I sent an email to the person I spoke to originally about perhaps sorting out a meeting so that I could photograph a laptop. I said:
I am a university student, doing a self-initiated project, and have chosen to do an advertising campaign to raise awareness of OLPC.
I am now at the stage of producing preliminary designs for it and have reached a point where I cannot continue without photographing one of your laptops.
Is there any way we would be able to arrange a meeting of some sort for me to come and photograph one?
I could also show you my direction and progress if you were interested?
I am more than aware that you are very busy but I promise not to take up much of your time at all and it will help me greatly.
I thank you for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you.
– Luke Sutton
He promptly replied simply saying, “Sorry, no. Volunteers have the opportunity to buy one.”
He went on to say how the London offices were no longer active and the chances are I had better odds securing one with the french offices! Through his email I found a link to ‘olpcmap.net’, a map with all the offices and activities that OLPC are undergoing. I found 3 contacts listed under ‘London’, as opposed to the huge list for France and Belgium, I sent a similar email to the these London contacts.
Daniel Drake replied and seem to more than happy to help, turns out however that he is out of the country! Luckily he did give me the email for a Peter Robinson, suggesting he may be able to help. I mentioned Daniel’s referral and he replied very quickly replied.
In a matter of 2 or 3 emails we had a meeting for the next day!!
This all happened on Wednesday the 20th and I was working late that night. I had no time to prepare and was due to meet him for lunch the next day. I was in major panic mode, I had no idea how to take crisp and sharp photography, nor did I know how to get to Canary Wharf on the train. I was feeling really nervous.
Fortunately, I received an email about an hour before I was going to leave telling me that he had to rearrange due to an urgent conference call. I welcomed the news but was a little wary about when I would next get to meet. I could not meet him the Friday and he was away all of the next week. We finally decided that we would still meet that same day, just at half 5 in the evening.
This gave me around 5 extra hours in which to give myself a crash course in high quality static photography and educate myself how to navigate around London. I also had to think of any questions I may want to ask whilst there, that might help with the project.
I was not at all sure what to expect but I was told it was in the Canary Wharf area. I went dressed relatively smartly with the thought that if this is an office I didn’t want to look scruffy.
I was expecting this:
I got this:
Talking with Peter Robinson, I found out the English branch of OLPC is literally held together buy 4 guys in London and a kid in Bristol. The operation apparently never took off over here and it is due to close down any time now. He has a month left on his contract and he said that unless, by some miracle, the organisation gets a major boost in awareness, interest and funding he will not be signing up to be part of OLPC any more.
It’s quite sad really because it is so popular, even just 4 miles across the channel!
I had to make do with what I had here, luckily I planned ahead and bought a piece of card with me to place behind the laptop. I created a mini-studio in his kitchen and it actually seemed to work pretty well.
I had a remote shutter switch with me, I read a while back that this would result in no movement of the camera when pressing ‘shoot’. This meant sharper results.
I also applied the things I had learnt earlier that day: Low ISO, low shutter speed, manual focus, understanding apertures, minimal zoom and cleaning the lens right before shooting.
I photographed them in Large, High Quality JPEG and as RAW files, this is so that they could be produced as big as needed for billboard art.
Here are the results as a PDF contact sheet of my 8 favourite shots and below are the two I think I will need to edit for the “Window to the World” design: