Kingsway Mall's spring campaign photography planning and shooting transcended what, in retrospect, could have been the most tumultuous period in both my professional and personal life. I suppose a photographer can never fully separate living and working but this shoot's timing placed it at the meeting point of so many conflicting forces from so many directions. My parents were planning to leave the country and a large commercial realty portfolio for five weeks, my brother was still in South America, and I was developing a combined architectural portfolio when before my showcases have always contained work for which I was the sole photographer. And during this entire process Leanna, my girlfriend, closest friend, and muse of almost a decade was ending her relationship with me . . . while I was getting audited by the CRA! On top of all of this my work was finding itself a new path; it seemed to have been following the path to equipment minimalism of my architectural photography. Yet when Todd of Tag Advertising phoned me with a wild, equipment-intensive and potentially physically impossible concept for Kingsway that he wanted me to help realize I had to put many of these external factors into my "hold pile" and focus.
Corey Thompson and I spent hours testing and experimenting with different photographic projection methods in tandem with a variety of foreground light control methods. Corey had a lot of novel ideas for flagging and even for the generation of light textures for the backgrounds. As our understanding of the challenge and of strobe image projection evolved, so did a set of tools that allowed our photographic team to enable an art director to do graphic design with light all in camera. The photographer is often offered undivided credit for the success (or failure) of a photoshoot but as with many of my shoots the photographer is a relatively small part of the equation. Those who have already seen the photographs and realize what he have achieved don't give Todd Sloane and his agency enough credit for the creation of a concept that empowers a client to shoot seasonal advertising indoors in any season and for any season with minimal post processing. Todd's expertise made the difference between a hodgepodge of random projected images on the background and a well-planned interplay of projected imagery, foreground lighting, and John Chwyl's wardrobe styling choices.
I would like to thank Corey, an extraordinary art and conceptual photographer, for his continued support not just as an assistant but as a full photographer willing to lend his expertise on my sets. I often fail to adequately appreciate his contributions and his tolerance of my often impatient and unyielding nature. Thank you to Bry Acheson for her assistance with day 1 of the shoot where we continued to encounter numerous technical challenges she actively helped to resolve. Thank you to Aaron Pederson of 3TEN Photo for making available his studio with near-ideal topography for where we needed to place equipment and all at a reasonable price. And a gigantic but humble thank you to Stephen Pilby, my good friend, and his company Lighttools. Stephen's invention of the the Lighttools Soft Egg Crate allowed us to use soft light for our subjects while minimizing impact on contrast in the projected backgrounds. Without them the backgrounds would have been totally washed out. Soft Egg Crates allowed us to realize our art director's dreams of spring fashion photography in Edmonton in -28degree weather beyond expectations and within budget. I don't think any of us fully realize what we achieved with Todd's vision and Stephen's light controls and the implications these achievements will have for shooting seasonal retail advertising in markets with temperate climates. And a huge thank you to our models, Ania B, Courtney M, Riza S, and Liam, all represented by Sophia Models of Calgary. Thank you all for what we have created.
Courtney M . . . so hot that she made Nikolas question his sexual orientation for a couple minutes.
Riza . . . and recent winner of the Miss World Canada pageant.
Liam. Dylan and Whitney of En Vogue Photography, Saskatoon photographed him for Midtown Mall previously. Except he didn't have hair then.
TAG Advertising's mockups for the new campaign. I knew that we had our work cut out for us when we dissected the lighting in these mocks and realized that much of these images couldn't be created optically in a single image and some would require "negative" light sources. In 3D art the artist can create a light source that can subtract light from the scene but, at least to my knowledge, there is no way to project "light" that precisely darkens part of the scene. We could have lit everything with lekos and used extensive numbers of custom cut gobos but this wouldn't be feasible considering our time budget.
So we compromised. And here's how we did it. One Bowens QuadX 3000 power pack, one Bowens Quad head, one Calumet/Bowens ellipsoidal reflector spot lamp strobe projector, one Bowens/Calumet universal spot attachment, three Norman IL2500 heads, one Norman D12r power pack, one Bowens Esprit Gemini 250 monolight, Calumet and Chimera soft boxes, and Lighttools Soft Egg Crates on every single soft light source to maintain foreground control and direct light off of the background thus preserving contrast in the projections. Part of the reason that we chose Aaron Pederson's/3TEN Photo's studio was because we knew that we would need to project from above and around the model and that adjusting the projection would be a tedious job requiring many small adjustments. This studio offered a platform situated about 10-12feet above the ground so we could use a normal light stand and a projectionist could stand on level ground while adjusting the primary background projection light. All photos shot with the Nikon D3 and the 24-70/2.8 AF-S Nikkor directly to a custom compact PC/Windows Vista workstation equipped with an NEC Spectraview LCD2690WUxi and processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.
Here is an image I was hoping would be a billboard/2:1 aspect ad candidate but never saw light.
Experimenting with different backgrounds and a photo showing what the set would look like without an image projected on the backdrop.
From left: our projectionists and co-photographers, Bry Acheson (Day 1), and Corey Thompson (both days); our art director, Todd Sloane, selecting from a series of images printed onto inkjet-receptive clear polyester for background and ground projection; Kingsway Mall's marketing director and our fashion stylist John Chwyl and Todd selecting images for projection.
From left: Nikolas Syhatheb, our makeup artist and hairstylist; Nikolas working on Riza's hair in the hallway as Ania is taking a quick break while awaiting a background change; Todd and Bridget as we wait for makeup touch ups.
From left: Ania in the mirror as I'm shooting from a gap between dresser and table; Ania receiving hair adjustments from Nikolas as John prepares a scarf and Riza looks on; Day 1's photographic team with Corey's head to us and I'm enjoying my Starbucks surprise (thanks, Bridget!).
Great shoot, sorry to hear about the list of stuff that happend! It can only make you strong, something to say about the fact you were able to get through all that and still pull off a great shoot!
Kahl: Thank you. =) In the end I realized it was important to just keep busy.
Eva: Thank you! And I believe they did use one of the purple dress shots for a newspaper ad and maybe a billboard but just not this photo nor have I seen any implementations of photos from the purple dress set.