• Andy Whysall

The Actuary's annual report

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

I'm not going to dwell on all of the mechanics of taking the photos for the Government Actuary's Department 2019 annual report, but it's worth reflecting on briefly mainly from a technical point of view.

I went equipped with some supplementary lighting - in the form of three speedlights, two lighting stands, a softbox, white and silver umbrellas, but because the GAD office is lit with bright overhead daylight LED panels I decided to go with available light, with just one or two of the final shots having some speedlight input. The non-flash images look the best I think, far more genuine, less blatantly corporate (although the poses tend to remain rather like you might expect - there is only so far one can step off the corporate path, and this annual report has to go before Parliament).

To have gone to town on lighting setups in the working time agreed, even with an assistant who knew the ropes, would have been a step too far in the allotted time, I think and would have required a fair amount of logistical work by comms at the GAD as well, since it would have been quite disruptive in their work environment.

As well as photographing six key figures in the department, I took pictures around the office. The head of comms wanted some environmental shots that might be useful for their publications. High-key and out of focus is fashionable and (see pix below) is great for making transparent backgrounds for text and other images.

It occurs to me that some thoughts on the gear I took might be enlightening. Clearly, doing a well-paid job 300 miles from home, you need to cover all possibilities. It was all packed into a Calumet (they've gone now, been absorbed by Wex) wheely camera bag:

2x camera bodies

10x camera batteries fully charged


18-55mm zoom lens

56mm f1.2 lens

35mm f1.4 lens

14mm f2.8 lens

Remote release

2 large speedlights

1 small speedlight

Wireless flash trigger set


24 AA batteries

12 AAA batteries


2x lighting stands

silver brolly

white brolly

2 smaller folding softboxes

Various lighting stand brackets and adaptors


That's probably it. I didn't use the half of it, but best to be prepared.

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