Google Maps Contributions

Back in April 2017, my brother and I took our mum and our nan to the Everyman Independent Cinema in Esher, to go see the live action Beauty and the Beast starring the graceful Emma Watson and a hairy Dan Stevens. It was only the second time I’d watched a movie at this fine establishment and the first time I fancied ordering food. So, naturally I took a peek at their menu. I don’t believe I actually did order anything in the end apart from maybe a cappuccino but the food did look and smell appetizing. Long pepperoni pizza served on a wooden board seemed particularly popular amid the patrons.

Perhaps boredom got the better of me but I felt compelled to take a picture of the menu and as my location was active on my phone, good ‘ol Google suggested I post it on Maps. The photo isn’t even that informative however, I sacrificed style over substance big time here with an edgy angle and a stylish bokeh effect on the text. I guess it does the trick of drawing people in, enticing them to gather more info on the cinema and what grub is available. The irony is that this picture has been viewed 8,000 times and rising with each day, but I’m pretty sure the menu has changed since. It has been over two years after all.

Google maps contributions is actually quite an interesting way you can promote yourself, or at least your potential photography skills. You essentially become what they call a Local Guide which can eventually lead to points which you can earn through writing reviews, sharing photos and videos, answering questions about places or verifying information through fact checking. These points in turn give you access to future Google features and special perks when you’ve worked your way up the various levels. You can flaunt your achievement by way of a fancy digital badge to show people just how much you’ve contributed.

I’ve yet to jump deep into this rabbit hole but if taking a photo of text has taught me anything, it’s that at least a few thousand people are willing to stop and take a look at it. It’s only a matter of time before the Spielburger category gets a DMCA takedown or something silly like that, if it hasn’t already. Pretty sure the household director has already issued a cease and desist for a similar situation in the States, though I’d love to know the law related consequences of such a creative label if any.

Marvel at it while you can!


Black & White is the new Black: A John Lewis Photo Commission

CarryNot too long ago I was commissioned to take a bunch of photos for a little company called John Lewis & Partners. The principle idea was to capture a tiny portion of the monstrous distribution sector of the business, more specifically, customer delivery. I was tasked with taking photographs mostly following the process of stocked goods, to collation, to delivery and overall, I believe I achieved that… With just a bit of staging.

The company or ‘Partnership’ as it is preferred, had just recently rebranded and while many were a fan of the classic British Racing Green colour scheme they adopted for so long, black and white was the new way forward. It’s a lot trendier you could argue and perhaps down with the kids as they say but I used it as an excuse to process the images in a similar likeness.

I’ve always loved black and white photography but I’m still figuring out why. Perhaps it’s the mysterious sensation of perceiving monochrome lines and shapes far reaching from our usual sight, or maybe it’s the vintage look that exudes classicism and evokes an unwarranted notion of nostalgia?? Though honestly, it’s a good way to fix poor lighting and shoddy colour balance in post.

The final images were printed on quality laminated canvas to be hung in the lobby of the Brooklands branch. The wide-angle lorry shot was blown up and covered five vertical canvases for a huge split canvas effect. They were all but perfect, if it wasn’t for the one in the centre that was slightly misaligned during the printing phase but only the eagle-eyed will spot it hopefully. That took care of one of the two walls I had to jazz up at least. The other wall was way trickier to plan for.   

17 of the photos I’d edited and picked for the wall, were to be cropped and printed individually but somehow occupy a 1.90m squared area while simultaneously being 1 inch apart from each other. As if using two systems of measurement wasn’t hard enough, half the canvases needed to have a black colour wrap while the other half needed to be white and not only that, they had to be dotted around to vary it up a bit.

It took me so long to suss out the best combination, and in the end, I made an equivalent version on another wall using brown packaging paper, just so I could get it into the skull what it may look like. This visualisation helped a bunch when it came to ordering the canvases but I ended up inputting the wrong dimensions on one of them by a bloody inch! I tried to see if I’d get away with it but nope, it looked so out of place. Ordered a replacement and although it fit perfectly the quality of the print wasn’t as nice. It doesn’t hurt to be meticulous with this sort of thing to avoid such setbacks.    

A few of the canvases were destined for the upstairs canteen but this feature wall was going to be somewhat different. Brooklands has quite a lot of engineering history from way back when it was a motor racing circuit in the early 1900’s and then later Britain’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre. The local area also accommodated one of the country’s first airfields and has since been transformed into a museum worth taking a gander.

With this trivia in mind I decided to mix and match my current photography with classic racing photography of the era. A bit of a then and now kinda thing. I’m no stranger to the local antiquity but I was fascinated to see how many women drivers there were back then. So, I thought John Lewis being the forward thinking, diverse business it is, might appreciate this delightful piece of olden times up on the wall as well. My favourite was of the respected mechanic, Miss J Alwyne, dressed in her jumpsuit half underneath a dinged-up motorcar, cigarette in mouth, making adjustments to the rear wheels. Health and safety were definitely not chief priorities back then.

Every one of these photos was edited in Adobe Photoshop and shot on a Canon EOS 6D MkII DSLR using a Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens, a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens and a nifty 50mm Prime. My grip gear consisted of a Manfrotto Aluminium Monopod, a Manfrotto Aluminium Horizontal Column Tripod and a cardboard box.