Advertising is everywhere and you don’t need to be in a big city to see a major advertising campaign in our tech savvy fast moving modern world any more. I remember driving through the Serengeti in the early 90’s when I decided to pull over for a well-deserved rest at a dilapidated shack on the dry and empty tundra. I wouldn’t have known that this shanty wooden structure offered any kind of refreshment if it wasn’t for the twenty feet Coca Cola advertisement swaying in the wind. The bright red colour and the sweeping font of the Coca Cola brand sells itself nowadays but the image of someone enjoying a refreshing cool drink on a hot day was what inspired me to pull over and take a break from the sweltering heat that day.
No matter what is being advertised – whether in a major city or the lonely plains of Africa – the advert needs to be eye catching to the viewer. The combination of a catchy strapline, good branding and simple design contributes to the advert working on many levels, but before any of that, the viewer tends to remember the imagery. It’s the imagery that draws you in and gives the campaign impact. Therefore advertising agencies go to great lengths to plan their campaigns and make sure the right photographer is hired to achieve their vision.
When I’m working on an advertising campaign, I initially receive a standard brief outlining the needs from the agent. This is followed by a meeting about how we will achieve the desired result and overcome any obvious obstacles that may occur. Working this way allows for a broader array of styles and techniques and challenges the photographer to express his/her creative abilities.
I’m based in the industrial West Midlands, ten minutes from the M6 and only thirty minutes from Birmingham City Centre. That said, I’ve worked with advertising agencies such as McCann Erickson, Big, M3 Communications, Redworks, OMN, Geometry, Leo Burnett, Half full Creative Ltd and Ten Feet Tall, across the whole of the UK and abroad, on a variety of projects that require complex planning and inordinate attention to detail.
Even though I might be known for my lifestyle photography and my ability to work with people in a relaxed and professional manner, it is not just people who sell adverts. Advertising is all about aspirational ideas, concepts, lifestyles, and of course, products too. Lighting a product has its own challenges, where people need managing very differently depending on personality and ability.
I have a 4000sq ft drive-in studio, lighting equipment, set building services and video production facilities right outside my office door. Having everything on hand makes things a little easier for my assistants.
On the day of the shoot, it is not uncommon to have large groups of people scattered around the studio. These can include models, the art director, myself, my assistants and account handlers from the advertising agency, who are there to make sure the shoot run smoothly on behalf of the client.