Philip Berryman
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Blog

RL Earth Polo

To contemplate composition before taking a photo would be like considering the law of gravity before taking a walk.

Edward Weston

I shoot regularly for Ralph Lauren and thoroughly enjoy each commission. All freelance photographers long to build a good relationship with a client and try to create some form of continuity and trust. Heaven for a freelance person in any discipline is knowing that each month you can rely on certain clients to call you and not only appreciate your work and style but also reliably pay you and give you the chance to grow and develop as a team. I am getting there with Ralph Lauren but I have for sure experienced this in my early days of shooting. I used to shoot regularly for British Vogue, The Evening Standard magazine, Marie Claire, Brides, InStyle and a host of other top fashion PR companies and magazines. For British Vogue each month I was responsible for 3 sections of the magazine and this later led to shooting main portraits and features for the magazine. For Marie Claire I shot four sections including main portrait features, advertisements, fashion features and more every month. And for The Evening Standard I was responsible for three sections including main portrait and features. It was always a pleasure going to the newsagent and picking out magazines and seeing my work. This was all pre digital and so my time was not spent sat in front of a computer for hours and hours processing each job but I was out and about shooting, meeting people and being inspired. This meant that each month I was not only incredibly busy and earning good money but I felt incredibly connected. I felt plugged in and part of numerous wonderful teams. We all became friends, hung out, went to parties and generally felt close and enjoyed London life. This sense of belonging to a team, feeling needed and respected is incredibly important to anyone and even more so as a freelancer. Then moment you loose these connections you certainly feel adrift and can panic. I think it’s also easy to take this success for granted and feel like this is the basis for a prosperous career from then on. I remember feeling that it was a dead certain that I would reach my dreams and goals and nothing else would do. 

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Another real pleasure was the on going dialogue with those that commissions me. People for sure relied heavily on verbal phone conversations. This was before texts and WhatsUp and an over reliance on emails. Each day I would have phone conversations with editors and at directors going through the next commissions, briefing me on shoots and events and discussing how the last shoot went. I find this has been lost now and I figure there may be numerous reasons. But there is no doubt that having in depth conversation where I am in a position to ask questions and fully understand the client’s needs are sadly less and less. Phone conversations are so much more personal and intimate and help you to really get to know and understand your client in a way that simply does not compare to a formal email or brief text. Much of my work relies heavily on successful personal relationships and understanding your client well. This is extremely difficult when all communication is done through computers and phones and that personal connection is just never made. The over reliance on avoiding the traditional phone call and verbal conversation becomes such a habit that before you know it, you are only communication with everyone via text and email. 

Edward Weston talks of how considering the laws of compositing would be like considering gravity before taking a walk. I do feel this and for the most part such visual considerations do come naturally to me. However I feel that for me taking out the personal connection, the basic human need for verbal dialogue and the need to build that relationship with a client not through machines would be like considering gravity before taking a walk. It just does not make sense to me. As a ‘people person’ I feel I do work better when I am getting along well with the team and the communication between us all is good. Is it the digital age and the reliance on technology that is so massive now that it is taking this personal connection away from us? We are all aware of the impact on relationships that mobile phones have. Whether it’s the couple sat in bed, ignoring each other as they are scrolling obsessively with social media or the families on holiday sat in some spectacular location, ignoring the mind blowing natural vista but stuck to their mobile phone screens. Essentially this is a barrier to feeling like you are in the moment and feeling connected on a human level to each other. Whether it be in relationships at home and personal life or relationships in the work environment I feel something for sure is being lost and ignored. How long before we truly can’t even hold a conversation and what do we miss out on by losing the art of conversation and the subtle nuances that are part of that human interaction that you cannot have in an email or other such mechanical, digital medium. 

Oh and don’t get me started on internet dating apps!

This commission for Ralph Lauren was to capture the Earth Polo evening. Ralph Lauren have launched a version of its famous polo shirt made entirely of recycled plastic bottles and dyed though a process that uses zero water. The shirts are produced in partnership with First Mile, an organisation that collects the bottle. These are then turned into yarn and eventually into fabric. Tyrone Wood hosted the evening and celebrity guests included Tiger Lily, Jess Clarke, Lady Mary Charteris, Zara Martin, Jo Wood, Yasmin Mills, Nick Knowles , Lady Alice Manners , Paul Sculfor, Jack Guinness, the Bloom Twins and more. As ever it was an exciting evening rushing throughout the magnificent Ralph Lauren flagship store, trying to capture key guests, important outfits and the atmosphere in general. All details for the event communicated to me via telephone using the traditional method of talking. But backed up via email naturally. Oh and the odd text reminder.