A lovely campaign called “Whoever You Want To Be” for private school Stonar that I photographed and composited together a while ago.
Last week I finally got around to shooting some models to be able to complete several images I had captured from my latest trip to Greece.
Casting the right models for a shoot together with right styling is always something that needs careful consideration to work well.
On top of that because this image was a composite the actual photography needed very careful planning as lighting, light quality, perspective, colour amongst many other things all needs to come together for the final image to work seamlessly.
Even with all the best planning however the odd curve ball can still pop up. Despite preparation the night before one of the models shirts got a little creased on route to the shoot.
Normally this would not had been an issue except the studio iron decided to retire itself ! Fortunately I knew a digital solution and with the schedule being tight I decided this would be a better than have a delay acquiring another iron.
The background image was captured pre dawn and created from around 27 frames stitched together in post to allow for a more pleasing perspective with a 41mm lens and deliver a wider dynamic range.
I decided during the final stages of the composite to change the colour of the female models top from blue to a more contrasting orange to help draw the viewers eye to the models.
A Dog With A Bone. Scooters, Greek Myths And A Career As A Commercial Photographer
The second thing that people often ask after I tell them I’m a commercial photographer is “how did you get into that”
I must admit to often asking the same of others I meet as either I’m just nosey or intrigued about the work paths people follow in life.
I always tell my children although all are quite young still (I was a late starter) you are a long time working so find something you love and make a career in that.
One of the beautiful things about photography is that there are no set ways into it. You can go and get a degree, attend part-time evening classes, assist or simply teach yourself.
Not being the academic type I chose the self-taught route with a short stint as a rather poor assistant.
Ultimately it is the work you produce rather than how you got here that counts at the end of the day.
My journey was rather as my mum would say arse backwards!
My father had an interest in photography and this is definitely where my interest initially came from at around 14 years of age.
This did not last for long and for whatever reason I sold my camera and moved onto other interests or 5-minute fads as my mum would call them (she had a phrase for many things in life and most not printable!).
As a teenager, my interests turned to riding Vespa and Lambretta scooters to rallies and events across the UK with my friends.
This was the 80’s and by August of 1984 at the age of 16, I decided I wanted to build a custom show scooter.
Another passion I had inherited from my dad was the love of Greece with its rich history and of course mythology.
This was to be the theme for my scooter build and decided to travel around the archaeological sites of Greece for a week for further inspiration.
This trip turned out to be the catalyst for my lifelong love of photography.
I borrowed my dad’s very impressive camera kit consisting of Canon A1 and several lenses including a monster of a 200mm zoom.
Looking back I think I probably enjoyed the attention I received from having such an impressive looking camera around my neck.
In 1985 the scooter was completed titled “Chariot Of The Gods” and it won several awards at many of the shows I attended.
It was around this time a national magazine was launched called Scootering which I approached and started to freelance for.
I couldn’t believe it I was actually getting paid albeit very little to shoot the people, scooters, and places in the scooter scene which at the time was my life ..I was hooked and decided this was the career I wanted.
I needed to learn faster so I consumed as much knowledge about commercial photography & printing as I could and enrolled in a home study course with the New York Institute Of Photography to learn the fundamentals.
This also allowed me to study while still working in the family Carpet & Furniture business.
Most of my knowledge was then gained by large amounts of shooting and note-taking, so basically much trial and error.
Approaching the late 80’s an opportunity to start my own business came along with the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme together with the Princes Youth Business Trust.
This gave me a grant for equipment plus a loan of £1000.00 to kick start my career as a commercial photographer.
In January 1990 my business called Apollo Photographics was launched.
Looking back now I don’t know how the hell I thought I was ready to enter business especially as my photography was still very raw to put it kindly but as Nike say “Just Do It” and indeed I did.
Business, however, did roll in from small local businesses, local papers, and tourist boards.
Circa 1991 with no apparent fear I booked an appointment to show my work to Somerset-based Clarks Shoes and incredibly came away with the biggest shoot to date which gave me my first real big break into work as an advertising photographer.
The job went well and I apparently became the flavour of the month and more work followed from Clarks for the following 12-18 months and I thought I had made it ….but I was very wrong!.
A career as a commercial photographer can be a cruel bitch and you can never sit back and relax for any length of time especially in the digital age where everything changes so quickly. The country went into a recession and work did go very quiet. It was around this time that another client who probably recognised I needed a photographic reality check got me a day assisting a friend of their’s who was a well-established commercial advertising photographer based in Bristol called Colin Peacock.
That client was right Colin’s studios and his work was an incredible wake-up call for me and I quickly realised how little I still really knew.
I was lucky with my timing in that Colin was in need of a second assistant so I ended up putting my business on hold and staying with him for around 9 months.
We worked on many large-scale shoots for well-known clients. The most memorable being a day at St James Palace in London shooting a royal portrait of Princess Alexandra.
Eventually, however, I got itchy feet and despite knowing I still had much to learn I left Colin to continue on my own.
I know he rated my chances of making a living in photography at exactly 0 and at that point looking back, I would have to agree with him.
However, quoting my mum once again she would say “You’re like a dog with a bone once you get a bee in your bonnet” meaning I’m quite a tenacious bugger if I get an idea in my head and for me not being a Photographer never entered my head for a second.
So as you can see my path was indeed slightly arsed backwards but passion, hard work, eagerness to keep learning and a refusal to give up is what has guided me this far and still does. Yes it can be hard and yes I’ve had doubts probably at least once a month but pack up and do something else ?… Nah I’m like a dog with a bone.
Advertising Photography Capturing Chefs In Copenhagen
This image is from an advertising shoot last year for Knorr which took me to Copenhagen for a whirlwind shoot.
This was not my first trip into Europe for Knorr having previously shot in Rotterdam a couple of times. I was once again briefed by Bristol agency Flourish to what was required for the product which was for Unilever‘s Knorr Artisan range.
A Lifestyle Photographer Surviving In The Bush…
Not sure about you but it scares me slightly to where time seems to go, does it speed up as you enter your thirties? I reckon so.
As I look through the thousands of images I’ve captured over the years many feel like they were completed in the months previous when in fact some were captured well over 25 years ago.
This particular image comes from a lifestyle photography production completed a few years ago. It blends the rustic beauty of Exmoor with two gorgeous female models with the concept being about friendship and survival.
Having spent nearly 3 decades now capturing images, I myself often feel a little like a survivor!… it’s not easy but then the best jobs never are.
Happy New Year…We often say that as a matter of politeness..but it does not always feel that way does it? It’s no secret or maybe surprise that those in the creative freelancing field can often be plagued by self-doubt especially when times are slow at this time of year.
Commercial Photography Shoot, Seeing Double For Stonar
A few weeks ago I received a call from Ice House Design In Bath which is always exciting as I’ve had some lovely briefs from them in the past.
It turned out this call was to chat about another interesting brief titled ” Whoever You Want To Be” for a private school in Bath called Stonar.
The concept was to show the wide variety of activities and opportunities the school offed by showing the same students repeated in the image but in other outfits.
After a brief chat about what I thought might be the best solution to getting the job shot and retouched Jack from Ice House explained about the rather tight deadlines that needed to be met.
The completion dates required happened to be bang in the middle of one of the busiest periods I’ve known as well a family holiday but a doable schedule was drawn up and the job was booked in.
The shoot itself was shot on location at a beautiful 18th-century Georgian mansion called Hartham Park close to Bath.
Upon arrival on the shoot day, It seemed every corner of Haytham’s interior offered me another photographic opportunity and the phrase “Kid Candy Shop” comes to mind.
Finally though myself and Les, the creative director narrowed it down two rooms that fitted the brief perfectly and the job was completed within our allotted time.
A few days (and early hours) in the post was needed to meet a couple of the deadlines but the whole job went together without any drama and more importantly, the client & agency were very pleased with the results.
Oh..Anaerobic Digestion! The varied days of a Corporate Photographer
Earlier this year I travelled to Scotland for a 3-day corporate photography shoot for my client KCP Ltd (see my post “Capturing The Cleaning Up For KCP” )
As a follow up a couple of weeks ago KCP asked me to shoot once again for them this time travelling a little closer to home to Basingstoke in Hamshire to capture images of the work they do at an Anaerobic Digestion plant.
The plant basically takes food waste and converts this into energy through some very clever process that went way over my head without much effort from the guy doing the explaining!
I wasn’t armed with much of a brief but KCP did ask that I show the huge domed tanks that they maintain and include their lorries in some images other than that I was free to capture whatever caught my eye which of course was fine by me.
Post-production was a pretty straight forward job which, to be honest, was a nice change from some of the recent quite demanding commissions I’ve completed. You can download my Corporate Photographer PDF Portfolio Here
Corporate Photographer Will Travel, Capturing The Cleaning Up For KCP
As a commercial and corporate photographer based in Somerset, I sure have done some travelling these past few weeks.
A couple of weeks ago I posted Boosting The Ayr Miles about my recent shoots including one in Ayrshire Scotland.
Fortunately, I provide a range of corporate photography services including video production services and these skills came in very handy on these shoots.
The shoot below was for KCP Limited who work nationwide from their Scottish base in Ayrshire.
KCP operates a large fleet of bespoke vehicles that dispose of all manners of waste and are Scotland’s leaders in their field.
My brief was to capture both images of staff and the vehicles on location at the various sites that KCP maintain and also come up with some hero shots of the vehicles within the beautiful Scottish landscape.
Apart from this, I was left with complete creative freedom including picking some of the locations which actually proved much easier than expected.
We had a very tight schedule with just 2 half days but the weather played nice for the most part.
The one image I was not completely looking forward too was a request for a high shot of the fleet from a cherry picker as heights are not my favourite thing and at this point, I hadnt moved into commercial drone work.
The two main concerns I had was the wind had got up (sods friggin law !) and the fact the owner of KCP Karl was going to be operating the machine.
The reason Karl was a concern is that we have been friends since our teenage years and I knew he would not miss a chance to have some fun scaring me…which of course he did !
You can never say this industry is boring, frustrating & unpredictable at times yes, but never boring.
It’s been a very manic few weeks seeing me on location in Scotland, Denmark and a couple of jobs in London.
This week made me realise once again just how no two days or two jobs are ever the same and why I love what I do.
Monday morning saw me in the heart of central London for an early morning corporate portrait shoot in some very modern and swanky offices.
This was followed a couple of days later when I found myself on route to the beautiful South Hams in Devon shooting a Lighthouse for a recent new client.
The contrast in the assignments & the locations was simply chalk & cheese.
The London assignment was in the heart of the city with tall modern office buildings and as you might expect pretty full-on but also quite a buzz.
The Devon shoot was also a pretty busy day however the location was simply mesmerising and you could not work for long without taking a moment to once again appreciate the stunning coastline views from our elevated clifftop location.
This kind of day makes me realise how lucky I am (due to many years ongoing hard work !) to get to visit such great places and meet so many interesting people because of the camera.
More images will follow in the coming weeks but for now, here are a few iPhone snaps from both shoots and a little video.
Have a great weekend everyone….
A precarious viewpoint!