Heather Elder Represents Rethinks the Agency Portfolio.

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Last year, we decided that it was a good time to create an AGENCY PORTFOLIO.  We had a fantastic group of photographers and many opportunities to show it off.  We didn’t want it to be a typical group book that had a section for each photographer.  While we like those and they are always very strong, we wanted ours to be a little different so that it would stand out more at events such as Le Book’s Connections.

What we came up with was a portfolio divided by SPECIALTY instead of by PHOTOGRAPHER.  We liked this idea because it allowed us to showcase the type of work our group can offer while allowing the viewer to file our group away by different specialities.  Of course it is always our main goal for a creative to learn who our photographers are and what they shoot individually.  This will never change.  But, by offering an alternate way for them to view the work in our group, we are opening up another opportunity for them to remember the work.

More often than not the Agency Portfolio is shown in conjunction with the individual portfolios so if a viewer is interested in seeing more, they can choose to do so right then and there.  This is particularly helpful in a setting like Le Book Connections because there are so many books to view and it can get overwhelming for some. We have found that our agency book provides a breath of fresh air in a crowded market.

Take a look for yourself and see.  It is no mistake that we chose the song, Breathe by Sia as the background music.  Enjoy!

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

The People Burn Project – An artist works 8 months to create a sculpture just so it can be set on fire.

People Burn Project - Kevin Twomey, paper sculpture

© Kevin Twomey – http://www.kevintwomey.com

Kevin Twomey recently worked on a project that was unlike any other he had experienced in his career.  It was called “The People Burn Project.”  A project created by Fitzgerald + Co. for Bulwark, a company that make flame-resistant clothing.  Their message is powerful, “Because people aren’t fireproof.”

A mere description of the project could never do it justice so be sure to link to the Bulwark site to watch the 8 month time-lapse video, review the  stills from the day of the burn and to watch the video about the project.

Here is what Kevin had to say about the project:

“In April I went to Los Angeles to photograph a paper sculpture, 16’ in diameter, built by Jeff Nishinaka, an incredibly talented, world-renown artist. Taller than me by a couple of feet and as long a van, the structure took 8 months to build, 2 days to piece together, 2 days to photograph in the studio,  but only minutes to burn.

The project was part of a campaign, created by Fitzgerald + Co. for the company Bulwark who makes flame-resistant apparel. The message was wonderfully simple: paper is no less fragile than life.

With a very tight schedule, needing to photograph numerous angles in a day, we decided we would turn the set into a giant 16′ lazy susan and spin it around until we got the right lighting and camera position. It was a perfect and simple solution.

Artist Jeff Nishinaka had created such wonderful detail and character in the figures that the lighting approach for these figures was obvious:  bring these figures to life by bringing out as much detail and dimensionality as possible.

After the still shots of the sculpture were complete it was dismantled and reassembled in a quarry outside of LA. The final step to this project was filming it while it burned into nothing. Watching this was quite extraordinary. As it was burning I glanced over at the artist. I figured he would be sad to watch so many hours of his work go up in smoke but I was surprised to see that he was enjoying the process from beginning to end.”

Kevin Twomey - People Burn project - Paper sculpture

© Kevin Twomey – http://www.kevintwomey.com

Kevin Twomey - People Burn project - Paper sculpture

© Kevin Twomey – http://www.kevintwomey.com

Kevin Twomey - People Burn project - Paper sculpture

© Kevin Twomey – http://www.kevintwomey.com

Kevin Twomey - People Burn project - Paper sculpture

© Kevin Twomey – http://www.kevintwomey.com

Click here for Time Lapse Video of Paper Sculpture Creation

Click here for Video Interview with artist and information about the project

Great imagery always tells a powerful story. Blurb wants you to tell yours.

Recently, Justine Barnes,a producer at Duncan Channon in San Francisco reached out to us to see if any of our photographers had exsiting imagery for an upcoming campaign for Blurb photo books.  We were honored when they chose an image from Andy Anderson and one from Richard Schultz.

Thank you Justine for seeing the story in their imagery.

© Richard Schultz - http://www.rschultz.com

Even when nature doesn’t cooperate, David Martinez finds warmth for his imagery.

After a recent shoot with Lucy Activewear, David Martinez sent along these images and his thoughts on the shoot for us to share with you.

“As a photographer who shoots a lot both in studio and on location, I’ve always loved the inherent conditions each environments brings – the science of shooting in studio and the trials of being at the mercy of weather and nature outdoors. On a recent shoot in Point Reyes for Lucy Activewear, Northern California weather conditions were less than favorable – rain, wind and cold – a veritable ‘wintry mix’.  Our stellar crew and hardy models made the shoot a real success. We smiled the whole way thorough despite the calamity of cold. I think you can feel this warmth in the images – even if nature didn’t provide it to us on those days on location.”

Just Sharing. New Work from Andy Anderson and Ram Trucks.

Thank you Jimmy Bonner, The Richards Group and Ram Trucks for the opportunity to work on such a fantastic campaign.  And, of course, thank you to our crew for helping making it all happen.  Dust storms and all.

 

To see more of Andy Anderson’s work, including other work he has created for Ram, please link to his site.

Richard Schultz wonders when did 6 shots a day become the new black?

© Richard Schultz - http://www.rschultz.com

So much of the success of our blog comes from the posts we get from our photographers. So, I love it when someone in our group sends us an idea for a post.  After a recent project, Richard Schultz had this on his mind and chose to share it with our readers.  I am guessing he is not alone in his thinking.

“When did shooting 6 or more lifestyle images, all in different set-ups, per day, for major advertising campaigns, become the norm?

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not a complainer.   I consider myself a problem solver and I welcome the challenges of more complicated shoot days.  And, those of you who know me also know that I am certainly happy (and appreciative!) to be as busy as I am.

That said, I do sometimes find myself longing for the “good old days” when we’d have the time and budgets to shoot 2-3 shots in a day, no variations, no set up changes. Remember those days?  We would have time to really explore a scenario and mine it for as many special moments as we could make happen.  We could engage the talent on a deeper level and experiment more creatively.  We could do all of that AND actually have time for a 30 minute lunch break.

Understanding that this is the new black, I wasn’t surprised when all of a sudden I found myself acclimated to this new expectation.  It was then a welcome change when on a recent library of images project, the art buyer asked us to increase the shoot days from three days to four days.  We were stunned.  Happy, but stunned.

I know doing more with less is just part of the current economic picture.  I have gotten good at it actually.  Maybe that is why despite talk of the continued recession we are still busy, and most of my photographer/agency friends are the same. I would like to think that with our collective hard work we can contribute to the recovery.

I do wonder though if we will we ever get back to a 2 shot day with time to kick back and have an enjoyable meal as a group again? My parents always said I was a dreamer, I’m still holding out hope.

In the mean-time, I guess lunch was my least favorite meal anyway.”

To see more of Richard’s work, please do link here.

© Richard Schultz - http://www.rschultz.com

From the desk of Sady Callaghan: Tips for Producing in the Wild, Wild West

I have worked with Sady Callaghan for years on a variety of productions and she has never let down any of our photographers or our clients.  She is unflappable, professional and a fun person to have on set.   I love that when someone throws us a curve ball, Sady is always the voice of reason and has the perfect solution.

So it was no wonder when Mother Nature sent a dust storm her way she steered the production in a way that got the shot AND came in under budget.  Only Sady.

When I asked her to share her story, here is what she had to say about it.

“When Andy Anderson called me to produce The Richard Group’s new campaign for RAM trucks, I was thrilled.  The idea of shooting in the Wild West was really exciting to me; especially because of the locations.

Of course, there was a quick turn around – isn’t everything nowadays?   We needed to find 6 very complicated locations in very remote areas.  So, knowing that the back bone of a good photo shoot is good scouting,  we hired the best.  We called Joe Wolek and Steven Currie, shared the vision with them and told them to “just find it.”  To do so, they drove thousands of miles through Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.  They of course found amazing locations.

Well, as we all know, an amazing location doesn’t guarantee great weather.  The closer we got to shooting the more worried we became about the elements.  Parts of Colorado were still covered in snow and a lot of other areas were still in spring mode: no trees and no greenery.  Challenging but doable.

What we were not prepared for was the DUST. I have called a few weather days in my time for the usual suspects; storms, rain, fog and snow, but that was the first time that we had to call a weather day for 80 mph winds.

The first day of our shoot there were 60 mph hour winds.   Andy wanted to power through and  simply said,  “We can do it.”  We bought shovels, protective coverings for the equipment and outfitted everyone in goggles and hankerchiefs to cover their faces.  The crew braved the elements and after digging a couple of people out of the sand and waiting patiently for breaks in the storm. We got our shot.  It was great day for a shower.

We were not as lucky on the second day.  The wind was so ferocious and the sand so painful that we could barely leave the hotel.  It was just too dangerous to shoot so we called a weather day.

Even though it was a no brainer to postpone the day, we were sensitive to the fact that weather days are expensive and the client was worried.  So, Andy and I devised a new plan.  We rearranged the entire schedule; including talent and locations, so that we could still finish on time.   It was no small feat, but it was worth it.  In doing so we were able to get all the shots AND still come in under budget. 

Needless to say, everyone was happy and went home with some great stories from the desert.

So, if you are considering shooting in the Wild West anytime soon, consider these inside tips.

1. Stalk your location owners.  Be creative and resourceful.  Many people do not expect a scout to call them and will have no idea what you are talking about.  In one instance, we hired someone to stake out a house night and day to get permission to shoot.  In another, I called seven different levels of management to get approvals for a fertilizer plant. They were puzzled as to why we wanted to shoot there!

2. Call the Navajo Film Commission every three hours.  There is no sense of urgency in the desert.

3. Bring lots of cash.  You don’t know who you are going to have to pay.  Our scout warned us that different Navajo families owned different parts of the land.  I had a couple of families in the motor home every day – and they would only take cash!

4. Hire a great stylist.  Sourcing things in the wild west is very difficult.  We brought along Colleen Hartman and she managed to pull 2000 lbs of railroad ties, antique barrels, sheet rock and large machinery out of her magic bag of tricks.

5. Hire a great local guide.  The Navajo Nation requires productions to have a guide with them at all times.   Sisco was our street scout and our secret weapon.  He told us where to buy beer in a dry state and he dug our assistant out of sand storm.  His brother was our caterer.  We kept it all in the family.

6.  Be prepared for anything.  There are lots of surprises out there.  That’s what make our job so much fun.

7.  Appreciate your crew and your client.  We had a fantastic team on this shoot – and could not have pulled this off it we didn’t all work together as a team.  Everyone from the PA to the client were crucial to making it all happen smoothly.

To learn more about Sady’s production magic, visit her website.

Jim Smithson shares how he shot 6 ads and 4 countries in just 10 hours.

Recently Jim Smithson had the pleasure of working with RR Partners shooting for their client Norwegian Cruise Lines. He and his team produced 6 ads of NCL’s associates in New York, Alaska, Bermuda, Hawaii, Italy and the Caribbean.

The catch is that he shot them all at Smashbox LA in a 10 hour span.

“Naturally, my preference would be to shoot them on location so this gig was going to be a real challenge.  We had 6 stock images that our real people talent had to be inserted into, with each location requiring a total re-light. In addition, issues of perspective and focal lengths had to be visually matched. Throw in a full compliment of agency and client in the studio and 10 hours to get it all done.  His first though was, ‘What the hell was I thinking!’

In order to maintain the tight schedule, production had to be seamless and efficient. Sr. AD Hosea Gruber was instrumental in communicating the expectations of the campaign, which meant I had a clear understanding of each locations relationship to the travel agent and vice versa.”

Hosea had this to say about working with Jim, “From an art director’s perspective, working with Jim was just about as good as it gets. We had a challenging shoot, followed by some challenging compositing to get the campaign that we needed. Not only did Jim deal with all the pre-shoot changes, the during-shoot pressure, the post-shoot curve balls, and still deliver the beautiful art we needed — he also made our clients feel listened to and taken care of throughout the entire process. He was a true collaborator and that’s what I look for.”

Jim’s experience with post/retouching also played a key role, ensuring all the visual cues were in sync while he shot and retouched on the fly. “It was pretty smooth. It generally took a few takes to get lighting and perspective matched. Being able to drop them into the backgrounds and quickly treat them was very helpful to me and reassuring to the agency and client.”