Saturday, 3 July 2010

Shoot four: Kat Akingbade

Another week, another shoot for Geek Calendar. This week our subject was the writer and broadcaster Kat Akingbade.

Ben takes a closer look at Kat

Kat has a degree in Clinical Sciences and has conducted research at the University of Oxford, worked for the World Health Organization and BBC Radio 4, and written for Nature, amongst others. However, her best known work is perhaps the the Channel 4 TV show Science of Scams, which she presents with Derren Brown.

The idea for this shoot was to play on her Science of Scams persona, with her examining a 'quack' bottle of pills with that detective/scientist's friend, the magnifying glass.

'Homeopathic Pills'

The pill bottle is actually a large brown lab bottle, courtesy of our previous subject, Lewis Dartnell. We filled it with cheap paracetamol pills and labelled the bottle with two different labels: a leftover from Wellcome Collection's 'Quacks and Cures' event, and a finely written (thanks to our friend Laura Pastorelli's lovely calligraphy!) nod to the UK sceptics community.

Restitution fluid

The location itself was a convenient one. We were looking for a backdrop featuring unusual items that might fit in with the investigative theme of the shot. We didn't have to look very far -- a number of the Geek Calendar team work at the Wellcome Trust and next door is one of the finest collections of weird scientific/medical ephemera you can imagine: Wellcome Collection.

With the help of Kirsten Warren and Sam Horston at Wellcome Collection we were granted after hours access to the two permanent galleries: Medicine Man and Medicine Now.

Medicine Man

Medicine Man features bits and bobs from Sir Henry Wellcome's vast collection -- everything from medical instruments and paintings to sex toys and shrunken Incan mummies. An earlier recce with our photographer Ben spotted a lovely collection of well-lit bottles just by the entrance, so this was the first place we tried.

Strike the pose

Following that, we moved on to the brighter, more modern surroundings of Medicine Now, home of the giant jelly baby and a DNA sequencing machine.

Medicine Now

There, we tried a few shots of Kat at the clinical-looking white tables, to a background of the colourful pictures contributed by that kids (and adults) visiting Wellcome Collection.

Medicine Now shoot

Watching in the background

In-between shots Kat told us about her day filming the new series of Science of Scams and how she'd spent her afternoon at a trapeze artist training facility(!).

Kat and Louise chat between shots

Kat was really good fun to work with and spoke passionately about her investigative work. She was also extremely modest, embarrassed almost to be the subject of a photoshoot (and, like the rest of us, came to realise that being a model is harder work than you'd think!).

We were really pleased with the resulting shots. You can see further behind-the-scenes shots over on our Flickr page.