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Zip World, In Aid of Cancer Research.

A few weeks ago, SO Visual visited Zip World in Wales with a group of business professionals, in order to raise money for Cancer Research. Ada Haywood, a Cancer Research fundraiser, organised the event. In her time at Cancer Research, Ada has raised an incredible amount of money (£1m+), and is a real life superhero. So much so, that she gave Sam the drive to face his fears, as he really wasn’t looking forward to the zip wire!

A fantastic day was had by all, and a great sum of money was raised for the charity. We’d highly recommend Zip World for a day out, there really is no feeling like hitting 145+kmh high above a lake/quarry!

A huge thanks to everyone who sponsored us, it really did make the difference. Once the sponsorship money came in, Sam knew he had to do it! Needless to say he enjoyed it, and now wants to do it again!

Here’s a short video we put together, enjoy!

2016 So Far

When we first started SO Visual, we had no idea of the best methods for marketing our business. Our priority at first was to get our website up and running, which we did manage quite early on. In fairness, our website has been our primary source of work for the last 3+ years. A few leaflet drops later, and some cringe worthy cold calls, we were left wondering how we could get our name out there even more. First impressions are very important, especially in such a competitive trade as photography. We knew that once people got to know more about our business, (and the fact that we’re not just two lads with a camera) they’d realise how committed and professional we are. When speaking to clients, they often remark on how they thought SO Visual was more than a two man operation, and also how ideal the studio is in terms of location and flexibility. These are things that you’d struggle to get across in a cold call!

We decided to explore all avenues of marketing, and we were pointed towards referral based networking, more specifically BNI. We were a little bit dubious at first, as previous less structured networking events seemed a bit of a waste of time. We gave BNI a try, and needless to say, we enrolled on an annual membership. BNI works in such a way that the professionals that we meet with every Thursday morning, are outwardly looking for a chance to recommend us to a suitable client, and likewise, we’re looking out for them too. This means that there is no awkward cold calling, instead, a relaxed introduction to our company, from a business owner that trusts us, to a business owner that trusts them. Once the go ahead has been given from their contact, we then receive their details, to introduce ourselves properly. Sales and marketing is definitely our weak point, but BNI is the perfect work around.

Award for presentation on Commercial Photography

Sam taking the “60 second oscar” at BNI for his 60 second speech on how SO Visual’s photography service can benefit a business.

In terms of clients, 2016 has seen us take on two more product manufacturers. Initially starting with a trial shoot to show the quality of our work, we now take pride in being their go to guys for photography, and graphic design. We’ve completed a number of on location photoshoots for them, and for other existing clients, enabling us to visit some really cool locations. When it comes to graphic design work, we are able to offer a fast turnaround of all marketing material, and we can pretty much get hold of anything that we’re asked for!

Going forward we’d love to get some more manufacturers on board, so we’ve been updating our website gallery, and trying to keep on top of our social media accounts when we get the chance. All in all though, we’re still really enjoying SO Visual, and the wide variety of projects it throws at us.

iGym London – Virtual Tour London

virtual tour, iGym, London, Virtual Tours London

We were recently approached by Pulse to venture down to London to shoot a virtual tour, as well as still images at iGym London at the Imperial College London. Pulse, the UK’s leading leisure solutions provider will manage and operate iGym London on behalf of Imperial College London. A fellow Staffordshire University graduate Stephen Meir, who works at Pulse, designed the interior of the gym, which quite frankly is flawless on every level. The technology incorporated into the gym is above and beyond anything we’d seen in a gym before. Users can log in using their membership card in order to book classes via a number of wall mounted computers, as well as taking advantage of “Pulse Move” in order to track all of their sport and fitness activities.

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

Ollie shot the tour of the gym whilst I carried out the photography, being sure to capture all of the details that collectively make iGym London a really nice environment to be in. We carefully decided on where to have the spots on the tour, in order to ensure that people who haven’t seen inside the gym first hand, can navigate around the gym using our tour to see what it offers. Using our wide range of lenses, we captured wide angle views of the different rooms and sections in the gym, as well as more close up shots of branding, clever use of materials/lighting and of course the fantastic Pulse equipment.

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London

virtual tour, iGym, London, virtual tours london

Once the shoot was done, the editing/stitching process began back at our studio. The tours are shot as still images, edited, merged into a panorama, and finally, stitched into an interactive tour. From this we then added iGym branding to the tour, by means of colour coded navigation, and adding the iGym logo. To make navigation easier, a floor plan was created to allow the user to navigate to a certain area of the gym with ease. Around 500 images were whittled down, fully edited to ensure they were sharp, clear and colours were correct, and then uploaded to google Drive to allow our client to download them at their leisure, with full copyright to use them as they wish. The tour can be found on our virtual tours page here.

Autumn Colours!

Our studio is just round the corner from Victoria Park, Stafford’s town park. We try to go for a 10 minute walk every day, and we usually walk through the park. As a photographer, I can’t help but always look for a photo that could be taken. During autumn the park really stands out, and the variety of trees give a real mix of colours.

Stafford, photography, commercial, council, town park, on location, autumn, landscape

I originally went out at around 9.00am, and whilst the light was very nice, it wasn’t lighting the park very well. At this point I knew I was wasting my time, and I had to wait it out. I went back at around 12.30pm, and the park was lit much better, allowing me to get a good shutter speed handheld, and a balanced exposure.

Stafford, photography, commercial, council, town park, on location, autumn, landscape

Victoria Park is extremely well managed, flowerbeds etc are continuously being maintained and replaced for different seasons, on this particular morning the flowerbeds were part way through being completely replaced. Another thing that I’ve noticed about the park is the fact that it is very rarely vandalised, which really helps in making it a pretty nice place to visit. I’d had my eye on the red tree (above), as I knew it would make a great subject for a shot of the park. The variety of different trees in the park meant that there is a nice contrast of colours in the above shot.

Stafford, photography, commercial, council, town park, on location, autumn, landscape

Whilst I may take the park for granted, as I’m sure the majority would agree, I am really glad to work so close to it. During the summer it’s great to go for a quick lap and take 10 minutes out of a busy day to gather your thoughts.

The Importance of High Quality Product Imagery.

Do you have a website from which you sell, or provide information on your products/services?

Then take a second to think about the fundamentals of your website. It is primarily there to showcase your business to as wide an audience as possible, and it’s your opportunity to stand out from the competition, quite easily!

Say for example you’re on the high street, you see a clean, well lit, modern store selling what you require. Across the street there is a dated looking shop selling the same product, but you can’t really see the products in their window as they’re poorly lit. Realistically, which one are you going to visit? I’d guess unless there was a major price difference, you’re going to visit the shop that appeals to you the most as a consumer. Now take that thought, and think back to your website, one of the first places potential clients will visit. The process is the same, the value of your business, products, and even customer service are perceived by potential customers as they peruse your website. If the images of your products are a bad representation due to poor lighting, limited photography equipment and bad editing, the client will see that bad representation, and you may never get the chance to prove to them that your products are actually fantastic.

At SO Visual, we quite often see large scale companies, with brilliant products that when you hold them or view them first hand, are truly worth every penny, no doubt. Upon visiting the website of said company, you’re greeted by low resolution renderings of the products, very few images, or at best, poor quality photographs that really don’t reflect the products in the best possible way. When a consumer cannot hold or view your products first hand, it is your responsibility to ensure the visual representations of the product are of the best quality possible. If a clean, seamless product image with a 100% white background is what you were looking to achieve, then a dimly lit product with an unflattering grey background isn’t going to cut it. To get the job done properly, the product should be shot in such a manner that it is an accurate representation, so that means it must be lit properly, shown at it’s best angle(s), and it should be edited in such a manner that the final image looks as much like the actual product as possible! The background should also be lit in order to get the 100% white backdrop that will take away any distractions from the product itself. It’s not an exact science, and more often than not, a product shoot will involve a different lighting setup than the shoot before it, and a bit of experimentation in order to get the best shots possible.

Studio, product, photography, Stafford, Staffordshire

Once the shots of that particular product are done, providing they’re done properly, that’s it. You’ve now got high quality images that back up your products, showing your pride in them, and hopefully provide you with increased sales. The potential return on the investment in professional product photography is huge!

packshot photography | commercial | west midlands | Staffordshire | product photography



On Location Commercial Photography

In the whole time we’ve been in business, one of our favourite tasks is on location commercial photography. We’ve met some brilliant people from all over the country, and been to some really interesting places. Such places include the archives of Manchester Library, The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth and numerous exciting events. Different locations pose a different challenge when it comes to our photography, and that’s what we enjoy the most.

On location, premises, building, staffordshire, photography

Premises photography

We always liaise with clients before we visit a new location for a shoot, to make sure we’re all on the right track. With all the excitement of being in an interesting place we need to be 100% focussed on the task at hand. With our wide range of photography equipment, we’ve never been in a position where we don’t have the kit required. We have 2 professional digital SLR cameras at our disposal, and we keep our kit up to date to ensure that the images produced are of the optimum quality. In certain locations low light levels could be an issue, but the technology in professional cameras these days, means such issues are minimised.

On Location Photography Staffordshire West Midlands

Being so close to the train station means we can simply jump on a train to most locations, but we’re more than happy to drive to anywhere in the UK if needs be. We’re yet to be commissioned for an overseas photoshoot, but we’ve got our fingers crossed!

product, photography, studio, commercial, shoot, lighting, stafford, staffordshire, so visual

Product photography on location for Allett Mowers <----- New site!


We’ve recently decided to build a separate website for our graphic design services. Our current site was getting a bit crowded with different services, so migrating graphic design to it’s own page seemed the obvious move. We’ll slowly be adding to the website, but as of Friday it’s now live @

We’ve gone logo mad!

SO, we’ve recently undergone a wide range of logo design projects, including a recent job for an international client! Logo projects are always fun, as each logo is unique, and the end product is always great. For every logo project we listen to our client’s needs first, and then come up with a number of concepts for them to choose from. Again, working with the client, we develop the chosen logo until they are 100% happy, offering our guidance at all times. Logo designs really are the best way of being graphically creative, and it’s a great feeling to set another company up and running with a brand.

We have recently started a logo design offer, which is great value for the work involved!

logo, design, corporate identity, marketinglogo, design, offer, marketing, corporate, identity
Logo, design, creative, branding, brand, corporate, identity


Giving Something Back.

I was recently asked to visit Staffordshire University to talk to 2nd and 3rd year students about how I progressed in my career. As a graduate of the university I jumped at the chance to revisit the design studio, and most importantly, give something back! The main aim of the talk was to highlight to the students that they don’t necessarily have to end up in a job that directly reflects their degree. I completed a Transport Design degree at the university, and upon graduating it was abundantly clear that the car industry (especially in the UK) was quietening off rapidly. The jobs that were available were few and far between, and the chance of getting one was slim. I decided I would take a side step, and target other areas in the creative industry. I got myself a job at B&Q to tide me over, and satisfy my need for an Audi TT. Rather than just get comfy in a full time job, I ignored all opportunities to progress within the company, as I had no interest in retail whatsoever. I found a part time photography course at Stafford College, as I was rapidly gaining interest in SLR photography. I completed the photography course, milking it for every bit of information/inspiration I could get. I also started using Adobe Illustrator to hone my graphic design skills, completing some free branding jobs for friends and family. A few months later I got a call from a friend I met at University, he worked for a toy company called Golden Bear, and I had previously sent a CV to them. He mentioned that a job had come up, and he had recommended me, so I should expect a phone call soon.

I got the phone call, and went for my first interview. It went very well, and I got the job, although it was clear I would have to get practising on Illustrator, as I was to be a “junior graphic designer”. I couldn’t hand in my notice to B&Q any quicker, and was really looking forward to starting at Golden Bear. I quickly settled in to my role, working on things like the London 2012 Olympics packaging, JBC packaging, corporate branding and loads of cool projects. I eventually took over packaging design, and also brought photography in house, saving the company around £10’000 a year. I set up a studio in a small room, and was responsible for taking the catalogue photos etc. I worked at Golden Bear for 3 years, capitalising on every opportunity, and then when the time was right I left to start SO Visual.

I’m glad I could visit the university, as it’s clear to me now that I knew very little as a student. I’d argue I potentially took the wrong degree as I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, but I could also argue that it doesn’t really matter too much, as long as you take small steps to ensure you tailor your career to you.


I’m the most bearded one…

Image is everything.


logo designAt SO Visual, we’ve helped out a lot of start up companies by designing them a brand to compliment their business. Without a doubt, the most important part of the branding process, is getting the logo right. The logo is what people remember, the only part of the brand that is used everywhere, and also as an added bonus, a great way of experimenting with corporate colours early on. We listen to our clients to gain an understanding of their company, sometimes they have a clear idea of what they want, and sometimes they ask us for a bit of input. Either way, we’re not happy until the client in question is 100% happy, at that point we can move on to progress the branding, but it all starts with the logo design.


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