“I just thought in this period of lockdown, when families were confined to their houses and only came out of their front doors to talk to neighbours or clap the NHS, that it would be an idea to capture a snapshot of my neighbours as a memento, so that they could look back on this extraordinary time. Then I broadened it out to include the local town, Haslemere, and further afield and then, after further mulling over, I decided that I would give whatever I earned to a charity.”
With those thoughts, Ade Kehinde embarked on a fabulous project that included taking what he calls “doorstep photos” of 175 or so families and has raised £6,000 for charity (£1,000 more than Ade had targeted). Ade continues: “At the heart of my motivation is a desire to capture our resilience as human beings, to showcase appreciation we have for the things that surround us that we normally take for granted - our homes, our neighbours and, most importantly, family. Despite the terrible situation, I wanted to encapsulate this in my imagery and, at the same time, raise money for The Fountain Centre, based at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, which provides emotional support for cancer patients, their families and carers.”
He is hoping, later on in the year after the social distancing measures have been fully removed, to assemble all his photos in an exhibition. With people becoming so used to online viewings, he may also have a simultaneous online exhibition.
Ade then had a further idea – to help businesses in Haslemere let people know when they would be opening. Again, he found that people responded incredibly well to his idea of photographing them, and dissemination was very easy via the local community’s Facebook page. The local newspaper also picked up the story, and Ade helped further by designing a logo for the initiative. (Is there any end to his talents?)
The project has provided Ade with a focus for his work after all his commissions came to a complete standstill on lockdown. He had been looking forward to a busy year, with his photography business really starting to take off. Indeed, in the first two months of 2020 he had already been sent out twice to Dubai. However, Ade’s philanthropy has been well noted, and he is now getting paid commissions, to take on weddings, family portraits and a range of other commissions.
Ade had long been interested in photography. He had already started taking photos (both professionally and as an amateur) when he joined Herbert Smith Freehills (then Herbert Smith) as a graphic designer in 2012. With the encouragement of Errol Donald, who was then head of the department, he started taking photos at firm events, in addition to his regular work in the design department. He quickly established a reputation for taking high-quality, interesting photos – never easy at events featuring a lot of people standing around holding drinks.
Ade was with Herbert Smith Freehills for five years. The move into self-employed full-time professional photography was done both because he was keen to give it a go but also for work-life reasons, to base himself at home where he could be nearer to his children’s school (he has two children). “I was very happy at HSF, and so it was a difficult decision,” Ade says, “but it was definitely the right thing to do.”
As with any new business, it took time to get going, but Ade had built up a considerable network of contacts, which he systematically tapped. He built an impressive range of clients and events that he covered, including a memorable trip to Mauritius. He also continues to work for Herbert Smith Freehills.
Underpinning his confidence is the knowledge that he takes good photographs. As Ade explains it, “I am always looking, literally, for another angle. You have to find a different perspective to make the photos interesting. I am not intimidated by whatever situation I am in, and I genuinely enjoy the events that I cover, which I think may make me different from other official photographers.” In what should be the strapline on his website, he says he “shoots from the heart”.
Meantime, Ade has clearly made a name for himself in his local community, and any family that has been sensible enough to commission him to take their photo will have it as a permanent reminder of a few unbelievable months. He has become something of a local hero himself – “I now get stopped all the time when I am walking down the street as people recognise me and want to chat,” Ade jokes.
* Ade has also kindly shared with us a series of hints and tips for taking the best photos possible on your smartphone. You can download the PDF below.