An early start … but a lovely commission to soften the blow …


Friday 26th October 2012


I often work in Birmingham, it’s only 40 miles to one of the best city centre car parks from my front door, and if I can make the trip avoiding the rush hour I can be parked up within just over an hour. If I hit the rush hour, that can double though!

So it was with some relief – despite the very early start, rolling out the door at 6.30am – that I would be arriving in the city centre ahead of the rush hour getting into full congestion mode, (I hate sitting in traffic – who doesn’t?). The Sunday Times Business section had asked me to photograph Bridget Blow, (a Non Executive Director of several businesses & charities based across the West Midlands) “sat at the boardroom table”.


The job was set up at 7.45am to allow Bridget to head off to appointments by 8.30am sharp. The only problem was Bridget didn’t have a “boardroom”, she lived in a very nice city centre apartment and suggested that perhaps “… would the dining room be OK? … it does have a table …”.

One of the things I do whilst driving to a commission is think through how I’d like the final pictures to look, taking into account the time I’m allocated, the location & environment within which the subject will be posed (if it’s a portrait), the weather etc…  All these are factors I need to consider. Figuring out a plan in your head prior to the shoot allows these thoughts to be clarified. So en route to Bridget’s I thought of previous boardroom pictures I’d undertaken and how they had worked out. My initial thoughts were that boardrooms are usually quite large spaces. A dinning room within an apartment may not be quite that spacious, so perhaps it would be good to keep the subject tight in the frame.

On arrival, Bridget showed me her dining room with a lovely mahogany table and chairs. With some clever framing this could very much look like a boardroom.

I set up two flash lights, one fired through a brolly to soften and spread the light, and a second in the hallway which would focus light back into the dining room and light Bridget with a side light.

Bridget Blow

Note the brolly reflecting in the glass of the pictures. With limited space strategically placing lights is key.

With Bridget in position, perched on the edge of the table, we moved some furniture, a few potted plants and a picture off the wall and I set the lights’ power output.

Bridget Blow

jpg Standing at the table offers one pose. Just the light levels to adjust prior to taking the pictures.

I directed Bridget in two poses – perched on the table’s edge …

Bridget Blow Non Executive Director of several businesses and charities.

Maintaining eye level with Bridget allows us to see the top of the table and add a couple of executive ‘props’.

…. and sitting.

Bridget Blow Non Executive Director of several businesses and charities.

Looking up at Bridget allowed me to frame her in the tight space on a nice chair and keep the background picture as a splash of colour.

Bridget was lovely to work with – my thanks to her for the early start and in accommodating me at her appartment.

By 10.00am I was home. By 10.45am the post production was complete … and by 11.00am the edited, adjusted and captioned edit of pictures were in London ready to be put to bed on the press. “Thank you” to The Sunday Times for the Business shift.

By 11.30am I was blowing the cobwebs out of my hair walking the dogs in the Mortimer Forest knowing I’d already done a ‘days work’!