Do you like your photo taken? I know for a fact that only few people actually enjoy being in front of the camera. Most either actively dislike it or, if work requires them to, train themselves to be at ease when they would much rather not be photographed or filmed. Hats off to anyone who volunteers particularly if they are not comfortable with the experience. People are the biggest challenge in my job, but they are a challenge I relish.
When I was asked by Thirty Three to photograph a global advertising campaign for AXA’s graduate recruitment I was really glad to hear we would be working with AXA’s own employees. AXA wanted to highlight the energetic personalities working for them and the global nature of their work. Real employees, loads of energy and plenty of travel it was then. I worked alongside director Joe Morgan to show the energy and fun working for AXA can bring a fresh grad. We shot in three cities - London, Paris and Hong Kong, each time featuring a new team of AXA’s employees. I wanted to show the energy these people have for their work, the readiness for a challenge and the spark in their eyes.
Alas! When you throw people who’ve never been photographed before in front of a camera they tend to just freeze, with no clue what to do. I needed to let the model out of each of them and onto the streets of our great locations.
If you throw enough energy at your sitter, they will throw it back, and AXA’s recruits all did. I abandon all shame for the best photo - we danced to disco on London Bridge, sprinted up the Rue Foyatier in Montmartre and gesticulated wildly in the Hong Kong’s wet markets. I guess if the photographer does it and enjoys it, then the rest of the team also thinks it’s ok. Plus, your non-model models get distracted by your behaviour - AXA’s people were all a bit surprised by my antics to start with and loved it by the end of the photoshoot.
Thank you to Thirty Three and to AXA for a fun challenge and for all the models for overcoming the initial reserve and giving it all to the idea. I could not agree with the campaign’s slogan more - do remember to CHALLENGE EVERYTHING!