Monday, 5 August 2013

We're on Telly!

The Power of TV never fails to impress.

When I go home and tell the kids that Photoleaf is going to be featured on Radio or TV for a report, show or interview. The kids just want to watch, they get very excited and are impressed (Long may that last!!). What is it about the mass media that draws us in and makes us feel 'chosen'?

As a self admitted extrovert, I have no problem speaking in public or getting my message out there. The important thing for me is to be prepared and to hopefully come across in at least good way without too many umms and ahhhs.

Photoleaf was featured last weekend on Channel 5's The Gadget Show. We agreed to be featured and to have our Photobook service and product compared with other suppliers in the market. I found this opportunity a vital way to get our servive known and hopefully get a bit of free (and hopefully positive) press as a result. The outcome - well see for yourself by clicking here to watch or see the review.

We were content with the coverage as it got our name out there. We were praised by the production team at Channel 5 (OFF AIR) for being very helpful and quick to respond. ON AIR we were given a brief overview. Most importantly our book, sitting pride of place on the Gadget Show Shelf was on the telly. Our brand was out there and for a company in its infancy we are already up there competing with the 'Big Boys'.

To quote a couple of satisfied customers recently "If only other companies approached customer service in the same way you do" or "Thank you sooooo much you have made my anniversary weekend"

I would love to know what you think so why not follow us on twitter @photoleafonline or go to the website for a browse. Tomorrow Radio! I am live on air at 16.24 GMT!

The kids are primed and ready!!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The one that got away

Just back from France. Usual pre-holiday and post holiday upheaval but what a great break.

The day before the holiday, the family car decides to have a pre-holiday tantrum involving leaking gas from the air conditioning - according to our sources and Renault, this could be as extreme as intoxication from inhaling poisonous fumes to purely our imagination (is that the same imagination that can't hear the brakes squeak during a service or is that just us?)

Anyway the car cannot be fixed before 10 am and the ferry leaves at 11am so the simple choice is risk it or take the work car? Well the work car wins but this comes with a few limitations - mainly size!

Now camping in France requires certain things - a tent big enough for 5 and big enough to take up most of the boot space! The basic camping equipment and clothes. The old adage that when you pack you should half it and half it again was not an option and we stripped (literally) down to the bare bones. We left the Glamping in the UK and went Camping in France.

Result - the best camping trip ever according to the kids and the big kids agree too! Who needs a chair, cooking equipment, or a table when you have the ground to sit on, cook on, sleep on, you get the drift!

The campsite we stayed on had a fishing lake. They conveniently sold cheap fishing equipment for those amateurs that just wanted a beer and the idea of fishing. Well I am of course (or so I told the kids) an experienced fisherman and my hunter gatherer skills have been honed from an early age!

The '5 Euro, made from bamboo, one step up from a crabbing line' fishing rod, was not going to stop me. So with three kids in tow, a hunk of dried baguette and the obligatory bottle of beer, we went fishing. After at least 5 minutes the kids had reduced in number to one, they hadn't fallen in or been eaten by a pike, but had realised that fishing involves 3 things kids under 9 just don't have. 1 - Patience, 2 -Patience or 3 - Patience (that's why you need the beer). The adventure playground proving far more exciting.

Having baited the hook and surreptitiously eyed the competition an observer might compare me to Tom Sawyer, fishing with a a stick for catfish, with my neighbours being a fully kitted Captain Birdseye the deep sea trawler after cod - the waiting game began.

Now we all have the story about the one that got away, and I would have loved to have the perfect photo of me holding a 10 kg carp (Yes I had taken the camera, but after 20 minutes, one bottle of French Beer (why are those bottles so small?) and 2 bites from fish. I was feeling more confident. a rebait of the hook and the next one was mine. You could see the fish in the water tantalisingly close.

At this point the playground had provided a much more riveting and enticing proposition for even my third die-hard apprentice, and I was left to fish alone. Now if I was to tell you that within 2 minutes of my last cast, I had a bite; I struck with the rod and the fish was hooked, the rod bent, the fish fought back and my '5 Euro, made from bamboo, one step up from a crabbing line' fishing rod, snapped in half and the fish swam off dragging the the upper part of the rod with it. As the Dutch Man next to me on the bank is my witness is was a BIG FISH (Arms Stretched wide). To laugh, to cry, to buy another 5 Euro rod or just blog about the one that got away. Believe me or not, and non believers are taking the majority, I had it and I still 'have it'. Give a man fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish etc etc

Anyway I took loads of photos whilst away and I am going to now go and create a brilliant photobook. I know just the 'plaice'

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Speedos Please!

We're off to France for a few days over the summer holidays. 4 nights camping in Normandy, this is of course very exciting, and something to look forward to, the camera is already on charge...

Now the last time we went to France, was an extremely short stay for me (approx 60 seconds) with almost the longest journey of its kind on record to date! In a moment of madness, and a couple of pints to the worse, I boldly claimed that I could and in fact would, swim the English Channel.

Naivety, stupidity or sheer bloody mindedness and 3 years later having trained lots (and lots) I did in fact complete the solo swim from England to France in a time that was then, one of the slowest times recorded! There are various reasons why you should not attempt this and if you want to see why take a peek at the video. But let's take this into context only 1341 people have actually completed the swim across the channel, so who cares how long it took, or how seasick the support crew got!

Now what has swimming the channel and going camping in France, got in common. I know what you're thinking - smuggling - well I am a law abiding citizen and I don't think that budgies should be smuggled no matter how fluffy they are, so that is not it. But this is where being British clashes with our Continental cousins. The booking form for the campsite clearly states that only Speedos NOT swimming shorts should be worn. Now - Clearly, I will wear speedos where needs must, but it just feels fundamentally wrong (unless your either David Beckham or French) to wear speedos on holiday.

Where then shall I keep my camera to record the best bits when wearing such skimpy swim wear? When swimming the channel and going on holiday you do want to record the events for future reference. I created a photobook record of my swim for future reference (and unfortunately for the reader it appears that some smuggling was involved) and I intend to make a holiday photobook upon our return. Any way if you're short on space and want a neatly packaged way to store a camera click Neatly Packaged Bundle

Going to France usually entails eating lots, certainly swimming to France involved eating lots (see reference above - apologies to the viewer, but why do you think whales have blubber!)

This year - I think any pool shots will be taken by me, not of me, so in contrast to the French rules for swimming, my personal photo book rules state - Strictly NO MORE Speedos Allowed!

For a detailed comparison on Neatly Packaged Digital Cameras click here

Monday, 1 July 2013

Go Go Gadget Show

I was going to call this blog Go Go Girls after the pop group (of course!) but having double checked and scanned my memory banks I remember a friend telling me a story about a friend of his who knew someone that had a story about a Go Go Girl and having checked wikipedia and typing the phrase into a search, I realised this was perhaps not the most appropriate of titles for a blog!

I strongly advise not typing this into a search engine particularly if you haven't added parental controls to your searches. Even if I class myself as a 'man of the world' -  it was enlightening

Moving swiftly on....

We were invited at Photoleaf this week to take part in the Channel 5 TV programme The gadget Show. We were contacted by a very friendly researcher asking if we wanted to be involved in a comparison review between us and other providers of photobooks for user experience, ease of use and of course the quality of the final product. I of course jumped at the chance - who wouldn't.

The order has been placed and the despatched in good time and we are now like expectant  parents waiting for the single or double blue lines to appear on a pregnancy test. Unfortunately we have longer than 2 minutes to wait for the outcome!

I am of course completely confident in our product but at the same time want to hear of any perceived issue - no matter how small - so that we can rectify it and get the client experience as perfect as it can be. It would of course be nice to come out on top when the review is televised - competition is of course a good thing and let's face it winning is great!

Now for those over a certain age you will remember that there was a TV cartoon called Inspector Gadget. He was a little dim and had a 'gadget' for every occasion. For a blast from the past click here. This has absolutely nothing to do with this blog at all and is a completely tenuous link to a childhood memory, but it made me smile!

In 20 years time our kids will look back fondly at the memory of Moshi Monsters!!!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Boys Curry Night


A boys night out is something to treasure.

A cold beer, the expectation of a night out with like minded (male) company, the opportunity to let your guard down (not hair as this is increasingly becoming a scarce commodity as the years roll on for some - not me of course!), laugh a lot (or at least a little) then get home before the locks get changed swearing blind (not being blind drunk and swearing) that you only had two pints.

The scoring system - for every night out there is a minimum requirement for 3 good deeds. This is an unwritten rule, and if you ever need a reminder of your current deficit, then simply ask the better half of your relationship for an update.

Now if you're expecting me to enlighten the world on the events of a 'Boys Curry Night' you are mistaken. There has to be a degree of mystery to keep the mystique of the event alive. Suffice to say that a couple of pints and a lot of harmless banter that only men find funny. Yes these nights are perhaps the font of all Dad Jokes.

There is always the inevitable yet interesting question around work, what are you up to is it going well. Of course when its great we say it's OK when it's not great we say it's OK. I think we have more ways of saying nothing at all than actually saying something! Why can't we be a little more open and honest?

Will I go on the next one - Yes.
Did I enjoy it - Yes.
Do I have more chores to do - Yes.

I have started a daily news feed about all stuff relating to LifeCameraBook. You can subscribe. Strangely enough its called LifeCameraBook. I believe in consistency! Click to view

It was the longest night the other night I took a longest shadow picture.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

LCD - CCD - SLR - or OCD in the DNA

One thing I have realised that with all new hobbies or areas of research, there are the inevitable acronyms!

I keep bumping into the term SLR relating to cameras and I just did not know what it meant. Now I do....SLR means Single Lens Reflex. Now this is quite different to when the doctor takes a rubber hammer to your knee to test your involuntary reflex, but still all of these terms still cause a shiver to run down my spine!

Having shuddered a little with my involuntary shiver, it was time to read on....

Talking digitally there are now two main types of camera - a DSLR or digital Single Lens Reflex camera (more expensive) or a (less expensive) Digital LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) camera.

What do they have in common? Well they both allow you to see exactly what the CCD is about to capture. The CCD or Charge Coupled Device is the clever digital technology that replaced film - i.e. where the image is captured.

The SLR and the LCD cameras both allow the photographer to see the image exactly prior to the picture being taken which is different to the old style cameras that had different viewfinders, so the lens and the view finder had slightly different aspects.

Now if you want to know which is best for you you need to ask an expert, in my limited understanding so far, I think that the LCD with a lower budget might be a good starting point, but this may be open to debate - anyone with more experience, firstly, why are you reading this blog? and secondly can you advise?

Now I have been accused of having a mild case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in my time, once I set my mind to something, I become obsessed by it. It may be in my DNA. But the more I look into the subject of photography, the more interested I become in it.

I have started to take more and more photos and am enjoying it, over time I will add more but you have to start somewhere! Try checking out these images or a few others here.

TIP of the Day:

1. Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away.

It’s possible to get very nice photos with an inexpensive point and shoot.  The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Life in the Trenches


When you're launching a new product you have to get out there talking about it and engaging with people - you have to be passionate about it. With a great product this is easy to do.

Well this week for me has been all about passion and working to get our beautiful photobook products out there and recognised for the truly stunning things that they are.

I started my week in the 'trenches' and have remained there all week fighting - metaphorically of course - for potential customers to engage and create a book!

On Monday evening I attended a Business Networking event at a Romax Client the Churchill Theatre, they have a regular business club followed by a theatre show - how apt that this was Birdsong, a production adapted from a novel set during the First World War. Now this play is not what you would class as 'light entertainment' and despite it being an excellent production you needed the interval to collect your thoughts! What was fascinating however is that prior to the show, the theatre manager, who is a first world war amateur historian was truly engaging and passionate about his subject and you could not help but be drawn into his talk.

I admired his passion greatly and hoped that people had the same perception about the passion that not only I have but all my colleagues at photoleaf have. They too believe whole-heartedly in our product and have been 'doing their bit' as our new business takes off.

We cannot compare this to those fighting in the first world war trenches, and a blister or two from the canvasing is nothing compared with the trench foot the WWI soldiers suffered, but if we can continue to show the passion for our product in the same way those soldiers did in Birdsong, all will work out perfectly.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

GPS for Dumb Dads

Father’s Day

On Friday, I picked my son up from school, it’s not often I get to do this, but I mentioned in an earlier blog that Noah’s Arc was on for my daughter, so I said to my wife” I’ll get him”. Off I trundled to the area of school for infants and it dawned on me that I actually had no idea what I was doing!  Do they come out? Do I go in? Other parents were milling around like wasps at a jam jar, I felt suddenly lost in the crowd!

As I am a grown man this gave me two problems a) I am a grown man and b) I am a grown man.

No I haven’t made a grammatical error, but I did have a dilemma! (I wanted to add here “I’m a poet and I don’t know it” but that would be childish and I am a grown man after all!)

My Dilemma was a) if I go in to the school as a pretty well unknown face, I may well get stopped for being a grown man in a place where I shouldn’t be – not a preferred choice!

b) if I don’t go into the school to pick my son up I’ll look like an idiot – not a preferred choice!

As Dr Pepper says – “What’s the worst that can happen”, so I decided to go in. I must have an honest face as I was let in after waving inanely at a lady already in the building. After taking advice (I do know the age of my son but for the life of me cannot remember the name of his class) was pointed in the general direction.

In not unexpected fashion I was quickly discovered by a teacher who had a pitying look, having read the label that was clearly stapled to my head “Dad - Lost and confused – If found please treat with care”. I was not her first Dumb Dad to be found wandering lost and confused, and I won’t be her last. Finally I reached  my destination.

It is always great to see your kids even more so when they aren’t expecting to see you. I got a big hug and a hand-made card. The words on the card are private between my son and I, let’s just say that despite it being officially a day or two early it definitely was a great Father’s  day!

TIP of the Day.

GPS location devices on Cameras.
Purpose: Just in case you forget where you took your photo or get lost and need to know where you are! The GPS detail is digitally coded to the image for future reference - you do need to turn it on and programme it.
I'm fed up with writing now so I thought a video would explain things far better than me. If you turn your sound right up like I did - it won't make any difference - there is none!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Animals went in Two by Two


Yesterday it was parents' evening for our middle child.

That statement could be the entirety of this blog. The above statement creates enough mental anguish for any parent with school age children, that I surely do not need to expand! But I will anyway....

Last night was just brilliant, there were parents politely jostling for position, there were parents giving polite smiles through gritted teeth, there were parents running over their allotted time despite the school bell peeling to announce the end of your 10 minutes subjection, and dagger eyes given when 'their' time was eaten into!

The parents lined up in their Two's to enter the Lion's den. The  feelings of dread, trepidation, guilt and pride combined with our base animal instincts of protection and competition came out on display in a perfect way.

If only this had been the time and place to take a camera!

I just love perching on a plastic seat designed for an 8 year old, with my hands scrapping the floor, legs folded in a Yoga like position I am clearly not designed to make and my knees trying not to lift the table of the floor, as I stood up groaning like an old man with knee ache (or am I actually getting old with knee ache?)

Even the more laid back parents (on the outside) were mentally 'punching the air' in dramatic style whilst nodding passively on the outside when they hear that their child is performing well compared with another child.

What do you say though when the feedback is not what you wanted to hear? Whose fault is it, the child's, the parents' or the teacher's? Well dream on because I am certainly not going to get into that conversation!

Just for your information as a proud and competitive parent I was of course punching the air, whilst nodding passively in a sage like manner! (Read into that what you will!)

You may think that I was comparing the parent's at school to animals given the title of this blog, but you would be wrong - tonight we are back at school to see one of our children performing in Noah's Arc!

Tip of the Day
Sometimes there are places a photograph just shouldn't be taken. Beware!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Where Do I Start?

Where do I start?

This is not a rhetorical question, I am genuinely in need of a bit of guidance when it comes to learning a bit more about digital photography.

Let's look at the basics I thought - 10 minutes of web searching later and I was more confused than when I started! I got distracted by a learn digital photography site which had a title SIZE MATTERS (yes it was as big and bold as that) and as a bloke, it naturally drew my attention to it!

Well it went very quickly from the intro about pixels - little square blocks of binary code that make up a digital image - into gobbledegook!

At this stage I started comparing pixels as a cross between magic and science. Thinking Pixels were Pixies and the gobbledegook (how do you actually spell that word?) was a hobgoblin, which naturally made me think of HobGoblin Ale - beer drinkers know what I'm talking about - and you can see my focus on the topic in hand was drifting!

Anyway I forced myself to focus and went back to learning. If you fancy a bit of an education, the article in question is linked HERE (they like bold letters to gain attention so I thought I'd stay on theme).

What is a pixel? It's a Noun meaning -
A minute area of illumination on a display screen, one of many from which an image is composed.

The word pixel is based on a contraction of pix ("pictures") and el (for "element") so Picture Element

So does the difference between 4 mega pixels and 5 mega pixels really make that much difference?

When it comes to printing a photograph - in a photobook for example, then yes it does. The higher the mega pixel rating of the camera, the higher the resolution (that's the quality measured in Dots Per Inch - DPI) i.e. dots of print on a page - the more dots per inch of paper the better quality the image.

To place this into context - An iPhone 4s has a 5 mega pixel camera which will produce a 8x6inch printed photo at 320dpi - good enough quality for a printed photo!

Tip for the Day:
When you're taking a photo of your children - get on their level - firstly, so that you're taking a photo of them looking directly at the camera and secondly, so you can ask their advice on how to change the operation mode on the camera!


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

less SHAKE, a little pRATTLE and let's ROLL

Not being one to wear my heart on my sleeve, 'talking on a blog' seems a strange way to go but let's see if I can get over the nerves, stop shaking and start prattling, let the blogging roll....

I am chairman of a Marketing Communication company, Romax Marketing, and Over the last 18 months I have been working on a new project - to diversify our business, whilst keeping the main thrust of what we do, that is produce personalised communication.

My idea - although not original, was to start a photo book e-commerce site. After completing our market research, we settled on Thanks to all those lovely people that helped with their feedback.

I should probably provide some idea of my blog theme? Honestly - I am not totally sure. The title 'Life Camera Book' was a 'third coffee moment' whilst waiting for the cleaner to finish vacuuming the office. I thought that covers most things I want to get out there:

Life (A broad subject!) Perhaps over time I will reveal more about me and my life but one step at a time!

Camera - Well that was two fold - In order to capture life through a lens it dawned on me that despite loving taking photos, I know next to nothing about cameras or the art of photography. If I am supposed to be promoting photobooks then knowing nothing about how photos are taken creates a slight disadvantage; so it would probably be a good idea to learn! I also realised that most of my potential customers using PHOTOLEAF, (except those lovely professionals and pro-amateurs), would probably not know much about how photography works either. THEREFORE: I thought if I have to learn a about photography, perhaps I could provide some useful tips on photography along the way.

Books - I do love a good book and dare I say I truly love the feel of a physical printed book be it pure text, self published or a photobook.

Perhaps LifeCameraBook is a marketing slogan - summarising what I believe is a beautiful thing - capturing life through a camera and creating a book to remember the best bits.

I also figured I needed to give a photography tip on each blog keeping it (even tenuously) relevant to the theme of the blog....So here's the first of many...See if you can spot the link!

Tip of the DayHow to remove - Camera Shake.
  • Use a solid object to lean on or tuck your elbows in! See what the experts have to say..