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Web Ads: Best Ads On TV (and elsewhere)

Thursday June 23rd, 2011

By Peter Clark

Wonderful Machine went down under during the month of June. Well, not literally, but through the marvelous invention of the world wide web. We contacted the fine folks at Campaign Brief, an advertising trade magazine with a focus on Australasia, to see about putting up some web ads. Campaign Brief oversees a site called Best Ads ( Here’s a description from their site:

Bestads is the world’s best global ad industry website, the only site showcasing the world’s best in every medium: TV, Web, Print, Outdoor, Ambient, Interactive and Radio ads…Bestads provides the only international platform to showcase your company to the movers and shakers of the worldwide advertising and production industries.

We got to promote five different photographers in five ads. View Ad 1, Ad 2, Ad 3, Ad 4, Ad 5 or click the images below. If you’re interested in the images and what went into creating them, read the descriptions below from the photographers themselves:

Ben Mostyn / England
This photograph features a dance instructor who I was shooting some promo images for in London. The light was very grey and typical of an English winter, but I shot most of the images in the hope of conveying her natural sense of movement. This picture however was taken while she was resting between frames, and we both liked the calm atmosphere it conveys, in contrast to an otherwise energetic shoot. Around the time this picture was shot, I gave myself the challenge of attempting to produce digital images that were indistinguishable from film. As a previous film user, I initially felt uneasy with the results of digital photography, but after spending probably too much time tweaking my RAW processing, I figured out a few tricks that seemed to help. I don’t think it will ever be possible for digital to totally mimic film, but I’ve managed to fool a few people, so it might be the one time that being marginally compulsive has paid off!

Scott Ferguson /St. Louis
This image was part of a personal project. The original inspiration I do not recall; I guess I have always been interested in the typical American icons represented through dolls. The classic case being Barbie, comic book characters, and the like. In this vein, I also have always been attracted to David Levinthal’s work and perhaps in some indirect way, it shaped my Superman series. For the shoot, I was fortunate enough to have a great model, who both had the perfect look and great patience to suffer through the various scenarios, most of which were improvised throughout the day, which is generally the way I like doing it. Personal work for me should start with a strong concept but should also have that element of the unscripted creative challenge. Sometimes that works up a sweat, but that’s good right?  As a project I think it worked out well–I know it was definitely a blast to do.

Derek Blagg / Seattle
This was for an editorial shoot for my client, Deliver Magazine. The assignment began with a call from their art director. He explained the feature story was about the turbulent times airlines were facing in the current business climate, what effect that had on their marketing, and specifically, the roll customer loyalty programs played in that equation. Initially, his idea was to shoot an airline stewardess on location. However based on the budget involved and after getting my input and re-interpretation of the concept, we decided on shooting in the studio.

I am happiest when I get to preconceive and construct my images as opposed to just capturing what’s there. Often this means making my own props and retouching the final image myself.  Although, this doesn’t mean I do it all myself.  I had the help of my wonderful stylist, Belen Shepard. She really came through with the perfect outfit.   My assistant, Jason Ruth, and I created the simple set out of cotton batting that we attached to foam core.  It was then suspended from the ceiling with fishing line. I lit the images with Profoto strobes and captured everything digitally with a Phase One camera. Lastly, I retouched the images and did the final color grading myself before handing them off to the client.

Joe Wigdahl / Australia
I shot this for myself while out walking around, which I do often. Usually when I’m walking around taking pictures, I’m looking for scenes where there’s something unusual about the image—usually it’s a combination of light, composition, and action in the scene that takes it outside the feel of street photography or the snapshot. I especially like it when there’s something confusing about the image and the viewer is required to fill in a little bit of the story. In this case, the viewer might decide if the image is about isolation, loneliness, and the unknown or if it’s about leisure, fitness, and viability as the swimmer enters the latter years of his life.

Basically this image is just an older man wading in the ocean, getting acclimated before he dives in. The image grabbed my eye when I took it because it isn’t a quick visual read about a guy swimming. I love how he’s put out his arms to steady himself as he walks in and I can’t decide if he’s hesitating or just taking his time. The water is a little choppy and the light is low and it almost looks like staged lighting, and it all creates a weird feeling. It’s the kind of thing I’m often asked to shoot—take a standard visual cliche like a man swimming and look at it in a different way to create a mood and a story for the viewer.

Dominic Episcopo / Philadelphia
This is from a personal project called Meat America, which I am also working on a book for. I did all the concepts and styling myself. I have shot almost all the fifty states in meat as well as creating portraits of famous Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Dylan and Philly’s own Benjamin Franklin. Additionally, I created a word series with just ground beef. These images have been featured in the Huffington Post, Oh Joy, and on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and many others. They are widely collected, some by The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the West Collection & chef Gordan Ramsey.

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