Photography: Pick of the snappers

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 July 2004 12:00AM

Here four advertising creatives pay homage to the photographers they believe have the artistry, technical ability, originality and flair that makes them stand out from the crowd.

ED MORRIS ON DAVID STEWART

David Stewart effortlessly passes my three-question test. 1. Is he especially talented? 2. Will he care as much and work as hard as I will? 3. Is he clinically sane and moderately affable? (Not to be mistaken for moderately sane and clinically affable.)

I first used David for a test shot for Nicorette at DDB. Despite industry fame and a busy schedule, he did it without blinking and for no money (not a whiff of ego there). The shot was excellent. The client loved the ad, it ran and, a few months later, won a Lion.

I owed him one, but it had to be the right one. Something with people, humour and, this time, a budget. Something cast, styled, lit, cropped and printed with restraint. David observes and constructs with a sensitivity that places an image just inside the line that the less experienced hurtle over all day.

I hope the Quality Street posters stand as proof of this. If the awards juries are anything to go by, they do. (Mathew Bull has just popped his head around the door to tell me they have won two Lions at Cannes. Cheers, Dave.)

We had three approved executions. I wanted to shoot an extra one. David happily shot four. The train shot David did in eight minutes (before the sun came up). I pushed for one angle, he pushed for another. He was right.

He's been consistently right for a while now. The number of DS lookalike books out there is testament to this. I recommend any team looks at his book and looks carefully. He's not going to stop being good. He also shoots film now, so see the reel too.

- Ed Morris is an art director at Lowe.

JERRY HOLLENS ON NICK GEORGHIOU

Being asked to choose a contemporary photographer you admire is a bit like asking who's your favourite singer. So many greats to choose from with so many different styles - it's almost impossible to single out just one. That's why I've chosen a photographer without one particular style.

Nick Georghiou is an incredibly diverse image maker - his reportage shots of Accrington ratcatchers are just as impressive as his more beautiful advertising shots. And he's one of those rare photographers who comes through the idea and sticks to it.

He says most of the picture is taken before you get to the shoot. He does his homework, sourcing images and scrutinising every detail in advance.

Like other great photographers, he is a control freak but open to suggestion.

A picture can get better at every stage but he's well aware it can also get worse. He wants to make every shot the best it can possibly be and to inject it with something that gives it stand-out and, more importantly, edge.

In the most recent ad we shot for Land Rover, featuring a streaker, we were looking for spontaneity and realism. We found a stadium that we could shut to retain our performer's modesty. The streaker wanted to wear a thong, which Nick wasn't happy about because it pinched the model's flesh and made his skin move in an unnatural way. Nick persuaded him to do it nude. This turned our performer from someone acting being a streaker into someone who was a streaker, making him more nimble on his feet and giving us the edge we were looking for.

I did think for one horrible moment that Nick was going to get into character and streak himself.

Luckily, the light had gone.

- Jerry Hollens is a creative partner at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

FEARGAL BALLANCE ON WILLIAM EGGLESTON

I was asked to write 300 words on a contemporary photographer I admire and no-one is working today more than the 70s photographer William Eggleston.

His influence is everywhere and I'm sure most photographers wouldn't be afraid to admit it.

His colourful photographs are to US art-house cinema what Ansel Adams' black-and-white landscapes were to the western. He took photographs of real locations. And it wasn't about telling a story, it was all about the tone. His artistry was in the abstract cropping of the shot and intuition rather than being in the right place at the right time. He took shots of bland interiors and exteriors that lacked any style - garage doors, motorway intersections, empty rooms - and he showed you the grace in it.

He made the banal beautiful and, in the process, turned what seemed like snapshots into high art.

It is incredible to see how important Eggleston's work is to advertising today. Everywhere you look, from magazine pages to TV screens, you see real, everyday, mundane life. Snapshots of disused basketball courts, empty gas stations, photoshoots in front of council flats. Of course, the only problem with all this Eggleston-influenced work is that it weakens the impact the man had when he arrived on the scene. It's hard to imagine what people first thought of his enlarged colour-saturated snaps. A radical beauty they were yet to appreciate.

- Feargal Ballance, who art directed the Cannes winner "cops" for Volkswagen, is at DDB London.

HUW WILLIAMS ON SUE PARKHILL

Standing up a ladder in somebody's front garden in Leytonstone on a freezing night in November isn't everyone's idea of a fun night out. Neither is the surreal concept of trying to encourage a motley crew inside the house to mill about and eventually take the shape of a pint of Guinness.

Add in the fact that you're trying to do a shoot on bonfire night, which temporarily turns East London into East Beirut, and you start to appreciate why some photographers never want to leave the comfort of their darkrooms.

Comfort isn't a word you easily associate with Sue Parkhill's work. Her pictures have a sense of quiet solitude, an uneasy emptiness. A lot of the time there seems to be nothing going on in the shot but, at the same time, it somehow hints at a story, a narrative - almost as if it is a still from a documentary. She focuses on everyday subjects but makes you see them in a whole new way, finding beauty in the ordinary. It is no coincidence that she has just won a bursary from the Association of Photographers to shoot a series on Eastern European state-owned housing and how Europe is catering for its poorest citizens.

This approach was exactly what we were looking for when we approached Sue to shoot our Guinness Christmas campaign. We wanted to avoid a contrived "set up" shot of a pint. What she brought to the idea was the sense that we were observing a normal everyday scene that, on second glance, revealed something more.

She trod a fine line between seamlessly executing the technical - getting footprints in the snow to resemble pints of Guinness - and the aesthetic - taking a beautiful shot of a bay window or the door of an old pub.

As Sue herself says: "I aim to establish an empathy with the surroundings without turning my work into a sentimental document."

To me the biggest challenge of the shoot was stopping the pub's regulars using our fake snow for an impromptu snowball fight.

- Huw Williams is an art director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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