This summer I had the opportunity to work on the Northampton Multi Agency Strategy, published by Northampton Borough Council. The project was to provide portraits of the service providers/partners involved in the strategy for the next three years. The strategy is designed reduce the numbers of rough sleepers in the borough to zero.
It was an interesting and thought provoking photo-shoot for me. We worked with a wide variety of people and it was great to see approachable and dedicated people working in what can be a challenging area, I certainly met some great characters along the way.
The vision/brief was to provide clean and contemporary portraits, with a hint of Northampton in them for a geographical reference if possible. The town has some interesting architectural locations, which were a big help and made things fairly straight forward.
The team at NBC had already done a good job scouting the locations they were after, which really helped as we weren't wasting time hunting round for the best place on the day, this was fortunate as we had very mixed weather on the first day's shoot. We started off with rain, then we had warm sunshine, which turned to overcast and grey, returning to rain at the end of the day. Luckily the we seemed to be in the right place at the right time to avoid the rain when shooting outdoors.
We shot a variety of images at locations where services are provided. These locations proved to be a bit more of a challenge, we didn't know what to expect from them and we also had to be wary of respecting the privacy of service users as well. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find each location had something we could work with and people were all warm and welcoming, meaning I could strike up a quick connection between photographer and subject, always a bonus! It was also good to have members of the management from NBC around to liaise with on the shoot, they really were switched on and knew what they wanted, which is great for a photographer as you can quickly work around any problems that crop up as they occur.
In terms of the final product, I'm pleased with it. The design team have done a good job bringing the individual pieces together. We shot a variety of images at each location and it's always interesting as a photographer to see which image is selected for the final piece. I always shoot as many options as possible (within reason) to give the client plenty of choice and scope for the final usage of the image and it's good to see the team have used them well.
Last month I did two shoots with FourFourTwo magazine, for their story on Wikipedia editors who look after the sites football pages.
The story centres upon the people who update the appearance, goal stats, transfers, etc, for each each player/club. One of my shoots was at home, the other at work.
The shoot above was at Chris's home, the aim was to make him look relaxed and happy/enjoying the role of Wiki editor with some reference to his Wiki role (hence the iPad).
I tried to not make it look too cliched (although this can be difficult with computers), so I got him relaxed in the kitchen with a cup of tea to try and balance out the emphasis on the iPad. I think it works well, it helped him feel comfortable which comes across in the image (he even managed to get his Gillingham mug in).
The shoot with Craig (above) was a totally different prospect. It was at his workplace which was a office/workshop, so it wasn't the ideal location but we worked around it. The shot FFT selected was actually taken on the staircase outside his work, it's from a higher angle which offers a different perspective to the others I was working on.
We tried several locations including the staircase, some with the laptop, some without to add variety and give options. It was bit tricky to light as there wasn't much natural light, stairwells are difficult to place light stands in, but with a bit of nifty positioning we got what we needed, I would have liked to have got a bit of a longer focal length on it but I would not have been able to get the height I wanted without a step ladder and a bit more space behind me.
As usual the art team at FFT have done a really good job, which always helps the pictures to stand out.
Matt Stewart Photos
I've been a photographer for quite a long time now. So hopefully I have something to say about it.