The above image of Sir Patrick Stewart was shot during a train naming for GB Railfreight. Back when I lived in the Midlands, it wasn't unusual to travel around England and Wales, often as part of the Force Four Creative team who bought me in as a freelance corporate photographer. As my clients, I'd get some repeat clients of theirs, such as GB Railfreight and AGFA healthcare. Doing conferences and other events such as the train namings and holiday excursions year-on-year, you'd recognise, and occasionally get to know a few faces. Every now and then however, you were also just told that there would be a big celeb there, and that you weren't privy to the information until the day of the shoot. I think I did a bit of sleuthing and worked out that it was Sir Patrick Stewart prior, knowing that the naming was after Huddersfield Town, a football club with not too many A-list fans, and where Sir Patrick Stewart was a lifelong supporter given his birthplace was in nearby Mirfield. Of course, not every such event was that exciting, although Gyles Brandreth was a particular highlight in terms of humour when he presented an awards night and conference which I was also tasked with shooting.
Doing excursions was an interesting one! I'm sure they won't mind me mentioning this, but GBRf would often take their staff away on a complimentary trips to the seaside (it's crazy to think now that I'm based at one), or occasionally a big city such as London. This involved one of their locos pulling an array of hired old-skool orient express stylie carriages, y'know the ones with armchairs and tables, but of course nowhere near as fancy and ornate. Often kicking off about 6am, we'd travel the rails from say Cardiff to Minehead on a four to six-hour journey that involved a complimentary cooked breakfast, and a three-course meal on the way back.. oh, and of course plenty of complimentary alcohol too - what a cool way to treat your employees! It was F4's job to handle logistics prior and on the day, so while I was there to photograph the onboard smiles and antics, which often involved face painting and balloon modelling for the kids, I kind of also slid in to the odd team duty too. These were long days, often a good 6am start and a 11pm finish, with us typically the first on and the last to leave, but we did get to go to the seaside.. and being a Brummie, that was kinda a novelty back then!