I'm very fortunate to know a lot of the tenancy officers working for Wolverhampton homes, and knowing the job itself helps, although this provides it's own challenges when setting up a shoot, particularly of a scale whereby 30+ officers needed individual portraits.
Much of the tenancy officer post is spent out on estates within the community in which they serve, which is why an outdoor setting was the ideal for this shoot, however the typical British weather ensured it had a hand in complicating matters with wind, rain and, even on the odd occasion, some harsh direct sunlight.
My ideal situation for an outdoor portrait, as some of you will already know, is that golden hour where the sunlight gives a lovely golden glow to the landscape and subject. The sun offers a much softer light than when it's high in the sky, beaming down from high in the sky. The downside to this is that the golden hour that photographers like myself love so much only happens twice a day, once as the sunrises at the crack of dawn and then again just as the sun sets. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the task there was no time to wait for sunrise or sunset as I needed to capture the tenancy officers out and about in Wolverhampton whilst out on the job. I was lucky to avoid the rain! The days where the sun is high, rain stays away and there are nice big clouds that cover the sun are a blessing, as the cloud acts as a giant soft box in the sky defusing the harsh sunlight.
So taking the British weather into account, along with managing to catch up with these busy tenancy officers could have proved to be a challenging task but was one that I was looking forward to nonetheless.
The benefit of knowing the individual when capturing the portraits meant that there was an instant rapport between the subject and myself (although we were in different roles to the ones we usually are). Knowing each other can sometimes be a good thing, in that it is easier to engage with the subject and you can take pleasure from working together to achieve the right shot. At the same time, not everyone is a fan of being in front of the camera so it was useful drawing on my experience to put people at ease and aim for the right shot.
As housing professionals are so often out on the estates and visiting tenants in their own homes, I wanted to include this aspect of the job within the image. I look at photography as telling a story, be that a simple facial expression with a blank background or the setting being part of an additional tale. Where weather and location allowed you'll find the majority of these portraits were taken out on estates often with a front door of house behind them, of course this was not always possible, if there was harsh sunlight we found some shade under trees in order to capture the right shot.
In order for the subject to stand out from the background I used a setting of f2.8 where conditions allowed, this blurred out the background enough for them to stand out yet still allows the viewer to see the background setting. They were shot on my Nikon d750 with my Nikon 70-200mm lens. I tried to capture the subjects in the shade but in a location which still provided enough light to give a catchlight in the eyes. Of course, there were plenty of times where conditions didn't allow for that and I had to improvise but I am happy with the end result and more importantly so is the client.
This was one of a number of tasks I've been asked to carry out for Wolverhampton Homes and this is an organisation I know well and feel privileged to have the opportunity to carry out work for. It is with Wolverhampton Homes that I have had the success of having my work published in a number of tenant updates and leasehold news publications which thousands of tenants access.