I’ve worked on various commissions for City College in Brighton over the last three years, providing photography for poster campaigns and various promotional materials. Last week I spent two days taking photos for the new 2009-10 prospectus.
In previous years I’ve spent quite a bit of my time at the college taking photos of students as they worked. The brief for the prospectus this year was to try for a less literal representation of each subject area. Instead of photographing classes as they happened we set up shots, mainly of individual students, and spent some time on the composition. The idea was to get images that could be used in a magazine style layout, some with enough room for text to be included.
We had allowed about an hour for each subject and tried to get a selection of shots in each area, using different backgrounds and models. We also had to find willing, suitable models from amongst the college students in that time, so the schedule was fairly hectic.
The college is lit with fluorescent lights, which give a horrible greeny yellow look to photographs, so I had to use flash for most of the interior shots. I used a very minimal lighting setup because of the lack of time, just a Speedlight on a stand bounced into an umbrella and triggered with a radio slave. This meant I could get the light source off the camera, move it around the subject, and get a variety of effects. Light from a flash mounted directly on the camera gives harsh shadows, a flat look, red eyes and generally looks quite nasty.
If I’d done this on my own I think I would have been lying in a sweaty heap by the end of it, luckily I was helped by two graphic designers from the college, Steve and Sarah. They came round with me and found locations, students and came up with some good ideas for shots. At the end of the job I had a wide selection of images that I think will fill the prospectus quite nicely.