art’ but then I’m told that people want to see ‘natural ‘ looking images. I have been toying with HDRs but can never get windows to look anywhere near natural.

If you’re going to get into strobes, you would not use anything on camera, which casts short harsh shadows. You don’t want to take a picture of a room from the perspective of a light bulb. And you need some modifiers, with the least umbrellas, a diffuser, and perhaps a grid. But really you need to set up a bit differently than you are now. Someone like Ashley Morrison might use 7-9 strobes, but you could not find any evidence of them being there. Small flash heads attached to a power pack make that a little easier, and having a wide selection of modifiers and rigging at your fingertips. And a truck, or at least a Subaru.

On Ashley Morrison’s site, have a look at the Before and After images. They give you an idea of some of the ingenious ways that he uses strobes. Notice how he uses strobes to make window light for example.

Amazing stuff! I just love those images. That’s 20 years experience for you rather than 6 hours, lol.

All would do to study up on Ashley Morrison, who sometimes writes here and at LuLa. On his site, or his Vimeo feed, he has time-lapse videos of several of his shoots, and together they are a master class in setup, lighting, etc. He uses lights, several of them, but makes it look so natural.
Notice the attention to detail used in getting the arrangements just so. It takes all day and a team of 4-5. He’s only making it look easy, but it isn’t.
———

Bulletin / Forum – ufck photography thread the 3rd.

i’m trying to reverse-engineer some interior photos lately. not quite sure what type of modifiers are being used though, anyone has any insight? e.g:
Ivory with European Oak kitchen in Austin Baird's house near Holywood in County Down.

The sitting room in Sharon and Graeme Cleland's new-build house near Portstewart in County Londonderry.

High gloss white kitchen in Robinson Interior's Belfast showroom.
i love love love this guy’s lighting, but can’t seem to get anywhere close via my umbrellas or bouncing the light off of walls, joints, corners or ceilings. no idea how he fills a space so evenly and without any blatant falloff or hot spots.

Have you considered that maybe he isn’t using any artificial sources?

He states that he does in all of his shots, which I believe unless he is the Jesus Christ of exposure blending.

Why don’t you just ask him?

The highlights are clearly coming from the windows, which leads me to believe that either A he isn’t using much artificial lighting and it’s very bright outside, or B he is blasting some really high powered sources through the windows and doors. The bounce in the room all looks very natural to me, which is obviously the goal, but I think the best way to get natural looking bounce is to use natural bounce. Would he have the budget to have some 5-10k HMI sources placed outside? If that’s so he’s still probably using something else for the one with the giant window (unless it’s a crane), but that one also looks like it could easily be entirely natural.

Thinking something along the same lines outside of the windows or just natural light on bright sunny days.

I actually found a before/after page of his:
http://www.ashleymorrison.com/behind-01.htm
they are definitely all lit from the inside. this dude is pretty big and does international assignments all over the place so I would not be surprised if he had the budget for some serious lighting. it’s also impossible to squeeze that much dynamic range (outdoor sun to interior shadows) in one shot out of any camera unless the natural lighting is perfect and you aren’t directly facing any windows – if you were, you’d get some serious light bloom around the window frame.
———

Flickr / Real Estate Photographers of America™ – A Master At Work: Ashley Morrison.

Each of us has a few favorite photographers that we admire. Ashley Morrison is a high-end interior/advertising photographer from Ireland who sometimes posts images on Flickr. He is a true artist and gets paid handsomely for his creativity and hard work by clients who know and appreciate his work. If you go to his website, you can view some of his “before and after” images. I’m sure that many REPA shooters will be inspired and appreciate viewing the links below, plus his many other YouTube videos.

Love his pricing page.

This is great – thanks for sharing!

I’m a big fan.

I’m interested to see and learn about the lights and specifically the modifiers he’s using.

Andy,
I think that Ashley is pretty secretive about his lighting and techniques. From what I can tell from viewing some of his videos, he uses a lot of available light with large reflectors to create soft shadows, bounced monolights, sometimes adds warm CTO strobe lighting through exterior windows to simulate window light on gray days, large diffusers on windows to soften hard mid-day light, an occasional grid-spot, and exposure blending. I do know that he uses a Mac, CS3 and a P-25 Phase 1 camera.

What makes you think he is secretive about his lighting techniques? Have you tried asking him?

In any case, I imagine he uses the usual truckload of strobes, hot lights (spot and flood), and light modifiers (snoots, grids, barn doors, gels, scrims, silks, Cinefoil, etc.), and that his use of this equipment would vary widely depending upon the subject and his client’s needs.

I believe that he only uses a Phase One digital back and that the “camera” is a pre-digital-era Hasselblad Flexbody (basically just a bellows; the shutters are in the lenses).

If you want to get an idea of what kind of lighting kit interiors photographers typically use, try this Luminous Landscape discussion:
www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=23264.0

David, I probably should have used a word like “reluctant”; yes I did ask him. You’re right, we all use the same basic lights and modifiers etc. Back in the late 90’s, when I retired from school teaching, I hired myself out on a per-diem rate as a photo assistant to several Boston location commercial photographers for a few months and am very well aware of what professional commercial shooters use daily. These were pre-digital days and we were using 4″x5″ view cameras and 30-pound Elinchorme strobe power packs. I’ve experienced the same equipment being used by different shooters and was amazed by the slight variation in use and the difference in light “quality” achieved by different shooters. Using a giant sheet of translucent “Rip-Stop Nylon” duct taped to a giant picture window can create a soft /directional light quality that cannot be matched by a commercially made softbox or umbrella. These are some of the nuances that some photographers have discovered that make their work a cut above the rest. From my experience with working with commercial photographers, I found that they are the shooters who really know and study light quality and this made some of them stand out amongst their peers. Some people think that if they own a hammer, a saw and can pound nails, they are a carpenter. The same is true in photography. Studying the work of others that we admire, much can be learned that could make a difference in what our images look like.
I’m not sure if he is using the H’Blad Flexbody or the Arcbody or not. He mentioned the Phase One P-25. If he is using one of the H’Blad bodies with rising and fall movements, it’s an incredible tool that is the next best solution to using a view camera for perspective control.
———

I hope I did not over-step my boundaries here by using their words – but if I did, I will remove them.
In the meantime, ‘Thank you’ all for your kind words – they mean a lot to us – as we work very hard at producing these sort of images, for our clients to use.

February 1, 2011

Heart of the Country.

Is the title of our latest published work in the March 2011 issue of Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living magazine…
Pages 90 to 102 in the March 2011 issue of Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine featuring Maureen and Darius Graham's farmhouse near Broughshane in County Antrim.
.. on pages 90 to 102 – featuring Maureen and Darius Graham’s farmhouse near Broughshane in County Antrim.

As always with this magazine, the images look stunning, especially the double page spreads.
Thirteen pages too – so very pleased and great to see.

Anyway, congratulation to Darius & Maureen once again…
Maureen Graham in the sitting room of her farmhouse near Broughshane in County Antrim.
.. your home in the Heart of the Country looks amazing – so thanks for everything and enjoy the magazine.

Marie, Mandi & Ashley @ ampimage.com

January 8, 2011

Perfect Match.

Filed under: Publish work — Ashley Morrison @ 4:27 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Is the title of our latest published work in the February 2011 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes magazine…
Pages 46 to 50 in the February 2011 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes magazine featuring Laura and David Menary's Victorian townhouse in the County Down town of Holywood.
.. on pages 46 to 50 – featuring Laura and David Menary’s Victorian townhouse in the County Down town of Holywood.

Which we talk about shooting here: Victorian townhouse for sale.

And also ‘Returning home felt right’ in the new ‘Style at Home’ magazine…
Pages 92 and 98 of the February 2011 issue of Style at Home magazine featuring Jemma McCann's Victorian terrace house in Belfast.
.. on pages 92 to 95 – featuring Jemma McCann’s three bedroom Victorian terrace house in Belfast.

Which we talk about shooting here: First time buyer.

Love it !

There is no doubt about it though, the standards are very high these days – as all the homes, in both these two magazines, have been beautifully shot, lit and styled. Pushing the boundaries of what is expected to new levels – as well as the teams involved.

Anyway, a big thanks to everyone – a nice start to the New Year.

Marie, Mandi & Ashley @ ampimage.com

January 6, 2011

Pale & Interesting…

Filed under: Publish work — Ashley Morrison @ 4:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

.. is the title of our latest published work in the February 2011 issue of Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living magazine…
Pages 80 to 91 in the February 2011 issue of Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine featuring Marie and Alan's 1950s New England style cottage in Belfast.
.. on pages 80 to 90 – featuring Marie and Alan’s 1950s New England style cottage in Belfast.

As always with this magazine – which is printed at 175 lpi on very good quality paper – the images look stunning, especially the double page spreads.
Ten pages too – so very pleased and great to see at the start of the New Year.

Way to go Marie – and Happy New Year to you and Alan.

December 29, 2010

Licence to use.

And why you should use it to avoid misunderstandings down the road.

It is, in my opinion, a very important document, which every Photographer should be making use of – especially today in this digital age.
It’s not an Invoice or a Model Release form – it’s a separate document – which is basically​ designed to help avoid misunderstandings, between you and your Clients or anyone else who may be handling or wanting to use your images.

Remember, the guys in the ‘art department’ ​may never see your Invoice – which contains the usage agreement information – because it may have been sent straight to the ‘accounts department’. So that’s where this document comes into play – it’s a separate document, that stays with your images – designed to help prevent misunderstandings down the road.

Filling this document in is simple – just tick the boxes & fill in the blanks.
Then print it out and staple it to your contact sheets, put a pdf file of it on the CD along with your images, email it to your client… whatever it takes – so as everyone knows what has been agreed (which obviously needs to tally with what you have written on your Invoice) – as well as what has not been agreed to, which can be even more important to sometimes clearly show too.

The example below is based on the Association of Photographers’ Licence document, which can be downloaded from their website at AOP Downloads – along with other useful documents & forms.

(Please note: Having used this document for a number of years now, I have made a few minor changes to their standard template, but it’s basically still the same)
Licence to use example
Then print their standard Terms & Conditions on the back, which is relevant to where you are based.

That’s it – my No.1 tip of the day for all Photographers – to help avoid misunderstandings down the road.

Below are the basic definitions of the Media Use terms and what each covers:-

. Ambient – includes: garage forecourt, airport and rail station screens and all public areas where advertising is screened.
. Billboards / Posters – includes: 96/48/16/12/4 sheet, superlites, escalator panels, bus sides & panels, taxis wraps & seats, bus backs, tube, underground.
. Brochure / Catalogue.
. Direct Mail – includes: door drop leaflets & postcards.
. Inserts / Prints.
. Marketing Aids – includes: umbrellas, ashtrays, beer mats, exhibition panels, trolley panels, etc.
. Magazine ads – includes: advertorial features, ads & PR.
. Magazine editorial.
. Newspaper – includes: advertorial features, ads & PR.
. Packaging.
. Point of sale – also known as ‘Point of Purchase’.
. PR – images used to promote within a press editorial/advertorial or trade handout.
. Press – includes: trade, consummer, local, national, magazine & newspapers.
. Television / Cinema – includes: interactive TV, Video, mobiles, CD ads.
. Worldwide web – includes: email ads & internet use.

For more information on this, buy the AOP’s book Beyond the Lens“the essential guide to rights, ethics and business practice in professional photography” – which can be purchased from their website in one of two forms: conventional printed book form or immediate electronic downloads.

December 21, 2010

It’s slow in the snow…

.. and the shovels were out at The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn…
Capture-152503
.. while we set-up. But that M3 was going nowhere fast, as far as I was concerned. So I just had to work around it…
The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn.
as the chefs headed back to the kitchen and the sun began to set.

Then it was over to the Radisson Blu at the Gasworks, where the light was fading…
Capture-152519
.. very fast.
So we decided to wait for the magic moment – the twilight zone – before setting-up to capture it…
The Radisson Blu Hotel Belfast at the Gasworks
.. against the clear blue, moon lit sky, which was beautiful.

It’s slow working in the snow – but as it doesn’t look like this that often here, then just trying to make the most of it while we can.

Or as we would say: producing images … just for you.

www.ampimage.com

December 20, 2010

Record low…

Filed under: Work Rest & Play. — Ashley Morrison @ 10:39 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

.. and more snow across the country last night – but the skies are blue here at the studio this morning…
Ice hanging outside the window.
.. so we are in for another lovely day by the looks of things.

Hard to know if it’s worth heading out though – because according to the BBC online weather forecast, visibility is very poor in most parts of the country today, as a record low temperature is recorded.

Quoting the words of one of my favourite songs by The Clash: “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” – that always seems to be the big question.

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