The Brief / Williams Lea / Highways England / Julian Calverley
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 Julian Calverley’s recent shoot for Highways England, and we’ve even included a handy photoshoot glossary! Photographer – Julian Calverley Client - Highways England Agency - Williams Lea Art Directors – Joel Langlois and Aidan Taylor (Film & Photography Manager at Highways England) Creative Account Executive – Melanie Parry-Graham Usage – BTL, UK only, 2 years
For this month’s The Brief we will be looking at a great shoot with Julian Calverley, which was perfectly suited to his excellent photography and retouching skills. Yorkshire based agency Williams Lea came to us with a tricky yet exciting brief; they wanted to capture action shots of people driving cars for their client Highways England.
Highways England were looking to shoot a library of images showing a number of scenarios, all based on their expertise in managing the motorways and major trunk roads from the point of view of the everyday driver and passenger. They wanted to shoot drivers and passengers in moving vehicles on rural and urban highways, showing different signage and technologies, with the vehicles in apparent motion.
Obviously we weren’t able to shoot in a moving car, so the challenge was to make it look like it was moving without compromising the safety of the team. Julian took the approach of shooting the models in the vehicle while stationary at one location, followed by shooting the backgrounds (roads and sky) on a separate shoot day to be joined together at a later date in post-production.
Julian’s expert ability to blend multiple elements together in post-production, including reflections in the car windows, won him the job and left the client confident that the final images would come back looking as realistic as possible.
The shoot was going to take place over one and a half days. With 45 shots to achieve there was lots to pack in, so we wasted no time in putting together an estimate. In our estimate we accounted for:
- Photographer’s fees for 1.5 shoot days (1x day with models and 0.5x a day to photograph backgrounds) and 1x recce day (to view shoot locations sourced by the client)
- Photographic expenses such as digital capture, equipment and lighting, post production
- Crew – 1x photographers assistant for 1.5x shoot days, 2x models, 1x on set producer from LPA
- Hair and make-up artist (LPA Style’s Claire Portman) for 1x shoot day
- Production Co-ordinator
- Large props – hire car to shoot in
- Location vehicle - a Winnebago to serve as a base for the models, hair and make-up and food
- Transport expenses – return travel to shoot locations for all crew
- Subsistence – for all crew and models present across both shoot days
- Miscellaneous – mobile phone costs, production insurance, couriers etc.
As Williams Lea were supplying locations, Julian carried out a recce to view the locations himself and make sure that they were suitable to shoot in. The locations varied from a disused slip road near London to various highways and rural locations around the M1 and M25. Julian was constantly on the look out for the best possible angles to shoot each of the elements required to make up the images. We also had to ensure that the team would be safe while shooting in such close proximity to a busy motorway.
One of our main aims during pre-production was to source the right prop car for the shoot. The car had to be visually suitable for a wide range of markets, while serving as a generic vehicle that could be used for business and pleasure. It was also imperative that the car interior was good enough to shoot in, in order to achieve the desired shots of the drivers from inside the car.
“Car interiors are always a little fun, as yes... space is limited. We worked with natural light, black velvet and reflectors for the interior shots and used a mix of natural light and strobe for the exteriors.“ Julian Calverley
Williams Lea and Highways England were responsible for casting two models which would work well for both business and pleasure scenarios.
On the first shoot day when the models were present, we hired a Winnebago. A Winnebago serves as a great base camp when shooting in a location with limited (or zero!) facilities. The Winnebago played an important role in this shoot as it allowed the models to get changed in private while providing Claire with a space to set up hair and make-up protected from the elements (a Winnebago also acts as a place to shelter in case the weather isn’t on your side)
While shooting, the team were protected from the main road by a safety barrier and there was also a traffic officer keeping an eye out.
Directed by Joel Langlois, post-production was a key factor in this shoot. Thanks to Julian’s retouching skills he was able to stich and weave together separate shots in order to produce completed scenes of cars and their drivers on the move. Because Julian was shooting a whole library of images for Highways England, he was able to pull details from different shots and comp them together to create an entirely new image, for example switching one car from driving on the motorway to driving on a country road.
“We were careful to match focal lengths and camera heights when shooting the backdrops, and also sourced a variety of skies from my ‘clouds’ library to match the paint and window reflections, as the backgrounds had to be seen ‘through’ the windshield and side windows so it was quite a jigsaw to get everything to sit together.” Julian Calverley.
Recce – Informal term for reconnaissance. Allows a chance for the photographer to visit the location in advance to check lighting and logistics
Recce fee: The photographer’s fee for time spent viewing potential locations prior to the shoot. This helps to plan lighting, logistics and to ensure everything runs smoothly on the shoot day.
Production Co-ordinator: Someone responsible for booking and briefing crew, organising location permits, arranging model licenses and budget reconciliation. A hub for all your organisational needs!
Post–production: Digital manipulation of the images after they have been taken.
Winnebago – Recreational vehicle useful on shoots to serve as a model changing room/props store/hair and make up base.