A sweet affair

by Kate Jenkinson, Editor

Ever had one of those content ideas that you put in the ‘if only’ basket? When we found out we would be photographing the joint managing directors of The Jelly Bean Factory for the January–June 2014 edition of Exceptional magazine, our imaginations ran wild thinking about how we’d approach the shoot.

Exceptional magazine is EY’s biannual flagship publication featuring entrepreneurs and fast-growth companies and distributed to corporates across the globe. The Jelly Bean Factory article, which was also the cover feature for the UK and Ireland edition, revealed a story of business failure that led to the success of a new entrepreneurial venture.

Having dragged themselves out of bed at 4.30am on Monday morning, armed with lighting equipment and two pairs of women’s hosiery, Wardour art director David Donaghy and freelance photographer Michael Donald departed London, double-shot cappuccinos in hand, on the 7.30am British Airways flight to Dublin. Awaiting them on the other side of their journey were joint MDs Peter and Richard Cullen who, thankfully, seemed open minded…

The big picture is a regular feature of Exceptional, presenting an entrepreneur and their high-growth company over a double-page photographic spread. To keep this piece fresh, Wardour tries to think outside the box, using high-calibre photographers and award-winning businesspeople. The Cullens were in good company, with previous big picture subjects including Mindy Grossman of the Home Shopping Network and designer Brunello Cuccinelli.

The aim was to capture the fun and colourful nature of the product, and when the Cullens said they were up for anything, the creative minds at Wardour were put to work. “This is a great product that people can connect with,” David says. “It is so rare to find a product and subject that lend themselves to such creative treatment, we wanted to make the most of it.” David wanted to reflect in the photography the way the Cullens had thrown themselves into their business, with blind determination and utter faith in their product.

The idea was to photograph the father-and-son duo as if they were popping their heads out of a sea of jellybeans – as physically immersed in their product as they are metaphorically. To create this illusion, David built a shallow tray to contain the beans, which also had holes for their heads to stick through. Gaffer tape in hand, and with the help of crates supplied by factory staff, the tray took form. The hidden, but essential detail was the footless women’s hosiery that secured the tray and was sealed tight around the Cullens’ necks to prevent beans from escaping.

Dressed in lab coats labelled ‘Big Bean’ (Richard) and ‘Old Bean’ (Peter), the Cullens were introduced to David’s crafty creation. “There were a lot of laughs when they saw the contraption,” says David. “‘Do you think you’re going to get me in that?’ they joked.”

Feeling slightly anxious about stretching a pair of tights over the heads of two award-winning businessmen, David was relieved to find that Richard and Peter took it in their stride and soon became submersed in sweets.

As Michael shot away, capturing these innovative and successful entrepreneurs in their element, David raced to tape up holes that spilled beans all over the floor. “We finished by pouring beans over the top of their heads,” says David. “… and then spent about half an hour clearing up the mess.”

As Peter was quoted: “The candy business is about fun and nice things, and that makes it enjoyable.” And it was a pleasure to join in that enjoyment.

Read the full article here.

Published Feb 12, 2014

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