About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

Use the power of pictures to tell your story


I love photographing people who come to me and ask for "more than just a headshot." They have realised the power of images to promote themselves, their brand and their story.

Sarah Pickles wanted to go one big step further and write her story about fighting stage three breast cancer  and as part of that process she wanted images that would show her personality and most importantly, inspire others to fight too.

Sarah's sense of style - fashion and beauty - are also key to her brand and how she promotes her beauty school and it was essential that the photographs captured that too.

The beautiful vintage decor at Violet's Vintage Teas
It was obvious from the start that we needed a unique venue for the shoot, somewhere with a strong authentic vintage look and we were very lucky to be able to use a beautiful private home that is the secret location for Violet's Vintage Teas. Aside from providing the perfect location for the shoot, it gave us our theme of a vintage afternoon tea (and of course cream cake and cups of tea to keep us going!)

Cake home made by Violet's Vintage Teas
It can be quite hard to be in front of the lens but Sarah was a natural and we also found that it helped to role play! I think we probably got a bit carried away with pretending that Sarah was a high society lady telling me all the gossip (made up of course!). Here are some of my favourite shots from the shoot.





This lovely photograph (below) is Sarah's official headshot and has been used on the front of Vita magazine - the national magazine for breast cancer care and is also on the back of Sarah's book.



CREDITS: Sarah's book "The Shock Factor - Sarah's Story: beating breast cancer one day at a time" is out now and available from Amazon. I love that a very good mutual friend of ours was editor, proof reader  and mentor to Sarah on this book: Sian-Elin Flint-Freel. Huge thanks also to Violet's Vintage Teas for opening up their beautiful home to us. 
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Tell your brand story in pictures and stand out


I did a photoshoot for a client recently that gave me pause for thought and helped me to resolve a problem I'd been struggling with for a while. I knew I wanted to take my photography business in a slightly different direction but was finding it difficult to shape into a clear story.

In my head and, importantly, in my heart it's crystal clear. I want to work with people who are their brand - passionate individuals who have built up their businesses based on their love for what it is they do and out of values that guide them in their lives. I've made some progress already steering my business in this direction, working with artisan bakers, artists and florists, photographing not only their products but also their work place and them as the heart and soul behind the business. 

This is Emma, the driving force behind the Cheshire Flower School.

And this is Jenny of Parsley Pie Art Club Hale
(read more in my blog about this shoot)

These photographs can all be classed as commercial or business portraits but they are actually much more than that, incorporating clear signs of what the person does and also an insight into their personality.

When Naomi of Branching Out Online asked me to do a series of photographs of her that she could use throughout her marketing materials I was delighted. I know Naomi really well and am a big admirer of her ability to maximise businesses' online presence.

Naomi doesn't sell products that I could photograph beautifully for her, she sells her skill, knowledge, experience and passion for online marketing. She's certainly not alone in offering these services but she does stand out in how she "puts herself out there": she is her brand. She is bright, bubbly, friendly, open and insanely enthusiastic about what she does. That's her point of difference.


One of Naomi's trademarks is her use of vibrant colours and she put a lot of thought into how to make this come through in the photo shoot. All the way through we used props and colours that reinforced her branding and her vibrant personality.

Having a great online presence using apps like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope.

Using appropriate props to allow you to get maximum use out of the images. This is how Naomi is using the images on social media.


Naomi also employs positive messages as a way to motivate and make images talk and I loved the props we used to convey this.


We were also very conscious of leaving space in the images to put marketing messages.

If I go back to the "light bulb" moment I had when I worked my way through these images, it was that I knew that I wanted to be more than a commercial photographer taking head shots for LinkedIn profiles... I want to tell people's story in pictures, capture what makes them and their business unique. Naomi knows the power of telling her story and uses it to build trust and loyalty, to make a powerful emotional connection with her target customer base.

She isn't afraid of sharing the low points as well as the highs and 2016 was a very tough year personally. We did some shots that reflected that and will allow her to share how she turned things around and has moved forward in a very positive way.


Have you thought about your brand story? It gives your brand a very powerful voice, makes it stand out, makes people want to connect with YOU. Why do you do what you do? If you can communicate this in words and then in pictures there'll be no stopping you!


If you are interested in booking your own photo shoot to tell your story get in touch








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Commercial photography shoots ARE fun!!! by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Let's face it, most adults hate having their photos taken, especially as we get "older" and clients that come to me to have a commercial head shot or portrait done are usually dreading it. And I know where they are coming from, as I don't enjoy having my picture taken. Is that really me? Is that what I look like? I don't get how I can look so different from the woman I see in the mirror.

Of course I only see myself from one angle in the mirror and my face is in repose (or in my "mirror face" according to my husband!). At other times we are photographed from all angles and in mid sentence, mid frown, mid unflattering looking down - our faces and bodies frozen for  a split second in the most unforgiving light.

I needed some new shots of me recently and decided to invite some of my photography students to have a go. They loved it as an opportunity to learn and, surprise, surprise I really enjoyed it and was very pleased with the results. The secret was lots of laughs and jokes to make me relax and them knowing which poses and light and angles would work. There were some pretty dreadful shots of me where the light and my pose were wrong but we deleted them quickly and moved on.

Shots taken by my photography students
I use the same strategy of fun and laughs when I photograph clients - children or adults - and I love it when people tell me they are surprised that it was so much fun! Last weekend I met a lovely couple, Russ and Teresa, who wanted images for their businesses. Russ needed a very corporate shot and was dreading it! Teresa runs a successful garden design company and wanted pictures that reflected what she does. Fresh from the hairdressers she was also quite nervous before we began.

I always have a coffee and a chat with my clients before we begin and right from the outset I'm working to make them relax. Once the shoot starts I gauge how far I can go with being a bit cheeky, teasing and getting family members or colleagues to help make people laugh. On this occasion I had a great little assistant in 10 year old Ashley and then Russ and Teresa took it in turns. The sight of Russ wielding two enormous umbrellas and a pair of stepladders was enough to guarantee smiles.

Lots of laughs behind the scenes
Teresa's final images
I offer commercial photography services on an hourly, half day or full day basis. I can shoot in a purpose built natural light studio or on location. If you would like to have a chat about your photography requirements please get in touch.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

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How professional photography will make your business stand out from the crowd (by Cheshire commercial photographer Picture It Big)

Lexington soft furnishings for Arighi Bianci
Never was there a truer saying in this age of the internet and social media. Hopefully I'm preaching to the converted and you already know that having great imagery of your product or service has a major impact on how you are perceived by your target market.

But the accessibility of digital photography - snap an image on your phone and upload it in a matter of seconds - means that many people are still tempted to do their own. This can seem to be a sensible way of saving money - and we're all trying to do that at the moment - but unless they know what they're doing it's a false economy.

Why spend all that time, energy and passion creating a brand new product or  renovating new business premises, to simply present a second rate view on your virtual shop window i.e. your web site!

Many people are worried abut the cost of commissioning a professional photographer - even sounds expensive doesn't it?! But I work with a wide range of clients, with differing needs and budgets. From the outset I work with you to understand what you can afford to spend and what you would like to get out of the shoot. It's surprising how much can be done in a half day's shoot if we are organised and have planned out exactly what we are doing beforehand.

PR shot for the Managing Director of White Rabbit England
I have done several shoots for White Rabbit England, designers and producers of a range of very cute products for children - bone china animal shaped lamps, soft furnishings and lots more. Each time we have packed a lot into each day long shoot, including individual product shots, rooms and PR shots. It's important to know how the final image will be used, whether it's for a catalogue or product listing, a  piece of editorial or banners for an exhibition. I have to admit to getting a real thrill when I see the final images displayed on leaflets, web sites etc!

White Rabbit England home page
I was approached recently by a company called Kraamzorg, offering private postnatal care (I wish I'd had access to this!). Their shoot was a little more complicated as they required models - a baby, a mum and some slightly older siblings! Rather than go to the expense of using professional models we called on friends and acquaintances and accomplished everything in a half day shoot - you don't waste time when babies and young children are involved. The resulting images are lovely, communicating the caring professionalism of the Kraamzorg service.

Kraamzorg UK home page
For private dental care company Beyond Orthodontics it was extremely important to show prospective clients that their reception area was more like that of a spa than a dentist's waiting room! This shoot, including shots of "patients" in the treatment rooms, was accomplished in a two hour shoot.

Reception and client consultation area for Beyond Orthodontics
If you  require product shots on a frequent basis e.g. cupcake companies, some crafts etc, I can work with you to show you how to take better shots with your own camera. These shots shouldn't be the showcase images of your web sites or promotional materials, but will provide you with decent images to post onto Facebook and Twitter. Usually a couple of hours tuition is enough to teach you some easy tips and techniques.

For more information, for a no obligation chat about your photography requirements or to book a shoot contact me (Jane) on 07868 750505 or email jane@picture-it-big.co.uk. I cover Cheshire and the South Manchester area.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!
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Top tips for a great business headshot (Corporate headshots Cheshire with Picture It Big)

In this digital age business portraits are very important. Even before you meet a client for the first time or go for an interview, you will have been checked out on LinkedIn or on your website and will have already made a first impression. A potential client surfing the net may have opted for the next listing below your's because they liked the look of the person more!

So you can't avoid it any longer, you need to get your head shot updated. That grainy old picture just doesn't communicate the right professional image and let's face it, was taken ten years ago. You've changed and fashions have moved on and it just won't do anymore. If you are like 90%+ of the population you dread having a formal picture taken as much or more than a trip to the dentist for a root canal filling! I would certainly prefer the latter and am infinitely more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

I've photographed lots of different people over the years and have also had to face up to having my own portrait done and have amassed a number of hints and tricks to make the experience more pleasant and to ensure that you end up with a portrait you are pleased with.

What to wear (and what not to!)
  • A head shot usually means head and shoulders, usually to around chest level, so pay particular attention to what is worn in this area.
  • Think about the image you want to project. Usually for a business head shot this will be professional business clothes but it depends on the profession you are in. In this shot Maura has chosen a slightly softer but still smart look - she is a collaborative solicitor and wanted to appear approachable and professional but not stuffy so opted not to wear a business suit.
  • Wear something you feel good and comfortable in. Avoid tight fitting clothes and clothes that wrinkle and crease easily.
  • Avoid busy patterns, logos or overpowering bright colours. Reds, yellows and oranges can reflect a colour cast onto your skin and should be avoided. Pastel or nude / skin colours can make you look washed out. Colours that match your eyes are good.
  • Avoid fussy scarves and collars. Simple is usually better. Jewellery is OK as long as it is understated. Don't wear anything that will date your picture too quickly.
  • Go for 3/4 or full length sleeves rather than bare arms. Bare skin distracts attention away from your face and unless your arms are tanned and toned (and mine aren't!) then it doesn't look great.
  • V neck jumpers are generally quite flattering as they elongate the neck. Avoid polo or roll neck tops.
  • If you need a full length shot rather than a head shot, then wear tops and bottoms in the same colour. Avoid strongly contrasting colours i.e. white top and black bottoms, as this cuts you in half and makes you look shorter.
What about make up and hair?
  • If you know you look good then you'll feel good too and that will show at the photo shoot. There's no need to book a full makeover, especially as you might end up not looking and feeling like you! But this is a personal choice, some people feel better if they've had their hair and make up done and others are happy to do their own.
  • If you have long hair you could do some shots with your hair tied back and some with it down. 
  • Wear what make up you would normally wear for a evening out - and we're talking a meal out not a full on Christmas party! Avoid lip gloss and anything too shimmery.
"I feel really uncomfortable posing for my photo".

Don't we all! But any good photographer will know how to make you feel relaxed and how to pose you in ways that flatter you. Here are some tips to make sure your best side is captured:

  • We all feel uncomfortable just standing in front of the camera - how should we stand, what should we do with our hands? To avoid feeling so awkward lean against something if possible and you will feel much more relaxed.
  • Try not to stand full on to the camera, instead stand at an angle, with your hips and shoulders on a slight diagonal and turn your head towards the photographer. If it's for a full length shot, then put your weight on your back leg and bend your front leg slightly, toe pointed towards the photographer.
  • Where possible I get people to sit down on a chair as this is often much more relaxing for them. It also enables me to shoot from above, getting the model to look up slightly which is often more flattering.
  • Sitting "cowboy" style on a chair (astride it backwards) works well, giving you somewhere to rest your hands and getting you to lean forward.
Top Secret Tip
  • To avoid those double chins (we all have them especially when we smile!) then try this little tip: point your chin down and then jut it out forward - this tightens the jaw line.  The photographer is shooting you from face on, not from the side so although this feels unnatural it really works! Try it in front of the mirror.
Backgrounds

The decision whether to go for a plain background or a natural one depends on you and sometimes on restrictions imposed on you. In the shot below a graduated grey background was required to match existing head shots of business colleagues on the company web site.


Where possible I prefer neutral, natural backgrounds that complement the image the client is looking for  - complimentary colours, nothing distracting in the background to draw the eye away from the face. In the image below I purposely included the urban background but made sure that it was out of focus so as not to be distracting.


In some cases you can hint at the working environment but always ensuring it isn't a distraction.

And in this next shot we styled it so that the client was lying down amid hundreds of toy white rabbits. It's still suitable as a head shot but has a much more informal feel and is suitable for PR purposes.


A little extra help...

I edit every shot in post production and make sure that the client looks at his or her very best. I remove blemishes and imperfections, reduce wrinkles, slightly brighten eyes and teeth and even slim faces a little. We're not talking L'Oreal airbrushing, my intention is that the client will look at the picture and say "Wow, that's a really nice shot of me!" but not be able to put their finger on exactly what I've done!

What happens after the shoot?

Everyone works slightly differently, but I usually select a number of final images, do an initial edit on them and then send them across as low resolution files to the client who will select two to three they wish to use. I then provide fully edited high resolution JPEG files.

Who owns the copyright to the final images? 

It's usual for the photographer to retain the copyright for the images but to grant you full business usage.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!



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