Category Archives: Advertising

West End Wheels

I was asked to look at shooting stills on the set of a television commercial with cars. On advertising jobs I’m usually in control of the production, but this would be different with me in the background with no influence and only limited opportunities. The director and crew would be running things and I’d need to get what I could and stay out of their way. A bit like working round a football pitch or in the dressing room.

The creative team had a particular director in mind with a certain way of lighting things. My job would be to get dynamic driving pictures so I wanted to rehearse shooting under similar conditions to demonstrate the potential and identify any problems.

I decided that night-time at Piccadilly Circus, in London’s West End, would be a good place to start. There’d be lots of expensive cars and the huge illuminated advertising screens would – to some degree – simulate the lighting on set. I’d have no control over the traffic and there’s be lots of things in the way like street furniture and people. These are some of the results:


Kissing for Money

I’m doing the artwork for a set of prints for a portfolio presentation on Tuesday. This means searching the archive for pictures that might fit the brief, or at least demonstrate we’re capable of taking ones that do.

I found this, which was shot in Leeds for a Vauxhall ad with the headline ‘If anything gets overheated, it won’t be the car’. It’s one of my favourite advertising pictures from what was a really productive and exciting time for us in early 2002. I think it captures a really believable moment and has a good feel about it. Casting the real-life kissing couple spotted by Keely one Saturday night at The Hi-Fi Club is what really made it work. I wonder if they’re still together?

As for the photograph itself, I was lucky with the pink and blue washes framing the couple and the sparkling lights from the shops as I have no recollection of seeing them when I took it.

Thinking about it, there might have been two photographers on the shoot so this might not even be my picture. Still, I’m glad somebody got it.



City High-Flyer

An advertising agency got in touch looking for ‘real world’ stock photographs. They needed to be unpublished, have model releases and illustrate certain subjects like expensive hobbies and business investment. I already had some, but not others so went out snapping to the City of London and Brighton (boats and beaches were also on the list).

I don’t enjoy asking members of the public to sign a release after I’ve snatched a photograph of them. Why should they? It wouldn’t make financial sense for me to pay them a fee unless their picture was published and people almost always think it’s some kind of scam anyway. I also think it’s possible to do this kind of work without identifying individuals.

Some of these were sent to the agency while others are off-brief but worth recording, like the seagull about to land on one of St Mary Somerset’s pinnacles on Upper Thames Street.


Escape to Cadiz

My agents rang to say a Dutch client was considering us for a Spanish beer advertising campaign. It was a really good brief with happy people backlit by a low, warm sun.

Having just shot the McDonald’s Olympics posters and films (after two months pre-production), I needed a break but also really wanted to get this job. We had some pictures in the archive with the right content and mood but not much with the light.

After experimenting in London, I decided on a week in Spain to shoot some tests. If they were good enough, we’d present them to the client (it’s a speculative approach that’s worked well for us in the past).

My friend Patxa recommended Cadiz as location and local producer Ignacio Fando was proposed as a guide and to arrange things. We walked the streets with friends Moira and Luisa on the first night; I had to find a few good locations that would see at least some of the late sun, then shoot four layouts over the next few evenings.

We had about fifteen minutes a day when the light was good and followed the sun as it set behind the streets.

These pictures are a mix of tests. Some are technical, others location references and a few rehearsing the kind of moments we needed to get for the campaign. There’s also a few street photographs.


Ignacio Fando