Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
1. July, 2016
This series is a perfect reflection on my photographic style; technical, timeless and dark. As the object of the photos was a live orchestra I wanted the photos to be very genuine too. No extra have been added or removed from the photos. They are as authentic as possible.
It was a pleasure to work with such passionate co-partners on such a vast ensemble. Everyone from the client to the agency was committed to create something very different, breaking the boundaries of sometimes stiff classical world. Another crucial point for succeeding was also the generous timeframe for the project. Whilst the actual shoots were super rushed, there was enough time for the planning part. A great starting point for a photographer yet sadly rather rare especially in commercial projects these days.
Whilst still in pitching, I made a technical test shoot in the studio. I wanted to get a point across that I was totally committed for the job. With an assistant we tested out that the project would be possible with the equipment I had, and evaluated what additional items should be rented.
I compared the new test results to an old beauty test where I had used a somewhat similar technique.
After having convinced being the right man for the job, we did a test shoot together with the creative. We wanted to make sure the technique would work with the instruments as planned.
What I still wasn’t completely sure though if the pictures would work better in colour or black and white so I did another test shoot. This time I had some sport models in the studio, whilst testing different lighting and camera equipment on the movement. I also collated information on the timing, lightning, movement in to relation to flash power, flash duration and flash recycling times.. All this data was crucial in succeeding at the actual shoot where there is no time for trials and no space for errors. Another key learning was that the technique required way too much time to work in colour whereas more coherent results were achievable in shorter time frame in black and white.
As the planned shooting time per frame/ per instrument in the final session was to be only 15 minutes the decision was quite obvious. Black and white photos would also offer a great starting point for a streamlined new brand material in the making for the orchestra.
In the “contact sheet” – you can see that in the end, there was not really that many pictures taken at the final photo shoot for brand photos. There was enough time for careful planning, testing, thinking and re-thinking once more. Consciousness plays an important role in the creative process hence it’s a good thing to have enough time to sleep overnight before taking the final decision.
Additional to the brand photos, portraits of all the players in the orchestra were to be taken. Again the time frame was very limited with lots of busy musicians simultaneously in the queue at the studio. With over 100 artists to shoot, the setting had to be well thought with lighting that can bare all possible face shapes and sizes, with all possible hair styles and skin tones. The set was to be easily reconstructed too as not all members were available on the planned shooting days.
The entity of final pictures consists 19 brand photos, over 100 portraits and 20 documentary photos. The project has been awarded several advertising industry nominations and trophies. It has been a pleasure to be part of such a thorough project totally changing the look and feel of the orchestra.
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