Camera bag checked, cards formatted, van packed, weather checked – ready to go. Another day in the life of a High Level photographer setting off from the office near Woking, Surrey, heading out on the road to nowhere – or on this occasion, Greenwich in East London!

Having been thoroughly briefed by the Ops Manager and armed with an information pack containing site details, clients brief, a cursory phone call with the client to clarify any requirements, I head out confident that the weather forecast will play ball.

However, this is November in England and the forecast blue skies seem to be rapidly disappearing as I head to the site. Decision time – do I carry on in the hope that the clouds will pass or head back to base and hold off for a better weather day?

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The weather is a continual frustration especially when the forecasts indicate suitable conditions but in reality, they are not as good as hoped. In an ideal world all sites are photographed in perfect blue skies however deadlines dictate that our clients generally have to compromise by accepting sunny spells or if really desperate, any conditions apart from rain.

After an hour drive I arrive at the site, a newly re-developed retail park near to the Greenwich Peninsula. I would class this as a local job as High Level have nationwide coverage and it not unusual to drive to sites in the North East or West Country and back in a day.

Weather Blues

My brief for this site is to show the retail outlets in their best light with a busy car park and demonstrate its proximity to local road infrastructure and neighbouring schemes. Unusually the client has requested both daylight images and some dusk shots which given it is winter means sunset at around 4pm-so not a late one! In addition to ground level externals I have to provide some internal shots of each of the units plus some elevated images using one of High Level’s mast vehicles.

Having arrived at the site I have a quick drive around to assess the best angles to get the mast shots from. The mast vehicle needs to be positioned on flat, firm ground that does not block thoroughfares and has clear air above in order for the mast to extend upwards. From experience, we nearly always find suitable positions although busy city centre buildings can be tricky (virtually impossible) to get a decent spot.

I am now in the horns of a dilemma as I sit in the van looking at the snow flurry going on outside! Do I knock it on the head or wait to see if the clouds clear as forecast? Having waited with a restorative coffee I can see that the strong winds are blowing the clouds through quickly and thankfully we are good to go.

And so it begins….

Being a newly developed site, the contemporary architecture of this retail park is nice to photograph. This isn’t always the case as many sites are concrete monstrosities with no redeeming features-we at High Level always like a challenge!

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One of the units is a Primark that has literally opened earlier that day which is fantastic as it means a full car park with eager shoppers wanting to check out the new store. Being South facing also helps as the low winter sun is on the front of the terrace helping to avoid deep shadows.

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Having photographed the full length of the retail park I then head out onto the main road to pick up images of other retail units and road signs – basically anything that might be of interest as brochure filler shots.

(To be continued…)

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