Business lessons from Game of Thrones - Warning spoilers! by Dermot McElduff

Yes I am jumping on the band wagon, and there aren’t really any spoilers here as such but, being the business minded individual I could not help but notice that Game of thrones has some parallels with business. i don’t relay want to do an episode by episode breakdown on this front, so this is a high level list of observations from the final series.

A product/marketing campaign which worked in one market may not translate to another easily.

Building a brand in one market does not mean other markets are aware of your brand and you may need to start again from scratch, it will take time and trying to rush it will only result in push back and potentially be very frustrating, be careful that those frustrations don’t boil over and you may end up burning some bridges. (I know groan)

Careful who you get into bed with, (in the metaphorical sense) they may only have their own self interests at heart.

This may be for the right reasons, so its important not to judge obviously, I guess it comes back to that old saying ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ of course that’s not a slight on the people of Greece, its just a saying to warn of false friends.

The value of a great team will out weigh the sum of its parts.

I am sure we all have had first had experience in this, but I 100% think one of the core factors for success is to focus on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Again being selective about to whom and how.

Always pay your debts.

Yes that’s cringe worth low hanging fruit I know, but this is not just in terms of money, but in terms of returning favours to those that have helped you along the way, sometimes that takes the form of ‘pay it forward’.

Someone will always come along and try to put you out of business, either directly or indirectly.

I remember speaking to a very successful business man once at a networking event, and I asked him what he thought was the best advise for someone looking to achieve his level of success. I admit this is not verbatim, but a short version of his response. Basically it boiled down to something I have heard others such as Richard Branson and the unrelenting Gary Vaynerchuk say, ‘Every day I wake up and try to figure out how to put myself out of business’, ‘because if I don’t, someone else will’. The point being, think about the things the competition may do to which takes customers and ultimately revenue away from your business, be that intentionally or unintentionally. Then go do that before they do, or take steps to protect your business from that threat.

A good network is an invaluable resource.

This almost goes with out saying, but after 4 major moves in my life, I can tell you from personal experience, the single biggest mistake I ever made was undervaluing the power of my existing and potential network. When I learned to embrace it, it empowered me to do great things.

Your brand is your biggest asset, work hard to grow it and then protect it with everything you have. 

Understand that your logo is not your brand, that’s ‘branding’, your brand is the experience that your customers, stakeholders and extended network have when they interact with you and your business.

Do not under estimate staff morale and culture as a way to influence productivity.

Happy staff = productive staff, and more likely to represent your brand better. I would add that happy staff are loyal staff, and will become more like family than employees, especially if you go the extra mile, to draw on Richard Branson again, put your staff first and they will put your customers first, you can watch him talk to this here.

My Gear by Dermot McElduff

Gear Talk

I often get the question, what do I shoot with, and although I believe the gear is not overly important in the scheme of things, I do believe it is important to choose gear that works best for you.

For me that, at the moment, is definitely Nikon, at least for the core camera body. By the way Nikon are not sponsoring this post, I can only dream of that day! Yes I have left out the specific model numbers for some of the gear below, and I know any gear nerd reading this is probably annoyed at me but, if you are interested in the models, let me know and i can add those.

Camera Body

Nikon D7200, yes this is a crop sensor body. And yes I plan to make the jump to full frame soon, but for the moment this camera does everything I need and more.


I use almost all non-Nikon lenses, they are just as good (if not better in some cases), and a lot cheaper, which is important for someone starting out like me to keep costs to an absolute minimum

Tamron 70-200 f2.8 - my favourite lens for portraits and sports

Sigma 17-50mm - my all rounder go to lens, it does have some limitations but produces beautiful images.

Nikon 50MM f1.8 - Great for low light situations, but I have the plastic cheap version and I honestly am not a huge fan of this lens but it does what it says on the box.


Manfrotto - paying a little more for a tripod was totally worth it!


For the moment I mainly use a cheap-ish permanent lighting setup I bought of eBay, I choose permanent for a number of reasons

  • Subject pupils will be smaller with permanent lighting, thus the iris is bigger giving a much better look (a tip from the awesome Peter Hurley)

  • I can use the lights to also shot video

  • flash scares the hell out of me


Dell XPS - I like to use Dell as I have had great experiences with them in the past, their kit is well supported. I am also used to windows, and regardless of its apparent failings I actually prefer it. I come from an IT background so love the flexibility of being able to upgrade and expand my kit when required.

I also have a small crappy cheap laptop - just in case I need something more portable, but to be honest by phone has pretty much replaced this.

Mobile Device

I say mobile device and not phone, as to be honest smart phones are so much more than just phones now, to call them such is like calling a car a horseless carriage. My weapon of choice is the Samsung Galaxy S8+ great device, great camera, can get hot when pushed, e.g. editing video on there. but all in all I love it and the extra real estate on the plus make my live easier. I am highly likely to go to a Note or S10 soon though as I am due an upgrade from my supplier. Watch this space.

Other Gear

Camera Bag - Nothing special just a basic bag


Lapel mic

Gorrilla Pod

Moment Lens (wide angle - coupled with he Android app this is an awesome setup - more on that in another post)

Back Drops - just basics for the moment but I plan to upgrade those in the near future.

Misc - hard drives, SD cards, remotes, card holders, lens wipes, etc

Coffee - Sometimes I think I am made from 25% coffee

Office Space If you need a desk in Belfast call in to this Loftspace, this fantastic coworking space is located at Level 1. 19 Arthur Street in Belfast, and tell Max I sent you!

Composition 101 by Dermot McElduff

Just a few simple tips to help you create better content.

Leave stuff out

Just like life, what you decided to leave out of a photo/video is just as, if not more important that what you put in. What I mean by this, is remove any clutter from the background of your image as it can be distracting, in videos things going on in the background can really impact audio quality.

Rule of Thirds

Ok there are some rules in photography you should know about to make better images, the first is the rule of thirds, some smart phones actually have a gird option you can turn on to help you follow this rule, basically the lines of the gird are guides to wear to place the most interesting aspects of your image. People have written whole books on this subject so it is difficult to portray way this is is important the subtle uses in just a few short sentences but trust me just give it a go


Eye Level

Ok this is a technique use which can be used to portray different messages in your photos/videos. The relative eye level of your subject will have the following effect, even with a relatively subtle change. Usually the more extreme the angle the more extreme the effect, though other posing techniques can be required to add to the effect.

Above eye level

Make the subject appear less important, or more ‘weak’ in the story. The viewer is in a position of power overlooking the subject. A good way to portray vulnerability.


Neutral - at or close to eye level

This puts everyone on the same footing, equal importance, a way to make the subject seem slightly more friendly and approachable.


Below eye level

The subject appears more authoritative and empowered. This can again be combined with some poses to increase/decrease the effect.



I am a fan of using negative space, in layman’s terms this is kind of an empty space in the image, it can be used in many ways but it is usually a way to balance out the flow. For example if taking an image of someone running, then leave some space in front of them in the image, that they ‘run into’.


Other Techniques

There are hundreds of other techniques and ‘rules’ in photography and videography, there have been hundreds of books written, and thousands of hours of YouTube content created on the topic of composition. It is something that is easy to understand but difficult to really master, which is why you hire professionals! But hopefully these tips can help you to get started and begin to add an edge to your images!

Comments Please!

If you have read this far then please leave me a comment on any techniques you already knew about and the new ones you are going to try!

All Change! by Dermot McElduff


It is said, a change is as good as a rest, and this change certainly feels that way. What am I talking about? Well I am re-branding, I have decided to return to my roots and rename my photography business after myself. A little narcissistic perhaps? No actually I just want people to feel a little more comfortable that they are getting an actual human being and not hiring someone form a faceless organisation.

One of the main reasons I went with a more generic name originally was mainly as I living in Australia, and people really struggled to spell my name correctly. This didn’t really bother me personally but made live a little difficult when giving out my email address etc over the phone.

Anyway I am still working on a new logo and re-branding all my social media over the next few days, but I am excited for the new adventure under my own name, Dermot McElduff Photography.

Portraits by Dermot McElduff


Carol is an inspirational lady I photographed for Grazhier Magazine about a year ago. A mum, leader and entrepreneur, yet very humble and made a very patient model. She was 2015 Tasmanian Rural Woman of the Year, and founded Tamar Valley Hazelnuts, a small farming enterprise, with her husband Nathan in Glengarry, Tasmania. Established in 2010 it now boasts over 5000 trees, a hazelnut processing facility and commercial kitchen. 

Portraits by Dermot McElduff


I photographed Maggie last year and has still been hands down the best model I ever worked with. This was taken during a quite moment between costume changes, around 2 hours into a tough shoot, but she was absolutely a dream to work with, fun and loved to talk about her history, which was fascinating. I would love to tell it all but it was a very personal story about the challenges she faced in life which where great, but she is so positive about it all. A true lady.



Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships Mallusk 2017 by Dermot McElduff


Sunday 3rd December was the Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships, it was kind of last minute for me to pop along due to work commitments but I was so glad I go the chance to drop in.


The course looked fantastic, at least to watch, and the weather stayed pretty dry, though cold and the ground was soft in places.  The organisers also added a nice little sand trap to spice things up.


I admit that I was again in awe of these guys ability to push through, I would currently not have the fitness to keep up with any on on this field, perhaps a return to the saddle is required...


I was also cool to see the head coach of the Belgium national team coach Rudy de Bie in attendance, especially as one of the clubs in attendance (Glendale) have the same colours as the Belgium national team, which I am sure is no accident :)


See for more details on the event itself and the rest of the 2017 season. I am told that is the end of the season now, which is unfortunate but hopefully more to come in 2018. Though I am really keen to travel to Europe to shoot some of the CX action over there in 2018 if the opportunity arises, hint hint to all the sponsors, clubs, teams and magazine editors out there!