‘It was one of those great advertising briefs where all the elements are there, but nothing was set in stone. I don’t have the original layout from Nigel Rose, art director at CDP, but I think it showed a shadow of a cat, a bowl and maybe the suggestion of a window.’
You were working on several campaigns at the same time: did you and Nigel discuss the look of the shot in detail? Or were you both pretty much on the same wavelength?
Graham Ford: ‘That summer of ’85 I was also working on Benson & Hedges with Graham Fink, Silk Cut for Paul Arden, Volvo for John Horton, Atora and Clarkes for Nigel, Hennessy for Guy Moore, BMW for Kathy Heng and Citroen for Dennis Lewis. I was very busy!
Nigel would have drawn a loose layout which the agency and client would have approved in principle – art directors could actually draw in those days – and we’d discuss the detail with the stylist and modelmaker. When we had everything ready on the set we would progress together, a process of discovery using lots of Polaroid.
Art directors like Nigel knew what they wanted, and they understood photography. There is a long journey from sketch to billboard, as everything had to be made by hand, assembled, lit, brought into focus, and distilled onto one sheet of film. Nigel knew my style, we trusted each other and knew we could make this work.’
Are you the kind of photographer who works everything out on paper, or do you prefer to evolve the shot until you’re happy enough to go ahead?
Graham Ford: ‘Both. I would calculate distances, sizes and lens angles, and I would set up a test and plan as much as I could beforehand. Don’t forget, the models were real and couldn’t be changed after they were made, and that sometimes took weeks…