Corporate portraits for an award winning trading report

This was a commission to help produce the imagery for commercial property consultants GVA’s annual Trading Report. The designer’s brief had been to produce an accessible publication that showed the approachability as well as a the professionalism of the company, and the photographs needed to reflect this. The report was to be a particularly important one as the company was in the process of being acquired by German engineers Bilfinger, with the intention of then leading on to rebranding and relocating their HQ to the City.

Terry the designer had chosen to use a number of images of staff across the company’s branches interspersed through the publication in relaxed yet businesslike poses. We shot these on a white background over a couple of days by setting up a temporary studio in a boardroom, meaning the images could be cut out and arranged as necessary to suit the design. On top of this we needed to produce 4 key images of senior management in suitable locations that could be used in portrait format on individual full-pages.  This is always a challenge as typically there is very little time available with the senior management, so the key was to carry out a detailed recce beforehand to ensure we had a enough variety in the locations. The backgrounds needed to have a corporate feel, but at the same time we had to be careful they didn’t distract from the portraits themselves.

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Annual report photography

Here’s an example of how the final images were used in the layout.

The report itself was seen as a great success, not least due to Terry’s great design work, and ended up with an award at the 2015 Property Marketing Awards for best research/annual report.

From my point of view, it was great to help contribute something that could easily have been a bland report full of facts and figures, but ended up being a great balance of information and imagery. This was a great example of how photography can be used to help make corporate reports far more vibrant and accessible than you might expect!

 

 

 

Posted in Annual Reports

Conference photography: London Power Forum

Sometimes being a corporate photographer gives me an insight into areas of business that I would  otherwise never have expected to have come across in a month of Sundays. This was a classic case in point – the extremely niche, but extremely fascinating, world of power station insurance. The London Power Forum gather once a year, and I was lucky enough to have been chosen to photograph this year’s conference. It was held right in the middle of London, a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament, which I guess is kind of appropriate for a conference on power…

The venue was Altitude 360, at the top of Millbank Tower. I’ve photographed here on a number of occasions before and it’s always a pleasure. Not only does it offer a spectacular panoramic view of central London, looking along the Thames to the City and Canary Wharf in one direction, and across to Battersea Power Station the other way, but it’s a great venue to shoot in too. With wall-to-wall windows, the place is flooded with natural light – I find this great for working in an unobtrusive manner as there’s less need for flash, but it also allows for lovely light backgrounds and that nice high-key lifestyle look.

Despite the very specific subject matter, from a photography point of view, this was a fairly standard brief for me. Key with this sort of thing is to try to capture the buzz and feel of the event – and with this kind of subject matter, where there are a lot of experts exchanging ideas and information, I find it can be a real gift. As a photographer, I try to capture moments that show interaction or some sort of emotion, while at the same time keeping an eye on composition, lighting, and using a suitable depth of field to make the key element of the frame stand out. (This was something that I found was key when I was challenged by Nikon to a shoot-out with an amateur photographer).

The other obvious element to conference photography is to make sure you’ve got a good coverage of all the speakers, and plenty of shots of interested-looking audience members, plus of course plenty of branding too. My images for this kind of thing (ie annual conferences, summits, or forums…) are usually used not only to provide a report of the event, but are often utilised to help promote the following year’s event. So a good coverage of the day, including a broad selection of marketable shots is essential. The perfect shot for me is something that is able to combine all of the above elements – it will be well composed, show a particular key moment (whether some interaction between delegates or a particularly interesting expression from a speaker), plus it will provide context, which means often having some reference to the event in terms of branding in the background.

As usual with this kind of shoot, I make the images available to the client via a password-protected web archive. In the case of regular annual events, I group all of the events together in galleries that are all accessible from one page, so over the years a useful archive starts to build up. This can be useful for clients to refer back to, and of course all the high-res images remain accessible to download online. Have a look at my conference photography samples if you’d like to see more of this kind of work.

Some of the shots from the day are below, including an image of the spectacular night-time view from the tower once the sun had set. This was a really enjoyable day for me – a satisfying collection of images, plus a chance to learn something new – and see some pretty spectacular videos of what happens when a power station catches fire…

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Posted in Conference Photography Tagged , , , |

Shooting corporate imagery in the City of London

There have been two patterns that I’ve been noticing with my client base recently. One has been an increase in the amount of work I’m doing with businesses in the legal sector, including recently working with a Chamber of Barristers on the photography for the re-branding of their website. The other is that I’ve been commissioned more and more by overseas companies, particularly from the USA, who have been setting up a base in London and find themselves in need of a London-based photographer.

So it was great when these two strands came together with an approach from a large US legal consultancy firm, Clutch Group, who were expanding their business to London. They found themselves in need of imagery that not just showed off their new offices (fantastically located in the heart of the City a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station), but more importantly showed some of the staff in the London office as well as creating some generic imagery for marketing use.

This was a real dream of a commission in that I was basically given a rough brief outlining what the client wanted to achieve with the images, and was then given the freedom to interpret the brief as I liked. I allowed half a day to shoot this, and had the luxury of having willing staff members at my disposal to set up different scenarios. I find a mixture between set up shots and documentary style works best for me – ie I often set up a meeting-type scenario ensuring the positioning of the people and the lighting is ideal, then allow the subjects to have a real discussion and forget I’m there, which allows for more natural expressions.

I used a combination of my battery-powered Elinchrom Quadras for this (which allow the flexibility to move around an office space quickly without having to constantly search out plug points), as well as natural light to create a bright, modern feel to the photography. I love that my Nikons are sensitive enough to be able to shoot at a relatively high ISO, and the Quadras have enough control to produce just a spit of flash when needed just to lift the shadows.

A nice shoot, and the kind of thing I seem to be doing more and more of… If you’re in need of similar corporate imagery, whether for specific purposes or just a build a library of bespoke photography for future usage, don’t hesitate to drop me a line and I’d be very happy to discuss your project.

Here are some of the images from the shoot…

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Posted in Corporate Reportage

Inmarsat

Towards the end of last year, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Inmarsat, a specialist satellite telecommunications company, who were in need of some marketing material showcasing their network operations centre. Inmarsat had been in the news recently as their technology had provided some of the last tracking data for flight MH370, the unfortunate Malaysia Airways airline that had gone missing on 8th March 2014. So I was particularly intrigued to see what the inside of a satellite communications centre looked like – the answer: pretty awesome! The NOC itself wouldn’t have looked out of place in a James Bond film – banks of computers set in front of a single huge curved screen illustrating real-time network connectivity around the globe.

As a corporate photographer, I occasionally find myself shooting screens as part of office interiors, but this was something different. In fact, Inmarsat were keen to capture a single key image of the main screen that could be blown up to a 5 metre wide banner. This in itself was a challenge as the space was too tight for a front-on shot, and in fact this probably wouldn’t have provided a dynamic enough angle anyway. The 14-24mm f2.8G Nikkor lens really came into its own here. I rarely get it out of the camera bag for the work I do, but when it does get an outing, it really comes into its own. Super-sharp and with a fantastically wide angle, it was perfect for the job.

Lighting-wise, the challenge was to reduce any extraneous ambient light on the screen. The room had windows, so these all needed to be blacked out to reduce the lighting on the ceiling which was white and needed to be as inconspicuous as possible. The need for a sharpness throughout the image meant an aperture of f16 or so, which, combined with the low light levels and need for a low ISO (bearing in mind the extreme size the shot was going to be printed at, grain had to be kept to a minimum, meaning ISO of 100 or 200), necessitated a particularly slow exposure of 3 seconds.

Inmarsat-2

The final printed 5 metre wide banner came out looking fantastic. Had budget allowed it, I might have been tempted to hire a medium format camera for the job, but as it turned out, it wasn’t necessary – the image was sharp and punchy, a real testament to the Nikon D610.

Corporate Interiors photography

External photograph of Inmarsat building

Posted in Interiors

Royal Ascot

This was the kind of dream commission that comes along once-in-a-while, to spend a couple of days at Royal Ascot, shooting the sporting and social culture for an international publication. There’s something wonderfully unique about Royal Ascot – it’s a concentrated few days of complete English-ness where the spectators are just as much a part of the show as the horses they come to watch. And from a photographer’s point of view, it’s great in that people actively show off to the camera – no sneaking around required. The biggest challenge was actually getting images of the horses and the sporting action itself.

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Posted in Editorial

Shooting Emily’s lampshades

I’ve had a big run of corporate work recently, so it was good to get the chance to do something different. Not that I don’t enjoy photographing people, but it was refreshing to be able to physically pick up your subject and put them exactly where you want them. I’m not sure that would go down too well with a chief exec… My sister in law Emily has recently set up a business making lampshades (and very lovely they are too), and needed some shots for her new website (www.amberandrose.co.uk).

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These were all shot with available light – where possible I tried to allow some back-light to come in from windows or other lamps, being careful not to make the scene too contrasty. Just enough to give the shots a bit of a ‘lifestyle-, interiors-magazine-feel’ to them. Anyway, I’ve decided I like photographing lampshades – I can use all my cheesy one-liners on them and they don’t wince once. Go and buy one – they’ll add a warm glow to your life.

Posted in Interiors

Black and White Rooftop Corporate Portraits

It’s always nice to work with a client who’s after something a little bit different. As chartered accountants based a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral, the clients were keen to use their surroundings to their advantage. Normally it can be tricky to include a cityscape in shots as it’s often a view through a window where the lighting is completely different inside and out – but in this case we had a distinct advantage: access to the roof! Once again my trusty Elinchrom Quadras provided the key lighting here – they’re portable battery units that pack quite a punch. But with a 1m softbox, a strong breeze and no assistant to hang on to everything, there was potential for things to get a bit hairy… Fortunately the bungee cables on my fold-up trolley system came to the rescue and helped lash the lighting paraphernalia to the rooftop air conditioning unit (the key to professional photography is being able to improvise your way out of a tight spot), and away we went… The flash was calculated to slightly over-power the daylight, meaning that by exposing for the flash I would get a hint of modelling on the subjects’ faces. And as we were slightly shaded on the rooftop, the roof of St. Paul’s was getting a bit more light than the available daylight on the subjects, meaning it wasn’t too overexposed. A fun, quick shoot, and a great start to the day.

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Posted in Corporate Headshots

A night photographing award winning politicians

Jon Snow presenting the 2012 PSA AwardsJohn Bercow and Lord SteelLord HoweDavid TrimbleMargaret HodgePSA Awards overview in Church HouseSir Richard LeeseDavid Trimble, Margaret Hodge and Jon SnowJohn Snow

I often find myself photographing awards ceremonies of one kind or another and they’re usually interesting events to photograph, not least for the people who turn out to attend them. This is the second time I’ve photographed the PSA Awards in Church House. Based in the heart of Westminster, the location seems particularly well suited to some of the heavyweight politicians who had turned out for the evening. Presented by Jon Snow of Channel 4 news (who had literally just dashed over straight from presenting the show at 7pm), the event is held by the Political Studies Association “to recognise the achievements of academics, politicians, political campaigners, journalists and other contributors to the conduct and study of politics”. There were some notable figures there, such as Lord Trimble, Lord Howe, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, Margaret Hodge, plus a host of other eminent personalities from the worlds of politics and journalism. Not that I expected any sort of rumbunctious PMQ’s style behaviour, but it was nice to see so many individuals from different parts of the political spectrum together in the same room and getting along in a good natured and civilised fashion…

This was a particularly busy Thursday for corporate events. I’d just dashed over from the Supreme Court (fortunately only 2 minutes away) where the Copyright Licensing Agency had been holding a drinks reception, and meanwhile Leo was covering an event over at the Science Museum as my co-photographer for EPL Event Photography. Then back on the train, processing the shots on the laptop ready to be uploaded overnight for distribution the next morning via a password-protected link.

Posted in Awards Ceremonies, Corporate Events

Fast and flexible lighting for corporate reportage shots

I use the term ‘reportage’ slightly loosely here as this kind of shot is of course always set-up and highly choreographed, but the impression at least is to make it look as if you’ve captured a natural moment half-way through an interesting discussion about finance… (The truth is generally that you get people to talk about what they’re having for lunch or where they last went on holiday, but luckily the benefit of stills over video is you don’t get the audio track to accompany it).

These were a few shots for a US reinsurance company who were keen to get a few shots of the UK chief exec and the management team. We had a tight turnaround time, so being able to send digital files across the world by a secure web gallery was a huge benefit. The images were shot on the Nikon D600 (which has only been in my kit bag for a month and is slowly taking over a lot of the work from the D3), with battery-powered Elinchrom Quadras providing the lighting. A pretty light and portable set-up that meant we could quickly move around and create different scenarios. Speed is always of the essence with this sort of thing when people’s availability is generally dictated by when the next meeting or conference call is going to be (though I have to say this was one of the easiest-going and helpful chief execs I’ve work with for a while).

 

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Posted in Corporate Groups

An Evening with Irvin Yalom

One of the things I really enjoy about photographing events and conferences is the interesting speakers I get to hear talk in the line of my work. From after dinner speakers to politicians to marketing experts, there’s always something to take away from what people have to say. The event that the BACP put on last month was a real highlight in this respect. They had managed a bit of a coup in getting the legendary psycoanalyst and author Irvin Yalom agree to do a live link-up from California to London where he would discuss his career with his son Victor and answer questions from the audience. I was particularly excited about this event as I’d read one of Yalom’s books a while ago. “Love’s Executioner”  is a fascinating account of Yalom’s work as a psycoanalyst, involving a number of case studies of the people he’d worked with, and the ways in which he had attempted to approach and break down the various issues they bring to the table. Rather than being a text book or scientific studies, Yalom manages to make fascinating stories out of each chapter, each of which is intriguing and enlightening in its own way. It’s a brilliant book, and one I’d recommend to anyone.

As a speaker, Yalom didn’t disappoint – he was honest, warm, funny, and gifted with the ability to put complex ideas across in a simple way. He made a great double act with his son Victor who was the perfect interviewer – you could see there was a real warmth of feeling and understanding between the two of them.

Anyway, this was a real treat of a job. You could see why the 1,000 people in attendance had turned up to see this man speak. What a legend!

(Oh, and here are a few of the photos…)

 

Posted in Awards Ceremonies, Corporate Events

Adding some punch to corporate groups with outdoor flash

Just after Christmas, I spent some time working with logistics company WNDirect. They were in the process of undergoing some re-branding and were keen to get some imagery to help market themselves. Part of this involved a unified style to their corporate portraiture, for use on the web and particularly for staff LinkedIn profiles. And another part involved some group shots showing what they did. One of the trucks had just come in with the new company logo, so this seemed like the obvious choice for the background to the shot of the board. It was quite a dull day so the shot would have been very flat without a bit of lighting. This is the kind of situation where the Elinchrom Quadras can really help save the day. One big Rotalux octagonal softbox provided the front light, while a small softbox from across and behind the group added some zing by spotlighting the side of the truck and providing some highlights to the back of the group. The results was a punchy group shot with a hint of  ‘Dragons Den’ attitude.

Corporate Photographer London

Posted in Corporate Groups

Event photography with Nikon’s eye-tracking technology…

A little while ago, I was contacted by Nikon asking if I would take part in a photographic experiment they were conducting. Based on the idea that some people have an ‘eye’ for photography, they wanted to pitch 3 professional photographers against an amateur. They weren’t just interested in the end results though, but more interestingly wanted to try to examine the process that both the professionals and the amateur went through as they examined the scene for composition. In order to do this they used a 21st century pair of spectacles with tiny cameras that tracked your eye movements as you took the photo. Here’s a still from the video Nikon filmed, to give you an idea of how gawky I looked in them…

Event photography for Nikon

It was a pan-European experiment with a travel photographer from Germany, a nature photographer from France, and myself chosen for my experience as an events photographer from the UK. We were all to be given the same camera – a Nikon 5100 with kit lens – and had no other pro kit to fall back on… Just our ‘eye’. A slightly daunting prospect with the very real chance that the amateur might well end up taking a much better photo than the so-called pro…

For my bit, we took over a bar in West London and got in a party-load of willing participants to get the atmosphere going. After donning the goggles, I was told to take two photos – one from a fixed spot (the same as the amateur), and one from a position of my choice. If you have a look at the Nikon website, you can see some video footage of the experiment (my section is towards the end), and read some more about the results of the experiment on the Nikon blog. These are the two shots I took:

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The first was quite a challenge – very little to go on when you’re unable to move around and change the perspective. It was a case of finding what the focus of the scene was going to be, zooming for the best crop, and then waiting for a moment where there was some sort of interaction or emotion going on between the people in the shot.

The second was slightly easier to frame in that I was able to find something to create an interesting perspective – in this case going round behind the bar and shooting through some bottles at a group of people, again waiting for an interesting moment.

It was interesting viewing the video afterwards and seeing just how much my focus was shifting around the scene while I was analysing it. Quite a bit of the eye movement appeared to be analysing people’s faces as well as the general structure of the room. This makes sense as I find when I take events shots I do try to make my focus the people themselves – I’ll often try to pre-empt a reaction by watching how they’re interacting with others – while at the same time trying to find an interesting way to frame the shot and compose it in a way that’s photographically pleasing.

Anyway, this was a fascinating project to take part in – interesting to take a step back and look at the way that I work. And I think I managed to avoid embarrassing myself too much with the photography too, which was a relief…

 

 

Posted in Corporate Events Tagged , |

Battersea Power station at night

Just before Christmas I photographed a great party at Battersea Power Station, which has to be one of London’s most stunning venues. It’s going to be developed into luxury flats before long, so it was great to get an opportunity to photograph there while it’s still being used as an events venue. This is one of my favourite shots from the evening, before the party started…

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Posted in Corporate Events

Corporate Headshots for management consultants

A nice straightforward corporate portrait shoot. This involved setting up lighting and a background in an office at the client’s location and photographing everyone in a uniform style. For this kind of shoot I use Elinchrom Quadras, powerful battery powered studio flashes which gives me the flexibility to be able to set up pretty much anywhere without having to worry about placing of power sockets or too many trailing cables.

Posted in Corporate Headshots

Conference photography in central London

This was one of those conferences where the lighting was right “on the edge”. Just about light enough to shoot at a high ISO without needing to use flash, but I did need a steady hand at times especially with the long lens shots… I generally find available-light shots are far more atmospheric and interesting than flash-lit ones in these kind of situations – for a start you can shoot through people and have a nice out-of-focus foreground without running the risk of lighting up any backs of heads. And obviously it’s less distracting for the speakers and audience if you don’t use flash. On the few occasions I do get out the speedlights at conferences, where possible I’ll try to bounce the light to give a more even lighting, and use it sparingly…

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Posted in Conference Photography, Corporate Events

PR shoot for Which?

Although a little while ago, I thought this was worth writing about as it was a slightly unusual one. Which? were  calling on the Financial Services Authority to toughen up with-profits regulation and needed an image to help promote the press release in the national papers.

The idea was to go for a Dick Turpin theme and to call on the FSA to “Stand and Deliver”… We recced the spot a week before to find the best angle to show a suitable Westminster backdrop, and decided the south bank of the Thames opposite parliament would work best.

A stunt horse and rider were hired for the shoot and a section of the footway was cordoned off. We even had a police escort. Our only problem was that the horse could only rear up a certain number of times as there were paving stones underfoot and there was a risk of damaging its hooves. I had an assistant on hand with a couple of synced speedlights firing into the flanks of the horse for fill light.

(Note: this is before I owned Quadras, which would have provided much more powerful and reliable lighting. One of the SB800s actually blew up as we fired it on full power too many times in a row. Fortunately we had a spare, plus we were just round the corner from Fixation to drop the damaged unit off after the shoot to get repaired.)

My only regret is that we weren’t allowed to use a real pistol as I think the plastic one that Dick Turpin is holding looks a bit funny. The shot was a great success and was used across a number of papers the next day.

PR shoot opposite the houses of parliament

Posted in PR Photography