The area around St. Pauls and the Thames was recently host to a high-energy event, hosted by Crisis. Their annual Square Mile Run is a short sports event (one mile), aimed at people wanting to do something positive in their summers evening by raising money to support the end of homelessness.
If you'd like to support their efforts in eradicating homelessness, you can follow this link to get involved.
Sophie (top) encourages direct meetings with designers and buyers, even when they are based on the other side of the world. She believes that this one-to-one experience keeps creative collaboration alive, and in turn encourages progressive thinking in a world dominated by emails, social media, and a thirst for quick results.
Brian (centre) challenges what it means to be an artist. His work is very non-linear, and he uses his personal experiences as a cathartic release across a variety of disciplines and mediums. His work goes against the mainstream, asserting his own set of beliefs as a valuable contribution to the openness of social thinking.
Victoria (bottom) brings years of un-faltering passion and dedication to designing and printing her highly sought after fabric garments. Her strive on best quality sends a strong message to the world of throwaway consumerism.
All three artists have their studios based at Clockwork in London. The philosophy that still infuses the spaces at Clockwork, is that a community of artists and artisans working happily alongside each other can live by their own rules, setting standards of collaboration, freedom of thought, and in turn a deeper sense of empathy with the wider world.
More work can be seen here.
A time for coming together, sharing and celebrating life. Filled with food, booze and a few good laughs. This year I decided to document our guests once the festivities had got in full swing. As we look forward into a new year, our hopes and aspirations of a year passed come around once again.
More of the work can be found here.
Shelter UK sent me to Bristol to photograph a lady who had decided to give to Shelter in her Will. What should have lasted for about an hour, went on for an entire afternoon! We talked over tea, took a long walk through the gardens and listened to her playing the piano. A perfect day.
More of the work can be found here.
In this series of blog posts, I'll be talking to the people that commission photography.
I'll be asking them for their inside knowledge and tips to help you understand what they look for from the other side of the fence.
This time I met with Loulou Clark, Designer and Art Director at Orion...
Hi Loulou, thanks a lot for taking the time to chat with me.
To get started, can you tell our readers who you work for and what your role is?
Yeah, I'm Loulou and I'm the Deputy Art Director at Orion Publishing. My role's pretty varied, but my main responsibility is to art direct (and often design myself). I work on both fiction and non-fiction book covers, across all the different imprints within the company. I also work on a fair amount of illustrated titles such as cookery books and lifestyle, so this all involves working closely with other creatives – such as lettering artists, illustrators and being on set with photographers at shoots.
Sounds like it's a pretty varied role for you at Orion. Working directly with other creatives must be exciting! Can you tell our readers how long you've been doing the job that you're doing now?
I've been doing this for about 10 years. I started out in the publishing industry as a junior designer, after graduating from a degree in graphic design and from having an illustrative background.
So what you've been doing for the past 10 years has been deeply entwined in the creative arts. When it comes to commissioning a creative such as a photographer, how involved are you in that process?
I don't commission photographers a huge amount myself at the moment, as I tend to work more on fiction projects, which have smaller budgets or don't have the need for commissioning photography. Often, we use stock photography or illustrators depending on what the approach is. However, occasionally we'll need something more specific that we just can 't use stock for – such as a figure to fit the exact description of a character in the book, or wearing specific items. For those, we'd commission someone to work towards that brief. Also Historial and fantasy based titles often need to be accurate and we'd need to commission someone to get the imagery right. There's certainly a big demand for good photographers in the publishing industry overall though, particularly for Non-fiction, I'd say. We do a lot of cookery books at Orion, and those can be huge jobs where we're always searching out new exciting food photographers to work with, as well as capable celebrity portrait photographers.
So on the whole, it might not be you directly that would commission a photographer – maybe someone on your team, or another team at Orion. Speaking from experience in times that you have commissioned photography yourself, what kinds of things do you look for in order to make the right decision, when you're choosing someone to work with?
I like to meet them face to face.
There are so many photographers that have great work on their websites, but I really value the personality of the photographers that I work with. I think it's so important when creating a team that everyone gels well, so I always look for a photographer that can be at the centre of that, keeping everyone positive and motivated. From experience, I've found it's that good energy that gets the best out of everyone.
I also need to know that I can put my complete trust in them. Its not always possible for me to attend and art direct a shoot from a project, so it's crucial for me to feel confident that I can leave them to crack on, and follow my brief well without me if necessary.
Generally hearing them talk through their work and asking them questions about how they'd deal with particular situations will give me a good indication of how well we can work together.
How important is the role of photography for Orion?
Yeah massively! We publish such a huge range of books, and so many of those feature photography on the jackets. A great cover can affect sales in a huge way, and really make the difference between the book being a huge success – one that makes the bestseller list, and one that bombs. (No pressure then! Ha ha).
Aside from sales, the cover is there to represent both the author and Orion as a company, so it's essential that it becomes something that we're all proud to put out there.
Of course, that makes perfect sense. Working in collaboration, it's always important that everyone is working towards the same end goal, and that they put their all into it. Do you have any advice that you could give a photographer who might want to get in touch with publishers, and how they should go about doing it?
Probably contact by email first is sensible for an introduction. Use a person's name, so it doesn't feel like a mass mailer and sound keen to work on their books specifically: flattery works every time! Keep it short and snappy if you want it to be read – with a clear and easy link to your website and few of your best shots. Cater your work selection to be specific to who you're contacting to draw them in and give them a reason to click through. Art departments are always busy, so make it as quick and easy as possible.
I'd follow up with a call a couple of days later to see if you could go in for a chat to show your book and meet the team.
People are memorable and spring to mind next time a brief comes up, faceless emails less so, no matter how good the work. Making the effort to show your book in person will definitely work in your favour.
Great advice, thanks Loulou. How involved do you like to get in the creative decision making when you work with a photographer or other creative, and how do you think that collaboration or lack of, affects the outcome?
I like to be pretty creatively involved but every art director you work with will be different.
Often for books covers, we get a rough mock-up of our design for the cover signed off before any money is spent on a shoot. This is so we minimise on wasting budgets. There's not always not much wiggle room to try new compositions at this stage, but I'm always up for getting options!
It's great when photographers can make suggestions using their own expertise – things like lighting and camera angles, and coming up with cool stuff I might not have thought of. Thats when collaboration is at it's best, when everyone can bring something new to the party!
It sounds like getting involved creatively is essential to you.
How would you gauge a successful shoot from the start of the hiring process through to the final use of the images?
Publishers don't have ad agency sized budgets.
We don't want people to under-sell themselves, but we like photographers who can work with us a little on the budget and be adaptable to suit each project. Especially for first foot-in-the-door projects.
If the job goes well, we get the shots that we want and the author/editor are happy – that's a success for us. If low res contact sheets come in a day or so after the shoot, that makes my job easier, and if you deliver the high res when we need: these are all good things!
The experience we have working with you is just as important as the shots and will determine whether we call you again, or recommend you to other Art Directors in the department. Time keeping, enthusiasm, efficiency are other big thumbs up for me, and of course, a good supply of snacks!
Snacks win every time!
Thanks Loulou, this has all been great advice! For the last question, I'd like to bring this all together, to make it relatable for our readers. Can you tell us a bit about a particular project that we've worked on together, and how that helped Orion out?
Well, I think I was expecting the answer to be a no when I came to you on the off-chance, pleading for you to shoot a still life of two giant paper sunflowers for the book jacket for We Own the Sky.
There was something about the story of the book that led me to the idea of commissioning flowers – to be beautifully created by A Petal Unfolds. I thought of you as more of a portrait photographer, but also thought you might appreciate the story that the cover would tell. You said yes – hooray!
I had a shoe-string budget. But rather than turning the job down, you worked with me, making suggestions of where we could cut costs to make this work. You offered to shoot it at your home, saving on studio hire fees. That was above and beyond, and it was this kind of thing that we'll remember and make us more inclined to approach you for work in the future.
With only a half day booked out for the shoot, I arrived prepared. I had my Plan A cover mock-up with me and some notes for an if we get time, Plan B. You worked fast and efficiently, making suggestions along the way, which really helped move things on from my original concept. Interestingly, the cover design developed and changed quite a lot in the weeks following the shoot and it was the second set of shots that ended up being used on the final book jacket. Well worth the hard work to get through both options, which has resulted in a great jacket publishing early 2018, with a very happy publisher and author. Success!
I can't thank you enough for your time Loulou, you've really put a lot of thought into this interview. Thank you so much for going through things so thoroughly with me, I hope our readers can get a lot from everything that's been said.
I'd love to know what you think and if you have any burning questions that you'd like me to ask industry experts. Please feel free to leave your comments below, or get in touch by email, and I'll do my best to get your questions answered.
Because that's all you ever can be.
You can't be someone else, you are you.
Be happy with who you are.
Love who you are.
Appreciate who you are and what you can accomplish.
You are amazing.
You are unique.
You are the most beautiful person that you know.
Revel in that.
Shout it out loud and stand up proud.
Celebrate being you, content with who you are and what you represent.
Content, that you are you.
Have you ever noticed that everything good seems to be happening at once? Maybe it's happened to you before and maybe you've noticed it in someone close to you. A forward driving momentum seems to have grabbed them, and their life is suddenly running in the fast lane – heading for the hills! In turn, they seem more motivated than ever.
This isn't by chance, or accident. I've witnessed this transformation both in myself and in others, many times over. I've just never really paid attention to what makes this change of pace happen. Having recently become more aware of this process, I've realised that it's movement that creates motivation, which creates more movement and so on. Let me explain.
We all know that motivation is the positive feeling we get when we believe in something enough to make it happen. No matter how long a task might take us, if we feel motivated we will pursue it right through to the end. The result of this is that having worked towards our goals, we are rewarded with the gratification that comes from having completed something that we defined as being worth while.
But how do we get onto the track that brings us the motivation to want to achieve something in the first place? It's so easy to see any task as overwhelming and not know where to begin. It's also very easy to see how well other people are doing, and let their success affect us in a negative way. Both of these things can encourage us to retreat. To hide away from what we really want, under the guise of fear. But motivation itself is a forward moving propulsion. Once we get onto the track of feeling motivated, we can let that positive sense of movement guide us.
So. How do we get into the zone of motivation? The answer is simple. Movement. Movement creates movement, which creates motivation, which creates more movement. The key to achieving any goal in life, no matter how big or how small, is to start. Nothing is too big to achieve in reality, but there may be more steps that have to be taken, and over a longer period of time for us to get to a recognisable end result. But the beginning is always the same. Start. Do something small, but do something. It is this decision to take action, and put into place the smallest of steps that create the first signs of movement. Once the first step has been taken, you can move on to the next step. Little by little, you have decided to take the path towards reaching your goals. Little by little, each movement you make is gaining momentum. And little by little, the momentum you gain is increasing your sense of motivation.
So to get that sense of motivation, which is often needed to achieve the things we want in life, take the first step. Do something. No matter how small, do something. The rest will fall into place after that.
05:00 – Wake up, shower
06:00 – Set off to location
07:45 – Arrive at location
08:15 – Team arrives
08:30 – Coffee + plan for the day
08:45 – Set up
09:20 – Extras arrive / wardrobe / Set up for shoot 1
09:40 – Shoot 1
10:20 – Set up for shoot 2
10:40 – Shoot 2
11:20 – Set up for shoot 3
11:40 – Shoot 3
12:20 – Set up for shoot 4
12:40 – Shoot 4
13:30 – Wrap
13:40 – Pack down, depart location
14:00 – Head to BBQ, reward ourselves with a beer.
And all on a Saturday, phew!
Behind the scenes images courtesy of Céline Janvier.
Images from the shoot on my Lifestyle page.