Category: Commercial Photography

Men in Sheds images to be used in NHS Film

Great news! Two images from my latest commercial photography project on the “Men In Sheds” has just been picked up by the production company “Flotilla Media” . The images are to be used in their latest film for NHS England and The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

The film theme is around the future care of elderly people in our community. Please See the images below. The Images used depict men working and enjoying the social environment. In the film, the images had to show off what Men in Sheds are all about. From what I saw in my time photographing the guys  – a ton of camaraderie, support, and friendship with an air of woodworking and a lot of Tea!

“These images were to be animated in a parallax scrolling effect used to create depth and scale whilst narration talks about future care within the southwest.”

I’m thrilled these images will be shown and get a wider audience and the “The Exeter Men in sheds” service will also benefit from the much-needed publicity.

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Water Babies Branding and Product Photography

As an experienced underwater photographer I’ve worked with Water Babies for a number of years. Water Babies are a great organisation and it’s a real privilege to work with parents, children and across the country. The premise is very simple: I photograph children as they swim underwater and parents have an opportunity to purchase a memorable and unique image. As a parent myself I know how valuable these photos can be.

More recently I’ve been doing some rather different work with WaterBabies. Instead of photographing the children swimming, I’ve been doing some work for Water Babies themselves as they needed updated branding and product photography for their range of Water Babies towels and ponchos.

In this blog post I’ll be sharing how I went about the photoshoot and some of the things that I have to consider when doing a branding and product photography photoshoot.



Water Babies Towel - Photos By Spencer Cobby Photography


Branding and Product Photography: The Brief

If I’m honest, much of the time clients don’t really know what they want until they have got it in front of them. This is particularly true when I’m working with a client for the first time – or it’s the first time that they’ve commissioned a photographer. As a photographer I am always looking to to understand what a client is looking for and ask them as many questions as I can. These questions then inform me when I approach the brief.
In the case of Water Babies they mostly know what they wanted as they have produced many product images before. I had a lot of direction on the day and days prior to the shoot but still I had to go through my usual line of questioning to make sure I provided them with the images they needed.
Another important feature of this photoshoot is that I wasn’t necessarily being commissioned to be completely creative. This is an important part of commercial photography that is often overlooked. Water Babies have a huge range of stock images that have been produced by multiple photographers. It’s very important that these images have a degree of conformity and aren’t all completely different in style and theme. I therefore needed to produce photographs which mimic some of the key features of other Water Babies photographers’ work. The photos needed to fit in with the current Water Babies branding but also complement their new product.

Water Babies asked me to photograph their range of towels and ponchos. They wanted warm, cosy images of children wrapped up in the products and interacting with one another. The images needed to be clean, striking and set against a white background.


Water Babies Toddler Poncho - Photos By Spencer Cobby Photography


Water Babies Photoshoot: On The Day

They say that you should never work with children or animals (!) but the reality is that you just need to be well prepared and ready for the unexpected. When you’re working with children you need to be very patient and understand that things don’t always go exactly as you’ve planned – but that you’ll almost certainly find that you’ve got the shots that you need at the end of the day.
Here are some of the key things that I was focused on during the photoshoot:
  • The children needed to look both cute and approachable. We wanted the children to be relaxed but it was also important that they were positioned correctly – either looking into the camera or looking in a particular direction – to fit the requirements that Waterbabies had of the images.
  • We needed to ensure that we had equally strong images of each of the different products in order to cover the whole range. Sometimes it’s tempting when doing product photography to focus on what’s working well, but we needed to ensure that all of the products were covered.
  • Variety was also very important. You’ll see that the children are doing different things in different images – sitting, standing, crawling etc – because we didn’t just want replicas of the same image. There is always a balance to be had between variety and consistency of branding.
  • I was very conscious that the ponchos and towels – which parents can also sew their children’s swimming badges onto – are primarily designed to keep children warm after they’ve been swimming. As a parent I wanted the images to make it very clear exactly how the products make a difference – keeping chills away and keeping babies cosy. I was keen to make sure that the photos showed this.

Technical Considerations

I knew that the images were going to be photoshopped onto a white background so that they would fit the overall feel of the Water Babies store. This meant that I needed to get the exposure and aperture right – and ensure that there is enough space around the children to crop out the background whilst retaining the natural feel of the shoot that was so important.

After the shoot I worked hard to edit and process the images and get them into a format that Water Babies could use ‘out of the box’. I pride myself in being much quicker than the industry average when it comes to post production work – commercial clients always appreciate this as they want to take advantage of the momentum that a photoshoot generates.

Exeter Leukaemia Fund: Charity Event Photography

Back in March I was commissioned by Exeter Leukaemia Fund (ELF) to photograph their Chevithorne Appeal Launch at the Guildhall. I am very passionate about supporting local charities and it’s always a privilege to be involved with supporter events.

My brief was incredibly simple: capture high quality images of the event that could be used in various print and online media to report on the event and raise the profile of ELF. This kind of image is incredibly useful for the charity and can be used in multiple contexts.

What Was The Chevithorne Appeal Launch?

ELF work tirelessly to support critically ill patients and those in the last stages of their lives. The Chevithorne Appeal is hoping raise £420,000 to provide on-site accommodation for patients’ families while they receive hospital care in the Haematology Ward. This will enable loved ones to sleep on site.

“We know that, particularly at times of severe illness or difficult treatment, patients need not only excellent physical care but comfort, privacy, dignity, and the opportunity for loved ones to be able to stay with them. This is especially, though not exclusively, true toward the end of life and for younger or more vulnerable patients.” Dr Anthony Todd

The event at the Guildhall was an opportunity to showcase the work of ELF and the shine a spotlight on the Chevithorne Appeal. Weheard from the Lord Mayor, Councillor Percy Prowse, and the ELF Chair of Trustees, Dr Miles Joyner. There was also an opportunity to become an Appeal Partner and support the fundraising efforts that will be taking place in the coming months.

What Was My Role at the Event?

I was commissioned to photography the evening, with a view to the photos being used in Devon Life, the ELF website and the Express & Echo. Photographing an event of this nature always requires a delicate blend of technical skills and interpersonal skills. We need good images with the right exposure, lighting and backdrop, but it’s also very important to interact with guests and put everybody at ease.

I also needed to ensure that I had the names of each visitor that I photographed so that I could annotate the file names. This was necessary because guests’ details would be published underneath the photographs in Devon Life magazine.

After an hour’s work photographing the event I immediately started editing images. The photographs were turned around within 2 hours of the event and delivered to ELF via Dropbox and email the next morning. They could then be sent over to Devon Life and the Express & Echo ready for their print run. When I’m photographing fundraising or networking events it’s often important that the images are ready as soon as possible so that they can be published within a matter of days.

I was asked to capture the following images:

  • The Lord Mayor, Councillor Percy Prowse, mingling and interacting with guests. ELF is the Lord Mayor’s chosen charity and he has been fundraising for the charity over the last 10 months.
  • The Chair of Trustees, Dr Miles Joyner, explaining why ELF needs to fund a family suite in the Haematology Ward – so that critically ill and end of life patients can be with their families in comfort and privacy
  • General shots of guests mingling and participating in the event
  • The Board of Trustees and ELF staff for future website publicity
  • Book an Exeter Charity Photographer
Lord Mayor Percy Prowse

Lord Mayor Percy Prowse

Sabine Orchard - Ceilia Joyner - Faye McClellan

Sabine Orchard – Celia Joyner – Faye McClellan

Dr Miles Joiner Speaking

Dr Miles Joiner Speaking

Daryl Fulls - Dr Miles Joyner - Dr Richard Lee - Lord Mayor Percy Prowse_

Daryl Fulls – Dr Miles Joyner – Dr Richard Lee – Lord Mayor Percy Prowse

Cathrine White - Keith Keith Vinnicombe - Rachel Elliot

Catherine White – Keith Vinnicombe – Rachel Elliot

Dr Richard Lee - Pat Aldridge-Keith-Vinnicombe

Dr Richard Lee – Pat Aldridge -Keith Vinnicombe


If you’re looking for a photographer for your next charitable event then I’d love to hear from you.

Exeter Antique Photography: A Case Study

In September 2014 Paul Fitzsimmons, the owner of Marhamchurch Antiques, discovered my services after entering a Google search for “commercial photographer Exeter.

Having clicked on a number of photographers, he saw my product photography for Lana Home and decided to give me a call. Paul was looking for an Exeter antique photographer and wondered if I’d be able to help.

One of the perks of working as a commercial photographer is that you get to work with such a diverse range of clients. In this article I’ll be sharing how Paul and I have worked together in order to create a new portfolio of antique photographs for his business.

Exeter Antique Photography: The Brief

In our first conversation Paul explained that his previous dedicated photographer was no longer available to photograph his work. The antiques date from the medieval period through to the early 18th Century, and he wanted to increase the quality of his images to demonstrate the authenticity and quality of his early oak antique furniture.

Paul’s home is a medieval house that dates back to around 1400. He has been restoring the property back to its original state. The first brief was to rephotograph his current stock of antiques against the backdrop of his home. We agreed that this would be the best way to breathe new life into his products and achieve the kind of antique photography that Paul needed.

This first set of photos has very much had the desired effect, helping Paul to sell more of his current stock and older stock from his website. Without this important update to his antique photography he suggested that he wouldn’t have made these sales.

Paul’s customers are private collectors, other antique dealers and curators of museums and galleries; it’s therefore very important to have high quality antique photography that demonstrates the quality of his products.

Exeter Antique Photography Shot on Location

Ongoing Antique Photography Projects

Since Christmas I have continued to work regularly with Paul, typically shooting new images every 3 weeks. We have been photographing new acquisitions and recently restored projects for uploading to his website and emailing to his mailing list.

Over many discussions with Paul we have changed and adapted the images that we’re capturing in order to best suit the products. Antique photography, like most disciplines, requires ongoing collaboration between the photographer and the client to ensure that the images we’re capturing are the very best that they can possibly be.

You’ll notice that we have photographed the antiques in a number of different locations and styles. These include white and black backgrounds and capturing images of the furniture in its original, contemporary location.

It’s also interesting how E-Commerce is changing antique photography. We’re not interested in a grainy photo that simply confirms the existence of a product; the goal is to show the product at its very best and give the customer an idea of how it would look in a natural environment.

Exeter Antique Furniture Photography White Background

My Antique Photography Setup

The variety of products that I’ve been photographing for Paul really is tremendous. This has typically involved working within small, tight spaces. In other words, antique photography involving large items of furniture is a very different discipline from working in a studio!

Paul and I spent a lot of our time working on lighting, with different amounts and types of light required for different products. I achieved this by using portable photographic lighting with softboxes and reflectors that help to soften the light and make each product stand out from the background. You should be able to see this in the images above and below.

I typically use 4-6 lights at a time in order to create the appearance of daylight in dark rooms within an old house. This was challenging but absolutely necessary. The contrast between seeing a piece of antique furniture in a 400 year old home and seeing it on a website cannot be understated! Each lighting setup needs to show the product in the most helpful way possible, whether it’s a candle stock or 16th Century wardrobe.

I use a Canon 5D Mark II with the Bowens Ikelite portable lighting unit, along with a few Canon speedlights. I tether the 5D to my laptop, allowing the client to see the images we’re capturing in full screen. This helps us to make immediate decisions on lighting compositions and style. I am then guided by the client’s ideas and can craft the lighting and composition of the images accordingly.

In a typical day’s shoot we normally end up with 10-15 images depending on the complexity of the work we’re doing. When working with Paul I post process all images on-site, providing him with both website-ready and high resolution images upon completion.

Working with Paul has been a very rewarding and challenging experience, but we’re really pleased with the kinds of image that we’re able to produce. It’s been a real pleasure working in such an authentic environment in order to create images that bring the products to life. This blend of product photography, antique photography and E-Commerce photography has been a lot of fun and made a huge different to my client’s business.

If you’d like to commission me for your Exeter antique photography project or would like to speak to an antique photographer then please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.

Exeter Antique Photography Black Background

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