Photographing a literary legend in their private home, while they were in a writing block and busy with little time to give to the session. This is how the job was set up from the client and the personal publicist of the legendary Bryce Courtenay.
I never get nervous photographing anyone with a profile, they are just people like all of us. On this day though things could not have gone worse. I was late leaving the previous session which was out of my control, there was roadwork’s along the freeway and the address given took me to a dead end street!!
When I finally arrived about 45 minutes late I expecting the worst and thinking I was going to have to shoot this very important image in 10 minutes without any preparation. I was greeted by a very smiley completely relaxed Courtenay who immediately said “well you’ve had a bad run haven’t you “. It caught me totally off guard and put me at ease instantly. He then went on to say, leave all your gear there, come inside to have a drink and relax. It was the complete opposite of what I had been prepared for, especially considering how late I was arriving. We went inside, where he gave me the tour of the house, from the writing studio, to the rose garden. We sat in his lounge room talking about photography and it’s power as a communication tool and as art. He showed me one of his favourite photographers Sam Haskins and his two most popular books. All the while his not so young pup Timmy was with us, I was told he has written everyone of his books with Timmy by his side.
It was clear straight away that this was going to be how I photographed him, with Timmy at his feet relaxed on the couch beaming that smile through my lens. To top it off, as I was packing up I mentioned that my wife was at home sick and that I would now be going home to cook for us and to make her feel better. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a container of his own home made soup that he wanted to pass on, this gesture would again ease the rest of my day.
It’s not often you meet a true old world gentleman who has everyone else’s wellbeing at heart. I only met him that one time but it made a lasting impression. It is exactly what I aim to deliver as a professional photographer, content with a lasting impression.
A few years back I had the opportunity of photographing Harrison Ford.
I was hired by Perth Sunday Times magazine to photograph in Sydney while he was on a press promo tour for an average film but that isn’t the story, here it is in a nut shell.
The shoot was just in a hotel room as per usual, I was the last photographer of the day and given about 7-10 minutes to shoot as it was for a magazine. I setup my three places that I wanted to shoot images for variety as it was a small spread.
He entered the room and was very humble and quiet, he said hello and asked where I wanted him. I showed him my three setups and what they would give me and off we went. I shot very slowly and made sure each capture was carefully measured. In total I got about 30-35 frames which is not very much for three locations in 5×5 square room. When we were done I said thank you very much for giving me the time to which he asked to see my camera and the images shot. I happily shared the back of my camera and upon viewing them his words were. “You know, you have shot the least amount of photos of me than anyone else today but you have the best photos because you took your time and paid attention to me and what you were doing”
I again said thank you very much we shook hands and he departed, quickly after that the publicist came running back into the room and said “wow you’re lucky, he didn’t speak to another photographer all day nor look at any of the other photos they took”
It is something I will always remember, along with the fact that my wife was very jealous that I got to meet Han Solo and Indiana Jones aka Harrison Ford.
Back again with another theme which is becoming an ongoing set of images and work for me.
As a commercial photographer I see the value in images in many ways, most times I see things that clients don’t which is a large part of my job. Showing a client the value of a commercial photographer for there business and how having great visual content can lift there profile and set them apart from competitors.
Content creation is a major part of what I do as a commercial photographer, the digital world is so full of content now with businesses and individuals becoming publishers that the value and quality of what is being delivered has dropped. Investing in your image is one of the most valuable things you can do as a business. If you have a great service or products to sell and you have shot images on your smartphone what do you think that is saying about you. Your headshot should not be a snap at the front door on the way out to the office or from the last wedding party you were involved in nor the last time you were dressed up for the races standing shoulder to shoulder with your friends.
Invest in the services of a commercial photographer, you will be amazed what a trained eye of a professional photographer can deliver for your business. After all your business/image is supposed to be making you a living and if you look like you’ve snapped it yourself it’ll show.