What do we do when we can't do what we love?
We were all tasked with the challenge many weeks ago, we were forced to down tools, lock yourself away and keep quiet and safe for the greater good of the NHS and everyone around you, and rightly so. We have all made huge sacrifices for the NHS, our loved ones and friends to the detriment of our careers and the industry we all love (sometimes)
It wasn't really a tricky dilemma we found ourselves in because it didn't come through choice but more of a demand.
As I work from home normally, at the start I didn't find it a great change for me. Two weeks passed and I thought, "hey this isn't too bad" I am spending more time with my partner, more time with my daughter and more time focusing on family more than work. Then the BUT kicked in, the almighty BUT which I know many creatives will suffer. WE CAN'T SIT STILL, WE CAN'T JUST WAIT, WE CAN'T STOP OUR CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT SAID STOP.
We are a rare breed, there are lots of us, and this is what makes our industry the best. We certainly aren't in it for the money, never will it pay what it deserves but when it is good, it is fucking fantastic. The best job in the world. We get paid to be creative. To be a child again where we can let our creative minds free.
Personally I have done learning, I signed up to Creative Live ( it is all very American and big bright smiles) I learn every day, build upon skills I already have and add some more to the mix. I built a pond, it's small and manageable and it hasn't leaked yet. Captured some tadpoles last week and they are loving their new home. I have stupidly and successfully re joined the stock market (this time with much more success than last time), I have seen my amazing partner for more than a morning coffee and a late night meal, I have cleaned the garage (the most challenging job to date), organised draws, cleaned, cleaned and cleaned and worked exceptionally hard on my side business Bridgetown Monroe. It is a mobile Rum Shack. You should check it out, I personally think It is a bit of a corker and this year was the year of great success but with every event, wedding and shin dig being cancelled, 2021 is the year.
Creatives work best under pressure. We like to be put under the cosh as it delivers the best work, the most creative, the rule breakers, the shiny lions beckon. There has been some great work to come out of isolation. I must admit I haven't seen anything ground breaking yet, and I don't think I will. With the restrictions in place it becomes very hard to do a big shoot. We need crew, we need post houses on call, we need the 1st AD bellowing to get off set. If anything in this time, it makes us appreciate how important team work is.
As a photographer and director during these times, it has meant I have had to do everything. I am no billy big bollocks and totally appreciate a good team behind me. I don't want to do everything myself because there are far better people out there who can do a much better job than me in certain areas. I always believe in paying someone to do it better than what I can do, rather than save some money.
During lockdown, especially in the first 5 weeks of lockdown, I had to do all the jobs. It was tough, but I did it. I never doubt my photography and directing skills, I know I can smash that out of the park, I am paid to do just that. The rest, this is where you need a fantastic crew behind you, making you look good.
Some print and TVC advertising I feel has been a very much 'make do' factor because this is the best we can do. (at the moment) You can see the quality greatly drop off. I do really think this is a great thing for the industry for when we all return to a new normal. It shows exactly what a great team can do, why you should spend on talent rather than skirt around it to save some dollars. I am not actually sure what the new normal will be but AOP and APA have released their shoot social distance guidelines and it is all very doable. It will just take common sense and awareness and everything will seem normalish.
I have done two shoots so far over the lockdown period, and each had their challenges. I missed my 1st assistant, and runners the most. It was hard to do everything and keep to the social distance rule as well. I am a very tactile photographer, I like to talk up close, work with the talent to get the best shot.
I tell you the one advert I have seen during lockdown that sent a few tingles down my spine. The new Marie Curie advert. Music was on point. The stillness of the empty images with delicate fonts hit the right chord on every level. This out of everything print and motion nailed it. They nailed the sentiment of lockdown, the feelings people are going through and the creative was subtle and beautiful.
I have seen models doing face time shoots for the likes of Vogue etc and it simply does not work. It looks cheap, poor and badly art directed. Models aren't photographers or art directors and this clearly shows. Kudos for giving it a go but please let's not make this the new norm because it saves you money.
I managed to shoot a vital campaign for The Garden House Hospice Care in Hertfordshire during lockdown. It has received global press which I am truly honoured and humbled but more importantly it drove awareness and funding for the hospice it's self. I photographed Key Workers at the Hospice over the span of a working day.
The hospice commissioned me for two reasons, they wanted to say thank you to their amazing staff with these portraits and secondly used it as advertising media to raise funds. This was my first shoot in social distancing rules and like I mentioned earlier it was tricky but not impossible. I had to mark the floors, I had to shoot on a different lens from my norm so I didn't go to close, everything was discussed with the talent from across a room and I had to work quick to keep any level of infection to a minimum. What it shows, It is all doable. I did miss my crew very much, my producer, my 1st etc and I do believe the end product would have been better if I did have these people behind me but all being considered great images were captured and the client was incredibly happy. If you are interested you can see the images here Key Workers
I love my job, I love the people I work with and I really hope it will get back to normal, like 2019. It won't be anytime soon but I really do hope it is possible.
I wish you all to keep safe, well and protected and for all the creatives out there, please keep sane.