Bob Masters started his career in London, working for Christie´s International Auctioneers shooting Classic and Sports cars. One of his shoots was for the famous Bugatti Type 41 Royale, which was sold at auction in 1987 for the then world record Price of £5.5 million.
After London, Bob had the chance to work internationally for 2 years in Australia, SE Asia, India and Nepal. After, he returned back to London to embark on a career as a freelance photographer shooting still life, people and editorial imagery. In 1998, Bob discovered interest for 360 virtual reality panoramas and began to investigate the potential for producing amazing 360 rotational panoramic images. One of his first commissions using this technology after he moved to Barcelona was for the Department of Culture of the Catalan government (Generalitat de Catalunya). He received a list of over 300 heritage buildings to shoot over a period of three years, from Dali to Gaudi and from Roman ruins to Romanesque churches. One of his personal favourites was the Palau de la Música.
Bob: ¨In 2008 I shot a series of 360°VR panoramas for Qatar Airways of the interiors of their A340 Airbus aircraft and First and Premium Class Terminals in Doha, an example can be seen here. As the aircraft was in constant use we only had it available for photography from 01:00am – 10:00am, some of our ‘passengers’ in the economy class panorama spent most of the shoot asleep in their seats!¨
Apart from the 360º panos he shot for multinational clients such as BP, MasterCard, Westin Hotels, Bang & Olufsen, Autotask, Ibis Hotels, Bühler, Deboer and GEO Russia, among others. Bob took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us!
Production Paradise: You have won many awards, which one are you most proud of? What’s the story behind the winning shot?
Bob: I won 4 Silver awards in the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards in 2012 in the Built Environment category. Each shot has it’s own story but I think my favourite has to be the one I shot for BP.
I was commissioned by their office in London to go down to their oil refinery in Castellón, which I’ve done on a few occasions now, to shoot for an article about safety within the plant. Whilst there they asked me to do a 360º panorama to show the whole refinery and to do this in a dramatic way I decided to shoot it from the top of their huge coker tower. I also wanted to give the viewer the sensation that they were floating in mid air looking back at the guy on the tower. To achieve this I put my camera on the end of a three metre pole which I put out over the railings, then rotated it to fire off four exposures on my 8mm fisheye lens which I later stitched together and added a small sound bite of the ambient sound and the guys radio. The finished VR panorama is here.
Production Paradise: What challenges do you face when shooting in corporations and the subjects may not be used to having a camera pointed at them?
Bob: When shooting corporate portraits, the bosses have generally been photographed before and are fairly relaxed with it but for those who haven’t I need to do a little coaxing. If the shot is set up I try to put them at ease by putting them in an environment that is familiar to them like their office or workplace as opposed to being against a background surrounded by photographic lighting which can be a bit daunting. I’ll also talk to them for a while without the camera, light hearted conversation then explain exactly what I want them to do which I feel helps by giving them something to concentrate on. If the shot is of them working on machinery, as with BP or in a meeting, I’ll ask them to do what they normally do in that situation and ignore me so that I can follow them and shoot reportage style.
Production Paradise: When shooting architectural projects what is it that you are looking for in a building?
Bob: When it comes to the building exteriors I always look for good viewpoints that show the line and form of the structure and any details or features that the architect included in their design. I’ll usually do a recce to see at what time of day the light is best and return to shoot then. Wintertime can be a problem here as with many other cities because the sun doesn’t get very high in the sky and the buildings are either close together or the streets are very narrow so the sunlight doesn’t reach the whole structure.
Production Paradise: What is your favourite thing about being a photographer in Barcelona?
Bob: To be honest there is no one particular thing, more a combination, I love the culturally vibrant atmosphere, the friendly, relaxed people and the great modernist architecture, much of which I’ve had to photograph. On clear days when the haze has blown away the light in Barcelona is wonderful with intense blue skies, accentuated colours and a clarity which is perfect for photography.
I have to add that the worst thing about being a self employed photographer in Barcelona and Spain is general is the administrative bureaucracy which can drive a person to drink!
With the interiors, I look for clean lines, nice curves, dynamic angles and try to use the form and texture of the building materials used to accentuate the space. To do this I use both the light, whether it be natural or artificial, or a balanced combination of both and the camera angle. I also like to find features that lead the viewer from one space to another within the image, whether it be through an arch, along a corridor, or maybe up a staircase.
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