London is full of building sites. However, it is rare to be given relatively unfettered access to a site. As a corporate photographer in London, I’m lucky enough to get access to sites from time to time and this assignment was one of those times. It was taking place at the Great Portland Estates Hanover Square project.
Build UK Open Doors Launch Event
Build UK’s Open Doors launch event project gives people the chance to see behind the scenes at construction sites, offices, factories and training centres. This gives anyone considering a career in construction the chance to see up close the sort of projects they could be involved in. In 2019 alone 6,000 people benefitted from the opportunity at over 290 sites across England, Scotland and Wales.
Open Doors is led by Build UK in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It’s also supported by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), Construction News and Go Construct.
On-Site Corporate Photography
For me as an event photographer, the first hurdle is getting on-site. I’ve photographed on building sites and oil rigs all over the world. From London to the depths of the Sahara, if I am working for a company based out of the UK, my day will always start by getting the right personal protection equipment on.
I carry various bits of equipment myself. In particular my working boots. As a corporate photographer I can be on my feet for most of the hours of my working day, so having good boots is essential. They have to be up to the standard required on building sites, in particular with steel toe caps and steel bottoms of the boots to make sure I don’t step on a nail and get it through my foot!
High visibility clothing, headgear, generally a hard hat, and glasses follow. The other main thing I carry is gloves. You almost always have to wear gloves on site now and for me as a corporate photographer that has particular issues. I need to be able to protect my hands from a variety of substances, but I also need to be able to carry and use my cameras. The way I get around this is to find building site regulation gloves that are missing the thumb and forefinger. Perfect for pressing the shutter release and turning the various knobs on my cameras as I take photographs.
Open Doors Launch Event
On this assignment, my brief was to photograph the event generally, but in particular to get some great shots of the people benefitting from the Open Doors launch.
We had beautiful blue skies, particularly good not only for the photographs, but also because the event took place in February, so it was good to have a bit of sun on our faces!
The clear weather and blue skies helped me hugely. The lovely light gave my photographs clarity and contrast, as well as some gorgeous blue sky as a background. Very different from having grey skies in my photographs.
Photographing on a Building Site
While I have to be very aware of my surroundings generally as a corporate photographer, on a building site I need to be even more so. Building sites are a lot safer now than they used to be, but they still have a lot of raw materials and chemicals sitting round as well as long drops with only a small barrier. The flip side to this is that there are loads of photo opportunities using the materials and poles and girders making up the building as it is. Having the right light is great, but most building sites also have very open spaces meaning I can use natural light without any problems.
Getting the Right Photos
I followed one group around the site getting some shots of them as they moved up the floors. However, once I was a few floors up I stopped and waited for the next group. I wanted to get a group shot of as many of the groups as I could, but I also wanted to get shots of lots of different people, rather than lots of shots of the same people again and again.
The groups I photographed were all lovely with everyone happy to be in the photos. They all got on with what they were doing, ignoring me, which was perfect as it meant I could get on with getting great documentary photographs of them all.
A Day in London
It was a wonderful day to be a corporate photographer in London. Not only because it was a lovely sunny day, but also because it was such a great assignment. I’ll be interested when I next go through Hanover Square to see what the building looks like. I would even be able to go inside as part of the building is going to be a tube station.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you might like to have a look at some more of my work. You can see more on my blog, or have a look at my commercial photography page. You might be particularly interested in this assignment I photographed for CSCS.
If you have an event you’d like to talk to me about, then please get in touch using my contact page. If you have any questions, then feel free to contact me or check out my FAQ’s page.