The MPA North East Awards 2017

    Winners at teh MPA North East awards

    We were thrilled to sponsor the The MPA North East Region Awards Night this week! It was a fantastic awards night and a great opportunity to learn from the individual image critiques provided by  judge, Ray Lowe FMPA. Our owner, Jill Roe, was also on hand to present the awards to the talented winners.

    Huge congrats to overall Photographer of the year, David Armour!

    A full list of all the winners and runners up can be found below along with their stunning images – well done to everyone involved!




    Winning image in Animals category


















    Winner: Paul Hattam

    Life Studios



    winner of the portrait category





















    Winner: David Armour

    Focal Point Photography

    Runner Up: David Armour

    Highly Commended: Paul Hattam & David Armour













    Winner: Paul Hattam

    Life Studios

    Runner Up: David Armour

    Highly Commended: Paul Hattam

    Open Category















    Winner: James Thompson


    Runner Up: James Thompson

    Highly Commended: Andrew Brown & James Thompson


    newborn winner













    Winner: Steven Hattam

    Life Studios

    Runner Up: Steven Hattam

    Highly Commended: Andrew Steven Hattam


    Press & PR

    press & pr winner







    Winner: Paul Maddison

    Focal Point Photography


    Under 5’s

    Under 5 winner














    Winner: Paul Hattam

    Life Studios

    Runner Up: Paul Hattam



    weddings winner





















    Winner: David Armour

    Focal Point Photography

    Runner Up: Michael Hope

    Highly Commended: Paul Hattam & David Armour


      Large Trader of the Year

      Large Trader of the YearWe were incredibly thrilled to win the award for ‘Large Trader of the Year’ at this year’s Newborn Photography Show! It is a huge honour for us all here and we’d like to pass on a massive, heart-felt thank you to all of you that voted for us.
      Winning the award has let us know that our customers appreciate the strides we are making in the industry, continually looking to improve upon the product range and service that you receive.
      The Trade Show itself was also a huge success – It was brilliant to meet so many talented photographers over the 2 days and catch up with many familiar faces – thank you to everyone who visited us over the course of the event. We are looking forward to next year’s event already!

        Digitalab Newsletter 01-04-17

        New Product – Fine Art Naturals

        Our Fine Art Naturals range is a stunning combination of a beautiful Hahnemuehle German Etching print and one of our ‘Naturals’ frame options.

        German Etching is a heavyweight Fine Art etching paper with a fine surface texture giving the paper a very luxurious feel. The print is dry mounted to a foamex board and then placed within one of the hand-finished Naturals range of frame moulding.

        The wooden texture of the frames compliment the texture of the print perfectly. All of our Fine Art Naturals frames are made from premium quality materials and are available in 3 colour options: Grey, Charcoal and Whitewash.

        You can also add an optional Giclee matte varnish to protect your image from dust and scratches. Hand applied, we coat the print 3 times to ensure an even cover whilst still retaining the stunning texture of the Fine Art print.



        Coming Soon! – New Album Service

        New Albums














        Our Album service from the award-winning Tony Sarlo is getting an exciting overhaul!

        New software, cover options and wonderful new accessories to customise and tailor your albums will all be released in the coming weeks.

        With Sarlo Albums based in Contursi, Italy, and ourselves based here in England, you have the best of both worlds .. Italian flair for design and album manufacture, whilst dealing with a UK contact.
        From Digital Books, Completto Duo, Harmony, Traditional Matted, the choice and combination of options is infinite.

        Sarlo Albums are a family business, and have been making high quality products for nearly 40 years, and are renowned for their bespoke albums, each one finished by hand, and individual to you.

        Keep an eye on our blog and newsletters over the coming weeks for more information. We will also have the new album ranges at this years trade shows!


        Digitalab on the Road



















        We are so excited to be exhibiting again at The Newborn Photography Show in May! We had such a great response at last year’s show and we have a whole host of new products launching at this year’s event!

        We have been nominated for Large Trader of the Year 2017 and we would love your support in helping us to win it! We have made a huge push toward the Newborn market over this past year – listening to our photographer’s feedback in order to know what kind of products to bring to the market – we hope you are happy with the result!

        Book your FREE ticket & Vote For Digitalab HERE!



















        We are also going to be exhibiting at the fantastic Photovision Roadshow in Edinburgh on the 25th of April.

        These events provide Imaging Professionals with a host of exciting visitor attractions including FREE seminars for 2017 to help sharpen your skills and teach you new subjects. Other attractions include, Studio Area Live, Camera Cleaning, Equipment Area and Used Equipment Fair.

        Book your FREE tickets HERE


        Adobe Lightroom for Photographers:
        Lisa Beaney Seminar with The Societies










        Join us on the 26th of April, 10am to 4pm! – click HERE for more info. LAST FEW TICKETS REMAINING!

        Have you ever wondered how you can speed up your workflow and use Lightroom to its full potential ?

        This full day Adobe Lightroom training will take you through everything you need to know to get the photos from your camera through to the finished version either printed or delivered digitally to your client.

        Using Lightroom can significantly speed up your workflow meaning you have more time to do the things that you love doing! 

        We are thrilled to be hosting this fantastic seminar day here at Digitalab with the award winning Lisa Beaney, presented by The Societies.  Tickets cost £80.00 for members of the Societies and £120.00 for non members. A lunch buffet is included with the cost of the ticket and you will also have the opportunity of a full Lab tour along with receiving free test prints and discount offers from both Digitalab and Adobe. 

        Book onto the course today!


        Featured Photographer – Gary Hill

         Gary Hill



















        A renowned portrait photographer in his own right (twice nominated for Portrait Photographer of the year with the SWPP), Gary works in a number of photographic fields offering wedding, portraiture, events, catalogues, brochures, books and websites, fashion and commercial packages through his own business.

        Gary also runs the Just Pose workshops & training days with last months featured photographer Cass Davies. These workshops & training days are intensive courses for photographers looking to up their game in their chosen field, offering training in Newborn Posing, Lighting, Business, Boudoir & Maternity.

        Read the full Q&A HERE


        Meet The Team

        meet the team

        Ever wanted to meet the wonderful team here at Digitalab and find out more about the people behind your amazing prints and products? Of course you have!

        Meet The Digitalab Team HERE

        British Institute of Professional Photography: the Winners

        Last Tuesday we judged the finest professional photographers in Britain to find the artists shining in their respective niches. The competition was stiff, but we’re excited to present to you the photographers with work so outstanding they just had to make the cut.

        So let’s take a look at those lucky winners.


        Portraiture: Eric Murphy


        Open: Eric Murphy


        Illustrative: Russell Baston


        Press PR: Michael Barlow


        Wedding: Paul Santos


        Commercial: Mike Smith



        And an extra congratulations to the very talented Russell Baston for being our overall winner and North East Photographer of the Year.

        Landscape Photography 101

        Watching the sun set behind a truly impressive landscape is a perfect opportunity for some breath-taking photographs. But unfortunately it’s rarely as easy as picking up a camera and taking a cheeky snap – photography is a fine art involving a great degree of skill, massively benefited by having the right gear for the job. If you fancy making the move into landscape photography or turning your weekend hobby into a full-time profession, you’ll need to know a thing or two first. So for those of you struggling to make sense of apertures and lenses and filters, we’re here to help – here’s a comprehensive guide to capturing landscapes like a pro.

        Jason Chambers

        Stunning Landscape Photography by Jason Chambers of

        1. Capturing a landscape.
        Unlike taking portraits, a landscape requires you to focus on the background rather than the foreground. This means you’ll need to switch to a wide lens, allowing you to capture the background while keeping it in focus. Different cameras have different names for their wide lens, so make sure to Google your camera and find out what the widest lens is for that specific model.

        2.  Depth of Field.
        One of the most common photography headaches for beginners is figuring out how to focus the camera when both the foreground and the background need to be sharp. There are so many settings to mess about with in order to highlight your chosen feature – but when the landscape is the feature, you want everything looking nice and crisp. To do this, you’ll need to change the aperture size. The smaller the aperture size, the more focused both the foreground and background will be. If you choose a large aperture size, the background will blur, highlighting your foreground if that’s what you’re looking for.

        3. Equipment.
        Sometimes the freehand method works, but when your subject is going nowhere fast, we’d suggest you use a tripod to eliminate human error as best possible. This might sound like you’re overly mechanising the process, but a massive proportion of photography takes place in the selection and composition – and these happen in that creative brain of yours. Using a tripod will allow you to stay as steady as possible throughout exposure, reducing unwanted blurs for those of us still using cameras without anti-shake. Insider tip: the extra special thing about tripods is that you can always use a spirit level (old-school, we know) to make sure that the camera is straight in relation to the subject. If you’re not making wonky angles a feature, they have no reason to be there.

        4. Experiment.
        Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and filters. If you’re just starting out or expanding your range, it’s all about finding a style of your own. Find a landscape you like and spend the day taking photos with different cameras, different lenses and different exposures. You’ll find that, after a few hours, the light will have changed and you start afresh. Find out which time of day is your favourite to work with and which equipment captures it best. Have fun! At the end, you’ll have hundreds of photos to review – from this, you can filter out the ones you like and the ones you don’t. Remember: practice makes perfect, so keep at it.

        5. Printing.
        Once you’ve found your style and the photographs are ready for your wall, it’s time to print. This is just as important as taking the photo, since different paper and ink can impact heavily on your pictures. In the spirit of professionalism, it seems only fair to print your images like the pros do. Digitalab offers an immense range of professional printing services to really showcase your hard work in the quality it deserves. If you’re looking to turn your photographic passions into a professional career, compiling a strong portfolio should be top of your list – this is the work that prospective clients will see. You’ve taken these lovely photos – now make sure your work is presented with the same care and professionalism so you can really do yourself justice.

        What’s Your Photography Alter-Ego?

        If you’re an aspiring photographer looking for your trademark style, this can be a perplexing process. Anything worth doing is worth putting your stamp on, which is why it’s so massively important to find your niche – and it’s no different in the photography world. We know it can be difficult committing to a niche when you haven’t got that sense of direction – but fear not. Most professional photographers will tell you that their subject matter of choice says a lot about them – and it works both ways. So take a cheeky peek at your options and see where you fit.

        Portrait Photographer

        You’re a people person with a great zest for life and are respected for your compassionate nature and genuine sensitivity. You’re a pro with advice, an excellent judge of character and rarely think on a superficial level – these qualities make you a person that people can trust implicitly.

        Fashion Photographer

        You are most definitely a visual person – you have a great appreciation for aesthetics and fully understand what it means to be a perfectionist. Your attention to detail is excellent and you’re renowned as someone with an inherent sense of style – being a part of the cultural zeitgeist is a huge concern of yours and something which comes naturally.

        Wildlife Photographer

        You are very much in touch with your spiritual side, regularly thinking outside the confines of your own existence. You are powered primarily by curiosity and a desire for understanding. You’re fascinated by the natural world and compassionate and receptive as a result. You like to stand for something and are respected for it.

        Event Photographer

        You’re a spontaneous person who lives for the moment and seeks thrills. It makes you happy to see other people happy and you’d take experience over material possessions any day. You thrive on atmosphere and never miss an excuse to socialise.

        Documentary Photographer

        You’re someone with a real sense of purpose. You have a real thirst for knowledge and are fascinated by other people’s experiences. It’s less important to you to think about yourself than to consider what someone else is feeling, if only to gain some understanding of their identity.

        Commercial Photographer

        You’re charismatic, sharp and people savvy. You think with your ego and are very perceptive when it comes to others’ behaviours and motivations. You’re brilliant at getting what you want thanks to your powers of observation and natural charm – your social skills are something you can easily use to your advantage.

        Art Photographer

        You’re an abstract thinker with a vivid imagination and a whole lot of depth. You don’t take anything at face value, preferring instead to think outside the box and deconstruct what others don’t think or care to question. You think in whys rather than whats and are the genuine article, plain and simple.

        So what’s the verdict? Drop us a comment and let us know.

        The Beginner’s Guide to Professional iPhone Photography

        More than 300 million iPhones are currently active and being used around the world – and that number is increasing at a rate of approximately 400,000 every day. People say a baby is born every minute, but Apple sells more iPhones than humans make babies – an unbelievable statistic but 100% correct.

        Taking these numbers into account, Apple are correct in stating in their iPhone 5 advert, ‘Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.’ With this in mind, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a cheeky comprehensive guide to iPhone photography, with help from the experts, so you can take professional quality images without the gear. So let’s dive straight in.


        The fact is that a professional photograph has nothing to do with the camera, model, subject or app – it’s all to do with the photographer.

        Everyone is constantly on the lookout for the latest camera app for the world’s favourite smartphone. So here are our top 5 iPhone photography apps – some free, some paid but affordable, and some very expensive. These bad boys are the cream of the crop.


        Photoshop Express by Adobe (free)

        Adobe has created a brilliant app to serve as the iOS Photoshop equivalent. It’s free but does feature a paid pack which can be bought, featuring extra filters and a couple of extra tools. But it’s still pretty perfect without, so don’t feel pressured into buying the add-on if you won’t use the tools. This is the must-have iPhone photo editor!

        Camera+ by tap tap tap (£1.49)

        Features the ability to set exposure on one spot of an image and focus on another, a stabiliser which waits until it’s steady before taking the photo, a grid to eliminate crooked shots and for post-production, filter effects, cropping tool, rotate, border and the app’s built-in auto corrector “Clarity” to bring things out of shadows and into the light.

        Slow Shutter Cam by Cogitap Software (£0.69)

        Until now, long exposures and light trails have been exclusively for SLRs, but Slow Shutter Cam is the best slow shutter app we’ve tried and it’s a bargain for less than 70p. You’ll love the effects it creates with car headlights at night, bustling traffic and pedestrians. If you don’t have a steady hand, be sure to invest in a tripod of some kind or you’ll end up with nothing but a blur in the end. And if can’t swing the 70p, there are a few free alternatives available too.

        VSCO Cam by Visual Supply Company (free)

        VSCO is one of the best iPhone photo editing/filter apps on the market, and it’s free! But, sadly, extra filters are only available as in-app purchases – the unbought filters still show in-app to show you what you’re missing. Worth buying every filter set, in our opinion. A very good all-rounder.

        iPhone Native Camera

        And our last entry into our iPhone photography apps collection is the built-in iPhone camera app! We know it doesn’t really count, and we could be using this space to tell you about something else cool and expensive, but this is to make a point. The iPhone’s native app is always going to be the quickest thing to access (by swiping up from the lock-screen) so it’s the app we use when we need to take a photo fast. And to most photographers, seeing that moment in front of you and racing to snap a pic is the difference between being a pro and an amateur. Since the overhaul it got after the iOS 7 update, it’s actually a pretty good app for whatever you need. We find ourselves taking most of our pictures with the native camera, as well as using it to apply filters and resize or crop images. In reality, all you need is this and a keen eye for what makes a nice image and you’ll be just fine.


        Rule of Thirds

        Turn on the grid on your camera and align your subject onto one of the crosses where the lines intersect – you’ll notice your photo looks instantly more professional. This is a general rule in photography, due to the number Phi (not to be confused with pi). It’s the golden ratio – divine proportion. Phi = 1.618 (and lots and lots of non-recurring decimals) which, if you spilt a line into thirds, would correspond to the ratio of two thirds to a third. This number is important, as it’s something we see every day in nature – the shape, size and position of rose petals can be worked out with phi. Fun fact: Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man was a diagram representing this number. Try it yourself, measuring from the tip of your finger to you shoulder, timesing by 1.618 and you’ll have the distance from that shoulder to your other hand – spooky, huh?

        If you’re struggling to find the grid lines option since the iOS 7 update, don’t worry – we spent a good half an hour questioning their existence too. But they can be enabled under Settings>Photos and Camera>Grid.


        If you’ve ever set foot in a professional photo studio, you’ll have noticed that the camera seems to be the least important part. The thing you’ll notice first is the lights – mainly because they’re huge in comparison, but also because a few are often used together to create the perfect lighting conditions for the scene. You’ll hear many photographers saying the only thing that makes the difference between a professional photo and an average phone photo is lighting. So here are some ways you can recreate these effects at home for minimal cost.

        Buy a £5 desk lamp and throw in a bright 40w bulb, point it toward the side of your scene rather than directly at your model and try covering a serving tray in tin foil to use as a board reflector/bounce card. Cover one side shiny-side-up and the other blurry-side-up – and you can flip it round, whether you want to reflect hard light of soft light. If you really want to go all-out, try looking in a Hobbycraft store for some coloured tin foil to reflect different parts of the light spectrum. In other words, using a gold or red bounce card to create warm glows or blue tones to create a cool look. You could even hang a sheet in front of your light source to diffuse the light, experimenting with cotton and synthetic sheets, as the differences in thickness will allow more or less light through. You could even create your own softbox with a sheet and an old picture frame to stick in front of your lamp. Be careful not to actually cover the lamp, though, as it’ll catch fire and could end very badly indeed.

        Depth of Field

        Depth of Field is created through a mixture of focal length, aperture and the distance between your camera and subject – the latter being the only thing in our control when using an iPhone instead of an SLR. For this reason, we use a cheeky trick people have been utilising for a while now – Instagram. Its blur function is brilliant for this and can capture a single object in detail and blur out the rest, allowing you to control the position, angle and size of your focal area.


        But remember – if you want it to look legit, you’ll have to get up close and personal – as if you were creating Depth of Field with a camera – otherwise any photographer will see straight through your fake DoF, and we don’t want that. So don’t try and create Depth of Field on one or two objects in the same position in the foreground – this isn’t how it works and people will instantly spot it for a fake.


        And that’s pretty much it.

        Using the apps mentioned in this piece will allow you to give your images a super-slick professional finish to your iPhone post-production – but the apps themselves do not create a perfect picture. The rest is up to you. As a photographer, you can use these rules to great effect, creating stunning and exceptional quality images. The most important thing of all is a sharp eye for photo opportunities – infinitely more valuable than the most expensive camera and studio.

        Practice makes perfect – so what are you waiting for?

        Digitalab Featured Photographer: Ross Martin

        At Digitalab, we appreciate the power of photography, whether it’s personal or professional. We asked Ross Martin for one of his images and posed a couple of questions to find out exactly what it is he loves about photography and what he’d say to any enthusiastic photographer hoping to make a career out of their passion.


        Tell us a bit about this image and why you chose it to be featured.

        Taken in Verbier, Switzerland. This has grown into one of my favourite images from my time in the mountains.

        The shot was from a commission shoot for Fat Face clothing and has been used as a backdrop in shops and also marketing material.

        Which styles of photography most interest/inspire you?

        I really enjoy sports photography. The kind of photos that really capture the sense of an event or moment. A lot like the image used for the feature. Capturing an athlete at their peak.

        What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

        My advice would be to anyone just getting started is to photograph what you enjoying doing. Whether it be commercial, weddings or landscapes etc.

        Your passion will show through in the images you take and clients also see this passion as well.

        Ross Martin Photography

        Digitalab Featured Photographer: Richard Fox

        At Digitalab, we appreciate the power of photography, whether it’s personal or professional. We asked Richard Fox for one of his images and posed a couple of questions to find out exactly what it is he loves about photography and what he’d say to any enthusiastic photographer hoping to make a career out of their passion.


        Tell us a bit about this image and why you chose it to be featured.

        I wanted to feature this, my most recent shot. Why? Because it reiterates one of my most favourite quotes from Imogen Cunningham “Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow”. I live on the eastern edge of Dartmoor and I am not sure I will ever get bored of what it has to share, both in horrific and beautiful conditions, with my camera and on my mountain bike.

        This image was taken from the very edge of Dartmoor, close to home, a place that is not really frequented by landscape photographers, but in my opinion is as beautiful as the more well-known areas of expansive and sometimes desolate tundra and granite tors that I have visited. Pylons, fences, hedgerows, pastureland and fields are as part of our landscape in the UK as are the more idyllic and well known landmarks.

        Which styles of photography most interest/inspire you?

        I appreciate all type of photography. Sure we all have our niche and type of photography that we enjoy but the great thing about modern photography is the ability to make mistakes and press the delete button. I love good street photography, especially in mono but I also enjoy trying out new things including flora and fauna macro photography, wedding photography, portraiture to name but a few.

        I think dipping one’s foot into other genre just adds to the fun and keeps your mind fresh with ideas.

        What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

        I think as artists we want to better ourselves and are often our own worst critics. Month after month I find myself becoming more comfortable with my style and how I shoot, compose and process my work. I am often made aware that another photographer would not compose the shot this way or would not process it this way.

        However, does this not make us individuals with our own style rather than a mirror of another artist? Surely there are no boundaries in this respect, and breaking the rules helps with creativity?

        My advice is to look around you, shoot what you love and don’t be afraid to break the rules to acquire your own style. At the end of the day passion and enjoyment drives us forward.

        Richard Fox Photography

        Digitalab Featured Photographer: Martin Bishop

        At Digitalab, we appreciate the power of photography, whether it’s personal or professional. We asked Martin Bishop for one of his images and posed a couple of questions to find out exactly what it is he loves about photography and what he’d say to any enthusiastic photographer hoping to make a career out of their passion.


        Tell us a bit about this image and why you chose it to be featured.

        This photo was taken just before sunrise on a mild winter’s morning at South Shields beach. The weather forecast was for a grey and overcast start, but undeterred I set out in the hope that there would be a break in the clouds; that something magical would happen.

        The image represents hours of planning, pouring over maps and tracing the position of the sun before choosing what I hoped would be the perfect location. Once there, standing ankle deep in sea water, I set up my tripod and waited in anticipation for the sky to peacefully explode with colour as the new day began.

        Which styles of photography most interest/inspire you?

        I am constantly surprised and inspired by photographers who put themselves into seemingly impossible places and situations to capture a moment, be that camping on the side of mountain to capture the morning light or documenting humanitarian aid.

        Their willingness to endure such conditions to tell a story with a single image is a constant source of inspiration and a reminder of the power of photography.

        What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

        My advice to an aspiring photographer would be to embrace the internet. There are so many new and exciting opportunities available to put your work out there and have it seen by others. Websites like Flickr can provide invaluable feedback from other photographers whilst you are learning your craft and finding your artistic voice. However, you should also embrace social media websites that reach people who aren’t photographers, so that your work can be also be seen by an audience of people who will enjoy your images without breaking them down to their underlying technical considerations.

        As a photographer, I want people to see my work, so I don’t limit my audience size by hiding my images behind a pay wall or stamping it with an ugly watermark. In this way you can build an appreciative audience and opportunities will arise that you could never have anticipated.

        Martin Bishop Photography