WILL PEARSON'S TRANSFIGURATION OF THE COMMONPLACE
Will Pearson: a man, a passion and a philosophy.
by Sandra Petrini
Within every panoramic image shot by Will Pearson, there is a common line which accompanies the gaze, transforming the image into something lively, which can be felt on the skin. Looking at his panoramic images I was more than drawn into them, as if I could even imagine the weather conditions, the temperature, the ray of sun on my back and - specially - the mood in which they were shot.
No wonder than, that Will has been invited to the Shanghai Arts Festival 2008, in order to exhibit his panoramic art. Within this issue we showcase you some of his most impressive works, which will be able to grasp your eyes and even play with your emotions.
Will, what should our readers know about your background?
I have been taking shots from the age of 12 when I was given my first SLR camera. Even then, I had a fascination with extending images into haphazard panoramas - frequently sellotaping together sequential shots to create panoramas for my bedroom walls! The dawn of the digital age meant that sellotape was no longer a key ingredient and so I was able to start learning how to stitch images in earnest.
After university, I set up and was a partner in one of the first limited multimedia design companies in Nottingham. After several years of success the dot com bubble burst and it became apparent that moving on was the best option. I was then faced with the choice of what to do next. Having enjoyed the multimedia aspect of the business I decided to move to London and start all over again but with the focus on QTVR photography. A few years and a great deal of hard work later, it is a choice I have no cause to regret and I greatly enjoy each day. I was lucky enough to meet up with a group of advertising photographers in my local London pub (Crouch End being the media mecca that it is!). In the very early days I made these photographers' portfolio sites and in return they helped me out with equipment, contacts and most importantly advice. It's always difficult getting to meet the right people but the friends I made in the pub have definitely definitely been instrumental to my success.
click here to view Jim Hall panorama
This is one of the first stitched images I felt really happy with. It is of a mechanic's yard in my home village of Youlgrave, Derbyshire. The dilapidated lime green SAAB was our family vehicle from many years earlier and once took our family of five to the South of France on a childhood camping trip. It made an interesting print for my father.Can you please elaborate about your artistic philosophy?
I used to work with an inspiring chef when I was a student, working in the kitchens to support myself. He was interested in painting and writing and he used to talk to me about a philosophy called ‘the transfiguration of the commonplace’, whereby everyday objects can become art. 360 degree photography shows everything within an environment or a location so the audience views the entire scene – so instead of setting up a shot, you’re showing the commonplace. You may or may not have a choice about what is there, but representing (or transfiguring!) that commonplace experience in an exciting or unusual manner is the job of the artist.
Please tell us more about your most important projects.
Siemens work in an amazing amount of heavy industries, everything from off shore wind farms to MRI scanners in hospitals.
I have recently completed a commission for them, which was a fantastic opportunity to shoot some unusual and exciting locations and create panoramic stills for their advertising. For this I worked closely with the Art Director from planning through to final images. There were some interesting moments, as we had to capture a shot of a windfarm out at sea in fairly miserable rough wintry conditions. Nonetheless, I got the shot and the client was thrilled with the final images.
When an ad agency commissions print work, the commission is sometimes reasonably open, and this gains me access to exciting and important spaces which aren’t generally available to the public, or where photography is not generally allowed. A good example of this was a commission for a multinational property company where the design brief was to create 10 panoramas of London, which they wanted to display in large format on their walls indefinitely. Through a process of brainstorming and discussing shots and locations, the Client then gained access to some of the hard-to-reach places for me to shoot.
click here to view Queens Walk panorama
There’s something intrinsically satisfying about seeing one of my shots printed 3 metres wide and seeing a positive public response to it.
A project which is very special to me is the set of panoramas which I created of Salvation Mountain in California.
click here to view Salvation Mountain panorama
Leonard Knight is an incredible man, who has been out in the desert since 1984, living in his van and car, and creating a mountain from straw, adobe clay, emulsion and window putty. Today’s mountain is a massive piece of folk art which Leonard uses to share his philosophy. I’m not religious but Leonard’s philosophy of universal love, and the delight and excitement with which he greets his visitors really touched my heart. I spent a little time with Leonard, and watched him work, and I created virtual tours all around the site. Leonard is an incredibly tenacious man, and it was a pleasure to meet him and document his life’s work.
On the more commercial side, can you tell us more about your professional philosophy?
I have always been focused on high quality. I am a photographer, and I approach every job from that angle of seeking the best possible images – whether it’s a car shoot for SEAT or the inside of a storage facility. My aim is to bring an advertising or exhibition standard to VR photography.
click here to view Seat panorama
I use my photographic skills to create a narrative within the scene that spells out a story, situation or gives an insight into a location or a work environment.
Which is you your favorite commercial project?
Yungfuktoi is still the most fascinating shoot!
click here to view panorama
I’ve not since been put in a house with 20-odd way out Goths in fetish wear! The shoot was incredibly hard work, but great fun and I enjoyed working with all of the models, who were incredibly professional. The shots were incredibly well received and have been very well publicised both online and in print.
Recently, one of the most fun shoots was for a gay bar in London called Lo-Profile. I was shooting the bar on their opening night and I had only a short window of opportunity to shoot the club before the grand opening.
click here to view LoProfile panorama
Unseen in the panorama were a group of muscular gentlemen kitted up for a night out hiding behind walls and crouching behind the back of the camera as I shot the scene. It was tremendous fun as everyone there really got into the spirit of the shoot, and the end results look great.
I did a project for ABN Amro (via their ad agency) which involved going out to shoot on location in India. Very often, art directors have never worked with a panoramic photographers before, and so helping them to realize their ideas is exciting – particularly once they start to see the potential of the 360. On the ABN Amro job, I worked very closely with the agency’s Art Director who was simultaneously directing a promotional movie. It was a very hectic shoot over 3 days, but I enjoyed building a relationship with the Indian clients and the UK agency. I was also able to use the opportunity to spend a few days exploring Tamil Nadu and shooting for my own work.
I really love it when clients are in a position to give me an open-ended brief – this is a thrilling occurrence! I was asked to shoot in California, and given a rough idea of subject matter, but the choices were all mine, which was incredibly liberating. The client was very pleased with the images too – and I appreciated the confidence it takes for any client to give a photographer such a free rein.
click here to view Devils Cornfield panorama
click here to view Golden Gate Bridge panoramaWhich professional services do you offer?
We offer a dedicated virtual tour service at Eye Revolution, and we also create interfaces for clients through which to display those tours – we can create this in any way the client needs it. Though my site I also create panoramas for print and advertising commissions. Can you tell us more about your customer acquisition strategy?
Most of the more large or more interesting jobs come from contacts in the London advertising industry. While the more bread and butter work tends to come from word of mouth. Past clients often return to commission further work, so I get a large number of repeat projects. The same clients tend to recommend Eye Revolution to others, so much of our other work comes from word of mouth. The nature of our print work means that we deal with ad agency art buyers and some work even comes from other photographers who only work in traditional stills but need 360 images for their own clients. My web site throws up the occasional surprise but on the whole new work is recruited by traditional means. ...Equipment and setup?
Over the years I’ve gone through a lot of kit. I started my professional career using an Epson Camera and moved on to Nikon bodies and a fisheye lens but as new technology becomes available I like to experiment.
As I’m constantly damaging and breaking equipment, the gear I use is constantly in flux – I recently managed to hurl a camera and lens at rocky salt formations in the desert! This is the shot which the camera took as it fell.
I use a mix of Nikon and Canon gear and a variety of lenses depending on the task in hand. Over the years, my camera equipment has changed substantially, but the one constant is that Matt at 360 Precision has supported me throughout and provided me with most of my panoramic heads.
I do most of the photography, but have trained two other photographers to Eye Revolution standards who are available to do the shoots in busy periods, which is very useful as you can often feel as if there are simply too few hours to achieve everything! I also have someone in the studio to deal with the day-to-day administrative stuff, which leaves me to concentrate on the projects themselves.Future projects on the horizon?
I spend as much time as I can, going around the world going to different locations on shoots. So one of the most exciting development at the moment is that I have been invited with some of the UKs top photographers to exhibit my panoramic work in the Shanghai Arts Festival 2008. The invitation itself is a massive honour, but it also gives me the opportunity to capture some more unique images whilst out in China.
Email: will at willpearson.co.uk
Previous articles about Will Pearson:
VRMAG - MODELS VS OFFICERS AT LONDON'S SLIMELIGHT CLUB
GOTH FETISH FASHION - YUNGFUKTOI
THE BIRDS OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON
STOP THE WAR COALITION DEMONSTRATION IN LONDON