My first shoot for the Cambridgeshire Mencap project took place at St.Johns College, Cambridge University. Cambridgeshire Mencap provide a catering & hospitality training course in the college’s kitchens. Students meet for classroom activities and then more hands on work in the college kitchen and canteen. Both environments leave little room room for manoeuvre. Where possible I would choose a background which had either colour or interest, this sometimes meant rearranging and placing objects which were either relevant or added to the perspective and composition, not only in the background but also in the foreground as well. Lighting in working environments is also challenging. The kitchen environment could have been very difficult, with overhead fluorescent lights and stainless steel backgrounds. The kitchen was a busy place and so not somewhere lights could be placed easily, I used both on camera flash bounced and one small light on a stand placed at a right angle to subjects and slightly behind. The catering course tutor suggested a scenario with a student stirring a large vat of meat stock, this worked well as the student could interact with kitchen staff and both the colour and steam from the boiling vat made a dramatic composition. The students and kitchen staff were very co-operative to my instructions and made the shoot a very enjoyable experience.
Cantellday the designers for the new website and printed material were also present at the shoot to lend a hand and art direct. This was useful and helped with getting the right approach which would hopefully continue throughout the project.
The entire shoot encompassed many different environments and lighting considerations as well as developing trust and hopefully a rapport with the subjects which made for some spontaneity. Allowing a photographer in to your home is not always comfortable, keeping lighting to a minimum and using lights which are mobile while not requiring an extra pair of hands to set up, was essential. I used throughout Nikon SB800’s with the Nikon SU800 Commander unit and also pocket wizards. At present the SU800 cammander unit is not reliable enough in situations where the environment and subject changes very quickly and there is a very little control over the direction the shoot will take. Using small flashes triggered remotely with pocket wizards enabled me to position lights anywhere I could place a super clamp or light stand. Typically out of the way of young children but supplementing the existing light. In some cases I relied only on the available light due to requests by Cambridgeshire Mencap service users.
The final printed material produced can be seen below.