Images courtesy of ‘ClubCam’ and ‘Josh Adam Jones Photography & Film’ (produced for ‘Yates, Cheltenham’)
Producing work for a client does not always allow for creative control over the final outcome. The photographer has to balance the demands and requirements of a brief with their own creative desires, which can sometimes be challenging. Over the busy Christmas period, I contacted a local late night bar (Yates’) with regards to nightlife photography. I soon learned that they employed a national company called ‘ClubCam’ to take photographs of customers enjoying themselves at their venue. The manager, Tom kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the use of photography for the benefit of his business:
How do you use photography and/or design for your business? Is this for promotion or other reasons?
“The photography that we gain from ClubCam is to boost our social media hits. We have found that over the years, Facebook hits its peak when photos go up. People ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘tag’ as opposed to a standard ‘tweet’ or ‘status’.”
So are you saying that photos add more depth to [a post]?
“Yeah and it gains a broader impact. The readings show that a status will hit 200 people whereas an album of 45 photos might hit 3000. And with the branding of the bar, it then shows that these people [in the
photographs] are choosing my venue to drink and socialise.
Being a franchise, when you say ‘my venue’, how much control do you have over Facebook and social media?
“All of it.”
Do you hire a professional [for photography] or do you take them yourself?
“Hire a professional.”
You go through ‘ClubCam’ don’t you?
“Yeah. Or in the past we have sourced it ourselves.”
Do the professionals receive a flexible brief, or do you inform them specifically the type of images you want?
“We try and brief them quickly on what we require and then throughout the night have a quick catch up. We then review them the day after and say ‘this is great’, ‘this is bad’, or show them the previous photos that we like.
Going back to what you said about choosing your bar over somewhere else, who are your main competitors, and do they use photography in the same way?
“I think our main competitors are places like Vodka Revs, any late-time bar really. There is a lot to chose from in Cheltenham, so just getting their face in here and showing that people have been here on a Saturday night does us favours. So yeah, they all do it. Some do it differently. Some do in-house photography, and some do it via a company.
ClubCam were looking for temporary cover over Christmas and New Year due to regular staff going back home for Christmas. I messaged Jimmy, the founder of the photography company who was very keen for me to work for him. I was instructed to view some previous work produced for Yates’ to give me an idea of the style of imagery preferred by the venue. As well as looking at previous work, Jimmy said that the job requirement was largely “just nice smiley people with a couple of ‘promo’ shots to show off the venue and make it look busy”. This meant the brief I received was fairly open, and was not overly restrictive. As long as the images were “bright/colourful enough”, then pretty much anything was acceptable.
However the manager of Yates’ made it clear that he did not want any “rowdy group photos” or images with “obviously intoxicated” people. This meant that I was selective about who I photographed whilst on the job, and during post-processing as well. It was not a requirement for me to edit the photos, although I took it upon myself to do so. I wanted full control over how the final images looked, and asked for a full photo credit. Going the extra mile paid off, as both clients were greatly pleased with the images. I produced work for the same venue on New Years Eve as well.
In terms of the type of work, I enjoy social environments and find it easy to communicate with people. Although I was nervous at first, it was naturally easy to adapt and produce good work. I had previously photographed another event at a late night venue, so I felt confident in my gear and choice of settings. I was also aware of what made a successful set of nightlife photos by looking at work from other bars and venues. Whilst on the job I was conscious of ambient light, and I would sometimes politely direct people to move accordingly. This meant my images were bright, colourful and full of interest, rather than over exposed and bland.
Producing work for a new client meant I had to consider many things, and I felt that I balanced these well. The brief was quite open, allowing for a lot of freedom whilst on the job. I also communicated well with the company director of ‘ClubCam’, and made sure he was satisfied overall. Therefore, I am confident that I will be considered for other similar jobs in the future, and that I have made another valuable connection within the world of professional photography.