It’s the 22nd September and a bright a chilly morning for our group photo of no less than 150 graduates taking part in British American Tobacco’s Grad Academy training programme. And yes, (almost) everyone is looking at the camera !
Group photos are popular with a lot of our clients. They promote team-building and synergy and provide a lasting memory of a successful course or event – and they’re always great fun to shoot.
August is traditionally “voicemail month” when the entire business world apparently goes on holiday at the same time. For us it’s a time to work on new ideas and strategies for the Autumn and to take advantage of the longer days to get out and about and shoot some library stock.
Fortunately the phone still remembers to ring with “real” work and variety was to be the order of the day. Here’s a small selection of what we got up to.
CRASH DIET A call from Caters News Agency in Birmingham on Bank Holiday Sunday took me to Bognor Regis to photography Bryony Sutherland. After a car accident five years ago, when it took eight firemen three hours to cut her free, Bryony finally realised a “crash” diet was in order and went on to lose over seven stone.
MONKEY BUSINESS Portsmouth International Port was the venue for the arrival of two rescued monkeys from Slovenia. Once the car ferry had unloaded I was taken on board to meet the team from Monkey World in Dorset, who had driven virtually non-stop across Europe in order to limit the stress to these previously maltreated animals. On an empty car deck I had a very brief photo opportunity as the monkeys were gently transferred from the team’s Land Cruiser to their waiting quarantine van. The larger of the two repeatedly hid from sight in her box, but on three very brief occasions popped her face up to the window – and I had my shot.
SHIP AHOY ! A week later I was back at the Port again to cover the departure of Fred Olsen Lines’ cruise ship “Boudicca”. I joined Gareth and Julie from Navigate Design on the harbourmasters’ launch and spent a productive hour out on the water shooting her firstly alongside, then tracking her as she passed some of the City’s most prominent landmarks on her way out to sea. The weather was changeable to say the least, ranging from bright sunlight to dark cloud, but my past experience of shooting both power and sail from (much smaller) moving boats ensured an excellent selection of images were delivered to our client.
THE KID’S ARE ALRIGHT Three full day shoots were commissioned by ACS International Schools to provide additional prospectus images to add to our shoots from earlier in the Summer. I’ve worked with ACS for nearly twenty years and now enjoy a huge amount of creative freedom in terms of the imagery I produce for them. I shoot exclusively with available light to minimise distraction in the classrooms and will frequently have to sit quietly on the floor of a kindergarten classroom until they forget I’m there ! For legal reasons I cannot show any images of the children here, but my work on all three UK campuses can be viewed on their website http://acs-schools.com
GROUP THERAPY From the simple to the complex, group photos can provide some interesting challenges and last week provided a rather unique situation involving groups of ever increasing sizes. The first was a straightforward shot of 25 delegates at DeVere Venues’ Horsley training centre in Surrey.
We then headed down the M3 to Sutton Scotney near Winchester for the Association of Applied Biologists’ Conference. The weather was doubful with drizzle forecast and this time we had a group of 90 delegates to organise. A quick look-around the conference centre and hotel revealed no suitable indoor locations – and very few useable outdoor ones. For a group this size height is nearly always the best solution, so we decided the best option was to shoot from a balcony above the bar patio. Once all the tables and chairs had been cleared we paced out the area and put guides down for our front and side lines. With Karen’s help we quickly mustered a somewhat bemused multi-national crowd into some semblance of order before I headed upstairs to the camera position to fine tune things. A couple of quick blasts of the dog whistle ensured I got everyone’s attention and within a couple of minutes we had our shot.
But why stop at 90 ? Thursday 21st was the International Peace One Day event and as I was already booked on-site at the ACS Egham campus, they had asked me to shoot over 700 pupils and staff assembled to form the peace symbol. The staff had already mapped out the area with coloured markers so I headed up to the roof of the mansion house via a series of dusty lofts and ladders until I reached a small platform on top of the clock tower, about 80 feet above ground level. At 9.30 sharp all the students were brought out class by class and within 8 minutes, using two-way radios, some shouting and a lot of waving, we achieved a very acceptable image of a peace symbol !
In post-production we edited the RAW file and removed the intruding roofline on the left of the shot, the coloured marker cones and added the title, leaving the finished shot below.