Windows of Opportunity and Shooting Bill Gates
So here is your brief. We are a Sunday newspaper with
six million readers a week. Pack your trusty Hasselblad H4D-50 and
fly to Seattle. Make your way to The Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation building and take some portraits of Bill. Oh by the way,
Bill absolutely hates having his picture taken. The good news is
you will have a full SIX minutes to complete the task. Off you go
then. And don't come back without the front page cover shot we
That was the
commission top London portrait photographer Neale Haynes was given.
But he jumped at the chance.
He tells Bulletin exclusively: "I knew it would probably be my
hardest assignment ever - not just because of the time restraints
that always apply with people like Bill Gates but also because it
is common knowledge that he just loathes having his photograph
taken. The truth is he's harder to get access to than President
Obama. That's why I had to go for it.
I thought we could shoot in his office but apparently various
Heads of State were turning up so it was a no-go area. We set up
the kit in a soulless room on the same floor: a Colorama background
and six Profoto heads plus various accessories, including a beauty
dish. I was also briefed to shoot from an aspect showing lots of
glass (Windows?) and show off the building as part of the
He came in and looked
straight through me. There was no real rapport. It was like he was
doing sums in his head throughout our six minutes together. The way
it had to work was straightforward. I'd say, 'Move your hand'
and take the frame as I was saying it. You can't go too near him.
You can't manoeuvre him into position - he has security round him
like a president. So we had a guy that hates being photographed,
can't be 'styled' and just a few minutes to do everything. There
was no 'upside' to any of it.
"It's funny when you look at say an old picture of Lennon and
McCartney standing by a wall and some critic says "So what?" But
the truth is that like my shoot with Gates, these people never know
what the real situation was at the time. If you are going to
photograph icons you must be sure the shots will stand the test of
time. You have to shoot on the best equipment. That means
We did very little
post-production. I think we 'cleaned' up the carpet area in
Photoshop but that was about it. That H4D-50 was outstanding. It is
a real leap forward with a really fast focus. I shot with a 50-110
lens. That combination is so fast it blows you away. I didn't need
to change lenses - that's vital when you have so little time.
I took fifty frames, breathed a sigh of relief and left the