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James Cropper – Cumbrian Paper Mill

posted in Editorial

James Cropper – Cumbrian Paper Mill

I wish these jobs come up more …. To this extent I’m always looking for more editorial features to shoot. This shoot was another commission for Director Magazine.

The reason I like this type of commission is that the fundamental goal is for a ‘Stand Alone’ image… as you’ve guest it, this is where you get just one image to accompany the article. Here is it a double pager, one page for the copy and one page for the image. So straight away your looking at a ‘portrait’ crop, one image to get across an idea, theme etc etc.

I knew before hand it was a paper mill so you begin to picture in your mind way before the shoot comes up visually what you know could be present at a paper mill. The machinery, the buildings, surroundings, something that would be a good graphical backdrop.

It wasn’t until we were just about to shoot that the pressure came…. but before I get to that it was interesting to hear the family history of this 170 year old company and that there’s paper…… and then there’s paper! James Cropper are responsible for making the red paper for the millions of poppies that are sold every year for Remembrance Day… Packaging for various items and products that are too many to mention.

Back to the shoot… when I arrived at the location I met the journalist who I’ve worked with before for Director, we had between us 1 hour to interview and photograph the two directors, 30mins each.

While the interview took place I set off with Julie (communications Manager for James Cropper, who was a great help !) to find a suitable location for the images. I narrowed it down to two locations within the store / manufacturing area to try and give some scale to this company, also taking into account Health & Safety, moving lights etc etc.

I started to set up the lights in the area that would give us the best chance of a good result. Always get a good one in the bag early doors, leave the more challenging ideas or risky ideas till the end. The time was ticking, lights were set and I was ready for the two guys.

When did the pressure come…. right about when they said “You’ve got 5 mins”… Okay, I knew then we weren’t moving from this set up and I had to get a few different angles so the art director had as much choice as possible.

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The images above are straight from the camera, un-lit etc…. I’m capturing the various potential angles that I can from this one location. I’d leave these images and use them as references half way through the shoot to remind myself of my earlier thoughts…

Also I’m trying to remember how tall they are compared to myself so I can visualize a rough idea of their heights in the frame so I can keep the background as clean as possible. You can see that some of the upright building supports have a yellow banding around them and so I didn’t want their heads having these beams coming out of them.

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You can see the final image Director ran with and to the right is the setup image I took while setting up. Just started to add a few lights.


The final article above and the final crop on the image with only the bottom bit of the image being cropped due to the aspect ratio of the frame but also i didn’t like the gap between the rolls of paper.

True to their word I had about 5 mins, I moved the lights just once in order to squeeze out one or two more frames from a slight different angle. My intention was always to have them stood in the middle of these rolls and to see nothing else but needed to give a few variants.

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Above are a few other shots I submitted. Again didn’t want them to be to rigid in their stance, wanted a relaxed feel, not too stuffy and business like.

All in all nearly 3h30mins round trip for 5mins window to shoot. That is not uncommon so you need to be on the ball and deliver the goods when needed.

Don’t get enough chances to blog on this site, heres hoping to improve the opportunities next year.

You can always see more regular work over on my automotive blog via this link 🙂

Till next time