Archive for November, 2007

Had your lunch..?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

This is always a challenge when shooting on location. Quite often it’s just easier to gorge oneself at the hotel’s extortionately priced buffet breakfast then hold out for the inescapable room service Club Sandwich later that night (because the hotel’s only restaurant stopped serving at 8.30pm). In Chongqing we broke with tradition and went for a sit down lunch in a nearby eating house, largely because the increasingly gloomy weather meant it wasn’t going to make a shred of difference how long it took.

We’d walked past the place an hour earlier and saw it teeming with locals, so it must have been good, right?

First challenge was the navigating menu, which Paul, the project architect, handled with great aplomb. I’m still not convinced he knew what he was ordering but he certainly looked on top of things. Though the amused and curious glances from the lads on the next table might have indicated otherwise.

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All turned out splendidly and the avalanche of dished that followed was indeed a feast. The toilet paper roll serviettes below each table got a good workout as the spicy juices of the dishes gradually coated our table, fingers and faces.

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If this is Tuesday…

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

So if this is Tuesday, I must be in Chongqing. Or at least that’s what the taxi seat would have me believe. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if they really change the covers every day.

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The new Chongqing Public Library designed by Perkins Eastman was located in a redeveloping neighbourhood a little out of the centre of town. These days though, redeveloping could describe just about any neighbourhood in Chongqing. I’d been here a couple of times before to shoot the Jianianhua Centre but could barely recognize the place as everything was changing so fast. The city is historically known for its foggy, wet weather, winding streets and tea shops. One can’t help but wonder if the perpetual mist is now just residual pollution from the heavy industries surrounding the city.

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Given that we could barely make out the library across the street through the “fog”, it was mildly entertaining to see the local Environmental Protection Agency spot checking emissions from the passing traffic. Setting the base reading levels must have been a challenge, especially if the exhaust from the cars was actually cleaner than the surrounding air!

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Maybe the impending rain would clear the air and leave us with crisp blue skies for tomorrow’s shoot.

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Then again, maybe not.

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The following day (that would be Wednesday, going by the seat covers) was a complete washout. Apparently the sun had finally come out in Shanghai after two weeks of cyclonic rain storms. So some inspired taxi driving through the rain soaked streets of Chongqing got us on the next plane east.

Fashionably (too) early.

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Seems nearly every project I’m on recently is still in construction to some degree. This is possibly due to the sad fact that once a project is actually finished, the insatiable gaze of the design press has already moved on to the next bright, shiny object on the horizon. Oh, is that a Libeskind I see?

The need to create memorable images under miserable circumstances has been on the increase too, with the urgent desire to “get it out there” being the most common factor driving the timing.

One of these days I’m hoping someone will hold off just a bit before shooting. Give the project a chance to mature, to settle in a little. Then perhaps they’d stand a greater chance of turning a few heads making a grand entrance.

Fashionably late.

These images were taken at WOHA Designs‘ Stadium MRT Station in Singapore, The project is still in construction and although nearing completion, will be moth-balled for the next two years while the adjacent National Stadium is redeveloped.

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A cold day in… well.

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I had figured it would be a cold day in hell before I got around to starting this little journal. Instead it was a freezing day in Oslo, or the memory of it at least, that finally pushed me over the edge.

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So many times on location shoots, we find ourselves in rather challenging circumstances, far removed from the apparent tranquility portrayed in the images the client finally gets to see. This odd duality is difficult to explain at times, particularly to those closest to you. “Ah yes, Mum. Sorry to hear about the cat, can’t really talk now. I’m dangling from a window washing scaffold seventy five floors above Shanghai, waiting for a cloud to move”

Despite all the travel schedules, pre-production and endless weather forecasting, there is something immensely satisfying about leaving your fate in the hands of whatever local deities happen to be running the show that day.

While the clients main interest is mostly in what images you can bring back, it is often the journey itself that becomes more memorable, more part of your life as an observer of the world.

With the occasional words and images that follow, I hope to offer some insight into my particular journey.