Heidi: Why the popsicles and how much dialogue was there with the make-up artist/Amber about color?
Emily: The photo editor came to me with the idea of an “oral fixation” type of shoot…lollipops, popsicles, candy, etc. This shoot was for their Sex Issue so he really wanted to push it in terms of the sexuality. I went shopping and bought a few different things that Amber could put in her mouth…all of them were colorful and visual. My main goal was to make the shoot interesting looking and not just sexual. I did speak with the make up artist about using bright colors to go with the brightly colored food, and we had colorful backdrops as well. I felt if we could get an overall look going it would modernize the pictures and add an element to the shoot.
I know you started your career shooting a lot of bands and music has a strong influence on your life. Your husband just supervised the soundtrack for 30 Minutes or Less do you two collaborate on projects? How much music do you shoot now?
I actually don’t shoot as much music as I used to. I still love music and love photographing musicians, but I seem to get more calls to shoot actors or other notable types (writers, politicians, chefs, etc.) lately. I’ve also been shooting more advertising work which has been great, but less geared towards music. In terms of my hubby, yes, he just music supervised 30 Minutes or Less which is very exciting! I’m very proud of him. Music supervision is a perfect fit for his music snobbery…I can’t really think of a better job for him. We do collaborate on projects. He has been instrumental in many aspects of my work, but mostly he comes up with great ideas and pushes me to complete projects and not be lazy. My series Nature Calls was his idea, and he always comes with me when I photograph for that project.
Do you use your blog like a loose portfolio? Your Alaska rough scans are a great series, but did you not work on them at all? Is it easier for you to post on your blog, meaning, its not your book, but you know people are looking. How picky are you?
I like to use my blog for lots of things – self promotion, a diary of sorts, a place to show my personal work, somewhere to write about my feelings on photography, the photo industry, and what it’s like making a living as a photographer. I do post images on my blog that I have no other real place for at that moment; pictures I’d like to show people or see together in a group, but I could never put every single picture somewhere in my book or on my website so it’s nice to have a place where the edit doesn’t have to be so tight.
My “rough scans” (Alaska included) are images that I scan at home on my crappy scanner and do a little light color correction, curves, etc. on so I can see which images are worthy of a drum scan and professional post production. It’s nice to put little groups of images together and also nice to get people’s feedback on images. I’m fairly picky about what images I scan and show on my blog. For starters, it’s time consuming to scan stuff at home and use my mediocre Photoshop skills to make images look presentable. Second, I don’t show images, both commercial and personal, that I’m not proud of or find interesting in some capacity.
Heidi: How did this collaboration work? Did you get sketches of the Smurfettes in order to shoot the products at the right angle? Were the accessories shot on a model or a form built to scale for the Smurfette?
Jeffrey: The whole thing started with an idea and some rough sketches from Harpers Bazaar and Sony Pictures. Harper’s fashion dept pulled some accessories together to create 4 different looks and the idea was to shoot the accessories on a live model in the desired poses from said sketches. Basically I would light each look for the accessories, then the designer from Sony would step in to shoot a 360 degree view of my set to recreate lighting angles in post on their Smurfette. He would then collect my raw files along with his 360 shots and toss them to his team, who would strip out the accessories and place them on their digital Smurfette. The shoot happened in Hearst’s digital studio and we all had a great time.
Heidi: Was it hard to to manage your equipment on the boat?
Joao: I had big ambitions to bring a big portable strobe like the Profoto 7B onboard, but that was not possible, and would have been impractical.
Just you and an assistant?
Due to space, not even my assistant could come. (So he had a nice day off.)
It was just me, my camera, and a Canon Speedlite on top of the camera.
Tell me something challenging about the shoot.
What I love about being a photographer is that you’re allowed to enter a world very unlike your own, for a brief period of time perhaps, or for as long as it needs to be for you to cover the story. Being out on a fishing trawler in the middle of the sea is a very calming and zen experience. Life is reduced to just the essential, and the tasks at hand. There’s not twitter or facebook there! So my photographic world was reduced to this smaller square footage with three other individuals. The challenge was finding interesting compositions with only these elements. It became about the lives of these men at that moment, and the interaction of the light at dawn, the reflections, the sea, the mechanics of all that equipment, and the fish.
Heidi: Is your reference material one single photograph, even for groups of people?
Kevin: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It will often happen that I’ll receive a group shot to which I must add a figure or two. These will usually get placed on either end, facing into the group, if possible. The tricky part here is to get the add-ons scaled correctly to fit into the grouping properly— this is accomplished by careful scrutiny.
About how long did this particular illustration take?
How big is your original work? Do you work keeping in mind that these will be scaled down or are you working at 100%?
These typically get reproduced at 35-40% of original size. The drawing displayed here was probably 17.5″ wide in the original.
Aaron: From the main setup (the one pictured) I sent in about 50 images. I divided that 50 up into first and second selects. The second setup (not pictured) I had 25 total selects.
How much time did get to do the shoot?
I was told I would have Matt for 10-15 minutes. In the end, I wound up having Matt for 25 minutes.
Was this your first shoot for ESPN? How did they find out about you? Email, promo, or word of mouth?
This was my second job for ESPN. The first was at the beginning of the year, I did a portrait for the Body Shots section of the magazine. I wish I knew how they found me. I’ve been sending promos, both print and e promos for the last year. Maybe that, maybe word of mouth…
Was it hard to photograph? meaning he was a little stiff in the beginning? Do you do any warm up shots to try and open him up or was he easy?
You’re right, the first images, often times, can be a bit stiff. But given that I was only supposed to have him for 15 minutes, the idea of a warm up shot isn’t something that consciously crossed my mind. However, on this shoot, I did a bit of warm up anyways without really thinking about it. I had asked Matt to put on his batting gloves and as he was putting the gloves on— not even in the exact area where we had positioned the lights—I grabbed the camera and began shooting. Sunlight was mixing in with my lights, the frame was a bit different than where I had tested, yet those first shots are some of my favorites from this shoot. It was almost reportage-like, with a full on lighting setup. I began giving him bits of direction and that’s how we started. He was really comfortable in front of the camera, so that made things flow pretty smoothly.
I like to visualize and plan out an approach to my shoots ahead of time, whenever possible. But I’ve learned not to get too attached to those ideas in my head — as often times things don’t work out as planned, or the shoot itself creates better opportunities than what I had visualized.
On this shoot, though everything was seemingly in place beforehand (great direction from ESPN, I had spoken with Matt’s people, and had spoken with the stadium where we were shooting) — one thing that was unexpected was that the grounds crew at the stadium would not let us be on the field. I had asked Media Relations at the stadium about being on the field ahead of time and was told it would be fine, but just to respect the requests of the grounds crew. Apparently the grounds crew had a different take. They told us that we couldn’t be on the grass until we were shooting with talent (not even touching the grass with our feet or equipment), which made it about impossible to set up a shot on the field ahead of time. It didn’t make sense to spend time, effort, or risk any animosity with the grounds crew trying to override them, so instead we worked within their framework and stayed on the warning track area. And that worked out great as the main setup was at the dugout and when we got to the second setup the home team was already on the field taking batting practice.
Heidi: Was it hard to control the roosters? Did your rent those?
Ture: As for the roosters..it was tricky to control them. I rented them and they came with two animal wranglers. They did their best to keep them in a controlled area for me…but they still moved around and added an element of spontaneity which I like. While shooting in his actual truck, I would place them in certain places…then they would roam from there. For me this really makes things interesting and allows the subject to react to their actions and my direction…and catch those moments that happen between the moments. It was a blast.