Looking back – Changing landscapes

In an age of constant change, where the old gives way for the new at an ever increasing pace, it is reassuring to see that some things remain constant.

In a joint project titled ‘Tilbakeblikk’ (Looking back) the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute and Norsk Folkemuseum have curated a series of photographs from Norway, combining old photographs of locations around the country with recent images taken from the same viewpoint.

The project seeks to illustrate the changing landscape. In some cases, the transformation between then and now is striking. Other locations are more or less identical today as they were a hundred years ago.

Alan Taylor of the Atlantic has put together a selection of photographs from the series to enjoy.


Swimmers in Ingierstrand 1947

1947 Swimmers on Ingierstrand | Copyright Oscar Puschmann / Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Anders Beer Wilse & Axel Lindahl / Norsk Folkemuseum

Swimmers in Ingierstrand 2006

2006 Swimmers on Ingierstrand | Copyright Oscar Puschmann / Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Anders Beer Wilse & Axel Lindahl / Norsk Folkemuseum

Borgund Stave Church 1902

Borgund Stave Church 1902 | Copyright Oscar Puschmann / Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Anders Beer Wilse & Axel Lindahl / Norsk Folkemuseum

Borgund Stave Church 2004

Borgund Stave Church 2004 | Copyright Oscar Puschmann / Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Anders Beer Wilse & Axel Lindahl / Norsk Folkemuseum

It’s reassuring to know that some things stay the same – people still enjoy going to the beach on a hot summers day – and Norwegian heritage is being preserved for future generations to enjoy.

The Tilbakeblikk photo collection is updated regularly, so don’t forget to visit and check for updates!

Wedding photography – B&W or Colour?

When it comes to wedding photography my clients sometimes ask if I can shoot in black & white and colour. The answer is yes, but there is no need to change the camera settings in order to do so, and ultimately all the images are shot in colour. The black & white conversion is done later when colour balancing and retouching the photos.

So how do I choose which photos to convert to black and white?

With my wedding photography I aim to tell a story of the day, capturing the mood, details, people and emotions. The bride and groom will have spent a long time making sure every detail is perfect, from the flowers to the colour of the table decorations. These details set the mood for the whole day – and are things you will want to remember. The wedding dress, bridal bouquet, the wedding cake… are all, in my opinion, better shot in colour.

Black and white photography, on the other hand, allows you to loose the detail and focus more on the emotion of a moment. Your eye is not distracted by colourful objects and you can appreciate form and texture more. I find black & white images have a certain calmness about them, a lovely timeless quality.

There is certainly a place for both colour and black & white in wedding photography. Here are a couple of examples – Which images do you prefer?


Colour - Black & White comparison

Colour - Black & White comparison


Capturing the past – Heritage photography

I’ve always loved photographing forgotten buildings and sites, exploring history through what remains, long after the people who once occupied the spaces have gone. There is a beauty in the stillness of these places, in the colours and textures, the randomness and nature reclaiming what is man made.

Matt Emmett is a British heritage photographer, who in my opinion, has captured some truly stunning images of derelict buildings and sites across the UK, but also abroad. Discover more of his work at Forgotten Heritage and on Facebook.


Forgotten Heritage - photo by Matt Emmett

Forgotten Heritage – photo by Matt Emmett

Forgotten Heritage - photo by Matt Emmett

Forgotten Heritage – photo by Matt Emmett


In 2007 I took a series of photographs of Haugasetra, the site of my great aunt Beret’s summer pasture on Ertvågøya, a small island off the west coast of Norway. The photographs were all taken with a medium format film camera and developed by myself. Together with a poem by Beret they formed part of a photography exhibition held in Leicester, June 2007.

Haugasetra - Ertvågøya, Norway

Haugasetra – Ertvågøya, Norway

During the summer Beret would walk up to the pasture every evening to milk her cows, separate the milk to make rømme (sour cream) and churn butter. She would stay overnight in a small log cabin and sell sour cream to local visitors.

Visiting Haugasetra brings back memories of still summer nights sitting on the bed with the fire crackling, listening to Beret tell stories. Her notebook lies on the table, the stones she collected on the window sill. Now there is a quiet, calm silence and a familiar scent of timber, ash and mountain grass.

Haugasetra cabin - Ertvågøya, Norway

Haugasetra cabin – Ertvågøya, Norway

Haugasetra cabin - Ertvågøya, Norway

Haugasetra cabin – Ertvågøya, Norway

Ertvågøya, once a thriving farming and fishing community, is now in rapid decline as younger generations move away to find employment. With the advancement in technology, old traditions and ways of life are being forgotten and valuable knowledge lost. Haugasetra has remained empty for a number of years and the traditional methods of farming have all ceased.

Haugasetra cabin window - Ertvågøya, Norway

Haugasetra cabin window – Ertvågøya, Norway

My photographs record evidence of the past in the hope that, one day, future generations will be able to trace their legacy.

Aside from their beauty, I believe heritage photographs can play an important role in providing a record of buildings and sites of historical interest, before they are lost forever.

Architecture, Infrastructure & Living

With a background in architecture, I have always been interested in my surroundings, the built environment, how it makes us feel and how people interact with it. Photography has the ability to capture the beauty of both buildings and infrastructure – and to convey our perception of these spaces.

A couple of current exhibitions exploring this theme are:

  • Building Images – produced by Sto Werkstatt and Arcaid Images. This exhibition explores the importance of photography in communicating architectural ideas and concepts. Showcasing photographs by 14 talented architectural photographers who all recently competed in the Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards.  The images are stunning and the exhibition is open until 28th february 2015 at Sto Werkstatt in Clerkenwell, London.
Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards 2014 Overall Winner and Interiors: Heydar Aliyev Centre Cultural Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo by Hufton and Crow.

Winning photo by Hufton and Crow of the Heydar Aliyev Centre Cultural Centre.

Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards 2014 Runner-Up - Buildings-in-Use: Encants Flea Market by B720 Arquitectura. Photo by Inigo Bujedo Aguirre.

Photo by Inigo Bujedo Aguirre of Encants Flea Market.


  • RICS Infrastructure Photography Competition –  organised by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This annual competition has been launched to promote the importance of major infrastructure projects and their contribution to British society. All shortlisted and credited entries will be showcased in a two week exhibition in RICS Parliament Square Offices in London, and as part of RICS Infrastructure Conference.
Infrastructures Winning photograph - 'Double Travel' by Rita Testa

Infrastructures Winning photograph – ‘Double Travel’ by Rita Testa


Infrastructures - 'Forth Bridge' by Dominic Smith

Infrastructures – ‘Forth Bridge’ by Dominic Smith


Infrastructures - 'Surveillance' by Marek Emczek Olszewski

Infrastructures – ‘Surveillance’ by Marek Emczek Olszewski


Ingenious homes in unexpected places

Exploring how people interact with buildings and use spaces, Iwan Baan, an urban documentary photographer, has captured some amazing images from Venezuela. The Tower of David is an unfinished, abandoned skyscraper in Caracas, where eight years ago, people started moving in and making their homes.

Public space, Tower of David, Caracas - by Iwan Baan

Public space, Tower of David, Caracas – by Iwan Baan

Adding colour, Tower of David, Caracas - by Iwan Baan

Adding colour, Tower of David, Caracas – by Iwan Baan

Working, Tower of David - by Iwan Baan

Working, Tower of David – by Iwan Baan

Tower of David Gym - by Iwan Baan

Tower of David Gym – by Iwan Baan


Watch Iwan Baan’s TED talk – Ingenious homes in unexpected places:

Iwan Baan’s talk gives us an interesting insight to what extent we can adapt to, but also change our environment to create a place to live, a home, full of individuality. What we choose to surround ourselves is an expression of who we are as individuals and what’s important to us.


A different perspective – Drone Photography

Have you ever read National Geographic and marvelled at the almost abstract beauty of a landscape photographed from the air? Well, in 2014 National Geographic sponsored the first ever drone photography competition in association with Dronestagram, a site dedicated to this unique style of aerial photography.

The photographs submitted cover scenes from around the world. Drone images offer a more intimate perspective on familiar and new sites, different from those taken from satellites, planes and helicopters.

The winning image is of a beautiful eagle, soaring majestically above a national park in Indonesia.

Eagle over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia

Eagle over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia


These are a few of my favourite images from a selection of the most stunning drone pictures from 2014 – including a very cool selfie:

Baltoro Glacier, Karakorum, Pakistan

Baltoro Glacier, Karakorum, Pakistan

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Praia da Bacutia em Guarapari, Espirito Santo, Brazil

Praia da Bacutia em Guarapari, Espirito Santo, Brazil

Advances in drone technology coupled with affordable, light, compact, high-resolution cameras, has brought us a whole new genre of beautiful aerial photography and video. However, as the number of drones filling our skies is increasing, so are concerns over privacy and safety. 2015 may well see stricter regulations imposed by regulatory bodies across the globe.

A drone was recently found on the Whitehouse lawn, leading to a lockdown – read the news article here.

Let’s hope this doesn’t limit drone photography to professionals only. In my opinion these images, taken mainly by drone hobbyists, are truly stunning!



© is for Photographic Copyright

I often get asked about photographic copyright, both by fellow photographers and clients. Who owns the copyright to an image? How can I prevent people from using images I’ve posted on the internet? Can I photograph anything and anywhere?

Sal Shuel has written a brilliant article where she explains British copyright legislation, in simple terms. She is widely regarded as one of the photography industry’s real authorities on Copyright and her article is well worth a read.

There is also software available which can discover illegal uses of images and help with licensing. PicScout and Digimarc both offer a great range of services.

Understanding copyright law is important, for amateur and professional photographers alike, and for anyone who uses images in any capacity – which is almost all of us!



Macallan Masters of Photography

The Macallan Master of Photography series this year features stunning images by world renowned fashion photographer Mario Testinio. Macallan have chosen six unique whiskey casks from over 200,000 maturing at the Macallan distillery, bringing together the characters and aromas of each cask to create the perfect, limited edition, single malt whiskey. Mario Testino has personified the individual characteristics of the six casks in his photography – and has also worked closely with Macallan on the design of the 1,000 numbered, asian inspired, lacquered presentation boxes for sale world wide.

This is the first time Macallan have collaborated with the photographer in design and presentation of their product. The results are stunning! A great example of how photography encompasses so much more than images alone. It illustrates the importance of considering a project as a whole, and how bringing all the individual elements together – photography, product and design – can yield outstanding results.

This approach can be applied to all size projects, from brochure to website design. A clear brief with room for artistic interpretation, good planning, collaboration and communication, in my opinion, all form essential parts of a successful project.


Albert Watson - The Macallan Masters of Photography - Image 01

The Macallan Masters of Photography – image by Albert Watson


This is the fifth year of The Macallan Masters of photography. Previous collaborations have featured work by Elliott Erwitt, Annie Leibovitz, Rankin and Albert Watson. I particularly like the photographs by Albert Watson which show the journey of the wood used in their whiskey casks from the forests of northern Spain to The Macallan’s spiritual home in Speyside.

Explore The Macallan Masters of Photography website and be inspired!


Drawn by Light

The Royal Photographic Society have opened an exciting exhibition at the Science Museum – Drawn by Light – which aims to cover the history of photography. The exhibition includes 200 iconic images taken between 1820 and today, as well as historical photographic equipment. From landscapes to portraits, the exhibition features work by may of the world’s most influential photographers including Roger Fenton, William Henry Fox Talbot, Steve McCurry, Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr.

The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) is one of the word’s oldest surviving photographic societies. Founded in 1853 the  RPS Collection comprises over 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and over 30,000 books. In 1858 the RPS held one of the UK’s first public photographic exhibitions in the South Kensington Museum, today the Science Museum and the V&A – which is where you can see Drawn by Light. The exhibition is open from 2/12/2014 to 1/3/2015.

Two of my favourite photos from the exhibition are; Afghan Girl, at Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984 by Steve McCurry and Soldiers of the Sky, 1940, Nickolas Muray.


Afghan Girl, at Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984 by Steve McCurry

Afghan girl by Steve McCurry

Soldiers of the Sky, 1940, Nickolas Muray

Soldiers of the Sky by Nickolas Muray


A great opportunity to see some fantastic images and discover how photography has changed over time – and how it has also influenced our perception of the world.

Choosing the right images for your website

When it comes to sourcing the right photography for your website, there a several options available. You can…

1. Take photographs yourself

The quality of the average digital camera has vastly improved in recent years. Even smart phone cameras are great at capturing good images.

If you are confident with framing and taking  photos, and can enhance your shots with photo-editing software, then there in no reason you can’t do your own website photography. Plenty companies do, and the results are great. If, however, you’re in a competitive industry where your competitor websites use professional shots, then you might have to look at stock images or a professional photographer.

Take time to consider who you are as a business, your value proposition and target market. And what your customers may be looking for – price, quality, exclusivity, expertise, reliability or variety? The images you choose for your website can help to convey these values to visitors.

If you have an eCommerce site, then good product photography is important. More often than not, the DIY option produces poor quality and badly lit images, which don’t showcase products at their best. See my top three techniques for making ordinary images look great.

2. Buy stock images online

There are a number of image libraries out there with fantastic photography. Most of them offer a fixed fee for an image, depending on use. Some even have a subscription that allows you a certain number of downloads every month. Have a look at iStock and Shutterstock.

Stock image libraries are a great choice for companies who offer a generic product or service, such as utility providers and IT companies. If, however, you are a company with a specific product and a personal offering, then chances are you won’t find your perfect image in a stock library.

3. Use a professional photographer

A professional photographer will be able to offer you a bespoke service, with tailor-made images to suit. You will be able to get advice on the style and subject matter for your web site photography. Your web design agency may be able to recommend someone, but it’s always a good idea do your own research, as photographers all have different styles and areas of expertise. Make sure you agree what sort of rights you have to use the imagery – very important if you intend to use the images in future marketing campaigns and different formats.

Formulate a clear brief of your requirements, before you engage with a photographer, and ask to see samples of similar work they have done. That way you can compare like-for-like and find the best person to take your shots.

Often web design agencies will use a combination of professional photography, stock images and photos supplied by the client in their design.

Tabasco bottles - iPhone 5S (left), professional DSLR (right).

Tabasco bottles – iPhone 5S (left), professional DSLR (right).

Whichever option(s) you choose, the imagery on your website will speak volumes about your company and what you offer – so it’s important to make sure you consider the right approach.

Portrait Salon 2014

Portrait Salon 2014 - Carlotta Cardana

For many photographers, myself included, the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is a highlight and a must-see exhibition. The portrait competition is open to photographers worldwide, professionals as well as amateurs, and this year more than 4,000 portraits were submitted, from which 60 have been shortlisted to go on show. The exhibition will be open from 13th Nov 2014 – 22nd Feb 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

I really enjoy visiting the exhibition and seeing the diversity of work on display – from intimate images of friends and family to striking portraits of famous faces. The style of portraiture photography varies enormously, in the use of colour, light and different photographic techniques. I also find it fascinating to read the photographers’ bios and short descriptions of their work, to try and glimpse an insight into the story behind a portrait.

This year, however, I may be fortunate enough to see TWO exciting shows of the best in portraiture photography. The Portrait Salon is exhibiting for the fourth year, and is a unique collection of 70 portraits originally submitted to, and rejected by, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Portrait Salon opened at the Four Corners gallery in London on the 6th November 2014. The print exhibition will later tour the UK – visiting Bradford, North Wales, Scotland, Birmingham and Bristol. Dates can be found on the Portrait Salon website.

Portrait Salon 2014 - Phil Le Gal

Looking at the Portrait Salon portraits and comparing them to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize images, I find it difficult to distinguish between the quality of work in the two exhibitions. In my opinion, the Portrait Salon is equally as engaging and impressive as the Taylor Wessing Prize portraits. It just goes to show that the perception of what is ‘best’ in photography is very subjective – and that even an image initially rejected can go on to become a winner!