Slideshow courtesy of Charles Leake
My friends are always raving about Berlin. So imagine when I was asked to be the photographer for Arriva Graduates graduation (is that bad grammar?)… IN BERLIN.
Now, it must be said, and I’m sure any travelling businessman will confirm this, that travel as part of one’s job is not the cushy deal it always sounds like. OK, it’s a BIT cushy… but the truth of it is that you are there to WORK, and not play. Of course, in my position, work is to a certain degree play, but you still have a client to look after, a brief to meet and a standard to maintain. You also have to put up with the airport queues, very long working days (usually an 0800 start with a midnight finish), the tricky things like debit cards not being widely used and trying to understand a transport system in another language. You are also more likely to become intimate with room service and the nice touching on the gold lacquer that they’ve put on the elevator doors than you are the natives and the local culture, and flying in one day, working the next and then flying away again the day after are commonplace occurrences. So if you DO want to be a jet setting photographer, pay heed!
Equally, and as any traveller will tell you, a place is not so much defined by it’s architecture and it’s food as it will be defined by it’s people. Likewise, a photography job will be defined the client and your relationship with them as much as the brief itself. Arriva is a great company. People might not think a transport company would be that exciting, but they are. They are built on really solid values and immensely likeable and admirable people. “Corporate” is not always a dirty word.
This brief here was to record the day the graduates spent forging ideas about their own futures after leaving their two year programme. I had photographed most of the graduates two years earlier on a cold and wet day in Durham. Here they were, still young, bright and hungry, but also sharper in their appearance, more mature in the way they carry themselves. You get that strange glow from photographing people and watching them grow. [The glow of grow?]
Having a simple boardroom with one side dominated by a floor-to-ceiling window with a view over Berlin’s MASSIVE Tiergarten was a challenge in some ways, a gift in another. The window acted like a giant softbox, sending sculptural light over the graduates faces on the far side of the room and backlighting those closer to it in a soft diffuse. I’ve always liked natural light-I’m hardly alone there!-but it really helps not having to pump flash into faces of people who already may feel self conscious with a massive 80-200mm being pointed in their direction.