The Basics of Photographing Textiles and Textile Art

Pells Fog  by artist Jackie Bennett. created using an open weaving technique, woven in cotton, horse hair and other materials

Pells Fog by artist Jackie Bennett. created using an open weaving technique, woven in cotton, horse hair and other materials

I first came across art textiles whilst working with the wonderful Claire Benn on her website. I've since worked with Susie Koren, Amelia Leigh and Deborah Harwood and loved the work

Here’s some tips on how you might photograph your own textiles, followed by how I photograph textiles in my studio.

The tripod in the foreground (fabulous for everything) cost over £100.00. The one in the background, just as good for photographing textiles on a wall as her high-rent sister, cost £3.50 at a car boot sale

The tripod in the foreground (fabulous for everything) cost over £100.00. The one in the background, just as good for photographing textiles on a wall as her high-rent sister, cost £3.50 at a car boot sale

You need a tripod

If you don’t have a tripod go and buy one/order one/get yourself to a boot sale or have a look in your local Friday ad newspaper

Why is a tripod essential for photographing textiles?

If you have no lighting equipment at all you’ll be using natural light. While natural light outside is plentiful and, if you can find the right spot, very lovely, you may want to photograph your work inside where natural light is generally much more limited.

In low light, in the absence of additional artificial lighting, you will need a slow shutter speed. In the photographs below I was using between 1/8 and 1/5 of a second. Pretty… darn…slow.

NOBODY can hold a camera rock steady for an 1/8 of a second Feel free to contact me here if you can and I will write a blog all about you because you’ll be of vast physiological interest, largely because of the strength and size of your arm muscles.

So, a tripod is essential for photographing with natural light inside or you risk your blurring your photographs as the camera moves during exposure.

Direction of lighting

Because this blog is about the basics, let’s keep it simple.

Put your textiles opposite a window. This will ensure even lighting across the textile. As a note, I am lucky enough to have lovely, large white walls (no colour cast). If you can find a room with the lightest, palest walls possible you lower the risk of colour bouncing off the walls and spoiling the purity of your textile’s colours.

I should really have removed that bright blue and orange poster from the right hand side. Do as I say, not as I do.

Window light for textile photography DSC_7503.jpg

The bright, pale walls also help bounce gentle, even light all over your piece.

Where to put your tripod

Imagine a camera on top of the tripod

Imagine a camera on top of the tripod

Your tripod should be far enough back so that you can get the whole of the piece in your viewfinder without having use a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens will cause distortion, a stretching out of the far corners of the textile.

The camera should be level with the middle of the textile (you’ll have to imagine a camera on top of this tripod, my camera was taking the shot).

Natural Lighting (daylight only)

This shot was taken with the light from the window. Ideally I’d want the textile to be closer to the window than it is in my studio to achieve a little more contrast, and therefore texture, within the textile.

Daylight and Room Light (Tungsten strip lighting)

When I put the room lights on in my studio the evenness of the lighting was compromised and there’s unpleasant colour cast along the top of the textile.

On-Camera Flash

The lighting is more even than the daylight/tungsten light combination but the flash has flattened the detail in the piece making it look more like a painting or a graphic than a textile.

Textiles will look different in different rooms and under different lighting conditions. It’s good to aim to replicate the kind of situation where your textile might be displayed.


  1. Use a tripod

  2. Place your textile exactly opposite a window.

  3. Try to remove anything near the textile that has a strong colour in it.

Directional Studio Lighting

When I shoot textiles I use studio flashlights for the following reasons.

  1. They are a powerful enough source of light (daylight temperature) that I can set the camera to a fast shutter speed (125), I don’t have to use a tripod, there won’t be any blurring.

  2. The amount of light produced by the studio lights means I can use apertures that will render the optimal degree of crispness, from the front to the back of the image (typically I’m using F8/F11).

  3. I can move the lights around so that I can create a sense of texture by gentle sidelighting.. This brings out the shape and countours of the materials used in the work. Essential in a textile.

  4. Using studio light I can not only control the direction of the lights but also the intensity of it by moving the lights nearer to, or further away from, the textiles.

  5. By placing translucent material in front of the lights I can soften the lights creating a gentler illumination. which is useful for textiles with a subtler range of tones.

Lighting a textile from 45 degrees DSC_7525.jpg

At an angle

By placing the lighting at 45 degrees to the textile but far enough away to ensure a softness, rather than a harshness of texture, I can bring the materials used in the textile to life.

Click to enlarge Amelia Leigh’s work below and see how the texture of the materials used has been rendered by the studio lighting. The full-size work is on the left, close-up detail on the right hand side.

Photographing Texture

Herein lies the difference between photographing a painting where the surface texture is minimal, and a textile where the texture of the materials used, the contours of the piece, are essential elements in the work and must be realised in any photograph of it.

Using soft studio lighting at an angle (see photo below) I can achieve the subtle shadowing that renders texture in a pleasing way.

Thank you to Jackie Bennett for the kind loan of her beautiful textile for this blog.

If there’s something I’ve missed, or you’d like more information on, please do post in the comments below. I love to learn and am always happy to help

The Availability Heuristic, how to take advantage of it and why good quality images help

According to research our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text

Goldfish (who actually have a longer attention span than the average web-user) flicking through TV Channels created by   Lewes Logo Designs

Goldfish (who actually have a longer attention span than the average web-user) flicking through TV Channels created by Lewes Logo Designs

Given the attention span of the average web-user this is an important thing to bear in mind when building your home page, or any of your pages

Humans are better and faster at processing images than words, partly because, as a species, we've been doing it longer but also because the ability to quickly process and understand what we see in front of us (landscape, people, obstacles) has given us a better chance of survival. 

Chocolate and orange, gluten and dairy-free cake from Ground Lewes. Mmmmmmm

Chocolate and orange, gluten and dairy-free cake from Ground Lewes. Mmmmmmm

Our enhanced ability not only to process but also to remember images over words may be a result of the way an image memory is laid down.

A picture brings with it all kinds of associations, the past, smell, touch, taste, place, emotion and the many different versions of that image we have seen before.

The activation of different parts of the brain to process the different sensations and associations arising from an image is likely to lead to a more sophisticated encoding.

The more we think about something, the more solidly it lodges in our brain and the easier it is to access when it comes to rapid decision-making time

The Availability Heuristic

Whilst most of use consider ourselves to be independent thinkers, much of how we we go about making instant decisions is based on the Availability Heuristic. This means that the information we choose to help us make rapid choices is more to do with how easy it is to access that information than whether the information is actually helpful or relevant.

The attention we lend to an experience is proportional to its vivid or interesting character and it is an notorious fact that what interests us most vividly at the time is, other things equal, what we remember best
— William James, 19th Century US Philosopher and Psychologist

The term Availabiity Heuristic was first coined in 1973 by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman to describe how human beings make judgements about the prevelance of certain events based on how many similar events were brought to mind. 

Shark v Plane

When asked about common causes of death people are likely to draw on what they've most recently heard or read in the media and give that disproportionate predominance. For example, when questioned as to whether someone is more likely to die from a shark attack or from an aeroplane part falling from the sky, most people will cite the shark. In fact more people die from injuries sustained when aeroplane parts falls to earth than they do from shark wounds; deaths from aeroplane debris are rarely reported.

What this means for our purposes is that people will make snap decisions based on the most available piece of information, not necessarily the most accurate

So, what does this all mean to you?

Use images to lodge yourself at the forefront of people's minds, and use them frequently on whichever platform you use to talk about or demonstrate your business (make them good ones, you don't want to the first thing people to think about you is "meh").

By doing this you are building up speedily absorbed and easily retrievable chunks of information in your customers' minds so that when they're wavering between your product (or service) or someone else's, you will have the advantage. You will have established pre-eminence.

You will of course need high quality written content on your websites too. But if you want to take advantage of the Availability Heuristic, images could be your best friend

Take a Little Test

Watch the slideshow and when it's finished see how much of each image you can recall, and how many of the words.

High quality, original, arresting images of your business are very important, (here's why it's better not to use library shots). Your website will be judged by the quality of the weakest part, don't allow that to be your images

This doesn't mean you have to hire a photographer, if you're handy with a camera, do it yourself

Of course, it might just be more economic to get a professional to care of what is an essential part of a good marketing strategy. Bear in mind that high quality images will keep working for you for a long time after they are taken, and paid for.

If you want to hire this particular photographer/website maker (me) or talk about making a website full of beautiful, compelling images, do get in contact.

Do please sign up here if you'd like to receive tips on how to improve your website. They'll turn up every couple of months or so

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Noise and Websites

Sound files indicating noise and quiet

Unwanted noise creates stress in human beings.  Having given ourselves easy and constant access to digital entertainment via our mobiles, tablets and pcs, it’s possible to be surrounded by almost constant noise, not just aural but visual too

Turn down the noise on your website and people will like that

It is not surprising that so many young people suffer from anxiety when so much of their time is spent in an easily accessible virtual world that allows for no rest periods and is the metaphorical equivalent of being poked repeatedly by a stick into a never ending state of alertness.

This is not conducive to calm or wellbeing. The adrenal glands get no rest, mental and physical exhaustion follow.

People do enjoy noise when they choose it, dance music, the sound of drumming, twenty five electric guitars playing at the same time, the opening mass timestep in 42nd Street. It is exciting, exhilarating and can turn a day around, whipping up flagging energy and improving mood.

However beneficial the positive effects of noise can be, if we can’t get away from unwanted noise, we close down. We turn off our receptors in order to protect ourselves from the discomfort a barrage of sound can create. This is as true of visual as it is of aural noise

Effective communicaton is most likely to exist in a state of calm. Good writers know this and spend a great deal of time throwing out the clutter that gets in the way of communication. Experienced writers does not allow extraneous noise.

Noise creates distraction, quiet opens up understanding

As your means of communicating with the world, your website needs to give your visitor space for reflection and thoughtfulness. No one wants to be shouted at, or hurried along or confused by too many signals.

This means that nothing should be there that does not absolutely need to be

Simplicity makes for clarity and that brings about the peace of knowing exactly where you and the feeling of safety that comes from that. Or not...

For those interested in these things, the Noise soundwave is from London Calling by The Clash, the Quiet graphic is a babbling brook, by Mother Nature.

Graphics by Bespoke Designs Lewes 
Get in contact with Katie if you'd like help with any aspect of a website

If you'd like to sign up to receive occasional, extremely helpful, tips to help you improve your website, please do fill in the form below

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Using Symbols to define your Unique Selling Point

Graphics of a target, birds, a waterfall a designer

Without a bit of help it’s hard to identify your own difference. Using symbols can help you identify the essence of the way you do business 

Here are four businesses I know well and the symbols or images I’d use to define them

Lomax and Skinner – Flight

Lomax and Skinner fine millinery in Sussex

In her book The Years, Virginia Woolf describes the arrangement of millinery in London shop windows as separately a flight of hats and flights of hats. This woman does not chuck words at the page, there is diligence behind every description

A flights of hats is a wonderful phrase for a collection of millinery but particularly for the millinery of Lomax and Skinner. Flight describes the drift of the will-o-the-wisp, achingly delicate quality in their hats.  It describes their lilting , teasing, downland swift poise.

Graphic of birds flying.png
Graphic of arrow heading towards a target

Business Coaching Sussex - Arrow speeding towards the target

Marisa Guthrie, who happens to be my own business coach, will get to the nub of a thought before you’ve even finished it expressing it

The speed at which she processes information and her clear path of reasoning is partly a result of instinct, partly experience and partly her extraordinary sensitivity. It is a pleasure to witness, in the same way Olympic gymnastics are lovely, or a trapeze artist who lands on one square centimetre where landing on another would mean disaster, makes for compelling viewing. That kind of knife-point precision is fun and exciting in whatever form it takes.  

Brighton Business Coach Marisa Guthrie

Seven Sisters Spices, Chloe Edwards – The Designer

Cereal with fruit by Seven Sisters Spices

Chloe is a talented and original conjurer of spices. But Chloe is a visual artist too, as anyone who follows her on Instagram will know. She’s a designer

The job of design is to put together words, colours, shapes or images that in their entirety communicate a particular message. It’s recognising which elements to use and how they all weave together that makes someone a designer.

Chloe knows about taste, aroma, texture, scent and flavour.  She designs a multi-layered sensual experience in the food she creates.


Graphic of someone thinking of a design
Graphic image of a wild waterfall by Gabriel Gardner

Darling Buds of Sussex, Tracey Kirker – The Wild Waterfall

Bridal bouquet by Darling Buds of Sussex

Tracey’s pretty face belies her anarchist tendancies. This woman has a wicked sense of humour and a sideways take on life

Her blooms escape formality and dance deliciously instead, structured but free, always joyful and sometimes dramatic when the woman who will carry the bouquet wants to to express that part of herself.

It's worth trying to think of a single image or symbol that defines you as way of achieving clarity when it comes to explaining what’s different about you, not just to others but to yourself.

It’s not always the obvious one and it might make you delve a little deeper into what is unusual or valuable about what you do.

Mine would be someone pulling back heavy curtains and letting light flood into a darkened room or standing at the top of a hill and being able to see for miles and miles. The Clarifier.

Contact me if you want some Clarity around the business message on your website, and how best to communicate that.


A short story showing you how to tell your story, on your website

A carrot in a lane of stinging nettles

The Nettle and the Carrot
(Intriguing headline, unusual image)


Nettle Attack!
(Subheadings tell people what's coming next, it's relaxing for them)

When I go on a walk and encounter some stinging nettles I never avoid them. I've always felt that the sting must be beneficial. 

One of my favourite walks has become very overgrown and so the nettle attack has gone from mild to vicious and a curious thing has happened.  

A Miracle Cure
(Keep the paragraphs short, keep their attention)

When I peel a carrot I hold it in my left hand and scrape away with my right.  For a while I've been experiencing quite a bit of pain in my left thumb joint when I do this.

This pain has now almost entirely gone.

(Ask a question, curiosity will tempt people to carry on reading to find the answer)

The lessening of pain in my thumb might be coincidence except that some research I've done online does suggest that nettles can provide pain relief from osteoarthritis in the thumb joint. 

If you know anything about the benefits of nettles I'd love to hear from you.
(Invite your website visitor engage with you)


Click here to find out what the Arthritis Society has said about pain relief and nettles
(Provide a link to an authoritative website which describes the purpose of the link)

Unless you love writing keep it short, keep it clear and illustrate whatever you write

And never forget that even a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average web user


SEO Tips of the day - Ask not what you want to give your customers but what your customers actually NEED

Hannah Pilfold and her mobile coffee van in Lewes

Hannah Pilfold and her mobile coffee van in Lewes

If you're going to start anywhere with thinking about improving what you offer, start with USEFULNESS.

During challenging financial times people are reluctant to part with their money unless there is a significant benefit from the expenditure. This seems obvious but what many people do is offer their customers what they want to offer their customers, not necessarily recognising the actual needs a cutomers has.

So what do your customers actually need?

Hannah's seems to me to be a perfect example of getting this right.

Hannah's van is parked in Lewes a couple of days a week and sells coffee and sweet treats.  Hannah's mobile coffee provision is useful because

  • She sells coffee. People like coffee, alot
  • She provides a lift at the beginning of the day, or during a day, which may well be needed if that day is full of difficult, or challenging tasks
  • The treat is affordable
  • Hannah provides a place to gather after school drop-off for the chat that parents often enjoy. She makes it extra nice. Extra valuable

A bit of beauty for all

Hannah's beautiful branding (made by Malcom Davis at Lewes Map) reinforces the idea that her coffee is valuable, something special and of high quality. That makes her customers feel that they are valuable, special and, in a subtle way, it makes them feel good.

If it were me I'd call her van Hannah's Lifting Equipment. Because that's what she's doing. She's giving everyone who wants it, a boost, a good start to their day. A day can turn around on a treat.

Hannah's, a need met. That's what we should all be doing

What do your customers actually need? 

Finding that out, nailing it down, is crucial to the successful communication of what your business is. It is also a very rewarding and valuable process. If I can help with that, let me know.

Ways you can see more of Hannah's

The basics on how to engage your audience with fonts

Graphic How to use fonts to catch the eye and hold people's attention

A guideline by graphic designer Gabriel Gardner (freelance at 100Designs)

In this post, I will be focusing on the design process that goes into selecting and using fonts on websites (and marketing material) in order to catch your viewers' eyes and hold their attention. In this blog we will be looking at tone, legibility, layout, and font pairings.

Step 1: Tone assessment “what are you in the mood for?”

The first step is the crucial one, and that is assessing the tone or mood that website will have. 

If you aren’t really sure what kind of font would suit the tone of the website, then researching similar websites and their use of fonts is a good idea, it will help get you started.

Example of Sports logo

Example - if you were creating a sports-based website, then you would want a dynamic, yet bold sans serif font (as pictured above) to capture the high energy, strength and excitement of sports.

You should also think carefully about the colour palette. The bright red works well will the sporty font, it is high- impact, positive, attention-grabbing.

If you were creating a jewellery website,  you might want to add a touch of sophistication to the site by choosing a fine serif or sans serif font to illustrate the delicacy and refinement of the jewellery, you may even want to choose a calligraphic font in order to represent the hand craftsmanship that goes into the pieces (see example below). Decide on the emotion you want to generate in visitors to your site and make your font choice based on that.

Fonts for jewellery

With a jewellery site black might be considered too bold and unwelcoming as a colour. A fainter grey feels more welcoming and less aggressive. Black is used as the universal colour for text because it is highly legible and has high visibility, but a black font will rarely work for an art or craft-based business.  It lacks personality. A fainter grey, for example, not only has more elegance but brings to mind the colour of silver which makes it especially suitable for a jewellery website.

You should feel free to experiment with colours and fonts. Using what you see every day, the fonts used in our culture, and your own natural instincts, you will usually find that the process of selecting an ideal colour palette and title font is much easier than you'd think.

Step 2: Legibility and layout “size matters, and so does where you put things!”

This is really is the bare essentials, but it is still incredibly important information to remember that the fonts you pick for your site shoulde easily readable at any size. People make up their minds about whether they want to read information on a website, based on a first glance at the size, legibility and style of font used rather than the content of the text that is written there. A good first impression is key, and you only get a chance to make one.

These are the basics, but when you see them in practice (below) they will make much more sense.  

1) Bold/thick fonts are better for titles or headlines.

2) Text headings and subtitles are also better when bolder, but need to be noticeably smaller than their title counterparts otherwise the weight of the layout will be thrown completely out of balance – at this point you should switch to the type of font (sans serif or serif) that you intend to use as the body text, in order to tie the arrangement together and create a relationship between the text so it is more easily consumed.

3) Body text. As mentioned above, sse a finer, smaller version of the subtitle font. If it is too complicated and ‘gimmicky’  it will become too much of a strain and will largely be ignored.

Using the example of the Sports business, here's what bringing all that together might look like.

The year is highlighted in red, which works in the colour palette and projects importance onto the highlighted word. The body text is finer and smaller, not needing to catch the eye (the job of the title and to some extent the subtitle) but is still perfectly legible – its main job is to effectively distribute the information it represents. 

Step 3: Font Pairings “It takes two.”

Using multiple fonts on the same page can be a very effective way of grabbing attention and sustaining engagement – if it is done right, if fonts just don’t match up, they can really mess things up. With that in mind, here are the things to look out for when pairing fonts together to create an appealing and eye-catching duet.

1) “Contrast Don’t Clash”
This was previously mentioned in step 2, and Contrast, as the name implies, is about finding completely separate, but still complementary fonts that are each fit for their intended purpose (step 1, tone setting). Usually, this entails pairing a serif font with a sans serif one. Fonts will most usually clash if they are too similar to one another: two marginally different serif or sans serif fronts almost never create nice typeface pairings.

The first priority is to establish a clear hierarchy – or order of things. This may be as simple as differing size and weight of the same typeface (step 2), but where the typeface varies, that's when careful, considered font-pairing is crucial. If you have a display font (The sports world logo shown before, for example) bursting with personality and energy, you'll need something more neutral to do the hard work i.e. communicating the actual content of the site.

2) “Sorting out your serifs”
Back to basics again. The terms 'serif' and 'sans serif' are a little vague as classifications. The truth is that they are each divided into multiple mini sub-categories. Generally speaking, Old Style serifs such as Garamond, Bell MT and Georgia will combine well with such sans serif fonts as Gill Sans and Lucida Sans.

Sans serif fonts graphic
Image of serif fonts

Here are some examples of combining Sans and Sans Serif fonts to intrigue the eye and engage the viewer

This pairing often works best with Trade (bolder and weightier) used for headings and titles and Sabon used for the body text. Both fonts are highly legible, with a high X-height, but are not too similar to one another and show sans serifs and serifs partnerships working well.

The similarity in  x-height  ratios means the fonts work well together and the combination of the bold authoritative serif and the sleek, contemporary sans serif make this pairing stand out. Together they are sleek, elegant and professional.

The similarity in x-height ratios means the fonts work well together and the combination of the bold authoritative serif and the sleek, contemporary sans serif make this pairing stand out. Together they are sleek, elegant and professional.

The low  x-height  but wide base for both fonts ties these two fonts together well, The boldness and weight of Clarendon makes it particularly suitable as a heading font whereas the lightness and geometric curves make Avenir easy to read.

The low x-height but wide base for both fonts ties these two fonts together well, The boldness and weight of Clarendon makes it particularly suitable as a heading font whereas the lightness and geometric curves make Avenir easy to read.

Hopefully you learned a thing or two from this blog on how to structure the text on your websites, the types of fonts you should choose to catch the eye and maintain interest, and how to assess the tone of your work in order to select an appropriate colour palette and style of fonts. Remember not to over complicate things as the old adage, “less I more” is certainly true when it comes to use of fonts. Good luck with your designs!

Simple SEO Tip of the Day - Problems are Presents

SEO Tips of the Day by 100Designs - Problems are Presents logo

The phrase Problems are Presents was coined by Vera Peiffer of the Peiffer Foundation for Positive Thinking. This is how is relates to SEO

The problem with do-it-yourself SEO (as opposed to the paid variety) is that whatever else it is, it is HARD WORK. Website content needs to be original, helpful, ever-changing, engaging and authentic. Thinking about this and finding time to do this is extremely hard work.

But there's another way of looking at it. The problems that SEO engagement presents us with, if resolved, will make your business superb. If you are genuinely solving your customers problems, if you really do make your site visitors lives' more interesting, more fun, calmer, less stressed, easier to manage, a little bit better, yours will be a truly valuable business and that value is chargeable for.  

That value also appears to be favoured by Google when it comes to site ranking.

Example 1 - A problem identified, a problem solved (one of our websites)

Murder Mystery Games (current site in development) will be a site that offers downloadable Murder Mystery Games. That in itself solves a problem.  How to entertain a large group of people with guaranteed fun. It goes further, it offers a Costume Guide which includes costume tips and images representing fashion since 1840.

It's fun looking at these photos, it's also informative, interesting and a useful resource for when people are getting themselves equipped for a Murder Mystery Games event.

At the end of the Guide there will be series of links to places where costumes can be hired or bought or found. Another problem solved.

Example 2 - A problem identified, a problem solved with Asapoth (not one of our websites)

Asapoth - makers of natural creams and distilled waters from flowers and plants. 

Photograph by 100Designs

Photograph by 100Designs

The obvious problems solved here are the need to cheer oneself up when more extravagant forms of retail therapy are out of reach, the need not to use chemicals on our bodies and the need to self-reward.  And to be happy for a bit.

But this site goes further because its ethos is about connection with nature and the therapeutic benefit of that.  Amanda Saurin has recently announced that she will be collaborating with other makers with a similar ethos and will showcase their work on her site.

The Asapoth site will be even more useful and resource-rich as it becomes a hub for those who want to make, and those who want to buy, natural products, locally sourced, of the highest possible quality.

Asapoth's site is a great example of good SEO although in this case my feeling is that this practice arises from a very sound, very committed business ethos.  

But that's the point.  The two go hand in hand.

Happy New Year!

And do sign up for more tips ....



Throwing SEO out of the window Sometimes. Topsy Jewell's Pottery website

In between posts on how you can improve your SEO it's nice to mess things up a bit and show how breaking the "rules" is not always a bad thing.

Topsy Jewell's latest work

Topsy Jewell's latest work

I made Topsy Jewell's website last year and have just done a little refreshing on it.  New photographs and a few copy changes.

Topsy's site does not have very much content and it doesn't have a Blog.  Google likes content, and Blogs.  We all know Content is King.

When you google Hand made pottery in Lewes, Topsy's site comes up on the first page.

I like to think that in amongst the mysterious rules of SEO there is something about rewarding sites that make it easy for people, really, really easy.

Beautiful photographs of her beautiful work. How to get hold of her. To me that's nearly perfect, and it seems to work fine.

Simple SEO Tip of the Day, Usefulness

Is your website useful?  

SEO Tip of the Day by 100designs blog

Google will like it very much if it is. Useful merges into Relevant in the sense that the more your website matches and fulfils the expectations and requirements of Google's customers, the more Google will appreciate you and, theoretically, the more favoured you will be in terms of ranking

What does useful mean?  It means meeting a need. Here's a few examples of how a website can be useful

Jules Asch makes jewellery from natural objects covered in silver. Jewellery is lovely and life enhancing, but is it useful?


Here's how The Silvery jewellery is useful

The Silvery natural jewellery worn by Lucie the model by Katie Vandyck

1. People put on jewellery to feel smarter, prettier, more stylish
That's meeting a need to feel more attractive.

2. People like natural objects because part of their identity might be an affinity with the natural worldThe Silvery jewellery is a way of showing that part of themselves to the world. To let the world know who they are
That's meeting a need to express yourself.

3. The Silvery jewellery is classic, timeless, not tied to fashion or especially to age. This makes it a much safer gift idea than something more obviously youthful or obviously meant for older people
That's a need to confidently buy a present for someone who's tastes you are not absolutely certain about.

4. The Silvery offers to take precious objects and cover them in silver. I have a beautiful necklace made by Jules of a raisin from the last fruit cake my mother ever made for me. I wear it every day. It is very special. Other people have asked Jules to take momentos or keepsakes and turn them into jewellery or a beautiful object
That's a need to express the powerful human impulse to give, receive and, most importantly, to hold onto love. 

And so on...

How does your website meet a need? What specific needs does it meet?

Even more interestingly, how does it show that it meets the needs of your potential customers?

That's the subject of the next Blog on SEO. What's different about your business and how do you get that message across?  Originality

The Silvery jewellery can be found at and at 29 Cliffe High Street, Lewes at the The Silvery/Lewesian Leathers workshop.

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SIMPLE SEO Tip of the Day - Trust

The best definition of Trust in relation to SEO I've seen is this - if Google visited your site would he/she want to be your friend? In other words, is your site trustworthy?

From Sun Rose Compassionate Care site by Katie Vandyck

From Sun Rose Compassionate Care site by Katie Vandyck

Let's keep it simple and just make a list of the things that may well make your site more worthy of Google's trust. Also bear in mind that if Google thinks you're trustworthy it's very likely your potential customers will too

Your Company Identity

People are more likely to trust real people

Put photographs of yourself and your staff on your site. Look friendly (that's essential).
(Speaking as a photographer/website maker, if you're a creative by all means have an arty photograph, otherwise stick to something natural, real and not taken in a studio)

Put a company history on the site.  How did you get here, what makes you do what you do?
You've guessed it.  Tell your story.  People love stories.


Photograph of Amanda's Testimonial for Trust Blog.jpg

The chances are they won't get read but it's reassuring to see them on a site
It's even more reassuring to see photographs of the actual people who gave the testimonials.

Be expert

Ah, this is where BLOGs come in. They are a fabulous way to prove you really know what you are doing.  They are a fabulous way of changing your content regularly. They are a fabulous way of making your site genuinely useful

Write them well, write them simply and write enough content within the blog to make it something that people can benefit from. Don't skimp on information.

And use photographs. Every time.

Social Links

Google does like the likes and the retweets and the sharing.  If people are responding positively to your website and your blogs and your business, Google will too

Links to other sites

Links are very complex and I'm not going to address that complexity here, except to say, don't fake them. Don't put them on just to have links. Link up with businesses relevant to yours, preferably trusted businesses, and make your site trustworthy enough for them to want to link to you.

Google knows the difference between ANY OLD LINK and ACTUALLY USEFUL/RELEVANT LINKS and doesn't like the former


The capitals are because this is something I feel very strongly about

Try not to use library photos.  Google, and your customers, know the difference.

The use of library photos is unavoidable sometimes but essentially the messages they give are (fairly or unfairly) "This business is too cheap to get original photos done", "This business is lazy because they are using visual cliches on their site which have nothing to do with their actual business".

So ...

1. Spend a bit of time on YouTube and get enough knowledge to use your smart phone to record the elements of your business your customers might want to see
Try and use natural light. Natural light = Real = Trustworthiness

2. Read my COUNTLESS blogs about how to photograph for your website

3. Get a professional to take the shots

Please do contact me if you like to ask about any of these blogs on SEO or about anything to do with improving your website. And do sign up to this blog!

And finally.  Tomorrow's simple SEO tip will be about Usefulness.

With many thanks for sharing SEO information to


SEO for technophobes-A tip a day for five days - Relevance.

SEO for technophobes logo for 100Designs blog

I've picked up what I know about Search Engine Optimisation from those on the web who have generously shared their knowledge. What they do all agree on is that the criteria for good SEO changes all the time but that some principles have held true from the beginning


Google likes relevance in a website.  Relevance means that your website provides a genuinely useful service and that service reflects those search terms you’ve put in your website to attract the customers you want.

Let's say you make luxury chocolate cakes.

This beautiful cake, and others like it, can be found at Laportes Cafe, 4 Lansdown Place, Lewes

This beautiful cake, and others like it, can be found at Laportes Cafe, 4 Lansdown Place, Lewes

Start the site off telling people instantly and clearly that you make luxury chocolate cakes.

"I Make Luxury Chocolate Cakes"

That's the first thing people should see and once they see it they'll know they're in the right place. You have shown that your business is relevant to their specific needs.  They want a luxury chocolate cake, your opening statement is "I make luxury chocolate cakes". Perfect fit. Relevant.

Be Clear

Don't repeat yourself, don't put anything in that won't enhance the information-gathering process your visitor wants from your site.  Only put in relevant information. That is information that exactly pertains to what your customer has asked Google to provide when they put "Luxury chocolate cakes" into their search box.

So, show that your site is relevant their needs.

Tomorrow's tip will be on SEO and Trust.

Please sign up to my blog if you'd like more simple tips on SEO and a wealth of information on how to make your website as good as it can be. Easily.

With thanks to all those who give out information on SEO, most particularly Sussex SEO whose tweets are beautifully constructed, relevant and always interesting @seosussex. I recommend you follow them.

Getting the idea with Lighting - Lomax and Skinner

If there's one thing I'm trying to say and trying to show with these blogs it is that photography is about lighting.  Few would disagree, but what does that actually mean?

Sarah Lomax...

"I once listened to a photographer (Katie Vandyck) talking about how photography was all about reading light and I just didn’t really get it. I knew when I liked a good image but I didn’t know why. 

It wasn’t until I wanted to start sharing ’snaps’ on social media, with some disastrous results, that I fully understood that so much about a good photograph is in the lighting.

I’m nowhere near being fluent in reading light but understanding what I’m trying to do has given me some results I’m not tooooo ashamed of …"

Rachel Skinner on photoshoot for Lomax and Skinner

Rachel Skinner on photoshoot for Lomax and Skinner

Lomax and Skinner hat photographed by Katie Vandyck

And because images tell a story so much faster than words can, Sarah's photography before ...

... and after she started to get it.

Details in highlights AND shadows, very nice work.

Sarah used an anglepoise lamp, moved around till the lighting direction and intensity was how she liked it.  She'll start to work with reflectors next and soften those harsh shadow.

Thank you Sarah Lomax.  Will be showing more of her work as her journey continues.  See the work of Lomax and Skinner here.

Murderous Photos made simple - using Photoshop Elements

Am making a site to advertise Murder Mysteries - The Reading of The Will (Lord Felthorpe drowns in his bath)

Here's what I did.

Borrowed an arm and wet it.  Placed the body next to a window.  Natural light always good.
Made and printed out a Will
Opened up the image in Photoshop Raw

Set Clarity and Contrast to 100
Set Saturation to - 62

How to make spook photographs by 100Designs

Made a New Layer

How to make a Spooky Photo by 100Designs

Filled the Layer with Black then selected the Eraser

How make a spooky photo by 100Designs
How make a spooky photo by 100Designs

Used the Eraser to reveal the layer beneath

How to make murderous photos by 100Designs

A little more Clarity and blood stains using a variety of brushes and different reds.

How to make a murderous photo by 100Designs

And some text.  

Took about ten minutes.

Making it quite clear what your subject is in a photograph - depth of field

Some people describe it as making your subject POP. It's when you want the background to be blurred, basically. 

Apple with dew for 100Designs Phototips blog

The apple was shot F4.5, focal length 95mm

Actor Henry Luxemberg for 100Designs blog

Actor Henry Luxemberg F5.6, focal length 200mm

Essentially.  The larger the mm (the focal length) number and the smaller the F stop number, the more the area in front and behind the subject will be blurred.

This shot of a wedding is that rule in reverse. Large F stop number, small focal length number.

F11 (larger F stop number),  focal length 13mm. Almost everything is in focus in this photograph. Easy.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or subscribe to our blog.