The Blarney Castle Hotel.

In last week's blog post I wrote about an event at the Blarney Castle Hotel and said I'd talk about a shoot I did there a few months ago in this week's post.

Earlier this year I was asked to photograph the hotel and provide a bunch of images for the hotel's new website.  There was such a lot to photograph, the shoot was spread over 3 days and involved an overnight stay.

The brief was to photograph everything - accommodation, food, bar, live music, staff and to try and show the hotel is family owned.  Moving from room to room, I wanted to capture the luxury of the accommodation.

As well as wide shots, showing the facilities in the rooms was very important. 

Food is a big part of what the Blarney Castle does so the chefs pulled out all the stops and prepared some amazing looking dishes for me to photograph.  In the first shot, I tried to convey warmth and the low key lighting, whereas the second shot was more about the food on offer.

The staff and customers got involved, too. 

The hotel also caters for events, this was a place setting for a celebration booked in for the day I was shooting so naturally I had to photograph it.

There was so much to photograph, this blog post will have a 3rd part, which I'll post up next week - you'll see music, staff, breakfast, the owners and a lot more!

A trip away...

Sometimes shoots require I spend a night away from home.  This was the case a couple of days ago when I travelled to Blarney to see a video of an event I photographed back in June.  Although I wasn't working as such, I decided to take some social shots to submit to the Southern Star.  Where to start?  The committee, of course!

I like to get a variety of people at these type of functions, just to give the editor a good few pics to choose from.  Remember, if it doesn't get published, I don't get paid!

As I wasn't working in an official capacity, I didn't take a ton of pictures - I love my job, but it is nice to have a break occasionally! 

The event was held in the Blarney Castle Hotel, which I photographed a few months ago for its new website, which I'm told will go live very soon.  It's always satisfying to see one's work on a new website, it makes the hours of shooting and processing all worthwhile!

I blogged about one of the shoots at the hotel a few months back, but I'm going to tell you all about the second shoot I did in next week's blog post, so watch out for that one!  In the meantime, here's a taster of what's coming up...

Variety is the spice of life.

For this week's blog post I'm simply going to show you a variety of pictures I take on a weeks to week basis.  As a professional photographer, one has to be able to shoot everything successfully, there's no second chances!  This is where the years of practice comes in - technique is everything and it changes from shoot to shoot, so you'd better know what you're doing! 

Anyway, I'll quieten down - here's the images.

Now here's a paparazzi thing...

I finally experienced the paparazzi way of life back in July.  Pippa Middleton, the sister of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was in Glengarriff for a friend's wedding and as a news photographer, I just had to get the shots.  There were lots of rumours as to where this wedding was taking place, with many people believing Bantry House was the venue.  However, there was a music festival on with Bantry House being the main venue, so I know it wasn't going to take place there.

Calling the subject's name always helps to get a smile!

I received a phone call from the editor of the Southern Star at 14.50 telling me the wedding was starting at 15.30 in Glengarriff and to get down there.  Of course, Glengarriff is 40 minutes away so by the time I arrived, the wedding was just about to start.  I captured a few images of the bride as she arrived, but I was there for Pippa Middleton so a long wait ensued!

The bride, her father and sister enter the church.

I was expecting a ton of photographers to be there, but there were only 2 others - from the Irish Indo and the Daily Mail, so I knew I'd make some sales...  When Pippa exited the church, the only sound which could be heard was the sound of shutters clicking like machine guns! 

Just keep calling their names!

After a few minutes, the other photographers left to wire their pictures away, but I stayed hoping to get some exclusive shots - and I did!  The wedding guests proceeded to walk up the road to the buses which were taking them to the reception venue, so I did a little walking backwards, calling Pippa's name and just pressing that shutter button.

It's important to get both portrait and landscape shots.

It was then time to get back to the office to process and caption the pictures before sending them away to the various agencies and publications. 

What kind of reach have the pictures gained?  Well, they went viral - national and international newspapers, Hello! magazine, local papers, and various sales through, including Germany, Spain and New Zealand.  Photographers are always looking for 'the' shots, well I have them, and boy, does it feel good!

Now here's a business thing...

I joined my local Chamber of Commerce the day I started my business.  Being a member of the Chamber not only enabled me to make very useful connections, it gave me more work as a photographer.  Let me explain.

Using the surroundings to add interest to the image.

As well as providing support, advice and training to businesses, the Chamber holds regular events such as networking evenings, business breakfasts, and information and launch type of events. 

I always try to do something different.

These events are always photographed, which generates more business and more income for me.  The challenge is always to stray from the norm and come up with something interesting and different, which is why I love my job!

A new website launch for the Chamber.

Trying to think creatively is what's required here, taking one's time is important, although when busy business people are being photographed, time is usually something you don't have!  For the final image in this blog post, which was for the launch of the Cork/Dublin Chamber's annual dinner, the feeling of connection had to be conveyed, hence the 'connect' word.  Having a brief think led me to come up with the idea of shooting on a bridge - bridges connect two sides, like the two Chambers.     

I got this image, and a variety of others, in just 9 minutes!

So there we are, another type of commercial photography in my arsenal.  I'm no longer a member of Cork Chamber as now I've moved to the country, travelling 100km for events isn't justifiable.  However, I will be joining a local Chamber very soon. 

The Chamber generated a lot of work, both commercial and personal and I'd advise any new business to join its local Chamber, it's well worth the membership fee.

If you're a business owner or employee with an event coming up which needs photographing, get in touch - my contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Now here's a thing...

Even though I'm a full time, professional photographer with 27 years photographic experience, it doesn't stop me learning or doing new things.

Doing a new thing was exactly what I did at the beginning of August - I photographed a sailing regatta called Calves Week, which was held in Schull, West Cork.

Sailing yacht 'Freya' in action during Calves Week 2017.

There was only one way to photograph the yachts - I had to get on a rib and up close and personal to the boats.  Luckily, I have a great friend called John who has a rib so with him as Skipper and me as the cabin boy with the cameras, we were all set. 

The Spirit of Calves Week!

After getting over my initial fear and screaming every time we hit a small ripple, I started to concentrate on getting the necessary shots.  I knew I'd have to use a fast shutter speed, but had no idea I'd be at 1/2000th second!  I started at 1/1000th, but that simply wasn't fast enough as I was getting motion blur.

'Rioja' sails under a spinnaker

I finally got the gist of things and by Friday, the big swell and awful weather weren't affecting me or my images at all!  I shot 1,200 images over 3 days, far too much, but I was loving it!  Hopefully I'll be shooting some more boaty stuff soon.

'Witchcraft' on a collision course with the camera!

Now here's a thing...

I love story telling through photography, whether that's for my social media channels, editorial, newspapers etc, I love people, talking to people and finding out about people.

There was a recent story about a local entrepreneur who runs a food van.  He'd set up on the pier in Schull and was told he didn't need planning permission. Weeks later, he received a letter from the council telling him he must cease trading from the pier.  This caused a lot of stress and upset for him - where was he going to trade from?

Nico's Kitchen at the new trading location.

Nico's Kitchen at the new trading location.

At the eleventh hour, the rector from the local church stepped in and gave him permission to operate from the rectory lawn, just yards away from his old spot, which is arguably more picturesque.

Having kept up to speed with the story on social media, I just knew I had to get some pictures and submit them to the paper.  I went for a wide shot, getting the kitchen and customers in, as above.  I also wanted an environmental portrait of Nico and his wife Holly, as below.  Both pictures made it into the newspaper, along with the story, so I was one happy photographer!

Nico and Holly all smiles at their new trading location.

Nico and Holly all smiles at their new trading location.

Now here's a thing...

Although it's not a regular thing I photograph, sport is a type of photography I can shoot and I enjoy it very much when I do shoot it.  I was told about a local boxing club's upcoming open day so I took my camera along to see what I could do.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. f4, 1/500, ISO 4000.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. f4, 1/500, ISO 4000.

The lighting in the club was very poor, and as I didn't want to use flash, it made the shoot very challenging.  I had to really push the ISO - sometimes as high as 4000 but as I was using the D3s, this wasn't a problem.  Obviously, the reason for such a high shutter speed was because I wanted to freeze the action.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. F5.6, 1/640, ISO 4000.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. F5.6, 1/640, ISO 4000.

It was important to capture the action and everything which goes on in the club, so that new and prospective members could see what goes on and make an informed decision on whether to join or not.  There's more to a boxing club than just sparring and training with gloves - fitness is a massive part of the sport.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. F7.1, 1/320, ISO 4000.

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8. F7.1, 1/320, ISO 4000.

Smaller kids took part as well!

I ended the shoot with a couple of random pictures - just to show the flavour of the club.

Now here's a thing...

As I alluded to in my last blog post, I purchased an event printer whilst I was at a trade show in Birmingham last month. I used it at an event for the first time on Sunday last, and it was a roaring success!

The event was a cheval. For those who aren't aware, a cheval is where numerous horse owners gather with their horses and undertake a ride to raise money for charity.


Not many professional photographers own, or have access to, an event printer and, indeed, Joe Public isn't used to the novelty of having printed pictures available to buy at the event they're at.

After photographing the horses before the cheval started, I uploaded them to my computer which, along with the printer and display board, was set up in my gazebo. By the time the riders arrived back from the ride, all the pictures were on display as contact prints for people to browse through and decide whether or not to make a purchase.

The concept of buying prints at the event proved extremely popular, with the gazebo full of browsers and customers numerous times. Customers were impressed with the quality of images I was producing operating from a car park in Skibbereen!

This type of service isn't just for chevals; I'm available for birthday and retirement parties, anniversaries, confirmations, communions, christenings, sporting events, awards nights and, of course, everything equine - the list is endless! Remember, I can operate both indoors AND outdoors, in all sorts of weather. I can also provide a photobooth for events, which is guaranteed to provide a ton of fun!

Contact me for further details, should you be interested in this service.

Now here's a thing...

I was at The Photography Show last weekend. The show has numerous stages where one can listen to photography experts lecture about themselves essentially, how to do this, that and the other and generally listen to their own voice over the 4 days.

There's also the small matter of 250 trade stands selling everything from cameras to bags, from association membership to drones and everything in-between.

A photobooth picture for your delight!

A photobooth picture for your delight!

Amongst the rubbish and junk I purchased, my biggest buy was an event printer. I had done a lot of research before the show and had decided an event printer was a great way to develop the business. From now on I'll be able to do a photobooth, with pictures available within minutes of the photo being taken, and all sorts of events catered for - debs, grads, sporting awards nights, dinner dances, birthday parties etc, etc. 

How does it work? On arrival at the event, I set up a background, lights, camera, laptop and printer. When the first client arrives, I take the picture and print it out (a 6x4 takes 8 seconds to print!) then simply sell it to the customer.

If you're interested in hiring me and my printer, give me a shout - contact details are at the bottom of this page.


Now here's a thing...

Whilst many professional photographers specialize in fine art, portraits, weddings etc, my work encompasses all types of photography.  However, over the last year or so, I've been increasingly taking on more commercial work.  Photographing interiors is my speciality, so I was very pleased to be given the chance to shoot a hotel in the north-west of Cork.  Upon arrival, scones with jam and cream and a nice latte were waiting for me - nice!

Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8. f4, 1/60, ISO 200

Moving from bedroom to bedroom, I wanted to capture the warmth, comfort and peacefulness of the hotel, always keeping in mind the hotel is family owned and run. 

Nikon D3, 14-24 f2,8. f5.6, 0.6 sec, ISO200.

There's more to a hotel than just the bedrooms - there's usually a bar, the reception, hallways, landings, and of course, the staff, so I made sure to capture everything. 

Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8. f2.8, 1/40, ISO 1000

The shoot lasted all day and I delivered just over 50 pictures to the webmaster (the hotel is having its website updated).  I've been asked back to the hotel to take more pictures, this time it's a 2 day/1 night shoot - I can't wait! 

I thoroughly enjoyed shooting this hotel and so did the owners and the webmaster, they loved the pictures!  Watch out for another blog post in the coming weeks.

Now here's a thing...

On a recent walk around Bantry in West Cork looking for stories for the Southern Star, I saw this young lady painting a mural on the site of an old shop which was now boarded up. 

Bernie O'Sullivan of Bantry Pulse Group.

Her name is Bernie O'Sullivan and she's a member of Bantry Pulse Group, a community collective group of artists.  The group is brightening up the town of Bantry by painting murals on various sites, which links in nicely with the harbour development.

For this shot, I didn't want to use the clichéd picture of Bernie painting, and settled on a nice environmental portrait instead.  The mural in the background and the brushes and paint pot she's holding add relevance to the picture.

Gear Used:
NIkon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8, Nikon SB910 flashgun.
Exposure: 1/60, f8, ISO 200.

Now here's a thing...

I enjoy shooting landscapes/seascapes.  There's no pressure involved, unlike weddings, commercial, editorial etc.  One can just relax and get the shot when the time is right.

Nikon D90. f16, 1/100, ISO 200.

For this shot, I waited 2 hours for the sun to get into the right position! It was taken on Garrettstown beach on a random visit.  I spoke to the fisherman and told him what I wanted to do and he was very obliging, staying exactly where I told him!  I took a few shots to get the settings spot on and, as soon as the sun was in the right position, took the final image, as you see here.

I'm very pleased with the picture, especially as it was taken on an amateur camera, the Nikon D90, which was my first ever DSLR.  It just goes to show, it's not the gear that's important, rather the eye behind the camera. 

Remember, although shooting landscapes is not stressful, patience is crucial.  And warm clothes...!

I cover landscape photography in my lessons, so if you want to produce pictures like this, have a look at my tuition page on the site and give me a call or send me an email to find out more.

Now here's a thing...

Submitting images to newspapers involves finding stories and pictures that the editor will find interesting.  As the newspaper I submit to (The Southern Star) is based in Skibbereen, West Cork, it likes images that show Irish traditions, farming, etc.  It was with this in mind that I ventured to Leap on Sunday last to photograph a Christmas Tree throwing competition and old time threshing.

First up was the Christmas Tree throwing, which was in aid of Cancer Connect.  I wanted to give an idea of movement and how fast the tree left the throwers hands.  For this I'd have to use a slower shutter speed than normal and shoot from the side of the thrower.  However, the shutter speed couldn't be too slow, otherwise the thrower would have been blurred, which I didn't want.

A participant lets rip during the Christmas Tree throwing competition. Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8, SB900 Flash. 1/200, f4, ISO 1000.

I'm pleased with the above image, it shows the look of determination on the young man's face and also the movement of the tree, whilst all other elements of the picture remain nice and sharp.

Next up was a quick hop over the road to watch the old time threshing.  Leap & District Vintage Club put on this demonstration, with member owned tractors and the threshing machine taking centre stage. 

The wheat is placed into the threshing machine. Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8. 1/160, f4.5, ISO 1000.

I took a number of pictures to try and show the whole process of threshing, from the machinery to the people involved.  The passion the club members have for their machines is truly evident, hundreds and hundreds of hours are put in to restoring tractors and the like.

Just like the Christmas Tree throwing, I wanted to show the movement of the threshing, and this next picture shows that very well, as the straw comes out of the back of the machine, ready for bailing and use as bedding or animal feed.

The straw exits the threshing machine at speed. Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8. 1/20, f10, ISO 400.

A shutter speed of 1/20th of a second was used for the above image, hand-held, so there's life in this old dog, yet!

For those photographers amongst my readership, why not get out this weekend and shoot something traditional? You never know, you might come up with a gem...

Now here's a thing...

Recently I've been submitting pictures to the Southern Star newspaper.  The Star circulates weekly around West Cork and has a readership of 50,000 - not bad for an out of town, country-based newspaper.

Photo-journalism can be difficult at times; trying to be creative under pressure brings its own problems.  One might get a brief of: shoot this person, do a feature on a bar showing its 'quaintness', photograph a new shop, etc. 

Often, one only gets a flavour of what's involved on arrival at the location, so the pressure to think of something different and creative is quite substantial.

The images that appeared in the latest edition of the Southern Star - oneis on page 3!

Two of my shots appeared in the latest edition of the Star - I shot the launch of a healthy eating booklet in a supermarket, so had to think of a way of making the pictures interesting.  My train of thought was to highlight healthiness, hence the vegetables.  Throw in some of the booklets, the author, and the supermarket proprietor and, there's your image!

The original picture that appeared on page 3.

Even though my pictures are published regularly in the printed media, I still get a thrill when I see one of my images in any sort of publication.  It lets me know that someone likes my photography!

Now here's a thing...

So in the second of my photography tips, I want to talk about depth of field.

The log is in focus, but the stacks of logs and trees in the background are out of focus.

Depth of field can be described as which parts of an image are in or out of focus.  So if you look at the image of the log above, you can see that the log is in sharp focus, but everything behind it is out of focus.  This effect is sometimes called 'bokeh' (boh-ke), which comes from the Japanese word meaning 'blur'.

So how do we achieve this?  Well, it's all down to the aperture one uses.  The aperture controls how much light you let into the camera.  A wide aperture (eg: f2.8), lets in a lot of light, and gives a shallow depth of field, as one can see in the above picture.  A narrow aperture (eg: f16) lets in a limited amount of light but gives a very large depth of field, which means most of the image will be in focus, like the image below of Blackrock Castle .

Blackrock Castle - everything from the castle to the lights and tanks behind are in focus.

There are additional caveats to what I've just said.  When focusing on a subject, depth of field is usually about one third in front and two thirds behind your focal point, but as your focal length increases it becomes more equal. 

Additionally, the depth of field is determined by the distance you are away from your subject.

The focus point is the corner of the cupboard and the focus drops off dramatically the deeper we go into the picture.

For the picture of the cupboard, I was very close and I focused on the corner and used f2.8, which gave a shallow depth of field.  If I had been on the other side of the room and used f2.8, the whole of the cupboard would have been in focus.

So to sum up:

Increase depth of field

  • Narrow your aperture (larger f-number)
  • Move farther from the subject
  • Shorten focal length

Decrease depth of field

  • Widen your aperture (smaller f-number)
  • Move closer to the subject
  • Lengthen your focal length

I hope that helps you understand depth of field.  Of course, depth of field is something I teach my students during the lessons I give.  To find out more about tuition, why not give me a call on: 086 738 8863, or drop me an email:

Now here's an educational thing...

So this year I've decided to pass on some of my knowledge in the form of photographic tips.  The tips will appear on this blog regularly, so keep an eye out. 

The first tip is: Get out there and shoot!

Your author at work.

When I teach photography, I take the student on a photowalk so that they can learn in a practical manner, instead of listening to me drone on in a classroom.  I maintain the only way to learn is to practice, hence the 'Get out and shoot' tip.  Practice shooting different subjects - photographing moving cars, boats, bicycles, and people will teach you about shutter speed.

Photographing a flower and trying to isolate it from the background will teach you about aperture. 

Photographing a live band will get you used to shooting in low light - ISO is all important here.

Gemma of Gemma and the Jets does her thing!

The important thing is to keep practicing.  It doesn't matter what gear you do, or don't, have, just use what you have to learn and you will become a better photographer.

For more information on tuition, do have a look at my tuition page, it explains what I offer and if you're interested in having a lesson from me, please give me a shout!

Now here's a Christmassy thing...

With Christmas just one week away, thoughts will be turning to presents, family, friends, and food and drink!

If you're anything like me, you'll want to take some photographs of the celebrations and get-togethers. As this is a time for families, keep the photographs nice and simple. 

Get everyone together in a group, around the Christmas tree and shoot away.  
Don't forget to capture the kids opening their presents on Christmas morning - be sure to use a flash as its usually very dark at 5am!
Once the presents have been opened, sit the kids on the couch with their favourite gifts and take a shot. 
Another good picture is the dinner table when the turkey is ready to be carved and everyone is seated for what is undoubtedly the biggest dinner of the year!
A must-have picture is one of granny/grandad asleep in their chair after the huge dinner!
Don't forget to do a selfie - you don't want to be left out of the pictures!

That's just a few ideas, if you've any more, post them in the comments section below - it's good to share!

Now here's a discounted thing...

Christmas can be a romantic time of the year with all the wine, mistletoe, mince pies and loved ones prevalent over the festive period.  Some couples choose to get engaged at this special time of the year, so I've decided to offer a discount off my wedding photography packages.

All bookings received before the end of December will receive a €100 discount off any package, so if you haven't decided on your wedding photographer, why not give me a shout for more info or to book?




Now here's a thing...

One of the questions I'm asked quite often is: "Why did you choose a career in photography?" 

I first picked up an SLR in 1990, it was a Pentax SF7 film camera as digital photography hadn't been invented at that stage, and I learnt everything I know by shooting and learning by my mistakes.  I then progressed to a Nikon F100 and continued learning until I bought digital gear, where the learning became a bit easier due to being able to look at the pictures instantly, on the back of the camera.

With my first full frame camera, a Nikon D700.

I'd always fancied myself as a press photographer, photographing dramatic news stories, page 3 models and celebrities.  Once I realised how difficult it is to get a foot in the door as a press photographer, I gave up on the idea altogether and concentrated on a normal job, working for someone else. 

Fast-forward a few years and I found myself in Ireland, out of work, having held down a job since moving here in 2003.  Eventually I got sick of sending off applications to numerous companies and decided to create my own job doing something I loved and was good at, so I became a photographer.

An image from my first commercial shoot as a professional photographer taken in 2013.

It's not an easy profession to be in - there's no model shoots in the Carribean with bikini clad girls, no backstage access to the latest band and certainly not tens of thousands of Euros in income!  No, it's business development, Social Media, accounts, business development, image processing, meetings, business development, training, gear maintenance and did I mention business development?  Actual photography takes around 5% of my time and consists of commercial, weddings, portraits, events, tuition and the occasional landscape.

With all that said, I love being my own boss, doing something every day that I love and have no intention of ever giving up!