A couple of weeks ago, I was in Edinburgh for a commercial property shoot on behalf of one of my clients.
The remit was to go to the new 'Quartermile' development in Edinburgh city centre, and photograph a newly installed washroom and a separate shower & changing room in one of the newly completed office buildings on the site, so the images could be used for marketing and advertisement purposes by the client, Polyrey UK. Their speciality is producing high-quality laminated products, such as doors, counters, dividers, and other surfaces for commercial and private use. Their extensive range consists of High pressure laminates, compact grade and melamine faced chipboard, combiningimpeccable style with the product quality of a renowned manufacturer. They also include services for producing custom designs for customers, who provide their own spec and logo's/designs etc.
Ahead of my trip to the location, I was made aware of the two different areas - one, was a 4th floor washroom, designed with gloss black laminated doors and panels, black marble counters, and mirrored walls - the second was a basement changing room, with shower stalls, and lockers, and a custom design across the width of the room on the doors and panels.
I decided to do the shower/changing room first and then leave myself more time for the gloss black washroom, which I knew would be the more challenging of the two locations..(I was right too....!!).
Setting up my gear in the 'ladies' changing rooms (as I preferred the layout and space for images compared to the mens room), I was sure that I'd only need perhaps 2 additional lights maximum, just to lift the shadows and even out the light produced by the halogen spots installed in the ceiling. Reflections here were not so concerning as there was only mirrors and each end of the room, and not through the main wall areas.
This space proved relatively straightforward, with the only tricky parts being when the cubicle doors were opened for a view into the showers, and the reflective, glossy wall covering was visible - this presented a placement issue for the camera (and myself) and some careful lining-up was required!
Moving upstairs with my chaperone (security guard) to the 'Darth Vader' washroom as I called it, I was trying to think of the best ways to shoot what was basically a big room of mirrors, as you can see from my iPhone shot opposite!
I had already decided that using flashes in a room like this was going to be a headache, and one that I probably did not need to add on top of the other issues that I was going to have as well - so they were left with their stands in their carry bags. I decided to go with slow shutter speed and taking as much from the existing ambient light as possible.
As I worked my way through deciding on some compositions that met the clients requirements, I was also thinking about where I could hide myself! For some of the images I ended up using my cable release, and simply ducking or hiding out of sight of the cameras view - but for others I ended up using the timer function and basically pressing the shutter and dashing out of the room before it fired. Once I got my basic settings sorted for the room, then it was just an (awkward) case of lining things up and shooting, although I knew there was going to be a larger amount of post-processing that usual once I got the images back into Lightroom and Photoshop.
Working in such a small space, with so many reflective surfaces was definitely not easy, and what looks like a simple room to photograph quickly turned into a very complex and time-consuming effort.
Several hours were spent selecting, editing, processing and retouching once I returned to Aberdeen followed, but that is enjoyable in its own way as well, and all part of the job.
These types of individual, different jobs are what I enjoy though, and being challenged is great when on-site. By forcing you to adapt and think of the best way to get the results that the client is looking for, projects like these are exciting and rewarding, both when you get the shot, and when the client says that they are delighted with your work!