The events industry is of course heavily affected by COVID-19. I wish all my clients, both past and future the very best of luck going through this period.
If you’re interested to know what an event photographer does during a pandemic, I’ll give you a brief update. I’ve been: retouching other photographers’ images; designing and putting up the lighting on larger (socially distanced) advertising shoots; photographing still life/product photography for one of my main clients (we photograph a lot of shoes every year); doing a few socially distanced head shot sessions; reading a lot of Walt Whitman.
I also have a confession to make. I’m actually a fine art trained, ex pottery-making, conceptual sculpture producing free spirit in my spare time. I have a pseudonym for my fine art so that it doesn’t overlap with my corporate event and head shot photography. Over the pandemic I’ve expanded some of this work and had a (socially distanced) physical exhibition in September/October. I’ve been pretty busy really!
Again, I wish everybody the best of luck both personally and professionally in every aspect of life but particularly in light of the pandemic.
I was commissioned by Prada to document the extraordinary interior styling of their store at Heathrow, before it changes again for the next season.
Arriving at a time in the morning that I barely knew existed, I was to shoot a series of wide angle shots of the interior installation of Prada’s store in Heathrow. I had around 15-20 minutes to complete the shoot, as customers should not be waiting, especially given the time-critical nature of airports! The images are used for documentation purposes, as there are so many re-fits and style changes within Prada and the fashion industry as a whole, that it needs to be properly archived for reference and posterity. Colour accuracy and a “realistic” (but wide angle) approach to the imagery was important. Images were to be sent within a few hours.
To successfully capture images to the brief while working super fast and under pressure, you really need to have done a lot of interiors photography before, and thankfully I’ve got a fair amount of experience. To make things just that little bit tougher, the images needed to be edited, processed and sent within a couple of hours of shooting. I happen to live in a fairly central London location along the Picadilly line, so I was able to begin the editing process on the train, and finish the edits at my editing station in my home office. I have carefully calibrated monitors in a controlled environment, which is essential for accurately reproducing colours in photography.
DID THEY LIKE THE IMAGES?
The feedback was a simple “perfect”, which works for me!
It was a pleasure to be asked back to photograph the NCTJ Council this year, which took place at the stunning Bracken House which was designed by Albert Richardson. The Financial Times is based there.
Among other highlights, this was a panel discussion and an opportunity for students to speak directly with important people from NCTJ, and have their own say. I can’t help but be fascinated by the skill of shorthand, which can allow journalists to write down notes and quotes at extraordinary speed and in condensed form. The gold standard is 100 words per minute, and exams are available for achieving between 60 and 120 words per minute. As a comparison, 60 words per minute of typed text is a good standard for high end typing jobs. So 100wpm seems somewhat superhuman. I remember first noticing shorthand while watching one of the older James Bond movies as a kid.
Here’s an interesting video from NCTJ regarding their shorthand: https://www.nctj.com/journalism-qualifications/shorthand-teeline
And to give yourself some context, try this speed typing test to see if you can get anywhere near 100wpm! I know I didn’t! https://www.livechatinc.com/typing-speed-test/#/
It was a pleasure to photograph for Cloudshift at their celebratory event at the Sunborn Yacht Hotel, in The Royal Docks, around Canning Town.
The sun was out, drinks were flowing and it was an all-round success following their earlier exhibit at Excel that day.
James Fabulous was there, entertaining the crowd…
He’s a mentalist and magician (a mentalist is someone who messes with your head over doing “simple” card tricks, Derren Brown style). Here’s his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamesfabulous/?hl=en and here’s a YouTube video of him doing his thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwKzGxO7i3o&feature=youtu.be
WAS HE ANY GOOD?
Yes, he was blowing minds left right and centre! He can work the crowd while also letting people get on with socialising, which is a real art in itself, so I admire his talents. I’d honestly recommend him for any corporate event. I’ve seen a lot of entertainers at corporate events and I must say he stood out as a particularly good one.
Believe it or not, direct sun is not an event photographer’s best friend - we prefer bright daylight with plenty of clouds, if we get a choice on the matter! Fortunately I had a bit of time to carefully edit and tweak the images from the day to help with flare and other technical camera related things, and I’m happy with how the images came out.
Another challenge we often face is certainly not an issue for the events managers - people enjoying themselves in a nicely crowded party environment. Generally it’s nice to get a bit of distance between the camera and the subject, but that’s not always possible. I used my little Fuji camera quite a lot for this event so I could hang out with the crowd without having my big camera lens intruding on their conversations. It’s a great little camera for all sorts of situations, but rather specialist as it doesn’t zoom or anything like that.
DID THEY LIKE THE IMAGES?
I had a phone call a couple of weeks later to say how much they loved the pictures, and have booked me to photograph their golfing day too! So I think that’s a yes.
It was a pleasure to photograph the Digital Europe Evening at London Business School, which was organised by FoundersLane - Nikola Likov and Rose Nguyen were my contacts for the event.
I photograph a lot of tech talk events and this was a nice approach to the panel discussion and networking format. It had an intimate, relaxed feel (with a fairly exclusive capacity of about 30), so everybody had the chance to talk with each other.
Following some refreshments and delegates having the chance to speak to each other, everybody sat down for the structured panel discussion featuring Anne Berner, Martina Larkin, Michael G Jacobides and Simon Torrance.
After the panel discussion, the group split into 5 separate groups to discuss various elements of the tech industry. They then went for drinks and finger food in a dedicated part of London Business School.
This was my first time at the London Business School. The Sir John Ritblat Conference Room is very new and beautifully designed especially for panel discussion and round table events. As for challenges, the combination of deep coloured wood and overhead lighting does result in certain phenomena that are more clear when seen in a photograph than by the naked eye. Light that directly falls on a person from a light source will have a certain neutral tone (when the camera is white balanced correctly), whereas light that bounces off a wooden wall will be significantly warmer. One effect that this produces is that people in the middle of the room will require a different white balance than those standing closer to a wall, to prevent the image from appearing murky. There is no scientific solution to this, it’s just a matter of ”eyeballing” each scenario and adapting to it. Being an event photographer who’s seen a lot of wood panelling, this is a fairly instinctive process for me, but it’s one of those things that the human eye is much less capable of noticing until it’s recorded in a photograph.
DID THEY LIKE THE PHOTOS?
Rose wrote a review for me on Google: “Josh photographed an event that my company organised at LBS. He was very responsive and professional. The result delivered was absolutely amazing as we shared the photos with our guests and they were all very impressed. Will definitely keep Josh as our first photographer contact for the next events.” Thanks Rose!