A day in the life at Rivendell’s photography studios

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Clare Ambler


Photographer Clare joined Rivendell in July 2019 and very quickly settled into the Riv family. Straight into a photography and video apprenticeship from school, Clare has amassed 20 years of experience in the industry and has been a real asset to Rivendell’s team with her broad range of expertise, particularly in food styling. Here’s a behind the scenes look at a day in Clare’s life on set alongside Head of Photography Emmanuel ‘Manu’ Roy.

Arrival at Rivendell.I left home about 8am for my commute to work through Leeds city centre. The traffic has been a lot quieter during lockdown so it’s been a quicker trip. We are shooting products which require food this week so I did shopping enroute to get the best looking fresh produce.

Unpacking the shopping. Today we’re working with a client for a home baking brownie kit and tomorrow we’re continuing a shoot for kitchen appliances for a retailer.

Getting stuck in making brownie mixture and chatting to co-worker. The doors are always open (Covid-19 permitting) and the kettle’s always on for a cuppa and chat, sometimes a slice of brownie if you are lucky.

Styling the food set with Manu. A good brief helps as we can make a start on photographs and have some examples ready to share with the client on their arrival.

In between cooking the product and making sure the lighting looks right to the brief, other staff members pass by to have a look at what we are shooting as it’s so varied day to day and always interesting. Some colleagues tend to just follow their noses if something’s cooking...the chocolate brownie was very popular.

The clients are on set chatting to myself and Manu. It’s great shooting food when the client can attend and approve the final image as the longer it’s on set, the harder it is to keep looking fresh. Our new food studio enables clients to be easily involved and experience the whole process.

I’m straight on to retouching once the final image has been chosen. It’s not always this quick – sometimes we email the batch of photos and wait for their final selection, but today with the client on set it’s a quick turnaround.

Here it is – the final shot which I’ve just sent to the client for final approval. We don’t always know where the photographs will be used, but for a product like this it’s usually for packaging, PR or advertising.

Washing up after the kitchen shoot. Somebody’s got to do it!!

Often over the course of the day I can be working between all three studios, so it can be a bit of a blur!

Today Jordan, another photographer/retoucher, had a fashion shoot using mannequins. He needed a hand, so I mucked in with steaming the clothes and prepping the shoot list order.

Our brownie shoot is complete so I’m already getting organised with the kitchen set in the product studio ready to shoot in the morning.

That’s a wrap. Another great day in the studio and the clients left happy. We are ready to do it all again tomorrow.

"I find my job very rewarding and love my Rivendell team. Jim (McAulay) is a fantastic boss and colleagues are supportive, inspiring and good fun. I always think it’s important to get on with your workmates as you spend as much time with them as family. Thanks to Manu for the help arranging today. I hope it’s a good insight into a regular day here in the photography department at Rivendell Leeds."

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