Advertising photography – it’s not as easy as it looks

Composit finished image

Single shot finished image

The fine art of producing high quality advertising photography is not as one would expect.  The amount of work and money required to produce one of those advert spreads we commonly see in a magazine is mind boggling!   We all think about the day of the shoot and getting that right image, but what is unapparent is the amount of pre-production work that’s involved before you grab that camera.

Art directors story board sketches

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I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.  Recently, we were commissioned by Blue Sotogrande Marina Shopping and Peppermint Create Advertisement Agency to produce images for their new Ad campaign to promote the recently built shopping centre.   Preparation for this shoot began weeks ahead of time when I received from Peppermint the selected storyboard developed by their art director. Working together with Peppermint, we organized a casting with Target Models to select the girl with “the right look” for this campaign.Female models-2 Then came the dog…a much harder search.  As that no dogie casting agencies exist in Southern Spain, we had to go through friends of friends and local kennels until the right dog came along.

Lidia our final model choice

Once we had our models, our next task was to recce potential locations.  The art director and I spent a day taking test shots of various spots along the port of Sotogrande.  Three weeks before the date of the shoot, I received the shoot brief detailing the schedule and shots selected.

Tango on white backdrop

Shoot brief for 020608-2

Many details had to be arranged during those 3 weeks.  I ordered the necessary Pro Photo lighting equipment as well as white paper roll backdrop with the various stands and sandbags used to support them.

Our hopeful finalists

Hopeful Dog Models

I also met with my production assistant to discuss what shoot permits we would need as well as to arrange the transport of the lighting equipment and most importantly the catering! As I’ve previously worked with animals on shoots, I knew that getting our dog under control was no easy task. Digging through my fishing gear, I found a heavyweight fishing line that would do the job.  A bit of fishing line tied to our dog’s collar can easily be Photoshopped out.  Meanwhile, our art director was busy meeting with our stylist, model, and various fashion boutiques to coordinate final wardrobe and makeup.  Even the dog was not left out as that we had a collar and leash specially made with the logo “Blue” written in Swarovski crystals.

Part of the gang!

Part of the gang! Dana,Laura and Lidia

The day before the shoot, every one of us is busy with final arrangements.  Our art director meets with the stylist and model for a final wardrobe fitting.  She also confirms that our dog has been groomed and will be ready to go the following morning.  Meanwhile, my production assistant collected the lighting equipment while I double checked that all cameras, lenses, and reflectors were ready and packed for an early morning call time.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

The morning of the shoot, we all arrived for an early 7.30 AM call time, and believe me in Spain 7.30 is early.  To my horror, a thick sea mist covered my shoot location.  Fortunately, mother nature set us back only an hour.  As soon as the light was right, we had our model and dog (who was by now attached to various individuals via fishing line) get to work.  For the two to three hour we shot continuously with only occasional brief breaks as that the day was getting hotter by the second and a big dog like Tango was bound to get overheated quickly.  I also needed to get a final ten minutes with Tango posing on the white backdrop in case I need to use him in a composite.  As it turned, we did get one perfect shot which is the image you saw at the beginning of this blog, however, the main image used by Blue is the composite you see at the end of this blog.

So there you have it!  A shoot that took weeks to plan, five hours to shoot followed by many more for post-production; a collaboration of ten people to produce two final images!

Alternate finished composite images used in bill board campaign

Alternate finished composite images used in bill board campaign

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One Response to “Advertising photography – it’s not as easy as it looks”

  1. Mark Palman says:

    Steve,

    Reminds me of my great days shooting VW ads all over.

    I am sure when I shot “Fur Coat” with David Bailey he confirmed children & dogs were a no, no!!!

    Well done to the team, great result for all,

    Regards

    Mark