Stephen Ambrose: Calcio Storico

At Locate we get to work with some of the best creatives in the business and we love being able to share with you the work they do and their career journeys.

One such creative is photographer Stephen Ambrose. Stephen is an award winning photographer working with design and advertising agencies across the UK. He has recently won 3rd place in the IPA awards Extreme sports category for his latest project Calcio Storico.

Tell us a bit about how you got in to photography? 

My initial interest in photography began with my Dad.  He was a keen amateur and had an SLR. As my interest developed my parents bought me my own SLR when I was 12.  After some bad careers advice I ended up doing business studies at college. I lived in a small northern town and all the careers adviser knew was high street portrait photographers.  Then i got a job in a factory driving a fork lift truck and packing boxes. I stayed for 9 years but towards the end of this time I studied photography at night school where my tutor, Debbie, persuaded me to give up my job and go to Blackpool college full time to study for a degree in photography.  After graduating I relocated to London and started to assist. Firstly Architecture with Peter Durant and Grant Smith and then I fell in to the advertising world when my assistant friend Vik got me in as a second on a shoot with Adam Hinton. This has now taken me all over the world on many campaigns working with all the agencies in London.  In 2017 I won the portrait category at the AOP awards and this gave me my first advertising campaign and I spent most of 2018 working on numerous adverts for Adidas.

What appealed to you about starting this project?

This project started after spending most of 2018 photographing footballers at the top of their game. Then this made me think about what it takes to get to top level sports and I did a project on a young gymnast which showed me the passion that develops from a young age.  Which then led me on to how that passion continues if it doesn’t become a career. I was looking for a project that would show the ultimate passion and sacrifice and I came across Calcio Storico.

What is Calcio Storico? 

Calcio Storico is a game fought between the four districts of Florence, Italy every year.  Twenty Seven men in each team play a fifty minute game. Two semi finals on the third weekend in June and then the final always played on the 24th June, La Festa di San Giovanni (the feast of John the Baptist).  The game has been played since the sixteenth century in the Piazza Santa Croce. Passions run high. They do it for the love of their districts. No money is involved. The rules are no sucker punches and only one on one fighting but apart from this pretty much anything goes.

What were the challenges you faced shooting the project?

The main challenge shooting this project was rupturing my right arm bicep tendon a week before.  But also, as with any project, was gaining access. I had tried to contact the Florence government and was getting nowhere.  Then Locate productions put me in contact with an Italian producer that made a few phone calls and advised me that the best thing to do was for me to write a letter to the Florence government and state my case.  Its a very local event and they like it that way. It’s not something that they want to publicise to the world so I think they liked that I was doing it for me. I didn’t hear anything until 4 days before the first semi final when they emailed to grant press access and then it was a rush to book flights and hotel.

What are you looking to work on next? 

Now I’m looking for an agent.  I find that I’m quoting on lots of jobs but losing out to photographers with agents. The quoting and usage process is a minefield which an agent would be massively helpful as with exposure and self promotion.  I enter competitions and see art buyers and art directors with my folio but that extra exposure would be good. I think an agent gives an ad agency or client confidence in the whole shoot process, even if we all use the same production companies, casting directors, stylists, make up artists etc etc etc.

For my next personal project I’m continuing on the weird and extreme sports of the world.  Calcio Storico was the beginning and it was such an experience. High pressure, spontaneous, chaotic but at the same time keeping yourself composed and thinking of the big picture and how each image will work in the project.  With no art direction and no sports choreography you’ve really got to nail it first time as there’s no repeats of any actions. It makes the commissioned work a little easier.

 

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In October 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that we have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe. This felt like a huge wake-up call to Locate and as a company, we’re responding to the climate crisis by creating a culture where sustainability is at the heart of all we do.

We’re keeping track of our efforts and teaming up with like-minded companies and suppliers to learn more, share ideas and help find solutions. Here’s an overview of our sustainability journey so far:

November 2018

In order to learn more about what is being done in the industry, we attended our first Ad Green event. Ad Green is an initiative launched by the Advertising Association (AA) in partnership with Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) that aims to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of production.

January 2019

We became an affiliated member of Albert, a carbon-calculator designed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and with their support, we hosted a carbon literacy training day for our staff, freelancers and regular suppliers. Whilst Albert was originally created for the film and TV industry to help calculate the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a direct result of making the programme, we use it for our stills photographic and small moving image shoots.

February 2019

We started using Pedal Me for couriers, which produce 90% less CO2 compared with cars and vans as well as switching to Green Tomato Cars for taxis and cabs, who are London’s first and largest hybrid car service. They also double offset their carbon emissions.

March 2019

We invested in more KeepCups and water bottles to take on shoots (and use in the office). This investment, as well as waste reduction, has been a great conversation starter and helps create a zero waste culture on our shoots. March 2019 also saw our sister company Gripvan invest in a motor-assisted delivery bike to help reduce their transport emissions.

April 2019

Filming on location with Adam Hinton, we helped produce an awareness video for Global Action Plan. The film highlighted the issues of people living in heavily polluted areas and promoted National Air Pollution day (which takes place on the third Thursday of June every year):

 

May 2019

This month, we attended another Ad Green event. Sharing ideas, gaining knowledge, networking and communicating are all essential in helping create positive change in the industry. We also attended an event for sustainable set design at BAFTA. It was great to hear about the work Dresd are doing with recycling and reusing sets.

June 2019

Whilst we’ve always tried to use local caterers who provide seasonal menus, June 2019 saw us make the conscious decision to implement a vegetarian option as standard, on shoots. A vegetarian meal is less than a kilogram of carbon whilst fish and meat dishes can produce anything between 1.6-14 times more.

July 2019

We trialled a 2kw VOLTstack battery systems on a shoot for Jaguar around the UK and on an 18 hour time-lapse shoot in the city to power laptops. As well as being silent, not needing fuel and avoiding cable runs, we think it saved approx 10kg of CO2 per day for 6 days.

August 2019

As per a recommendation from the Creative Energy scheme, we switched our energy supplier to Good Energy. This saves an approximate 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Which? ranked Good Energy top of their report on UK renewable energy suppliers. Good Energy guarantee all energy is traceable to a UK generation source.

September 2019

We delivered a 2 minute film and a suite of still images for an organisation called The Sailboat Project who are using sail cargo to transport produce around the world. This particular project showed the delivery of olives, olive oil and almonds. Many thanks to Adrian Wolfson and Stephen Ambrose for their help in capturing the arrival of the boat into Newhaven harbour.

 

September 2019 also saw us take part in the Worldwide Climate Crisis Strike. We closed our offices and took to the streets of London and Brighton to join millions of people around the world striking on behalf of the planet. One of our banners quoted Kate Marvel: “We need courage, not hope, to face climate change”.

October 2019

We attended a Purpose Disruptors action event. Purpose Disruptors are a network of advertising insiders whose goal is to: ‘create a visible, large scale, bottom-up movement within the industry, that will act in solidarity to meaningfully tackle climate change’.  This was another key moment in our journey. How to tackle the industry we service has felt like the biggest issue, so to find a group of talented people with great ideas on what can be done to change the ad industry in a way that supports a sustainable planet was brilliant. 

November 2019

We implemented an optional ‘1% for the Planet’ to our invoices to go towards sustainability projects. We don’t feel carbon offsetting is a solution and we don’t have the software in place to accurately calculate our emissions. However, we appreciate that we need to be supporting projects that help absorb carbon from the atmosphere – such as planting trees, growing kelp forests and developing other biodiversity projects. Our present project is a reforestation scheme in Romania called Forests without Frontiers. Thank you to all the clients that have been happy supporting us with this. This scheme has been instrumental in developing conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

November 2019

We attended the one-day Meaning Conference in Brighton. The six core themes to the conference are: Planet Positive Business, Progressive Economics, The Future of Work, Personal Growth, Disruptive Innovation & Modern Leadership.

One of the workshops was run by a group called Business Declares who are helping advise businesses on how they can declare a climate emergency. We learnt about how companies are registering for B Corporation status, which is an alternative way of evaluating the success of a business based on the principles of people, planet and profit.

December 2019

Our monthly newsletter showcased a photographic project we facilitated with a Brighton-based mobile farm shop called The Sussex Peasant. Shot by a wonderful photographer Jack Boniface, the photos help showcase the locally produced, seasonally grown, low meat produce which are essential in order to tackle the climate crisis.

December 2019 also saw us attend a number of talks and meet suppliers at The Green Zone at Focus, the annual conference for international production, held at the Business Design Centre.

January 2020

We switched our web hosting to a supplier that uses renewable energy called Erjjio Studios. Powering the internet is responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions; roughly the same footprint from global aviation fuel emissions. This month, we also hosted a discussion group about developing a wardrobe styling store. Based on the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ principle this will help reduce the emissions created from deliveries and collections, as well as cut back on the amount of wardrobe bought and returned on shoots.

February 2020

Valentine’s Day saw our co-founder Angus Light, participate in a sustainable production talk hosted and organised by Sunbeam Studios, the AOP and AdGreen.

April 2020

During the Covid-19 lockdown, our production department did a training session with Albert using their carbon calculator. Using 8 sample productions from the past 2 years the results showed that on average Transport was responsible for approx. 70% – 80% of carbon emissions from our shoots.

May 2020

We participated in the Great Reset initiative; a creative industry movement that aims to embed the positive environmental shifts that have happened during lockdown as ‘the new normal’. It’s estimated that the pause and slowdown of consumption, shopping and flying caused by the lockdown will result in a 7% decrease in global emissions in 2020. The UN states that we need a decrease of 7.6% every year until 2030 to avoid climate and ecological disaster.

November 2020

A summary of our work and efforts so far was included in the Ad Net Zero report. Ad Net Zero is an industry-wide, not-for-profit initiative led by the Advertising Association, the IPA and the ISBA which aims to reduce the carbon impact of developing, producing, and running UK advertising to real net zero by the end of 2030. You can download, read more and sign up to the Ad Net Zero scheme on the Advertising Associations’ website.

 

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