AB Thinks  →  23rd August 2017

Award-winning picture of the London Underground

This stunning photograph perfectly captures the drama happening underground while London sleeps.

The image of the thermic welding team for Transport for London (TfL) by AB, recently won an IOIC Awards of Excellence for best photographic image. Here‰’s the story behind how we achieved it.

On the Move (otm) is a monthly magazine for TfL‰’s 21,000 London Underground employees. It‰’s a long-standing, trusted print magazine. AB reporters and photographers go straight to the frontline to get the news that fills its pages and this photograph is a perfect example.

Many otm readers are avid transport ‰‘nuts‰’ and revel in the details of the technical work and hard graft colleagues put in on the frontline.

When presented with the opportunity to meet members of the thermic welding team, who work underground at night to fix and maintain the train tracks and, in doing so, keep the Tube network running, we jumped at the chance.

AB reporter Emma Powys-Maurice interviewed members of the team to find out what they do, how they work and the challenges they face working in the extreme conditions underground. We were then able to build up a good impression of what type of photography we could set up in order to make Emma‰’s article even more powerful and evocative.

With the welding team moving around the network every night being in the right place at the right time was imperative, otherwise we‰’d miss our window of opportunity.

With the night photoshoot planned, we booked and briefed our snapper Jeff Gilbert, an experienced photographer with extensive London Underground and frontline reportage experience, to capture the drama of technical precision among the sparks, heat, sweat and noise underground.

Jeff hit the brief perfectly, creating enough light to see down the tunnel without detracting from the focal point of the image – the man seated in the centre working the thermic weld on the line.

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