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Best places to photograph around the world

October 17, 2013
One of photography’s simple pleasures is that it’s possible to take an exceptional picture in whatever environment the photographer happens to find herself in. There is no overriding necessity to craft and compose that perfect shot, so long as the view before you is sufficiently awe-inspiring, you can capture a shot to rival those in travel brochures. It’s why digital photo sharing has exploded in popularity, as well as why someone with a good eye and an iPhone can produce moments of magic at every turn – in short, this is the democratisation of photography. As importantly, this democratisation of digital photography has created a convenient and never-ending excuse to travel to breath-taking and jaw-dropping places, so that you can share these visual treasures with your family and friends upon returning home. Here we present twelve of these astounding locations – a mixture of both the well-traversed and less known – to inspire your next snap-happy getaway. The Pyramids, Egypt While we don’t recommend repeating the behaviour of these Russians who hid from guards for four hours before climbing The Great Pyramid of Giza, visiting the most mysterious of the world’s great wonders still merits a place at the top of the bucket list. © Muhammad Mansour Rajasthan, India This state in north-western India, known as ‘The Land of the Kings’, is home to a glorious trinity of desert, river and mountain as well as tiger and nature reserves, spectacular palaces and the oldest archaeological ruins on the Indian subcontinent. © Evegeni Zotov Black Rock City, Nevada Desert For one week every year, tens of thousands of people gather together to build a city in the desert. It’s built on four principles: community, art, self-expression and self-reliance. When it’s time to return home, all art installations are burnt to the ground to emphasise to attendees the concept of the ‘impermanence of everything’. © Emmanuel Vivier Havana, Cuba With cars, cigars and the looming presence of Fidel Castro on every enchanting corner, Havana doesn’t need to try very hard to warrant its status as the most colourful city in the world. Don’t miss Malecon, the city’s famous sea wall, at sunset. © Jordi Martorell Angkor Watt, Cambodia There’s no shortage of visitors to Siem Reap, the gateway town for what is technically the largest religious monument in the world. Crowds pack in front of the stone lotus flowers and bustle for the best shot at sunrise, but the myriad of temples in the jungle beyond await a more discerning photographer. © Jono Hey Plitvice Lakes, Croatia It often comes as a surprise when people haven’t heard of the waterfalls at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, especially when official figures clock visitors at the 1,000,000 mark. They’re easily accessible as an UNESCO World Heritage site, and the temples can be approached as pure photographic indulgence. © Bruno Monginoux New York, USA Given the colour and vibrancy of the Big Apple, some might say it’s hard to take a bad photograph in its bustle and

The evolution and future of Photobox, as revealed by our founder Graham Hobson

October 1, 2013
This week, we are introducing Graham Hobson, who is not only PhotoBox’s founder, but as importantly, our Chief Technology Officer. Graham is responsible for much of the ongoing technological innovation here at PhotoBox that you are likely to encounter whenever you access PhotoBox’s products and services. Being both founder and innovator, we have asked Graham to answer six questions relating to PhotoBox’s birth, evolution and how it has developed into the brand that we all know and love…   Tell us the story of how you came up with the idea of setting up PhotoBox? Back in 1999, I had two young children, aged three and one years old. We took lots and lots of photos of them. It felt like every week we developed a full roll of 36 photos, yet only a few of those were any good. Digital cameras then appeared onto the scene, and we bought our very first digital camera in October 1999. Unfortunately, we could not find a company anywhere to print these digital photos. Since my wife wanted to have physical copies of these photos, I struck upon the idea of starting my own digital photo printing company. Previously, I had created order systems for banks, so I thought that such a task wouldn’t be too different. All I wanted to do was to create an order system, plugged into a mini lab – how difficult could it be? To get started, I wrote a business plan every day whilst on the train, and in November 1999, I revealed to my friends my plans to start PhotoBox. A short while later, during a business trip, I wrote the final detailed plan. PhotoBox finally went live on 11th May 2000. Our first day of orders amounted to £2.70, and that very same customer is still ours today, 13 years later!   What motivated you from the very beginning? I was in my mid 30s, had some professional confidence, but decided I wanted to strike out in a new direction. I had been in the banking industry for quite a while, and I was looking for a change in the existing world of internet startups. For the first three years, we were in unknown territory; it was nothing like what I expected a dot com to be. We were a small company (less than 5 employees for the first 3 years) and we had to do everything ourselves. Being a service that started out from personal need also motivated me tremendously. Along the way, we just listened to what customers wanted, and we accommodated it. We very quickly realized that customers also wanted to make more than prints with their photos, and diversified into personalised products (Photo books, canvases, mugs, calendars, etc.), and so we adapted. Who said dot com startups are glamorous?…   What made you take a leap of faith into the digital photo printing industry? Was your family supportive from the start? To be honest, my family thought I was a bit crazy.

The Importance of ‘Relationships’ in Photography

August 29, 2013
By Maria Slough, of Maria Slough Photography. This week, we are introducing Maria Slough, a portrait and media reportage photographer whose photos are used to gain press coverage across magazines and newspapers. Maria will be guest blogging on the topic of finding relationships in photography, thus helping us PhotoBoxers become better photographers. Over to Maria for more info on the topic… Maria: There are many different relationships in photography. By “relationship”, I mean the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected. It begins with the unique relationship that we have with our camera or smartphone. Next consider the relationship that you form, sometimes instantly, with the subject that has inspired you to immortalise its image. Finally it involves the relationship that your photograph inspires in its viewer. Whatever genre of photography you enjoy, seek out these relationships within the potential picture and you will be rewarded with amazing results! 1. People Capturing relationships between people is a real privilege. Be ready to photograph the stolen moments which come in-between the posed shots. This is when people are momentarily relaxed and the emotions of what is normally only shared privately, is briefly revealed to us, such as in the photograph below of Times Best Selling Author, Pen Farthing and his family. The photograph of actor Martin Clunes and his horse Chester taken during a shoot for Your Horse Magazine, shows there is a playful side to their relationship. There are other more subtle relationships to look out for. The first picture below shows the relationship that the Violinist shares with her instrument, and the second is about the relationship between her image and its reflections. 2. Places When photographing locations look for the relationship between the foreground and its backdrop. Unusual perspectives always stand out so be bold and move around to get the shot. You will find relationships everywhere – between what lies above and below the horizon; between reflections and shadows; and between your subject and the main light source such as in the first picture below: In contrast the relationship between two clouds in this second picture below appears to be hostile. This cloud formation was made even more dramatic by the relationship between the dark shadows at the top and bottom of the photograph. 3. Animals Photographing animals is often a challenge but extremely rewarding. Simplify the process by deciding what relationship you want to capture. Is it the relationship between two animals; between a pet and its toy; or are you looking to make a single shot more interesting? To make your photograph stand out, look for a natural relationship of colour and contrast within the shot such as in the pictures below. The dog’s brown eyes and brown markings form a natural relationship of colour. Similarly, the grey of the gravel and the green of the grass emphasise the cat’s colouring. 4. The Lens Finally, encourage anyone you are photographing to form a relationship with your lens. Reverse the roles

How to take great photos of your pets

August 15, 2013
Pets play a huge part in most families – but most of the time they just want to make things extremely hard when it comes to trying to get a successful photograph of them. Although some of you may have it down to a tee, some of us don’t find it easy at all. So to lend a helping hand, we have come up with some guidelines to help you get a pet photo that you can be truly proud of. Make the most of your pet’s character If your pet is very sleepy, then picture them sleeping, if they’re hyperactive and playful then capture them leaping in the air or performing their favourite trick. At the end of the day, no one knows your pet better than you do, so play to his or her strengths. Use natural light If it’s possible, then we advise that you should always use natural light when trying to take a photograph of your pet. Try to avoid the flash at all cost, as not only will it cause red eye but it will also frighten your pet, so any preparation you have already made will be lost. Try Macro Dig out that long lens and make your pet the centre of attention. Fill the frame with your pet’s face and get some stunning portraits. Catch them unaware It is probably one of the hardest tasks trying to get your pet to stay still when you actually want them to be – which is why it is a good idea to photograph them when they’re surprised. Call or whistle at them and in the few seconds that you have their attention, make sure you get that snap! Take more than one If your pet is doing something that you just have to photograph, then get down close to them and just keep taking photos one after the other. Your pet may become impatient and move around a lot, but keep persisting and you will get the most unexpected and best photos of it. Be patient Trying to get a perfect picture of your pet isn’t something that is going to come after your first try – it demands a lot of patience. Once you start taking a few snaps, your pet will eventually calm down and that will be the perfect time to try and get that one flawless shot. Be experimental If you have gone to the trouble of setting up a photo session, be sure to make the most of it. Experiment with different angles and approaches, take loads of different shots, and you’ll be sure to have one truly outstanding photo. © Jessica Keating Photography If your pet is dark-coloured It’s pretty hard getting that perfect shot when your pet has dark fur. But finding a complimentary background for your pet is one easy option to help with this – try to make it as light and bright as possible, so all the attention is drawn to your pet. Do

Tips for taking Group Snaps

July 22, 2013
“Everyone squeeze in!” is the familiar phrase heard whenever you’re taking or being part of a group photograph. Creating a group shot is never as easy as it first seems – so we have come up with a few pointers to help you attain that perfect group photo. Zoom in If your surroundings aren’t that great, then zoom in on your group and just get a head shot. Sometimes these can be a lot more effective, because you have a more intimate photograph with your subjects. Change perspective Try standing on a chair (or something similar), which is a really useful vantage point when taking a large group shot. Get them all to look up at the camera as you’re perched up high, ‘say CHEESE’ and there you have a great group photograph. Take your photos outside Once you get outside, your light conditions will be far improved, as long as you are not in direct sunlight! This means you have a greater variety of backdrops and space to work with, which will make your photo taking experience far easier. Take more than one The more photographs you take, the more likely you are to grab the perfect shot – and the more you take, the more comfortable the group you’re photographing will become. Timing Timing definitely is everything when you’re taking a group photograph – in just a second one of your subjects could blink, move or turn their head away. So you need to carefully observe the group, and know exactly when to push that button. And more importantly… HAVE FUN! Once you’ve found a great group shot that you’re proud of, bring it to life on a PhotoBox product and wait for the WOW factor at the next group gathering! Do you have any further tips for creating great group snaps? If you do, please share them with us at the end of this blog piece.