The Brief / Neo / Motor Neurone Disease Association
The Brief is a regular feature on the LPA blog which takes a behind the scenes look at a photoshoot, from brief to final images. For this edition we take you behind the scenes of Patrick Harrison's recent shoot for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and we've even included a handy photoshoot glossary! Photographer: Patrick Harrision Client: Motor Neurone Disease Association Agency: Neo Production: LPA Production Stylist: Rosalind Keep Shoot date: April 2015 Usage: All media, UK only, 5 years plus online, worldwide, in perpetuity. Moving image – web only
Brighton based design agency Neo contacted us in March with this fantastic brief for Patrick Harrison after one of their designers saw his ongoing work with Thames Reach. This was to be a high profile Above the Line campaign, consisting of three parts; two case studies where Patrick would shoot portraits of people at various stages of living with Motor Neurone Disease and one still life shoot of an empty bucket and garden chair, reminiscent of the Ice Bucket Challenge that took the internet by storm in 2014.
The brief required the portraits of the case studies to be packed full of personality and tell an engaging story, so it was paramount that the photographer had the ability to build a rapport with the case studies and empathise with their situations. We knew instantly that this would be perfect for Patrick.
For the still life shoot, they wanted to evoke feelings of nostalgia and intrigue. A well looked after garden that was once the scene of a person taking part in the ice bucket challenge would become neglected, overgrown and abandoned as if it had stood for 365 days without being tended to.
The production would be shared between LPA, Neo and the MND Association; case studies arranged by Neo and the MND Association, and location and props for the still life shoot arranged by LPA. The turnaround was pretty tight on this one – Neo wanted the shoot to take place in 2 weeks so LPA got cracking on a quote straightaway.
Below are the original scamps that Neo sent to us for the case studies and still life shoots:
In our estimate we included:
• Photographer’s fees for 3 x half day shoots
• Recce fees for the still life shoot so Patrick could visit a shortlist of suitable locations prior to the shoot
• Photographic expenses such as digi capture, equipment and lighting kit, post production
• Videographer fees for 2 x half day case study shoots
• Location fees for a location house with a suitable garden
• Crew which consisted of a photographer’s assistant for all shoot days, and a prop stylist for the still life shoot
• Mileage to Manchester and Leicester for the case study shoots and London for the still life shoot
• Miscellaneous costs such as couriers, mobile and insurance
Once the costs had been approved we could begin on the production.
It was decided that the case studies were going to be photographed in their own homes in Manchester and Leicester to keep the project as authentic as possible.
For the still life shoot we needed to find a location with a garden that looked as if it had once been loved and enjoyed but was now left untendered. We sent a location brief to location libraries detailing exactly what was required and worked out a shortlist of the most appropriate locations. A recce was carried out of the shortlisted homes then it was down to Neo and the MNDA to make the final decision. They chose a location house in East Dulwich, South London.
THE PROPS STYLING
Rosalind Keep was the stylist for the shoot and sourced the garden chair and bucket. Like the garden, the chair had to look as though it had been abandoned and untouched for a year. She sourced some options from prop houses, Ebay and Gumtree and decided the one below was the most appropriate for this shoot. Ros also used some Dirty Down spray on the day to make it look a bit more weather worn.
Here's what Ros had to say about the shoot:
“I thought the concept for the MNDA shoot was clever and poignant, gently reminding the viewer that although the ice bucket challenge craze is over, the condition that caused it is still something that affects many people every day. The shot I was involved in was simple in terms of the quantity and type of props, it was the details that had to be right; the right overgrown lawn, chair and bucket so that it looked like a scene that could be found in anyone's back garden. I aged the props with a special ‘dirtying’ spray (always fun to actually be allowed to mess thing up!) and I think with Patrick’s composition the final shot made the point it was supposed to very well. I know Patrick took lots of other shots for this campaign and met sufferers and heard their stories, it was a thought provoking job to be involved in for us all.”
This was a great project for everyone to be involved in, particularly because it's for such a worthy cause. Here's how Patrick found the shoot:
“It was great to be involved in the MNDA #LastSummer campaign. I love shooting real life stories so it was really good to meet and shoot Michael and Ailsa and their families at their homes for the campaign. Both have been diagnosed with the disease so we had to be aware of their needs, keeping everyone at ease and working quickly with the minimum of fuss. It was great to be trusted with an open brief so we didn’t have to work to a layout but the shots had to work together in the campaign and be strong, natural and overall have the summery feel of last summers ice bucket challenge. The most challenging part of the whole shoot was finding a location house that hadn’t cut the grass since last summer but Jonathon at LPA and the location scout got it sorted as always and our stylist Ros ‘aged’ the props to give them the required weathered look. The finished images were retouched by the Forge and look great. I hope the campaign goes some way to raise awareness of motor neurone disease and help those like Michael and Ailsa achieve the best quality of life.”
Kat, the account manager at Neo, said:
"The team at LPA ensured that everything ran smoothly from start to finish and both ourselves and the MND Association were very happy with the results."
© Patrick Harrison
© Patrick Harrison
Above The Line (ATL) – Paid for advertising space to promote brands and reach out to consumers, and media which gets a mass public audience
Still Life – Photography of an inanimate object
Recce – Informal term for reconnaissance. Allows a chance for the photographer to visit the location in advance to check lighting and logistics
Scamps – Sketches used by art directors to communicate their creative ideas
Dirty Down spray – An ageing spray used to make costumes and props look dirty and old