Thursday February 21st, 2013
by Maria Luci
Berlin-based Markus Altmann is known for his stylish automotive photos and crisp portraits. He loves working with “real people” and presenting them in “authentic, lively ways.” Recently, he got to combine both his passions for photographing people and cars into one fun advertising assignment for Audi Genuine Parts.
The Berlin advertising agency Thjnk had already determined the campaign’s concept before they approached Markus about the job. They wanted the photographs to be Polaroid snapshots, showing moments in the eventful life of an Audi that’s seen it all. Markus had worked with Audi in the past, on editorial assignments for their magazine, but had yet to shoot an advertising job for the brand. So when Thjnk presented the concept—Polaroid photos of amusing scenarios showcasing Audi car parts—Markus jumped at the chance.
What appealed to Markus most about the campaign was the “diversity of the scenes and subjects, and the idea to shoot the pictures in a Polaroid-style.” He and the Thjnk team immediately dove into pre-production, which included planning out four very different set ups. Their first task was deciding whether to shoot actual Polaroids or to create the effect in post. They ultimately decided on the latter, knowing this was the more reliable choice of the two. Markus says he would have “loved the challenge” of shooting the entire campaign on Polaroid film, but knew that he would have ended up with “unpredictable effects and flaws which would not have been acceptable for this assignment.”
Once the film decision was settled, they moved on to casting, location scouting, and securing a major element of the project: animals. Markus explains,
We had to shoot more animals (for future use) than you see in the current ad. This involved a zebra as well as an elephant balancing on a ball. So we had to decide which animals were best to shoot live or stuffed, or whether to use stock images or CGI. We ended up doing the donkey, the zebra and the elephant in CGI. The animals for the “Town Musicians of Bremen” (four animals out of a German folktale by the Brothers Grimm) were done like this: Donkey as CGI, dog, live, and the cat and rooster as stock.
Behind the scenes
The shoot spanned several days—and went smoothly, animals and all. The client loved the final shots and are currently using them in print campaigns and online animated presentations on the Audi website.
Translation: For all who have experienced a lot with their brakes.
New brakes from Audi Genuine Parts. So you can keep relying on your Audi in the future.
View more of Markus’ work at markus-altmann.de.
Monday January 7th, 2013
by Honore Brown
Utah-based photographer Mike Tittel is no stranger to shooting in rugged, remote locations. He’s also extremely comfortable creating highly-produced and directed photography. This fall, wearing both of these hats simultaneously, Mike took on a major one-day advertising shoot for Verizon, put together by the folks at McCann Erickson Salt Lake City.
McCann knew exactly what they were after, and hungry for fresh talent, they found Mike’s work through a Google search for advertising photographers in Utah. It was clear that he would be an excellent fit for the job. After McCann reached out to Mike, he put together an estimate and had Wonderful Machine review it. Once approved, he moved on to production.
Mike on set.
The shoot, as envisioned, was multidimensional—it involved photographing a woman and child by a campfire at a wilderness location, a man at a desk, along with extensive post-production. McCann had very specific production requirements, hiring Mike to shoot both a national print ad, as well as all of the elements for a digital banner ad. Given the nature of the print side, each element would be shot separately on location, the ring CG would be managed by McCann’s CGI/3D artist, and the final layout would be handled by Ian Goode of the Seattle-based retouching house, Gigantic Squid.
The concept for the shoot was clear, but finding the right location would be Mike’s first order of business. The shoot needed to take place in the greater Salt Lake City area, with easy access for RV’s and production vehicles. Having extensive local knowledge of Utah’s Wasatch Front, Mike immediately came up with several possible locations. After some scouting, Mike found the perfect spot: Jordon Pines Campground, nestled in the Wasatch Mountains’ Big Cottonwood Canyon, about thirty minutes outside Salt Lake City. The location was a great fit, already closed for the season, and offering a huge meadow with plenty of room to set up the shot, as well as an editing bay.
The crew was assembled: producer Samantha Mitchell at ESEM Productions and her assistant, Mike’s right hand man, Gage, and two other assistants, hair and make-up artist Paula J. Dahlberg, and prop and wardrobe stylist Suzy Eaton and her team. Retoucher, Ian Goode was also flown in from Seattle so he could build comps in real time while Mike shot each individual element for the ad.
It was going to be one very long day! In the end, there were more than twenty people on set for the shoot. They began in the wee hours of the morning. As they were setting up a huge bull moose walked through the set—a big surprise for the folks who were a little less seasoned in the ways of the great outdoors.
Behind the scenes.
When all was said and done, it seemed clear that the shoot was a big success. Each element for the final ad was shot separately: background, tent, and the people by the fire, the fire, and the man at the desk. The campfire, and the lighting required to emulate its glow, was of particular importance. Mike had this to say about shooting the campfire: “A critical element of the final ad was the campfire but our location wouldn’t allow us to build a real one. It forced me to get creative and build a home-made light modifier to recreate the glow on our subjects/scene so all that was left up to the retoucher was to add the flames in post.”
The mobile editing bay.
Gigantic Squid handled all of the compositing. In addition to the assets from the shoot, they also incorporated background plates of the trees shot before the leaves had dropped that Mike had photographed while he was scouting. The 3D/CGI artist at McCann added a final element, the ring of devices around the man at the desk, in post.
You can see the finished image here:
View more of Mike’s work at miketittel.com.
Tuesday December 11th, 2012
by Maria Luci
Munich-based photographer Christian Brecheis is lovin’ it. Or should I say Ich liebe es? Probably not, since my German is pretty weak… But it does seem somewhat appropriate since this post is all about Christian’s recent shoot for German McDonald’s and McCafes.
This particular job came to Christian through Heye, an advertising agency based in Munich. They asked Christian to shoot a variety of “party-type” shots in McDonald’s throughout Germany. Heye’s creatives fully understood what their client wanted out of the shoot, and had transformed McDonald’s vision into lively concepts that perfectly hit the mark. Christian’s job was to cement Heye’s ideas to, making the disco party scene come to life… And lucky for them, this wasn’t Christian’s first
Christian felt the job was going to be one of his principal assignments for the year, and was happy to take on the challenge. He’s no stranger to the “party lifestyle” advertising scene, so he already had an idea of some of the shots he needed. He quickly got to work with the Heye team on pre-production, scouting tons of McDonald’s and McCafe’s in the Munich metro area for two days straight. Christian says, with a laugh, that he scouted so many McDonald’s that if he’d checked in with Foursquare at each one, he’d surely have earned the title of “Burger King.” After scouting, the team jumped right into a live casting with over 60 models—a process that Christian says made him feel like a judge on America’s Next Top Model. They ended up choosing four models per day for each of the four scheduled shoot days. Once everything was in order, the party began.
Having receiving mood boards from Heye, Christian knew they were looking for extremely upbeat, positive images of young folks having an awesome time. He made sure to shoot both positive and traditional McDonald’s customer shots along with over-the-top fun, party photos. The latter, of course, making the assignment a “fun shoot for sure!”
Christian earned a lot of very positive feedback from the final images. The photos will now be used in McDonald’s advertising across Europe.
View more of Christian’s work at christianbrecheis.com.
Tuesday November 20th, 2012
by Maria Luci
When you’re looking for a photographer to capture the spirit of the great outdoors, Forest Woodward is your man. I mean, come on, his name is Forest… Woodward… So yes, he’s adept at tackling adventurous assignments, and in his own words “isn’t afraid to get dirty.” It was this passion for nature along with his photography style that caught the eye of Jenny Spencer, founder of Agloves, a touch screen gloves company. Jenny previously hired him to shoot images to help brand their very first gloves. This time, she wanted him to shoot a campaign that would launch their new heavy duty line. The creative brief was just two words: Marlboro Man.
Forest immediately took on the assignment, which turned out to be one heck of a wild ride. Other than the direction to invoke the essence of the historic tobacco cowboy, Forest was given almost complete creative freedom. And so, he set out from Missoula, Montana on a cold October morning with just two other men: Jacob Midgett, an art director and designer at Agloves, and David Hancock, their model, horse whisperer, and in Forest’s opinion “one of the last men who was cut from the stone of the Old West frontiersman.”
The trio roamed the back roads and woods of Montana, “intent on finding what’s left of the rugged soul of the American West.” They made their way through snowy mountains, aspen glens, past old railroad tracks and mine shafts. On their second day, they saddled up, covering ground on horseback. David was an absolute natural on the horse, and even though it’d been awhile since his last ride, within ten minutes of saddling up he was “totally in his element.” Seeing how well he connected with the animal, Forest had David ford a 100-foot wide section of river. It was there that he captured his favorite image of the trip, David atop his splashing horse. “I don’t know many models who I would have been comfortable asking to do that,” Forest says, “but that’s why we picked David. He’s the real deal.”
The trip was incredibly productive, with Forest returning with a beautiful library of images for Agloves. Their art director Jacob puts the assignment into perspective best, saying:
We hit the road for two short days with nothing but a cowboy hat, a pickaxe, and a dream. We ate when we got hungry, slept when we were tired and found some of the most amazing locations in the world to photograph David with his Agloves. Did we succeed? Well, that’s for you to decide. All I know is that we found a piece of the Old West out there. I am just glad we have some of the photographs to prove it.
The Agloves team loved the photos and are now using them on their website and will be incorporating them in their print ads and posters. Forest adds that the Agloves team was a pleasure to work with and were generous with their praises, adding,
I don’t know if it makes a difference that it’s an all woman run company, but after delivering them a heap of photos of David pickaxing, horse riding, wood choppin’, and swashbuckling his way through Montana, well I guess you could say they were pretty happy.
Forest concludes that the shoot was an eye opener for him, allowing him to see that commercial product assignments can be both soulful and original. His one disappointment? “Despite having David swing his pickaxe in over twenty locations, we didn’t find any gold.” But it was still one of the most fun shoots he’s been on in a long while.
View more of Forest’s work at forestwoodward.com.
Monday October 29th, 2012
by Maria Luci
Pretoria, South Africa-based photographer Albie Bredenhann has a special place in his heart for anything from the 1950′s. So much so, that he’ll jump at any chance to shoot a 50′s themed assignment. He’s taken on plenty of pin-up style shoots in the past, but had never attempted an on-location style 50′s shoot, that is until recently when he was asked to participate in a fundraising event with three other South African photographers. The project had each photographer choosing their own themed shoot and auctioning off the images as posters to raise funds for a model’s dog that needed urgent surgery. Albie, of course, chose his theme right away: a day at a 50′s/Rockabilly drive-in—a look back at “the era of Chevy’s, milkshakes, pompadours and pigtails.”
Lot’s of planning went into creating the look and feel Albie was going for. Luckily, just three miles from Albie’s house is Menlyn Center, which has a unique rooftop drive-in with six vintage cars for people to watch movies in. He immediately approached the center’s management team to find out if he could rent the space for the shoot. After being referred to their marketing agency, Primedia Lifestyle, he was pleasantly surprised at how easily he was given permission to use and shoot the space.
Once the location, model and props were secured, the shoot day arrived and went off without a hitch. “Overall, the shoot could not have gone smoother,” Albie says, “weather played along perfectly, the model was on time, assistants worked their backsides off and we got some great shots.”
Behind the scenes.
Soon after, Albie decided to send Primedia Lifestyle a thank you email for allowing him to use the location. He also attached four of the images before hitting send. Then, several days later, he received a reply wanting to see the rest of the images. Apparently, as luck would have it, they were busy currently working on a new marketing campaign and were interested in licensing some of the photos. Albie continues, “Links were sent, licensing details negotiated, and final choices were made. In the end, three photos were chosen to be used in their campaign.”
Albie was happy to get some great shots for his portfolio, to help out with the fundraiser, and to see his images in ads across Pretoria. The first phase of the campaign has already rolled out on billboards, newspapers, and magazines. Pleased, Albie adds, “I think the lesson here is to create opportunities wherever you can by taking chances, because you never know when something might catch someone’s eye.”
View more at albiebredenhann.com.