Archive for the ‘Ad Campaigns’ Category
This week, HairLocs International launched its nationwide campaign across nearly every Niche Media title, including Ocean Drive, LA Confidential, Gotham, Hamptons, and Vegas magazines. Through a good friend of mine, Lupe Ceballos, for whom I used to photograph recording artists, I was able to bring the campaign to SlickforceStudio. We handled everything from the production to the casting—which is why you may recognize some of your favorite Slickforce superstar models in the campaign.
The shoot was incredibly fun, especially for hair-stylist Al Ingram, because we got to experiment with many ways of making hair look exciting on camera—and you all know I love amazing hair. Slickforce lead make-up artist Gaby Ramos nailed every shot in this campaign, which is even more impressive given the full spectrum of model complexions that she worked on.
Thanks to HairLocs and to the incredible Slickforce team for helping to create a beautiful campaign!
MODELS (Left-to-right thumbs): Airess Padda, Nazanin Mandi, Ayanna Jordan, Jenifer Richardson, Remington Nelson
Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian recently asked me to photograph a new campaign for the re-launch of their DASH Miami boutique. They wanted something that would stop everybody in South Beach dead in their tracks. What better, I thought, than having them get naked?
Well, that’s not entirely true. I did suggest strategically painting the DASH Miami logo across their bodies, so as to keep the ad below porn-level. I wasn’t completely new to the body paint scene, as I got a lot of press for my Vida Guerra painted-as-a-tiger cover a few years back. But what I did remember was that THAT paint job took 3 hours for one model, and I knew we couldn’t burn that kind of time. So I called one of the best body paint artists in Miami, Keegan of Body Art by Keegan.
I flew to Miami and quickly assembled a clone version of SlickforceStudio, so the girls would feel right at home. They cast two of their very own DASH Dolls to join them in the campaign. Once the ladies were all on set, we experimented with a few different poses and body positions, calculated logo placement, and then the fun really began.
Special thanks to SlickforceStudio assistant Gabe Parra for these awesome pics!
Once in a blue moon, a project comes by that changes my style forever. Mirage was one of those projects.
My good friend and writer/director Stephanie Jones approached me with an interesting concept. She had a feature-film script that she was about to pitch to a major studio, but as those in the entertainment industry know, the execs that greenlight films are rarely artists themselves, and as such, they often have a hard time visualizing how a script will translate to the screen. Stephanie was a USC Cinema alum, like myself, and I had worked with her as a cinematographer several times. She was hoping I could take what was in her head and capture it visually. It would be just like storyboarding, only far more realistic.
Logistically, this shoot was a beast. There were 8 full concept shots, each at different physical locations, and all containing multiple characters. The beauty of motion picture is that you can rack focus from one character to another. But in a still it meant I’d need an enormous depth of field to keep all characters in focus.
In what became the most memorable image of the series, known as the “Alley Fight” (pictured above), I had 12 characters in the shot, ranging from 2 feet to 70 feet from camera. It was also scripted as a night scene, which meant I’d need a ton of light to get a reasonable depth of field at 100 ISO. And I’m guessing Stephanie thought I didn’t have enough to worry about, because on top of all of that she told me 6 of the actors would be in fast motion (running and flying through the air!), so slow-shutters were impossible too. I love pressure!
Given the technical demands, I decided that capturing the shot in one take was impossible. I would have needed to shoot at F32 at 100 ISO…yeah you try that, lemme know how it works out! So I had to get creative. I locked down the camera and broke up the scene into four stages: foreground, middleground, background, environment. The environment shot was key because I wanted to avoid the fake look of green-screen photography. I needed to know where my lights and shadows would fall if you actually saw this fight on the street. At dusk, I shot the alley at a 30 second exposure. Then I had all 12 actors stand in, and we blocked the shot just like an actual film scene. I needed to make sure all the action would be seen and that actors wouldn’t be blocking each other. Once we marked the characters’ spots we then pulled them out and shot them in groups. The foreground was the most important, because it featured the leads, so I shot that first. Then the middle ground, which was perhaps the most fun, because it was a full-on stunt scene, coordinated by my friend and action-director Alex Wen (The Matrix, Lethal Weapon 4). Take a look at the raw capture and you’ll see that we really threw that guy in the air—full invert! Then finally we shot the background stage, as well as various exposure plates, such as smoke from the truck and wetdowns on the street. It’s also important to note that we ultimately color-timed the final image to match the environment plate, rather than the other way around—yet another reason why it’s so important to shoot scenics first whenever possible.
This was relatively early in my photography career, before I started bringing in a behind-the-scenes photo/video crew, but the uncomposited images tell almost as descriptive a story. In the end, only two of the shots were done in-studio on green-screen; the rest were all shot as location composites, in similar form as described above.
The alley shot went on to win the Grand Prize GURU Award at PhotoshopWorld for Best Compositing. I’m really proud of the fact that it’s a location composite versus an afterthought shot in studio, which I think adds to the visceral nature of the final image.
I was recently hired to shoot the campaign for QuickTrim weight-loss supplement, featuring Kim & Khloe Kardashian. This was my first time meeting Khloe. She was not only a pro like her sister, but she has a sarcastic edge to her which is hilarious. Kim and I seem to always be in sync, so the shoot flowed really smoothly.
The TV crew from Keeping up with the Kardashians was at Slickforce that day, taping the drama that accompanied the photo shoot. Rumor has it we’ll be in one of the first few episodes of Season 4 which airs this December. I’ll keep you posted on all that jazz.
One of our new 2009 clients was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I guess they figured they’ve got a lot of women wearing nothing for the animals…and we make women look great wearing nothing LOL. So I think it was love at first sight for our companies. (Actually, I owe a special thanks to Layla Kayleigh for turning PETA on to us.)
These are two of the three campaigns we shot in 2009—the third will be released in Feb 2010. Layla Kayleigh and I first met on a magazine shoot in early 2008, and we’ve remained friends ever since. When PETA asked her to do their “Animal Testing Breaks Hearts” campaign, she was sweet enough to recommend me for the gig.
Working with friends on a national campaign is really kind of surreal, because, oddly, no one is stressed out. Layla knows I’m gonna make her look great, I know the camera loves Layla, and we both know our beloved make-up artist Therese Willis is gonna take it to another level. It’s also really fun sticking mouse ears, a tail, and a virtual mouse (we used a plastic penguin for the stand-in) on your friend, who thousands of guys are in love with.
The next campaign was with Twilight‘s Christian Serratos. This was my first time meeting Christian, but she was a super-pro and very easy to work with. Michelle Cho from PETA and I had discussed a Twilight-like forest concept, so I knew I had two options: shut down the Angeles National Forest and light it with 18K HMIs from condor cranes like in Lord of the Rings…or greenscreen (LOL).
Sorry for the sarcasm, but I’ve just never been partial to greenscreen. Don’t get me wrong, compositing has its place, and I do it when necessary, but even then I try to build at least some of the set practically. For one, it helps the model/actor interact with the environment believably. Second, I think it disciplines you to build a concrete vision of the final product in your head, instead of what a lot of photographers are doing now, which is shooting the model now and figuring out the background later. The two dead giveaways for composited shots are the floor (where the feet meet the ground) and that all-too-common uniform backlighting…because it’s easy to cut out, but the lighting is always unmotivated. (Okay, enough soap-boxing.)
So I went to a greenery rental house in the Valley and rented a big tree. The people in my building thought I was crazy, and they’re not far off. I opted to shoot gray-screen instead of green-screen because I knew Christian was going to be naked and I didn’t want that awful green spill on the girl’s skin. Just drives me crazy. I knew I was going to fog up the background and desaturate it anyway, so gray made the most sense.
I’m really happy with how both campaigns turned out. I have to say the PETA crew is super cool, and my whole staff loves working with them. Michelle may be the coolest director/person-in-charge/celebrity-liaison I’ve ever met in my life. I hope we work together for many, many years.
Shooting PETA comes with it’s share of controversy, of course. SlickforceStudio was featured on Fox News recently while they were tearing apart PETA and the Christian Serratos/Twilight campaign…something about the exploitation of women and all that. Okay, guys. Thanks for the publicity.