Monday, 6 January 2014

Molly the dog for Tatler: on set of This Week at Millbank Studios

Molly the dog, photographed for Tatler

Last year I photographed my first assignment for Tatler and it has just hit the shops.After showing them my People and Animals project they asked me to photograph their Pet Of The Month for February 2014: Andrew Neil's dog Molly...

On a cold and rainy night in London me and my assistant Phil parked the car on the quiet streets of Westminster. Our call time was 10pm - rather later than a typical start time. A calm TV studio was slowly starting to get into flow for its evening broadcast.  After taking a quick tour we do the most important thing first, namely take photos of each other in the presenters chair for our instagram feeds.

I've never been in a studio like this before and it is fascinating to see everyone doing their thing. From the editors to the social media gurus everyone knows their job and they are each quietly going about the process of making a TV show, lights are getting tested, scripts are getting checked and dog photographing impostors are being helped to do their dog photographing.

When Molly arrived we realised that with her amazing talents this whole thing would be much easier than I was expecting. They say "never work with children or animals" but they should add at the end "unless you are working with Molly the dog". Susan (Molly's helpful owner and Andrew's partner) worked in flawless harmony with her fluffy friend. And although Molly did occasionally get over excited she generally did as she was told and worked through all her best poses for us.

However one vital element was missing - we needed Andrew in the background doing his presenting thing. And Andrew was running late. The stress was on, this was a live TV show and we could not shoot whilst they were filming. We had to get it done before they went on air. With just 5 minutes to go Andrew strolls around the corner. He drops down into his chair and starts rehearsing. Perfect. We start photographing Molly and she bashes out the top class poses she had practised for just this moment.

A minute later we move onto set up number two: Molly clambering all over the guest sofas whilst Andrew "interviews" in the side of the frame. Two minutes to go, the pressure is on. But she nails it again. A quick pack away and we are clear with seconds to go. Go team Molly!

Me sat in the presenters chair on set

Massive thanks to Tatler for the great fun commission, and to the team at This Week for accommodating my strange requests.

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