This is Katsuaki Watanabe, President of Toyota. I was asked by Automobile magazine in Detroit to go to the Frankfurt show and try and get some portraits of senior industry figures to accompany interviews by their Europe correspondent Georg Kacher. Typically this involved turning up with Georg, meeting the guy concerned, establishing that he would be OK about having a portrait shot and then setting up in the vicinity during the interview to be ready for a few seconds at the end.
Having been to a show before I had learnt the necessity of travelling light, so I had abandoned my usual 50Kg of Bowens lighting in favour of a stand and a small softbox which I had adapted to take my Nikon flash. The location was a dull meeting room off the main concourse which just happened to have a curious sort of unused coffee bar adjacent with a bright orange wall behind it. With my head jammed against the opposite wall, there was just enough room, on a much wider lens than I would normally have chosen, to make a picture.
Watanabe turned up with two huge bodyguards and was quite happy to stand in although he appeared not to speak any English and everything I said to him was translated by an aide, the net result of which was that instead of the relaxed pose that I had intended, he finished up in this rather stiff formal pose which, with the slightly impish grin, made the shot. This was the last of 11 frames and needed quite a lot of post production to clean it up but from a very unpromising situation I felt as if I had salvaged a half decent shot. Again. As usual. And I always used to think it would get easier as I got older and more experienced…
Charles Best has been a working photographer for over 15 years, and since 1995 he’s been mainly shooting portraits. He works regularly for advertising and design agencies and a large number of different magazines. Photographer since 1985, EPUK member since 2002
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