University College Oxford – headshot photography extravaganza

In May this year, I spent two days shooting with 80 members of University College Oxford (staff and fellows), for their exciting new website, which will be appearing in August.  The shoot took a whopping 9 hours (we allocated 10 minutes per person), I took *a lot* of images, and the several thousand I edited were very well received.  ‘Several thousand?!’, I hear you say?  Yes, several thousand.  Headshots are a deeply personal thing.  What you or I might think is a beautiful picture of someone, they might look at and only see that their chin looks funny, or they’re smiling too much.  So when I take headshots of anyone, I like to offer each individual a good choice of image, so they can chose the one they feel works best.  I want every client to feel great about photos of themselves, and this is one of the ways I help that happen.

The dynamic and ambitious Anne-Marie Canning, Communications Project Manager at the College (and City Councillor for Carfax, as it happens – busy woman!) and her colleagues seem to have really understood the power of good photography, film and social networking in creating a buzz about a place.  They have brought in talented multimedia artists, like Kerry Harrison, to create beautiful images for their alternative prospectus.  He also created a series of short films, of which my favourite is this one, simply entitled ‘At Univ…’.  You can also find a good one about the Master, Sir Ivor Crewe.  I was flattered and chuffed when Anne-Marie contacted me to do the headshots for the college, and it was great working with her.

For the shoot, we wanted a background which had a slightly different feel about it – not just the dark wood and sandstone often associated with Oxbridge Colleges.  I visited the college a couple of weeks pre-shoot and found the perfect location – a modern, glass corridor extension, with great natural light at all times of day, and built onto part of the original building.  The headshots were taken against a background of the meeting place between the old and new buildings, a metaphor for the new life the college breathes into the great traditions of learning.

On the day, armed with my portrait lens of choice, the trusty Nikon 50mm f/1.8, I worked with each individual in private for the 10 minutes allocated, to help them relax and feel good about what can be a daunting process for many.  I think everyone had fun, and I do know that everyone was happy with the results of the shoot, which is great.  See some favourites, including a shot of Univ Master, Sir Ivor Crewe, below.

“Mim is a great photographer and a delight to work with. She gets people to relax in front of the lens and captures them in a moment of genuine expression. Her portraits really helped us to show Oxford staff and academics in another light. The photos are professional, good quality and we had plenty of choice. The photos have been well received by the college community I would highly recommend working with Mim!” - Anne-Marie Canning, Communications Project Manager, University College, Oxford

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