Photography Quick tips.

Get some real estate into the iris!

How often do we see images shot with flash where the pupils of our subject are dilated?

Do we want our subject’s beautiful blue eyes to sparkle in our photograph, or do we want pupils that look like saucepan lids to overshadow them?

As a headshot and portrait photographer, I can categorically state that we want to see the colour of those eyes.

Today’s post is a quick tip to address this frequently overlooked element of flash photography.

It’s something I see every day.

I’ve been guilty of it myself.

Why is it so common?

When we photograph a subject using flash, the temptation is to place our subject in a dark room to ensure that the only light to illuminate them is coming from our flash unit. The problem arises here as the pupils dilate to allow in more light. Firing off a flash in a dark room confounds the issue even further.

So what can we do?

There are two solutions to this.

Set up your studio so that the subject is looking directly towards a window. The light from the window will have the desired effect and keep the pupils from dilating.

The second solution is to use flash units that have modelling lights. Switching on the modelling light will have the same effect as looking at the window.

Two simple solutions that will accentuate the detail in the eyes of your subject.

I’m a portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, and personal branding for actors, athletes and business professionals.

Book a session today.

Find the content useful? Consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Photographing Medieval History’s Heroes……….and Villains!

Hello everyone.
In today’s post, I’m showcasing some images from a photo-shoot with a historical theme.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in history. World War 2 has fascinated me since I was a child, but I’m also interested in the Medieval period. So when Tegan and I got together to shoot, we put together a concept based upon several of history’s famous, or rather infamous households.

These images are conceptual by nature and are by no means intended to be historically accurate in any way, shape or form.

Just thought I’d clear that up, straight off the bat!

First up…………..

Beauchamp – Warwick

Guy Beauchamp (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315), pronounced ‘beecham’, was the 10th Earl of Warwick. He was an English magnate, and one of the main opponents of King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. Edward and Piers certainly took to one another, though how close their friendship was, is a matter of speculation. After all, Edward went on to have four children with his wife, Isabella. Many at the time thought Edward and Piers were in a sexual relationship.

Gaveston was exiled three times at the hands of the English nobility. He had been a relative upstart in the English aristocracy and made himself unpopular among the established nobility by his arrogance and his undue influence on the king. He gave mocking nicknames to the leading men of the realm, and called Warwick (Beauchamp) the “Black Dog of Arden”.

Sooner or later, something had to give. Gaveston agreed to surrender himself (on the understanding that his safety would be guaranteed), to the Earl of Pembroke at Scarborough Castle.

On 10 June 1312, while Pembroke was away, Beauchamp forcibly carried away Gaveston to Warwick Castle. Here, in the presence of Warwick, Lancaster and other magnates, Gaveston was sentenced to death at an improvised court. On 19 June he was taken to a place called Blacklow Hill—on Lancaster’s lands—and decapitated. 

According to the Annales Londonienses chronicle, four shoemakers brought the corpse back to Warwick (Beauchamp), but he refused to accept it, and ordered them to take it back to where they found it. Gaveston’s body was eventually taken to Oxford by some Dominican friars, and in 1315, King Edward finally had it buried at Kings Langley.

The legacy of Piers Gaveston inspired the ‘Piers Gaveston Society’.

An Oxford University dining club founded in 1977, joined by 12 select undergraduates each year.

Their Latin motto “(Sane) non memini ne audisse unum alterum ita dilixisse” which translates roughly as “Truly, none remember hearing of a man enjoying another so much”

They hold a grand party each summer, once described as a ‘very well organised orgy,’ whose decadence has supposedly ranged from mass drug-taking to live sex shows.

So, a fairly colourful historical contribution coming out of Warwick, and Guy Beauchamp was but one of the line of Earls!

Next up………..

Medici – Florence

The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking.

The Medici family’s support of the arts and humanities made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance.

The Medici produced two queens.

During their time in power, two of the women in the Medici family became a royal by marriage. Catherine de’Medici became the Queen consort to the French king of the time, King Henry II.  More than fifty years later, Marie de’Medici became the Queen of France after marrying King Henry IV. In 1616, her son, King Louis VIII, banished her from court for two years.

The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leo XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families. The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.

Poitiers – Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was one of the most powerful and influential figures of the Middle Ages. Inheriting a vast estate at the age of 15 made her the most sought-after bride of her generation. She would eventually become the queen of France, the queen of England and lead a crusade to the Holy Land. She is also credited with establishing and preserving many of the courtly rituals of chivalry.

She is said to be responsible for the introduction of built-in fireplaces, first used when she renovated the palace of her first husband Louis in Paris. Shocked by the cold northern climate after her upbringing in southern France, Eleanor’s innovation spread quickly, transforming the domestic arrangements of the time.

Eleanor spent her last years as a nun at Fontevraud Abbey in France, and died in her eighties on 31 March 1204.

She outlived all but two of her 11 children: King John of England (1166-1216) and Queen Eleanor of Castile (c. 1161-1214).

Dandolo – Venice

Dandolo was a patrician family of the Republic of Venice, which produced four Doges of Venice. The progenitor of the family was a merchant named Domenico.

Their most famous son, Enrico Dandolo (c. 1107 – May 1205) was the 41st Doge of Venice from 1192 until his death. He is remembered for his avowed piety, longevity, and shrewdness, and is known for his role in the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.

He was a dynamic leader, reorganising the Venetian currency and beginning the first codification of the republic’s laws.

Dandolo led the Fourth Crusade – an expedition intended to conquer Muslim Egypt – to Constantinople. His armies smashed the heart of the Christian Byzantine Empire.

His force became the first invading army to successfully breach the walls of Constantinople.

What makes all of this even more remarkable, is that Dandolo achieved all of these things when he was in his 90s. And he had been blind for more than two decades!

Venice is close to my heart. My family name ‘Katsaitis’ is the Greek variation of the Venetian name ‘Cazzaiti’.

Our ancestors left Venice in Medieval times, settling first in the modern-day region of Trabzon, before relocating to Kefalonia and Corfu, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little sortie into my historical households project? It certainly was fun to shoot.

This set has also recently featured in the ‘Editor’s Choice’ section of Streetfashion Magzzine if you are interested in taking a look.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

If you like the content maybe consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

My quick start photoshoot guide/checklist.

Lets get straight to the meat and potatoes with some quick photoshoot tips

1) Have your lighting and gear set up, switched on, tested and ready to go before your subject/model arrives.

It may seem obvious but it will save you time and it will give your model/subject some initial confidence in that you know what you are doing!

2) Turn the heating up to a comfortable working level.

Be considerate. No one wants to be cold. This is supposed to be enjoyable for all parties.

3) Get the kettle on!

Have little breaks…….offer drinks, soft drinks, Jaffa Cakes! Whatever your model/subject likes! You will have found out this in advance because…………

4) Pre-shoot communication is the key to a successful photoshoot.

See what I did there? Let point number 4 really sink in.

5) Set up a Pinterest mood board and USE it during the shoot.

I like to break it down into three sections styling/lighting/poses and I always refer to it during the photoshoot.

6) SHOOT TETHERED!!!!!!!!!

If there is just one piece of advice I can impart to you today that will make a MASSIVE and I mean massive difference to your photography, it’s to buy a tethering cable, plug your camera into the computer, open Lightroom or Capture One and literally see what you’ve been missing. Talk about my photographic epiphany! I shoot a sequence of 5-6 shots and then check the monitor for lighting blips, stray hairs, wardrobe or makeup malfunctions etc etc. Adjusting as you go. Working this way will, I guarantee, save you time and post processing effort later. It’s also a great way to show your model/subject what is working too, in terms of lighting and pose, in real time. Far better than a small display on the back of the camera. Trust me, I’ve done it both ways.


If you do notice that stray hair or untucked shirt as a result of embracing my top tethering tip, then please don’t presume to touch your model/subject to sort it out. TELL THEM ABOUT IT and they will either do it themselves or give you permission to do so. It’s simple etiquette, but you should follow this rule at all times.


In my experience, lots of models are very good at looking at an image and spotting something that might be potentially wrong with it. Something that can be easily improved with a little tweak. So pay attention and remember they will have worked with a multitude of other much more experienced photographers than you or I. They may well be a pretty accomplished photographer themselves, so embrace their input, and thank me for it later! Also, there’s no need to be secretive. I’ve heard models talking about photographers who would never show them an unedited image! There’s really no need to be precious. If you work together collaboratively you WILL get better results. FACT. Show your model/subject what you are doing (see point 6 ) and allow them to offer their input and give them the chance to improve on their posing/styling. It works.

9) Get down on your knees.

Literally get down on your knees. Your shooting angle will dramatically flatter or un-flatter your subject so think about your shooting angle. It’s important. Shooting a full length shot of a female subject? Get low. Shooting from a low angle will accentuate the length of her legs. Shooting from a standing position will do the opposite and make her legs look short. Similarly, taking a lower camera angle when shooting a male subject can give a nice imposing look. If you’re shooting a head and shoulders portrait, then take a different approach. You’re going to want to be just a little higher than your subject’s nose…….have them project their jawline out and push the forehead slightly down. It’s flattering. Take a look at Peter Hurley’s YouTube channel or the work of Sue Bryce for all of the posing advice you will ever need. It’s something you should never neglect to consider.

10) Be vocal.

Coach your subject or encourage your subject. Tell them ‘that’s fantastic’ ‘let’s go along these lines’ ‘let’s develop this’ etc etc you will build a better rapport and that of course equals a more productive session and………….


Just don’t be that guy. BE PROFESSIONAL. Want people to work with you again? Build a great working reputation and you will have more people wanting to work with you than you could ever fit into your schedule. It’s a nice place to be at………..BE NICE.

12) Say thanks

Yep………..easy innit? Say thanks. Drop your model/subject a message after. Congratulate them and thank them for their hard work. Leave them a reference if applicable. It will be appreciated.

Hopefully this little guide is useful to you?

Stay safe people.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

If you like the content maybe consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial for a painterly style skin effect in Photoshop.

Hello everyone.

Quick and easy to follow video tutorial to share today on my YouTube channel highlighting a process I use on the majority of my images.

This two-minute retouching step gives that waxy, painterly look to skin which really fits well with my style and works perfectly with fine art portrait images in general.

There’s an added bonus here too, as it also has a skin smoothing effect.

Use it at the end of the skin retouching/frequency separation stage of your workflow to get the best results.

Have fun with the technique and be sure to let me know how you get on with it.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial to make eyes POP in Photoshop (Including YouTube video)

Little editing tip to share with you today, and this is a fabulous and easy tutorial to really make your subject’s eyes POP in Photoshop.

Giving those eyes that extra punch can really elevate your portrait post production work and make it stand out.

I use this technique on the majority of my images, and I’m sure when you see how easy and effective it is, you will start to incorporate it into your workflow too.

This is one of the final steps in my own image retouching process. I do this just before I do my final sharpening in Photoshop.

Let’s start with this portrait of Tegan. We’re going to use this as our example image.

Let’s go ahead and zoom in on the eyes.

One more valuable tip here before we go any further.

When you are photographing a subject in a studio with lights/flash there is a pretty good chance that you might have controlled conditions where most of the ambient light has been dimmed. This is of course good practice, but the darker the room is, then the bigger the pupils of your subject’s eyes will become…………and we don’t want that in a portrait. We want to see more of the iris. You will have heard the much used photography mantra ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’……….Well then, lets give them the chance to shine in our photographs and if possible face your subject towards the studio window. I know, it might create a challenge with your lighting setup but it will allow the iris to be much more prominent in the image.

Okay, so on with the retouch.

We’re going to make a duplicate of the background layer Cmd+J or Ctrl+J and then we’re going to enter Quick Mask Mode. There’s an arrow pointing to the Quick Mask Mode icon on he left side of the screenshot.

You will also now see that our duplicate layer is highlighted in red, on the right hand side of the screen. This means we’re in Quick Mask mode and we’re good to go.

Next we’re going to select a black brush with Opacity and Flow both set to 100 percent and we’re going to paint over all the visible areas of the iris. It will look something like this………

If you wish, you can apply a little Gaussian Blur at this stage just to blend the selection, but use a low value, say 0.5-1.0.

When you’ve finished painting, exit Quick mask by clicking the Quick Mask icon again to reveal your selection.

Now we’re going to open a Selective Color layer and set the Colours tab to ‘neutrals’………you can adjust the blacks slider in the ‘neutrals’ tab if you wish to have a play around with the contrast. I don’t always do this, but the choice is there for you.

Notice how our selective colour layer has a black mask with just the eyes (our selection) visible in white.

Things are going to look a little crazy now as we’re going to change the blend mode of our Selective Color layer to Linear Dodge Add.

It looks pretty bad at this stage………unless you’re doing some far out fantasy, superhero edits! So we’re going to lower the opacity of the Selective Color layer. I usually drop it to about 40 percent opacity as a good starting point, but be aware that the value for each individual image will be different.

I have reduced the opacity to 40 in the image above and opened a new blank layer above the Selective Color layer. This is going to be our sharpening layer and to do the sharpening we’re going to use *drumroll*

…………The Sharpen tool

You may or may not be familiar with this tool? I only actually use it as part of this workflow.

So to sharpen, we’re going to use the Sharpen Tool to paint on our blank layer and build up the sharpening effect on the iris. I’ve got it set to 45. Be gentle here and build it up gradually. Pressing on and painting somewhere between 2 and 4 strokes of the entire iris seems to work best in my opinion.

Once that step is complete, I like to group (Cmd+G) the Sharpen and Selective Color layers together. I do this so I can zoom in and out and also toggle the effect on and off, so I can see whether I’ve taken it too far. Lower the opacity of the group to the sweet spot which you are happy with. I’ve settled on 30 percent opacity.

That’s it……….easy.

Have a play with this technique and I guarantee you’ll find it second nature after trying it a few times. It works equally well with both colour and black and white images. Have fun and be sure to let me know how you get on with it in the comments below.

Stay safe guys.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Tamworth businesswoman Emma of LOVEEMVY.COM branding and headshot photo session.

We’re talking business branding and headshots here on the blog today and it was an absolute pleasure photographing Emma, founder of Love Emvy premium leather goods and gift items.

Emma has been successfully building the Love Emvy brand here in my home town of Tamworth, Staffordshire since 2016. Love Emvy places an emphasis on luxury premium leather goods and gift items, with a fundamental premise of providing fantastic service. The business has grown and gone from strength to strength. It’s certainly been inspiring for me to see what can be achieved with dedication and hard work.

Now Emma was a little bit nervous about having her photograph taken………….

Don’t worry if you feel the same way, you’re not alone! The majority of people are a little reluctant in front of the camera but, fear not……….that’s where (I) the photographer comes in, to put you at ease and to capture those quality shots that will help to project your brand and give you that desirable edge on the competition.

Using professional photography services for your website and personal branding will really help to paint your online presence in the very best light. Your business will stand out considerably against those using low resolution and poorly lit mobile phone pictures for example. Don’t underestimate the power of high quality imagery!

I’ll get off my photography soapbox now and get back to the subject at hand.

Christmas is coming you know…………..

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas?

Emma’s put together some incredibly useful gift ideas here on her blog so definitely drop by and check them out. Maybe treat yourself to a spot of retail therapy while you’re there?

One final word about our photoshoot session before I wrap things up.

Emma wanted a headshot for her business profile and if you haven’t already got a professional headshot, then I’d highly recommend getting in touch so we can remedy that. I see so many poor quality phone camera shots on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Now they may be photos that are personally loved by the people in them, but they definitely project amateur……the exact opposite of the professional use which for they are intended.

I’m on that soapbox again!

Here’s Emma’s headshot.

I’m sure you’ll agree she looks great.

Are you a small business owner in Tamworth, Staffordshire or surrounding areas?

Want to elevate your personal profile to help develop your brand?

Please do get in touch for a headshot or business portrait.

Stay safe everyone.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

My top 7 go to places for photography and editing inspiration………….

I thought I’d make a nice little tidy list of my favourite inspirational photographers and resources and hopefully pay a little forward. I feel like I owe these people an awful lot, for the content they put out there and for the inspiration they have helped to nurture within me.

Let’s start at the beginning………………

I wanted to learn how to light my images with flash. It’s my personal taste. Natural light images for the most part look very flat and one dimensional to me. For the MOST part………let me emphasise that. There are some absolute masters of natural light photography out there. Incredible photographers. I shoot with natural light too………but……….I prefer to light with flash. I live in the UK where the weather is generally poor and very unpredictable. Lighting with flash gives me the ability to make and more importantly, control my lighting exactly as I want it to be, and with consistent results.

First port of call.

The Strobist Blog.

Lighting 101 by David Hobby is an outstanding free resource to learn lighting from the very basics. If you want to learn how to use off camera flash then I highly recommend making this your starting point.

Second on the list.

OneLight by the incredible photographer and educator Zack Arias.

This video tutorial is THE stand alone industry leading guide (in my humble opinion) to learning how to light and to understand flash. PERIOD.

Here’s the trailer…………..

The video is available to purchase from Zack’s store………

It costs $99, and I can tell you that if you are starting out with lighting and want to learn, then that $99 will be worth every single cent.

Zack Arias.

Next up………..

Glyn Dewis.

Again an absolutely legendary educator, photographer, author and all around nice guy. I’ve been a customer of his for many years. I’ve purchased his fantastic books and I use his custom colour LUTs from his Creativity Pack to colour grade many of my images.

Glyn also runs a YouTube channel which has been one of the single most useful places of learning for me. It’s crammed full of exceptional, clear and concise tutorial videos on Photoshop and photography.

Check it out here……………..

Glyn’s 3945 project is a beautiful homage to some of the last remaining World War II veterans………..

Brilliant stuff!

Bit of Photoshop goodness next, and if you don’t already know of it, then the Piximperfect channel on YouTube is an amazing resource for all things Photoshop and Lightroom.

You’re going to find just about anything here relating to image retouching, colour grading and creating composites. Unmesh is a fantastic educator and a great personality. Immerse yourself in his channel and learn some new skills. I always think it’s a good idea on days when you’re not photographing to get stuck into some new editing tutorials. Every day’s a school day around here!

The next entry here is for two very inspiring photographers that I’m sure you will have all heard of.

Joel Grimes and Joe McNally. I gravitate towards these guys as great educators as well as great photographers (I’m seeing a little pattern here).

Now, as far as Joel Grimes goes, I could literally hang on every word that comes out of his mouth. His experience and knowledge are GOLD.

Check out The Framed Show here………….

……….and this great ‘one light’ video

Every single time I watch those videos I learn something new.

Joe McNally is again an amazing personality and educator. One of the nice guys of the photography industry. He actually took a photograph of me in a demonstration at The Photography Show in the UK last year! If you ever have the chance to catch one of his demos I’d highly recommend it.

So last but not least, and this is a fantastic resource. Again featuring Glyn Dewis and co-host Dave Clayton, it’s the He Shoots He Draws Podcast.

What I LOVE about this podcast (aside from the great camaraderie) is it’s consistency and it’s attention to photography and design business matters, in addition to the photography chat. It’s unique in it’s outlook in this respect, and I find myself pouring over old episodes whilst I’m out walking and extracting absolute gems of information from them. I’m also having a few giggles as there is some very funny content in there too.

Great podcast, and well worth the free subscription! It’s a no brainer.

Well that’s it for today’s lengthy instalment! Please do let me know if you find value in these resources as I myself have done.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Headshots for business and personal branding. What should I wear?

Everyone in business should look their best and project themselves in a positive way to their customer and client base. It’s a fact. Whether it’s a corporate PR portrait, a profile picture for Linkedin or other social media or just a great headshot Republica is here to take care of your needs. Personal branding is perhaps more important than ever in 2020 due to the working restrictions of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A beautiful headshot can be created in just about any environment and in limited space. These are shot against a grey paper backdrop with two lights, but we could also achieve something equally striking by using just a white wall, or a piece of foam core as a backdrop, and one light.

So, I hear you ask…………

What should I wear for my headshot session?

It’s essential that we get this part right.

Many people dread having their photograph taken……myself included, so if you’re looking your absolute best then it will help you to project confidence in the images.


First of all, your images are going to want to stand the test of time. With this in mind we’re going to want to try and avoid wearing anything that can look dated. That means gents, none of those distressed jackets with the seams on the outside or a low cut v-neck that reaches your sternum!

Your clothing should also be complementary and flattering to your body type.

I’m not giving you a free pass to wear black though!

Choose solid colours but avoid crazy patterns. Large logos are a non starter, as is anything that will cause a distraction in the photos

Make sure what you do wear is clean and pressed! A creased shirt does NOT look professional. Sure, creases can be removed in Photoshop after but there isn’t a photographer in the world who wouldn’t recommend taking two minutes with an iron over twenty minutes with the healing brush tool!

Be comfortable in your style and resist the urge to over accessorise.

Take a moment to think about what image of yourself you’d like to project. Business casual? Lose the tie. Smiling? More serious? Use this as a starting point in styling your outfit for the session. By all means bring more than one outfit and ask for advice from your photographer.

Clothing aside, putting your subject at ease is perhaps the most important part of any headshot session. I can honestly say that at least 80 percent of all of the people who I have photographed headshots for, had uttered to me beforehand the immortal phrase ‘I hate having my picture taken.’

The same people also left the room saying ‘That was actually a great experience.’

So don’t be afraid of having your headshot taken.

It’s not so bad………………

I even did my own.

Yep……..that’s me!

Nice to meet you all!

Stay safe everyone.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The top five inexpensive pieces of gear that made the biggest impact on my photography………..

…………………and I’m not talking about the latest camera bodies or the fastest most expensive glass. We’re not even in the same ballpark actually………nowhere near.

Let’s break it down. Cameras and glass aside I’m sure we’ve all had those Eureka moments on our respective photographic journeys where we’ve come to realise ‘how did I ever manage before without this piece of kit?’ Call it an epiphany if you will, but each of these individual items I’m going to list below have had a huge impact on my creative process and really enabled me to grow as an artist.

None of this stuff is going to break the bank……….

First up and probably the single most simple but ultimately effective item on the list……..The tethering cable.

Tethering to the computer during a shoot has literally transformed the way I work. I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK. Forgive the caps but I can’t emphasise enough the value of shooting this way. Working in real time and being able to see the images on the big screen will allow you (and your creative team) to make live adjustments to hair, makeup, posing, lighting and anything else that may go unnoticed on the small LCD display on the back of the camera. My subjects have always appreciated being able to see the images as they are being shot and have the opportunity to see what is working for them and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Type A to Mini-B USB 2.0 Cable is the specification for my Canon Cameras. I have a couple of cheap cables I purchased from Amazon for as little as £6 which do the job perfectly, but if you wanted to buy the industry standard then Tether Tools is the place for you.

So yeah……just in case you missed it……..the tethering cable is my number one most useful piece of kit. ‘Try it…….you’ll like it’ (as my mum used to say!)

Next up…………

The C Stand and Boom Arm.

Now light (as I’m sure you already know) works best either from above (it works for the sun) or from the side in a painterly Rembrandt style. I love to light from overhead, either with the beauty dish or an octabox and this beautiful, ugly bit of metal allows me to do just that……probably the best 90 quid I’ve ever spent on grip. I can boom my 22 inch metal beauty dish front and centre of my subject without fear of it dropping down and denting the floor (or my model!) It’s truly a great bit of kit and the boom arm itself also allows for better placement and manoeuvrability of other larger modifiers in the Rembrandt position too. All in all much better choice than a regular light stand, and a LOT more sturdy.

Third on my list…….Sheets of coloured cellophane.


These cost me £3.50 for a multicoloured selection. Use them to gel your flashes. Cheap as chips as they say here in England, and very effective.

If you have some coloured gels for your flashes then why not go a step further and add some smoke?

The humble fog machine ranks next as one of my most useful pieces of kit.

Instantly add atmosphere to your studio shots with one of these. Remember to backlight the smoke and have fun!

One tip when using the smoke machine though would be to use it near the end of the shoot……the room can get a little clogged up after a few blasts and you’ll find it increasingly hard to focus until the smoke dissipates, so use sparingly.

Finally, last but not least is my wonderful painterly style cloth backdrop from KateBackdrop.

It features in many of my images for good reason, as I absolutely love it.

I do love to shoot against a storm grey backdrop and blend textures in Photoshop as this gives me a lot of creative scope in post production, but this fantastic and cheap bit of cloth really allows me to get a finished look to my pictures that I really love. I’m sure I will purchase others from the range going forward but for now I’m very happy indeed with this one.

Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights in this article and I’d absolutely love to hear about your own ‘go to’ pieces of kit that you simply can’t do without.

Thanks for reading and please do drop by and connect with me on social media.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

How to easily add texture to your backgrounds in Photoshop.

One of my absolute favourite techniques for adding some extra artistic punch to my images is to add a texture to the background. I’ve been using this technique since I first started using Photoshop because it’s simple, effective and offers endless creative possibilities for transforming your studio images.

There are many free to download textures available online and I can also highly recommend the Adobe Paper Texture Pro Plugin for Photoshop, which is also a free download.

John **YouTube link in description**

Please click on my video above for an easy to follow tutorial containing two easy methods of adding texture to your backgrounds. I’ve added in some bonus colour grading tips in there too so please do watch the video through to the end and if you find it useful I’d love it if you subscribed to my YouTube Channel.

The sky really is the limit with this technique and I’d love to see your results, so please do connect with me via any of the social media links at the head of my page.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get stuck into creating some textured backgrounds and stay tuned for more Photoshop editing tips coming soon.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.