Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
I reached out to Day 19 (Jeremy & Claire Weiss) after seeing this great Converse campaign, because they seem to work well as a husband and wife team. Here is our conversation about how they make it work… together.
Suzanne: This is a great campaign for Converse, who looks to be a very loyal client that allows you to create amazing campaigns. Tell us about the campaign, how you got started in the business, what your big break was and how have you hung on to Converse for all those years?
Jeremy & Claire: We shot it over 6 days all over Southern California in the spring. Converse has been great to us, that was our 7th campaign for them and at this point we all know each other so well we just go out and have as much fun as we can and take some photos in the process. Those shoots have led to so many other shoots its been ridiculous. Our son also has a lifetime supply on Chuck Taylors thanks to Jess.
We started in the picture taking business by shooting our friends who just all happened to be doing rad shit. We’ve know a lot of amazing musicians, skateboarders, etc. and we always just documented our lives. Honestly, we both saw ourselves working at a small town newspaper by this time since we both studied photojournalism and documentary photography. I started going on tour with bands in the early 2000’s because I tried assisting once and it was horrible and I need some money. I could go on tour, sell merch for an hour and have 23 hours to shoot people hanging out having fun. That led to shooting press photos, covers, magazine articles. So I’ve been making a living shooting photos for a decade now but it was nothing close to a good living until 2006ish. Claire and I started shooting together in 2005, because of a push from my old rep. I was up for a Dell campaign, but didn’t have a portfolio and we were rushing to put one together. Claire had an amazing shot of Jack Black that the rep wanted to include in my book and asked if Claire would let me use it. That made no sense to me so she said, “why don’t we just start pitching you two as a team?” It was so obvious but we never saw it. We got that Dell job and flew to London… but of course they didn’t want to pay for two tickets.
I would say our “big break” was from Natalie Flemming who pushed hard for us for a Nokia campaign back in 2006, maybe 2007? She had been following our website for years and waiting to find a project for us. When she called in our book we contemplated not sending it overnight like she asked, because we couldn’t afford the $50 to overnight it and we were too naive to know you could ask for a FedEx number. That job is how we met our current rep Giant Artists who we’ve been with since day one of the agency.
Most of our clients are repeat clients and they have been very loyal to us for the most part. I’d say 75% of our shoots this year have been 2nd or 3rd shoots with the agency or brand. We’ve made some lifelong friends at the agencies we’ve worked with and have had clients offer to put us up when we do our Day19 family world tour in 2013.
As a husband and wife team, does this confuse art directors and buyers and how is your creative process in pre-pro and on set?
We’ve been together since we were teenagers and met when we both first started taking pictures, so our whole picture taking life has been spent together. We are both a part of every step and we both shoot every job together. The #1 question on conference calls is always how it works with us shooting together and the answer is we both love shooting and we are both trying to one up each other in a fun, loving way. It gets comical sometimes us both saying “look at this”, oh yeah “well look at this!” all day. Years ago one would be more of the art director and one would shoot and we would pass the camera back and forth, but we were just always fighting for the camera so now we both just constantly shoot.
How do you keep such lose and natural feeling with your subjects when you still have to produce the work? How do you strike that balance? Do you work with the same producer?
We just have a ton of fun when we shoot. We have worked with the same team for years and we all know each other so well that it makes the environment relaxed and attitude free. On a recent shoot the client told us, “it’s so refreshing to work with you guys because you are just real people” and it was funny to us because we weren’t sure what that meant. She had been in the business for 20+ years and has done a million jobs, so what were all of her other experiences like? Were the photographers crazy or had huge egos? Maybe we are just naive, but how could you not have fun doing this job? We are getting to meet new people and be creative on a daily basis, and get paid for it! Blows my mind how anyone could not have fun doing a photo shoot.
Shit, did I even answer the question. I think our photos look natural because it’s very laid back and our subjects are actually having a great time. No model can fake having a great time, it’ll show through in their face. We have a couple producers we mostly work with but I will not tell you their names because we need them (sorry Nancy, Sarah and Wes).
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Jeremy & Claire Weiss live in Los Angeles, CA with their son Eli.
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.