Polar Lunch: Business Photography

Candid Business Photography of polar explorer, Fiona Thornewill MBE, who inspired Nottingham business leaders by talking about her polar experiences and how they have shaped her life.

Apparently, when Winston Churchill entered a room, everybody sensed it. Personally, I have only met a few people who have had a similar effect on a group of people. Fiona Thornewill MBE is one such person.

Character forged in adversity may be the key to this phenomenon. Certainly, Fiona has overcome the most tremendous challenges in the situations she has found herself in and used them to become a different person.

Having trekked to both the North and South Poles, she has encountered everything from freezing temperatures and polar bears to complete "whiteouts". Fiona had suffered a life-threatening loss of communication and had to navigate alone through the nightmare of an unexpected crevasse field.


Fiona Thornewill MBE

Fiona had lunch with business leaders in Nottingham. The lunch was partly to facilitate networking, but mostly for leaders to learn, first-hand, from her unique experiences.

The Institute of Directors organises such lunches with "interesting people." These are super informative and downright inspiring. This lunch was no exception: it was both inspiring and thought-provoking. I was the event photographer. My role was to document and celebrate the occasion.


Candid shots as the speaker meets with delegates

The Polar Explorer lunch was held at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. This fantastic venue really added to the uniqueness of the meeting.

First, lunch and networking


Networking in the Broadway Cinema Mezzanine Bar


Drinks before speaking

The Polar Presentation

After lunch, we were treated to a presentation from Fiona in the recently refurbished Screen 4. In addition, Paul Smith's magic design wand had been waved over the decor, making it even more special. It was pitch black apart from the screen and a spotlight on Fiona.

As an event photographer, a pitch black room is never a good start. However, you make photos from the light that is available and trust that the professional imaging equipment you have invested in can pick out the details in the dark.


Fiona proved to be an engaging and entertaining speaker


High end camera gear comes into its own in a completely dark room


'Pools of light' make for dramatic business shots


A spell-bound audience were totally captivated

Such inspiring words from public speaker Fiona Thornewill, who captivated the audience from start to finish. As a result, the question and answer session was fast and furious.


Questions and answers with Fiona and IOD Regional Director, Ron Lynch

Business Photography In The Lounge

The Broadway Cinema Lounge is well known as a retro meeting place with leather sofas, cool lighting, and even a mini-bar facility. Events and Fundraising Coordinator, Laura Cubley, suggested that we have a quick photoshoot in The Lounge as it would be a unique background for Fiona.

The final image is below and was even used on the next front cover of the IOD magazine.


Creative Business Photography: Fiona in the Lounge


Events and Fundraising Coordinator, Laura Cubley

Reflection On My Time With Fiona Thornewill

Since meeting and photographing Fiona, I have thought much about her life story. Fiona talked us through the main chapters in her story.

One part really stuck out. It wasn't the expeditions to the North or South Poles.Not the 'normal' background she came from. Or even overcoming the sad death of her first husband, that stood out.

When Fiona was a schoolgirl, she was told by a teacher that she would "make a good receptionist" and she thought she could do more. This was the context of how she has stood against the continual adversity she has overcome throughout her life. There was a phrase that Fiona quoted that I keep remembering. When faced with adversity, remember that:

"Pain is just for a short time. Giving up lasts forever"

Fiona Thornewill MBE

If you get the opportunity to hear or meet Fiona, take it.

Some of Fiona's achievements:

  • First British woman to ski to the geographic South Pole 
  • First British woman to ski to the geographic North Pole
  • First woman to ski to both geographic poles
  • Fastest woman to ski to the geographic North Pole
  • First British woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole
  • Fastest person (man or woman) to ski to the South Pole (41 days, 2004)
  • First crossing of Great Bear Lake, North West Territory, Canada
  • Partner to Hans Florine on World Record 100th ascent of the Nose of El Capitan

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