Right On The Button

Earlier this year I was involved in covering the Summer graduation ceremonies for University of Bath, my principle role being to generate images for rapid turnaround for social media use by the press team.

So when they asked if I could do the same for their Winter graduation ceremonies this week I was delighted to be able to help.

It was a hectic task because I was there on Wednesday to cover three ceremonies and turn pictures around after each one, but it did remind me a little of the old press days of having to beat deadlines. It involved some very tight editing to ensure the best pictures got sent as fast as possible; no real time to “umm” and “ahh” about which pics to pick because by the time I’d selected, captioned, edited and delivered, the next ceremony was about ready to start.

When I’m doing this I tend to put on my social media hat (figuratively speaking since I don’t actually own an actual social media hat) and go for the pictures I think will work best on Facebook and twitter. This means setting aside the more formal shots in favour of less posed, more spontaneous ones and of course this requires me to be more attuned to those kinds of shots as the event is unfolding.

The awarding of an honorary degree to retired Formula One racing driver Jenson Button added an extra frisson and urgency to the second ceremony of the day. Luckily I’d managed to get some shots of the local hero (and, I believe, international heart throb) arriving which I was able to file before the ceremony started so the press team could tweet fresh photos before he’d even gowned-up.

Before the third ceremony started I’d filed more photos of Jenson as well as photos of students celebrating their graduations, then I was straight back in to covering the final ceremony of the day which again I filed straight after for the press team to share.

By the end of the day I’d shot about 800 images, but everything went smoothly, the feedback was great and when I got home I took a look at the responses on Facebook and Twitter. It was good to see people had been following the feeds, liking, commenting and sharing, which was of course the point of my being there.

On a slightly different note, time allowing I’m going to do one more blog post this year which will probably be my round-up of 2016 in pictures. After that I’ll take a bit of a rest until January 2017.

Graduation Time!

If I’ve been a little quiet the last couple of weeks it’s because of sheer pressure of work; it’s hard to take photos and blog at the same time, but I wanted to give you a quick post to let you know I’m still alive and clicking (see what I did there?)

This week has been a busy one for me as I’ve been helping out with the University of Bath’s coverage of their Summer (haha) Graduations. In between other work, my task has been to capture celebratory images to show the joy and fun as students receive their certificates in Bath Abbey.

Within minutes of the end of a ceremony I’ve been dashing off to a quiet corner to edit, caption and deliver the images so the press office could get them up on Facebook and twitter. Apart from some torrential rain, it’s all been pretty smooth.

I leave you with a selection of photos taken over the last three days.

A Wee Bit of PR Goes A Long Way

At the start of last week I was asked by University of Bath to come into the Department of Chemical Engineering for a photoshoot with a difference. They needed pictures to accompany a press release for their research into urine-powered fuel cells (see what I did in the headline? So droll…) So, forget rechargeable batteries, these new cells take a trickle charge!

It’s not easy working in gown and goggles (a prerequisite of being in the lab) and there was some time pressure and not a huge amount of space to work in, it being a working lab, but by the end of the session I’d captured a range of shots suitable for different outlets.

What I perhaps hadn’t appreciated was just how far and wide the images would go. I knew they were being distributed by the university press office and Press Association, and they appeared on the BBC and Sky News websites, many newspaper sites (as well as in print) and on industry and tech-oriented websites.

So next time urine the need for some PR, why not give me a call? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Below is a selection of hits from around the web. Click to enlarge.

Royal Visits Invictus in Bath

Royal visits are a unique kind of photographic assignment, as I was reminded when Prince Harry visited University of Bath on Friday for the trials of the Invictus Games which take place in Orlando, Florida, in May.

I stepped into the assignment at fairly short notice due to the university’s staff photographer being laid low by a stomach bug – you really can’t cover an event like this if you’re feeling queazy!

Prince Harry was visiting to see UK athletes taking part in the trials and of course help to raise awareness of the games which were founded to give injured, wounded and sick military personnel a chance to test their sporting skills to the highest standards.

My role in covering the visit was to get pictures the university could use the same day on their website and for press release to showcase the fact they were hosting the trials at their excellent Sports Training Village.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at 9am, but pretty soon a fairly large contingent of press photographers had gathered in the briefing area. Harry was due to arrive just after 11am, so once all the press photographers had gathered, we headed track-side for further briefing and to choose our positions.

Please click photos for a larger view:

My pass was for the outdoor fixed positions, which meant I could move about within certain areas. Other photographers had Rota passes, which is the Royal press office system for ensuring an event doesn’t become clogged with photographers. Those carrying a Rota pass will often have greater, or extended access to an event, but they will be required to allow use of their pictures by any legitimate media outlet that requests them.

Even before the arrival of the Prince I made sure I was getting on with fulfilling my brief; getting shots of the gathered media to show the wide interest and shots of athletes warming up or taking part in trials.

The weather was blustery, sometimes raining and not fantastically warm, so it was a relief when the Prince arrived on schedule. The Royals tend to be fairly prompt unless they’re coming from another event. If that overruns, you just have to be patient and ready.

To cover the Royal visit as he moved around the Sports Training Village running track, chatting to officials and athletes, I worked two camera bodies; one with a wide zoom on and the other with a telephoto zoom (with a 1.4x extender attached for extra reach). Since most of the action was happening at quite a distance away, the long end of my telephoto lens was a godsend. I could see plenty of the other photographers had their huge 500mm and 600mm lenses and were using them a lot, while I had to make the best of my zoom and just make sure I had clean shots I could crop into. I really didn’t need to see into Prince Harry’s soul for my purposes, so it was all fine.

I took my last frame around midday when the facility for Fixed Position passes ended and the Prince went indoors to continue the tour. That was my cue to get my laptop and edit a selection of images for the university homepage news feed and a news article. The rush pictures were chosen, captioned, edited, delivered and added to the website well within the hour. I could then leave the campus, head to my office and do a more considered edit on my large monitor and the job was done.

Royal visits are often a case of “get what you see.” Not much tends to be set up specifically for stills and this leaves you looking for compositions which are tidy not because you set them up, but because you’ve chosen a good position and the composition happens to come together nicely. Expressions will be fleeting and you have to be ready with your camera to capture them, which is why it often looks like Royal photographers never take their eyes from their cameras – they can’t afford to miss a shot.

On this occasion I was surrounded by photographers who shoot a lot of Royal events. Some travel the world with the royals and have built entire careers doing this. For my part, I’ve covered a few Royal events over the years, but it always makes a refreshing, adrenaline-fuelled change from the norm. I shall look forward to the next one.

 

Case Study: Corporate Publication Cover Photo

One of the aspects of my photography work which really gives me a kick is seeing it used well in a corporate publication.

A typical example is this photo which I took during the 2014 Summer Graduations for University of Bath. I was inside Bath Abbey covering one of the ceremonies, getting shots of students striding proudly up to the stage to receive their degrees, but I needed more general shots too.

I took the opportunity during some applause to go quietly towards the rear of the abby where students were seated, watching the proceedings on TV monitors, while they waited their turn to be transformed from graduand to graduate.

It was the perfect situation for finding images of students looking happy and anticipating their own journey to the stage. Add to this the fact that they were looking up at screens and I had the perfect opportunity to get shots of them looking like they were anticipating their futures too.

During the course of those Summer Graduations (11 ceremonies over 3 days) I supplied a large library of images to the university. Some were for immediate social media use, some for press release and even more to be held in their photo library for future publications such as this, the Impact Report, which highlights the positive impact donations have on students and their research and studies.

Though I had no idea at the time I took it that this photo would make the cover of a publication, I think it works really well in this context. It has impact and it illustrates the concept of anticipation and potential, of a bright future for youngsters starting their graduate careers.

Much of the time I can’t be certain where or how a client will use the photos I take for them, but it’s always encouraging to see when a designer has used their own skill and vision to make the most of it.

My 2014 In Pictures

This, dear reader, is the last post of 2014 and as such it’s become something of a tradition for me to do an annual roundup of images, choosing one for each month of the year as it comes to a juddering halt.

The middle of this year was rather dominated with work for University of Bath as I stepped in while their staff photographer recovered from a cycling accident, and while I could have filled more months with student profiles and university events I’ve tried to keep it more varied than that.

I hope you enjoy this year’s selection. It just remains for me to thank all my clients for their custom and support over the year and to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Tim

Rotating milking parlour on a dairy in Wiltshire

January – Rotating milking parlour in Wiltshire for an article on the benefits of mechanised dairies

Jolly's of Bath store assistant Josh Gottschling in Revolutions Bar in Bath

February – Portrait of Jolly’s of Bath staff member Josh Gottschling in his favourite bar for an in-house magazine article

Nigel Lawson talking to an audience at University of Bath

March – Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson addresses an audience at University of Bath on issues surrounding renewable energy – he’s not a fan of it

Two silhouetted faces in profile talking with Future Everything Festival signage displayed between them

April – The Future Everything Festival in Manchester for client Digital Connected Economy Catapult

 

Mechanical Engineering student Robert Ford of University of Bath works on his design for a vertical climbing robot

May – Mechanical Engineering student Robert Ford of University of Bath works on his design for a vertical climbing robot

Student  Noel Kwan poses for the Humanities and Social Sciences prospectus for University of Bath

June – Student Noel Kwan poses for the Humanities and Social Sciences prospectus for University of Bath

Hundreds of new University of Bath graduates spill from Bath Abbey to be greeted by friends and family members

July – Hundreds of new University of Bath graduates spill from Bath Abbey to be greeted by friends and family members

A street at dusk in the historic part of Hall in Tirol

August – Finally, a holiday in Austria and I get to take pretty pictures of picturesque streets

Business portrait of Andy Harriss

September – Andy Harris of Rookery Software Ltd is a man every bit as interesting as his hair

Eight-year-old Scout Adam Henderson concentrates on packing customer bags for charity at Tesco's store in Salisbury

October – Eight-year-old Scout Adam Henderson concentrates on packing customer bags for charity at Tesco’s store in Salisbury

Chef John Melican stands at a farm gate with the sign PLEASE SHUT GATE nailed to it

November – A fresh portrait for chef John Melican’s new Melican’s Events website

Yarn-bombed tree in Melksham, Wiltshire

December – On the way back to the car from a job in Melksham I couldn’t resist a shot of this yarn-bombed tree in the December sunshine

 

 

 

The Graduates

Yet again, sorry for the lack of a post last week, but I was incredibly busy photographing the University of Bath Summer graduation ceremonies. Eleven ceremonies in three days, days which easily ran to 12 or 13 hour stints, but which were ultimately successful. Success is when the client sends emails saying that the pictures they’re seeing come through after each day’s ceremonies are over are exactly what they needed. Success is also managing to not mess up even though I’d never done this before, and rarely have I had to cover an event with quite so many requirements from different parts of the client organisation.

Now all the editing is done and the photos delivered, I thought I’d pluck a few of my own favourites from the assignment and let you have a peek inside what is a pretty big event in Bath and certainly for the University of Bath and the graduating students and their families.

Bedel Bearer Evearl Walker polishes up the mace prior to the first procession

Bedel Bearer Evearl Walker polishes the mace prior to the first procession

HRH Prince Edward, Chancellor of University of Bath, exits Bath Abbey after a degree ceremony.

The university’s new chancellor, HRH Prince Edward, looking relaxed in his role

Bath Abbey during University of Bath graduation ceremonies.

The abbey is a superb setting for the ceremonies

A parent using an iPad inside the abbey to photograph the ceremony

One parent likes to record the ceremony on her iPad

A University of Bath graduate smiles and gives the camera a thumbs up

One of my tasks was to capture the fun of the day

Two female students make a selfie while smiling and pulling funny faces

Selfies at graduation are a new trend

A graduate pokes his tongue out while shaking the hand of the Pro-Chancellor

One graduate wins his bet

A graduate makes her way back to her seat after receiving her certificate, the grandeur of the abbey seen behind her.

A graduate makes her way back to her seat after receiving her certificate

A group of smiling, camera-wielding parents in Abbey Churchyard

Proud parents line up to get photos of their sons and daughters

University of Bath graduates throw their hats in the air in celebration

The obligatory hat-throwing shot

University of Bath Summer Graduations, Ceremony 11 hat-throwing

A different take on the hat-throwing shot

Graduates standing on top of an open-top bus throw their mortar boards in the air

Top deck hat-throwing

 

high-level photographer

This week I thought I’d talk about what I’ve got coming up because it’s rather big. Next week, the first week in July, I’m taking on quite a challenge. For the first time ever I’ll be photographing the Summer Graduation ceremonies for University of Bath.

This event would normally be covered by the university’s in-house photographer Nic, but he recently broke his collar bone in a cycling accident so I’ve been asked to step in to cover the work he’d normally be doing this time of year. It’s been a busy few weeks taking pictures for the university, but next week will be Intense with a capital I.

Up to four graduation ceremonies a day for three days, including formal portraits of honorary graduates, the procession from Guildhall to Bath Abbey, the presentations inside the abbey and the students and their families celebrating outside after their ceremony. Then I go and do it all again, plus editing and delivering rush shots at the end of each day and editing all the images at the end of the week. I’ll be ready for a lie-down by the end, that’s for sure.

And even before the event I’ve had planning and briefing meetings and today I took a recce to the abbey to see the layout for the ceremonies and also to check out a high vantage point for an alternative shot of the students piling out of the abbey after the procession, which is how this week’s blog photo came about.

After seeing inside the abbey, I was shown up a very dark, winding, narrow spiral staircase (approximate age, 500 years) and onto a balcony above the main entrance to see if the vantage point would work. The lighting and weather on the day will determine if this is going to work out, but in the meantime, here’s a shot I took this morning looking up Abbey Churchyard with the entrance to The Pump Rooms to the left.

A high-level view of Bath Abbey Churchyard, taken from above the abbey door on a sunny day.

A super view across Abbey Churchyard, which will be packed with students and their families next week

A Lawson Unto Himself

Two things I enjoyed on this assignment; a challenge and a good debate.

This commission took me to University of Bath where the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (I-SEE) hosted a talk on climate change by Nigel Lawson. Lord Lawson being a bit of a climate change sceptic (just a tad), I was looking forward to not only taking the pictures needed by I-SEE, but also hearing his point of view on the subject.

Lord Nigel Lawson delivers his views on climate change at University of Bath

Shooting through the audience brings a sense of the speaker/listener interaction

The problem with photographing a talk of this kind is that mentally I can only dip in and out because I’m concentrating fairly hard on getting the exposure, focus and composition right, and this particular venue (a dimly-lit, tightly packed lecture theatre) was quite a challenging space to work in.

But while I couldn’t quite concentrate on everything Lord Lawson said, I did catch the gist of his argument and I definitely detected the mood of some of the audience members who clearly didn’t agree with his views.

Of course I wasn’t there as a member of the audience, but whenever I cover something like this I do need to be aware of what’s being said and what the mood and reactions from the audience are. Likewise I had to ensure my technical set-up would allow me to get photos of Lord Lawson speaking as well as reactions and questions from the audience. Not an easy task when you really only have room for one flash on a stand, but with a bit of jiggery-pokery I think I pulled it off with reasonable success.

A man in the audience asks Lord Lawson a question

A packed auditorium means a busy picture, just trickier lighting

While the resulting images might not win any prizes or plaudits, I always work hard to make sure that even under difficult lighting and in tight spaces my images don’t suffer the ghastly effects of direct flash or extreme digital noise caused by high ISO settings, either of which would detract from the subject matter and would have made the photos less usable.

As for climate change, that’s really a debate for another place.

 

A Right Royal Installation

Last week I covered the installation of the new Chancellor of University of Bath, HRH Prince Edward. The event started at Bath Guildhall, where the VIPs got robed and ready to process to Bath Abbey for the official ceremony.

I was second photographer to the university’s staff man, Nic Delves-Broughton, and my task largely consisted of helping to record the day and capture some “flavour of the day” images.

Rather than write a long description of how I spent my time running around trying to get the shots I needed without annoying close protection officers, I thought you’d like to see a smattering of the images from the ceremony…

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Ceremonial garb meets new technology

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Guests and VIPs gather in the Guildhall Ball Room to get robed up

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Michael Eavis of Glastonbury Festival fame is happy and relaxed in the procession to Bath Abbey

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Arriving at Bath Abbey to receive Honorary Degrees are Rev Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells and Paralympic Medallist Ellie Simmonds

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Vice Chancellor of University of Bath, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell shares a joke with HRH Prince Edward just before entering Bath Abbey

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

HRH Prince Edward processes through Bath Abbey having been robed as Chancellor of University of Bath

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

The new chancellor listens as the VC gives her welcome address

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

The official ceremony over, it’s a quick dash back up the aisle for University of Bath photographer Nic Delves-Broughton

HRH Prince Edward installed as the new Chancellor of University of Bath.

Back outside the Abbey, and this time as Chancellor of University of Bath, HRH Prince Edward gives a smile to the waiting crowds