Studio 1854: The power of photography

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When the DJI Drone Photography Award launched in November 2017, it called for photographers across the world to submit ideas for creative, drone-shot projects. Rather than generic aerial photography – picture perfect landscapes with little back story – the competition asked that entrants consider compelling narratives and subject matters. In reaching locations impossible on foot, these drone-shot projects would open the viewer’s eyes to new possibilities.

The project was supported by DJI, the world leader in civilian drone and aerial imaging technology. DJI has a deep interest in photography and in 2017 it acquired a majority interest in Hasselblad. A series of articles written by Studio 1854 and published on BJP’s website throughout the competition period demonstrated the creative potential of drone photography. BJP’s audience were inspired: 47,825 people visited the competition entry page. After a lengthy judging process – overseen by BJP, DJI and Guardian drone photographer Graeme Robertson –Markel Redondo and Tom Hegen were selected as winners.

Sand Castles (part II). © Markel Redondo

The Salt Series, photographed by Hegen, documents salt production across Europe. Combining vivid colours and geometric shapes, the abstract stills reveal the intricacies of a process that many take for granted.

“The DJI Drone Photography Award was an excellent opportunity to realise a meaningful aerial photography project. Studio 1854 gave a lot of creative freedom and provided a platform that promoted and generated huge media coverage around the globe. It culminated in a major exhibition in London where Markel Redondo and I could celebrate the success of our two projects and also network with enthusiasts”

Tom Hegen – winner of the DJI Drone Photography Award

Redondo’s Sand Castles (part II) offers a new perspective on the 3.4 million houses that currently stand empty and deserted across Spain. The series is emotionally charged and raises important social questions. ”We live in a society with huge housing issues, where many cannot afford a place to live, yet Spain has more than three million empty homes,” said Redondo in an interview with BJP. “I wish for this project to stand as a reminder that these places have not disappeared and remains a problem that needs to be faced.”

The two projects were released to the international media (via a series of press releases created by Studio 1854) and featured in publications and websites all over the world. Mail Online (that described the work as “The most creative drone photos ever taken”), The Daily Telegraph, City Lab, MSN and Arch Daily are among those that published Hegen and Redondo’s work. The DJI Drone Photography Award reached an additional 11,727,805 people on social media with 901,773 engagements and a further 329,460 people read the articles on BJP’s website. The accompanying videos documenting the two photographers’ projects – created by Studio 1854 – were viewed 246,433 times.

“The platform provided by BJP has been incredible. I’ve received interest in Sand Castles (part II) from different media around the world – on TV and radio and in newspapers and magazines. The interview and video produced by Studio 1854 also generated interest in Spain, an audience I specifically wanted to reach. The DJI Drone Photography Award has had a positive impact on my career. Since the award, I have had several drone-related assignments and collectors are buying prints from the work produced”

Markel Redondo – winner of the DJI Drone Photography Award

Sand Castles (part II) and The Salt Series was also exhibited at a dedicated show at theprintspace gallery in east London. Studio 1854 commissioned an independent curator to oversee the hanging of the work, and over 500 people attended the launch event.

© Chris Bethell

The DJI Drone Photography Award is just one in a series of ambitious photographic projects commissioned by Studio 1854, our visual content agency that specialises in compelling, narrative-led and PR-able content. 

“British Journal of Photography has charted the evolution of photography over the past 164 years, always with a firm focus on the future. This May, 1854 Media is inviting our community to be part of this future”

Marc Hartog – CEO, 1854 Media

Studio 1854 is driven by the core belief that photography is humankind’s most accessible and powerful form of communication. Transcending cultural boundaries, great photographs tell a story and have the power to evoke emotion and provoke reaction. We have found that this power also applies to authentic content created for our clients. It was therefore Redondo and Hegen’s narrative-led and creative approach to drone photography that made them worthy winners of the DJI Drone Photography Award.

The Salt Series. © Tom Hegen

Like many of Studio 1854’s campaigns, collaborating with DJI allowed us to commission talent from our community; providing two photographers with hard-to-come-by funding as well as the platform to showcase their work to millions. It allowed us to bring compelling and socially relevant work into the world, which may have otherwise not been created, and it enabled our client – DJI– to reach and captivate the attention of millions of potential customers.

“By calling on BJP’s creative audience, DJI was able to commission two photographers to create bodies of work that take drone photography to a new creative level. The campaign introduced the DJI Phantom 4 Pro to a new audience and pushed the boundaries of drone photography to create compelling and socially-engaged projects. This enabled us to capture the imagination of a global audience”

Daniel Schuster, Partnership Manager Europe, DJI

Schuster continues: “The projects produced as a result of the DJI Drone Photography Award encapsulated DJI’s ambition to empower creatives to see and capture the world differently. The campaign concept was perfectly tailored to our needs and very well executed by the creative team at Studio 1854. Instead of focusing on the technical features, the campaign promoted inspiring content to create interest in our products. It was a pleasure for DJI to be able to support Tom and Markel in creating new bodies of work.”


Sand Castles (part II). © Markel Redondo
Sand Castles (part II). © Markel Redondo
The Salt Series. © Tom Hegen