To complete an editorial portrait shoot with Scottish actor Stuart Martin for the editorial title The Rakish Gent. Best known for his roles in Babylon and Jamestown, Stuart was undertaking press duties for the upcoming Netflix release Army of Thieves produced by Zack Snyder. The shoot window was narrow due to Stuart’s schedule seeing him leave just a few days after the shoot to travel to Belgrade, Serbia, to start filming the second series of the TV series Miss Scarlet and The Duke.
I was allocated the final slot in Stuart’s media schedule and given two hours to complete the photography. With Stuart’s previous appointment located in London’s W2 postcode, a hard stop after two hours in order for Stuart to spend time with his family before travelling abroad, and no production budget it was decided that this would be a street style shoot.
Street shoots are tricky due to a lack of control over key factors such as weather, lighting and locations. Indeed the morning of the shoot it had rained heavily leading to a confirmatory last minute decision in regards to the details of the shoot. I travelled to W2 to walk the streets in the few hours preceding the editorial portrait session to recce and assess suitable locations. The aim of the recce was to try and find suitable locations in which to photograph Stuart; my preference is to try and find a quiet road or area with limited traffic and people to ensure as few interruptions as possible. The next consideration is compositional; once I’ve found a location, can I see any potential angles using the buildings or landscape to help with leading lines and other compositional elements. In order to stay light, mindful of the potential inclement weather and as I was undertaking the photography by myself I chose to rely on ambient light and not bring any lighting. This my last consideration was the light; how strong is the ambient light and where is it coming from? The challenge is to combine these three elements together. The first 30 minutes walking around W2 were fruitless, coming across scores of residential buildings and roads with no secluded areas in sight, and I started to worry. However nothing quite concentrates the mind as a ticking clock; persistence paid off and I found a handful potential locations both on and off the beaten track.
The portraits were completed, predominantly, in mews lanes and side alleys before finishing in the south western corner of Hyde Park. The small crew, consisting of Stuart, his agent and myself, meant we could be nimble and work without attracting attention. The most important consideration on a street shoot is time; time travelling between potential locations eats into the clock and can easily consume up to 50% of a session. If a location, angle or set up is not working it is important not to become overly invested and to move on.
The two hour shoot flew by. The recce had succeeded in finding suitable areas in W2 with the bulk of the images came from three main locations. The quiet nature of these locations meant we were undisturbed with the most attention attracted coming from an elderly dog who had wandered over to say hello at the start of the shoot in the mews lane.
Many thanks to Stuart Martin for his time and The Rakish Gent for the opportunity. Issue2 of The Rakish Gent can be purchased here.