by Stuart Wood Published 01/06/2015
During a period of lovely early spring weather, I recently shot a very enjoyable project for a design agency local to me named Fluid Ideas. The project was for their client, Inspired Villages who specialise in luxury retirement villages. Using real people who had been selected as models, we worked at various and varied locations across the Midlands in order to produce a series of lifestyle images to promote the company and its new ventures.
Phil Harvey of Fluid Ideas thoughts for the project were, "the brief was to capture a 'life', and inspire people!! ...Showing people who think differently about that third phase of life. We wanted to change local perceptions (people locally think it's going to be a big care home - it's not - it will be a beautiful village full of active older people doing whatever they damn well like!)."
So with that in mind, the brief was to achieve a very natural, lifestyle image of the models enjoying a full and varied life and when it came down to the photographs, it was important to achieve a look that reflected this. As is usually the case with the 'Lifestyle' approach, it was important that we made the pictures look as natural as possible and without any of them having any tell-tale sign of them being 'manufactured' and as such, could not look 'lit'.
Now as we are all very well aware, to achieve something natural, untouched and untampered with photographically is one of the true photographic oxymorons! The main image featured here was certainly no exception, as we proceeded to surround our subjects with the usual and dazzling array of lights and reflectors in order to achieve that alleged 'completely natural look'!
As we as photographers all know and why the rest of the photographically unenlightened never understand, that wonderful piece of kit called the human eye can scan a scene and immediately adjust when peering into the deepest shadows, then readjust by automatically 'stopping down' to then absorb the minutest detail in the brightest of highlights in another area. Unfortunately, even our very best of camera equipment cannot even begin to match this remarkable versatility and therefore there are few situations that do not need a little 'help' in the form of a reflector here or a 'fill in' light there.
Getting this right will produce results so completely 'natural' and yet so 'ordinary' that this can frequently confuse those allowed to gaze upon such splendours. I am sure that I am not the only one that has frequently had to suffer the curse of every photographer, who proudly displays his hard fought endeavours, only to be dismissed with those immortal lines'you must have a really good camera!', to which I now swiftly retort, 'yes and I believe Gordon Ramsey also has an excellent oven, Eric Clapton a fabulous guitar and Andy Murray a truly remarkable racquet!'
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