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All in the Name of Art (and Other Courses)

March 25, 2013

Whether it’s ad campaigns, retail displays or crisp packets, I often have to wait months between a shoot and seeing any of my pictures in a finished product.

So it was a nice surprise to scroll down an email I received last week and get a look at the results of a shoot I did last December.

It’s still a thrill to see the fruits of my labour working hard for a client.

HTML email and Facebook cover

Digital communications and social media for The Academies

The Academies are school holiday camps, covering a wide variety of subjects for kids between 3 and 17, and I was approached to help them create a bank of imagery they could use to reflect their range of courses.

It was really valuable to be involved in the early stages of the job and I got to work closely with the clients – Paul Clarke and his wife Alex – and Warwick-based design agency Paper Tiger, to determine to best way to tackle the brief. Along with a series of action shots of kids with different outfits and props, each model had to be photographed individually to achieve one overall image of a long queue waiting at the gate.

With desire to get the most out of the budget and a cast of sixteen(!) easily bored kids, the shoot was never going to be a relaxed one.


A budding Georgia O’Keeffe unmoved by the performance of a young John Gielgud

Paul and Alex set out to beg, steal or borrow the majority of the models from friends and relatives, and supplemented these with three young actors from an agency. Along with their parents, chaperones, my team and numerous boxes of props and costumes the studio was soon packed with fairy princesses, teenage rugger boys and one rather timid dinosaur.

It’s on jobs like these being married to a Creative Director is a bit of a bonus, and I have to hand it to Craig, who along with Paul, did an incredible job of helping the children feel at ease and get into their roles. The lights and all the equipment must have been quite scary for the little ones, and intimidating for the self-conscious older ones, and it took a fair amount of acting daft and improvising with the props to get the relaxed and natural performances we needed from this largely amateur cast.

outtakes from photoshoot with kids

Paul and Craig channeling their inner Mr Tumble

What could have been a nightmare of a day, went like a dream.

The kids, for the most part, were little stars. (Read Paul’s account of the experience here.) As every shot was meticulously planned beforehand, everybody knew what was happening and everything ran to time. Alex and Amy were brilliant at getting folks into their outfits and were ready with the hundreds of props, my assistants Dan and Emma did a sterling job and there were no tears.

It was all a bit of a buzz really and roping in my own three lads as models only added to the fun. It’s always good for them to experience first-hand what Mum and Dad actually do for a living and beats sending them up chimneys.

Spivey_boys copy

The Spivey boys

I’m happy that Paul and Alex are chuffed with these results. It think it’s looking great. The queue device does a great job of summing up everything they do in one bright and engaging image and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll use their new photo library on other stuff.

If they run their courses as well as they organise photo shoots, I’m sure The Academies will continue to be a huge success.

RS x

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