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On-location (20 stories high) with Epson..

Oct 5

In In The Field, Jobs at 7:24am

Had a blast recently shooting a new ad campaign for Epson that is just starting to make its’ way into print. It was just one of those jobs where the client, the ad agency, and the shoot day just came together really smoothly.

Big part of that is the fact that we were working for Epson, and long time friend Dan Steinhardt. He’s their marketing manager for the Epson pro division. He’s also a heckuva photographer, and, as it turns out, a damn good art director as well. It was his collaboration with the terrific team from MC Saatchi LA that kept the whole deal on the rails. Which is a good thing, ’cause when you’re 20 stories up, and have people flying 15′ in the air, you want things to stay firmly on the rails.

When it started, for subject matter, the client/agency visual direction centered around kids. Maybe even…babies. Smiling through my tears, I said of course. I do lots of kids shoots, and enjoy it, and have done baby shoots, which are actually fun, if a bit stressful. (The little darlings!) But, here’s the great thing about working for another shooter. Dano mentioned that I should throw into my roster of presented ideas something I had always wanted to do. So I went to my rather lengthy photo shoot bucket list and checked one off. My ideas are often so whacked that the client immediately realizes I’m in desperate need of counseling, and they move on, or, they go…hmmm.

Dano asked for a few more notions. Back to the bucket list. What has been there, perennially, for me, is working with the Anti-Gravity dancers. I have worked with these amazing athletes, and their formidable founder and creative director Chris Harrison off and on for twenty plus years. But I had never had the chance to work with the aerial specialists (Rayshine Harris, Vitali Buza and Daniel Stover) who perform with the patented anti-gravity boots. These, once strapped onto the legs of dancers, gymnasts, and acrobats turn these already high flyers into Supermen. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Which is kind of the visual we created. Flying, real time, over the NY skyline.

The rubber met the road on shoot morning. We of course had two locations paid for and reserved. The rooftop, and a warehouse interior for weather backup. Had to have a fall back, as the weather report was not a total green light. Dano and I talked. Okay…..yikes….gulp. Do we risk the roof? That’s where the better picture was, so we committed. That’s another great thing about working with a team like this. They have confidence in you, and follow the picture.

Have to say, it was a privilege not just working with Epson and the gang from Saatchi, but our own team of characters in NY pulled this off in amazing fashion. I was in heaven, working actually with two of the most astonishing producers in the business. Lynn and Lyn. Lynn is our own Lynn DelMastro, who has literally made a 9,000 pound elephant appear for me in the middle of a dry lake bed. And Lyn, is Lyn Wik, the peerless producer who rolled out all the international jobs we’ve shot for FedEx in the last 5 years. I knew, with both of them on the roof with me, it wouldn’t dare rain. We had also the usual wonderful gang of New York. Rapaz and Lenz, Cali and Grippi, Andrea Kennedy, aka AK, Kim the makeup mojo, and of course Drew Gurian, who shot the production pic. It was a bit of an upside down day (not referring to the moves of the dancers) in that we spent all day crafting the shot, but that shot, the ad shot if you will, runs small compared to the production shot. We had to pay attention to both, and make sure they both worked together, as the production picture was scheduled to run big. We couldn’t just toss it off, the way you often do when just making record snaps of the set.

The Gang!

The finished ad, in print now.

And, here’s a historical flash….working with Anti Gravity…..for literally 20 years now. High flyer below is Salina Bartunek, who went on to American Gladiator fame.

And of course, if there’s a dance group who will embody even the stranger bits of my imagination, it’s certainly Anti-Gravity. Below is a fashion test at what the meat district in NY used to look like. Now it’s the hottest real estate in the city. This location is just down the block from a huge new Apple Store. The city never sleeps!

More tk….

Kent Weakley says:

on October 5, 2011 at 7:29 am

Joe, one word, just one word. Photoshop! You’re working too hard man.

Na! Just kidding. Awesome images! Love your eye, your locations, your prep, your lighting. Basically, I love the stories your images tell. Thank you!

Sean says:

on October 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

stunning stuff as always, i dream of being involved in a large production just once in my life. Looking forward to 2012 when I will finally book a workshop with Joe if it doesn’t sell out too fast of course.

Jonathan says:

on October 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

Spectacular images.
Incredible BTS write up.
Thank you

Ahmed Sharif says:

on October 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

thats Joe McNally standard!! :)

Stephan Nimtz says:

on October 5, 2011 at 8:44 am

Absolutely great. Cool crazy ideas !
Love it :) Thx for the inspirations

karl says:

on October 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

Truly stunning and inspirational

Thanks Joe

Lluis Gerard says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:10 am

Rooftops are one of my fav places to do a photoshoot :) The NY skyline is awesome also. Good job!

Kristina J says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

“Smiling through my tears, I said of course.”

I laughed really really hard at this.

Thanks for sharing this shoot, I saw your presentation of it at PSW and am happy to read the BTS story.


PeteTsai says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

The whole Campaign looks great Joe! I’m assuming the gods favored you with no wind since you had the big Octa out and you made no reference to Cali going para-gliding over the roof! Was it lit with all Elinchrom?

Drew Gurian says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

Pete- Used a couple of Elinchrom Octa’s, but all power packs were Pro Photo 7a’s (that’s what the studio supplied).

Janine Fugere says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

Holy moly Joe, these photographs are amazing! Extremely well done! Janine Fugere

PeteTsai says:

on October 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

Thanks for the 411 Drew!

Your production shot looks awesome! It really is table turning when you have the double truck and Joe has the small image! It’s the price he pays for fame I suppose. The whole shoot reminds me of that hot day shooting Maria Arce on the old studio roof.

Eric Adeleye says:

on October 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

What kind of camera did Joe use for this photo shoot?

Christopher Harrison says:

on October 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

It’s always a pleasure to work with you Joe. Your amazing eye, your aesthetic and your demeanor make a day of hard work feel like play! The team assembled for this shoot really rocked! Our AntiGravity performers: Rayshine Harris, Vitalii Buza and Daniel Stover truly enjoyed flying for you. Until next time —- Live Airfully!

Deb Hollister says:

on October 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Great post! The photos are phenomenal and it’s fun to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. I always love reading your words, Joe. And Drew, congrats on a great photo for Epson!

Drew Gurian says:

on October 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Eric- It was all shot on D3x.

Paul Moane says:

on October 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Great photographs Joe with a stunning backdop. A lot of thought put into this refreshing shoot!

Nigel King says:

on October 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Superb post. In my humble opinion- Joe, these have to be you b you best photos yet. Cheers.

Andrea Kennedy says:

on October 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm

This was such a good day. Great shots Joe and Drew!

Joe Masucci says:

on October 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Yet another awesome photo shoot by the man himself. And that Drew guy seems to be pretty good as well 😉

viscara says:

on October 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Ahh… I finally see Joe sort of succumbed and recognized how its not actually efficient to shoot “Every job” with pocket flashes.. I find it interesting that on this job for Epson he choose to use Power packs “A more logical and efficient choice” instead of the pocket flashes. With this type of important job he choose to use also a much more “Reliable” light source for these reason power output,flash duration,recycle times,… Hmmm…. Try this with pocket flashes. You “could try it” but would you really want to? No of course not especially with so much riding on a important job like this. But then again this was a “Job” not for fun or camera flash endorsement. When it really comes down to it for the real job he used Power packs.

Nothing against Joe “Love his work and creativity” He has earned my respect when it comes to his work but not the promotion of pocket flashes for every job or attaching 5 or 7 SB900’s to do the job of a studio flash head.

viscara says:

on October 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

P.S. For those nay sayers that may tell me that there “Were” pocket flashes used in the shot those were merely 2 of them used to ad some light for the “Behind the scenes shot” so joe and the octiboxes had a touch of light to them. So Joe and the Octiboxes did not come out as dark silhouettes. Thanks Joe post more jobs like this as you can still do promo stuff but it does not always have to be pocket flashes but more like “The right tool for the job” or situation. Thats al I am saying.

jack yell says:

on October 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Errr… so it’s not Joe’s shot that made it to the print then, eh? :p

Just kiddin. Always love what you share Joe!

Chet says:

on October 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm

This series doesn’t really do anything for me but that gorgeous creature in the leopard outfit?

God was having a great day when he made her!


Matt Fitzgerald says:

on October 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Great job Joe & Drew! I dig it…

Eivind Rohne says:

on October 6, 2011 at 1:27 am

Anti gravity eh…. Feel I’m getting light-footed here. Great work as always, and definetely up to the McNally standard we’ve been so accustomed to. Love it!

Cheers from up north,
Eivind Rohne

A Comment says:

on October 6, 2011 at 2:05 am

Fantastic :-) Thank you so much for sharing. Could you please expand on the lighting setup and how it evolved? I see you started with two Octas plus a very big bauty dish at the start of the video and seemed to end by only using one, plus two bare heads shooting at the floor, plus the gelled 3 or 4 rim lights from behind. How did you start and how did the lighting evolve? Many thanks.

glenn usdin says:

on October 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

Viscara, if you have attended any of Joe’s classes or workshops, he is 100% blunt and upfront about his usage and selection of flash. He teaches and confesses that he sues the right tool for the job. as much as he demonstrates the Nikon TTL system, he just as openly talks about the big lights and where they are appropriate. I would think that he looked at the dynamics of the rooftop situation and determined that with the large distances and spaces, it would lead to a better result to use the bigger units. I’m not sure what your beef is, and I think you are trying to get a dig in at Joe for his partnership with Nikon. To each his own thoughts.

Mason Trullinger says:

on October 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

Very fine work Joe and team. I was surprised to not see any flags in place to prevent flare from the rim lights. Was your lens hood enough to block them or did you use flags for the actual shot of the dancer but remove them to shoot the BTS production shot?

Jay Mann says:

on October 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm

So, Drew gets the image for the ad, is it double truck?, and you get the paltry little image coming off the printer. This strikes me as extremely amusing.

I brought an R3000 back from Canada, with what I thought was enought ink and A3 paper to last until January… Once I started running A3 images through it, I could not stop. That printer defines the term “Kick Ass”

Simon says:

on October 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I love technology, PS and all the stuff that keeps rolling out these days but nailing these sorts of shots in camera is just something special – a level of personal satisfaction that can’t be replicated with a piece of software. This is something that you personally have instilled in me to aspire to over the years of I have been following your work & blog…

Great stuff as always Joe – thanks for sharing.

viscara says:

on October 7, 2011 at 1:57 am

Glenn.. Then that is good I am glad he does do those things at his seminars. Its a bit hard to see that from my end on his blog posts and videos. As in almost all of the ones I have seen I seen him using up to 10 SB900’s and most of those times when he really did not have to or when it was not really the right tool for that job. So thats why I made my comments above. I am glad to hear that does it different in the seminars. Thanks for telling me as I do not go to his seminars.

Joe McNally says:

on October 7, 2011 at 4:42 am

Hey Mason…i did get a big of flare when I went with a real wide optic like a 14-24. 24-70 had no issues for Drew while he was shooting the production pic. Couldn’t flag the lights, as the client wanted to see all of them real time in the production shot….best, Joe

Joe McNally says:

on October 7, 2011 at 4:44 am

you bet Jay! Drew gets all the ink! hey, thanks so much for those Iceland production shots….they really saved me….best, Joe

Ashley says:

on October 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

This shoot looked like it was really fun to photograph, great pics.

Ali says:

on October 9, 2011 at 2:47 am

Hi there!
big question in mind! how can i take a sharp photo of a moving subjects like yout subjects in these photos?! i’m a new photo guy 😀

grumps says:

on October 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Hi I saw you(Joe) were using Profoto battery packs with Elinchrom lightboxes. You had at least 4 lamp heads, were they used on full power to achieve the stopping (Freezing) power required?

AI says:

on October 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

as always, very inspiring.

Geo says:

on October 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

Amazing shots and very creative..

Raymond Chou says:

on October 24, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Absolutely sick!

Michael Adkins says:

on October 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Leaping Lizzards, Joe, Flying models everywhere. Take care my friend. Hope eveyone landed ok.

Phil says:

on October 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm

It hasn’t been the hottest part of town in years. And the Apple store isnt new.

wedding photographer surrey says:

on November 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Amazing stuff as always Joe..Also just wanted to say a big thanks for sharing your invaluable knowledge on Kelby training.

Curtis says:

on November 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

Just curious how you got the high sync speeds with the profoto gear. What speed were you shooting at and how did you get it?


Jane says:

on November 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I love the writing and the dancers at the end just blew me away! First time I have seen your blog

Diego Molina Wedding photographer says:

on November 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Amazing pictures. You really are the master of lighting. Keep sharing your knowledge and talent.

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