So earlier in the week, Jones Bar Group officially opened another of their incredibly successful Roxy Ballroom venues, this time on Deansgate in the centre of Manchester (find their website here for a full list of their venues). As their resident commercial photographer, they asked me to come down on the day of their VIP Launch event, in order to photograph the venue, their delicious new food and drinks menu and, to stay and capture some of the festivities in the evening’s party.
When preparing for a long day’s shooting such as this, planning is key as there are so many different elements to the day to consider. The equipment I’ll need to photograph the food for instance, will be a world away from venue images, and different again to the event shots of the evening. I do tend to overpack, but in situations like this it can come in handy as there are so many moving parts that I may end up needing to think on my feet to fulfil a brief. Having the kit to hand is imperative to keep a flexible approach.
Firstly to the venue photographs. The team at JBG have done a lot of these with me now and are well versed in knowing what they need to do to make everywhere look fantastic. They also anticipate what I’m likely to need in order to make my work go as smoothly as possible – especially on a day where we have a lot to do in limited time!
I had a good look around with Ben, the Business Development Manager, who showed me all the cool features (from UV painted ping pong tables to 20ft tall graffitied depictions of Forrest Gump!). We set about making a plan to work around each section with the specific shots – we wanted to really give it the credit it’s due. Again, planning is so important, this venue is HUGE.
The UV room comes alive in the dark…
Now my absolute favourite commercial photography is food and drink – ask ANY of my clients. This is due in part to me being a massive foodie, but additionally it’s somewhat unique within commercial photography as I get to be fully immersed in the customer experience – i.e. tasting the food!
The food at Roxy’s is no exception, towering burgers and tempting pizzas at the fore, with a gluttony of small dishes like mini chorizo sausages, chicken wings and my personal favourite – fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese balls.
We squeezed the final few dishes in before guests began to arrive for the evening’s entertainment. We managed just enough time for the customary ‘team photograph’. Moving from photographing food with a full set-up of external lights, reflectors, tripods etc, to moving round a busy, vibrant venue searching out the most captivating ‘moments’ requires one to be able to pay close attention to the brief, and have an intimate knowledge of the equipment you have.
These situations are far removed from one another, and unless you can get into the different mindset of the particular style of shooting, it’s possible to make mistakes – something nobody wants!
Personally, I love the challenge. It combines the two aspects of commercial photography that really interest me – the technical, ‘geeky’ side of product shooting and the side where I get to capture candid, emotive instances where people are lost in the moment, having a great time.
One thing’s for sure, it’s never a dull day behind the camera.