Sunday, December 11, 2011

Look back on a Mercedes promo shoot

My good friend Didier was asked to take on a photoshoot for a promo for a Mercedes dealership event. He gave me a call to see if I wanted to help out, two heads are better than one (although some could argue that our two heads only equal one!). We exchanged a few emails, met up for supper, drew up some sketches and had a great collaboration going.

After getting some volunteer models, hair, makeup and all that wonderful photoshoot stuff, we were psyched for the day. Any day you get to have access to Mercedes cars for a day, specially 2 SLS AMGs, you get psyched.

"What?? We need to move the car AGAIN! Sure!! No prob!"

I actually would just randomly start up the car and rev the engine for fun. Yeah, I'm such a kid.

Ok, back to the shoot. We weren't too sure what to expect. We knew it was their basement and we had cars. Didier had seen the place before, but how were we going to make this work with 8 cards (2 SLS and 6 C300) is usually something you only really know when you get there. So you plan to be ready for anything and pack everything. This included multiple speedlights, softboxes, umbrellas, Profoto strobes, reflectors, way too many lenses, diffusers, an actual red carpet, dresses, fur coats...and the list goes on.

Having had just a few hours of sleep (due to a full day shoot and night gig the day before), I got to the dealership around 9am. The models were scheduled in for 11am for makeup and hair. The SilverStar Mercedes dealership were just awesome. Full access to their cars and facilities made our day much easier.

This is pretty much what it looked like when I walked in. Didier had just arrived and was there setting up and Emily was coming in to lend a hand.

A little bit tight. Low ceiling, reflective walls. So the first order of business, after getting some detail shots of the grills, was to clear out all but the 2 SLS, which were our showcase cars.

Now in the process of planning, we had some ideas already down, but we like to try things out as we set up as ideas keep coming. Here is an attempt at an setup with a strong back light that we didn't end up using. We had a few ideas of how to make it work, but decided that it didn't flow with our various setups and left it out. There is always next time!

Anyone who has been on a photoshoot with me, or has actually worked with me at any point and time, knows that goofing off is must and I'm always ready to lead the way. Decided to take some couple shots with my new buddies

And again, being escorted out of the car. Actually, I like to show people what I want them to do. I'm a very hands off photographer, so to get your idea across, nothing better than actually showing people what you mean. It's like a rough live sketch of an idea. A very very rough sketch. That ain't too pretty.

Cars backed out, SLS placed, lights started to click and things were pretty much taking shape. At this point, it's probably noon or so the models are getting ready, we went through the light setups for the different shots we wanted, transitions and so on. As much as I like to have fun while I work, you need to keep things moving at a good pace to ensure no one gets tired or cranky (other than me of course).

I thought this would be a PERFECT time to post up pictures of the SLS on my Facebook while standing in for a light setup. Nothing better than a bit of gloating!

Quick perspective shot, testing light placement from setup 1 to setup 2. Notice how thrilled Emily and I look? At least she faked a half smile. All I'm missing is to raise my leg and do a Captain Morgan pose. Yes, that is why I work behind the camera...

In playing in the cars ... I mean, moving them to their purposeful locations! ... we loved the look of the lights of the cars on. So we grabbed a giant reflector and placed it in front to bounce light back into the model's face.

And this is how it looked when we actually had models! (this is not a finished images, just a few quick edits in lightroom before throwing it up on the website)

This is my wonderful "oh crap, I just walked into your test shot! Sorry!!" moment. Yeah, those happen. I love my look of determination in heading to the other side of the room. I must of seen some coffee or something.

Our models just had to take a break and be pretend photographers. When you work with such relaxed people, moments like this are what it's about. Everyone just gelling together and having fun.

You have to love what you do. People often see the end results of a photoshoot, the perfectly touched up photos, the stunning models, the great locations. But behind all that glitz and glamour and just people trying to make great images. And in our case, awesome people taking their own weekend time to make some awesome images.

And seriously, why would anyone want another job?