Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The glamour of 20-hour work days

Sometimes, my week just runs away from from me, taking each 24 hours – and, by default, my plans – with it. I've alluded to this before, and it is something which, with hands held aloft in surrender, is simply the way my work pattern can go over the course of seven days. Anyway, I had just such a week recently...

The Monday in question was spent editing wedding pictures shot at the end of the previous week, along with taking care of emails and phone messages left over the weekend. Then in the evening, it was off to a long-standing local corporate client to photograph their board members' meeting.

The following morning, having had 3 hours' sleep, I attended one of my regular early-morning networking meetings, before heading to the office to crack on with editing those informal portraits from the night before. For all you budding photographers out there, here's a top tip: Never underestimate the powers of a good cup of hot tea to get you though a bout of sleep deprivation!

It was at this point that I received the phone call that would dictate the remainder of the week. Of course, I already had plans, but thankfully on this occasion there was nothing that couldn't be switched to another day or taken care of during the evenings. And the call?... A very last-minute request to carry out assignments in Glasgow on the Wednesday, Northern Ireland on the Thursday and Wales the following Monday! Duly, I obliged. Which in itself caused an initial 'challenge'.

The Glasgow shoot required me to be at the airport for a 7am check-in. Given my weary state, I just couldn't face a 2-3 hour drive in the early hours, so the sensible option was to take the train. Problem was, in order to be at the airport on time, the only possible train I could take set off at 11:30pm on the Tuesday night – meaning a 3-change, 7-hour journey and... yes, you've guessed it, no sleep.

So, with thoughts of... er... 'forget that' in my mind, I arranged to travel up to London that night and stay at a hotel, so as to make an early start on Wednesday morning. This would also mean another early start (4am)... but at least is was a shorter onward journey consisting of taxi ride and connecting train.

Without naming and shaming, I have to say that hotel was possibly the worst one it has ever been my misfortune to stay in. Which didn't help matters. Waking up several times during the night and sneaking out through an empty reception because – I conclude – the duty staff had forgotten to set his alarm, I really wasn't set up all that well for the day ahead. But the flight to Glasgow passed without drama, too.

The Glasgow shoot itself went well, photographing the interior of a retail store. Rather than simply recording the overall department views, we also picked out unusual angles and details, making use of a range of lenses including two of my favourites – the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultrawide and the slightly aged Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AFS telephoto. The brief was typically tight, but with a pleasing degree of flexibility to enable my creativity to show through (remember, we photographers are not paid simply to 'press the button' – it's also that lateral thinking around ideas and the ability to visualise the end results and, ultimately, the output).

Speaking of which - the subsequent images from that day will initially be used in-house and at a conference in the coming weeks. As another shoot for the same client was scheduled in for Friday, a selection of those images were emailed to the Creative Director's office the following morning, to make sure we were all on track for the second shoot on Friday...

... which was an altogether more reasonable affair. The train to Cardiff meant that I could get a decent amount of sleep the night before and the shoot was set for 11am-3pm, and I was back in the office by around 7pm, to back up all the images, follow up phone message and prepare for the following day.

The Northern Ireland shoot was postponed for a few weeks; time, to allow completion of the next shop's refit ahead of the photography.

Last but not least, that Saturday saw me photographing another wedding - thankfully very local and, all said and done, I was finished by around 2:30pm, which enabled me to edit the pictures before uploading them to the GBP website that evening. As such, the couple in question will find an email waiting for them just as soon as they can get to a computer – meaning that, potentially they can view their pictures whilst still on honeymoon. You know, sometimes I just love this modern technology!

So there you have it – a typical week in the glamorous world of professional photography. I wonder what the next 7 days holds in store for me...?!

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