Meet Alex Bamford. Art director and photographer.


Alex has been working in advertising for over 25 years. Today he works on the Land Rover, Lloyds and Dell accounts for RKCR/Y&R. Not content with working in one of the best agencies around, he also spends much of his spare time stuck behind a tripod, looking through a tiny little window, dreaming up a whole bunch of very interesting images

Hello Alex. Let's start with a nice easy one  what makes a top art director?

That's not easy! I'd say it takes a mix of many things; a well disciplined ego, single-mindedness and knowing when to listen.

OK, let's say you've got a cracking idea for an ad. How do you get a photographer to take the shot you're after?

Choosing the right photographer for the job is the most important bit. After that it's a delicate balance of standing back and stepping in. You want to get them to create something they're pleased with but something that also fulfills the brief.

So you look at a lot of photographer's books I guess?

Not physically like I used to, websites have taken over. The advantage of that is that you can see work from anywhere in the world, the disadvantage is that you don't get to immerse yourselves in the quality or meet the photographers.

And now you're giving photography a go yourself, what have you learnt from the top guys you've worked with?

Most importantly, that it takes patience and persistence.


You've been taking a lot of night shots? Pardon my ignorance but don't they turn out a bit dark?

That's where the tripod comes in. My exposures can be anything from 3 to 20 minutes. Too short and they're too dark, too long and they look like daytime, which in my mind, ruins the point.

I have to say I think your shots are pretty cool. Tell us about some of your favourite shots and how they came about.

Like a large number of my shots, these were shot by moonlight. I go out every month, a day or so either side of the full moon, and cycle with a tripod and camera on my back looking for interesting locations. I like uncluttered, linear compositions so shooting when no one is around is perfect.

Living in Brighton, you can't avoid the sea. I like the way that long exposures turn it silky smooth. This stone groyne below is one that I've revisited many times, trying to get the moonlight directly behind it.

Below, I've been playing with light trails for a while. They're fun to do and I enjoy the planning process involved. This light was made from pound shop LEDs in an old plastic poster tube.

And above, chalk cliffs are a common theme of mine. I love the way they stand out in the moonlight. The moon gives a very direct light so the shadows are really black, which works well in this shot.

Did you have an idea what you wanted to shoot before you started?

I've always enjoyed shooting at night but I got the moonlight bug after a trip to Japan with photographer, Satoshi Minakawa. We shot Mount Fuji under a full moon for a Land Rover campaign. I was blown away by what came out on film.

So where does your story go from here  art director or photographer?

Lots of photographers have advised me that if I want to keep enjoying it, I most definitely shouldn't take it up as a profession. Hopefully, I'll always work as an art director and play as a photographer.

Check out some very neat moonlight photography at www.alexbamford.com

John Fountain is senior writer at Avvio. Follow his adventures at @fountainjohn