Monday, 3 November 2014

11 locations, 6 countries, 3 continents - UnitedHealthcare Global Part 1

For Part 2: click here.

You know that feeling when you catch yourself thinking: “This really is my life” and you almost want to pinch yourself just to make sure?
That’s exactly what I felt when the fasten-your-seatbelt sign was switched off and I was invited to sit back and relax on my way from London to Miami. I was on my way to the most amazing commission, about to shoot in 11 locations visiting 6 countries on 3 continents all in just over two weeks. A few weeks back I received a call from the vice president of strategic intelligence at UnitedHealthcare Global asking me if I would be interested in photographing a whole image library as part of their rebranding. UnitedHealthcare Global are a big organisation providing health cover for travelling business people all over the world. They also provide expertise and emergency response anywhere on the globe and have offices and teams dotted around everywhere. My brief was a similarly impressive one: to present UnitedHealthcare with an image library reflecting their services and their people. I was tasked with capturing the global business travel lifestyle as well as the people of UnitedHealthcare.

So when I touched down in Florida I started off with visiting UHC’s office and photographing their team there. The idea behind photographing the employees rather than hired models appealed to me greatly and it turned out that it was partly my ability to capture people candidly that attracted Kieran (the VP) to my work. I photographed all the types of work that UHC teams do – from emergency response call centres in Baltimore to United Nations account managers in New York to air ambulance medics in Toronto. UnitedHealthcare wanted to put their employees firmly in their visual identity.

I was also focusing my attention on UnitedHealthcare’s potential client – the business traveller. Streetcasting people in different cultures and taking portraits of business travellers at airports was a great way to show a realistic lifestyle business travellers can aspire to. Portraits are however never enough when creating images of a lifestyle and so I found myself escorted to the roof of ShangriLa in Dubai to take a sunset panorama of Dubai and lying on the floor of a multi-storey car park waiting for the storms to come over Tampa airport.

With such a great brief and so little time, logistics occasionally posed a challenge. One delayed flight stranded me in New York overnight and cut my stay in Canada to a mere day and a half. On the second day there I had just two hours to set up a whole photoshoot of an air ambulance plane and it’s crew complete with staging an emergency rescue operation before I had to turn around to get back to New York not to miss my flight to Dubai. Culture and climate provided me with new experiences too. In Dubai my lenses would mist up due to the humidity whenever I walked outside. I also made the mistake of boarding a “women-only” carriage on the metro train - I did wonder why they were all staring at me so intensely, but only realised after I had got out that I committed a terrible faux-pas.

Thank you UnitedHealthcare Global for the trust you put in me. I worked with some great teams, stacked up on air miles and most importantly delivered a library UnitedHealthcare were very pleased with. Let’s hope my career keeps taking me interesting places.

Find out about UnitedHealthcare Global on their new website here:

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  1. Great shots....and killer gig! Congrats Charlie. (ski 9)

    1. Thanks Cole - it was an amazing commission. Check out the Tanzanian trip as well - it's part two of the same commission.