Each day is very different. One day I’ll be designing the next prospectus, the next, I’ll up at 4am to catch the sunrise for photos for the next recruitment campaign for the year ahead. I love these shoots. They are the product of a group of us sitting around a table, brainstorming and bouncing ideas around until we get a full-proof concept signed off and good to go.
For Queen’s university, one of our main drives is student recruitment on a postgraduate level. Appealing to this audience always proves a little more difficult than for undergraduates. The visuals and messaging need to be carefully thought out and crafted to cater for a wider range of students – from undergraduates finishing up their degree, to people who are thinking of a career change.
To start, a team of us took a day out and worked from the comfort of my living room. We wanting to get away from the office and take a fresh look at the project. We covered my walls with empathy maps, words and messages until we came up with a solid plan.
Taking the university out of the picture and putting the focus on the student for the front-facing image of the campaign was a must. The idea for this was to think about where people would naturally go to to think about what is next for them in life, and take some models/students out to those places and photograph them. I then took a group of people to a forest to capture the main image of a student climbing on a fallen tree. We then visited the docs around Belfast, the Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour to get more campaign photos. To align these with the Queen’s brand, we made sure to have the models wearing a bright red hoodie which would be striking and prominent in everything we’d create.
In 2017 we started out on an ambitious campaign for Clearing at Queen’s University. Clearing is a heart-in-mouth process for students who have just completed their A-levels, particularly for those who didn’t get into their dream course for one reason or another.
The campaign plan was to create something that students could relate to. Something that put them front and centre, making them imagine what life could be like at Queen’s, even if they hadn’t thought about applying before.
The idea was to place a student in the frame, but photograph and video them looking at different landmarks around Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Once we had solidified the idea, we went about creating it. This involved interviewing past students that had been through the Clearing process, taking their photos at different places around the campus and the city, and getting them to vlog their experience.
I really love coming up with a campaign idea and getting to take it right through from concept to completion.
The portraits were take with my Fujifilm XT2 with 56mm f1.2, with a remote flashgun, with a Flashbender attached. A pretty light setup when I had to run in, grab a headshot in a busy location and get packed up quickly. No fuss was key.
Taking a great portrait for this was something I really wanted to work on and develop properly as a skill inside of my own photography and this was a perfect job to practice.
After these, we made VR goggles and 360 videos of the campus so that people from overseas could have these delivered in a goodie box from Queen’s and they could put themselves inside the campus to take a look around.