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Graham Beck Winemakers

Now, those who have read my blogs for a while, might recall that I have a personal vendetta against "my secretary's got a nice camera we use here at the office and so she'll take my company profile pic for my website/blog/facebook fan page/twitter/publications/etc"-photos. Against the attitude I have an argument, but against the final product showing up in media everywhere, I can just say "tsk-tsk, what a waste".

Gladly, there are companies who take their image and profile seriously, and I'm especially chuffed when they contact me to handle the photography side of their profile. Especially the corporate portrait side, for which I have quite and affinity, actually. But corporate profiling is not what it used to be, as you'll see. Some corporates still require corporate serioustis, which is cool, but others are more interested in the message they send out, ie corporate lite.

Graham Beck's people called my people, in this case, myself, and we set a date for this shoot. They also wanted a shoot that would reflect the laid-back, down-to-earth, yet sophisticated nature of their winemakers, which in the wine trade, represents the public face as well. The viticulturist was also asked to join, as wine is famously known to be "made in the vineyard".

We arrived on a fairly hot day in Franschhoek, met with the subjects quickly, consulted with the PRO and marketing exec and we got to setting up our shots. Herewith some memories from the shoot.


The first batch of shots was taken in the road going past the winery. In the shade. So we don't burn.


I dunno, but when there are three or more people in a shot, I can't resist a Westlife CD-cover look as an option. Also, movement makes most non-professional models a whole lot more relaxed.


Even posy shots need to be relaxed and fun.


Ok, so I like some drama. When I shoot corporate shots these days, I always try and sneak in a pic or two that can be high-key, or high-contrast, or heavy lit, or cinematic or the like. Who knows who or what the publicist will approach with their images. The company might want to tackle a more drama-driven market like....say selling wine to Hollywood celebs (ok bad example)...(actually Barack Obama is the best known, and open supporter of Graham Beck Wines! He ordered it when he made himself available for election, AND on his inaugeration!).

Now, supplying this image to the local Hollywood Wine Drinkers Association Club Mag for editorial, might just work a lot better than a pic of a winemaker with a pipet in the cellar. Maybe not, but you catch my line of thinking. Options. BTW - the main man in the pic above is the viticulturist, Marco Vintrella. (Follow his cool tweets on Twitter @vinebug ).

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Single portraits of staff members are in my opinion always a good idea. It doesn't need to be similar settings, but maintain the feel. In this case, Mr Vintrella, Irene Waller (Robertson GB Cellar), Erika Obermeyer (Franschhoek GB Cellar) and Pieter "Bubbles" Ferreirra (Cellarmaster GB Wines) who also tweets quite nicely on Twitter @BubblesFerreira. Somebody might get a promotion, win a prize or something and you'd want to spread the word in the media. If you don't have a pic ready, chances are you might become the focus of my personal vendetta.


With the amount of accolades these guys are pulling in these days, fun celebratory shots like this is well in order, and in fact, quite useful for press releases. Also, note, if your premises is off world-class architectural design, flaunt it, use it in pics, if it's not, we'll make sure your shabby offices are perceived as Park Ave Corner Suites.


Oh, and stuff still happens. In this case the wind came up and blew my perfectly well functioning non-waterproof umbrella into the pond. Pieter rescued it. While on his phone.

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Another tip: Have a joker, in this case Mr. Vinebug. It keeps the other people laughing and keeps me shooting. It makes for great lifestyle images if people can naturally interact. After everyone started sweating counter-productively, we decided to head for the swanky tasting room area, where more lifestyle images would ensue. Food, cheese and wine was set out for the subjects to consume, interact with, and interact by, for our next series of shots. Products were also used in the shots.





Philip was also allowed a glass.



After the tasting room, everyone headed to Pieter's house for a crayfish lunch, where I continued to steal shots for their use as lifestyle fillers. Soon we'll be returning to capture their harvest, so watch this space for updates.

So, herewith 10 things I hate about your corporate pics (if the shoe fits scenario):

  1. Your secretary used your 12 gigapixel compact on small jpegs. 4000ISO. Noisier than a jack-hammer. And you wonder why publications reject it. It does not look right, right?
  2. You were made to face the camera front on, in a rugby team group portrait pose, covering your pelvic area. Only good if you have giant shoulders.
  3. Front-on flash makes you look flatter than a drunken tune. This technique isonly effective when using a ring-flash. Something not yet found on modern compacts. And only when well-executed does it work. Even by fancy photogs with fancy cameras.
  4. No theme, idea, or consistency with your brand shows in your pics.
  5. Overt use of branding in your pics. Except for your in-house publications and media, other press will simply reject images with branding in it. They'd rather sell you the right to show your branding. To get consistency with your brand, without showing logos is what we do.
  6. You sit behind your desk. Unless you're the Godfather, you should not be photographed behind your desk. It's a cliche, and not necessarily even for good reason. Point in case: George Bush really liked being photographed behind his desk.
  7. You insist on placing team photographs in your media. It's great here and there as a filler, but the press and media cannot identify with 75 smiling faces, badly lit, in blue overalls. And then they need to find the CEO or whoever you are underneath 75 hard-hats. It works well when you're doing your presentation to potential investors, or trying to show everyone how big you are - so don't neglect those images - but your CEO, MD and the like must be photographed alone. Especially when they're asked for their opinion in an article etc, you're gonna need pics of them alone. Imagine this caption: Here is Mr. Big Cheese, CEO of Big Cheese Pty Ltd, 73rd from the left, 12 rows up, in the blue overall, that is slightly more blue than the rest.
  8. You have a cell-phone pic of yourself on your Company Twitter page. Twitter is big media now. So is Facebook. Don't use sub-standard images there. The photographic profile needs to be carried through ALL media.
  9. You're wearing a check shirt. Do not. If printed or displayed small, it creates havoc on the eyes, dyes and pixels. On the cheaper camera you insisted on using, it also added another funky effect, called a Moyer-pattern. A really nastly looking rainbow pattern that looks like icicles on your shirt. Nice. Somebody just turned the page on you in Financial Mail. You had him with your insight, till he saw your pic.
  10. You insisted on having pictures ONLY in the company's reception area, with security camera-eyes, palm leaves, bits of desk and stray ambient light checking into the frame. Or, in a moment of manic inspiration, decided that you'd like to take a group portrait of your staff in the parking area. Or, how about we get everyone to sit around the board room table? Or infront of the fire-hydrant? Understand - all these options can work - when executed by a professional.

Please, respect your brand, use a professional! Also, try Graham Beck's Shiraz/Viognier - yummy.


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