Neil White is a commercial photographer based in the West Country. He works with top brands and organisations including Ben Sherman, Merchant Fox, Sharpham Park and Bowel Cancer UK. Here Neil tells us about his inspirations, the brands he admires and his impressive baking background.
Could you describe your photographic style/approach for those that might not be familiar with your work?
My style is very flexible, it tends to bend to the brief from the agency or client. Someone told me recently they like my style because it’s very rustic and warm, which when I look at my work I can agree with, but if the next brief is cold and clinical then I’ll bend the style!
What are your favourite projects/collaborations you’ve worked on to date?
I would say working with Ben Sherman and Douglas Cordeaux on their collaborative collection is a favourite. I have worked on projects with Douglas for a few years now and it’s very much about hatching a concept as a team. Everything was shot in Somerset, except for a soon-to-be-demolished launderette, which I tracked down in Margate. Five hours in the car and was shot in 15mins, just before it was pulled down that afternoon!
Also working with Roger Saul (creator of Mulberry) and the collaboration between his Sharpham Park brand and Bowel Cancer UK, meant working with some great chefs for a fantastic cause.
Who would you love to work with?
Wow, so many! I strongly believe in supporting ‘Best of British’ From the amazing food producers and chefs we have, through to incredibly talented craftsmen and designers whose work is built on our heritage. They all produce very beautiful work which has a story, I would like to continue expanding in that area.
And I am a passionate foodie, so working with someone on a book would be fantastic, or even my own… now there’s a thought!
Who or what has influenced your work most?
I think the people I work with have had the biggest influence on my work. When you shoot with people who are truly passionate about their brand or product it creates an environment which is incredibly creative – you feed off each other.
What for you makes photography so powerful?
A photograph as opposed to a video clip lets you draw your own conclusions on the subject without influence of music or dialogue, I like that.
Which brands/organisations do you think do ‘visual storytelling’ well and why?
I think John Lewis consistently gets it right, we all felt a little more in the Christmas spirit when ‘that’ TV advert was run!
In my mind they keep it simple, concentrating on what has always been key for them – the product, the quality and the service. Other similar chains throw huge amounts of money at celebrity-filled campaigns that have failed badly.
What makes or breaks a photography brief?
A well organised, detailed brief that has realistic expectations is a wonderful thing! Without these elements, time and money are wasted, which is neither good for you or the client.
If you could learn how to do one new thing what would it be?
Learn how to repair and service my Phase One camera – I have spent a lot of money sending it to Denmark for repair over the last few months!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a photographer?
I am a fanatical baker (I made the final audition for this season’s Great British Bake Off and baked for the legend that is Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood) So I would be working ridiculous hours in my own ‘Bakery/Café’ producing earthy sourdoughs served with amazing coffee.
Any wise words to leave us with?
You have to keep your head down and work through the rough to get to the smooth… as I often say to people ‘it’s not all rock ‘n’ roll.’