Hello, and welcome to my round up of 2017!
2017 was a monster year, in almost every measurable way. I shot more than I ever have in more countries than I ever have, I grew creatively, and met more new people than in any of my previous years. In this post I’ve picked one or two jobs from each month that I really enjoyed shooting, and hopefully this’ll give some kind of insight into my world.
I’ve also tossed in a few extra bits and pieces that I got up to, as well as some context to some of the jobs, some BTS pics, that kind of thing.
Let’s begin in January.
2017 started with me going up to Edinburgh to meet, and photograph, Bethany Kingsley-Garner, one of the principal dancers of Scottish Ballet. Beth and I had been chatting for months about doing something together, and when I got off the train at Edinburgh Station, I was a bit nervous. Beth trained at the Royal Ballet School, and on graduating in 2007, had won award after award for her work, including the April Olrich Award alongside Serge Polunin for Most Dynamic Performance. She is a top flight dancer, and we were working together.
We’d set aside a full day of shooting at the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. For those who don’t know it, Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano that sits right outside Edinburgh, giving amazing panoramic views of the city. It’s also pretty exposed, and in January, not the warmest place in the world.
We shot for most of the day, however it was the last 15 minutes of the shoot that yielded the best images. As the sun went down, the golden light lit up Beth, and provided us with perfect light to work with.
In February, I collaborated with Cheeks, a Manchester dancer and choreographer to do a promo shoot for her. I wrote a more in depth blog post about Cheeks here – here are some of the images.
March was more of a portrait month.
I started working with fin-tech startup Evestor (now called me&mymoney), to provide them with portraits of their CEOs, Anthony and Duncan, as well as the team at Telux VoIP for their portraits. Portrait sessions are great, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When I photographed Professor Brian Cox last year, I got 25 seconds with him – in March with my CEOs, I was a little more lucky, getting 2 hours for each session – a rare gift.
In April, it was great to work with Maddy Price on her dance portfolio. I’d already worked with Maddy when I’d been asked to review lights for Pixapro last year, but this was the first time I’d worked one on one with Maddy without the video cameras. She was an absolute pro, and I was incredibly pleased with the images.
The main campaign I shot in April and May though was for the Co Operative Bank.
2017 marked 25 Years of the Co Op Bank’s Ethical Policy, and so they were profiling customers that had used them, specifically for their ethical approach to banking. I spent 2 days in the studio photographing customers, as well as some time on location near Liverpool, and a community garden in south Manchester.
Working with a frankly enormous high street client does have its challenges, especially in terms of turnaround – this one was 24 hour turnaround, if not sooner, and when you’ve shot 3000+ images, it can be a liiiiiiitle bit tricky.
Anyway, the team at the Co Op were absolutely amazing, so friendly, and open to ideas and suggestions. The shots themselves were relatively straightforward, in the studio plain white, and on location just one light. The real key with stuff like this (for me anyway), is making sure that the talent is relaxed. As we were dealing with real customers (as well as some models, but who had very little experience modelling), most of the talent had never stood in front of a camera before, let alone taken part in a national advertising campaign, so chatting to them beforehand, asking them about themselves, and basically being sensitive to their needs was very important.
In May I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam to do some work, and whilst I was there, managed to squeeze in a few dance shoots. One of the great things about the dance world is that it’s small – someone knows someone who knows someone, and before you know it, you’re in an enormous warehouse in the arts district of Amsterdam hanging out with a pro dancer.
June was pretty busy, but in amongst all the madness, I managed to find three days to drive up to Scotland with Bethany again.
This time, I spent three days with the ballerina, firstly in the studio, then on location, then back in the studio.
I photograph dancers all the time. In the studio, on location, wherever. I do it all the time, and I love it. But when you work with someone like Beth, it’s kicking it up a notch. And when I say a notch, I mean about 1000%.
I’m looking at the shots now, and I’m still amazed at how much of an athlete she is. It was a tremendous privilege to spend time with Beth and work with her to create some really great images – when you work with someone that talented, they raise your game, and you cannot put a price on that. I learnt so much from those three days and I cannot wait to create more!
Also, big shoutout to Claire, Gemma and the HAC100 team for getting me in to photograph Jamchester. Jamchester is a 3 day Game Jam – basically game designers all show up at a place, and they have 3 days to make a video game from scratch. Met some amazing people and played some amazing new games!
Damn, how am I only on July.
Dance. Dance. Dance. Shot a couple of things here, firstly, for free, I shot 0161 Dance Company. Remember Cheeks from my earlier shoot? She runs classes in Manchester that work with kids from under-privileged backgrounds. I wanted to help out and give something back to the community, so I offered to shoot with them, and I think the shots look great. The kids were hilarious, sassy, and very easily distracted. I loved every second of it.
One other thing I shot in July/August was the Move It launch video!
Move It is a dance conference-y three day event type thing in London every year, where dancers and dance companies alike perform and exhibit. I’ve made a mess of this description. Here’s the blurb from their website:
MOVE IT is the U.K.’s biggest and best dance event, celebrating all forms of dance and the performing arts across three amazing days in March.
MOVE IT brings together dance schools, dance enthusiasts, professionals and iconic performers from across the U.K. and around the world.
So anyway, I went down to London to shoot some video for their ticket launch, and also their #FaceOfMoveIt campaign. The team were so lovely, and basically let me document the day, which was really fun! Got some great footage, and can’t wait for the event in 2018. More info to come…
Whilst I was down in London, I managed to meet up with Eloise, an amazing dancer whom I worked with back in the heady days of 2012. We’ve loosely kept in touch via Instagram, and it was great to work with her again.
She also introduced me to Shala and Anthony, two of the kindest warmest people I had the pleasure of working with in 2017. Just wonderful.
Oh, and how could I not post any images from my shoot with Leanne:
I’m not gonna lie, September was a pretty quiet month. Here’s some more personal highlights:
One of my photos of Beth made the cover of a magazine.
I went to Munich to see the Rolling Stones with my mate Ciaran.
And I sang at my friend Claire’s Wedding:
In terms of quietness, I couldn’t say the same for October.
My October was absolutely mental. In fact, here’s a screen grab from my diary:
I’m gonna rattle through these, so here we go.
I shot a Kickstarter Video for the lovely team at Commonplace. And they got the funding!!
I did some more stuff for the Co Op, which was great, this time documenting a sleep out event to raise money for a homelessness charity, which involved spending the night at London Road Fire Station in Central Manchester.
And I also documented the Manchester Science Festival for the Museum of Science and Industry.
It was absolutely bananas. And on a small note, I billed more in October 2017 than I did in my entire first year of working as a freelance photographer. In fairness I didn’t make very much in my first year as a photographer.
Phew. Nearly there.
More of a bitty month this one after the huge jobs earlier in the year, here’s some highlights.
The year ended as it began – with a load of dance. Too much to shove in here, but here’s some shots from student Rebecca Jones’ portfolio.
So that’s it! There were thrills, there were spills, I made a lot of work that I liked, some I didn’t, I made mistakes and learnt from them, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more in control.
Being freelance, for the first five years at least in my experience, is just fighting fires. Now, I feel like I’ve got more of a handle on things, as I enter year six of being freelance.
There’s of course, plenty of people I need to thank. The value of collaboration cannot be overstated, and without certain people, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career and my personal life. Helena, Claire, Shelly, Abi, Vim, Ciaran, Amy-Jane, Kate, Lottie, James, Gareth, Becky, Dave, Emma…. the list goes on. Making cool shit on your own is fine, but making cool shit with your friends is amazing.
Here’s to a great 2018!