Back in 2013 I had an unexpected sub-brief whilst on a Unilever job…
I had been booked for five days at The Round House in London, which if you’ve never been before it’s certainly is an impressive venue. The initial two days were creating a time-lapse of the event set up and the latter three days were 14 hour event photography coverage days. So quite a full on brief!
Day one of the main event I was also given an additional sub brief, one of the event coordinators explained the main theme of the event was “People are beautiful“ and could I illustrate this alongside my main event coverage? I thought long and hard about how I could creatively achieve this and also how I’d find the time alongside my main brief. I took inspiration from this banner that was hanging in a foyer area of an elderly main smiling, though he wasn’t traditionally “beautiful” I could see the beauty in the image and then it was clear in my head what they wanted from me – “beautiful moments”.
I looked carefully at the time-timetable and worked out the times when old colleagues / friends would be encountering each other for the first time in a while and hoped there would be some positive moments, perhaps some embracing etc. So I hovered in the wings with my long lens on, my left arm burning whilst it held the weight of the kit for long durations…Then BANG there is was EVERYONE bathed in endless warmth and embraces. I shot quickly and captured some wonderful moments.
I passed on these initial shots to the event coordinator and she showed the CEO at the time Dave Lewis. Dave LOVED the shots, they encapsulated exactly what the event was about and he requested 60 polished shots ready for a slideshow on day 3. Now 60 polished images alongside my main brief was tough because I had so little editing time and there was barely time to get enough sleep etc., but I focused hard waited around at every tea break and lunch time to ensure I got those beautiful moments.
Day 3 came and something happened that I’d never witnessed before – the power of photography. It was the end of the event and all the colleagues (a few hundred) were sat in the middle of The Round House, three huge curved screens were suspended in a circle around them and they all gazed upwards. My “People are beautiful“ photographs were played in a sequence whilst in the background audio clips of employees explaining why they love working for Unilever were also played. I initially watched the photos being played with pride, then I glanced down to look at all the Unilever staff who were also watching the screens…to my huge surprise everyone was crying (nice tears to just to say). This huge emotional outpour was not something I’d witnessed around my work before (usually I send a dropbox link, get a nice email back and that’s that). This was truly spectacular and lovely unique moment to witness.
So I can safely say this was one of the best moments in my career.