Commercial Photography Location photoshoot for Direct Line Marketing

A much needed out of the blue email enquiry landed towards the end of September last year. It had been a difficult year with Covid as a professional photographer with 14 years experience working. I was approached by Direct Line Marketing for a commercial photography shoot, who I had been recommended to by Manchester based Citigate Dewe Rogerson. With a lot of commercial photographers to choose from, a recommendation is always welcome.

Commercial photography for Direct Line

The project was to take a wide range of high quality action shots of Direct Line’s newly re-branded response vehicles near Birmingham to be used for press releases and shared on social media posts. Their response vehicle fleet is designed to be able to get too hard to reach locations when extreme weather conditions hit, or if your car broke down if a difficult location.

On further discussion over Zoom, the decision was made to look for a better location that looked more realistically flooded. This led to a search for fords in the northwest and the most unusual website dedicated to ford located on mainland England. A ford is a watercourse which runs over the surface of a road. So perfect to be able to mimic flooded conditions.

The second proposed location was the ford at Clee St Margaret, located in the Shropshire Hills AONB.

I raised a concern that the watercourse was quite narrow, and left little room for manoeuvre from a compositional point of view. After another Zoom call, we opted for the ford at Tissington, in the southern most part of the Peak District.

We agreed a recce would be in order so I met up with the Area Manager, Neil and we scoped out the ford itself, then the beautiful village of Tissington for the opportunity to do some customer service photography in the village. A productive day left us with a number of possibilities I shared with the team at DL.

One hurdle to overcome was the small fact that Tissington isn’t public land, so we reached out to Tissington Estate for permission, which was, thankfully, forthcoming.

The refined photoshoot brief was

In/around the ford

  • Vehicles driving through the ford (made to look like a flooded road where possible) showing the branding, front, side, back – close and from a distance
  • Vehicle stuck in the water with a DL/CHU van behind helping the ‘customer’ – potentially with the ‘customer’ and DLG PIA out of their vehicles showing us helping the customer and with the ‘customer’ waiting for us as we pull up through the water – up close and from a distance
  • Can we also do this one where the branding is less clear – this will be used for PR purposes as the media don’t like to always include heavily branded images

In the local area

  • Vehicles parallel parked in the street – close up and at a distance
  • Vehicles driving down a residential street – close up and at a distance
  • PIA in branded jackets, folders, umbrellas if raining knocking on someone’s door (get permission first)
  • PIA in branded jackets, folders, umbrellas if raining speaking to ‘customer’ at the front door (get permission first)
  • Can we also do this one where the branding is less clear – this will be used for PR purposes as the media don’t like to always include heavily branded images

I do love location photography – even if you are at the will of the elements. But the day itself brought the perfect weather conditions because we did not want sun and blue skies!

As a creative director of Think there is nothing more frustrating than spotting a shot that cannot be achieved because of a lack of equipment. So as always, I was prepared for any eventuality for the shoot despite having the recce under the belt, turning up with with 3 camera bodies, 5 lenses, and 3 portable flashes.

We started early one, getting the main photographs of the vehicles coming powering through the Ford. Working to the recce plan, we did a number of angles – including one that had the cars hurtling straight at me. With these in the bag, we got to work photographing the model with a team from DirectLine for the customer service photographs. We took some of these down at the ford, then moved to the village where some residents had offered to let us use their doorsteps for these ‘door to door’ images. All done under Covid-19 rules.

We finished the day off with a brew and some lovely cake from the coffee shop at Tissington Hall.

Simon Henrick, Head of News and Issues said, “I am absolutely delighted with the images we were able to get with Paul. He certainly goes the extra mile and doesn’t mind getting wet or dirty for the right angle or composition.”

Post production was carried out over the next day due to their deadline. Having taken well over 400 images, it takes a good few hours to select which ones make it to the selection for editing. I do all my post production adjustments In Adobe Lightroom and always make sure I provide low resolution and high resolution images were provided. The images were shared by via their preferred platform.

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