Published on Thu Jan 6, 2022 by David J Colbran
Just catching up with some blog posts and news from a busy end to 2021. Probably the most high profile commission was to work at the G7 foreign ministers summit in Liverpool in December.
The G7 meetings are where a group of the world’s most powerful heads of state came together to talk about economic issues. The G7, shorthand for Group of Seven, is an organization of leaders from some of the world's largest economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US.
Members of the G7 meet each year for a summit to discuss pressing issues on the global stage and coordinate policy. 2021 came the turn of the UK to host, with the main event being in held in June in Cornwall.
The final G7 meeting in the UK was for foreign ministers to discuss a range of global issues, including economic resilience post-COVID, global health and human rights. The city of Liverpool was chosen for the two-day meeting due to its international history as a port, the cultural impact it has made and the excellent venues available. Other foreign ministers from the world's richest democracies were also invited, including who I was working for, the Australian Government.
The Australian High Commission contacted me after recommendations from the Met Police's Protection Command. I have worked as a photographer on previous Royal visits to Merseyside and I have passed security checks unbenounced to me at some point and I am the 'go to guy in Liverpool' apparently lol.
Of course even with that recommendation I needed to provide a series of ID documents and information to my contact for security clearance and to obtain the correct passes required for the summit venues. So there was quite a lot of planning even before we discussed the photography brief and their requirements for images.
More often than not at the formal events I am asked to cover, part of my job is to arrange and group people prior to the photography. During the phone call brief, it was explained this was slightly different, no direction from the photographers was allowed. Ministers would arrive for meetings, stand and pose for between 10 and 15 seconds, I simply had to be in the correct place and ready to shoot, no "look this way" or chance to stage anything.
I joined the Australian diplomatic team in Liverpool city centre and then we journeyed to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for the arrival of Marise Payne, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs on their country's private jet. Once through security we waited with UK police and security for the plane to land and get some images on the rather wet tarmac of the arrival.
The following day the summit started in earnest - the Australian diplomatic team had lots of bilateral meetings with other countries, so the pace of work picked up considerably. We moved between venues - Hilton Hotel, Hope Street Hotel and the Museum of Liverpool. As suggested I had to work very quickly, adjusting camera settings between different rooms, with no time to preview any of the spaces. Fortunately the Diplomatic teams - both Australian and from the UK Foreign Office were on hand to help me get into the right place, for that all important elbow bump greeting between ministers in front of the respective flags. And then after about half a dozen frames I was whisked out. It was a really interesting and challenging insight into working in the high-level summit environment - and while similar to regular press calls, very different with the speed of things, lack of direction and the associated summit / diplomatic protocols.
Annalena Baerbock, the German Foreign Minister and Marise Payne the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Antony Blinken, USA Foreign Minister and Marise Payne the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
The team needed image rushes for social media channels straight away after each shoot. So it was a question of finding a little space and firing up the Surface laptop. We went with uploads to Dropbox of pre-approved low-res versions and then WhatsApping the link to those who needed the images quickly - it worked an absolute treat. I've included a a few screen grabs from Twitter.
Sunday was the final day of the summit and a 7am start at the Hope Street Hotel for a breakfast meeting with Marise Payne and her UK counterpart Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary. From there we returned to the Museum of Liverpool for the final series of meetings. The museum looked excellent after its refit and with small rooms built inside the main exhibition spaces, it provided a lot of talking points for the visitors to the city. Away from the cameras, ministers and delegates had been entertained the previous evening in The Beatles Story at the nearby Albert Dock, and even a tour of Anfield was laid on. So they had the full city experience - I heard some of the younger visitors even ventured to Concert Square late at night !
Liz Truss, UK Foreign Secretary and Marise Payne the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Marise Payne the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Proceedings were wrapped up and the Australian diplomatic team and the Minister left in convoy from their hotel back to the airport. My final shoot was back on the runway, again in the rain for the departure shots. In conclusion a fabulous commission and while challenging and long hours, a weekend I really enjoyed and will remember for a long time.
Finally it was great to get feedback from Zach at the Australian High Commission soon after the weekend - "Thank you very much for your assistance over the weekend. We were very pleased with the quality of your work and the professionalism with which you approached a demanding programme."
business, conference, government, summit
Getting a portrait booked in for a business profile can be a new and daunting experience for some people. Many of my clients have never had a professional photoshoot before and of course it is up to me to make them comfortable ...
A very busy and interesting weekend working for Marise Payne Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs at various venues across the city. It was my first time working at a high profile diplomatic summit.
A couple of weeks ago I was honoured to be asked to present and exhibit some of my artworks at the “Unmasked” Digifest and annual research conference 2021, based in Durban, South Africa
"David is an amazing Liverpool based photographer. Not just in his professionalism and demeanour, but in his clear understanding of how to create the best images for clients. We worked together on a number of commercial projects and it was quality both in terms of content and prompt delivery of files every time. Absolutely no problem recommending him, he is a true pro at what he does !"