Category: blog Page 1 of 10
April 25, 2017
Fueled by Girl Power: Brian Smale’s latest people photography
Photographer Brian Smale has roamed the planet capturing people photography for clients as diverse as Panasonic, USAA and Microsoft. But his latest project kept him right in his own community.
“My daughter’s school is hosting their annual fundraiser and asked if I’d do some portraits of some of the girls and teachers for the event,” explains Brian. “I get creative freedom, they get free,” he laughs. What started out as a small portrait project grew under Brian’s direction to 12 foot high posters of the girls doing what they do best – being themselves.
Brian added the photoshop ‘cutout’ filter to make the portraits more representational of the student body as a whole. “Plus,” he adds, “at 12 feet high with zero budget, going to simplified images with just 3 or 4 tones was a no-brainer.”
Having spent a career shooting portraits of luminaries, gangsters, Nazis and politicians, Brian isn’t phased by much. Still, facing off with a gaggle of teen age girls, “I was terrified, of course!,” he says. “But they were such a nice bunch.”
The focus of the all-girls school is building leadership, independence and confidence, so Brian wanted to make sure those values were reflected in the photos. “And,” he adds, “I wanted the girls to have fun.” Check and check. You can see more of Brian’s wide range of commercial people and places photography here.
April 18, 2017
Graphic Designer Filip Yip
revs brand engines.
Americans love our cars, and brands know it. Graphic designer and illustrator Filip Yip helps those brands connect with their audience, creating car graphics that speak to people’s lifestyles and loyalties. “I do love cars, but not in that car-guy kind of way,” says Filip. “To me, cars represent where you are in life, what your needs and dreams are at that moment.”
Filip has conjured powerful racecars for companies like Kingsford and Havoline and cars with throwback charm for Eddie’s Premium Salsa and Sierra County Chamber of Commerce, along with many more. “With cars, and really all brand design, you’re trying to create a shared experience between the brand and the viewer. That’s where my process starts,” Filip says.
The relationship between company and consumer is one Filip takes very seriously. A decade into his successful design career, he took it upon himself to earn his MBA so he could fully partner with his clients on their strategic communications efforts.
Some may not immediately see the connection between Filip’s hard driving business instincts and his inspirational idols Van Gogh, Matisse and Gauguin, but for Filip, that’s the power of design and visual communication. “I try to create something authentic and emotional every time because those are the building blocks of strong branding,” he says.
With clients from Anheuser Busch to FedEx to EBay to Clif Bar, Filip’s vast portfolio reaches far beyond driving machines. Check out his cowboys, monkeys, schooners, skyscrapers and much more here.
April 12, 2017
Eric Frazier’s portrait photography makes work look like fun.
“Stuffy corporate headshots are going the way of car phones and retirement watches,” says photographer Eric Frazier about portrait photography. Modern companies use employee photos both as a brand tool and a recruitment tool, luring clients and applicants with energetic, highly personal portraits.
Eric recently shot a series of portraits for NicholsBooth Architects – a San Francisco firm that prides themselves on truly listening and responding to clients. They wanted to make sure their team photos supported the same message.
In addition to the requisite individual portraits on the website, the rollover state of each one showcases the person’s favorite shoes. “We shoot all over the office, trying to capture each person in a way that makes you feel you’re really getting to know them,” says Eric.
“It’s smart because these industries have so much competition – good portrait photography is one way you can show potential clients – and even future employees – how very friendly/clever/creative/helpful/easy to work with/smart your team is.” In a world of tight competition for business and talent alike, a positive company culture has become invaluable.
In addition to saving companies from the stiff, boring headshot, Eric also shoots compelling sports and lifestyle photography, recently working with San Francisco Opera and MUFG Union Bank. You can see more of his work here.
April 3, 2017
Shane Johnson’s Superpower
is Character Design
If you grew up on comic books like Illustrator Shane Johnson did, you won’t be surprised by his approach to character design. “Superheroes are so compelling because they reflect our own hopes and flaws, on a magnified scale.”
Shane has lent his comic style to commercial and editorial illustrations for clients from Nickelodeon to Dreamworks, Smithsonian Magazine to the Wall Street Journal. And while he may not always draw literal superheroes, that classic raw energy and the dynamic struggle between good and evil is frequently the subtext of his work.
His latest series, created in black and white with a strong noir feel, was inspired by 1930s comics. “I’m a big fan of older films and radio shows and the original Bob Kane Batman,” says Shane. “I’ve always wanted to create something that harkens back to that, but I needed it to be in my own style.”
“Superheroes reflect our own hopes and flaws…
on a magnified scale”
Per his usual process, he began with rough thumbnails, gathering reference materials once he decided on the layout. “I sometimes even shoot photos of myself for the character poses,” Shane explains. “Or, for more extreme poses, I create models on the computer using Poser Pro.” Shane’s next step is pencils, which are scanned and then inked and shaded in Manga Studio.
Shane continuously revises each of his illustrations over several days, always finding “just one more detail” he wants to perfect. It’s the kind of self-improvement his own favorite comic hero, Spider Man, would applaud. Come check out more of Shane’s character design and heroic artwork here.
March 24, 2017
Always a winner:
Athlete Photos by Jack Hutch
Jack Hutch has spent decades shooting athlete photos of everyone from Jerry Rice to Spud Webb, Kristi Yamaguchi to Joe Montana and hundreds more, so he doesn’t get nervous around high profile personalities anymore. But he still gets a thrill. “Sports photography is just one of the most exciting things to shoot. You’ve got these bodies at their best, doing things they’ve perfected – If you bring your best, you’re going to get something great,” he says.
To bring his best, Jack prepares often and early. “Never once in my career has any athlete given me the amount of time I was promised by the agent. If they tell me ‘an hour,’ I think ‘12 minutes.’ Jack heads to set hours before the athlete arrives and sets up multiple shots, various lighting, wardrobe changes and props. “So when the athlete gets there it’s just bam-bam-bam, switch, bam-bam-bam…and we got it.”
This training has served him well with another time-pressed population he’s often called to photograph – Silicon Valley CEOs. But with subjects who aren’t as accustomed to being in front of the camera, he sometimes has to slow down.
“Very accomplished athletes who aren’t super famous may not be as comfortable,” says Jack. “But they all know how to get in the zone. I lay a scene for them: ‘You’re in the semi-finals of the Olympic trials. You walk up to the blocks, you get prepared.’ Immediately, they’re in it.’ Then it’s up to me. Do I want to go low to show the clothing movement as they take off from the blocks? Or from up high, looking down on the lines of the track for a graphic look as they stretch?”
Jack also considers the exact way their bodies will move as he shoots, taking into account which hand might come up first, which hip is coming around or what the follow through looks like. He times his lighting against all these variables to get the shot he wants.
“Being an athlete and shooting athletics works together,” says Jack. “You can get the essence of the shot because you understand it.” Jack grew up playing a wide range of sports, starting with ice hockey and evolving to include golf, quarterback of his football team, and butterfly swimming and hockey at the college level. He still plays sports when he can and coaches his son’s hockey team. “When you know how the body works, how the action works, you can get the shot.”
What he can’t always control is the restrictions on the athlete. “Everyone gets approval now,” Jack says. “The athlete is under contract, so the sponsor, the agent, the PR firm – they all have rules about what the athlete can’t do. It can get really limiting. But I like a challenge,” he laughs.
That challenge forces him to continually think outside the box, reinventing athlete portraiture when necessary. A portrait of Willie Mays, for instance, became a black and white shot of just Willie’s hands holding the ball. “With these one-of-a-kind athletes you have a chance to create something that will speak to their legacy. Those old, beaten up hands – that’s the history of baseball right there.”
In addition to athlete photos, Jack has also amassed an impressive body of work in lifestyle, industry and architecture photography. Based in San Francisco, he shoots both locally and on location from his fully-equipped Mobile Studio. You can see more of Jack’s work here.
March 14, 2017
Lifestyle Photography that isn’t cheesy? Must be Jordan Reeder.
We’ve all seen it – the unnaturally ecstatic family unnaturally arranged around an unnaturally perfect picnic blanket/camp fire/breakfast table – you know, the typical lifestyle photography that isn’t anyone’s actual lifestyle. Luckily, Jordan Reeder is out to change all that.
“Everything has to come together,” says Jordan of his lifestyle approach. “The end product has to look natural, not orchestrated. Having a live casting helps you find people who can comfortably interact together, and having a real location helps those people act naturally. Plus I try to make wisecracks to loosen them up – maybe they’re laughing at me? But …whatever works!”
“Maybe they’re laughing at me?
Jordan’s ‘keep it natural’ philosophy extends to his on-set lighting as well. “The lighting plays a big role, so I’m very hands on. But I’m not a fan of making things complicated when they don’t need to be. I’ll always check for ambient light during scouting and try to go all-natural when we can. I spend a lot of time in the studio with complex light setups – so when I’m not in the studio I crave natural light!”
Well known for his corporate and tech product and people photography, Jordan has been adding more and more lifestyle work to his portfolio at his clients’ requests. His most recent shoot was for a large pharmaceutical company, providing shots for a stock library, website, brochures and social media.
“It was a great shoot and the client approved a really good cast. We had a little trouble getting the young boy to engage with his “grandpa” in a scene with a laptop, but once I figured out how to stream old Star Wars commercials, we were back in business,” laughs Jordan.
Jordan also recently wrapped a lifestyle and product shoot for global technology company Le Eco. You can check out that new work and much more here.
March 8, 2017
Nader Khouri turns up the heat on food photography
Nader Khouri is well known for his dynamic food photography – and now he’s making pots and pans look fabulous, too. Hestan, a high quality cookware company, contacted Nader last year and they’ve been making beautiful photos together ever since.Nader shoots the Hestan pans and app in use as well as ingredients and final dishes.
The company was prepping to launch their new Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System – a sensor enabled induction burner and sauté pan that connect to your smart device via Bluetooth. “It was a tall order,” says Nader. “They needed 200 recipes photographed for the app, plus ingredient shots – it meant shooting on a weekly basis.”One of Nader’s 200+ recipe shots for the Hestan Cue App
Nader jumped at the chance to partner with Chef Phil Tessier – former Executive Sous Chef at The French Laundry – and his talented team, shooting amazing recipes in a Napa barn every week. “We make each other look good,” says Nader. “When you know how to use light, you make a chef look good. When you plate food well, the photographer looks good.”Nader gets just the right angle to minimize reflection off the pans.
Shooting the pans, however, is a whole different challenge. “They’re so reflective of light,” Nader explains. “I have to be really conscientious or the whole thing turns to a bright, messy reflection. Usually I light for the food and focus on positioning the light. Everything depends on the angle I shoot.”Nader has added sister-brand, NanoBond, to his client roster as well.
He must be doing something right. Shortly into his project with Hestan Cue, they introduced him to sister cookware line NanoBond and he’s since done two shoots for them as well. “The second shoot was super exciting because we showcased the kitchen of Chef Corey Lee at his three Michelin-starred restaurant Benu, stocked with NanoBond. Obviously, Chef Corey does his own food styling,” laughs Nader.The NanoBond looks even better with Chef Corey Lee’s food in it.
Outside of Hestan, Nader continues to shoot food photography and lifestyle projects, always inspired by his personal mission to promote eating and living well. You can see more of his cravings-worthy work here.Nader’s inspiration is sharing his passion for eating and living well.
March 2, 2017
Industrial Photographer Patrick Bennett is down with dirty.
Industrial photographer Patrick Bennett has chased trains through the desert, industrial riverboats through Peru and arctic transport trucks through Alaska, all to get the perfectly gritty or glam shot. Wait – glam industrial shots? Yep. “There’s something about taking what most people view as dirty or don’t even really see at all and making it a thing of beauty,” says Patrick.Dawn on the Seattle waterfront.
When faced with subject matter most of us ignore, Patrick finds the extremes, embracing the grit, the power and the industrial landscapes he frequents. “I’ll look for a sense of scale,” he says, “making machinery look small in the environment when it’s actually quite large. Or highlighting the machine’s design while it’s working. Or even using dirt or wood chips flying to enhance its beauty.”Shot in Franklin, KY for Speedco.
Patrick has enough industrial photography under his belt to know what works best in the field. Wide angles and long lenses are his go-tos. “My Canon 500mm is great for extremes – I haul that baby all over the place,” he says. “It creates a compression when shooting into sunrise or sunset that allows me to share something not many viewers can grasp, but often makes them gasp.”A Speedco truck headlight gets the Patrick Bennett treatment. Shot in Denver, CO
His other frequent partner is his Canon 11-24mm. “I shot the truck light for Speedco at 22mm, or I could shoot it at 11mm because it’s a rectilinear lens. You have to be careful though – it can look funky if you don’t use it right.”Shot in Whiteland, IN for Speedco
If it seems Patrick has an unusually personal attachment to his equipment, it’s because it’s often just him and his kit out on the road. “I like traveling alone unless I really need a crew. There are people working wherever I go, and whether or not we speak the same language there’s the mutual curiosity of our respective careers, so I get some interaction,” he says. “Everybody’s a photographer now but when they see what I create on the back of the camera it brings a respect that often opens the door to more opportunity.”Shot at Trinidad, WA for BNSF Railway
Asked about a favorite shoot, Patrick describes one most of us would actively avoid. “I was in the oil fields outside Deadhorse, Alaska photographing these transport vehicles called rolligons. They travel over the frozen tundra, delivering supplies using huge balloon tires that hold just 20 psi so they don’t damage the fragile ecosystem. They max out around 14mph and have bibs under them to catch any stray oil droplet. I was blown away by the measures they take to protect the environment.”A specialized transport vehicle called a rolligon rolls across Alaska. Shot for Twin Disc.
“It was 18 degrees below zero at the warmest. While I was waiting I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and it turned out to be an arctic fox. It ran back and forth approaching until it got close enough to bite the leg of my tripod, then took off in search of something a little more palatable. But I got a great shot of the rolligon rolling out across the frozen tundra, the sun setting behind it.”Mechanic, shot for Essentia Water
Patrick is already back out on the road, scouting port shots for Mediterranean Shipping Company. “I’ll be shooting offloading from a ship and the logistics of loading containers onto an intermodal BNSF train, then chasing it across southern California getting images of the 2-mile long train.” Patrick is also continuously shooting for ongoing client Essentia Water. Keep an eye out for his next work – you’ll likely never catch Patrick sitting still.Patrick’s work for Essentia water encompasses athletes to city streets
February 22, 2017
For Filip Yip, character design is kid games.
Over his long, varied career, Filip Yip has truly mastered character design, creating hundreds, even thousands of iconic people, animals and magical creatures for all types of brands. But for all his experience, what gave him the biggest boost of design confidence was becoming a father. “For children’s characters, now at least I know what my kids like. I have a starting point,” he laughs.A fairy that teaches good dental hygiene to kids, for Aquafresh
Filip has designed characters for all genres and target audiences, but reaching young audiences – and the parents who buy them stuff – has become both a specialty and a special delight for him. “We start by really imagining who this kid is, how old, what she likes to play, does she have siblings, what’s her culture. Sometimes I use a loose line and imperfect proportions to denote childlike behavior. Other times it’s clean lines but vibrant colors,” he says.
A recent project for Clif Kids required Filip to interpret limited edition Halloween flavors through the costumes and attitudes of the characters. “We’ve evolved their character design over time,” says Filip. “It’s less polished – more free spirited now.” But a similar assignment for Juicy Juice took the opposite approach with clean lines and bubbly characters and elements, in line with their design strategy and architecture.Juicy Juice stays true to their bright colors and bubbly shapes.
Sometimes, a character takes on a life of its own. Filip’s character for Frigo cheese provided the basis for the logo and then evolved into an active, fun-loving Cheesehead who’s been spotted playing sports, going to school, and even decorating a Christmas tree.The logo evolved into a character of much greater dimension.
“We developed his whole universe – anatomy, his super powers, his circle of friends – and we express them in different channels. So the more products consumers purchase, the more they learn about him,” says Filip. The launch of the campaign has seen sales track higher, and one of the packaging systems won a national design award.
Filip is trained in both design and advertising, so he can see the big picture goals while executing in detail. For some clients he offers strategic guidance through the creative process, while other clients come in with a strong vision that Filip expertly executes. But his proudest achievement in character design is a young sailor who’s older than Filip himself.An icon since 1896, Filip gave Cracker Jack an update
“Cracker Jack is a beloved mascot – it’s a centuries old icon – and it had only been updated three times before my version. After many explorations and focus groups, the result is the sweet Jack the team and I had in our minds the whole time. I’m quite attached to him. And I secretly gave Bingo, his dog, the essence of two beloved dogs of mine, which makes it all the better,” says Filip.A very friendly Frankenstein for Juicy Juice
Next up for Filip is a much more grown up venture – assets for a very edgy brand to be released this month. “It’s irreverent, risky, risqué and a lot of fun,” he says. “You’ve got to change things up to stay creative.” Check out more of Filip’s impressive and diverse portfolio here.
February 15, 2017
Still and Motion Photographer Eric Frazier just can’t stay still.
After working on movies and shooting several commercials out of film school, Eric Frazier turned his career focus to lifestyle and sport photography. But the film world just wouldn’t let him be. “I added motion to my portfolio because clients kept asking for it,” the still and motion photographer says, “and it just grew from there.”
For budding motion photographers, or still shooters yearning to switch, Eric recommends getting involved in the editing process early on. “That’s where you learn the most,” he says. “Editing your own footage quickly makes it clear what you’re missing or did wrong. Planning each shot from framing to blocking is very important.”
“Winging it will always lead to reshoots.”
Eric points out that there’s less room for error with motion photography as well. With still photos, little things can be fixed in photoshop. But with motion, “those little changes will blow a big FX budget, so each take has to be clean.”
With Apple, Deloitte and Union Bank on his client list, Eric has shot social media content, video tutorials, in-house videos and countless other applications. “Motion can be used everywhere these days,” he says, “so the demand is skyrocketing.”
Clients often ask Eric to cover stills and motion in the same shoot. “That’s tricky,” he says. “You can’t record sound while shooting stills, so I’ll have a DP shoot b-roll while I shoot stills, then I’ll take over to direct the talent and get video with sound. It takes a good crew to pull it off, but it really does reduce costs and logistics for clients.
Next up for Eric are several still shoots including a portrait job for a current client. And he’s developing a personal video project as well, because “You gotta keep the creativity flowing!”