People and Place

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Assignment Five

The Assignment:
Decide on a notional client with the proviso that the subject is people and/or the places they inhabit.
Choose the kind of client and how the images will be used.  Write yourself a brief. Accompany the brief with the images and a short written assessment that includes:
the 'client briefing' you have given yourself
a statement of how you set about planning the photography
how well you succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities you encountered that you had not anticipated at the outset.
The Client:
My notional client is an on-line life-style magazine.  The magazine presents articles on travel, fashion, food, entertainment and culture.  The magazine readership is mostly women between 35 and 60.
  The Brief:
The editor of an on-line women's magazine has requested images suitable for the web that show how the public celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration.
They want:
The Photographer captures the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend events. Steer away from traditional images and concentrate on the crowds and capture how people are reacting to the event.
The requirements are: *
·        to produce a piece suitable for a web based magazine. 
·        to be presented as a photoslide/photofilm no longer than 3 minutes (images will be discussed jointly with the client making the final choice in the images to be used). 
·        the work will be provided in video format on a CD/DVD at 1080p and in compressed format no larger than 100MB for a web page. 
·        all images will be retouched if necessary in order to achieve the maximum quality desired. 
·        all images are the copyright of Mo Greig and will be released to the client for the agreed use. Any re-use requires the permission of Mo Greig. The project is undertaken as an independent contractor and not as "work for hire".
*NB: in the real world this brief would also include a clause detailing the payment details. As this is a study exercise I have omitted such a clause.
The Jubilee celebrations I intended to shoot took place over a weekend, there were three events I planned to shoot. 
  1. The flotilla on the Thames.       
  2. The concert in the Mall in the evening      
  3. The carriage ride from the palace to Westminster. 

The known challenges I faced were:
·        Reshooting - not possible 
·        Weather - heavy rain was forecast  
·        Security - very tight  limited access to many areas 
·        Crowds -  expected to be huge and therefore likely to make it difficult to move around. 
·        Equipment - I intended to take extra lens and equipment to cater for the weather so I would therefore need assistance with transporting and security.
In order to meet these challenges:
·        Shooting - I would take a lot of photos with both a wide angled lens and a zoom lens to enable close up portraits, detail shots and shots that would give a sense of place. I would take as many images as I could focusing on people who were dressed up and generally having fun.
·        Weather - I had plastic bags for lenses, a cover for my camera, two umbrellas and friends to assist me.
·        Security - The day before I checked where the barriers were being placed so I could ascertain where I would have limited ability to move around.
·        Crowds - plotted a spot along the Thames and arrived very early
·        Equipment - Organised friends to assist me
The flotilla:
I had a map of the route, a timetable and I gathered as much information as possible from the Internet, newspapers and radio broadcasts about the security restrictions that was available to the public.  From this I knew that the bridges crossing the Thames in London had bag checks and were also limiting the size you could carry.  In addition most were only allowing moving foot traffic. Meaning you would not be able to stop and take photos.   My friends and I had secured a spot inside a bus shelter close to the Thames.  This gave us additional shelter from the rain and made it more secure for me to leave my gear with my friends to look after while I went off to take photos.
The day's proceedings were slow and drawn out and as people arrived dressed and ready to party they were happy to be photographed and I was able to move freely among the crowds.
 The concert:
For the concert in the Mall my aim was to get photos of the crowds down the mall and I hoped to get close enough to one of the stages to get crowds and performers. 
I had picked a couple of high spots where I would be able to get a couple of shots with a long lens, however when I got there security had closed those areas off.  I tried to make my way down the mall but the density of the crowds and the way the crowds were controlled prevented me from getting as close as I would have liked.  A news photographer who was trapped in the same place as I was had a ladder which enabled him to get above the crowds and an even longer lens.  I did try and negotiate a couple of minutes up his ladder but was unsuccessful. 
However there were giant screens all the way down the Mall showing the performers and those in the Royal box. I timed one of my crowd shots to capture Prince Harry on screen as my shot to give a sense of place and event.  My window for taking shots was limited by the amount of ambient light.  A flash was not going to be useful for the long shots I was after.  It was a different crowd with not much variation in reaction so only a couple of shots were required.
The Carriage Ride
I planned to get as close as possible to the front of the crowd to get shots of thousands waving flags and close ups of "enthusiastic individuals". 
Security was tighter for this event than the previous two.  I hadn't anticipated that the police would use kettling for crowd control and I found myself trapped in a small area that I couldn't get out of.  After several attempts to get out of the situation I gave up and looked for photo opportunities within the "kettle".  Disappointed "fans" were only too willing to pose for portraits.  This enabled me to get portraits of children which in many circumstances can be difficult.  
One of the best images I got here was the girl in her royal outfit sitting on her father's shoulders.  Both were very upset at being locked out of any vantage point to catch a glimpse of the Queen.  Asking them to pose helped reduce their disappointment and gave me a portrait I might otherwise not have been able to take.
Working in a different media for the first time was challenging.  My approach was to use the same principles of a photo essay of beginning with an establishing shot, having mid shots and detail shots and a suitable finishing shot.  I created a sense of movement by zooming in and out as well as fading into the next image.  I found it is even more important that there is a sense of continuity between the images for this type of presentation. 
I also realised I was going to need more than the 10-12 images we had been asked for.  I kept it as short as possible, but felt it really needed the 22 I have settled on.
Having got the images I was happy with I then set about adding the audio file.  To begin with I wanted to have various crowd noises over the top of music.  This didn't work.  It just sounded noisy and messy. For the music  I decided it should be something that was associated with the Jubilee. My first choice was the "Sing" by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band.  This was just too cheesy.  I finally settled on one of the new versions Handel's New Water music that was written for the Jubilee.
My brief was to produce a short photofilm that captures the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend events. To steer away from traditional images and concentrate on the crowds and capture how people are reacting to the event.
I had created a brief that would allow me to explore a new way of presenting work, something I had never done before and taking me outside my comfort zone. I knew this would be a risky option and that it might not come together. 
I am satisfied that I have captures the spirit of the weekend and that I met the "client brief".  It is the first time I have created work in this format so I still have much to learn.  I think the style fits the subject and putting this together has given me confidence to tackle something more ambitious next time.

The images in the photofilm can be viewed here:
The contact sheet can be viewed here:

A higher quality file of the photofilm can be downloaded here:


  1. Excellent all round Mo - super editing. You obviously gained so much from Duckrabbit. Peter Rudge came to talk to us on the student residential and he's very inspirational. Hope you enjoyed the Paul Hill weekend as well.

    So - you've finished now. That's great.

  2. I think you've caught some very good pictures, with a great deal of warmth an human interaction, and some fun also.

    I'm afraid the photofilm didn't work so well for me. I don't think it's ideal to have every picture use panning and zooming - after a while it all began to swim together and I was struggling to keep track (but that might just be me). I also thought the music didn't go with the pictures - it felt very stately and quiet while the pictures were full of colour and bustle. I've just watched it through again without the sound and think it works better that way.