Category: blog Page 1 of 10
August 23, 2017
What photographer Jordan Reeder
did on summer vacation
A thousand feet off the ground, no helicopter doors, paralyzing wind – just another vacation day for Photographer Jordan Reeder. “Part of my job is experimenting and testing,” says Jordan. “I love shooting landscapes, and I just wanted to try something different, so I chartered a chopper.”
Jordan had shot aerials once before, grabbing shots of high performance bi-planes from the open cockpit of a WWII military plane. But this time his goal was to test a new Sony A9 camera system while capturing Chicago’s visual abundance.
“With helicopters, you only get about 30 minutes, so you really have to think about the right time of day and gear planning. Changing lenses or messing with accessories can be dangerous because it’s so windy – everything has to be strapped down,” says Jordan.
“To get good shots you have to get lucky with the weather. And always remember not to lean out too far – or you get smacked with the wind and your eyeballs start shaking around in your skull.”
An award-winning product, lifestyle and location photographer, Jordan spends most of the year on commercial shoots for clients like Discover Card, Nvidia and Cisco. But his vacations, like this family trip to Chicago, tend to get taken over by photography as well.
“It’s always a little hectic jamming in shoot time on family trips,” says Jordan. “But it’s painful to be somewhere awesome and not take some time to shoot.”
Check out more of Jordan’s award-winning work here.
August 15, 2017
Photographer Michal Venera
Joins the FSC Roster
With his evocative photos full of rich light and color, it’s easy to see why we’re excited to welcome photographer Michal Venera to the Freda Scott Creative roster.
His first camera, a gift from his father when he was 12, was used to capture the winding old-town streets and moody light of his native Czechoslovakia. At 19 he defected, making his way from refugee camp to New York City and finally to San Francisco.
Michal worked his way through art school, building on the education he’d given himself wandering Prague’s museums as a boy. Since then, he’s built a successful 30-year career in lifestyle, product and scenic photography as a commercial and fine art photographer.
Big-name clients from Pottery Barn to Wells Fargo to Crystal Cruises come for Michal’s talent. But they stay to enjoy his studio – a 5000 square foot cedar wood barn he built in the hills of Marin. Drenched in light and surrounded by expansive views, it lends serenity to any shoot day.
When not on the job, Michal runs his own little farm on the property, raising sheep and tending to his 300 olive trees. That is, of course, if he’s not traveling or pursuing new pieces for his art collection.
In true artist style, he also lives part time on a reclaimed tugboat in Sausalito, just across from San Francisco. There you might find him indulging his daily water skiing habit, dodging the heavy marine craft on Richardson Bay.
“I love it all,” he says of his long and varied career. “It’s kind of a problem. I love lifestyle, I love shooting product and creating scenes. But I’ve been lucky to work in many different genres, sometimes all on one job.” You can see more of Michal’s wide-ranging portfolio here.
July 26, 2017
Why Patrick Bennett Is Perfect for Essentia’s “Overachievers”
It comes as no surprise that Essentia tapped Photographer Patrick Bennett for their “Overachieving H20” campaign. After all, Patrick has been pushing the limits in his field for decades. “I hang off cliffs, lay on railroad tracks, dodge punches…whatever it takes,” he says.
In just the last year, Patrick has bagged over 200 shots for Essentia Water, which he estimates totals around 10,000 frames shot in seven cities throughout the country. That alone earns him a place in the Relentlessly Dedicated Photographers hall of fame. But Patrick is never content to just ‘get the shot’ – he prefers to reinvent it.
“I’ve always picked the hard way to go,” he says. “In track I ran the 400 and 800. I played hockey. I chose an incredibly competitive career. So for each shot, I build it from scratch, never relying on formulas, to make it as unique as possible. That’s why I love location work – every location is a new studio to work within.”
To that end, Patrick recently found himself shooting on a city street with live traffic, trying to get a shot of a runner sprinting past. “I’m laying in the gutter, so I can’t see. My producer is just yelling if I need to dodge an oncoming car. All while the model is flying by at top speed,” he laughs. Of course, they nailed it.
Another time he was shooting on an Alaskan tugboat. After 3 days of pouring rain he finally got the shot during a stormy midnight refuel, using the work lights of the two ships in addition to his flash. “But,” he laughs, “that was nothing compared to the time my assistant had to hold me precariously by the pants as I leaned fully out over the water to shoot the Bayliner speeding away at sunset.
His most unforgettable moment came on yet another boat. “I’m in the bow of a small ship waiting for the Dragon capsule to come down from space. I’m shooting still and motion – two cameras side by side – so once we heard the sonic boom I could line up my cameras to the puff of smoke from the exploding parachutes and follow it to splashdown. All while we’re rocking on heaving waves. Ten minutes later we uploaded the shot via satellite phone and Elon Musk tweeted my photo of the successful return of the SpaceX Dragon to earth.”
Patrick will continue to shoot for Essentia Water throughout 2017, as well as his other industrial, transportation and farm clients. And no matter what shot he brings back, we know there’ll be a good story to go with it. You can see more of Patrick’s commercial and personal work here.
July 19, 2017
On the Run in San Francisco: Lifestyle Photography from Nader Khouri
Faced with hair-raising complexity and tight timing, photographer Nader Khouri knows there’s only one way to nail the shoot: plan, plan and plan some more. The payoff is clear in his latest lifestyle photography for Lennar’s new San Francisco Shipyard development.
“This shoot had a lot of moving parts, so, first step, I wanted a great producer on the team,” says Nader. “To me, that’s Amy Silberman.” Nader relied on Amy to keep things running smoothly, managing permits, talent, time and budgets on the 3-day, 10 location shoot. “Amy knows so many people and she is a logistics magician,” he says.
Together, the team planned for every possibility. They chartered a boat for a commuting shot, rented restaurants, shops and an office location, procured permits for SF city streets, Muni platforms, the Port Authority and RV parking, wrangled 8 models and their schedules, secured catering, created Plan B scenarios and managed budgets, call sheets and crew book.
Then it was time to take the actual photos. The client wanted to showcase the way residents would live, work, shop and relax in the new community. Nader worked closely with the talent to get natural performances on a run-and-gun timeline.
“I love how it came out,” says Nader. “And we had an epic celebration with the crew when it was all over.” You can see more of Nader’s lifestyle photography, as well as his impressive food and beverage work, here.
Lennar San Francisco Shipyard: Nader Khouri, photographer; Amy Silberman, Producer; Lisa Moir, Wardrobe and Props; Deborah Dapolito and Veronica Sjoen, Makeup & Hair, Models, Blackwell Fileshere.
July 11, 2017
Illustrator Carolyn Vibbert shows her styles
It’s difficult to describe Illustrator Carolyn Vibbert’s style, largely because she’s mastered so many techniques and approaches. Her deep portfolio of work includes whimsical maps, clean-lined logos, charming landscapes and myriad illustrations in styles reminiscent of cut paper, acrylic painting, woodcuts and watercolors.
“Often it’s a job that pushes me into new territory,” explains Carolyn. “A client might like my style but want something a little bolder or more energetic or with humor. That makes the job even more exciting.”
Technology also helps Carolyn explore and evolve. “Back in the day,” she says, “all my work had to be done on peel-able illustration board that could be wrapped around a scanning drum. Every change had to be done by hand. Now I can just delete and try again.”
But no matter the style, her process begins the same way for every job. “I pull lots of reference material, then develop a thumbnail that captures the energy or shape of the piece. I keep it loose and refine as I go along – I still use a lot of tracing paper for revisions!” she explains.
“But in everything I do, I always start with a naturally drawn line,” says Carolyn. And ultimately, that foundation of human warmth is the strong through line in this highly accomplished commercial artist’s body of work. You can see more of Carolyn’s illustrations and designs here.
June 14, 2017
Call it Directing, Call it Visual Engineering, Call Will Strawser to get it done
When Photographer and Director Will Strawser begins a new project, he isn’t just visualizing the end result, but the entire process to achieve it. “To me, directing isn’t just devising cool new ways of showcasing products or people, but – more importantly – engineering a system to bring the visual to life,” he explains. “The total process is what I think of as Visual Engineering.”
To that end, Will does a hefty amount of research and prep on the front end of any shoot. “Ideally, by the time we’re on set we have a nailed down game plan to perfectly execute the planned vision, AND also some time allotted for experimentation and discovery,” he says. “Some of the best shots we’ve ever accomplished were from going “off the boards.”
And to make sure his vision is fully realized, Will begins post-production before the shoot, not after. “Post is very important to the way I like to create,” he says. “To make sure we’re all on the same page, the post team is involved heavily in pre-production. A large part of the creative process happens in the edit, so I like to be hands on with the edit, color, CG and sound effects.”
He also carefully curates a team that’s a match for the project, brand and vision he wants to achieve. A smaller project might call for just 3 or 4 people, while a more elaborate broadcast TV shoot could require a crew of up to 10. “When I’m bringing in a larger team, I’m really looking for a group that works seamlessly and efficiently together to keep us moving forward,” Will says.
Will has brought his fresh, modern aesthetic and energetic shooting style to clients ranging from Wegman’s to Memo Jewelry to Taste Tea Naturals, creating web content, brand videos, narrative pieces and broadcast TV spots. You can see more of his arresting still and motion work here.
June 6, 2017
Retoucher Rachel Kissel
helps photos finish strong
Retoucher Rachel Kissel recently teamed up with Photographer Adam Levey on a personal creative project. The result is this dramatic shot that took a full day in the studio and over ten hours of retouching magic afterward. “We spent a lot of time just bouncing ideas off each other, playing with different directions,” says Rachel.
The look and feel developed over several retouching sessions as she evaluated various Photoshop effects and interacting layers. Rachel changed the atmosphere by painting, applying textures and blending fog and smoke effects. Intense color work and heavy manipulation of the shoe and laces added to the final impact.
Rachel is well-versed in atmospheric changes, having created clouds, windswept plains and snowy drifts, all from her computer desk. She frequently uses highly finessed composite techniques to bring imaginary worlds to life.
She also regularly adds drama to still life product shots as well, partnering with clients from Nike to Apple to Levi’s. You can see more of her retouching magic here.
May 25, 2017
For Katie Newburn, Photography is a Collaboration of Love.
When Photographer Katie Newburn was a kid flipping through magazines or watching TV, she never wanted to be the model or actress. “I was always thinking about what it was like on set – how did they make that movie or photo, who did the hair and makeup, who chose the décor,” she says.
Photo by Katie Newburn for The Best Caesar App, with Tyson Caly, Art Director
Now she knows. As a well-established commercial photographer, Katie regularly pulls together talented teams to work with clients from Yahoo to Chipotle. And she still gets excited about the collaborative process.
Katie Newburn for Postmates with Annemarie Guy on props and Carmel Cottingham producing
“It’s a creative opportunity when a new job comes along, a clean canvas that everyone can put their ideas on. From building the set and then adding the layers of props, light, mood, we all bring our own talents and skills to find fresh ways to represent a brand.”
A collaboration with McKel Hill for the Nutrition Stripped cookbook
The exploration starts the minute Katie gets an initial call. She researches the brand and what they’ve done in the past and begins thinking about compositions. “That time can be a little stressful, but in a good way,” she says, “because there are so many possibilities.”
Photographer Katie Newburn for Yahoo with Art Director Christopher Clarke
For initial studies, she pulls from her own training and from classical art technique, considering angles and shapes, how to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame and direct it from one thing to the next. And throughout, she adds her own unique style and point of view.
Katie Newburn Photographer and Erin Quon Food Stylist, for Postmates
Once the job is awarded she assembles a team of people that are a technical and creative match for the shoot. Depending on the assignment, her crew could grow to 10 or more, including food and prop stylists, wardrobe, hair and makeup, a digital tech plus assistants. The one role she doesn’t fill? Lighting. “I love doing that myself,” she says.
On set, Katie maintains a collaborative spirit. “I’m more about giving direction than micro-managing,” she says. “I bring in people who I know can do their job and will pitch in and get things done. So we can just stay in this positive mode of creativity.”
On a recent shoot for Sonoma Harvest, she and her team did just that. After thorough research and storyboarding, the client gave Katie and stylist Christine Wolheim the freedom to explore creatively. “That’s when the things you didn’t know could happen, happen,” says Katie. “We moved lights around, played with highlights and shadow. It’s the small things, like, you know, if this parsley was turned slightly it would catch the light.”
Katie Newburn for Sonoma Harvest, Food styling by Christine Wolheim
For Katie, a self-diagnosed extrovert, that kind of collaboration is what she enjoys most about photography, and also what she believes leads to the best photos. You can see for yourself here.
May 16, 2017
People photographer Steve Belkowitz goes bananas for Del Monte
Steve Belkowitz has photographed top models and pro athletes, but he’s not afraid to keep it real when it comes to talent. “The client was nervous about using real employees for the Del Monte shoot – it can be uncomfortable for folks who aren’t used to the camera,” says the accomplished people photographer. “But I knew with a safe, relaxed environment they’d do great.”
Shooting for just two days with employees of the company’s fruit processing plant in Dallas, Steve needed to get the group in the groove quickly. “We wanted them to do funny things, so we played good music and kept things really light on set,” he explains.
Once the shots were solid, Steve relied on skilled retouching to tweak the look just enough to make the employees look heroic, but not perfect or unnatural. In a few cases they also dropped in props that were shot separately. “We probably did about 5 rounds of revisions for each image,” he says.
The shots are being used for branding materials for Del Monte’s fresh fruit division, including print ads, social media and collateral. “It’s also the company’s 125th anniversary, and they want to authentically connect with their consumers,” Steve explains.
That’s a perfect match with Steve, whose photos often leave the viewer with a smile. You can see more of his lifestyle and people photography here.
May 3, 2017
Five days in the jungle – Adventure photography from Andrew Maguire
Andrew and a small crew recently spent five days traversing the rainforests and beaches of Puerto Rico, covering active lifestyle and sports shots for Merrell’s website and social media campaigns. Andrew directed the motion shoot for the effort as well.
With Andrew’s deep portfolio of outdoor and active living shots, he’s perfectly suited for a brand whose mantra is “Find Adventure Anywhere You Go.” In fact, Andrew and Merrell have embarked on many projects together, including a just-wrapped shoot in Southern California.
With other recent shoots in Iceland and on Mt. Whitney behind him, Andrew is gearing up for his next adventure. You can see more of his sport and active lifestyle photography here.