Editorial Portraits London
I have a great respect for Editorial Photographers. They have to daily produce outstanding creative images more often than not working under difficult circumstances and to a tight deadline. With this post I thought I would give a behind the scene’s story of a normal editorial assignment and the challenges that have to be met.
Last weeks assignment was to photograph Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates.
Melinda was in London for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that was holding a London summit on family planning together with the the UK government.
I am the London stringer ¹ for Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest morning newspaper. The newspaper had managed to obtain their own interview with Melinda and were given a twenty minute slot which included just 2 minutes photography. The newspaper gave a lot of importance for the interview and flew in a reporter the evening before.
The meeting room that was to be used was like any other boring meeting room and it could have been in any city as they all look the same. The only thing that this room had going for it was that it had decent light. These rooms are normally windowless.
I always arrive early at an assignment thus giving myself the opportunity to do a some important reconnaissance to find something that could help me in obtaining a better image.
I noticed that there was a strong pattern in the carpet and immediately decided that I would use it. The problem was I had to get a step ladder that would be high enough to let me shoot looking down … I had great luck as the very kind assistant banqueting manager called Johannes was on hand and he found one for me in a store room. I positioned a table under the stepladder and placed on it a flash gun that I could trigger wirelessly. I did a couple of test exposures on Johannes and all was OK. From entering the room, getting the idea and setting up the required equipment took just 10 minutes.
Shortly afterwards Melinda Gates arrived with her media team and I was asked to leave the room during the interview. When the interview was finished I was asked by her team if I could take a “quick snap” of Melinda where she was sitting behind the table, I politely declined and asked Melinda to sit in the chair underneath the step ladder and she cheerfully did so. Standing on the stepladder I took a few frames from above, I then asked her to stand up and I took a few more more frames. It was all over after just 50 seconds and I had taken 13 exposures.
Given the circumstances I thought that the portrait of Melinda worked well. I was able to take her away from the boring environment of the meeting room and created a portrait in a setting with an unusual angle and with a pleasing background.
 Stringer A photographer or journalist retained by a newspaper or news service to cover a particular area.