Award-winning photographer Richard Boll on versatility, traveling for commissions and his portrait of Sir David Attenborough
By Holly Morton
London-based editorial and advertising photographer Richard Boll talked to us about photographing Sir David Attenborough, having his image selected to be displayed in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, and how he gets his work in front of the right people.
Production Paradise: You are a very well established photographer with numerous awards and commissions. What would you say has been key to your success in a very competitive industry?
Richard Boll: I’ve worked very hard to make any success happen for me, but there’s also always an element of luck; in photography generally, but also in a career path in photography. I’m a strong believer, however, in “chance favouring the prepared”. I’ve also been given very good advice by certain key people throughout my career to date; advice that I try and pass on to students and people starting their career in photography whenever I can.
Production Paradise: Some of your clients include Sony, Land Rover and Forbes Magazine. How have you made yourself visible to these high profile brands?
Richard Boll: I rely on a cross-platform approach to marketing, and the clients you mention have found my work in different ways. Promotional sites can work well, but also such elements as word-of-mouth recommendations can be very significant too.
Production Paradise: You have a commissioned portrait of Sir David Attenborough in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery which is very impressive! Can you tell us the story behind this project?
Richard Boll: Meeting and photographing Sir David Attenborough was certainly a career highlight, as I have a huge amount of respect for him and his work. I won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2006 which led to the commission from the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was a real honour to receive the commission, and I was delighted when the Portrait Gallery then selected the photograph for their permanent collection.
Production Paradise: Your website features collections from your personal projects alongside your work for clients, how important do you think personal projects are for a photographer working in the advertising industry?
Richard Boll: I can only try and imagine how clients view my work and my website, but I like to think that personal work is significant to their selection process. The projects are certainly important to me, for pushing my own creative boundaries through self-initiated projects. Print sales based on the back of the projects are an added bonus too.
Production Paradise: Are there any particular types of project that immediately catch your attention when you’re taking on new work?
Richard Boll: I’ve always loved variety in my work, and enjoy the range of images I’m asked to shoot, but I’d say that getting the opportunity to travel for commissioned projects and to see new countries is always particularly gratifying. I’m enjoying the chance to shoot outside in the landscape more and more too.
Production Paradise: As your website tells us, you are equally adept at working in a studio or on location, and your photography focuses on still life, portrait, and lifestyle. Do you have a preference where you are working and is there one field you like to work in the most?
Richard Boll: I’ve sometimes struggled with the dilemma of whether I should specialise more, or continue to offer a variety of work that I really enjoy. I’m finding that some of my best clients ask me to shoot across the categories that I offer. I can sometimes shoot lifestyle, product and portrait photographs in a single commission. I’m pleased that this versatility is recognised as an asset by clients.
Production Paradise: As London is one of the main capitals of the advertising industry worldwide, how important is it to travel in today’s globalised world? And how important do you think it is to promote your work in international platforms such as Production Paradise?
Richard Boll: I’ve carried out advertising shoots in London and throughout the world, and am always prepared to travel for shoots when it’s required. I have certainly found platforms like Production Paradise useful for getting the exposure that leads to great commissions.