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If you’ve ever seen Michelangelo Antonioni’s film ‘Blow-Up’, you’ll understand why. In a moment of madness which lasted a decade, aged 29, I gave up a well-paid career as a futures trader in London, and became a fashion photographer.
In the movie, Thomas (based on the exploits of legendary Vogue photographer David Bailey) has the world’s most aloof and beautiful women (Veruschka, Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Birkin, no less) in his thrall.
It worked for Thomas in the film, and for Bailey in real life
As a result I spent a decade chasing a dream. Italian Vogue, USA’s Harper’s Bazaar, and French Marie Claire are just a few of the fabulous international titles that I didn’t work for, and the list of famous actresses and models that I never met is even longer. But I have worked for many of SA’s best known advertising agencies and their clients: TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Young & Rubicam, DDB Needham, Ogilvy & Mather, and Herd Buoys; and for clients which include, Old Mutual, Edgars and Sprite.
And in 1995 I photographed an Advertising Campaign for Safyr Bleu, a South African company, which won a World Gold Medal in the International Print Category, at the New York Advertising Festivals. A life peopled by beautiful models and only the occasional leery art director beckoned…
A slipped disc neatly put paid to that. These days my back is fine, and the dreams of photography superstardom and working with Heidi Klum and Elle ‘The Body’ Macpherson have evaporated along with my hair. Instead, I have an MBA and 15 or so years as a business consultant behind me, and I’ve had the privilege of listening to business luminaries like Clem Sunter speak about “getting into the mind of a fox for strategic success”. It all depends on your idea of a fair swop.
But life never goes in a single direction. These days, with everything visual on the web, really good looking imagery is more important than ever. And it sometimes happens that when I do a business consulting job for a client, it turns out that their advertising imagery could use a little help – quite often a lot of help. I find it irresistible not to throw my hat into the ring.
A few things have changed. I learnt on film, that disappearing art of capturing an image on a chemically based compound. Now it’s all digital. But to my delight, I’ve discovered that the main skill hasn’t changed; you need to be able to visualise and dramatise a great shot; and once you do, there’s no replacement for having the eye capture it. Early on in the digital photography revolution, it was often bandied about that if a shot wasn’t right, “you can fix it in Photoshop”. Now it’s generally agreed that no amount of Photo-shopping can turn an average image into a great one; but it’s no doubt useful for salvaging a poor one. With this in mind, and particularly when it comes to lighting, I’m very happy to be deemed old-school.
The sort of photographic work I now do for clients, is more often than not, in support of a business plan or proposal I’ve prepared, or part of a larger project, such as the commissioning of a new website. Seeing the need for new pictures as part of the brief, I must admit, still gets the juices flowing.
I could finish by illustrating this area with a few pictures from more recent work; beauty after all is in the eye of the beholder. Factory interiors, landfill sites and heavy plant and equipment; not forgetting the bosses that drive these businesses and just as importantly the normally unsung individuals who power the businesses – are just some of the assignments I’ve recently shot as part of wider business development and funding projects.
But seeing as I’ve no idea what you’d like me to shoot, you may like to look at a few more pics from my black and white portfolio from yesteryear – starting with my nanosecond of advertising glory.