This was my first commission for content agency SMRS in Manchester and so I was keen to do a great job for them! The aim was to photograph the working environment within Swinton Insurance’s offices, capturing the atmosphere and the culture. There were four different locations spread over a two day shoot. All of the locations, Manchester, Preston and Chorley are close to my base in West Yorkshire so I didn’t have far to travel. I worked alongside Paul Morricone and team, from Thunder and Lightning, who were there to capture the video version of the same brief. It’s great working with a video team but of course you need to try and stay out of each others way to prevent being caught in the back of a shot!
We started at the head office in Manchester, capturing exteriors and the reception to give the shots context and then worked our way from the ground floor upwards, photographing people at work. It was a naturally happy workplace which always makes life easier. This was very much ‘fly on the wall’ photography, just wandering around, keeping my eyes peeled, capturing moments – often not using any lighting at all. Some shots were more set up, or people were asked to repeat what they had just done or were asked to be more lively.
In the afternoon we headed over to the contact centre to capture the customer service team at work. People are generally quite animated on the phone but it’s amazingly easy to put them off their train of thought when you point a camera at them! I sometimes needed to pop a little bit of extra light into the shots to lighten and brighten everything up so I wandered around with a battery powered light to fill in the shadows.
We ended the day by getting some general images of Manchester looking busy and vibrant, to show it’s a great place to work.
The next day we visited two branches, Preston in the morning and then Chorley in the afternoon. This was a much quieter day compared to the first as we were in a much smaller more intimate space . This is the customer facing side of the business and so members of the general public were in and out all day. All of the staff had already signed their model release forms, but each time we wanted to include a customer in one of the shots, we of course had to ask if they would like to be involved and then ask them to sign the form. Every customer we asked was happy to be involved, which reflects well on Swinton Insurance and shows they keep their customers happy.
I’ve been shooting for the charity DEBRA for about 3 years now. DEBRA is a charity set up to help people with EB (epidermolysis bullosa). EB is a group of genetic skin conditions which cause the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch.
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