Earlier this year I was commissioned by UKTV to produce the official images for the latest series of 'Inside The Ambulance'. Over the course of two days we visited the Ambulance Hubs located in Dudley & Willenhall to spend time with the hard-working staff that respond to emergencies and save lives every day.
It was important that I shot these portraits in a way where ‘formal' and 'serious’ wasn’t a necessity throughout. I feel that a lot of people forget that those who work in the emergency services are just everyday people with normal lives outside of work. It felt right to try and show the personality of the subjects, which not only suits my style of portraiture, but also mirrored the message and light-hearted nature of the TV series. These images had to work across a variety of mediums, so by creating on-location shots that involved a variety of positions worked well. We wanted to get around 40mins - 1 hour with each subject to try and capture exactly what we wanted, however with the shift times and nature of the job these people work, we were grateful with whatever we got on the day.
Being mobile with the Elinchrom equipment
For the whole project I used a fully portable flash system in the Elinchrom ELB400 paired with a set of Quadra Pro heads. This meant I was able to shoot freely throughout the day, achieving a massive amount of light power without being plugged into the mains. Having multiple lights allowed me to control the light that was not only on my subject but also lit up parts of the location. This gave some of the images more of a cinematic aesthetic which I am always after within my work. The battery power of this equipment was unbelievable as each battery lasted a good 4-5 hours during on-and-off shooting a variety of scenes. I recall taking over 500+ images over the course of each day. All of the portraits were shot with a Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octagonal 100cm Softbox as a key light, along with a secondary light which was paired with Elinchrom reflectors and grids to control the background or provide a hair light when needed. I am always trying to be as mobile as possible with my work and this kit does everything I need it to do and more. I shoot almost every portrait session with this light kit.
Prior to taking on the project I requested to have a look at the locations that we would be shooting in. Both of the Ambulance Hubs in Dudley & Willenhall were different to each other, but they looked great as a backdrop. We knew that if we used the parked Ambulances in the images it would provide us with an interesting background to the on-location portraits. The staff were more than happy to move ambulances where we needed them to be, which was amazing considering they were working through long shifts.
Portraits of West Midlands Ambulance Service - Video
As soon as we kicked off the project, I decided to leave a GoPro Hero5 in the background to capture a time-lapse of the sessions. I usually do this because I can leave the GoPro running whilst I concentrate on my workflow throughout the shoot. It's always great to look back on afterwards and see how you work (apart from when it catches my confused face whilst checking if the GoPro is still recording or not). The video below shows most of the time-lapse sessions featuring some of the final images.
Overall, this was an incredible experience and I’m really pleased with these results. Massive thanks to UKTV, West Midlands Ambulance Service & also Matthew Robinson who all believed in my work.
Thanks for looking,