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Pleased to meet you, your um…Premierness..?!

Growing up last century in the UK I was of course drilled extensivly on all matters of protocol and chivalry. Oicks like us were fully briefed on when to curtsey (me – never) how to invite a Baron to dinner (me – never) and how to conduct smalltalk with a Prince (me – once). We also all live in castles and it’s why Canadian women find us and our cute little accents so irresistible (me – three times). But I digress. Again.
I was, as we Brits say, rather chuffed when the Premier’s office called to set up a shoot for her official portrait. Alison Redford is threatening to be quite the breath of fresh air in Albertan politics and it was wonderful to be invited to photograph her. But how to greet her? We don’t have Premiers back home and for me the Premiership is an innovation.
The shoot was to take place in Ali’s office and I would have time to set up so I spent rather a while fretting over how to light. As one does. In the end I took most inspiration from Annie Liebovitz’s portraits of The Queen. Hey, if you’re going to aim it might as well be high. These images fit my intent well as the environment is a key part of the image and the lighting is delightfully delicate – very compatible with my new lighting muse the 86″ Soft Silver PLM.
So that was it. We packed up all our gear and toodled off to The Premier’s office and waited for her to be ready. And waited, and waited some more. Were they the tattooing type, it seems that “Controlled Chaos” would be tattooed on the forearms of the staff at the Premier’s office. The only one actually panicking was me as I envisaged the results of having 2 minutes to light and a whole extra minute to shoot. But no, eventually all fires were extinguished, the Radio Canada guys finally packed up and got out of the Premier’s office and Premier Redford was bundled off to hang out with the stylists while I frantically purposefully and with the utmost confidence directed my assistants to stage & light the room.

Premier Redford - officially
Premier Redford - officially

I never did find out how to address a Premier though. In a flash she breezed into the room and the shoot was on! Boy was it ever. The joy of shooting wirelessly right to the iPad is that the client can get in on the art direction. And you can bet that’s what they do. Filled with Liebovitz-inspired zeal I set out to capture Premier Redford in the ambience of her stately office. But what was really needed was a nice tight portrait, and by the way should we be shooting in this direction – maybe over there is better? Gulp – there’s no light there. How about a tighter lens? Wonderful! And now how about a few quick shots at the desk…
Tip: CEOs love it if they can work AND be photographed at the same time
Tip: CEOs love it if they can work AND be photographed at the same time

Shoots like this are one of the many joys of what I do. I get an insight on so many bits of the world that aren’t open to public view. I also get an insight into bits of people that aren’t open to public view – I mean metaphorically, not the naked shoots. Although those are cool too. Many of the Great People I shoot are fun and fascinating to work with, some are in a hurry and some will chat all day. Like you and I, some are having good days when I meet them and others could care less if I took just one shot and buggered off. What struck me most about this shoot was our Premier’s Premierness: she was calm & relaxed, filled with good humour and focussed on the task at hand. Strikes me that if she’s like that when working with an oick like me then it’s a good bet she approaches all her tasks & responsibilites as one might hope she would. Enough to restore one’s faith in politics I swear!