Thursday, 18 December 2014

Epic Moments with Samsung


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With 7 out of 10 Brits owning a smartphone it is not a surprise that advertising the newest device is a rather big deal for the manufacturers. Earlier this year I was invited to shoot stills on the set of the newest Samsung device online advertising campaign. These were to go with Samsung’s online videos advertising the newest Galaxy S5 smartphone and the GearFit watch.

I do not work with video myself (other than my keen use of hyperlapses as you may have noticed on my instagram) and this was the first time I was invited to do a series of stills to go with video material. Meaning - it was one of the first times I was on a shoot where photography was not the primary focus. This turned out to be a fascinating experience.

Firstly, the budgets and the teams on such big film sets are much bigger than your average photoshoot. This means more people, more lights, more instructions. I had an opportunity to work with incredible equipment and it was joyous how easily the lighting team created a beautiful hazy sunset on what was a dark and wet afternoon.

The tip top organisation on a set is amazing - no threads are hanging loose, no minute is wasted which means everything works like a good swiss clock with one minor challenge - there wasn’t much time for stills. So me and my assistant had to be super prepared as the film crew were only giving us a minute or two to shoot the relevant stills. Video production is all about a long, consequential processes and taking any more time to photograph would interrupt the flow of the filming. I had an almost playful relationship with the assistant director - always reminding him about the importance of stills.

There were other fun challenges too but of a more photographic nature. Releasing helium balloons and making them blow in the desired direction is not easy outdoors in any circumstances. Releasing them so that we get each balloon placed perfectly and captured on the smartphone screen in my shot makes the task even more difficult. We must have done it right though as the videos and my photo material to go with them have so far been watched over 2.8 million times and were liked on YouTube over 4000 times.

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Big thanks to Mason Zimbler for such a fascinating opportunity and to Aspect Film & Video for accommodating the stills photography needs on set.

Here are some Epic Moments with Samsung:




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

3 days of Christmas. In June. - Help for Heroes Christmas 2014

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Christmas is really all around us by now and I have a confession to make - this will be my second one this year. Photography yet again proves itself to be a great profession - I celebrated my first Christmas of the year in June at the Help for Heroes catalogue shoot.
You may recall my previous collaborations with Thirdberg Productions for Help for Heroes. They almost feel like great weekends away with fantastic locations, the beautiful outdoors and plenty of fun. All for a great cause. This time was no different. We gathered the team once more and headed for the Sussex coast to capture that cozy wintery feel in what turned out to be one of the hottest summers the UK has had in years.
Pretending it’s winter in June is easy on the photographer but it is hard not to feel for the models all wrapped up in chunky knits in 30 degree heat. And then of course there were the Christmas jumpers - H4H’s Christmas jumper collection is too good not to be included in their clothing catalogue for Autumn/Winter. This meant that we made one of the shoot days “Christmas”. We decorated the location house, lit the fire and adorned the room with tinsel and Christmas cards. We had Christmas carols playing and if it wasn’t for the fact that we were at work mulled wine would have been rather fitting. The only difference being that when we wrapped up I celebrated the end of the shoot with a swim in the sea. What better way to finish off?
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The Help for Heroes winter clothing catalogue is out now and the items can also be bought online. Beyond containing some fabulous gift ideas it is a great way to support a charity whose work changes lives for so many of our servicemen.

Thanks so much to the amazing team who worked on  the shoot:

Production: Thirdberg
Digi-tech and assistant: Phil Hardman
Make Up: Nina Sagri
Help for Heroes: Tanya, Helen and Lauren
Art Direction: Gary Bigwood
Male Model: James Lawson @ Mustard
Female Model: Alana Wallace @ BMA

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And here is just a little clip to give you an idea of what really goes on during these shoots:


Thursday, 4 December 2014

When art meets engineering - Cox Wokingham Plastics for Halo Media

A good while back Halo Media offered me a rather unusual commission - to photograph work at a plastics moulding company. It wasn't however the thermoforming that they were particularly keen for me to capture. The company, Cox Wokingham Plastics, were redesigning their promotional material and online presence and wanted to put their employee’s wealth of experience at the centre. Halo liked my Brits Abroad project and wanted a similar approach for portraits of employees as well as the processes and methods Cox Wokingham use.
If you have never been to a plastics moulding company you probably would not expect to find so many fascinating things to photograph. You may not even expect to meet people passionate about moulding plastics, but Cox Wokingham’s place in Berkshire is full of them. I was given complete access to anywhere in the factory and with my protective eyewear in place proceeded to photograph those wonderful engineers talking about the art in their work. And then there were the machines: CNC drilling machines spraying plastic and water everywhere, heaters melting plastic and then shaping it magically into airplane seats, plus plenty more to get the boyish geek in me excited. What is it about big, noisy technology that makes it so fascinating?

Thank you to Halo Media for this unusual assigmenet and Cox Wokingham Plastics for showing me a bit of a world I would otherwise never be a part of.

You can see my pictures on CWP’s new website.
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Monday, 1 December 2014

John Hamilton - Independent Saturday Magazine

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How many cookbooks have you got? I’ve always thought the collection adorning the shelves in my flat is a pretty good one. Always - that is until I met John Hamilton, the Art Director for Penguin Books.

I was asked by The Independent’s Saturday Magazine to photograph John for an article about Penguin’s new publication - 100 Cookbook Covers in One Box. John has been collecting cookbooks ever since he was in charge of designing Jamie Oliver’s first Naked Chef book. Fast forward fifteen years and John now has over a thousand cookbooks at home.

No surprise then that I was rather excited to see his amalgamation of cookery design from across the world. John welcomed me in his home in Lewes and soon we were deep in cookbook design conversation. My portrait idea was to make the most of the sheer quantity of the books and surround John with them. Being a true book lover John did not mind a bit - he and his wife were keen to help make the best shot possible. We stacked books all over the table, chairs and sideboard in their kitchen. Piles of books nearly falling over everywhere, but worth it for the shot. I then balanced myself on a ladder to capture photos of John lying on the wooden floor surrounded by his favourite hardbacks.

John is a perfect sitter - up for anything and lovely to talk to. He told me about the mad Lewes Bonfire Night traditions (thank you, I would never have gone without the recommendation) and then topped the afternoon off with feeding me a tasty lunch. An excellent treat after a few hours of being surrounded by cookery books.

Thank you to The Independent’s Saturday Magazine for a great commission and John for being such great company and model.

You can read an online version of the article with my pictures on The Independent website.

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Behind the scenes whilst photographing John Hamilton for The Independent Saturday Magazine
John Hamilton for the Independent Saturday Magazine

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tanzania - UnitedHealth Global Part 2

For Part 1: click here.

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It was all going so well. I was going to finish off my UnitedHealthcare Global commission (see part 1 here) with a short stop over in Africa before embarking on the journey back to London. The air traffic controllers, however, had other plans. Storms chasing across the USA meant that two of my flights got cancelled there and then just to top things off we heard that my flights in Tanzania were also cancelled. Time to reschedule. So it was a few weeks later that I reunited with UHG with the same objective in mind - to photograph the company’s people and work as part of their rebranding.
I arrived in Tanzania and was completely struck by it. I had never been to this part of Africa and was amazed by how busy, chaotic and mad Dar Es Salaam felt. In order to show the global aspect of UHG’s work I headed to the local market and was quickly the most popular Westerner in the vicinity. The stall owners realised I could be a great source of income and soon I had a string of people following asking to be photographed for money. Usually it works the other way, but not in Dar Ee Salaam’s market, it seems! The market itself is ripe with photography opportunities: the spices, the fruit and most importantly the people.
Following a night in the capital, I headed to Mtwara - one of Tanzania’s biggest ports where UnitedHealthcare Global provide a whole range of health services to a conglomerate of oil companies. After a chilling health and safety meeting (I will never look at a mosquito in the same way again) I headed out to the port to capture the impressive work taking place there. Mtwara hardly has running water and a quarter of the houses do not have electricity. After driving along dirt roads past mud huts the port was the stark contrast - organised by the oil companies with strict health and safety it was ultra-modern. We set up numerous scenarios for me to photograph such as helping an injured employee and a rather exciting rescue mission in the bush.
Tanzania fascinated me, it's visually stunning and Mtwara in particular was incredible. Its people wore bright colourful dresses and rode the most tassled-up fancy motorbikes I have ever seen. Plus the light there has a dusty, desaturated quality to it that I haven't witnessed anywhere else. It is certainly on my list of places to return to.

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Thank you UnitedHealthcare Global for this most incredible commission. You can see my work on their newly launched website: http://www.uhcglobal.com/

As mentioned earlier - this was the second part of my shoot for UnitedHealthcare Global. The first part is an earlier blogpost.

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