Category Archives: concept

Work to travel: Travel to work

This was exciting, exhilarating and bloody good fun. Brand journalism is the game.

We’ve all set ourselves goals in life whether we know it yet or not. One fundamental aspiration I have is to travel with work; to experience places and people my personal finances would never allow. I think that I ve made a start…

Last year a good friend of mine introduced me to the visual research agency, Bamm London. As soon as I’d given their website a once-over I knew without doubt that I wanted/needed to freelance for them. A year later and I am there. They are the most wonderful bunch of minds, editors and administrators – plus more.

Whirlwind.

My first job was to  shoot, over two days, a stop motion piece for a whiskey company. It was only for the client’s internal use but my my it was fun. I’d never done anything quite like that. Challenging and brilliant.

My second job resulted in my travelling to Paris and Brussels over two days. A fast-paced visit to the continent that required me to document the journeys of two very different people; one a French actress and the other a young lobbyist. I am sure you can guess their respective destinations.

The brief orbited the idea that: “when people get together, great things happen”.

I accompanied a charming man with a videocamera and another with a dictaphone.

It was exceptionally fun, so welcome to the Eurostar

* All photographs taken were submitted directly to Bamm as raw files. The photos below are my selection and edit.

Meet lobbyist, Junior, before he departs for Brussels

Now meet Selma en route to Gare du Nord. She's off to meet her fiance in London

Arrival in Brussels

Arrival in London

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The Automation Station, Industry and the One that Got Away

Welcome to the Auto-ID laboratory, University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing.

Yesterday I made my way by train up to Cambridge to meet Professor Andy Neely, a leading authority in the measurement and management of performance in the manufacturing sector. Take this with a pinch of salt (I am far from an expert, not quite an amateur), but I am sure that is more-or-less the refining and improving of management systems (or philosophies) and manufacturing processes operated and utilised at factory level; making more streamlined the way in which products are produced/manufactured and more effective the framework that manages the processes involved in the production.

He also holds positions at both the University of Cambridge and Cranfield School of Management.

And to have any chance of improvement there must exist, of course, the capacity to measure efficiency and output amongst other variables. Only then can systems and processes be developed further. This appears to be one of his strengths and an important one at that. The UK economy relies considerably on the sector. It employed around 2.6 million people and developed near to £140bn in goods and services back in 2009. For it to survive and thrive, it must adapt and innovate.

Professor Neely is an academic in a world of ginormous structures loaded with machinery and filled with a mechanical air. Another facet of that world is the sterile operations of pioneering research facilities. During my visit, I struggled to reconcile what I thought to represent manufacturing and what actually represents it. I wanted the heat of industrial toil but felt only air-conditioned air. The two worlds exist together or not at all and I would be foolish to think on the contrary, but my perception of this unique world has been invariably shaped by my father’s work – past, present and future – in the industry and also the six months I spent as a production line operative.

The purpose of meeting Prof and robot was to shoot a few images for a manufacturing photography competition. My attention was not given to this work and I ve now ended up with photos that convey a bright white world of research and refinement; not the clanging and banging of materiel on the factory floor. The deadline will pass too soon and I haven’t the time to do what I’d like. It is the one that got away. There will always be another time!

The future of the industry is developed in places like this and by men like him, but I’d much rather focus on the unsung labour of those working the early, late and night shift patterns of the 24 hour, 365 day a year institution.

I was allowed 10 minutes.

The lab

And then the dodgy (and unintentional) PR shot.

Prof Neely

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Kitchen and Camera

Early last week a wonderful opportunity was thrown my way. Prior to my (now ended) studies I spent a significant amount of time in Paris; it was there that I became friends with a hugely talented chef, Sam White. Four years later I discovered that he was working in the French Embassy kitchen, catering for a number of reputable guests. A gold gilded door presented itself to me, half open.

On Tuesday I peered through the door; now I want to pass through it.

The Head Chef and his team appear keen to collaborate on further experimental shoots. The focus is movement on the plate, chopping board and dish. This is a fresh and exciting project for me and one I have already embraced with open arms – and mind. How do you breathe actual life into the inanimate, into a still life image?

To better convey this intended movement the Head Chef placed in front of me his favourite book, a collection of works by Salvador Dali. After a brief fit of panic and cognitive fright, composure was fully restored and strangely enlightened. I was shown Nature Morte Vivante, or Living Still Life. I am particularly appreciative of this extraordinary example for it has provided us, already, with the necessary conceptual foundations to begin our project. The very notion that the inanimate can be animated enthuses and excites.

All that is required of us is to pour, drop, drip and click – and of course, sweat some.

The following shots were taken over an afternoon and comprise the reasonably restrained explorative stages of the venture. After the reportage…

The patisserie chef finishing off his dishes

Pears aplenty I do apologise, but I only caught them at the end of lunch service. I'd definitely like to do more of this though.

A scoop of liquorice ice cream is still to be placed but I missed that one!

The head chef and a particular attention to detail, I am sure

And now the shoot. You must forgive for me for two reasons: I am awaiting the names of the dishes and the backdrop and reflectors certainly need refining.

With various tweaks, the pouring idea can be worked well

Without the spoon, swirling and pouring may very well be worth the pursuit

I am keen to get some props in the mix

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An ever so bizarre style

I attended this class last year; life drawing (and photography) with lashings of lemon, fire and lime, silk and sordid sin.

Welcome to The Book Club and Life Drawing Extravaganza – The Seven Deadly Sins.

The efforts exerted on the project concept and the actual expression of it are really quite amazing. Workshop architect Morris, and all those involved, really have excelled themselves. A brilliant and most inspiring – if not slightly alarming – environment had been made available for far less than pint.

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Daydreaming with…St Michael’s

‘Daydreaming with…’ is a concept in motion fronted by UNKLE’s James Lavelle. Last year, he and his band of artists exhibited a body of work that set-about developing the ways we experience ‘art’. Conveying music through imagery, both still and moving, is not new, but the modern interpretations of UNKLE’s compositions are truly astounding and particularly interesting.

This year James and his team have decided to abandon the clean-cut walls and polished glass of a gallery, in favour of a dusty but rather impressive church. St Michael’s is  found off Camden road, and earlier this week endured some really quite severe alterations.

Fire, alcohol, and a few misplaced words seem all too incongruous in such a setting, but it did happen and it wasn’t too bad.

Welcome to my PR bonanza

Doug Foster's 'Heretics' Gate'

Jonathan Glazer's 'Red Clay'

No doubt a stressed James Lavelle

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The Barking billboards and photoconceptualism

Never have I been offered such a fantastic opportunity.

But before I begin, I must thank all those who helped. Without your willingness to sacrifice time and expend energy on my behalf, this wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. Many thanks to you all.

In March, I was asked to shoot three billboard images for Barking and Dagenham council. Working in collaboration with Muf architecture, I set about the project with zeal and zest. I had no idea what lay ahead; an extraordinary amount of stress, deliberation and some serious learning curves with gradients to suit.

How brilliant it all was!

Katherine, the lovely artist partner at Muf architecture, met me two weeks before the agreed shoot day. We talked concepts, wishes and hopes. Articulating the concept photographically and producing the project were my responsibilities. These were new duties and ones I had to learn on-the-go. I felt much like a long distance runner learning to sprint short distances – unable to regulate my breathing.

The architects had already redesigned and supervised the construction of an arboretum in Barking town square; there sat also a mock ruin designed by Muf. My job was to provide images for the billboards leading up to the space. The regenerated area sits rather incongruously, set within a stretch of concrete jungle and drab high streets. What it does, however, is set the tone for a newer, remodelled Barking. Whether this is an achievable challenge, I am not to pass judgement. It is, though, with the best intentions, a great project in a once great area of London. Back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Barking was one of the largest fishing ports in England.

The images themselves. Jeff Wall was to be the main photographic inspiration. In 1970s Vancouver, Wall amongst others, pioneered photoconceptualism. He meticulously reconstructed scenes he had witnessed in his day-to-day ramblings, and other images he had imagined initially as concepts. It’s all rather new to me, but immensely exciting and has definitely enhanced my photographic perspectives.

The aim was to use a dystopian bass note, add some optimism and then throw in three pre/post-apocalyptic scenarios for the actors to follow. I wanted the contrived scenes to appear as ‘natural’ as possible. I hoped that I could articulate the scenarios coherently so that the actors could then self-generate the scenes with little guidance and interference – it had to be fluid.

All the actors were tremendous and I was truly impressed by their ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude.

Community, duty, care and re-engagement with the local area were the buzzwords we worked with.

Below are some locations I scouted leading up the shoot. I acted upon Katherine’s advice, and headed up to Hampstead Heath.

We used this backdrop

The Scenarios

The two chosen images, to be split across three billboards

In situ

I appreciate that all that has been written and conveyed may not be all that coherent!

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Danielle Scutt, Freedom and Claridges

Yesterday evening, a last minute opportunity presented itself to me. I was asked to cover a private party for designer Danielle Scutt, and her new Freedom line of jewellery for Topshop. It was held in the most elegant of settings  – the Fumoir room of Claridges.

Very nice drinks were offered, and the food was exquisite.

The room itself shoots you back to the days of  decadence and the Bright Young Things. Quite an experience.

Enter

Emma Elwick-Bates - market editor of Vogue

Diane Pernet - editor of A Shaded View on Fashion

 

Nicky Yates - fashion editor of ES magazine

Elizabeth Saltzman - social editor of Vanity Fair

Stylist Tamara Rothstein, Freedom director Emma Witzenfeld and deisgner Danielle Scutt

Laura Atkinson - features editor of Grazia

 

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