Kids Play, Igor Emmerich
Igor Emmerich reveals the inside track on great workplace photography, chasing seagulls down the beach, and how he got a shot of The Queen drinking stout
In our follow-up interview with Igor Emmerich, the photographer fills us in on his background and the context for his work. For those still trying to work out the film image question posed in the first part of this profile, find out the answer at the bottom of the page
How did you get into photography?
Igor Emmerich: I must have been 14, I borrowed my father’s 35mm Pentax mx, and proceeded to photograph everything in front of me.
I remember one of my first projects was shooting the seagulls on the beach, seagulls all gather together in a group at a safe distance of several meters from any humans. No matter how gently and slowly I walked towards them, talked to them, or laid on the sand slithering towards them, there was an invisible line which the moment I crossed they all took flight and landed again at the same safe distance further down the beach.
I guess I learnt that photography involves a lot of patience and perseverance, and that I should choose an easier subject to shoot, such as non-flying people.
2. An Annual Report you shot the images for recently won an award. What are the challenges of shooting imagery for Annual Reports? Has the style of imagery of they are looking for changed?
Igor Emmerich: Every Annual Report is different, and dictated by the ideas that the design agencies come up with.
This report was shot for Allen & Overy, one of London’s top law firms, and designed by Salter Baxter.
We wanted to show the 2 main partners in conversation, as if they had just taken a break from an interview at a TV studio.
The main challenge on this one was recreating the feel of a broadcast studio with just a few tungsten lights in one of their meeting rooms, and capturing the partners in a candid relaxed way when they only had 30 minutes to give from their busy schedules.
I think it worked!
3. You have done many “Day In A Life” projects. When did you start doing them and how do you plan and approach this work stylistically?
Igor Emmerich: I’ve always been interested in spending time with the people I shoot in order to find something personal about them, which I can then capture in a shot. Some of my working process involves dropping down the camera and engaging with my subjects, that way I can get them to open up and trust me, and also allows them to get involved in what I do.
Spending a day with someone gives you a great insight into their lives and the opportunity to catch something special while working within a brief.
I suppose this way of working appeals to a lot of my clients, a recent example was this project for Freshfields shot in London, NY and Honk Kong (see above). It was shot for their recruitment campaign, their aim is to recruit the best talent and they wanted to give future candidates an insight into what it’s like working at their company, very rewarding and lots of hard work!
4. I never knew the Queen drank stout. How did you get such intimate insight into her freetime?
Igor Emmerich: I was curious as to what it would be like for her to experience her Jubilee from the other side, among her subjects. I asked her and she said yes, people were brilliant and kept asking to have their picture taken with her, we walked for miles and by the end she was so thirsty that we popped into the Queen’s head and she downed a pint of Guinness, I don’t think it’s her normal tipple but she loved it!
5. Confess Igor, it was someone much closer to you posing as the Queen?!
Igor Emmerich:Yes it was my girlfriend, she is quite shy which I thought would suit the role, I didn’t want didn’t want total extrovert hugging people in the street, it wouldn’t have worked. I also booked in a special effects make up artist, who added layers of thin prosthetics to her face and eyelids, hired a wig from “Wigs Up North” and raided a few second hand clothes shops for the right dress, shoes and gloves. Tiara from Soho.
6. How important is social media to your business? How do you plan it?
Igor Emmerich: Social media is massive, and a very important way for photographers to reach clients and make useful contacts. I schedule 1 day a week to update my blog, linked in and facebook page, and try and twit as often as possible.
7. What were the important moments in the development of your photography business? Photographers and commercial artists of all stripes are always curious how someone marries creativity with commercial reward, partly because we want to get some usable insight, but also because we silently cheer people who have successfully ridden the beast of Commerce and Art.
That is a very interesting point and one that I am addressing at the moment. I think that there are cycles to one’s work, in my case every 10 years.
It’s important to change things round to remain fresh and also to adapt to changes within the industry.
I’m also really ambitious and always want to achieve the best out of any project I’m involved with. I love working with other creative people who are keen to push ideas further to get the best unplanned results.
I also love what I do, whether it is shooting commissions or personal work, and I try and make it as enjoyable for everyone else I work with as it is for me.
I guess I am still a bit of a child in my approach to what I do, excitedly chasing those slippery seagulls down the beach!
Click here to see more of Igor Emmerich’s work
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The answer to Igor’s Film Question/Photo is the Stanley Kubrick classic, The Shining