A Street Photographer's Sojourn

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Nick Turpin
Nick Turpin
Armed with a Samsung Pixon camera phone, a laptop, passport and hopefully some changes of clothes, U.K.-based street photographer Nick Turpin is currently in the midst of a 28-day assignment from London agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine.

The "Photographic Adventures of Nick Turpin" campaign, which promotes the aforementioned Pixon, began on October 22nd in the artist's hometown of East Dulwich. That morning, Turpin was directed by Lean Mean Fighting Machine to use his Pixon to take snapshots of life in his hometown and immediately send them to the agency, which then posted its top choice on the "Photographic Adventures" homepage that same day. After the image was posted, the site's visitors were asked to help pick Turpin's next photographic subject by clicking on any notable area found on the posted image. Once the top-clicked area was tallied by day's end, the photographer's next subject and destination were determined by the agency, which has subsequently sent Turpin on journeys everywhere from the U.K. to Marseilles to Athens to Rome.

"That poor bloke is absolutely knackered," jokes Lean Mean's creative/founding partner Dave Bedwood. "We've had him everywhere. It went from 0-60 miles an hour from the first photo, really. He hasn't really stopped, but he's quite a game chap for it. He's a very calm and relaxed person, so that helps."

Bedwood claims that so far the most clicked-on areas within the daily-posted images have been easy to calculate. "Most times, you don't even need to go into the clicks to find out. So far, there have really been no close calls. You can see [the most clicked item] straight away. But again, we've still got a bit of latitude. You can do loads of things and you're basically trying to give yourself the best options. If it's paint they click on the most, for example, then you can photograph really anything next."

According to Bedwood, the idea for the "Adventures" campaign was inspired by Samsung's strategy for the Pixon. "When we came up with the idea, Samsung had a TV ad and they had a strategy called "Unexpected Moments." It was basically saying this [Pixon] phone can take a really good 8-megapixel picture and do it quite quickly. It's not like a usual mobile phone that takes ages to boot up and you miss the moment. Their thinking was if you've got one of these phones on you all the time, if something funny happens, you can capture it on a really good camera."

Since unexpected and spontaneous were their keywords for the Pixon campaign, Lean Mean Fighting Machine felt a street photographer would be an ideal spokesperson. "We had seen portfolios of Nick and a few other street photographers who specialize in unexpected moments," says Bedwood. "They walk down ordinary streets and capture that slice of life right at the moment. It gives the photo meaning whether it's something funny or someone walks underneath a sign at the right moment and it says something about them. We thought if we had someone like that, it would be a great campaign in itself. [But since] we wanted to make the whole campaign spontaneous and unexpected, that's where the idea came from of having this photo up, having people be able to click on it and you get to see where everyone else has clicked. The most clicks on whatever area becomes his next [subject]. So he lives his life through his photos in a way."

Lean Mean's stipulation from day one for the "Adventures" effort was that it couldn't be premeditated at all, which posed a challenge especially with the constant, spur-of-the-moment travel and hotel bookings. "The traveling is tricky. Our producer is working absolutely flat-out hard. We can't influence any of the voting so we have to wait and see what's going on, and then we have to react to that. The producer has to then go immediately book a flight and sort out the hotel. Meanwhile, Nick's on his own; there's no one else like a crew or an assistant. He's got his luggage, backpack, Pixon and laptop. It's pretty intense but we want to keep the momentum up and put the photos up on the site."

After fishing through the roster at street photography collective iN-PUBLIC, Bedwood says that the agency found a fitting candidate in Turpin. "They needed to be great at taking photos obviously, but a big thing was we needed them to write little descriptions and realize it was going to be very stressful. They also needed to be good in front of the camera because we needed to shoot a couple of ads and we also wanted a video diary. They had to be fairly charismatic and just up for doing it, talking about it and Twittering. Nick's portfolio was brilliant. He was by far the strongest one in terms of what we were looking for. He was really comfortable with it. He had to put up with people asking him for stuff and be fairly laid-back. Whether he will be at the end of the 28 days is another question."
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