Covid-19 social distancing graduate photoshoot

All set up with oodles of social distancing to shoot 50 graduates over the next six hours !

Careful planning and a co-operative client allowed us to safely set up and photograph 50 graduates and their families from ACS International School at Egham today.

Qatar school prospectus shoot – November 2012

I’m writing this at 37,500 feet somewhere over the Mediterranean, en route home after a three day school prospectus shoot in Doha for the International School of London. Flying out on a Sunday afternoon, I always knew this was a job where I would need to hit the ground running. No room to mess up. Everything right first time. Having never worked in the Middle East before also meant coping with a completely different culture.  The muezzin’s calls to Adhan echoing from a mosque 50 metres from my hotel window at 4.30am did little to soften the blow of starting shooting at 7am each morning after a 45 minute cab journey !

The school has over 600 pupils and it took most of the first day to find my way around, but once I had it mapped out the shoot itself went very smoothly, helped in no small way by the multi-national faculty who went out of their way to accommodate any requests I had. At the end of each day I returned to my hotel and downloaded all my files to the laptop, before burning backup DVD’s and uploading everything to Drop Box, which Karen then downloaded back at the office the following morning. This workflow guaranteed all my images were safely offline back in the UK before I left.

The richest country in the world, Qatar depends almost entirely upon an expatriate workforce. The majority of Qatari’s do not work. Everything that keeps the country running is dependent upon foreign labour, much of it from sub-Saharan Africa. I got an extraordinary insight into this underclass on my last day, when I travelled with the CAS students who, once a week, as part of their IB programme, take lunch bags donated by families at the school and distribute them to local construction and road workers. Many of these men survive on virtual starvation rations, with often as little as an onion and a few litres of water a day, and the appearance of the school minibus is greeted like a UN convoy in a refugee camp.

For the most part though, an assignment of this nature is a privilege to shoot. Unrestricted access to classes and the freedom to move around the school unhindered has allowed me to capture not just it’s campus and educational facilities, but it’s deeper heart. To work (albeit briefly) amongst a truly international community of young people and educators is an exciting and stimulating experience and I know that when the final prospectus is produced my images will help project that message to prospective parents.

I’ll leave the final words to my client…   ”Chris – I’ve had a chance to look at the ISL Qatar photos and, once again, superb.  Thank you”



Crash diets, rescued monkeys, cruise ships and some group therapy – a late Summer round-up !

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 












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.