One of the perks of working as a photographer is that you get to travel all around the UK and see many new places. Not only that but as you’re driving along motorways you also get to see some incredible countryside. This particular job not only took me to local towns and cities such as Birkenhead, Liverpool and Bootle but also further afield to Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria – particularly Cumbria providing some spectacular scenery along the way.
The job was split over 5 days and I proposed an itinerary to the client which was devised to keep the mileage travelled to a minimum. I had a list of 15 stores to cover in Liverpool, Warrington, Blackburn, Blackpool, Rochdale, Burnley, Preston, Stockport, Carlisle, St Helens, Bootle, Wigan, Oldham, Bolton and Birkenhead.
The photography brief basically consisted of two elements. The first part being architectural photography of the interiors and exteriors of each of the stores. This brought its own challenges in two respects. Firstly, rain! Being on a tight timescale, I couldn’t wait for the weather to be nice and sunny (in fact some days, I swear the rain was following me from town to town!) I turned this to my advantage by setting my camera and tripod up outside the store (and also, put my hood up!), then I waited for people to walk past who were wearing brightly coloured clothes or who had a big, bright umbrella and this along with the store lights reflecting on the wet ground made a potentially drab-looking scene in to a dynamic and colourful one.
The second challenge was organising with the shopping centre management to gain permission to photograph on their property. Taking photographs of the stores from a public street is fine – no permission is required. However, when you are in a shopping centre, it is private property. In most cases, this was a very simple procedure; find a security guard or information point and explain to them what I needed to do and after a few moments of toing and froing on walkie-talkies, everything is OKed.
As I mentioned, the brief came in two parts and the second part was to photograph the staff interacting with customers. The agency had already arranged that enough staff would be on-site for me to work with for half-an-hour or so. One member of staff would play the staff member and the other would play the customer. Some of the staff were bone-fide naturals at modelling, whilst others were a bit more shy and nervous. In any case, we all had great fun doing it and I even had some volunteer to do more, because they were enjoying themselves so much.
The final photographs were sent to the agency and were to be used for internal comms and also (in some cases) added to their Google “My Business” pages.