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Allbirds finds the perfect fit with Retoucher Rachel Kissel

Allbirds finds the perfect fit with Retoucher Rachel Kissel

If an image is worth a thousand words, what is a GIF worth? If your brand is looking to add some energy to its online imagery, they’re priceless. Provided you have a retoucher with the skills to bring them to life.

“Creating high-quality GIFs will make your head spin, for sure,” Rachel says with a smile. “These types of stop-motion gifs look best if everything in the frame is static except for one element.”

“Take the female model that rises and spins around, for example,” she continues, “Because some of the frames were shot at slightly different angles, I had to rebuild the background in all seven images to create that consistency to trick the viewer’s eye.”

Which isn’t to say that Rachel can’t create a sense of movement, action and…well…suspense with a static image. Take the teleporting pug, for instance. The balloon didn’t lift the pup, but she creates the appearance of the string carrying some weight and added the shadow to complete the illusion.

Allbirds wanted interesting contrasts and a summer color drop to give their images spark. “I was attracted to this shoot because the colors pop and convey a yummy summer mood,” recalls Rachel. “And what’s not to like about the juxtaposition of shoes with fruit and melon?”

“But the GIFs were the most fun because it requires every frame to integrate properly and when they do, it’s pretty satisfying. With the pool, the model had to be cut out and the background manipulated and patched beneath her feet so only the water moves, not the model.”

So what are you waiting for?

If your next project could use a little magic, sneak a peek behind the curtain at the rest of Rachel Kissel’s work here. You won’t believe your eyes.




Photographer Michal Venera turns Hawaii into New Zealand before your eyes

Need to recreate a shot of friends on a beach in New Zealand? From an island thousands of miles away? In seven days? Over Christmas? With bad weather, a serious model shortage, and three major movie productions fighting for production resources? Say “Aloha” to Photographer Michal Venera.

“A New Zealand wine brand wanted to recreate a specific shot of friends on a beach for a holiday promotion,” recalls Michal. “But it was already the first week of December, which ruled out New Zealand because of weather.”

Michal and the client quickly settled on Hawaii as a substitute island. What they didn’t know is that three major motion pictures were already shooting on Oahu. Competing for basic resources – like models – turned into a real challenge.

And despite the location improvisation, weather was an issue. If Michal hadn’t gone straight from the plane to shoot landscapes and locations, the entire shoot might have been a bust. After that first day of celestial sunshine, Michal and his crew lost two days time battling rain and overcast conditions. Turns out, the main image ended up being a composite using a background from those first coverage photographs.

The lesson? “Always be shooting,” said Michal with a wry smile. “I’m a very structured photographer and try to control as many variables as possible, but you never know when the magic is going to happen.”

Case in point, the three major motion-picture productions put a strain on behind-the-lens talent as well. Not happy with the styling for the shoot, Michal jumped in his rental car and raced across the island to Honolulu before the shops closed. Sprinting from store to store, he and his producer put together their own wardrobe for all six models.

But overdelivering comes standard with Michal. Tasked with reproducing a single shot, he delivered imagery for an entire campaign that ran well into the new year.

So if your next project could use a little holiday magic, unwrap the rest of Photographer Michal Venera’s work here. Your wishes are about to come true.




Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim draws from life


How long does it take to become a fashion illustrator? Apparently, about 40 minutes. Provided, of course, that you spent 40 years becoming an accomplished artist. Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim started her journey as a young child asking her artisan mother how to draw a bird.


“She was at work in her studio and I asked her how to draw a bird,” reminisces Cindy. “She pointed at the holly tree in the backyard and said, ‘Find a bird.’” Feeling slightly rejected, she discovered as she continued to hone her skills that this was, in fact, sage advice.

Ferragamo fashionista at live sketch event

“I have always drawn from life,” explains Cindy. In fact, her first ever assignment for a greeting card company had her running to a garden shop looking for the proverbial basket of violets. “I was the laughing stock of the floor,” Cindy chuckles, “but the approach has served me well.”


After decades as a successful commercial illustrator, Cindy now works frequently from photographs and other source material, but when the opportunity arises to get out there and document life in the flesh, she jumps at it. The Ferragamo gig provided such a lure.


On arriving at Salvatore Ferragamo’s flagship store in Silicon Valley, Cindy was placed at a glistening acrylic tulip Saarinen table, poised to whip out fashionista versions on special Ferragamo cards of their clientele. Five minutes and voila!


With half the store watching the magic, it was quite the challenge. Cindy trusted her instincts and fell into a zone. One exquisitely turned-out shopgirl asked breathlessly how long Cindy had been a fashion illustrator. She glanced nonchalantly at her watch and said, “I’d say about 40 minutes.”

If your next project would benefit from a consummate illustrator who personifies grace under pressure, sneak a peek at Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim’s work here. But you’d better be quick about it!




Photographers with purpose: Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay


What do you do when an entire neighborhood is on the Endangered List? The photographic team of Ana Homonnay and Ashley Thompson saw their beloved Mission District in San Francisco slipping away through the erosion of gentrification. They decided to memorialize their adopted home and its people before it was too late.


“Ana and I set out to explore the Mission and the ever-changing landscape of the people that make up what has long been a vibrant and colorful neighborhood,” Ashley reports. “Gentrification has cast a dark shadow on a neighborhood that is losing its core identity, piece by piece.”


“With this project we really wanted to document a time that is quickly disappearing, and show the amazing, beautiful, hard-working people that still live and and make a life in the Mission,” adds Ana. “Whether that’s preserving the rich Latino culture or recording the artists that make the Mission so unique.”


Ana and Ashley believe shooting portraits is an intimate business and a connection needs to be made before the cameras come out. “We always connect with someone as much as we can before we ask to take their portrait,” shares Ashley. “We want to know, and in some small way, tell their story,” adds Ana.


Shopkeepers, street vendors, artists, and bohemians, the Mission is still a place where “street” and “life” go together. And this duo is uniquely suited to capture the vibrancy of it all. Ana comes from a documentary background while Ashley is trained in fine art. They compliment each other nicely through two different aesthetics with a shared vision and goal.


So if your next project needs photography with power, purpose and a dual perspective, visit the rest of Photographers Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay ’s work here. You won’t soon forget it.




Taste the summer with Photographer Christina Schmidhofer


Temptation – what is tastier than that? Photographer Christina Schmidhofer loves to explore the emotional impact of texture, color and suggestion. Her food photography is renown for its mouthwatering compositions.


“My understanding of food and organic matter comes very natural to me,” explains Christina.
“Not only do I come from a background of avid gardeners – including myself – I can relate to the summers working in my brother’s gourmet gelateria in my teenage years.”


“For this ice cream series, I wanted to conjure up the joyful whimsy of summer,” Christina says with a smile. “I combined the Pop Art style of flat, vivid colors with the organic consistency of the ice cream and the simple beauty of edible flowers to tease those sense memories.”


For this project, she teamed up with the food stylist, Elisabet der Nederlanden, and prop stylist, Jody Kennedy. The directions were to have images screaming “summer”, “hot”, “colorful” and “modern.” Then, Christina pushed the lighting to create lots of hard shadows and contrasted colors.


Of course, capturing the individual images was only the first step – the ingredients of her pièce de résistance. To bring it all together, Christina enlisted Traci Shiro to design the layouts. The result? Compositions capable of transporting viewers to the summers of their youth.


If your next project could use her joyful power of suggestion, have a lick – um – look at the rest of Photographer Christina Schmidhofer’s work here. Temptation awaits!




Photographer Jack Hutch isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty


1500 pounds of fury. Eight seconds that feels like eternity. One perfect shot. To Photographer Jack Hutch, it all adds up to rodeo immorality.


Under the surface of the bulls and blood, the dust and mud, Jack unearths truths about the human condition. Courage in the face of fear. Determination despite the odds. Core values that connect generations.


Jack’s own values were forged working on the family farm. Up at 5 AM to milk cows, falling into bed after dinner, only to get up and do it all over again. While some photographers are endlessly chasing trends, Jack trusts hard work and a world-class bullshit detector to capture emotional, meaningful imagery for his clients.


“After four decades of shooting all over the world, I’m still drawn to small-town rodeos,” explains Jack. “The people are genuine. The risks undeniable. The courage unmistakeable. And the thing I prize most in work and life – truly authentic moments – are endlessly abundant.”


“I see a breed of people and a way of life in short supply today,” muses Jack. “Bull riders. Bronc busters. Barrel riders. Rodeo clowns. Underneath the mythology, these folks are incredibly compelling characters that live close to the land and animals that sustain them.”


From supermodels to superstar athletes to small-town heroes, Jack has shot ’em all all over the world. From tech and industry to architecture and the elderly, his vast experience and unparalleled instincts turn ordinary subjects into extraordinary imagery – every time out of the chute.

So if your project or brand needs a little “giddy up”, sneak a peak at the rest of Photographer Jack Hutch’s work here. It’s the Real McCoy.




Photographer Patrick Bennett turns industry into art

A rolligon transport vehicle carries cargo over the arctic tundra.

Does art exist at 18° below zero? Photographer Patrick Bennett loves to make the dirty, gritty, world of industry beautiful with color, design, and lighting. Especially when that means going to the ends of the earth.

Twin Disc Annual Report.  Fernandez Cambell Catamaran Tours in Parque Nacional Los Glaciiares near El Calafate, Argentina.

From Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the Perito Moreno Glacier in southern Patagonia, Patrick’s eye for finding art in unlikely places and subjects has taken him to every corner of the globe.

Shipping chains.  Seattle, Washington

“I’ve been on an Alaskan tugboat in pouring rain for three days with bags over my flashes,” reminisces Patrick, “and finally got the shot I was after near midnight in a steady downpour on the deck of a million-gallon fuel barge.”


From the jungles of Peru to the bayous of the American South, Patrick hones his craft while learning from the people it is his privilege to capture. “There is nobility in industry. I get to witness how others live by photographing them for the companies they work for.”

Illustrating the move over law for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Patrick believes everyone puts a little of themselves into the work they do. The secret is to capture their purpose in a way that leaves the viewer with a positive feeling about that business or industry.

If you’d like to shine a new light on your industry, you can see more of Photographer Patrick Bennett’s work here. He’s ready to go the extra mile, kilometer, fathom, furlong or league.




Adventure #thenbeer with Photographer Andrew Maguire for New Belgium Brewing Co.


What’s the best gig? The one you get hired for out-of-the-blue based solely on your past work. New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale, hired Andrew sight unseen for his outdoor chops, authenticity and incredible use of light.


“New Belgium Brewing approached me to create imagery to support the rebrand of Fat Tire as its own entity outside the New Belgium family,” explains Andrew. “Fat Tire would now be geared as the aprés adventure beer to support their tag line ‘#thenbeer.’”


The catch? Capture a summer lifestyle campaign in the Rocky Mountains…in March. A huge part of the assignment was to identify Fat Tire as a Colorado brand. Shooting in between snow flurries and rain squalls, Andrew relied on the campfire for more than a lighting effect.


What attracted New Belgium to Andrew’s work is his mastery of outdoor sports photography and use of natural light. Having decided to move away form the Old Bike illustrations, the client would be using imagery in a brand campaign for the first time, so the stakes were high.


Andrew has shot in every conceivable condition, but his approach never waivers. He believes in photographing people with a casual approach that communicates authenticity, not at all posed or recreated. “To me, that’s beautiful,” muses Andrew. “To me, that’s essential.”


The final rule? “Shoot your product with as much care and attention as you shoot your people.” Simple, but not easy. Still, you won’t hear complaints from Fat Tire – images like these will keep them rolling for another 15 years.


If your brand needs a fresh look that stays true to its heritage, check out more of Photographer Andrew Maguire’s work here. Beers are on him.




Illustrator Carolyn Vibbert is a natural


When your primary muse is Mother Nature, where you live can have a profound impact on your work. “I moved to New Hampshire very early on, but I lived more than half my life elsewhere, San Francisco, Seattle, Kansas City, Washington DC, and Richmond VA.,” recounts Carolyn, “I came back here 14 years ago because no other place really felt like home.”


Clients like New Hampshire Magazine and Amber Lotus give Carolyn a free rein to communicate their brand values through her unique interpretations of nature. “I love doing botanical work because it’s loose and natural,” Carolyn explains. “Curving vines and hills flow naturally with my drawing style.”


But Carolyn isn’t always lost in the woods or wandering in the garden. Food and cooking is another endless source of inspiration for her and her clients. “I’m not a cook, although I love drawing food. Again, it’s that curving natural line.”


Carolyn’s artistic approach is as varied as her topics and styles. “For half of my work, I do an inked drawing on a piece of masonite,” she explains, “the result is similar to a woodcut, but not quite.”

Eggplant b&w

So, how is she able to make her illustrations spring to life? Carolyn explains, “I scan the results into Photoshop and turn the drawing into a stencil of sorts that I can fill with color allowing me to play around with different backgrounds on layers.” The rest comes down to art and heart.

They say in nature, light creates the color. In art, color creates the light. If your next project could use a ray of light, shine your eyes on more of Illustrator Carolyn Vibbert’s work here.




Photographer Steve Belkowitz focuses on the world he wants to see.


What develops when a world-class photographer marries the client’s business objectives with a personal mission to move the conversation? People are presented in an authentic way that still speaks the market language.


“Overall I'm trying to add images to the conversation to push along a progressive vision,” Steve reflects, “Whether they are Female, LBGTQ, AFAM, disabled, amputees…any group that has been faced with the challenge of being treated as ‘normal’.”


Clients such as Vanguard, Comcast, Foxwoods and Hartford seek Steve out to create authentic moments with real people. Images that resonate emotionally. Images that celebrate individuals based on their talents, not their bodies or gender.


“I am a big proponent of breaking down barriers and celebrating differences in people. When Foxwoods wanted to market in a new way, I was thrilled to be a part of it,” explains Steve. “They insisted on real couples, but we didn’t try to be overt or stereotypical. It was a regular casino shoot capturing people enjoying each other’s company.”


For The Hartford, Steve worked with Oksana Masters, a Russian adoptee who now competes in the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, where she medaled in both. Her sports include cross-country skiing, nordic biathlon and rowing, but her real strengths may be her sense of purpose and determination.


What can an Army EOD Specialist who has lost his sight to a bomb detonation help us see? According to Steve, “Possibilities.” A year after the explosion, Brad Synder won gold swimming in the Paralympics. “To me, ordinary people overcoming extraordinary challenges – whether physical or societal – offer my clients a unique perspective, empathy, and a sense of universal connection.”

If you’re looking to increase mind share as well as market share, you can see more of Photographer Steve Belkowitz’s work here. Inspiration comes standard.