Category: blog Page 1 of 11
December 6, 2017
Portrait of a Food Revolutionary: Alice Waters, by photographer Nader Khouri
“When you’re shooting someone like Alice Waters, you know you have to be ready to move fast,” says food and lifestyle photographer Nader Khouri. “People like this are so busy. But instead she came in and sat down with me with such a relaxed, polite demeanor. It was the exact mirror of the intentional, values-driven approach to food that she champions.”
Nader spent four days last month shooting portrait and lifestyle shots for Alice Waters’ new home cooking MasterClass series. Shot on-set in Berkeley, Nader worked both indoors and out to capture the personality of the innovator and Chez Panisse founder that he calls “the most influential person in food of our time.”
“Just shooting with her, I took away so many lessons about food,” says Nader. “You can really see how important it is to her to find the best ingredients – her eyes just light up when she talks about her favorite herbs and vegetables and the farms where she finds them.”
Nader can’t give away too much about the content of the MasterClass videos, but he does promise you’ll want to get straight to the farmer’s market and then into the kitchen. “She is so passionate about slow food, high quality ingredients and education, you can’t help but get inspired,” he says.
Nader also recently finished a project for the restaurants of the Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas and was the photographer for the recently released book, Kombucha, Kefir and Beyond. You can see more of his mouth-watering work here.
November 28, 2017
The Case of the Curious Photographer, Katie Newburn
I don’t know why I’m still so interested in food after all these years,” laughs Katie Newburn. “It still just fills me with wonder. Sometimes I’ll be at the farmer’s market and suddenly realize I’m just standing there, holding a pomegranate, turning it all around, looking at it all different ways. It happens all the time.”
Katie began her career in food photography fueled by a life in Napa, California, close to where food is grown, sourced and nearly worshipped. “It’s like the more I learn, the more curious I get, “ she says. “Who grew this, what kind of soil did it come from, what are the impacts on the environment? And as you learn more about something, how you look at it changes and how you photograph it changes.”
That curiosity has long been a driver of her work. “I’ve always been the type to ask a lot of questions,” she says. “Visually, that equates to slowing down and being in the moment. Looking at things with a fresh eye, in different light, you start to notice nuances and themes like beauty, decay or destruction. You’re present to feel an emotional response to what you see. And that’s photography.”
This conscious effort to spend time in a creative, play-like state pays off in her commercial work. “The more you practice the ability to slow down and see in new ways, soon you can get to that ‘a-ha’ point much more quickly. You bring a different perspective to a job than you might otherwise have been able to get to,” she says.
Intentional curiosity has also helped her expand her portfolio into travel, lifestyle and portrait work. “When I travel, I don’t like to stand there with a camera up to my face. I want to look around and take it all in. But eventually I’m drawn to some small, quiet moment. I hone it down to something specific and experiential.”
Katie brings her inquisitive creativity to clients like Apple, AirBnB, Williams Sonoma and Ghirardelli Chocolate. Check out more of her intimate, well-curated photos here.
November 16, 2017
From the Archives: Photographer
Brian Smale joins the Chain Gang
In 1995 the state of Alabama brought back the archaic use of prison chain gangs, and photographer Brian Smale was there. Assigned by SPIN magazine, he and writer Mark Schone spent three days in the stifling Alabama heat to tell the story of men chained together and sent out to work along the highways.
“Most of these guys, they weren’t killers. They maybe missed a parole meeting or got caught with drugs. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could subject another human to this treatment,” remembers Brian. Inmates who refused to work would be forced to spend the sweltering day in a “Mexican Jail,” a concrete and chain link cell with jagged rocks embedded in the floor that made it impossible to sit down, often deprived of water or toilets.
“The conditions seemed to me a lot like torture,” Brian says. “I met a couple of the guys in the exercise yard – the commissioner had removed all the exercise equipment so the guys showed me how they improvised, using a sewer grate for weightlifting.” In 2001, four of the inmates successfully sued the state with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, ending the modern era of Alabama chain gangs.
“I loved working with SPIN magazine,” Brian recalls. “They gave me a ton of freedom. It was usually just me and a small, battery-powered flash, working alone. I shot a number of stories in the 80s and 90s along similar themes: killers, klansmen, gangsters, skinheads. So I guess I was a good fit for chain gangs.”
These days, Brian is based in Seattle, where he lives with his wife and kids and shoots for a number of big name, high-tech and corporate clients. “There are definitely fewer gangsters,” he says. “Which I sort of miss.”
You can see more of Brian’s highly regarded people & places photography here.
November 7, 2017
Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay: Crusaders against “cute”
The latest addition to the Freda Scott roster, photo team Thompson – Homonnay are out to protect the magic of childhood. “We don’t want anything posed or artificial, no forced cuteness” says Ana Homonnay. “We’re out to capture a feeling, a story – to remind people how their own childhood felt.”
Working together for three years, the two were drawn together by their shared pursuit of natural color, light and the essence of youth. “We would go out together with our cameras and we developed a mutual respect. We had a shared interest in kids and teens. It just made sense to team up,” says Ashley Thompson.
It makes sense for their clients, too. “Advertising sets can be overwhelming,” says Ana. “And kids – whew, that’s a whole different game. With two of us, everything goes more smoothly. One can shoot while the other directs, or if there’s a logistics problem one can keep shooting while the other solves it.”
And the two bring complementary skills to each shoot, as well. “Ashley is an amazing fine art photographer,” says Ana. “And I come from photojournalism. So we balance each other. Sometimes I’m trying to put more info in the frame while Ashley is trying to take stuff out.”
“We have the patience of saints,” Ashley jokes when asked what makes them so good with kids. “We keep them busy,” says Ana. “It’s never just ‘stand there and look at the camera.’ We challenge them, tell them to jump, then jump higher. We talk about hip hop or skateboarding with them. We don’t act like kids, but we relate to them.”
Ana and Ashley have worked with clients as varied as Adobe, Pottery Barn Kids, Nescafe UK and MTV Brazil, but they always bring their singular style and approach. “A few times we’ve been told we’re too edgy, but we don’t see it that way at all,” says Ana. “We just know who we are, and we know kids.”
Check out more of Thompson and Homonnay’s portfolio of teen and kid photography here.
October 26, 2017
Outdoor Photographer Andrew Maguire makes it rain for Merrell
“You can’t expect sunshine in Seattle,” laughs outdoor photographer Andrew Maguire. In fact, his entire 3-day shoot for Merrell’s latest campaign was plagued by intermittent grey skies and rain. His solution? “We just figured, if it’s going to rain, let’s make it pour. So we brought an effects guy with a rain machine.”
The solution is typical of Andrew, who’s shot in blizzards, freezing temperatures, dry deserts and high winds. A born nature-lover, he isn’t phased by the extremes of his environment, preferring to embrace them.
His latest work for Merrell, then, is a perfect fit. Their new campaign, “Nature’s Gym,” highlights the idea that nature and fitness are both accessible right outside your front door, with Merrell shoes and gear in the role of facilitator.
The shoot also included a motion component, which kept Andrew on his toes, simultaneously collaborating with and choreographing around a large video crew. “You see an amazing shot unfolding in front of you and just as you’re in place…aghhhhhhhhhh! The cinematographer crosses right in front of you.”
By the end, Andrew and the motion team worked seamlessly together, aided by a tight production crew that managed logistics, communications and also wrangled up to 16 models at a time. “The weather was actually helpful in some ways. We got really natural action from our models, which is always what you want, but can be tough on a big shoot.”
Known for his knack for getting authentic performances from his models, Andrew stays true to one simple principle: “I wind them up and let them go,” he says. “Over-directing usually leads to inauthentic shots. After all the pre-production and planning and set-up, the best shots are always the ones that just happen.”
You can see more of Andrew’s impressive portfolio of active and outdoor photography here.
Agency: AUX, Production: Chuck Martin Productions, Wardrobe: Carol Beaver, Director of Photography: Taylor Mason, Retouching: RedTooth Imagery, Makeup Artist: Petra Whitehead, Hair/Makeup Artist: Jenny Verador, Prop Stylist: Gretchen Bell
October 19, 2017
Portrait Photographer Eric Frazier thinks outside the rectangle
Shooting 12 portraits in two days isn’t daunting to a seasoned photographer like Eric Frazier. Coming up with 12 unique ways to do it – that’s the real puzzle. “These shots were all going in the same brochure, so they each had to be special, to make you want to turn the page and see more,” explains Eric.
To add to the challenge, the ‘models’ were all real people, pulled from the student and teachers of the client, the Asheville School in North Carolina. “Real people can get pretty nervous with a guy they just met sticking a big camera in their face,” laughs Eric. “But I try to stay relaxed and show them that taking photos is really fun for me and they can have fun, too.”
For this shoot, though, the layouts were very specific and Eric had to stay focused to keep the talent in position for the shots he needed. “Luckily I was able to get great local assistants,” says Eric. “It’s not a big market for photography, so nabbing digital tech Adam Pinnell and Nick Iway was really key.”
In addition to the portraits, Eric was also tasked with shooting lifestyle and environment shots, along with candids of the student body. “My only regret for the whole thing was that it wasn’t two weeks later. The trees out there are so amazing in spring and could have been even fuller.”
Still, Eric is happy with how the project turned out. “We got even more great shots than they could use. That’s always a good feeling,” he says. You can see more of Eric’s highly regarded portrait, lifestyle and sports photography here.
October 12, 2017
Big ideas in small pictures,
from Icon Designer Filip Yip
“Icons are one of the toughest assignments for a graphic designer,” muses commercial artist and icon designer Filip Yip. “No BS is allowed in such a tiny medium that has to communicate so much so quickly.” Having created literally hundreds of icons himself, Filip is well aware of what it takes to make them work.
“People don’t read,” he explains. “They glance. They want emojis. They’ll give you only seconds to get your message across before they’re on to the next thing. That’s why icons are so important to get right, and why they can be so powerful.”
Filip has created icons that educate, icons that grab attention, icons that categorize and icons that impart emotional responses from trust to joy. “I always start with the strategic goal – what are we trying to do here? It’s a very succinct tool, so it’s important to keep focus.”
Brand logos fall into the same rulebook for Filip. “Icons, logos, characters, they’re all a chance to visually communicate the things a brand can’t really get away with saying directly with words. Ideas like ‘you can trust us’ or ‘we’re friendly’ – those things fall flat in words, but resonate visually.”
One of his greatest challenges to date was a recent request for fantasy icons. Yes, that kind of fantasy. Using nothing more than simple lines in black and white, he managed to get across a fetish vibe, keeping the look edgy but still high brow. “That was an interesting one,” he laughs. “The search for scrap inspiration was not for the feint of heart. But I think the final work walks the right line.”
From adult pursuits to kid’s drinks, bank services to tech start-ups, Filip has covered it all in his highly awarded career. You can see more of his icons, brand marks, packaging, characters and collateral here.
September 28, 2017
Photographer Nader Khouri
helps SFO Airport take off
San Francisco Airport wanted to encourage travelers to enjoy the many shopping and eating options available across the terminals, so food and lifestyle photographer – and seasoned traveler – Nader Khouri was the perfect choice. “It was cool to have free reign inside the terminals – most shoots never make it past security,” says Nader.
Given just one day to capture six set-ups adjusted to both vertical and horizontal formats, the shoot gave Nader the chance to practice his skill at running through airports. “It’s one of the busiest airports in the world and we had a lot to cover,” he says, “This was all during operating hours. We spent a lot of time waiting for people to walk by, then quickly making decisions, getting the shots and moving on.”
They also had to earn their way inside. Granted far more access than a normal shoot, the team still spent an hour and a half in security, putting a day’s worth of equipment through the rigors of painstaking gear checks. Nader and his crew performed two thorough location scouts prior to shoot day to make sure they’d be ultra-efficient when they finally made it into the terminals.
The shots are currently in place in displays throughout the airport, as well as on SFO’s website. When asked how he pulled it off, Nader cites “preparation, patience, quick decision making and a little bit of serendipity.”
Up next for Nader is an update of food and beverage imagery for a major hotel chain, a cooking video project and sorting through the multitude of photos he shot on a recent personal trip through the fishing villages of coastal Spain. You can see more of Nader’s highly regarded photography work here.
September 20, 2017
A New Look for Illustrator Shane Johnson
When character illustrator Shane Johnson sat down to design an updated site, the inspiration was obvious. “I’ve spent my whole life either reading comics or drawing them, so I knew I wanted to reflect that,” he says.
After years of non-stop projects for clients on illustrations, character development, licensed character work and text books, he realized he needed to give his own brand some attention. “You get so caught up in just doing the work, I finally made the time to showcase what I’d been doing, and make it mobile-friendly.”
A lot of what he’s been doing is licensed work, an extremely disciplined endeavor to work in a style that isn’t necessarily your own. “It’s a different pursuit, where I break down the process of how an established character is illustrated and learn the rules that govern the style and backgrounds, and apply them consistently.”
Shane has worked on properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avatar the Last Airbender, Olivia and the Raving Rabbids for Nickelodeon, The Amazing World of Gumball and The Powerpuff Girls for Cartoon Network. But the real thrill is developing his own “heroes.”
“Marketing clients are finding that superhero comics and graphic novel genres are really breaking through to audiences right now,” says Shane. “These styles are a great way to add visual interest and impact to a campaign. That’s where my experience with original character design and sequential art can really be an asset to a client’s creative team.
His most recent work in his own style has been for classroom magazines, providing illustrations to support the lessons and activities. He’s also been illustrating activity books for some new Cartoon Network properties, and, of course, putting the finishing touches on his own site.
As for spare time, “I don’t have any!” he laughs. But he does make time to get outdoors in the Kittitas Valley in Washington, where he lives with his family. And, in the spirit of making time for the important things, he’s an avid home-brewer as well. You can see Shane’s newly updated portfolio here.
September 13, 2017
Come one, come all to
Freda Scott’s Traveling Art Circus
It may be a digital world, but there’s still nothing like seeing people face to face. That’s the idea behind creative rep Freda Scott’s 18 months of travel across the country, lugging portfolios, promos and often the photographers and illustrators themselves.Showing portfolios to Producer Marni Beardsley at Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
“We call it the Traveling Art Circus,” laughs Freda. “It’s not common to take meetings anymore, but Creatives still love holding and looking at books – the physical expression of a photographer’s thinking. These meetings are a chance to learn from each other, to swap tales of adventure in this crazy business.”Photographer Andrew Maguire, Illustrator Shane Johnson and Freda Scott with Producer Molly Costin at Publicis, Seattle
With 30 years experience, Freda is well aware how much the world of advertising has changed. “Art directors and designers don’t just call you up anymore. So much is controlled through giant holding companies now. With all these hierarchies it can feel a little like entering Mordor.”Producers Danny Jackson & Teresa Rad peruse the work at TBWA/Chiat New York
So with a growing curiosity about how agencies were navigating and evolving in new media, Freda decided to hit the road, hauling 40 pounds of portfolios behind her. “It’s a blast getting to know so many new creative teams. It only takes 20 minutes – we meet, we chat, we’re out – and it’s so energizing for everyone.Hanging with Chris Keenan and Luanne Broeker at Union AdWorks in Detroit
The hardest part is just getting that meeting set up. “I’ll call three times, five times, everyone is so busy. But once I’m there we have great conversations. We talk about how unions work, rates and usage, talent finding and handling clients. The knowledge exchange is really exciting.”Photographer Patrick Bennett preps for the next stop while waiting for the electric car to charge.
Freda and her Traveling Art Circus have been to Dallas, Minneapolis, Seattle, LA, Atlanta, Richmond VA, Portland OR, Denver, and the Bay Area. And while each agency has a different culture and client list, one thing remains the same. “It’s always fun,” says Freda. “People still like to connect with people.”