by Christopher Armstrong on April 20, 2020
Behind-the-scenes (BTS) stories are the ultimate exercise in self-promotion. They challenge a photographer to take their skills they use on a daily basis making other people's products and services look great and apply it to themselves.
BTS stories might showcase the attention to detail that a photographer gives to their client or a tool to convey their own personality and confidence — both of these traits are a must when dealing with agencies and clients. The stories can also show the vast amount of time and preparation that go into producing a large shoot.
This week's BTS showcase: Michael Blann
My teens were spent exploring the south coast on a push-bike with dreams of riding the Tour De France one day. After a year racing as an elite for a team in Australia (and my dream over) I headed home to get my education back on track with a place doing art (printmaking and illustration to be precise) at Kingston University.
It was here I took my first “proper” pictures in Sofia, Bulgaria, which impressed the examiner enough to give me a degree and got my book in front of Eamonn McCabe at the Guardian who gave me the encouragement to keep going.
I spent the next few years cutting my teeth as a studio manager in various advertising agencies whilst immersing myself in my newly found passion for photography. Eventually, buoyed up by a healthy economy, I took the handful of pictures I had and created my first portfolio, which launched me into a new career as a professional photographer. No sooner had I made the leap, Getty Images offered me the role as their “London Creative Photographer”. You could say right place, right time. I spent the next 6 years roaming the world and photographing everything their creative needs dreamt up, learning and perfecting the craft along the way.
Eventually the drive for self-expression and autonomy won out and I decided to find my own voice again. After setting up a studio in West London and with a new portfolio and ideas about the type of things I wanted to photograph, I started to build a new client base.
And now? I’m working for some of the best agencies and brands in the world shooting advertising campaigns and helping companies see their ideas come to life…
…and yes, I’m still riding my bike and dreaming about riding the Tour.