David Dalziel has had to make a lot of impromptu decisions on the fly over the years, but luckily the recent brochure for gift store SF Cody Gift Emporium was a breeze, beginning with the choice of photographer, Chris Cramer: ‘We had worked with Chris before and his recent work for Marie Claire’s Home section prompted us to get in touch with him again. He has a great attitude and is versatile and responsive to impromptu situations. Also, he’d worked with the stylist, Lesley Dilcock, before, which was a huge plus,’ recalls Dalziel.
To promote SF Cody’s contemporary gift range Dalziel & Pow decided to: ‘Bring fashion to the gift offer; a look created with the use of black and white photography, literally focusing on the stock and leaving the background out of focus to imply the domestic environment,’ says Dalziel. The look was communicated to the client and photographic team through tear sheets and photos – but, he stresses, ‘these were a guide to technique and style, not content.’
A four to six week lead-in time was followed by a group briefing for all 20 or so people involved. Then shooting began with ‘a number of volunteers from Dalziel & Pow and a few generous friends who were paid a small fee for their time and patience’, says Dalziel. He identifies patience as an important character attribute in an art director: ‘Days are dull for many of the team. You have to be supportive and make sure the team is happy. Keeping tabs on progress with a Polaroid ‘storyboard’ keeps them motivated and gives an impression of the overall shape, productivity and the performance of the team against the brief. That’s useful and reassuring for the client too.’
Shooting in this ‘still life’ environment traditionally results in around six shots per day, at a typical cost of £400 per shot. That figure rises sharply once you bring in professional models and live action, to typically £1000 per shot, with about 12 shots a day. ‘We need to include all expenditures; including food, print, couriers, equipment hire and a long list of incidentals. If a client can agree these upfront it makes the shoot more comfortable, it allows you to set a budget which, barring serious changes in the brief, can be met,’ explains Dalziel. Things like that matter because ‘photography is key to putting across brand values. Sadly, lots of brands don’t see that,’ he adds.