At the end of 2012 I got a call from my assignments agent at Getty Assignments regarding a shoot required for a financial company in the City. The brief was for portraits of various prime workers of the company, the purpose of the images was as part of an anniversary book to celebrate 10 years of the company in business.
Usually I have found with financial institutions their take on portraits can be very corporate, wooden and very ‘safe’, however I was pleasantly surprised that this particular brief broke that mould, they wanted ‘real’ pictures of their staff, on location in the offices, not the standard shots, they were after shots that captured the character of each of the individuals to be photographed, it was up to me to decide how to photograph them, wow, finally a job with some freedom!
My role in this assignment was to head up the team of photographers who would be shooting various other victims in their offices all over the globe, quite an honour really. I was to commence the whole thing, in the London offices, and the other photographers were to see my images and work off them, trying to get the same feel. I arrived at the City location, one of three days to attend, met up with the designers and off we went to liaise with our contact.
It became very clear that although everyone involved had been primed for the shoot they were not aware that the style was to be loose,casual and focusing on a more character led style, the world was my oyster! We only had a small window to shoot our sitters and so quick thinking was in order, we spoke to each person initially and I got an idea of where they were coming from and based my ideas on that really. To cut a long story short we got some terrific shots in the bag, I even managed to get the CEO to balance on his ski poles in his office and play table tennis in his suit!
The client was more than happy with our results and the green light was on for my contemporaries across the globe to copy my style. I was very pleased to hear from my agent that I had set such a high bar that the photographers were having difficulty getting the right feel, and actually there were a few re-shoots I hear, in fact we were trying to encourage the client to let me shoot all the offices over the world for continuity reasons, which would have been the right thing, however I think budgets got in the way, even though the client’s turnover was an astronomical figure!
Finally the book was printed and I got a copy for the archives, and very nice it looks too. Whilst I was running about shooting the portraits there was talk of offering each of the sitters some form of keep-sake, and a framed print was discussed. I spent some time researching the best way to offer this service to them and came up with some costs which I passed to the client, if I remember rightly each framed print was to cost them around £60.00 delivered.
It made me smile when they came back to me saying they thought the cost was prohibitive and so they never bought any, poor people never got their keep-sake! I expect they pay more on sandwiches each week than that framed print, which would last for ever!
It was a great assignment and so refreshing to get such a loose brief, we need more clients to understand the true value of photography, and photographers, in a world where every man and his dog believes they are photographers it’s assignments like this one that prove that us professional photographers really do know what we are doing, and deserve to be paid sensible fees for our skills.
Contributed by John Slater
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