a week at the picture desk bookmark london

The Picture Desk at Bookmark’s London office is the A-Z workspace that oversees the creation and management of visual content for a variety of clients. From brainstorming to executing photoshoots, videos, illustrations and animations, the Picture Desk ensures that visuals are kept within brief and to the highest standards.

As Photography Director and Assistant Picture Editor, we oversee a vast quantity of pictorial production characterized by huge diversity. Working and collaborating with an array of clients, allows us to continually expand our creative horizons across all media of image-making.

A picture in the age of social media works harder than ever before. In recent years, a thirst for generating visual content has stimulated a renewal of the print industry, the crafted video, the customized illustration and indeed the photographic medium itself.

Magazine covers from Capital Thinking, Fabric, Patek Philippe, Blink, Portfolio.

Researching, brainstorming, briefing, generating creative concepts, reviewing portfolios, commissioning, producing, shooting, art directing, editing, licensing – all of these undertakings form the fabric of life at the Picture Desk. One of the most rewarding aspects of our job is nurturing talents and collaborating with amazingly creative people like photographers, stylists, directors, illustrators, editors and entire teams that we have grown to know and trust.

A recent shoot for a luxury brand client is a great example of our collaborative work with talents from all over the world. Our objective was to recreate and photograph dishes from Salvador Dali’s surrealist recipe book Les Dîners de Gala. The book is a lavishly illustrated artwork in its own right. In order to do justice to Dali’s eccentric genius, it was crucial to choose the right team for our vision. We collaborated with Hamburg-based photographer, Oliver Schwarzwald, whose surrealist aesthetic was a perfect fit, along with renowned food economist, Raik Holst, and Italian freelance stylist and master of quirky props, Elena Mora. The result: brilliant sets, recipes recreated to perfection and stunning photographic work.

Spread of Dali’s les Dîners de Gala. Photography, Oliver Schwarzwald; set design, Elena Mora; food styling, Raik Holst; Art Director, Andrew Campbell; Photography Director, Emmanuelle Peri.

On a typical day, we look at thousands of photographs, illustrations, videos and animations, as well as work that inspires us, work we learn from and work that communicates a message concisely and effectively. Our ultimate aim is to build coherent visual strategies for projects that we hope will serve to forge meaningful connections between our clients and the public. Great visuals are a key ingredient to telling a compelling story.

Take the article on Victorian explorer and photographer, Isabella Bird, in volume 4.3 of the Patek Philippe magazine  — Bird traveled extensively throughout Japan, China and Korea writing meticulous notes and taking pictures of remote places. She was a pioneer of travel writing and the first woman to be accepted as a member of the Royal Geographic Society.

When came the time to choose a photographer to document the route Bird took along the Yangtze River, Catherine Hyland was the obvious choice for the assignment. We already knew that Hyland was passionate about China, and if need be, she would travel to all four corners of the country to recreate Bird’s photographs. The assignment lasted six weeks and along the way she gathered more than a few hairy stories. Meanwhile we were monitoring, with keen interest, her progress from the safety of our desks in London.

Photos: Isabella Bird/ Royal Geographical Society and Catherine Hyland

If one thing is certain, it’s that working at a Picture Desk is an emotional rollercoaster. Challenges can arise from all sides, at any time. But sometimes, we also like to make things a bit harder for ourselves. The shoot for the April issue of Fabric magazine was one such occasion.

With a concept based on outdoors and indoors, we gave ourselves the task of photographing a fashion feature with actor Nell Hudson in a tiny conservatory filled not only with delicate exotic plants but also fashion and hair stylists, a make-up artist, the photographer and an assistant, the art director, photo editors, a publicist and a vast amount of equipment all squeezed into an unfeasibly small space. That day’s mantra: “keep calm, carry on and trust your team!”

Photography, Tina Hillier; styling, Kara Kyne; hair, Shukeel Murtaza; make-up, Justine Jenkins, Art Director, Penny Clements for Fabric magazine.

Bookmark works with brands to develop customized content programs that resonate with their audiences and drive engagement, turning every activation into a compelling and measurable experience.

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