The world of work has changed forever. Companies are no longer expecting their work force to attend the office every day. The move to working from home is now well established. This means that businesses will need to rethink how they use their office space.
The solution for a mental health charity
Directors of a mental health charity were commissioning a review of their office use when the pandemic struck. This gave them a great opportunity to rethink how their office space was used. It could be designed to be ready for future work patterns.
As less staff would be in every day. There can be more emphasis on break out spaces including more private areas for meetings. They also wanted to include soundproofed booths for private conversations with their clients.
With consultation with their preferred supplier they set out plans to make this a reality.
The developers perspective for the rethought office space
Once the work was completed Pi Sq, the developer decided that this prestigious project should feature in their marketing and wished to commission a professional photographer.
Based in the Midlands, Pi Sq found that their normal photographer was unavailable to work in London.
A recommendation was requested for someone they trusted to carry out the work. This is where a network of fellow creatives comes to the fore. Kevin reached out amongst his peer group and as this was my specialist area I responded to the request.
The client was delighted that someone could help and enlisted my services.
Breakdown of the shoot
Acting on the brief I needed to feature every area of the office as the whole area had been refurbished. Special interest was to be placed on the soft furnishings and the two directors offices. Breakout areas were also of importance.
Looking at previous shoots for the company made me realise that my bright and airy style was perfect for their requirements.
As usual my method of working is to use the available light in the office but to make multiple exposures of the scene and blend the images together later. This negates the use of bulky lighting equipment which would lengthen time on site and could produce hotspots in any of the glass present.
I prefer this way of working as I believe it produces a more natural look to the images.
Post production methods
My usual way of working is to import the raw files into Adobe Lightroom for initial blending and exposure tweaks. Particular attention is placed on making everything look natural, ensuring that there is detail in all shadow areas and that highlights are not overexposed.
Contrast is also adjusted and colour balance checked. With interior photography colour is very important as colours are often specified and the client requires them to be correct.
Final adjustments are made in Photoshop which may include removing some objects that should not be there or duplicating and added those that should be. I have in the past added missing heating elements from patio heaters.
For me this was a dream job as it is what I do best. The client was delighted and that is very important to me as I would not wish to let down a fellow photographer who recommended me for the job.
The finished offices look stunning and the charity now has a fantastic space that fits in with modern office life post pandemic. They are so pleased that they had a rethink on their office usage and now have some future proofing built in to the design.
Celebrating Brutalist Architecture in London. A personal creative project.
As a professional photographer I need to develop my creative skills in order to progress my art. Setting myself personal projects helps me to achieve this aim. A great area of interest for me is architectural photography and a project centred around brutalist architecture fulfils that need.
For me it is a very suitable project as many examples of this type of architecture can be found reasonably close to home. A trip along the South Bank and onwards though the City of London can be achieved in one session.
Brutalist Architecture – the answer in austere times?
The style known as brutalist originated during the 1940’s in France, although it did not make an appearance in the UK until the 1950’s. The first proposal for utilising the style was a house in Soho which was never built. The plan was put forward as a property with warehouse aesthetic of bare concrete and wood.
During the 1960’s the style developed with the predominant use of ‘Breton Brut’ or raw concrete. Patterns were created on the concrete giving the impression of wooden shuttering. Scale was important with the emphasis on mass. Large concrete slabs were employed with textured surfaces. Service ducts and ventilation towers were very much in evidence.
The style suited austere times as the materials were cheap, and blocks could be prefabricated. Construction time was minimised which was important as there was a great need for fast reconstruction after the war.
Notable examples in London.
The style was particularly popular in London where there are many fine examples such as the National Theatre and other buildings on the South Bank. These were built on or near the site of the 1951 Festival of Britain which showcased recovery of UK following WW2. The Royal Festival Hall is the only building to survive from the Festival of Britain.
Another fine example is the Barbican Centre built in the City of London. The centre was built in an area that was heavily bombed in WW2. The centre comprises around 2000 flats, a lake and garden. It also houses the Guildhall school of music and drama, a library, a girl’s school and the world-famous Barbican concert hall home to the London Symphony orchestra.
Logistics of the shoot
The beauty of working in a city such as London is that it is easily accessible and can be worked by foot in a relatively compact area.
A return trip into Waterloo and a brisk walk along the South Bank and through to the City of London across the millennium bridge opposite the Tate Modern covered the ground.
The shoot took place on a very sunny day which is very conducive for black and white photography although some of the shots were very contrasty and challenged the ability of a DSLR camera.
All the images were taken on a DSLR camera in raw mode and initially processed in Adobe Lightroom as black and white versions. The tonality was adjusted using the black and white mixer sliders.
The photos were then exported to Photoshop as colour versions and converted to black and white using the DXO Silver Effects Pro plug in. This is perhaps the best piece of software to produce excellent black and white images.
You have the option to mimic some of the classic black and white films of old. You can add texture to the image and use their excellent U point technology for local adjustments.
Observation is part of the creative process.
Of course, thinking in black and white is quite different to thinking in colour. You need to think about shape, form and texture within the image.
Observation is a very important creative process and here I find the juxtaposition of the concrete stairwell and metal fire escape interesting. They complement each other by introducing a similar curve into the composition. There is also added interest as they are constructed of different materials.
How can you be creative.
My inspiration for this shoot came from knowing that some photographic tuition providers advertise this as a day’s training. I thought that I would just go out and do it.
The secret is that there is no secret, and you just need to find something that interests you and plan the shoot. Then just pencil in a day and carry it out. It can be very rewarding, and you can share the results on Instagram or other social media platforms.
Many of you are aware that I specialise in residential interior photography however, you may not know that I also cover commercial interiors too.
Recently I have undertaken a commercial interiors shoot for a construction company tasked with re-furbishing serviced offices for Regus. The purpose of this shoot was to complete a case study and other marketing material.
Follow the brief
It is of the utmost importance to work to the clients brief when undertaking this sort of work. You need to know what is important to them and how they want the finished set of shots to look.
Of course, the brief for this shoot was particularly exacting with annotated building plans supplied. Care needed to be taken as some of the rooms had been refurbished previously.
One challenging area was to capture the foyer as it was a large space that occupied the full height of the building.
A specialist tilt shift lens came to the fore here. I could utilise the movement available to take a number of images covering each area of the space. The images were then stitched and blended later in post-production.
Of course you need to think outside the box on occasion as you are not in complete control of the situation.
On this shoot I had to rely on the office manager to gain access to certain areas. He was of course very busy, so a degree of patience was required.
You are also reliant on the British weather while working outside. In this particular case it was pouring with rain all morning and there was a requirement to capture the front of the building as well as the HVAC on the roof.
Of course, I had some appropriate clothing, and the camera is well waterproofed. The problem is ensuring rain does not get on the lens as this can cause problems.
I would love to hear from you
If your company has a need for some commercial interiors’ photography, I would love to hear from you.
Although I specialise in interior design photography, I am always looking to increase my skills base. Part of this process is to challenge myself. This time I have focussed on architectural photography
I like to carry out creative shoots, designed to stretch my capabilities. One such shoot was carried out recently in the City of London. My intention was to capture some atmospheric architectural images in black and white.
London is a fantastic location for architectural photography shoots. This is because it is filled with some of the most iconic buildings in the world. Examples include the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, Lloyds and Batman building.
Issues relating to London
A major problem with carrying out architectural photography in London is that, due to the current terrorist threat, you are viewed with suspicion. Most buildings are regarded as private property and some are even deemed to be copyrighted.
Photography can draw unwelcome attention, especially if you have a large camera and – worse still – a tripod. I have witnessed a Japanese tourist being harassed by security at the London Eye. He only had a small compact camera on top of the flimsiest tripods you could imagine. The security guard kept insisting that he was professional because of this.
So, I chose to carry out the shoot on a Sunday because it would be quiet. I would probably not get disturbed by prying security personnel. They are generally rather lazy when there are no suits in the buildings.
The shoot was started close to City Hall, where I had noticed a particularly interesting shaped building. The building was mostly glass with sweeping curves included as part of the design.
I then crossed the river and meandered around the city itself. I just following my nose and taking photos when I found something interesting. I was tending towards buildings with interesting shapes. I was also picking out contrasts between the old and the new.
Once I had exhausted the City, I crossed the millennium bridge and visited the Tate Modern. I had a very good idea what I was going to photograph and the style in which it was to be presented. I headed straight to the new extension previously known as the Switch House. This is now named the Blavatnik Building after the Russian billionaire who funded the project. The building was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron.