Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lets collaborate!

Working in the advertising photography business can be extremely fun, yet at times very stressful. 
My goal is always to produce the best imagery as we can for our clients, and have fun doing it.
I'm normally a serious person when working, but, I find it pretty easy to laugh at myself!  I say and do some pretty silly stuff. What helps is to surround yourself with people that are fun and funny.  Life is a lot more interesting that way.  If you really stop and think about it what we do and how we do it seems pretty silly to the outside world.  That is -outside of the advertising world.
Take for example food photography.  We pick through cases and cases of food to find 6-10 perfect chips, we glue seeds on buns so they look perfect, we spend hours playing with the food on set just to get everything in it's right place, we glue hotdog buns together so they don't spread apart on set then we pin the hotdogs and buns together so they don't move.  We use a fabric steamer to steam bread so it doesn't dry out and crack and we use steaming hot tampons hidden behind food so it looks like the food is steaming hot.  Now you have to admit, this seems pretty silly to someone not in the business.  Quite frankly just writing about it puts a silly grin on my face.
In spite of how silly it looks or is, we all work hard making it happen.  Over the years we've put together a fun and hard working team of people that make the work look outstanding.

Food stylists, assistant food stylist, photo assistants, retouchers, producers, production coordinators, digital techs, grips, directors, set builders, hair and make-up stylists,  the list goes on and on.  We truly appreciate all the team members we've been able to work with.
At the end of the day if you love what you do, have fun doing it, and like the people you do it with, life doesn't get much better. 

Sarah styling the salsa to perfection

Making sure everything fits in the layouts

Working with the stylist to arrange the food

Now you have to admit, four adults standing around discussing the merits of sauce on a bun looks pretty silly to most people, but it's what we do.   

Our Retoucher (Tiffany) working hard.

Pretzel retouching

Pizza surgery

The behind the scenes tools to do our pizza pull shot. 

Sarah having fun for the camera.

What, your food stylist doesn't style your food like this?  You are missing out! 

Commercial Food Video

I recently had the privilege to work on a food video project where we captured product falling in slow motion and hand models in action.  Had a great crew to work with that exercised a ton of patience with shooting food in action.   When you have pans, tilts, dolly action, food moving and hand models dipping product, the project can get fairly complex and tedious.

Kudos to all for a great video shoot!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Big Production Shoots are a blast! The key is organization.

We had the privilege to shoot another large production for our friends at VML and Tom's of Maine.   When shooting large projects like these there are a lot of moving parts and people to keep organized.

You have a number of people from the client and agency. We also had second photographers, photo assistants, set builder, models, talent agencies, producer, production coordinator, chef, hair and make-up stylist, and photo retoucher.  Not to mention we needed to do a casting session to find the right models.

The project involved hundreds of email, texts, five different estimate versions, creating a shooting schedule for both photographers to make sure we got all the shots done on schedule, photo retouching schedule, building sets, prop shopping, checking in product to make sure everything is at the studio and in photo condition.

Of course then we needed to pre-light the sets, get all the props in place, check that all the set lights to make sure they work, add dimmers to make sure they didn't over power the natural light, make sure the set paint was dry and that everything looked perfect.

One of the things I've learned over the years is that you always have to be ready for the unexpected.  This project was no exception. In some of the photos below we had to spin the sink and vanity around backwards.  We had to do this so the shot fit the layout better.  It worked perfectly!

The bottom line is with any project you need to be organized and ready for the unexpected, this is especially true with big productions.    

Production Board and hourly schedule.

Casting session included photographing models hands, teeth, and action shots.

Hair and Make-up stylist in action.
Our second photographer and retoucher Tiffany ( upper left ) shooting product on white while I shot product families on set.

Props and wardrobe choices for the shoot.

A peek behind the photo sets.

As I mentioned we had to turn the sink and vanity around to fit one of the layout.

Shooting the lifestyle shots in the green room.

The blue room set.

Chef Pauline putting the final touches on lunch for the clients and crew.

Beef tenderloin filet with roasted veggies and salad.  It was awesome!

Shooting our lifestyle model in the blue bathroom set. 

That's a wrap!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grandpa's Tool Shed

We were asked by our friends at Woodruff Sweitzer if we could find an old tool shed ( you know, like the one on your grandpa's farm ).  Of course we said YES.  With the weather forecast calling for snow and 10 degrees I suggested we just build one in the studio.  I called on my friends at Egg Props and Models for some help.   I knew Dale could easily pull this off.

Dale came through, way above and beyond what we expected!

We used recycled shed wood and found an old divided storm window with the paint peeling off. All with the patina of age- just as we wanted.  Dale and I brought in a bunch of old and new tools to complete the look the client wanted.

Dale and I had so much fun hanging all the props.  Probably one of the funnest sets I've worked on in years.

Did I mention I got to take a hammer and beat on the bench and splatter paint all over the place?

It's the little things in life that can make it fun!      

Putting together the walls for the set.

Dale's putting the walls together.

The back side of the set was just a cool as the front.

Some of the tools we had on hand.

Hung a light from a light stand to give the set a little more environment.

It's hard to beat natural light to give you an authentic look.

Getting the product ready for it's close-up.

Stuffing the stand-in packaging.

Our clients checking out the set.

Tweaking the final image

Add some labels, put it in the layout and it's a wrap

How we explored the world to find what was in our own back yard

Sometimes one of the more challenging aspects to commercial photography shoots can be finding the right props.  Whether it's food, people or produce, finding the right accessory props can make or break the image.  One of our favorite long time clients is Trapp Fragrances.  If you've never used their candles, they are the best!

We are often asked to help find some of most exotic fragrance visual cues.  This time we needed a (Cymbidium Black Ruby "Midnight") or to most of us a Black Orchid, and Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-Ylang flowers.  Where were we going to find these?

You have to love the internet for just these types of challenges.  We started by look for tropical flower suppliers.  We called California, Hawaii, Austria, etc.  As fate would have it, one of the Orchid suppliers I talked with in Hawaii used to live in Kansas City. She asked if I had tried to contact Bird's Botanicals here in KC.  Never heard of them.  We called them up, then went by and sure enough they had everything we needed for the shoot.  Some times you have to go around the world to find what's in your back yard! 

Putting the final touches on our lifestyle shot.

Using our big camera to get the best quality out of our photos.
Looking good

Getting ready to shoot another version of the Black Orchid shot.

Working with our Set stylist Casey Dobbins to put the final touches on this beauty.

Casey, not sure this is your best look.  (:-)
We love our clients being involved in our shoots.   

Final Image

Final image