Hello and welcome to the first blog of my newly updated website. I recently did a short interview for Production Paradise in which they asked me about aspects of shooting corporate photography, the awards I had won and what I look for when shooting buildings.
What challenges do you come up against when shooting in large companies and how do you deal with subjects who may not be used to being photographed?
For me the most important aspect of shooting in large corporations is that my contacts or organizers within the company are properly briefed and have their side of the job well planned. They will need to have all the relevant permissions for me to shoot sorted out and if I am to photograph people, that they are all there on the day and have the sessions marked in their diaries, if not things can unravel quickly.
When it comes to shooting business portraits, normally the top guys in the company have been photographed before and, on the whole, are fairly relaxed about it but for those who haven’t, I generally have to do some coaxing. With the people who are a bit ‘camera shy’ and if it’s allowed within the brief, I’ll try to put them at ease by putting them in an environment that is familiar to them within their workplace as opposed to being up against a background surrounded by photographic lighting. I’ll maybe strike up a light-hearted conversation with them then explain exactly what I want them to do which I feel helps by giving them something to concentrate on. If the shot is of them working on machinery as with BP or other office tasks, I’ll ask them to go through what they normally do in that situation and if possible, to ignore me as I photograph them.
How many awards have you won and which of them are you the most pleased with and what’s the story behind that winning shot?
I won four Silver awards in the Epson Photographic Pano Awards in the Built Environment section. Each 360º panorama has it’s own, very different story but I think my favorite is the one I shot for British Petroleum. I was commissioned by their London office to go to their oil refinery in Castellón near Valencia, which I’ve done many times before to shoot for an article about a ‘Day in the life’ of the head refinery safety officer.
Whilst there, they asked me to shoot a 360ºVR panorama which would capture the whole refinery complex in a dramatic way. To do this I had to start by finding the highest vantage point I could which was near the top of their massive coker tower. Once there, I put my three metre pano pole with the camera and 8mm lens on out over the edge to give the viewer the sensation that they were floating in mid air. Although it was well fixed to the guardrail I was still very nervous at having my equipment out in mid air and the thought of it crashing down onto some part of the refinery below!
I wanted to include a human element within the picture so I got one of the BP engineers to stand by the guardrail and look out over the refinery, I also recorded a short sound bite from his radio and the ambient sounds to add later. I shot four exposures which I later stitched together using PTGui. The final 360ºVR panorama can be seen HERE.
When photographing architectural projects, what is it that you look for in a building?
With the building exteriors I look for good viewpoints, some of which are enforced rather than chosen, that show the line and form of the structure. I like shooting details or features of the building that the architect included in their design. If possible, I’ll always do a recce of the site to see at what time of day the light is best: nothing worse than getting there and finding that half the building is in shadow!
I use an app on my iPhone called Sun Scout which is very good at tracking the arc of the sun and shows where it will be at any given time of day. The winter months can be a problem here in Barcelona because the sun doesn’t get very high in the sky and the buildings are either close together or the streets are very narrow so the sunlight doesn’t reach the whole structure. In the worst case scenario I use multiple exposures and HDR to balance everything out.
When shooting interiors, I look for clean lines, dynamic angles, nice curves and shoot from viewpoints that lead the viewer in from one space to another within the image, for example through an arch, along a corridor, or maybe up a staircase. I also try to use the form and texture of the building materials used to accentuate the space.