Here’s a series of portraits and case studies of staff, supporters and residents from a commission by B3 Living:
I’m finally getting round to watching the Star Wars series and recognised actor John Boyega (he plays a stormtrooper who joins the good guys). I felt sure I’d met him somewhere, but I wasn’t too certain. I couldn’t think where it could have been, or when.
And I don’t really trust my memory. I have mild prosopagnosia - meaning I struggle to remember faces (one of the worst things for a photographer to have). However, I always remember faces I’ve edited. That is, if I’ve photographed someone, I'll remember. My prosopagnosia has led to some interesting situations which I’m sure I’ll blog about.
Anyway, with John, if we had met, it would have had to have been at a rehearsal or photocall. Browsing the archives, there he was. At the Tricyle theatre (now The Kiln Theatre), I photographed a series of work entitled Not Black & White - three plays tackling prejudice. Several years ago. I got two frames of John.
But what I remember most wasn’t John, or the rehearsals, but a conversation about music with the guy on the right (above), and him telling me about ‘Radiodread’ - a reggae/ska cover of OK Computer.
Funny thing, memory.
Landsec commissioned me to take portraits of ten staff members at their offices in Victoria. We had a room reserved, and were free to use any available locations in the vicinity (ie reception, foyer & cafe) as well as Cardinal Place, their adjacent retail centre and outdoor public space.
Poor weather meant we couldn’t shoot outside, so the issue was about getting a good variety with limited indoor options. This became increasingly difficult as the day went on. Happily, all the ladies were very generous with their time (and their patience). Here’s a selection from the shoot:
Some portraits from the past few months:
A new headshot is long overdue: my existing one is around seven years old. So, tethering to my laptop, with a remote trigger, a tripod and a couple of lights, I set to work.
I played around with colours in photoshop to make it look arty, but the issue is still that I look unhappy, and there's not a lot I can do about that in post. But forcing a smile alone made me feel a little insane. When I'm shooting corporate headshots, I don't know the people and so I can objectively work towards trying to make them look professional, friendly, trustworthy etc. There's no right way for each person: aside from everyone photographing differently, depending on age, role and level a softer look will suit some, a more assertive expression others.
The subjects, on the other hand, are usually concerned with looking their best. 95% claim not to be photogenic as they come into the room, and/or dislike their nose/ears/chin/hairline etc. We're often looking for different things from the process.
I knew I should adopt the objective approach, but it's very hard to do. And I don't think I've ever taken a real selfie. Sometimes, knowing what goes into something makes it all the more difficult to achieve.
I had another go a couple of days later, with a different lighting setup and less post-production. The hint of a smile (as much as I can muster) is definitely better. The tilt of the head softens it somewhat, and the stronger catchlights in the eyes help bring some life into it.
On reflection, I'd prefer an environmental portrait over a headshot on a background next time. So whilst it will do for now, I'm still not thrilled with it, and will likely do a swap with another photographer at the next opportunity.
Landsec commissioned me to take portraits of staff for International Women's Day today, March 8th. Some of these accompany their interviews about the experience of working in an industry perceived to be male-dominated. Here is the article, and here are some of the images:
The Toyota Mobility Foundation has launched a $4 million dollar global challenge to change the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis, culminating in the unveiling of the winners in Tokyo in 2020.
The competition is is looking for teams around the world - including startups - to create game-changing technology that will help radically improve the mobility and independence of people with paralysis. The mobility solutions of the future could include anything from exoskeletons to artificial intelligence and machine learning, from cloud computing to batteries.
To raise awareness of the competition, volunteers from around the world (including athletes, presenters, scientists and artists) with lower-limb paralysis acted as spokespeople.
I was commissioned to source, commission and liaise with photographers from various countries and create a brief in order to produce a stylistically consistent set of portraits. I was also to photograph the two London representatives, Yinka Shonibare and Sophie Morgan.
Finding the photographers began with asking for recommendations and referrals, googling, searching agencies and skimming databases, and browsing scores of websites to find people with a roughly similar approach and portfolio. Narrowing them down based on their availability at short notice and, of course, budget, I presented these to the client for the final decision.
Dealing with my own, separate commissions alongside dealing with correspondence from various time zones meant late nights and early mornings, as well as lengthy, rather chaotic spreadsheets - something I've never had to deal with. And lots of coffee.
In a nutshell, the brief was to provide two portraits of each person: one full-length, wide shot to show their environment, locating them within their country or region, otherwise at a place which might suggest their profession or background; the other was to be a closer crop, with the emphasis on them and their expression (positive, challenging etc.) at, ideally, a different location. Lighting was to be simple, minimal to none where possible.
To maintain consistency, I did the basic retouch work on the selected RAW files myself which was extremely generous of the photographers to allow.
In the end, and despite best intentions and plans - as is often the case - some of it came down to what the photographers could do on the ground, what they could use to tell the story in the (usually short) time available from whatever relevant/photogenic locations they had in the vicinity. Mostly the time and location were dictated by the busy schedules of the volunteers and photographers, rather than by the best light or ideal spot. But you wouldn't know! - I think they did a superb job, and the launch was a great success.
So, happy with the results (and slightly baffled as to how I got it done), I have now have on file fifty or so photographers around the world I could contact should this come up again - a pretty comprehensive spreadsheet. If only I could remember where I filed it...
Occasionally I'll send photos directly to a designer or retoucher straight from camera. Here are a couple of recent portraits to be used in an upcoming campaign.
They will likely be cropped to simple headshots and left on a white background, so while normally I wouldn't do any editing myself on these (especially as it wasn't required), I rather liked them and so had a play around with the background to make them presentable.
Here's a collection of (mostly) recent shots:
Portraits of DJ Claudio Pettannice of S.H.O.K.K.
Actress & writer Victoria Jeffrey, photographed at her home in Crouch End, London:
Portraits of multi-talented musician Matt Smith:
Artist Gavin Turk, who is exhibiting at the Newport Street Gallery on Wednesday with "Who What When Where How & Why".
I undertook a series of case-study portraits on behalf of Instructure for their state-of-the-art Learning Management Software (LMS). We photographed teachers, administrators and learners - users from all sides - and visited Birmingham University (where I studied!), Oxford, Sutton Tennis Academy and Trondheim, Norway. Here are a selection:
Entrepreneur Rishi Khosla, CEO of OakNorth, a bank which focuses on lending to fast-growth businesses and entrepreneurs.