We often talk about how photographers these days are basically required to know how to do video work, at least proficiently. After all, versatility is a tent pole of success in this current economic landscape. If you can’t be a jack of all trades, potential clients will find someone else who can — and there’s always a someone else.
But this story isn’t about that. It’s about what happens when a client like All Clear Insurance asks someone to get video and stills for a shoot and the photographer doesn’t do satisfactory stills work. That’s where Ben Pipe comes into the picture.
I landed this job via word-of-mouth from an editor I work with at an agency in London. All Clear, which specializes in arranging travel insurance for seniors, had worked with a different photographer previously on a joint video/stills shoot but had not been satisfied with the stills side of the work. So, they looked to commission a new shoot with dedicated stills emphasis.
They wanted to convey an older couple enjoying a beach break, but without the budget to travel abroad we needed to do it in the UK, preferably within reach of London. We chose Camber Sands in Sussex.
In one day, Ben and the pair of models shown above knocked out a full batch of photos. The Londoner surmises that part of the reason the shoot went so well is because his only charge was to get stills, as opposed to having to focus on two things at once.
I didn’t get sent any specific examples of what went wrong previously, but their main takeaway was that trying to do video and stills on the same day hadn’t worked. They felt it was better to concentrate on one or the other.
I felt we accomplished everything from the pitch—exemplified by the fact the client came back to buy additional images after their allotted 100 selects.
Starting at noon and working until sunset with only a few breaks, Ben and the team traversed Camber Sands and got a wide swath of lifestyle imagery. The two models, Denise Waterman and Ian Houghton, had not only worked with All Clear before, they’d done previous shoots with each other as well.
Chemistry between them was not an issue as it can be for models working together for the first time. Because we needed them to look like a believable couple, it was very important they were comfortable around each other and could make each other smile organically.
For the shots walking through the long grass down to the beach, I asked the couple to ignore the camera and chat to each other as they walked down. The resulting pics looked natural and spontaneous, which was what we wanted.
We also used some of the breaks to get more shots of the models relaxing, drinking, and reading in a cafe environment.
Though this assignment represented Ben’s first time working for an insurance firm, he has plenty of experience with lifestyle photography — and embraces the challenges that come with shoots of this nature.
It’s a genre I enjoy a lot. It has its own unique set of challenges: working with weather and natural light, finding locations to shoot in without permits, and dealing with models and a team. But it’s fun and always pushes me out of my comfort zone in some way.
Another challenge is trying to get a final push of effort from the models during the last golden hour of light. At that point, they had eaten dinner and were probably thinking about getting home.
This assignment could have gone haywire at many turns, considering the modest budget, shortened time frame, and unpredictable — or predictably rainy, considering the region — UK weather. But the stars aligned for Ben and his cohorts, and All Clear got the stills it needed after a second attempt at finding the right photographer.
We got lucky because we needed all models and team to be available on the same day, which they were. In the end, it was a beautiful, sunny day — perfect for the look the client wanted.
Explore more of Ben’s work at benpipe.com.
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