Our Wedding Photography Swansong

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We certainly finished on a high for our Wedding Photography Swansong! ‘Twas a beautiful day for a lovely couple who we’ve known for many years through their studio visits.

We decided some time ago that we would not be taking any new wedding bookings for after May 2019.  Not a decision taken lightly, but we know it’s the right one for us.

Thought I’d share a little of what’s involved when entrusted with this very important task.

Even though I’ve never advertised weddings, we’ve been lucky enough to have had our fair share over the years, from family and friends getting hitched, to some of my lovely studio clients, and of course, word of mouth referrals.  Each wedding equally beautiful in its own unique way. Come rain or come shine, it’s been a joy. Yes, even in the downpours! Heavy rain is challenging, I won’t deny, but you just have to make the best of it and use it to your advantage and grab some fun shots which you wouldn’t otherwise get on a sunny day!

It truly is an absolute honor when you’re asked to photograph a wedding. As the official photographers, you get to share and virtually live the day alongside the happy couple. You see everything first hand and capture all the emotions that invariably occur, from the nerves and tensions of the morning and the excitement shared by the bride and groom with their respective “tribes” as they get ready; the sighs of relief once the ceremony has been done, and the relaxed atmosphere and fun and happiness by the end of the day! Especially once the champagne has started flowing! You also get to photograph at the most beautiful locations and stunning venues – a photographer’s dream!

I won’t pretend it isn’t a tad stressful though. Weddings are after all, a one stop saloon – you just get the one chance and if you miss a shot or something fails, it’s too late to go back after the event. All the suppliers involved, and not just the photographers, want to make sure everything is top notch for the happy couple and their guests and do their utmost to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible. And of course it always does even if there are one or two hiccups during the proceedings. But these are the moments most treasured and which make every wedding unique – it’s often these little “hiccups” that become the best memories in years to come!

Yes, you can plan all you like but on the day anything can happen and often does, quite out of the blue, not least the weather being so unpredictable in this country. With experience, you learn to take whatever is thrown at you in your stride. But it sure keeps you on your toes throughout the day and that’s a good thing! Lee and I always took our backup cameras. Even though our main cameras are expensive and very reliable, in the back of your mind there’s always a little niggle that technology might fail you at a crucial moment, like during the ceremony. Yikes!! I still shudder at the very thought!!

Fortunately, we were lucky that we never needed our backups but it was always reassuring to have them just in case! (Haha I have never wanted to say this before in case of jinxing any future weddings we had to photograph!!)

Love all those little details too that help make each wedding so individual.

Well I guess all good things must come to an end, although I must admit it’s a little bit of a relief too. Photographing a wedding is perhaps more exhausting than you might imagine. Even fellow photographers, mostly much younger than we are, suffer from what’s known in the trade as “Wedding Photographer Hangover”. Yep, when you get home after shooting all day it sure hits you! And the following day too. You physically ache from head to toe! I think this lady, Karen Julia Wedding Photography, describes it so well in her blog post https://karenjuliaphotography.com/how-to-prevent-wedding-photographer-hangover/ It’s reassuring to know you’re not the only ones and it doesn’t get any easier as the years go by!

We would always try and keep the day after free so we could chillax a bit. I found it a perfect opportunity to go through all the photos Lee and I had taken between us and sort out favourites to post for a sneak peek on Social Media and to start the initial edit. Downloading the images from the memory cards in itself could take a couple of hours due to the enormous size of the Raw files out of camera and there being at least a couple of thousand to download. Speaking of the memory cards, I would not let them out of my sight until all the backups had been done, which was as quickly as possible believe me!

Because we limited the number of weddings we booked, I would try to keep the couple of weeks afterwards free in order to devote this time to work on the edit so I could deliver them to the newlyweds as soon as possible. They’d be very excited to see them of course so didn’t want to keep anyone waiting any longer than necessary. It’s no mean feat doing a wedding edit, especially when you have developed your own style, as most photographer’s do, it involves several hours each day at the computer during this time.

Edit finished and 1000 or more images delivered to the happy couple, I’d start work on designing the artwork for the photobook, which was included in most of my packages. Once that had been approved by the couple, I ordered it, and then time to put together a slideshow of around 25 minutes, using the favourite song tracks of the bride and groom.

Thus, all in all, a fair amount involved from start to finish, but because I really love being creative, it never felt like a chore, just fun to do.

To be told how much the images, book and slideshows have meant to our wedding couples over the years, has been the icing on the (wedding) cake! Great feedback means the world to us and truly makes our day 🙂

It just remains for me to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful couples who have entrusted us with photographing their beautiful days over the years.

It has been a privilege and a joy.

There is one thing a photograph must contain. The humanity of the moment.

Quote by Robert Frank

Loving Two “Babies” Equally?

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Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here even though you may have noticed fewer posts from me on Facebook of late. Read on and I will explain all!

As many of you know already, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising – but not at the expense of letting go of good customer service I hasten to add. So yes, I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service you are used to from me and, of course, deserve.

My time is split about 50/50, with a little leeway naturally where needs be. Hence, I only do studio photoshoots now on Sunday mornings and outdoor location shoots on Saturday mornings. I edit the images from these as soon as possible afterwards so I can get your galleries out quickly without keeping anyone waiting.

Once I know everyone has their pictures to look at, I devote the rest of the week to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

(Goes without saying that I deal with enquiries and orders for Romsey Fotografix regardless of when I get them!)

A little about Zazzle if you’ve not heard of them before. They’re a huge print on demand website and they do all manner of goodies – as you can see from their website. And here’s their story. As a designer, artist or photographer, or indeed anyone who wishes to, you easily set up a Zazzle store, or several stores if you want to. I just have the one store for now Fotografixgal Designs, as that keeps me plenty busy enough!  I also set up a separate website especially for it to help showcase the items in my store.  

There’s quite a complex strategy involved in running a Zazzle store, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers. She was running an offer at the time and I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I would never have discovered it all on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning). And the training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.

A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

OK, heading back to the subject of Facebook posting. As I do fewer shoots now, I have less photos from current sessions to post on Facebook and am therefore not posting every day or two, as I did at one time. And I don’t want to bombard you with too many Fotografixgal Design related posts as I guess you didn’t follow me on Facebook to see those 😉!!  Maybe just the odd one or two if you don’t mind lol. In the main though I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. To be honest, Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. And unless you pay for your posts to be promoted, they invariably only get shown to a small handful of your followers so it can be very soul destroying taking into consideration the amount of time and effort put into creating them. I’m not knocking it, because it’s obviously very useful and brilliant for connecting with your audience. As long as you stay in control of it and not let it take over at the expense of other things.

So please forgive me if I don’t post as often. However, I’m always very grateful when you give me permission to post pictures from your session as this allows me to showcase my work for others to see and also give you a little sneak peek and to share with your FB friends.

Another decision I have not taken lightly is to introduce a small booking fee for my studio photoshoots from August 2019. This won’t apply to outdoor shoots. I’ll only be taking one or two studio shoots a week on a Sunday and will request and pay for the studio as and when someone contacts me to book. This session fee is to safeguard me against late cancellations and no shows and cover my costs. I know I have never charged a session fee before as I didn’t feel it necessary when I had my own studio and was doing loads of shoots in a week, therefore I wasn’t out of pocket in the event of no shows. However, now if someone doesn’t show up on the day, which does happen sometimes, I won’t be able to fill that slot at that short notice and may even have turned other clients away for it, it’s just to ensure I’m not out of pocket. The good news is I’ll refund you the booking fee when your order comes to £150 or more.

You may also have seen that we have now photographed our last wedding as the official photographers.  I was going to tell you all about that in this post however as it’s already quite lengthy (haha sorry that’s not like me at all 😉 ), I’ll do a separate post shortly about the reasons behind our Wedding Swansong.

I truly hope you understand my decision to veer in a slightly new direction wearing my two different, yet complementary, hats. I am a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!

You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work. I have found my very Happy Place.

As ever, thank you so much for your support. It means the world to both Lee and I and we look forward to taking your next set of pictures!

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day 

anonymous quote (but oh so true!)

Here comes Summer!

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Isn’t it great occasionally to do something a little different from the norm?

This bank holiday weekend I set up a stylized shoot in the new studio. My main reasons for this being, a) to take some photos for my digital art projects using techniques I’ve been learning on the fabulous Photoshop Artistry and Awake courses ; and b) to create some studio images for my Shutterstock photo gallery (It’s still very much a work in progress with a very limited number of images at the moment. I’m working on it, but it’s a more involved process than I imagined.)

Anyway … back to Sunday’s shoot. My lovely model for the morning brought along loads of her own shoes, hats and bags, not to mention a fantastic mask, which is quite unique as she had very cleverly glued the feathers on herself. Perfect! As soon as I saw it inspiration sprang to mind in leaps and bounds!

Photo becomes art

We also incorporated several of the props already in the studio, the bright orange deck chairs featured rather a lot – love, love, love ‘em!!! That bright orange really pops against the white backdrop!

Deck chairs

Summer and sunshine was of course the theme for the session what with the deckchairs, sun hats and shades! I was able to create a super variety of images.

I got Lee in on the act to pose for a couple of shots! And, dare I say it, even yours truly – even though I’m much more at home t’other side of camera!!! Suitably disguised of course – and yes, I really did wear these stilettos! Not to walk in mind, I know my limitations!! 😉

We joined in too

And sticking with the beach theme …

Seaside to studio

Shoes anyone?  (Still working on the edit on most of the shoe pics!!)

Stepping out

I’m really pleased there’s a guitar in amongst the studio props! I’m sure this will prove popular with any “budding musicians” you may have in the family when you come in. Instruments always lend themselves nicely to some arty shots.  I’ve given these ones an impressionist feel!

Guitar

This session has really inspired me, as well as given me lots of images to play with. I am already planning the next creative shoots  based on other themes. The more you do, the more ideas seem to come flooding in!

Some you may think, “hey that’s pretty cool”, and others a resounding “blah!!”

Isn’t that just the thing with art and creativity: some things you put together work, and some things just don’t. In your own eyes at least. Whilst of course it’s an amazing feeling when the outcome of your creation makes you happy, it really doesn’t matter when it doesn’t. Experimenting and throwing caution to the wind is all part and parcel of the creative process. You don’t know until you try, and if it turns out to be a disaster chances are you will still have learned a lot, even if it’s what not to do next time. In your own opinion of course. You may find another person would absolutely love it!

That’s the funny thing about art.

I found one of the recent art projects for the Lifebook 2018 Art course I’m doing especially challenging and wasn’t at all happy with the end result. I uploaded to the private Facebook Group in any case as it’s always good to get constructive critique, but was astounded by the positive feedback – it gained more likes and loves and wows than any of the other artwork I had previously uploaded. Well I never – to think I nearly relegated it to the camera roll never to see the light of day!!

Just goes to show, eh? Which is why just doing your thing without worrying about what anyone will think is the way to go. Such freedom is quite exhilarating, and once that penny drops, and the pressure is off, ideas flow much better.

Here’s all the shots from Sunday’s photoshoot in a teeny collage! There are some duplications of course but still lots – you can see why they are taking me a while to edit!! You may need a magnifying glass to see them though!!

Montage 1

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Oh so true!

 

I bet you know someone who’d love one of these!

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Do you know something I love so much about this ‘job’. The sheer variety of it all!

In the last week or two for instance I’ve photographed a wedding; a very large tractor (yes, really!); the meeting room, reception area and a couple of the units at Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey/gallery ; a gorgeous pooch or two; of course several siblings and families, beautiful newborns, and even my mum as a model in her home!

Oh and did I mention, a vast amount of … Lego Men!!

Ha, yes, you did read that right!

In fact, the Lego characters were the props used to demonstrate some fantastic 3D bases from Base Ace to show examples of how they can be used with mini figures and building bricks for imaginative play.

montage-1Look very impressive don’t they!

The bases are the brainchild of Brian from Talking Products https://www.talkingproducts.com/

He arrived for the session along with a car load of boxes, which were promptly unloaded, and then he and his colleague started putting it all together! It was really fascinating seeing the various bases taking shape ready to be photographed. And then seeing them come to life even more as the figures were placed on them as examples of how they would look in play.

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I think these bases are such a brilliant idea and I know my kids would have loved them when they were in their “Lego-building” hey day.

So maybe just the ticket for those fans of mini-figures in your life when building their little fantasy worlds.  Christmas pressie anyone? 🙂

Here’s where you can find them:

www.baseace.co.uk

Thanks very much to Brian for asking me to photograph them.

 

Every Chair tells a Story

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So I’d earmarked the last couple of days in my diary to knuckle down and get my annual accounts done, dusted and ready for my accountant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a lot to sway me from this arduous task.  Accounts and me, we just don’t gel well at all …

So when those lovely folk at Design Cuts came up with this remarkable value bundle  https://www.designcuts.com/product/the-gigantic-mockup-templates-bundle/ I simply couldn’t resist!

So many goodies at such a bargain price.  If you’re into design at all you could find this lot very handy indeed!!

As soon as I saw some of the chairs in the bundle, I could just visualise them working well with certain of my studio shots, as a series of portraits. So putting the accounts aside for an hour (or two!) I started creating.

Hence my “Chair Project” was born, the idea being that, by incorporating into the picture a chair or two and maybe another prop, might add a touch of storytelling to the scene.

Such as ….

Chair Project

OK, I know it doesn’t help get my accounts done, but projects like this and my 365 Photo-a-Day are vital to keep the old creative juices flowing, which in turn helps to keep my work fresh and the ideas coming when editing your portfolios too.

I’ll be adding these pics to my Instagram feed as and when, as well as any others I may add to the collection.  You can find me here https://www.instagram.com/fotografixgal/ and search for the hashtag #FotografixgalChairProject

Big thanks to Design Cuts for this incredible deal which I’m sure is going to inspire lots of other ideas too, and also to Studio Magic  https://www.layercakeelements.com/studio-magic which helps make creating these types of combis easier than it might otherwise be!

Such choice – I feel other projects coming on soon!!

In the meantime  … errr …. best get back to those accounts ….

Behind the Scenes of the “Watch Your Back” Campaign Photoshoot with Charlie Dimmock

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Yep, I have to admit it was a little strange seeing another photographer at work in my studio, but fascinating all the same to see how he expertly approached the task in hand and to witness how this photoshoot unfolded.

And all for a very good cause.

It all came about a couple of weeks before Easter when I got a call from Michelle at Caffeine Communications http://caffeinecommunications.co.uk/ She was looking for a studio space in the Romsey area to use for a photoshoot with Charlie Dimmock which was to take place on Easter Monday. As I was closed over the holiday weekend and the studio was going to be free, I was more than happy to offer my studio space.

Michelle explained that Charlie was fronting the new campaign of The Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research fund (MTMRF). The campaign is called Watch Your Back! and is aimed at men, in particular gardeners, to review their sun protection habits and get their backs checked often for any warning signs of melanoma. You can read more about the campaign here on their blog http://www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/whats-new-for-spring/  You’ll also see in the post the beautiful picture of Charlie from the session they ultimately chose for the campaign – which you may well see in a garden centre near you after the end of April as the campaign gets underway.

On the morning of the shoot Lee and I arrived bright and early and soon Paolo, the photographer, http://www.ferlapaolo.com/ and Shona https://twitter.com/ShonaAdeleWhite , the hair/makeup artist arrived, having travelled from Bath, followed shortly afterwards by Michelle.

As things got underway, I took a few shots on my phone, as well as a couple of video snippets.

Shona making sure everything is to hand

Shona making sure everything is to hand

...whilst Paolo sets up his lights

…whilst Paolo sets up his lights

Paolo had brought along his own lights and equipment and I found it very interesting to see how he was setting everything up as he chatted through the brief with Michelle.

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Interestingly, after trying out several different angles using Michelle as his test model, he decided he was going to use the studio the opposite way round to my normal set up for his first shots, incorporating the white table, which usually sits unobtrusively to the side of the room, to use as a prop in the pictures. The images automatically synced to Paolo’s laptop so he and Michelle could see them straightaway and decide if they were exactly what was needed.

Paolo decided against shooting the table scene this way round ...

Paolo decided against shooting the table scene this way round …

...when he reviewed the resulting images with Michelle

…when he reviewed the resulting images with Michelle

So the table was placed on the edge of the backdrop and Paolo set up his lighting so he could take pictures from the backdrop side of the table. Which was actually very effective.

Lee took Michelle to a local garden centre to buy a few props so it was down to me to stand in for a few more test shots.

Test shots of yours truely with the studio area behind, compared to the shot of Michelle taken with the white backdrop behind and the use of a coloured gel

Test shots of yours truely with the studio area behind, compared to the shot of Michelle taken with the white backdrop behind and the use of a coloured gel

In the meantime, Charlie Dimmock had arrived and Shona had made a start on her hair and makeup in the reception area.

It made a refreshing change to sit back and watch everyone doing their thing and seeing it all come fantastically together. No pressure, just had to keep the teas and coffees flowing!

Once Charlie was ready, the first shots were taken, with her sitting at the table, and various props such as lilies, plants, garden gloves,  were experimented with for some of the shots.

Session underway!

Session underway!

Once these shots were in the bag, there was a quick change of top for Charlie whilst Paolo changed the lighting setup to the other direction, now facing back towards the backdrop. He took some shots of Charlie to the front of the backdrop, then moved his lights to the back, and asked her to lean against the back wall, and he photographed her in this very relaxed pose. These shots were especially stunning and it was no surprise that it was one of these that was selected for the campaign.

Leaning against the backwall ...

Leaning against the backwall …

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…and some of the resulting shots

We then headed into the Basepoint Centre car park, fortunately relatively empty due to the bank holiday, for some outdoor shots. We moved one of the wooden benches to the front of a leafy area to the far end of the car park, which looked rather effective and rural in the pictures, with a few plants and pots strategically placed on the bench where Charlie sat.

It was a pretty windy day, but fortunately blowing in the right direction so Charlie’s gorgeous long tresses blew gently backwards. A wind machine couldn’t have done the job better! The sun made an appearance too – and thankfully no rain!

Haha it may look like a glorious sunny day in the stills but this little snippet shows just how blustery it was!

As you can see, it was quite a team effort – and no mean feat to stop those reflectors tossing and turning in the wind!

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And time for a quick phone photo opportunity…

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A couple of final shots final shots were taken of Charlie leaning against one of the trees and then it was a wrap!

Back in the studio Michelle took this pic of the “team”…

And it's a wrap!

And it’s a wrap!

1pm and time to say our goodbyes. It had been such an interesting morning; something a little different to the norm. Lee and I really enjoyed seeing how these very talented folk brought it all together, and seeing Paolo’s amazing pictures. Absolutely incredible.

Our thanks to all and wishing the campaign huge success in getting this important message across.

Spilling the Beans Part 2 – To Crop or Not to Crop …

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.. aha – that is the question! Cropping a photo can transform an image from average to “Wow”  But not always.

I think, if truth be told, most pictures can be improved a little by cropping, even if only a teeny amount is cropped away. Personally I tend not to zoom in too closely to the subject when I take a photograph, so I have plenty of leeway afterwards to allow for it to be cropped in most sizes.

When you crop a photo which you’re going to get printed, it’s important that the aspect ratio you crop it too is the same as the aspect ratio of the size it will be printed at. There’s a bit more about the various ratios and how they differ on my Pinterest board https://uk.pinterest.com/fotografixgal/print-size-guidelines/

Next thing, how much to crop away? This of course comes down a lot to personal taste and the type of final image you’re aiming for. No right or wrong answer.

I usually try a few variations of crops on an image in the initial edit: baby-1

Then it’s just a question of deciding which looks best – or in the case of when I edit your portfolio images – which I think you might like best. If it’s tricky to decide, I may well use one of the other crops on a similar image so as to include as much variety as possible.

Cropping away part of a subject’s face can have great impact, which loads of you love. However, I know from comments I’ve heard over the years, for some, cropping off the top of a head, seems a really strange thing to do, even in the name of art. Again, I try and include a good mix in your portfolios so hopefully catering for most tastes.

I used to think that cropping tightly into the subject was generally the way to go when there was a busy background to the scene. However my experience of photographing weddings over many years has changed my views on this and, where appropriate, I keep most or part of the background in where it sets the scene or conveys more of the sense of the story that the picture is telling. Some shots are equally good cropped both ways.

For instance with the following wedding edits:

wed2-1

Wedding venues are generally pretty awesome, so of course have to be shown off as much as possible in the photos. I included as many backgrounds as possible in the pictures at the Clovelly wedding (above) which we photographed last year https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/a-beautiful-wedding-in-clovelly/ so as not to hide those picturesque views! But I also cropped some of them in closer to the bride and groom and included both versions in some cases.

wed5

Another stunning venue! I didn’t do too much of a crop on this one (above); the guests in the background add to the storytelling and the blue sky shows what a beautiful sunny day it was! https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/beautiful-south-farm-wedding/

wed1-1

With the above image, I could have cropped in closer to the bride as per the version on the right, but in this case felt that by incorporating the black and white pictures on the wall, showing the family in years gone by, made it much more poignant. Not to mention to show off the full length of the back of her gorgeous dress!

andover-1

The above shot of Andover works OK cropped in any of the above modes I reckon. It would just come down to a matter of personal taste.

flowers-1

Cropping out the table and empty coffee mugs, and rotating the flower slightly, made quite a difference to the above picture.

edinburgh-1

The shot above left of Edinburgh Castle was straight from camera (and no, I wasn’t toppling over when I took it lol !!). I cropped it to portrait and rotated it, aiming to keep as much of the plants in the foreground as possible to give it depth. I kept a bit of the tilt though – I know not everyone’s cup of tea, but I actually like the effect (occasionally!)

So there we are. It’s amazing how such a simple action as the humble crop can make quite a difference to the end result.