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FEATURE: Producing Quality Work In Lockdown #StayHomeHEROES

12 May 2020

George Logan IRON 5X4 copy

© George Logan

In a bid to encourage people to stay at home, the NHS partnered with agency IRIS and photographers across the UK to launch #StayHomeHEROES. The initiative is simple, they're asking people to post their every day domestic acts which, in lockdown, feel more like legendary triumphs. From home schooling to cutting your own hair, these are the moments which make us feel like #StayHomeHEROES while also protecting the real heroes, those NHS workers on the frontline. Lu Howlett shares the story behind the campaign below.

Gary Salter BIKE 5X4

© Gary Salter



By Lu Howlett – Head, Art & Photographic, Iris 

The past couple of months have been very unrestful and concerning for those of us imbedded in the world of production, reliant upon people travelling and coming together in large groups to make a living. 

As creatives the world over lie in wait to see what the future holds for our new work-life landscape, and isolation continues to potentially dampen our spirit and inspiration, our new @StayHomesHeroes campaign is testimony to how creativity can thrive even when we’re not physically together. 


Gabriela Motola BATH 5X4

© Gabrielle Motola


Always forward-thinking, Grant Hunter, ECD Iris, jumped on the government call to arms to agencies asking them to create campaigns and keep people at home. The talented Ross Taylor, Creative Director Iris, met the challenge face on and developed the concept for @StayHomeHeroes 

Together with Ross Taylor, Creative Director Iris and Dawn Moretti, Executive Producer DAWN, we called upon the generosity and skills of our industry peers to help us bring the concept to life. Inviting submissions from over 60 photographers of varying experience, expertise and background, we followed a traditional commercial commissioning process. Each photographer submitted a treatment for review prior to commissioning, it was a labour of love and charity for all, eventually seeing us commission 25 photographers for the project. This process enabled us to produce a broad scope of work with appeal to multiple appetites – not a one-size-fits-all approach, rather a little something for everyone. Our mission, to get everyone to take notice of the government call to action – Stay Home. Save Lives. Protect the NHS. 


Dan Burn Forti FLAG 5X4

© Dan Burn Forti


It’s was an astonishingly fast turnaround, only 10 days from initial briefing of photographers to delivery of final retouched imagery. We asked each photographer to create a portrait within their own lockdown environment - a mundane scene of everyday people, of all ages, featuring a ‘Stay Home Hero’. Our instruction was to utilise family & friends as the sitting subjects, whilst adhering to the strict isolation rules. Though households apart, we worked closely with each photographer throughout pre-production, shoot and post-process - together producing a campaign of world-class imagery all produced entirely for free, at the generosity of all contributors. 

Spreading the net even further than our initial social media campaign, Iris connected with our dear friends at Clear Channel to scope the potential of OOH site donation – they leaped to the appeal with support from their ‘Platform for Good’ helping us take the campaign outdoors nationwide, encouraging those still venturing out to stay home where possible. 


Sam Robinson FLYING 4X5

© Sam Robinson


The creativity of the production has proved greatly popular and successful with both public and media. I’m filled with pride and joy that my beloved medium of photography has cut through so victoriously in such dire times. A true demonstration, that the power of a single still image continues to have strength and reign supreme. 

There is light within dark and Stay Home Heroes is telling proof, in darker times, creativity prevails. 


Roo Lewis BATH 5X4

© Roo Lewis


Special thanks to all the contributing photographers: 

Alex Telfer, Amelia Troubridge, Dan Burn Forti, David Boni, Emma Hardy, Fern Berresford, Gabriela Motola, Gary Salter, George Logan, Gray Hughes, Jack Terry, Jason Knott, Katinka Herbert, Linda Brownlee, Marco Mori, Marie Schuller, Martin Beck, Micaela McLucas, Owen Harvey, Rhiannon Adam, Roos Lewis, Sam Robinson, Sam McElwee, Simon Webb, Trevor Ray Hart 


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