I love getting work through referrals. Usually when the client gets in touch they have heard about what i do and often seen my work from the person who referred me. The biggest advantage to me is that they already want my service and skill. I got a referral from Seafish UK who i worked for when they ran an event at the Belfast based, Mourne Sea Food Bar. The Big Partnership who is the biggest PR agency in the UK outside of London were referred to me via Seafish UK.
The Big Partnership look after several clients around the UK, one of them is a company called BCW Group. They are a credit management based in Dublin, Glasgow and Worthing. Like most companies around they world they value their staff. To them people are the most important part of their business. The company website was to be updated and they wanted to focus on the key staff members from each of the offices. I was originally asked to just quote for the Dublin office. My contact at The Big Partnership said in an email they just had to find some one else to do the other offices. I said i could do it!
After ironing out the formalities we were ready to go. I didnt have to visit the Glasgow office in the end so that left Dublin and Worthing. It still would involve a fair bit of planning though. Originally i thought i could fly but after looking at the kit i would need to carry for the two shoots it became clear that i would have to take the van.
Technically the photos were fairly simple. The staff were to be photographed against a 3 meter white paper backdrop. Nothing unusual there but the difference would be in how they were photographed. Instead of the standard staff headshots i was to focus on hobbies. This would range from gardening to scuba diving and many other activities in between. BCW Group really do go the extra mile in looking after their staff.
Kit wise it would use most of my portable gear. The 3 metre back drop would be the most tricky thing to set up as space is always at a premium in most offices. Thankfully after moving things around in both offices i got the back drop set up ok. Calumet were running an offer selling 11m long back drops for £40, a fair bargin! I had to use 4 speedlights for illumination. Two of the lights would be used to light up the back drop and the other two (with umbrellas fitted) would be used to light the subjects. For the first time i was sporting new battery packs for the front two speedlights. I got two Propac PB820 purchased from eBay. They charge up in less than two hours and from the official stats can supply your flash with over 300 full power flashes with a recycle time of less than 1 second. This is a crucial point. Its horrible waiting for speedlights to recycle their flash power when there are clients standing in front of you. With the Propacs attached that wasnt an issue on this shoot.
The first site was Dublin and that predictably involved an early start leaving from Belfast. It took around 2.5 hours to get the Dublin site which was based in Blanchardstown. Its a pretty easy drive down to Dublin and gave me plenty of time to listen to a lot of good music. Jobs rarely go straight forward but i can report that this job seemed to be the exception. Once on site in Dublin with BCW Group i was set up by 10am and done around 3pm. Perfect timing to get out of Dublin before the rush hour traffic hit.
Worthing was next. After getting to the Stena Line port on a cold Thursday morning i boarded the ferry and settled down for the crossing. There were very few passengers on board so it was a really quiet crossing. I had the laptop loaded up with movies and as the boat had internet access i was able to catch up on emails as well. I even managed to get a good supply of coffee, cake and nuts to keep me going on the 8 hour crossing. After getting off the boat in Liverpool i tore down the road towards my sisters house in Worcester for an over night stop. It took about three hours and was very heavy driving thanks to some awful weather. I was drained by the time i reached my sisters house but thankful that a bit plate of Irish stew was waiting for me. Getting down to Worthing for 9am the next day meant leaving Worcester by 5am. The set up in Worthing would be exactly the same as in Dublin, but with fewer people.
As i said before rarely does a job go as planned but as with with Dublin everything happened as it should of. I was again set up around 10am and finished just after 2pm. The real madness how ever was yet to happen. The drive back to Worcester was nothing short of a nightmare. Not only was i tired from the drive down that morning the drive from the ferry also tired me out. Fuelled up on RedBull i made it to the dreaded M25 just after 3.30pm. Disaster. Even at this early time (by Northern Ireland standards!) the traffic was bumper to bumper. Add in a missed motorway exit and it just got worse. After getting through the M25 the M6 had three separate accidents for me to contend with. It took three hours to get down to Worthing and seven hours to get back to Worcester. I was totally shattered by the time i got back but happy i had done a good job for the BCW Group and The Big Partnership. On the ferry the next morning i was able to get to work on all the photos.
This job was a fantastic opportunity from start to finish and even though the travel conditions in England were nothing short of awful i would do it again if asked.
In total i traveled 892 miles, got through two full tanks of diesel, took over 400 photos, drank way to much RedBull, spent 16 hours on two different ferries and even managed to avoid eating from the motorway service stations!