The Eye of the Stormzy…..
Our photography team has had a rock n’ roll time in the last two weeks. They visited Cannes once again with Golin for Magnum/Unilever and their annual film festival beach party event, this year with UK pop star Rita Ora, and just days later they were on a pleasure boat on the Thames watching a live gig by Grime artist Stormzy as he launched 5G in the UK for EE. These projects on the outside look busy and chaotic, we caught up with TNR’s Head of Photography Craig Gunn to get some insight in to how he was able photographically to provide the calm region at the centre of it all…..
How did you put your team together?
My approach first is to choose the right people for the right position. Our operators are unique in that they encounter a wide range of PR activity in their day to day lives so not much is ever new to them, but still, every individual has a slightly different way of working and allocating them in the right spot at the right time is key.
On both projects I managed three photographers and a field picture editor. The meticulous and multi-faceted nature of these productions meant a vast amount of preparatory work took place before the event. And it was this planning that allowed us to work in a calm and ordered fashion when around was a whirlwind of inter-agency activity.
How does a Field Picture Editor work?
Field Picture Editors are usually hidden from view at an event. In Cannes it was the darkened room of a restaurant kitchen and for the Stormzy shoot on the Thames, in the bowels of a ship surrounded by broadcasting equipment. The process of editing requires a certain amount of peace and quiet and time to process the thousands of images that arrive to their laptop either via from an FTP server or physically carried via a camera data card. The picture editor works to a different set of time deliverables, sometimes these are linked to getting it out to media as soon as possible, or in the case of working with A-list talent, to have an EDIT ready for a small approval window. Often clients and anyone else in the vicinity wants to look over the shoulder of the Picture Editor to see what they have, and why not – its usually amazing! My role often requires me to protect the Picture Editor a little from this happening so as to not distract them from the multitude of jobs they need to do with each image – resize, crop, balance the levels, caption, rename and any ad hoc retouching required.
How much pre-production goes into a photo shoot?
I enjoy extensive pre-meetings with clients to discuss briefs and I love pouring over the detailed moment-by-moment schedules that celebrity participation demands. The more information available, the more I feel ready to understand a project. When there is an exhaustive list of photographic deliverables, having a broad overview is really important when disseminating the information and making it palatable for the photographers, who can’t keep referring to event bibles whilst shooting in fast paced environments. Often managing a client expectation is important and when compromise is required – getting the shots they really want is more important than delivering quantity.
How does the approvals process work?
We always try to avoid a scenario when a client is waiting for us and it is more usual that the wait times are for the ‘approvals’ process, either with client or talent themselves. Over my years of picture management, the approvals process has become more and more a way of life. The power of talent and agents to control this aspect of a project is becoming the number one factor for time delay and limiting the amount of approved content we can use to media.
As painful as the editing and approvals can be, ultimately, like the winner of ‘Masterchef’, the cream usually rises to the top and more often than not the images that are chosen through collaboration of agencies, are the best of the bunch. Both our Cannes and Stormzy photography content was picked up across UK media and globally, which shows how associated big talent can attract attention for a brand and that when backed with great visuals, the media are compelled to publish approved content, keeping their brand on message.
What are the key things for success in these photo assignments?
The key to any of these projects for me is to choose the right mix of people to make a team. To communicate precisely to each person their role and to check their understanding of their role before a project starts. Once it all ‘kicks-off’ generally as a manager I am a 5th wheel, or support cog, carrying camera cards, holding lights stands, directing talent or getting lunch. Staying calm – being quick, being flexible. All things that sound good on paper, much easier when you have an experienced team at the helm.
Craig Gunn, Head of Photography at TNR delivers a popular PR Photography workshop for PR and comms professionals. The next workshop is being held on the 16th July, click here for more information and to book.