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José Mandojana: Crafting the Boxtrolls

Thursday October 30th, 2014

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by Kelley King

It’s hard to imagine the amount of time and work that goes into producing a major motion picture. For the crew at Laika, a stop motion animation studio that produces full-length and short films, the process is beyond complex. The creatives there are the masterminds behind the popular recent release “The Boxtrolls,” which features hand crafted characters and delicate, elaborate miniature sets. According to a American Film Institute Q&A with Travis Knight, CEO/president at Laika, the film took just under 10 years to develop and almost two years to be handcrafted and shot, frame-by-frame, by a large staff of creatives. Seattle-based photographer José Mandojana was commissioned by Wired to take a trip to Portland and get a behind-the-scenes look at the crew that made it all happen.

The images, which not-only feature the crew members behind the product but also the movie’s characters, fit right in with José’s style:

The project was primarily focused on portraiture. Whether it be the characters/figures from the movie, or the actual people involved in the making of each component, it was very much a portrait shoot. That suits me because making portraits is the backbone of my work. I’ve worked with Wired in the past, so the PE must have thought me to be a good fit for this assignment … I love working with them as the stories always have great interest for me personally.

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As with most shoots, time was a big factor:

Time was the biggest challenge. The space was huge and lighting each portrait involved a lot of moving and set up time. My assistant and I put in a solid 12-hour day, and I still felt I wasn’t able to tell the full story of the amazing crew behind “The Boxtrolls.” There was no easy way to overcome the issue of lack of time. It really came down to fast problem solving and relying on the years of experience I’ve gained working quickly on environmental editorial shoots.

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The images can be seen in Wired’s iPad issue and on their website. José has received good feedback from the people at Laika, creatives who enjoyed looking at the shots and even fans of the film.

I wrote Julia [the Photo Editor at Wired] the day after the shoot telling her how amazing the experience was for me. I get to meet amazing people on a daily basis, but for some reason seeing the work that goes behind making a stop motion film of this calibre really opened my eyes up to how amazing a great team can be. I just got the sense that whatever they dreamed up or imagined, they would find a way to make it possible on camera. I came away invigorated to be even more precise with my work after seeing how detail oriented the Laika crew is.

To view more of José’s work, check out his website.

Tears: Hudson Stuart / Red Mango and Smoothie Factory

Thursday October 30th, 2014

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Matt Nager: Farming Charlotte’s Web

Wednesday October 29th, 2014

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by Liz Ream

This past June, we spoke with Denver-based photographer Matt Nager for a feature on Charlotte’s Web— a non euphoric strain of medical marijuana. Charlotte’s Web is used to treat children with epilepsy in California and Colorado and is in high demand around the country.

Matt was recently contacted by TIME to shoot photos of the farm where Charlotte’s Web is grown, featuring the Stanley Brothers, the developers/farmers of the strand. The photos ran in conjunction with a short documentary by TIME called A Journey for Oil, focusing on children and medical marijuana:

The Stanley Brothers have continued to develop their product and customer outreach. It seems like the company has become the de facto media story of late— I continue to get assignments to photograph them and Charlotte’s Web. They recently completed the first harvest of their outdoor farm and are preparing to open their own lab to extract the oil.

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Matt spent two days photographing the farm and then a third day at the Stanley Brothers’ lab. He woke around 4 a.m. to get sunrise at the shoot and spent the day at the farm and drying facility. Although the lab was still under construction when he was shooting, he was able to see the advanced equipment they are prepping for use. Matt thoroughly enjoyed the shoot and wished he had more time at the farm.

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Matt expects that he will photograph the Stanley Brothers again, as the story develops and word gets out even further about Charlotte’s Web.

See the TIME documentary here, the full photo gallery here , and for more of Matt’s work, check out his website.

Tears: Stephen DeVries / Parade

Wednesday October 29th, 2014

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Dan Bailey: Braving the Elements

Tuesday October 28th, 2014

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by Kelley King

Alaska photographer Dan Bailey recently shot some chilly shots for Sportmaster Ltd., a sporting goods retailer based in Russia. Sportmaster will primarily be using these images to promote the Merrell brand on their website and in-store displays. Personally, I’m dreading the supposedly harsh winter that is rapidly approaching, but Dan has managed to make these hikers look warm and cozy while they trek through the snow-covered mountains.

From a photography standpoint, I felt that it was the quintessential job for me, as it required a high degree of technical, action adventure photography skills and equipment that would withstand extreme conditions, as well as the outdoor skills and gear to comfortably move around in this kind of mountain environment.



For most of these scenes, I used a Nikon DSLR and the 24mm f/2.8D wide angle lens. I’ve always loved the 24mm for shooting adventure subjects because it’s wide enough to show environment but not too wide that it blows out perspective too much, and it doesn’t distort very much at the edges.

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I’m very excited about the way these images came out. To me, they accurately represent the kind of environment and extreme look the client was going for. When I compare them to the initial comps that the art directors showed me during the preproduction phase, I feel that we nailed it.

Read more about the shoot in Dan’s blog post, or visit his website to see more of his work.

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