Sometimes you think you’ve shot just about everything!!
I got a call from an Art Director I had worked with before, telling me that he’s now at a new agency. The agency he was at lost a big account, so everyone got the proverbial boot!
If you professionals out there ever thought that being a free-lance photographer was/is a precarious occupation, you should try being an Art Director back in the day. Your portfolio was always up to date and under your desk.
You went home on Friday after a successful meeting with the client (third in agency billing) who had just approved a new campaign, and over the weekend the client decides they no longer want to go in that direction and fires the agency. You come to work an hour late on Monday and twenty-five percent of the agency is gone; happened all the time.
I’ve seen it happen because I was going to be the photographer that was chosen to shoot an (eight day) new big campaign on a Friday for Bud Light and by Monday the agency had lost the account.
The creative team usually consists of a writer and Art Director. The writer usually comes up with a concept, and the Art Director makes it come to life; sometimes the other way around.
This client was fairly new to the agency, so it was important that the Art Director/writer team deliver “the goods”, as they sometimes said. The reason I was called was that I had “delivered the goods” once before.
The client was an insurance company whose customers were owners of expensive sailboats and motor yachts.
The approved concept, that also went into focus groups, was that you never knew when trouble was coming so you had to be ready for anything; even when you are about to be attacked by a giant crab. Whoever came up with this idea was probably stoned…everybody must have been stoned for this one!!
And that’s where I came in. The Art director asked me if I thought I could make a giant claw attack a boat…” Hell yes!”
I learned a long time ago that the secret to the success I have had was/is because I always surround myself with the best (most talented) people possible, and I still believe it.
Having said that, I hired Danny Harries, a good friend and an amazing model maker/illustrator, to create a giant claw that we could position where it looked like it was about to attack both a sailboat and motor yacht.
Danny carved it out of a huge block of foam (to make it light), painted it, and from one end to the other it was eighteen feet long.
We took it down to a bay near Houston whose depth was only about four feet deep and tried to set it up…it wouldn’t stand upright, and as a result we missed a beautiful sunset!!!!!!
Since there wasn’t a plan ‘B’, we had to keep working with what we had…the original ‘A’ plan. We took it to a nearby garage so Danny could figure out what went wrong and what he needed to do. While he was scratching his head the Art Director and I were toasting to the Photo Gods with a few beers, thinking that it couldn’t hurt.
The next day we went out again to a great sky and this time it worked like a charm; Danny had worked his magic, much to the relief of the Art Director whose color had returned to his face…and of course, yours truly.
While my assistant and I were lying in a Zodiac, I had the sailboat and motor yacht follow directly behind one another, so I could take full advantage of the last rays before the sun hit the water…as in the sunset. I was very close to the claw with a 20mm lens on, so it would appear larger than life; the Art Director’s words, not mine!!
Those were great days where you could actually use your imagination and then create those ideas in the camera, and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Now, the claw would be about eight inches long, shot against a green screen, and with post-processing it would be added to the shot…computer art…UGH!!!
We finished the shoot and had a couple of celebration beers while loading up the claw. After about a mile I had to make a pit stop. Luckily, I pulled over on the shoulder next to a semi-dense forest to disappear into it.
As I was getting out I told the Art director that I had to see “a man about a horse”. When I got back everyone was laughing, especially the Art director.
It seems that while I was gone the account executive, a young woman named Beth (fake name to protect the innocent) said to the Art Director, “Oh I want to go, I love horses”.
One exposure, one frame, one click…shot on Kodachrome 25
To read more of Joe’s stories visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joe.baraban