Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging: Blog en-us (C) Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging (Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:50:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:50:00 GMT Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging: Blog 88 120 Lightroom setup

Setting up Lightroom


How to minimise the risks of committing everything to a proprietary database.

After reading some scare stories about the risks of committing all your work to a proprietary database, the Lightroom catalogue, I decided to put together a few notes on how I minimise that risk.

Catalogue size: If your collection of images to be catalogued is over the 50,000 you may find it better to create more than one catalogue from a performance perspective. Though I have found the greater impact on performance while browsing the catalogue is the individual image file sizes. Creating and viewing 1:1 previews of very large and complex Photoshop/TIFF files does take some time and can slow down the browsing process considerably. When I say very large and complex I mean files in excess of 500MB with multiple layers. I do a lot of high resolution scanning for restoration and reconstruction jobs and have files that during work can reach ~2GB, I don't include these 'in progress' files in the catalogue but will export flattened JPG files for inclusion in the catalogue as a reminder of where I am with a job.

If possible put your catalogue and scratch/cache folders on an SSD, this helps performance quite a bit as the preview files are kept in a sub folder of the catalogue location.

When you create a new catalogue there are a few setting to consider before you start importing your images.

In Catalogue Settings under the General tab choose to back-up the catalogue every time Lightroom exits. When you exit Lightroom it will ask for the location of the backup and confirmation that you would like to run the backup, so if you haven't done any/much editing you can always click the skip this time button. The first time you choose to run the backup have Lightroom create the backup on a different disk to the catalogue, also tick the Test Integrity and Optimise Catalogue boxes, Lightroom will remember these preferences.

On the File Handling tab in Catalogue settings choose the smallest Standard Preview size and Medium quality to begin with, this will help to minimise the amount of space used for previews and will help a little with performance, you can always go back and increase these settings later if you desire. The setting for discarding 1:1 previews is a bit of a compromise between storage and performance. Discarding 1:1 previews after one day will significantly cut down on the disk storage required for previews but if you open your catalogue every two or three days to work on a set of images then LR will have to rebuild the 1:1 previews every time, impacting on performance. On the other hand never discarding 1:1 previews will result in a very large preview cache so you'll have to work out for yourself what setting works best with your pattern of use.

Now the important bit, on the Metadata tab in Catalogue Settings there are two settings that are of significance: 'Include Develop settings in metadata in JPEG, TIFF, PNG and PSD files' and 'Automatically write changes into XMP'. The first of these setting is very useful as it includes everything you do in the Develop module within the metadata in the listed file types, so if you import them into another LR catalogue or open them with ACR/Bridge you should see all the edits you made. This only works for the listed file types as Adobe are understandably reluctant to start writing extensive metadata into proprietary RAW files. The second option automatically writes all changes to an external XMP file with the same name as the associated image file.

I have no hesitation in suggesting you tick the 'Include Develop settings...', it's useful if you edit in both LR and PS (and anything else that’s capable of reading the develop metadata) and it means if everything goes irrecoverably wrong you can import the images into a new LR catalogue and you'll see all the edits and any other metadata that was added such as copyright info and keywords.

The option to 'Automatically write changes into XMP' effectively does the same for all file types, including proprietary RAW, it's able to do so because original proprietary files are not modified directly, only the associated XMP file. Be aware though that this setting has been reported as causing performance issues for some people. The evidence is rather vague as to the circumstances and it's not an issue I've seen myself so I can't offer any specific mitigation if you are one of those who suffers a performance hit. My advice would be to turn the option on when you create the catalogue, you can always disable it later if you run into performance problems.

If you do need to turn it off for performance reasons all is not lost as you can tell LR to create/update the XMP files as and when you need to. If you have been working on an image you just need to press CTRL+S or go to the Metadata menu and choose 'Write metadata to file'. This creates/updates the XMP file for all images that are selected so if you have been working on a number of files in a folder or collection of files you can select all the files in that folder/collection and hit CTRL+S and the changes will be saves for all the files that have been edited.

Another option would be to copy and convert all your RAW files to DNG as you import them so all metadata and develop settings can be maintained within the files rather than in XMP files, but if you have a large collection of RAW files this may not be practical, and you may prefer to work from your cameras native RAW format, especially if you also use the RAW software that came with your camera.

Once you have created your catalogue and made the appropriate settings it's time to import your images. If you have an existing collection of files in a folder hierarchy that you are comfortable with you can import them without moving or copying them, just select the 'Add from current location' option at the top of the import dialogue. Just remember that if you want to move things around it's better to do that in LR rather than at the file system. If you do move things around in the file system and you are using XMP files remember to keep the XMP files with the image files. You can fix the issues caused moving things in the file system without too much difficulty but I'll leave that for now.

If you follow the above you have a pretty robust LR setup. You have backups of the LR database on a separate drive, each one tested for integrity, and you have all the important edits and metadata stored independently of the database so if all else fails you can create a new LR catalogue and import the image files into that. The structure of your folders won't change assuming you added the files without moving/copying them and LR will automatically read the embedded info for the compatible file types and the associated XMP files for the proprietary RAW files.

If you suffer issues with a sub-set of the images in a LR catalogue (not something I've ever seen, but let’s say just the sake of argument) you can delete the individual files/folders from your working catalogue and use the 'import from a Lightroom catalogue' to import those files/folders from a catalogue backup.

Another advantage of keeping all the edits embedded and in XMP files is that you can have image files in more than one LR catalogue and changes made in one catalogue can be synched to the other by selecting the images and choosing the 'Read metadata from file' option.

Finally, if your metadata/edits are embedded and/or included in XMP files then all your image file backups will include a snapshot of the image at that moment in time. This can be useful or a hindrance depending on the circumstances but if you have recovered image files that are referenced in a LR catalogue then LR will warn you that the embedded/XMP data is different from the catalogue data and will give you the choice of updating the catalogue with the image data or updating the image data with what’s stored in the catalogue.

As far as my testing goes the only significant thing you will lose if a catalogue becomes completely unusable/irrecoverable is the edit history, but I'm not aware of any application that would provide a mechanism for rebuilding the edit history.

I hope this helps!

All the best, Adrian


(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) adobe catalogue lightroom risk setup Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:23:15 GMT
New USB sticks New USB sticks.

Just received a new box of USB sticks from Flashbay and they are looking great. I can't recommend Flashbay highly enough, the service was as good as the USB sticks themselves.

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:54:07 GMT
Image acquisition - part 3 - Hardware Hardware

So far we have covered some general guidelines and file formats, this time it's the hardware. There are two basic choices, scanner or camera. First up it's the scanner.

The scanner:

A good quality scanner with full bed transparency scanning is essential. Some low end scanners only support transparency scanning of film strips and slides. An optical resolution of 6400 dpi is recommended to achieve sufficient detail when scanning 35mm film and slides. 4800 dpi is more than sufficient for most reflective media. A minimum optical density of 4.0 DMax is required to ensure the accurate capture of the full tonal range.

The Epson Perfection V700 or V750 Photo scanner with the optional fluid mount is a perfectly decent mid-range scanner that will serve all but the most specialist jobs.

Suggested settings:

35mm film/slides:

  • Minimum resolution 6400 dpi
  • 48bit (with optional IR (infra-red)) or 64bit HDRi – HDRi is High Dynamic Range with infra-red, the IR channel is used for removal of physical imperfections. The scan should not implement any automatic removal of imperfections, the IR data should just be captured for future processing.
  • Multi-exposure or Multi-pass sampling – reduces noise and increases dynamic range and should be used if available.
  • Higher ISO films (ISO/ASA over 800) can have a sufficiently large grain that you may be able to get away with a lower resolution.

Kodachrome film:

  • As above but corrected with a Kodachrome profile created with a Kodachrome IT8 target.

NOTE FOR FILM AND SLIDES: an appropriate film holder for the make and model of the scanner MUST be used in order to ensure accurate results. Flatbed scanners will be calibrated to focus on a plane at a specific distance from the glass, this distance from the glass is normally specific to the film holder supplied. Placing 35mm film directly on glass will generally deliver very poor results due to the curl present in most film, variable focus across the frame and Newton Rings are the primary issues.

Film and glass plates:

  • As above but with a reduction in resolution if file size is an issue, also some older medium and large format films may have a sufficiently large grain that you can get away with a lower resolution.

NOTE FOR MEDIUM/LARGE FORMAT FILM: The scanner must be set for scanning transparencies directly on the glass to avoid focus issues. It may also be necessary to use a wet scanning process to prevent the appearance of Newton Rings. Glass plates generally need to be emulsion side down to avoid focus issues.

Photographic prints:

General recommendations for photographic prints are difficult because of the huge variety in prints and paper types. However if you start at 300 dpi and compare the results with the original print using an appropriate loupe you should be able to establish a benchmark for each batch of prints on the same paper type. Some papers can require very specific processes. For example textured gloss prints can produce scans covered with bright speckled highlights that result from the light of the scanner lamp reflecting off the gloss on all the peaks and troughs in the surface texture. Some of the techniques and processes are fairly complex so advice will not be included here, but look out for a future article.


  • As with above for photographic prints.

NOTE FOR PHOTOGRPHIC PRINTS AND ARTWORKS: A trial and error approach is required to establish a baseline for each media type, though with experience it will become easier to anticipate appropriate settings for each object being scanned.

The camera

The camera body:

The best camera for digitising work is a flatbed scanner, however if you can’t use a scanner because of the size and/or location of the original, or not being able to flatten the original material, a camera will do.

Generally speaking for photographing plates, prints, artwork etc. you should be looking to a digital SLR with an APS-C or larger sensor or a medium format camera with a digital back. The principal reason for choosing a camera with at least an APS-C or larger sensor is that the size of the individual photosites on the sensor is critical to image quality, a 12 megapixel DSLR will produce a superior image compared to a 12megapixel compact camera. This is because compacts tend to use much smaller sensors, so to get the same resolution output as a DSLR the individual photosites have to be much smaller on the compact. Smaller, usually cheaper, sensors tend to produce more noise and deliver less contrast and dynamic range than their larger, usually higher quality counterparts.

If choosing a DSLR with an APS-C sensor the sensor should be at least 12 megapixels. Less than 12 megapixels will potentially require taking two shots (one of each half of the page) then stitching them together in order to achieve the desired detail. The upper useful limit is generally accepted to be about 18 megapixels in an APS-C sensor. Beyond 18 megapixels there is a very rapidly diminishing return on detail and contrast delivered by APS-C sensors.

Full frame sensors, those with a size equivalent to a traditional 35mm film, will invariably deliver better results because of their larger size can accommodate more pixels at the same or lower densities than APS-C sensors. Full frame sensors will continue to deliver improvements in detail up to ~30 megapixels.

These are generalisations that do not always translate into real life but are useful as a general guide.

The lens:

At least as important as the camera/sensor is the lens used. The ideal lens would be one with zero distortion, zero chromatic aberrations and uniform sharpness across the frame. Unfortunately no such lens exists so there is always some compromise. All lenses introduce some distortion, are slightly softer towards the corners of the frame and all produce some degree of chromatic aberration, usually more as you get closer to the edge of the frame.

Close-up or macro lenses with a fixed focal length are usually the best contenders while the ‘kit’ lens supplied with the camera is likely to be very poor, especially on lower end consumer bodies. If buying new the best option is usually to buy a body only and then the lenses you require. There are some very good medium to wide angle zoom lenses that are perfectly good for imaging artwork but they do tend to more expensive than fixed focal length lenses that deliver a similar image quality.

An important consideration, especially if using a copy stand or working in a confined space, is the field of view or FoV of the lens. The FoV will depend on the camera body the lens is going to be used on, the smaller the sensor the narrower the FoV. For example a 50mm macro positioned 1m away from the subject will cover an area of 45cm x 30 cm on a typical APS-C sensor or 72cm x 48cm on a ‘full frame’ sensor. One positive aspect of the smaller FoV delivered by a smaller sensor is that when used with lenses designed for a 35mm or full frame sensor the sensor only captures light from the centre portion or sweet spot of the lens where there is less softening, distortion and chromatic aberration. This means that the is less degradation of the image towards the edges of the frame, this in turn means you may get away with a cheaper lens on a camera with a smaller sensor without any apparent loss of quality.

If you need to photograph a lot of bound material that cannot be opened flat another option may be a tilt-shift or perspective control lens. This is a type of lens that can be configured to correct geometric distortion caused by not being able to align the camera perpendicular to the centre of the material being photographed. In practise this allows you to photograph material at an angle and still capture an image that is not affected by perspective distortion. Tilt-shift lenses also allow greater control of depth of field and tend to deliver very good image quality across the whole frame. However, tilt-shift lenses are complex pieces of equipment to use and in most cases specialist perspective control software applications will deliver perfectly acceptable results.

That probably enough for anyone in one sitting but if you want more you'll have to come back later for part 4 which look at some of the software you'll need.

Cheers for now,

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Sat, 18 Apr 2015 19:30:58 GMT
Image acquisition - part 2 - File formats File formats

In the last post about image acquisition for archives we looked at some general guidelines, now it time for file formats.

Each stage in the process of capturing and processing an image should utilise an appropriate file format that retains as much information as possible. There are three primary stages during image capture and processing each of which have particular file format requirements:

1.       Capture: the capture file is the result of the output of the imaging equipment used and is processed to create the source file.

2.       Source: the source file is the high quality go-to file that is used as the basis for future edits and processing for different applications.

3.       Output: these are the files you create from the source that will be used in electronic documents, posters, web sites etc.

Capture files

The capture file format i.e. the format used when carrying out the initial image acquisition, should be as close to the raw capture data as possible.

Scanners: For consumer level scanners this will usually be 24 bit TIFF saved at the same resolution as the initial capture. When it comes to high end scanners with appropriate software the file format should be a 48 bit TIFF for reflective scans or in the case of transmissive scans a 64 bit 'RAW' file. A RAW file from a scanner is typically a 48 bit TIFF with an additional 16 bit channel containing infra-red data.

Cameras: Most reasonable consumer level cameras and all medium to high end ‘professional’ cameras will output RAW image files which are representative of the raw data captured by the sensor, camera generated JPEG files should not be used as they have a great deal of in-camera processing applied to them. Many raw data formats are proprietary and require specialist software to process. Raw data files are generally not suitable for viewing or editing with standard image editing applications.

The RAW files captured by either a scanner or camera should be archived either in their native format (especially if including an infra-red channel) or as DNG or 48 bit TIFF.

Capture files may be discarded after being processed to create the source files, though it is not recommended. If capture files need to be discarded they should be archived to removable media and retained until you are comfortable with the processing techniques and are confident that you are able to get the best quality output possible.

Source files

A source file is created as a result of processing the capture file. Source files should be processed to match the original material as closely as possible without any creative embellishments. These files will become the basis of the image archive and once created should be set to read only. The only edits that should be carried out when creating source files are; capture sharpening, noise reduction, straighten/crop, colour and tonal adjustments to match the original material and the embedding of metadata.

If significant creative edits or reconstruction/restoration are required these should be carried out on a copy of the source file. The primary source file should always be representative of the original material.

Source files should be saved as high resolution TIFF with a bit depth at least equal to the capture file, in most cases 48 bit. TIFF is generally chosen for digital archives because it is a lossless format that is well established and widely supported. It also provides a reasonable degree of flexibility through its support for embedded meta data, multiple layers and a wide range of colour spaces.

Output files

Output files are edited and created for a specific use. The format of output files is entirely dependent on how they will be used. All suggestions regarding specific settings are based on the assumption that images are being exported from Lightroom.

On screen display:

If the images are being displayed on a screen e.g. on a web page, they need to be standard JPEG files. The relationship between the pixel dimensions of the image and the size the image is displayed on screen is 1:1, as such there is no point in the pixel dimensions being larger than the resolution of the display. For example an image being displayed full screen on a monitor with a resolution of 1920x1200 only need to be a maximum of 1920x1200 pixels, if the image is only going to occupy ¼ of the screen then its pixel dimensions only need to be 960x600.

Printed material:

Images that are destined for offset lithographic or digital print require a much higher resolution, typically of 240 to 600 dpi depending on the print technology used and the quality of the final output. Usually you will be asked to provide TIFF files with a minimum resolution. The requirements for print ready image files should be discussed with the printing company employed.

Photo printing:

Images that will be reproduced as photographic prints using either inkjet or sublimation printers or sent to a lab for traditional photographic printing will need to be at least 140 dpi sRGB JPEG files saved at a suitably high quality.

JPEG images should be exported with a quality setting not lower than 80, there is a diminishing return as the quality setting increases so quality settings above 92 will significantly increase the file size without any noticeable improvement in image quality.

Some print companies may accept TIFF files with colour spaces other than sRGB, such as Adobe RGB, but always check before submitting anything other than sRGB jpeg files.

I think that's enough on file formats so until part 3 when we'll look at the hardware, goodbye! 

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:54:44 GMT
You don't need to buy expensive brands to get good customer service, a thumbs up to Interfit A few days ago I realised I may need an extra reflector and bracket arm for a planned studio shoot, because it wasn't going to be a heavily used accessory I decided to try out a cheaper model from Interfit Photographic. So I ordered one from WEX Photographic which arrived the next day.

Unfortunately when it arrived the screw that tightens the bracket down on the lighting stand was missing, this was not a disaster as the bracket sits happily on the stand without being screwed down and because it was being used indoors there would be no wind to blow the reflector around in circles on the stand. Despite it not being a problem for this shoot I dropped Interfit an email because that may not be the case next time I put it into service, and I had after all paid for that missing part! I received a very prompt reply from Intferfit customer services and the next day I received the missing part in the post.

While pretty mundane in the scheme of things this has served as a useful reminder that while the more expensive brands do generally produce a higher quality of product, at a correspondingly higher price, there is no direct correlation between the value of the brand and the level of customer service provided. So if a product by a cheaper brand is going to be good enough for your requirements then it is by definition good enough, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at the level of customer service you get from many mid range and budget brands. 

As such I'd like to give a thumbs up to Interfit Photographic who, irrespective of their position in the market, are spot on with their customer service.

Oh, the reflector and bracket are absolutely fine by the way. They are not as robust in construction and the materials don't feel as 'nice' as some but for the use it's likely to see i.e. indoor/studio shoots, it is absolutely good enough and I wouldn't hesitate to use their products in future where they fit my requirements.


(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Interfit customer service Sat, 14 Mar 2015 23:37:15 GMT
New look web site At the back end of January I decided I needed to update my web site (actually I was prodded by my 'little' sister but she was quite right) and here we are in March, seemingly just a few days later. Where does the time go?

Anyway, the new look web site is live if not finished, but on the other hand a web site isn't something you can ever sit back from and think 'well that's done, what now?'.

So the new look is here but things will continue to evolve, I hope you prefer it to the old look. If you never saw the old look that's a shame because you won't realise how much better the new one is :-)

All the best and feel free to offer any suggestions on how I might improve the site further.


(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Fri, 13 Mar 2015 22:03:42 GMT
Image acquisition for archives - part 1 - General guidance This series of posts provides examples of appropriate technical specifications and workflow for the capture and processing of images for archives and future editing. I'll be adding some example images over the next few days.

General guidance for image acquisition

New images should be captured at the highest possible quality, the captured images can then processed and exported in a format and at a quality appropriate for the purpose.

The most appropriate method of image capture will depend on the source material. The two most commonly used methods are digital camera and flatbed scanner. A good quality flatbed scanner should always the preferred choice for reflective material and is the only practical choice for transparent film.

In circumstances where the use of a flatbed scanner is not possible then a high resolution digital camera such as a mid to high-end digital SLR with a good quality lens can be used. There are some suggestion for choosing appropriate equipment later in this document.

The capture resolution should allow for enough detail to resolve the smallest useful component of the source material. For example if scanning for digital restoration, archive or reproduction the resolution should be high enough to capture film detail down to the grain, in the case of letters and manuscripts the paper fibre should be discernable. If photographing rather than scanning the same rule applies, capture enough detail to resolve the smallest useful element. Larger items may out of necessity need to be scanned or photographed in several sections but again you should be working to resolve the smallest detail that may be of relevance, such as individual brush strokes or the weave of the canvas.

When scanning reflective or film sources the resolution, bit depth and colour space used for capture are highly dependent on the nature and size of the source material and the intended purpose. For example a simple line drawing may only need to be scanned as a grey scale image at 150dpi, whereas a negative film or positive slide may need to be scanned as a 64bit HDR image at 6400dpi or higher. Some types of media need specialist hardware or software, Kodachrome film is a good example as it has a pronounced blue colour cast when scanned that is almost impossible to correct accurately without specialist software and an IT8 Kodachrome target.

If using a camera for image capture the camera should always be set to the highest quality settings available; should be mounted on a tripod or copy stand; the sensor should be parallel to the source and should be aligned with the centre of the area to be captured.

When using any form of digital capture it is essential that the equipment is profiled appropriately to ensure faithful reproduction of tone and colour. For scanners it is recommended that profiling is carried out periodically using IT8 targets and for cameras the profiling should be carried out with a colour chart from a reputable manufacturer for each change in shooting conditions for each camera/lens combination used. It is also worth considering acquiring a resolution chart for scanners to determine the optimum scanning resolutions. If relying on auto-focus (which is not recommended) a lens calibration tool for cameras that support focus adjustment is essential.

That's it for now, part 2 concentrates on file formats.

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) digitisation digitization image acquisition scanning Thu, 12 Mar 2015 22:50:09 GMT
Things to consider when hiring a photographer - part two In part one of this post I concentrated on the photography, in part two the focus is on the business.


You will find photographers who charge by the hour/day, some who offer a fixed price for the job others who will offer a choice and be happy to negotiate a package for multiple shoots or combined services. There may also be extras not included in the initial quote such as future royalty fees, extended rights options or additional costs for specialized or complex processing. Whatever the basis of the quote make sure you are explicit about your requirements and ask about the costs of any additional chargeable services to avoid any surprises down the line.

If you have a fixed budget for photography it is useful to bring this to the table as early as possible so potential providers can set expectations in term of what they are able to achieve within the budget available.

Whether you are on a fixed budget or have some flexibility it is useful to prioritize your requirements, even if it’s just in terms of needs and desires. This will make it easier for you make appropriate decisions if you need to negotiate a compromise between the scope and cost of the assignment.


Something you need to be aware of is the issue of permission. Responsibility for obtaining any permissions necessary lies with the publisher rather than the photographer. In most cases permission and releases are less of an issue when it comes to commercial photography, however there are circumstances where signed permission or personal or property releases are advisable.

If you intend to use photographs featuring members of the public in a context where they could be perceived to be promoting your business or its products and services it is advisable to get a personal release.

If you want to use photographs of a building that you don’t own it is also worth checking that there are no restrictions relating to the use of images of said building, particularly if it is a well-known landmark or of significant architectural importance. In such cases there may be fees for promotional or commercial use or other restrictions.

As a rule editorial use i.e. photographs of people used to illustrate a story rather than promote a product or service do not require personal releases. Though it may be advisable to seek permission from a parent or guardian when using photographs that feature minors.

The photographer may also place restrictions on permission to use the images supplied. In the days of print only it was common for images to be licensed for a specific quantity of reproductions within a particular geographic region. While this is rarely the case these days you may find there are restrictions placed on size of reproduction or the length of time an image can be used before incurring additional licensing costs, though this is more common with images purchased from stock agencies.

Final thoughts

Whatever your requirements are the most useful piece of advice I can offer is to keep communicating with your photographer. The more your photographer understands you and your requirements the more likely you are to achieve a successful outcome.

In particular make sure you have an explicit understanding with your photographer regarding:

  • The date, time and location of the shoot

  • The quantity of images required

  • Any specific requirements you have for things like unusual aspect ratios, large format reproduction or adherence to in-house styles

  • The expected delivery date, digital photography is not necessarily instant.

  • The type and resolution of digital files supplied

  • The method of delivery e.g. DVD or online gallery, if delivery is online the period of time that the files will be available

  • Any royalty or licensing fees and restrictions imposed by the photographer

I hope you find these thoughts and suggestions useful, they are of course written from the perspective of a photographer so if you have any suggestions from the perspective of being a buyer of photographic services that you think would be useful for others get in touch or leave a comment.


(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:52:14 GMT
Things to consider when hiring a photographer - part one Based on the initial discussions I've had with clients here are a few things to think about when approaching a photographer.

When it comes to engaging a photographer the more information you are able to provide the more likely you are to be happy with the results. Typically the subjects I’ll discuss with clients and ask them to think about are purpose, setting, style, budget and permission. In part one of this post we’ll look at purpose, setting and style. If you want to skip to budget, permission and my final thoughts take a look at part two.


What are you planning to use the photographs for? Do you want photographs that will be used at relatively small sizes on the web only or are you looking for images that will occupy a two page spread in print, or do you want large format prints for a stand at a trade show? It can make a significant difference to type and composition of the shots required. For example:

  • Let’s say you have a company brochure that typically incorporates a number of full page and double page images. In this case it can be useful to have a selection of images where the primary is subject positioned within one half of the frame, leaving the other half of the frame relatively simple for overprinted copy or a text box.

  • On the other hand if the intended use is web and social media with a high proportion of mobile users the primary subject needs to fill the frame and be sufficiently clear that it's easily recognised when displayed at small sizes. In this scenario simple, uncluttered backgrounds will also help to isolate and emphasize the subject. This approach can also be useful for product catalogues where space for images can be somewhat restricted.

  • When sourcing photography for display pieces, be that a trade show display board or the front panel of your reception desk, you are probably going to be restricted to a specific size and aspect ratio. It is important to make sure the photographer is aware of this to ensure a pleasing composition with sufficient resolution for large format reproduction after the original frame is cropped to fit the aspect ratio required.

Of course it is possible to use the same set of images for all these purposes but you are more likely to get the results you want with fewer compromises if the photographer understands the specific requirements of use and is therefore able make appropriate decisions when shooting.


It is unlikely that the photographer has any knowledge of your premises or the immediate surrounding environment. So have a think about the setting or settings you would like to use. Have a good look around them taking particular note of what’s in the background. Then ask yourself if the settings and their backgrounds are suitable for purpose and present your business in a way that you are happy with. This can save a significant amount of time on the day and time spent looking for an appropriate setting is time lost for capturing that perfect shot.


Formal, casual, funky or even ambiguous and abstract shots have their place and can all be used to great effect. Are you keen on bold saturated colours or do you want high contrast black and white? Do you need pin sharp detail or dynamic shots with lots of motion blur? The choices are endless and it can appear a bit daunting when you start thinking about it but talk to your photographer, they should be able to offer some useful suggestion based on the subject and intended use.

Because style can be a difficult thing to describe it’s worth gathering together a few examples of images that are representative of the style or styles you would like. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

You may also have a style guide that needs to be considered, if so it is essential that you supply a copy of the relevant sections to your photographer.

That’s enough for part one, if you want to keep going here’s part two.

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:43:08 GMT
Fresh start Well here we are, a new year and a fresh start.

I have been active as a part time professional photographer and digital imaging specialist for several years, providing photographic, digitisation and restoration services to local businesses and Cambridge Colleges. However I've taken the plunge and 2015 marks a new chapter in my professional life as I leave behind my career in IT to focus on photography full time. I won't deny that it's a scary prospect and I occasionally wake up wondering if it's the right thing to do but I'm resolved and determined to succeed.

The number of clients I have attracted by word of mouth and the high proportion of repeat business I've achieved give me every confidence in my ability to deliver quality photography as part of a service that represents good value for money. However, as I'm discovering, a successful transition from salaried career to freelance photographer takes more than just being able to deliver a quality product.

So here I am at the start of my journey, I hope to see you again along the way and maybe next time you are thinking about hiring the services of a photographer you might think of me. Take a look at my services page to see a more complete description of the type of work I undertake.

Best wishes for a successful 2015,
Adrian Asher

(Adrian Asher - Ashmore Imaging) cambridge commercial corporate events photographer photography Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:40:31 GMT