A few weeks ago I was contacted by Adam Sorenson, a fellow PR Photographer, who asked me if I might be able to cover an event for a charity. The charity, Walking For The Wounded, were hosting a walking event in Great Langdale, Cumbria and since I was a member of RAF Mountain Rescue in a previous life I jumped at the chance to give it a go. So last weekend I packed up my camera kit, sleeping bag and walking boots, jumped in my car and headed from Newark in Nottinghamshire to Grasmere in the Lake District.
Walking For The Wounded help wounded Ex-Servicemen and women get back to work after leaving the Services. In many cases they sufferer with mental as well as physical scars, so moving to a civilian job after a career in the military can be a difficult and arduous process but WWTW aim to make the change much easier.
Not long after arriving Grasmere I was asked to photograph some of the teams that would be taking part in the event. The teams were made up of some of the former soldiers, and their mentors. The brief had stipulated that as many photos as possible should have some event branding featured in the images, and light was dropping rapidly, so I set up a set of lights next to the event starting area and started shooting. As usual I was using the incredible Fuji Xpro2 and I triggered my lights(on this occasion Canon 580EX speedlites) with the brilliant Cactus V6 trigger. These triggers allow me to quickly and easily remotely control my lights from a distance. Lighting the images helped to boost the colours and draw attention to the branding.
Temperatures in The Lakes dropped dramatically during the night, so I didn’t get a good nights sleep, especially since most of the troops on the site were chatting and catching up well into the early hours. I opted to get up early and prep for the event, and as soon as the on-site mobile kitchen opened I was in the queue for my complimentary bacon butty.
As the teams were preparing for the off, I grabbed most of the corporate sponsors for some ever popular team photos. Most events of this nature couldn’t happen without the generous help of some big corporates, and in return they always appreciate some photos for their own publicity material. I managed to get most of them before everyone was called forward for the start of the main event. The rest would have to wait for later in the day when I joined them on the hill.
The start was a melee, with several hundred eager walkers charging for the hills. Some of them would later pay for their enthusiasm as the temperature steadily raised and energy drained from their legs.
After the start I headed off with Jac Lee, one of the other Photographers on-site, to Great Langdale where we decided to cut the walkers off at the pass. I climbed up one side of the valley to join the walkers as they came around while Jac climbed the other side, and we photographed the walkers as they came passed us.
Our vantage points allowed us to get a range of images, with varied backgrounds and scenes. The images showed variety, fun and excitement, and hopefully provided the PR team plenty of images to help promote the event next year. Again I used the XPro2, but I also grabbed plenty of photos using the X100s. This great little camera is perfect for working in bright light on sunny days as it has a built in 3 stop ND filter. To non-geeks, this simply means it compensates for the excessively bright sunlight by blocking light hitting the sensor with a special filter. This allows the photographer to open up the aperture to blur distracting backgrounds, if required. Something that is really difficult in bright sunshine with most cameras.
Later on in the day I managed to meet Jac on the other side of the valley before heading off back to the campsite. The move allowed me to get some images of the walkers travelling through the beautiful woods at the end of the valley.
Back at the campsite I poached a space at a desk, and a power supply, and got started selecting my images. I had prepared all the relevant IPTC Metadata well in advance so it was just a matter of choosing the images I felt were good enough to meet the clients brief, applying the metadata and exporting them at the required file size. My favourite application for doing this is PhotoMechanic5, by Camerabits, as it is extremely fast and intuitive to use. Used in conjunction with Adobe Lightroom it allows me process my images in the shortest possible time imaginable which allows the PR team to get their message out to the press as soon as possible. On this occasion I supplied 130+ images, complete with appropriate Press friendly metadata in a little over 20 minutes after downloading them from the cameras.
I served 18 years in the Royal Air Force, as a Photographer, before leaving the Service in 2006. I have a close affinity to members of the military and fully understand some of the struggles some of them go through as they make the move into civilian life. Giving some of my time, to help a worthy cause like Walking For The Wounded is a pleasure, and something I am happy to do. I hope to be invited back again next year.