My first commission – Agreeing the brief

Towards Gunwharf
Towards Gunwharf

This is the first in a short series describing my first ever commission. I will illustrate these entries with some of the photographs chosen by the client, as well as a selection which didn’t make their final short list but I thought were worth including.

This all started back in December, but I only successfully completed the commission a couple of months ago. Now the project is well and truly complete, I feel comfortable sharing the experience.

It was just before Christmas when I displayed some of my photographs on a stand at a local Christmas Fayre in aid of The St Peter Project. I was very pleased to sell a couple of my framed prints and quite a number of people said how much they enjoyed looking at my work. As I was about to pack everything away, one particular person approached me and he told me that earlier last year his firm had moved offices but the walls were looking rather blank. His name was Ian Froome and he asked me if I would be willing to take some photographs, mount and frame them ready for hanging in their hall and meeting room. I was rather taken aback and explained that whilst I had sold a few of my photographs I had never undertaken any sort of commission work. Of course I was interested and we agreed to meet in the New Year to discuss a possible brief and to establish some sort of budget.

Sunsail 4010

We got together in January and he showed me a plan of their offices and a few internal photographs so that  I could get an idea of what might be required. The offices were typically modern and large (A2 size) monochrome photographs would look excellent. We both thought that eight framed images would be sufficient but what subjects did they want and how much should I charge?

Fortunately Ian already had a clear idea of what he and his staff thought they might like and he had agreed a budget with his Finance Partner. I made it clear that I did not wish to make a profit so providing they covered my expenses for materials etc, the difference could be paid to The St Peter Project by way of a donation. He was very happy with this arrangement and we went on to discuss in more detail the type of images he felt would suit the offices.

1000 Lakeside

Perhaps at this stage I should say that the company concerned is Vail Williams a firm of commercial property agents and their offices are at Lakeside, North Harbour in Portsmouth. The town of Portsmouth has a variety of architecture as well as two attractive harbours, one at Port Solent the other at Gunwharf Quays. In addition to capturing something of the area, he was also keen we had some images of the offices where they are based. Some abstract work would also be considered. We looked at examples of my work on my iPad and he pointed out ones that he liked and ones he didn’t. This helped to give me an idea of might appeal but perhaps more importantly what wouldn’t!

Roof light
Lakeside Rooflight

Given we were in the middle of winter coupled with the fact that I do not take photographs professionally, I was keen to agree a generous time scale. I said that I would hope to have a selection of images for him to look at in 6 to 8 weeks, or in other words by the early part of March.

Last but not least, and never having been asked to do this type of work before, I made it quite clear that should his team of staff not like any of the photographs, he should not feel compelled to have them and obviously I would not make any charge. I explained that I love being out and about taking photographs anyway, so I would still enjoy the taking if not the making.

In my next entry I will write about the photographs themselves. The link for this entry is here.

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