Working with professionals

I promised a new post on here soon; my first for a few months. An uncharacteristic period of blog silence. Well, this is it, and it’s part of a university assignment. Following our work experience placement we were originally going to be doing a ten-minute presentation, but out tutor changed this and replaced it with this: a 400-word report via ‘the social media network of your choice’. What follows is that report. (David, you may ignore this paragraph; your 400 words – in green – start below.)

As part of my degree course, we were required to complete a period of work experience. I was delighted to discover, though a mutual contact, a commercial studio based just a fifteen minute walk from my house. Surbey Photographers is a father and son business of some 45 years standing, which shoots advertising photography for a wide range of commercial clients including pharmaceutical companies, cosmetics, and fitness – a major client being Virgin Active. 

A nondescript industrial unit in suburban stevenage...

A nondescript industrial unit in suburban stevenage…

...the professional commercial photography within

…the professional commercial photography within 

When I contacted them they were very happy to offer a student placement on an ad-hoc basis, and I have assisted them so far on two very different shoots, one in the studio and one on location. 

The studio session was a food shoot, photographing new menu items for David Lloyd Leisure’s in-house restaurants, and was quite an eye-opener. I’d read about the care and attention that goes into professional food photography, but to see it in action was amazing. For one thing, I was surprised how many people were involved; in the studio we had:

  • the photographer
  • and assistant (me)
  • the creative director from the agency
  • four reps from the client
  • the food buyer
  • a food stylist.
Photographer Jon Surbey at work

Photographer Jon Surbey at work

Food stylist making tiny adjustments

Food stylist making tiny adjustments

Yes, that’s eight people all day in the studio – with the expectation that they’d complete about six photographs in the day. For each shot, the food stylist would prepare the item, while the photographer and I set up the lighting. We’d shoot a few test images, then all the reps would crowd round the screen offering suggestions for changes and we’d keep shooting till they were happy. The food stylist would be asked to move tiny details like the angle of a piece of cress, or a few grains of black pepper, between shots. 

Sample shot from the day in the studio (© Surbey Photographers)

Sample shot from the day in the studio (© Surbey Photographers)

The location shoot was photographing the correct use of a piece of exercise equipment at the Virgin Active Gym in Twickenham. Fewer people involved for this one, I was left alone to set up the lights while the photographer liaised with the clients about what they were hoping to achieve, then making adjustments as required and packing up at the end. 

Photographer Phil Surbey at work

Photographer Phil Surbey at work

Finished shot from the location shoot (© Surbey Photographers)

Finished shot from the location shoot (© Surbey Photographers)

The studio seem to have been pretty pleased with what I did with them, and appreciated my attitude as indicated in the very positive ‘report’ they completed for my tutor. Even better, they’ve said they’ll have me back to assist again and I’ll get to see a wider range of shoots. 

So there you have it: exactly 400 words, which isn’t really enough to tell you about my experience, but them’s the rules.

Being back on here makes me realise I have a couple more posts brewing. I’ll not leave it so long next time.

 

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