Author Archives: infwpu

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Obtaining low cost hardware and software for your U3A

by Mel Llewellyn, Eastlakes U3A

Connecting Up Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation that works to unleash the power of not-for-profits by providing a variety of information, products, resources and programs. Connecting Up manages technology donation programs of companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe, Symantec, SAP and many more to qualified not-forprofit organisations in Australia,

To participate in Connecting Up’s Donation and Discount program, eligible organisations must be non-profit nongovernment entities with a charitable purpose and meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

All of Connectingup’s donating and discounting partners have differing eligibility requirements over and above these requirements.

Is your U3A listed on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Register OR have its income tax exempt (ITE) status recognised on the Australian Business Register? If Yes – Your U3A is likely to qualify to receive donated and discounted technology from some or all of our partners. Go to www.connectingup.org and follow the instructions to register for a Connecting Up account then the Donations and Discount Program

If your U3A is not listed with ACNC or income tax exempt, then you will need to register with the ACNC (www.acnc.gov.au), OR provide evidence of its income tax exemption.

Once Connectingup has sufficient evidence of your U3A’s income tax exemption you will receive an eligibility email typically from them, at which stage you will be qualified to place donation and discount requests via its platform.

For further information, go to www.connectingup.org

 


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U3A and your LGA

by Barrie Brennan, Tamworth U3A

Does your U3A have a good relationship with your local Council? How might this change as a result of potential amalgamations. Barrie Brennan of Tamworth U3A ponders the issues.

My comments following are the result of my observations about the role of Local Government Councils. The observations result from my activities for COTA, the local Country Music Museum and our U3A. My focus here however is our U3As.

My concern has been influenced by the notion of the amalgamation of Councils being promoted by the NSW Govt and the fact that our current Tamworth Regional Council results from the amalgamation a decade ago of 3 and a half councils.

I am also concerned that I am ‘unsure’ of where U3A fits within the current NSW Government’s picture of the state and the role of organisations like U3A.

The Tamworth Regional Council views the U3A as a ‘Seniors’ group that provides a wide program of activities to keep Seniors active and learning. Our website is connected to the Council site and potential retirees who may come to Tamworth certainly visit our site. We were given the honour of being the No 1 ‘Seniors’ organisation in Tamworth this year.

We may be perceived as being a good active group but we are not asked for our opinion or for advice. So we try to make a point of informing the Council. As an example, I have just, with U3A support of course, persuaded the Council to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of our Mechanics’ Institute in 1866 (in May 2016).

We need to have this ‘passing on good news’ program to seek to broaden the view of what we represent and that we do have good ideas and plans.

But we have the problem that the community does not have a clear picture of what we do, and there is always the problem for Councils to include us as groups, particularly of Seniors, asking for favours. We are competing in our local community with so many other requests,
particularly from the charity area and related to health issues and persons with economic or mental health problems.

Another key issue for us – and other U3As of course – is transport. The city has a bus service but primarily it serves the school children and those in the villages distant from the city. There are funds made available for transport of elderly and particularly sick elderly people, but there are more demands for ‘the sick’ than the funds provided can offer.

With health, transport, accommodation and other services with higher priorities, the possibility of U3A being able to make some real contribution is problematic. If we seem to be ‘pestering’ the Council or Government departments or the agencies that are now receiving government funds on a regular basis, there seems to be a reluctance to listen to our calls for help or assistance.

The question then for us is: What do we really need to ensure that we are able to continue with our current program and lift our overall activities to help the wide community as well as our own members and other oldies?

As with other U3As, the provision of facilities for our wide range of activities is a major, and ongoing, problem. It is both of these things because access to the facility may be cancelled at short notice or the ownership of the facility may change. We have a range of activities: we need a range of locations. A key aspect is that these facilities may be located at an address that is ‘remote’ or ‘at the top of a hill’. Do we have to share in some way some part of the facility for some of ‘our time’ at the site?

In many LG areas the council does have access to properties and other facilities that could perhaps be used, and their use may be helpful to us, but there is no general, clearly identified policy from the LG body. We can argue that our use of the facility may help to reduce the isolation of elderly persons but that argument carries little weight with the Council.

Then there is the issue of a headquarters, home office + storeroom and perhaps an area where at least some of the U3A’s

materials and equipment may be stored and secured. At the moment much of our ‘gear’ is in the boots of cars or in the garages of Management Committee members. We are pleased that iPads have replaced large computers .. a storage problem somewhat reduced.

Also of concern are the costs associated with venues and the office plus storage plus space for some activities. These two activities – venues and HQ – are important factors in the costs for members. For some potential members the difference between their becoming and not becoming members may be related to the costs produced by venues and the management of the organisation. We have entered an agreement with the local Community College to hire a room at the College – they have experienced a reduction of numbers in day-time classes. The hire is quite costly and has caused us to increase our yearly membership although not with a large increase.

It is an important, but also difficult, strategy for U3As that they need to justify their contribution to the community, eg in helping outsiders come to town or to provide activities that are not offered by other organisations.

This strategy is certainly important if there is just one U3A in the council region. If there are several U3As in the region it may be necessary for the U3As to establish a combined/united strategy.

Councils – unless they are disbanded or absorbed – stay on forever. U3As define their own lifetime. The U3As require some sort of relationship with their local Council. Though a location-specific problem, it should be given some reasonably high priority in the projects for many of the U3As in the Network – especially if their town or suburb is involved in a LG amalgamation.

I do not claim to have answers to the problem of relations with local government. However, I think it is an important problem that may become more important in some areas in the near future. I would be happy to be involved in any plans for investigating this problem.


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Sharing the Load

by Aileen Harland, Liaison Officer, Wollongong U3A

It’s always a problem. Organizers seeking to put on a variety of courses face a huge strain in finding the human resources to maintain a vibrant, challenging program. Often it can seem that there are never enough people willing and able to carry out the research and deliver the presentations. One answer is to share the load by encouraging speakers from one U3A to travel to other nearby branches and deliver the same or similar presentation more than once.

Wollongong and Northern Illawarra U3As have added a rich component to their overall offerings. Every term, each branch sets out a program of movies in their newsletter. Members watch the movie as a group, then remain afterwards to discuss and critique what has been shown. The overarching aim is to bring together likeminded people who enjoy experiencing a broad selection of classic films.

The Coordinator of both groups, Rick Thompson, has a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him. Originally from the USA where he initially held the position of Research Manager for the American Film Institute Centre for Advanced Film Studies and, then, that of lecturer in the UCLA film school (California), Rick accepted an offer to establish a Cinema Studies Program at La Trobe University in Melbourne, which he conducted from 1980 to 2010. Both U3As are fortunate to have him coordinate the film program – at separate venues, some 25 kilometres apart.

The two groups are coordinated as follows:

  • The films chosen each week for Wollongong are different to those shown at Northern Illawarra.
  • Members of one of those U3As may choose to attend the viewings set up by the other.
  • By wearing their own U3A membership tag, no additional cost is incurred for either of the two groups for this one component.

Sharing a resource in this way does NOT seek to diminish the value of each individual U3A: every branch has its own unique identity and character, forged by those people who gather together from one area and exchange common interests and ideas as to what their U3A should be.

Sharing a resource in this way multiplies rather than diminishes the value of each individual one. For presenters, there is the advantage of maximizing audiences for a given amount of preparation; for U3A members, the advantage of fresh infusions of insight and information; and for organizers – some blessed relief from a Herculean task!


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Scams

Your Life Choices and Telstra websites

Fake Emails

According to the latest Kaspersky Lab statistics, 73.3 per cent of emails sent worldwide are spam. The vast majority of these spam emails are created to scam you of your hard-earned money.

Scammers are becoming more cunning than ever before with how they create scams and the words that they use in those emails. While emails from the prince of Nigeria asking you to help transfer some money in exchange for a percentage for your troubles have fallen off significantly, local and online service scams are rising.

Anyone using an email address ending with .au is being targeted at a more specific level than someone using a .com email address. This is because the scammer knows your email address relates to a person living in Australia.

Be on the lookout for emails from Telecommunication companies (Optus/Telstra etc), banking institutions (Westpac, Commonwealth Bank etc), online payment services (Paypal, Western Union), mail companies (Fed EX or Aus Post) and the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Before opening an attachment or clicking through to a website, be sure that you are expecting an email, including the information, from the company. The trick I find most useful in determining whether an email is a scam is to scroll my mouse over the linked information in the email. By doing this, a display of the website url you’d be taken to will be shown. This will allow you to make an educated decision (if the link is going to www.telstra.com.au then you know it is a real email).
Another trick is to also check the email address from which you received the email. If it looks dodgy or untypical of that organisation, it’s most likely unsafe.
As with anything in life, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Never click a link that you aren’t expecting.

Scam phone calls

SCAMwatch and Telstra are warning consumers to hang up the phone if they receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to represent Telstra and saying that there is a problem with their internet connection or computer.

Recent months have seen a surge in reports of scammers calling people at home and raising a false alarm that they are at risk of their internet being disconnected immediately, as their computer has been hacked or infected with malware and is threatening Telstra’s internet infrastructure. The caller claims that they are able to fix the problem on the spot, however a fee for this service will need to be paid and the person will also need to download software that will allow the caller remote access to their computer.

If you provide your credit card details and give remote access to your computer, the scammer may not only take more than the stated ‘fee’, but also infect your computer to gain access to your personal information and commit other acts of fraud.

A Police Officer from Victoria has also advised the following: “ Got a call last night from an individual identifying himself as an Telstra Service technician who was conducting a test on our telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9),zero ( 0), hash (#) and then hang up. Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.

Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place long distance telephone calls billed to your home phone number. Do not press 90# for anyone.”

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.


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Bequests to U3A

by Allan Haggarty

U3A has made a real difference to the lives of many retirees. At the end of a term, knowing that classes would be in recess for some time, one of my U3A’s members said that he wouldn’t know what he’d do without U3A. And one of my U3A’s classes doesn’t stop during school holidays due to demand from its members for them to continue without interruption. A number of them live alone and thrive on keeping their brains active as well as the important social interaction that goes with it.

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on U3A’s future expansion in NSW, especially given the uncertainty of further government financial assistance which has assisted our growth in recent years, especially in regional areas. My thinking has also been influenced by one of the Network committee members reminding us that Peter Laslett, the founder of the Cambridge model for U3A, which Australia adopted, warned of the danger of relying on government funding lest it influenced U3A’s aims and objectives.

My thoughts turned to the huge difference the late Sir Samuel McCaughey’s will made, especially in relation to education. An irrigation pioneer from Yanco when he died nearly 100 years ago, he left enough money in his will to establish four faculties at Sydney University. When his biography was written 30 years later he was still NSW’s most generous philanthropist. Mind you, he was a bachelor and died a wealthy man. [Incidentally, if you are interested in his remarkable life, you need look no further than the Network’s Resource Library.]

I also reflected on my time as a solicitor. I recalled administering the estate of a bachelor who hadn’t made a will and part of whose estate had to be distributed to distant relatives he’d never met. I also thought about the occasional client who wished to make a will and leave something to charity. Sometimes they’d have a cause in mind but feel overcome by the number of different charities raising funds for similar purposes and not feel able to decide between them. Lately choices in this regard
have been further complicated by the number of charities who have disappointed supporters either because of the low proportion of the amount donated reaching its target or because of enquiries revealing disturbing aspects of their activities.

It occurred to me that if such people’s lives had been enriched by U3A they may have felt disposed to leave a bequest to further the work of either their local U3A or the Network itself. A glance at the Network’s website www.nswnew.u3anet.org.au will remind you of the extent of the Network’s activities.

A bequest wouldn’t need to be a large amount. Every little helps. Even if you have limited means, it could be raised from the sale of your assets after your demise. Your lifestyle wouldn’t be compromised in your 3rdAge. and you’d have the satisfaction of knowing that the organisation that helped make it an uplifting experience would benefit in a meaningful way.

These days some retirees are reaping the benefits of the generous tax treatment of superannuation in recent years and may feel inclined to leave just a modest bequest to U3A, even if they’ve been blessed with family members to share in their estate. And as people are living longer, often by the time they pass away their children are already enjoying a comfortable retirement.

If you are interested in considering a bequest the wording could simply be as follows:- I bequeath the sum of $ to (blank) U3A Incorporated whose receipt signed by its Treasurer for the time being shall be a sufficient discharge to my Executor/s.

Note:

  1. The $ amount needs to be specified and it’s preferable if it’s expressed in both words and figures to avoid any uncertainty.
  2. The name of the U3A to be benefited should be inserted in the blank. If you’d prefer to leave the bequest to the Network, insert ‘U3A Network NSW Incorporated’ in lieu of ‘(blank) U3A Incorporated.’
  3. If the intended recipient U3A is not incorporated, which is rare, seek the advice of your solicitor, who should be asked to prepare the will in any event so as to ensure your wishes generally are able to be implemented.

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Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute tours

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is delighted to extend an invitation to you and your members to come and meet their world leading scientists and see first-hand the ground breaking research that they are doing. Through heart surgery, Dr Victor Chang was able to save hundreds of lives, but he knew that through research, he could save thousands. From his vision the VCCRI has grown to 13 laboratories across five research divisions, working with a single vision – to reduce the incidence, severity, and impact of heart diseases.

Heart disease is Australia’s single number one killer. Every year more than 2,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease. The Institute’s researchers are working to crack the code of 23,000 genes to find the cause of CHD which will help solve the mystery of up to 80% of congenital heart defects. In a world first, last year researchers at the institute made the discovery of how to preserve a heart for transplantation for up to 14 hours, compared to 4 hours previously – a finding that promises to markedly increase the number of hearts available for transplants and improve outcomes of surgery.

The Institute hosts weekly tours from February through to November; tours take place on a Tuesday or Thursday each week. These tours start at 10:30 am and conclude at 12:00 noon.

The format of the tour is as follows:

  • Morning Tea on Arrival
  • Presentation from a senior scientist about their research
  • Tour of the laboratories

To book a tour or a guest speaker, contact Therese Saud on (02) 9295 8759 or email T.Saad@victorchang.edu.au


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Gill Walker’s Marketing Ideas

Gill Walker, who had a background in advertising and spoke on marketing to older adults, told us that 3 million Australians were born before 1946 and 86% of them are retired. 70% have been to Bunnings in the last 3 months which might encourage U3As to hold a sausage sizzle to recruit new members. 75% read local newspapers and a similar percentage read direct mail which may encourage U3As seeking to connect with prospective members. By contrast the percentage of seniors with internet access (61%) is below average, though later Tom Holloway, of World U3A [?-Ed.] said that the take-up rate of technology by seniors was very good.

Ms Walker had many ideas on promotion. Some examples were:-

• In terms of publicity material good design is ageless, while bad design is ageist. High contrast of colours is a must and the headline in a brochure needs a solid colour as background, not scenery. Depicting a group of oldies is better than an individual. Consistency of image / message is vital i.e. appearance of brochure and letterhead should be the same.
– 10 –
• Maximum window for renewal notice is 1 month ahead. Consider offering 3 or 5 year membership. • Use Meeters and Greeters who are very good at their job. • Press Releases need to be news. Remind news outlets you are Not for Profit as there is some compulsion for them to publicise. • List address with Google as Business Partner and include on Google Maps. • Register with Source Bottle (for free) and list events. • Consider an alliance with a local company having an older workforce.


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COTA

by Ian Day, Chief Executive Officer Council on the Ageing (NSW) Inc.

More than one in every three people in NSW is aged over 50. As such, this group is highly significant in electoral, employment and market terms, but this impact is often not understood and in some cases not even considered.

COTA NSW’s role, above all else, is to counter this. In advocating on behalf of people over 50, we are continually emphasising that what is good for this population is – typically – good for the population at large. To illustrate: when businesses fail to attract or retain older employees, they lose skills and knowledge. However, they also lose significant market share when they fail to adequately serve older customers (something our latest COTA NSW Survey tells us occurs frequently), and this is bad news for the economy. Likewise, governments and policy makers who see older voters in terms of their ‘cost’ to the community are failing to recognise the potential of engaging the older community. A clearer-eyed view of the demography of NSW would see older people perceived in terms of the economic opportunity they represent when policies and initiatives are developed that actually recognise their needs and desires. We also note that the politicians who fail to address older voters’ priorities are doing themselves a disservice. Older people are swinging voters, and elected representatives would do well to remember the age profile of those they represent.

This perception of older people’s situation in NSW is not conjecture. On the contrary, COTA NSW constantly engages with people aged over 50 to understand the issues that are important to them as they age. Our interaction with them tells us they are increasingly independent in their outlook. They are aware, connected, informed and demanding, particularly when it comes to the recognition of their rights. They are active contributors to their community and involved with community organisations. Regardless of age, more than 80% rate their well-being as good, very good or excellent. They are not waiting for services. They are looking to their futures.

Our advocacy, policy recommendations, services and new opportunities stem directly from the knowledge we have of our constituents. Over the past year we have contributed on many issues important to and for older people, including Elder Abuse, Wills and Powers of Attorney, Enduring Guardianships and Advance Care Directives, Palliative Care, Cyber Security, Active Ageing fitness initiatives, Grandparent Carers, Sprinklers in Residential Aged Care Facilities, Energy Affordability, Retirement Villages, Housing Affordability, Planning for Age Friendly Communities, Mental Health and Aged Care reform.

Our research consistently suggests that four major factors affect an individual’s view of their level of well-being: their health and fitness; their state of mind – independence and confidence; their connection with friends, family and community and their feeling of financial and housing security. These themes are not uniquely age-related but they are critical when it comes to the decisions undertaken by older people. We believe that much more needs to be done to give rise to a community where all four of these factors are in place.

We also believe that in all aspects of our society older people have an absolute right to be included rather than excluded – whether it is purchasing goods and services, getting around the built environment, having access to health and support services, engaging with the wider community, accessing appropriate housing, feeling safe in their daily lives and making their own decisions.

I wish to acknowledge and thank U3A for your support and contribution to the work of COTA NSW. I look forward to the continuing exchange of ideas and information that has marked our relationship over recent years.

COTA Fact Sheets

COTA NSW has put together over 80 Fact Sheets with concise and accurate information on a wide range of important issues – See more at: http://cotansw.com.au/get click on ‘Publication’ then click on ‘Fact Sheets’.


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Profile of the Network

by Jean de Hosson

WHAT a wonderful response was made to our recent NSW Members’ Survey! 62 Surveys were dispatched and 59 were completed and returned. The Network Secretary, while kept busy, is absolutely thrilled with our members’ cooperation and willingness to be of help. Naturally, not all the information has been collated but here are a few preliminary results from our 59 respondents:

Their combined membership in 2012 was 26 017 and is now 27 396 of whom 24% are male and 76% female. 78% of our membership is between the ages of 60 to 80. While most of our U3As operate over their local area, 38% have “outlying” centres where they operate.

And what were judged the BEST things about U3A? Well, the responses were varied but showed definite trends. By far the two greatest responses were almost evenly divided between Learning and Social Benefits. However, each was expressed in a variety of ways.

Learning was noted as lifelong, creative, and an opportunity to develop new skills. It kept the body and mind active. It stimulates new ideas and also helps maintain one’s skills. Through learning there is the opportunity to share knowledge and interests. The non-judgemental atmosphere allows “quiet” members to participate. On the one hand, it stimulates members to research topics and learn about their environment but on the other allows those who have skills to share them with their fellow U3Aers. Furthermore, in U3A members have been able to participate in activities not offered anywhere else. All of this takes place in a safe, supportive environment where age doesn’t seem to matter!

Which brings us to the Social Benefits. U3A encourage “Seniors to get out and about”, as one response said. (or, “Keeps us off the streets”, as one of our tutors remarked). The social experiences, activities, interaction and links both between members and other U3As were commented on. U3A is a place to meet both a variety of people as well as those of a like mind. It develops friendships, camaraderie and companionship. It is a supportive environment. Through U3A, networks and social interactions occur. There is an outreach to the aged and general community building.

Affordability was another aspect that a number of U3As found to be a strong factor. U3A definitely gives value for money. Tutors were praised as the “backbone” of U3As. Strong, Active Membership is strongly valued. Being part of the Management Committee was seen as an opportunity to develop a sense of purpose and team work. The setting of goals and meeting challenges were also given as a strength of U3A as was personal development.

The U3A that also encompasses a Mens’ Shed said it was great – particularly for attracting male members!

This is just a taste of what you’ve told us. When the survey is fully analysed, we will send everyone a copy. My sincere thanks to all you wonderful committee members who added this survey to your usual tasks. If you do not see the exact wording of your response to What are the three best things about U3A? please, remember that I’ve had to categorise your answers. I did wonder whether the question might be an interesting one to tack onto your renewal forms this year … I wonder how your members would respond ?


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How to get newsworthy photos

Edited by Claire Eglinton from an article in the newsletter of Lower North U3A, SA.

News media is becoming a much more visual affair than it was years ago. Conditioned by decades of television watching, we expect more from newspapers than the old style column after column of newsprint. We expect to see photographs illustrating even the most mundane of news articles. And news editors will invariably give priority to a story accompanied by good photos.

What is a good photo? I am not talking about framing and focal length but what makes an effective publicity photo which will gladden the heart of an editor trying to inject some interest into his pages, encourage readers and paint your U3A in the best light.

Well, first let us talk about the most common photos, the cliché photos so you know what not to do. Firstly there is the ‘grip and grin’. You know the one where someone is shaking a hand of another person while they hand over a cheque or document. There they are, frozen in time, holding an awkward pose as they bare their teeth and stare woodenly at the camera.

The other one could be called the ‘firing squad’. The photographer has lined everyone up against the wall, and the longer they wait for the stragglers to take their place, the more their eyes glaze trying not to blink, hoping their faces don’t betray how they are wishing to hell it was all over and done with.

We are always told to avoid clichés when writing and cliché photos should be avoided too. They are the visual equivalent of “a good time was had by all”.

Try to catch people doing their activity or relaxing and joking but it is not always wise to make it a complete ambush. If you take snaps which catch your subjects totally unaware, you may have to edit out quite a few to avoid grim, unsmiling faces. Some people do have naturally serious faces so be aware of the dangers of glum faces which are not a great recommendation for U3A.

Let them know you are moving around taking photographs but don’t ask them to pose. Alternatively do some posed shots then start shooting again after they have all relaxed and forgotten about you.

Here is some advice from former journalist and PR expert Guy Bergstrom taken from an About.com marketing newsletter. He says the most effective photos, the ones which make people read the article are of people facing the camera (not necessarily staring at the lens) while doing something relating to the story.

Bergstrom is no fan of staged group photos, and suggests three ways to make them interesting and useful:

  1. Turn group photos into action shots
    Make people DO something. If they’re scientists, shoot them in the lab, holding bubbling beakers, looking through microscopes. For office workers, at least get them at a conference table, when they’re having a meeting (not a staged fake meeting) and wait for the meeting to really get going before you start taking shots.
  2. Focus on one person
    One person will naturally be the focus of any good shot. Maybe TWO people, if they’re right next to each other and interacting. The whole group will not be equally prominent in a photo. So when you shoot a group, and pick the best shots, look for ones that feature the person who’s most important to the story.
  3. The arms-length test
    What looks great on your computer monitor at full resolution may look cluttered and terrible when it’s printed or put on a web-site in a much lower resolution.
    Hold the photo out at arm’s length. Can you tell what it’s about? This is hard with action shots and even tougher with group photos. Crop the photo to cut out anything distracting in the background and play with the contrast and levels until it’s clear what the photo shows even when viewed from far away.

Digital cameras are a boon but few of us make the most of them. Not only can you immediately check out the photo and see if you cut off the tall guy’s head, but it doesn’t cost you anything but your time to take 50 photos instead of one.

Bergstom says: A professional photographer shooting a model for a magazine cover is happy to do 200 shots and have five good ones at the end. I see so many people take two shots and call it good. Take the 200 shots. Look for the five good ones. Pick the best one out of those five. It’s worth the time, because images are important.

That is so true. Why does an amateur think they have nailed the best shot first or second try when a
professional never would? Back in the days of film, every photo cost you money and to take more than one or two photos was extravagant. Not any more so it is time we got over that way of thinking.

Recently I was asked to take photos of a workshop and everyone thought I looked very professional and liked some of the photos. Truth is I am a lousy photographer so I did what I could to overcome my natural lack of talent. I even read the camera manual and packed a tripod. The tripod is a great investment for anyone who doesn’t have the steady arms of a pistol shooter. Lacking that, rest the camera against a door frame or something solid so you maximise your chances of having a sharp photo. The other thing I did was take hundreds of shots. It was amazing and embarrassing how few proved usable.

I was concentrating on the people, totally unaware of how inanimate objects like water carafes and microphones can jump in front of the subject in the most scene-stealing way. Every person’s appearance was marred by sticky-paper name tags. On the day I was blind to these problems. It was only that night when I saw them enlarged across my computer screen that I realised the worst. Thank heavens I had taken so many.

While you can burn the midnight oil writing a press release, you can’t go back and recreate the day to take more photos. Take more photos than you could ever imagine needing, from all different heights, with all different backgrounds and you should have a few keepers, you may even get lucky and take a real winner.