I was recently contacted by Saal Digital with an offer of a sample photobook as a part of their product review campaign. I have now received the book, and thought I’d give my 2 pence, regarding the product itself, software usability and general experience dealing with the company.
Software – Saal Digital’s desktop design program is the easiest in-house software I’ve used from a photobook company (and I have used many). It’s snappy, intuitive to use, and scratches those spots where other companies’ software failed. Their layout template are reasonably varied, with each one being pretty well suited for purpose. Things like auto align/snap to other objects on page, decent selection of fonts are a great help when you want to design an album quickly without specifying the exact x and y axis positions, etc (yawn). Another nifty feature I found was that, prior to ordering, the software tells you the estimated arrival date of your product based on the product and your location, which is pretty handy, when you are working to tight deadline, for example. It shows that Saal Digital took their time in researching other available programs on the market, and decisively went onto do one better, and succeeded, in my opinion. 9/10
Product quality – against my usual preference, I opted for glossy pages, which was probably a mistake on my part, as I’ve never really been a gloss print fan.
Personal preference aside, this is an excellent product for the price. I ordered 28 x 19cm (A4) in landscape. Colour rendition is spot on from my calibrated monitor. Nice deep rich black, with plenty details and tonal range. Padded front and back page gives the book a soft, yet weighty touch; much nicer to handle than standard hard backed books. Each page is also a card, rather than paper. Ok, it’s no mounted pages of more expensive books, but for casual photobook, it certainly feels great. It also features lay flat pages, which is always a bonus. I designed my book to fully utilise this.
Speed of delivery – I placed the order on Wednesday, and received it following Wednesday. 1 week for production and delivery is pretty good, certainly above average. I could also track the status of the order and delivery, which is always good in this day and age.
Overall, I would recommend other photographers consider Saal Digital a go. And if anyone wants to have a look and a feel of the book, just pop down to the studio.
Yes, that’s right. My little studio is on the telly! Channel 5’s The Gadget Show was filming a piece on “Death of The Desktop PC”, and as a part of the feature, wanted to film me on a photo shoot set, using wireless SD card and iPad to wirelessly transmit the photos for quick review, and also to “edit on the go”. They were probably in the studio for all of 1 hour at most, but it was a great experience having the whole crew in my studio. I thought I was quite used to being around famous people, having met a bunch of musicians in the past life. But I must say, I was rather overwhelmed having 3 presenters whom I’m used to seeing on TV regularly. As they say, cat did get my tongue for most of the filming.
I think I did ok when it came to actually doing what I do; shoot! The photos aren’t what you might call world class, but the brief was “fun and playful”, so simple lighting, lots of fun poses and pulling faces were clearly the way to go. Jason, Ortis and Rachel were all fantastic to photograph, and made my job so easy. Unfortunately, for the majority of the shoot, we had the director, cameramen and sound guy in the background, so it was hard to concentrate, and to be fair, make the photos pretty much useless 🙂
But for the 5 to 10 minutes of actually shooting time, it was a blast, and we managed to get some cool shots. Here are a couple for preview.
Finally, a big thanks to my lovely model friend Rachael Shar Marston for sticking around the studio after our shoot to help me out on the day! Photos from our shoot aren’t quite ready yet, but be sure to check out her portfolio. She has some awesome work.
The sprint finally seem to have arrived, so Club 197 had a little day out to The Public gallery in West Bromwich for a shoot. We had 2 lovely models, the Lithuanian Liuda Mi, and her boyfriend Nuri, who originally turned up as travel companion, also agreed to pose for the group after a little persuasion – as it turns out, he’s not new to modelling neither, having completed some catwalk assignment for certain department store chain recently. Not too shabby.
Having been stuck in the studio throughout the winter, I thought it’d make a nice change not to go out with magnitude of lighting equipment, so I just packed my D800, a standard zoom and a couple of prime lenses, a flash and a reflector. Lightest I left for a location shoot in ages! And you know what? I had a blast; here are some of my shots from the day.
And some BTS shots of the members and the venue itself:
Make sure to go see the full gallery
Recently, I read a very sad article about the passing of Bruno Sebastia, a French fashion and beauty photographer who, unfortunately, was so saddened and depressed by the state of photographic industry and his personal circumstances within it, that he decided to end his own life. It is a sad day for photographers, and a sign of things to come to the industry unless the public perception of it changes. While I’ve never met Bruno, having read the article by his close friend, there are a lot of things it mentions that I can relate to.
Unfortunately,value of photography is not what it used to be. With the arrival of affordable digital cameras, high speed internet and magnitude of free apps to easily edit photographs on the go, photographs of all sorts are widely available on the internet, and can often (illegally) accessed/obtained for free. And the digital cameras are so good nowadays, when the lighting condition is right, my wife’s little Canon point and shoot camera can produce very pleasing images that I’d be very happy to have captured on my D3 with my latest Nikkor lenses. And with the revival of the retro look photographs, a la Instagram/Holga/polaroid, more people attach less value to crafted photographs, and professional photographers who create them.
On saying that, there is a difference between pretty good amateur snaps and a carefully crafted photograph, and I write this blog in the hope that some readers can stop and think about the state of photography. It won’t help Bruno now, but I hope that we, whether as artists or viewers, can all learn to respect and value photography a little bit more.
I am also sad to read that Bruno thought Photography is dead, but in my humble opinion, while certain sector of commercial photography is going down a negative route, photography as a whole is thriving, with more and more talent coming through all the time.
So to all you artists out there, stay strong, and happy snapping!!!
Studio 197 Birmingham
It’s that time of the year again. Every year in March, thousands and thousands of photographers attend Focus on Imaging at NEC Birmingham, to check out new photographic gear on offering. I’ve been going to these trade shows every year for the past 5-6 years, and always enjoy these days out. This year, I’ve just bought 2 new cameras (that’s for another blog), so I turned up with intention of spending, well, nothing. And for the first time, I’ve managed to keep my promise. As tempted as I was with some cool gadgets and products, I realised that, actually, I didn’t have any need for photographic equipment per se. The studio could do with a few new additions, but they would need to come from DIY stores and car boot sales. 2013 is off to a great start for Studio 197 Birmingham, and there will be a lot of new and exciting things happening in the next few months. I’ll update you with the progress, for sure. Anyway, here are a few snaps from the day (and yes, they are absolutely nothing more than snaps, I’m afraid. Only took the compact, and had no real desires to be making pictures today).
It was a good day out overall, and met up with some old friends (who just wouldn’t have their photos taken!). I’m sure I’ll be back again next year, and the following year. One of these days, I will attend a talk or 2 as well. See you next year, Focus!
Photographers – Studio 197 is pleased to announce Miss Raphaella McNamara will be holding a studio day on Saturday 13th October here at Studio 197. Cost is £50 per hourly slot (including changeover).
It’s a guaranteed sell out, so contact us quickly to book your slot.
Follow link to Raphaella’s website.
We are already in September, but the weather is keeping good, and we are Studio 197 Birmingham are feeling good, too. So we are spreading the love by keeping our lower price until end of September. Come visit us for a photoshoot, and freeze your memories forever!
Silver package £100.00
- 1 hour booking
- includes 2 x A4 print
- Small private web gallery
- £50 deposit required to secure booking (deducted from final payment)
Gold package £175.00
Platinum package £350
- 4 hour booking
- includes £200 voucher towards our products
- large private gallery
- Make up artist fee for 1 person is included.
- £50 deposit required to secure booking (deducted from final payment)
New Studio hire Prices!
Photographers – NEW studio hire prices listed. Come try it out for yourself.
- 2 hours – £35
- 4 hours – £60
- 8 hours – £100
Regular user? Why not buy in batches, and receive a big discount?
- Buy 10 hours for £120
- Buy 20 hours for £200
- Buy 30 hours for £280
Birmingham based photographer Keigo Kato and Yellow Aura Fashion and Creative solution have joined force to form Studio 197; it is a new photography studio based in Saltley area of Birmingham, just down the road from the neon clad entertainment park Star City. Situated in the heart of industrial city of Birmingham, we offer family portrait, weddings, model portfolio, studio hire, make over photoshoots, photographic tuition, and much, much more. We want to become a part of the local community in the area, and look forward to meeting so many new people!
Be seeing ya!
K and T
We have opened Club 197, photographic club by photography enthusiasts for enthusiasts, to learn, share, and most importantly, have fun.
Our membership consists of all levels of experience, from keen beginners, all up to seasoned pros. We created the club for social activity, and not be another one of those old fashioned clubs with elitist, hierarchical set of rules and competitions.
Skill levels are not important. What we ask for from each member is to be keen about the club, get involved, give ideas, and be a part of it. I think we have a good mix of members. We want to keep the number around 15, and there are still a few more spots left. If you are looking for photography buddies who you can share the