Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

When I saw this ad, I reached out to Blake Pearson, John Fulton’s agent. It caught my attention because it required the viewer to stop and look a little closer. You see the hula dancer and then you read the headline- very creative! I also like that this creative ad is done by a smaller agency showing folks you really should market to everyone in multiple platforms. I researched John and found out that he lived out of Savannah, GA but shot all over the world. A lot of times, you can live where you are happy and have a successful career.

Suzanne: I love the fact that John Fulton lives in Savannah, GA and has been featured in the Communication Arts “Fresh” feature. How did you join forces?
Blake: I noticed several of John’s images in PDN’s photo annual and felt he had great potential. We met in person a few weeks later and have been working together ever since.

The ad is a wonderful mix of John’s landscape style and humor- but this time instead of a person we have a humorous prop- Did John have a lot of say in the propping of the typical Hula Doll?
Initially, we thought surely a witty toy maker would have already made a geriatric hula girl, but no such luck. To make the elderly hula doll John photographed a dozen different dolls on location to attain as much source material as possible so it could be built digitally. Often, he does all his own retouching but in this case we sourced Chris Bodie (also with VISU ARTISTS) who has a background in illustration, to help with the actual build of the doll. John and Chris worked in tandem with the art director to dial in the final look of the image. The ad has been such a success for the client that they’re currently having elderly hula girls fabricated for several other promotions.

How did Brunner find John?
Brunner discovered John through a mix of personal relationships, direct mail and online marketing. John is wonderful to work with and we have developed a great relationship with Brunner. He’s photographed campaigns for several of the agency’s clients over the last couple of years.


Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.

John studied at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA and presently works out of Savannah, Ga. He is currently featured in American Photo’s  column “One to Watch” and was named to the Archive 2012 – 2013 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide. He is represented by VISU ARTISTS.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

Recommended Posts


  1. I love the geriatric hula gal and had wondered when I’d seen it earlier how it was propped. Great info.

  2. I love this shot….I think I will have to contact John for permission to use it as my FB profile image….it’s hilarious. LOVE


    • What’s putting you to sleep? The image? Concept? Ad?

      I think all three are great! Simple, clever and beautifully executed.

  4. Thanks for showcasing excellent work from “smaller” agencies, Suzeanne. I completely agree that photographers should be setting their sights on all types of clients. There are only so many assignments commissioned by BBDO, Rolling Stone, and other “brand name” clients who photographers have traditionally salivated over (for good reason, in most cases!).

  5. John is a really creative and fun guy. He and I spent a couple of hours together in Savannah a while back. His work with Southern Co is still running all over the southeast. Staying power.

  6. Someone should tell Eaton to make it discoverable on their website.

  7. What a great idea for a regular column!

    • Thank you!!

  8. John has some really, really great stuff, and I’m blown away by his digital composites – hoping he might check in here to answer a question. On his about-me, he says this:

    John consistently delights his clients with a work ethic that he considers standard. Recently, he added four unbilled production days to travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats to capture material the art director desperately wanted in his client’s campaign but knew wasn’t in the budget.

    I think what he’s trying to showcase is his dedication and flexibility, but I interpret that as “if you don’t have the budget, that’s okay… we’ll do it anway.” John, any comment on this, if you read these comments? Do you worry other companies will start asking for more for less if they knew you have done it in the past? Much appreciated!


    • Max, thanks for your compliments. It’s an interesting point you’ve brought up about the unbilled days and future client expectations. I think it really depends on what kind of clients you have. I’ve had plenty earlier in my career that nickeled and dimed everyone to death but since I started doing agency work in the last couple years I’ve never run into an art buyer who worked that way. Thankfully I have a sharp rep with a lot of expertise in negotiation but I’m always privy to the back and forth and they eventually will just tell you what their budget is and you have choice about how you want to spend that money on the production making the best images you possible. I’ve always errored on the side of giving more to make the images better. I should point out that there was room in that budget for the out of pocket expenses incurred during the salt flat shoot. What I didn’t charge them for was my time. The budget for that project overall was quite healthy and I certainly didn’t feel I was getting shorted in any way.

      I think every good photographer tries to use each project to vault themselves to the next level even if it means giving a little unbilled time and extra effort. It’s good for your clients and you. The three images from that shoot (including the hula girl) have since earned a lot of new projects and recognition. (Thanks again Suzanne)

      • John,

        Thank you for responding!


  9. I am disappointed. I thought it was a real hula girl and was going to look for one. A digit copy won’t work on the dash. I do love the image though, knowing EATON and their products it is perfect! Great pick to showcase Suzanne.

  10. I met John Fulton straight from his graduating Brook’s and have enjoyed watching his career blossom since. Happy to see this piece and the work.

    • Mea Culpa that’d be Brooks, not Brook’s.

Comments are closed for this article!