Twenty Three Seconds with Mr. Salmond.

So the picture desk call me, “Can you be in Aberdeen on Monday? We need a portrait of Alex Salmond.” Words to send fear into any editorial or magazine photographer in Scotland. Mr. Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland, and former leader of the Scottish National Party, now MSP and standing as candidate for Westminster parliament in the forthcoming elections in May, is not known as an easy subject with photographers.

So off I toodled to Aberdeen, knowing full well that whatever moments I get with Mr. Salmond would be exactly that – moments. No full, long, lengthy slow photo shoots with Mr. Salmond. It would be brief, it may well even be brusque, or belligerent.

But my desk wants as much from the situation as I can muster, squeeze all options from the opportunity.   Talking shots during the interview?- Sure! Portrait – Sure, if you can get it! Candid on the stage/platform – of course! The key way to keep a picture desk happy is to provide options. Send them variety. Looking left/ looking right, verticals/horizontals, tight/loose. Options/options.

So I arrived early, a country hotel, not overly chic or endowed with background locations…except for just inside the door at the car park. A wall, with bright gold and reddish wallpaper. Some may say baronial in style, some may say Chinese restaurant. But to me it looked good. And it was beside the door. Mr. Salmond would have to come in that way, it was convenient. Rarely will a subject like himself wander far to suit the photographer’s whims. I could stop him before he’d gone far. It’d take seconds.

So I shoot a test shot, I have the journalist, the esteemed Matthew Engel of the Financial Times stand in for Mr. Salmond. It looks good. Lit by natural light, the fading daylight coming in from the dusky, damp, rainy carpark. But it could work.

Financial Times journalist Matthew Engel. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2015, all rights reserved.
Financial Times journalist Matthew Engel. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2015, all rights reserved.

Fast forward a few minutes and the car draws up. Mr. Salmond strides across the car park, I shoot a few frames, and I’m in the door before him. “Sir, hi, I’m from the Financial Times, could I just shoot one very quick portrait of you here please? It’ll take 1 minute.” Mr. Salmond looks around the vestibule, at the wall paper, and asks incredulously, “Here?”. “Yes, please, I’ll be fast”, I reply. He sighs exasperated, and passes his paperwork to his PA. It’s on. He strikes his pose, one hand in pocket, smiling straight to camera.

Bang, bang, bang, “Straight to me please Sir”, bang, bang, bang, and “Just glance out the door please.”

Heavyweight politician Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2015, all rights reserved.
Heavyweight politician Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2015, all rights reserved.

“Excellent, thank you Sir.” Twenty-five frames in twenty-three seconds. Look at the camera metadata and count ’em.

And he’s gone. Through the doors to my left and into his event. For me the job isn’t finished, I still have to cover inside, but the pressure is off, I’ve upright and horizontals, looking to camera, looking away, and scratching his head. I’ve options. It looks good, I’m happy, looks like a picture from a shoot of longer than 23 seconds. Result.

Document Scotland on Picture Power

It’s always been said that the members of Document Scotland have a great face for radio, so we took everyone at their word… We’re very pleased to announce that today you’ll be able to hear our dulcet tones, our lovely Scottish accents on Radio 4.

Miles Warde of Radio 4 very nicely came along to the opening night of our ‘Common Ground’ show last August at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, and interviewed us about the photography we’d been doing all year in the run up to the show and the run up to the Sept 18th referendum on Scottish Independence. Miles has craftily woven comments and quotes together, from interviews with Sophie as she was out photographing on the streets, and then interviews with the rest of us at the gallery opening, and has produced a 15minute programme which will broadcast on today, at 13:45hrs, on BBC Radio4.

The programme is one in the Picture Power series, in which Miles talks to various photographers about how they covered the big news stories of 2014. All programmes will be worth a listen we are sure!

We’d be ever so grateful if you could tune it to listen and in advance help spread the word to anyone who may be interested. Thank you.  And of course, huge thanks to Miles Warde and the team at Picture Power!

Radio 4's Miles Warde speaks to Colin McPherson, at the Common ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks,  in Glasgow, Scotland 28 August 2014
Radio 4’s Miles Warde speaks to Colin McPherson, at the Common ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks, in Glasgow, Scotland, 28 August 2014

 

Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks,  in Glasgow, Scotland 28 August 2014
Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks, in Glasgow, Scotland
28 August 2014

 

Radio 4's Miles Warde speaks to Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, at the Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks,  in Glasgow, Scotland 28 August 2014
Radio 4’s Miles Warde speaks to Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, at the Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks, in Glasgow, Scotland, 28 August 2014

 

Neil-exhibition-streetlevel
Sophie’s project – Scottish Sweet Sixteen – features first time voters, like Neil pictured here. They can be heard in the programme seeing their portraits on the walls of Streetlevel Photoworks for the very first time.

 

Radio 4's Miles Warde speaks to Stephen McLaren and Colin McPherson, at the Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks,  in Glasgow, Scotland 28 August 2014
Radio 4’s Miles Warde speaks to Stephen McLaren and Colin McPherson, at the Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks, in Glasgow, Scotland, 28 August 2014

 

Document Scotland are...  Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks,  in Glasgow, Scotland 28 August 2014
Document Scotland are… Common Ground photography exhibition at Street Level Photoworks, in Glasgow, Scotland
28 August 2014

 

Thanks!

 

Alex Salmond, man of the moment.

As Scotland nears a day of decision, on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom, I was asked by an editorial client to go through to Edinburgh for a portrait shoot with Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland.

Time was going to be short, after all Alex Salmond is nearing the end of his campaign and is no doubt busy, but there was a little time none the less, 2 minutes at the beginning of the interview to shoot whilst he and the journalist settled themselves, and then less than two minutes at the end of the interview. Such is the photographer’s lot sometimes, the journalist gets 24mins, you get 4. Hey ho. Whatchyagonnado? Complain? No, you use your time, you take it seriously, you get your images.

Towards the end of the interview as I sat awaiting my time I noticed the shadows of the blinds creeping up over Alex Salmond, up his trousers, across him, and then onto his face. Must be hot I thought, the sun now directly on him. But it also made a good image. I wondered to myself, do I shoot it and possibly ruin a chance of two minutes at the end, or do I wait for my two minutes? I waited, then the press officer says “last couple of minutes.” So I took my chance, I shot the First Minister with the shadows on his face. One frame. Quietly on the Canon 5D mk3.

And I still got my two minutes at the end.

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, September 2014. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, September 2014. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

All my photographs of Alex Salmond, and of the Scottish independence referendum campaigning, are available to licence from Getty Images.

 

Another Scotland Is Possible

Radical Independence Campaign mass canvassing in support of Scottish independence, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland, 22nd June 2014.  ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014.
Radical Independence Campaign mass canvassing in support of Scottish independence, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland, 22nd June 2014. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014.

The Scottish independence campaigning continues apace, and on Sunday I found myself out on assignment covering the Radical Independence Campaign activists canvassing in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. A couple of hours were spent with activists knocking doors, asking people their voting intentions for the 18th September referendum vote on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.

Below is how my client, the Financial Times, ran two images from the shoot yesterday, with the article by Mure Dickie

radindy

All my images from the day, and others reflecting all sides of the Scottish independence referendum campaign, are available to licence for use from Getty Images.