No cornier slogan could be truer, particularly when it comes to my output as an advertising photographer in the last ten years. The first ad campaign I ever landed was while working as a lowly studio assistant in London’s Park Royal Studios – I had sent a small portfolio of my work through to creative directors and photographic agents across the city, and had finally been ‘given a chance’.
Apart from sending in a treatment to win the campaign, keeping a hush about my meager experience, and pressing the shutter…so much of the work on this shoot was done by others behind the scenes, who were willing to give me a chance and push me forward: Producers, agency creatives, retouchers, models, stylists, assistants…I repeatedly owe these role players a great deal.
Not least, the retoucher.
On that particular campaign the team that dealt with the post production was Stanley’s in Covent Garden…while I had followed the brief well, and shot the various elements decently – the surprise lesson in my sudden ‘step up’ was the final polish…Badger at Stanley’s eventually suggested that I need not be in Covent Garden on the first train every morning, and that he could simply mail me updates. I suppose the lesson being that when possible, release your grip and allow the pros their space.
The retoucher is perhaps the most unsung of superhero’s, and relationship with a good one can boost any photographers trajectory. There are many good ones in the city of Johannesburg where I now work as a photographer. Zelda Meerholz is deservedly listed in Luerzers Archive, and Simon Keeling is like an Adobe fighter pilot! I know there are others too, but let me ring a quiet bell here for the legendary Paul Vermeulen. I’m certain that there may well have been some subtle cursing from Paul when being pushed into the tiniest of deadlines and being kicked in the CTRL ALT DEL of ‘oh, we can just fix that in post!’ Paul has always been a gentleman, and has always produced Grade A, oak churned, premium product…the images above are excerpts from an ISUZU shoot we’ve just finished.