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Another Epson Ad!

Sep 18

In In The Field, News at 8:09am

Just finished shooting another Epson ad for their “Finish Strong” campaign. This one was inspired by the portrait work of Corinne Alavekios, a wonderful shooter, based near Seattle, who embraces the continuous cloud cover and soft light of the Pacific Northwest as a motif for her beautiful, luminous pictures of young women and brides.

The conundrum, or essential difficulty of shooting these is you have to get used to a change up in your thinking. The hopefully dynamic, wonderful shot you create for an ad campaign runs quite small, while the production, BTS shot, or, as it’s referred to on the set, “the shot of the shot,” dominates the real estate of the ad. I shot both ends of this last year for Epson, and got to work with the incredible Anti-Gravity performers, who are a group I’ve had a relationship with for about 20 years now.

But then, having knocked out that relatively complex shot, which ran small, we had to shoot a production shot of doing the shot, which ran huge. This was handled by our own, intrepid Drew Gurian. We shot the ad pic, and then re-staged and blocked out an arrangement for the production image. It being an ad, all the pieces had to fit, puzzle-like, into the art director’s layout, sized and designed for a spread, and a vertical presentation.

For this one, we had responsibility only for the production picture, and left the “shot” up to the magic of Corinne and her team. She writes about our day in the river here, in her blog.

Of course, as always, there were things to solve about this shot as well. As you can see, it was a “fluid” situation. The eye of the exposure needle I had to thread was to light the foreground just a touch, to pull in the details of the sky, but not make that foreground area look too “flashed.” Not a job for small flash! This was big flash all the way, using an Elinchrom Ranger, triggered with Pocket Wizards. The light source was a 74″ Octa Indirect soft box, hoisted on a high roller stand and stabilized with waterproof sandbags. The bigness, and soft quality of the Octa gave me a prayer of matching the overall soft quality of the cloudy day.

And of course, the usual production details abounded. Corinne chose the location, and handled the talent, the hair, makeup and wardrobe, all configured to match her ongoing style of portrait work. (Corinne chose the young ladies well! They were out there in that river in frilly gowns for hours on end. I swear they were direct descendants of Lewis and Clark. Tough Pacific Northwest girls!)Β  On our end, Lynn in our studio had to figure out how to get a dock built. Harder than it sounds. It had to accommodate three people, obviously not sink, be relatively stable in the current, but at the same time be mobile enough rotate into various directions of light and background. It also had to be suitably worn and weathered to look like it had been around since the days of the sailing ships.

Lynn worked her magic and of course found Perfect Docks, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Frank Sovich did an amazing job creating an artistically terrific 600lb. dock for the young ladies to step onto and for us to push around in the muck of the river. And of course there were myriad other details, such as food, RV, travel, permits and insurance. I’m a big fan of guerilla style, just go do it film making, but when you have a crew of 15 people, and a dock and an RV and an Octa on a highboy in the river, you ain’t exactly low profile. This type of thing has to be done by the book.

It was also fun once again working for Epson and the folks from M&C Saatchi. Stephen Reidmiller was terrific as the art director, maintaining a sense of the ad and the placement of the elements even though he was looking at comps in what occasionally was almost chest deep water. And of course we had the redoubtable Mike Grippi out there with us. He hauled the lights, pushed the dock and, at the end of the day, hoisted Corinne for a celebratory shot. He was Flashbus crew, out of Ridgefield, Ct. but now has re-located to Portland, Oregon. Glad he’s out there, as he just jumped in a car and headed up to help us out.

Then of course there were the waders. We all spent a good four or five hours on a cool, cloudy day in a river that at times felt like it was being directly fed by a glacier. Dano Steinhardt of Epson, as usual, was the maestro of events, keeping all of us moving forward and holding steady to idea of the ad, even as the dock was drifting, and the light was changing, and the rain was threatening and everything from our toes to our, well, uh, the, uh, rest of us had gone numb in the river water. The waders really saved us, and of course, everybody took a pair home at the end of the day. Dano, well, he maybe should have left his on location. See below.


More tk….

Simon Anderson says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

It just goes to show the amount of people and effort that goes into getting such proffessional shots.
Great work and end product, thanks for sharing and great to see you all having a fun time doing what you enjoy.

Justin Van Leeuwen says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

Careful what you wish for “…that at times felt like it was being directly fed by a glacier.”

Next years headline:

Epson sends Joe McNally to Iceland to photograph in a river directly fed by a glacier! BTS photos and more!

Denver says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:24 am

Awesome! Great bts photos. Looks like you guys had a blast in the water. Thanks for sharing.

Mo says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:25 am

Awesome work Joe!! wanna try this in the Everglades:D

Chase says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

Beautiful and inspiring work as always Joe, thank you for sharing with us.

A Nikon guy taking a picture of a Canon shooter…love it.

Bill Frakes says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:41 am

Great fun!

As always you taught me and made me laugh.

I did notice that you too are learning, and stayed out of the swamp.

Tim Skipper says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

Very cool. Excellent look in the ad.

Joe McNally says:

on September 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

Amen! Even an old dog like me can learn to stay out of the damn swamp! Tx Bill…hope you’re well….

Joe Masucci says:

on September 18, 2012 at 9:58 am

Where’s the shot of the shooter getting the behind the scenes shot? πŸ˜‰

Tom McKean says:

on September 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

Seems like you had a lot of fun pushing around in the swamps. God bless hyperactive Lynn for getting the shot set up! Very cool ad for Epson :))


Frederic Scheidemann says:

on September 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hey Joe,
once again very nice.
its me, the Nikon Guy from the Solutions in Essen , Frederic.
i hope everthing is going good.

Regards to Annie

Keith Winsor says:

on September 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

Hope you didn’t get any Canon on you!

Nice work, 5 hours semi submerged does not sound like fun!

Frank says:

on September 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

As you so delicately put it in your post (“everything from our toes to our, well, uh, the, uh, rest of us had gone numb…”) you really earned your nickname on this shoot.

bzz says:

on September 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

U took the photo with nikon while Canon get the free Ads… πŸ˜‰

Bjoern Lubetzki says:

on September 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

Ah, that’s what all the fuzz was about. I saw the “making of” but at this point you couldn’t say, what it was all about.

Nice to see the final product. And interesting to see a “grey lens” in the final frame πŸ˜‰

Ciao Bjârn

Win Ong says:

on September 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

Great blog, Joe, as always! I love it that both Canon and Nikon are being used on producing this ad. Long live Canon! :)

I didn’t know Mike Grippi is in Portland, OR now. If I run into him in town, I’ll say hi or perhaps collaborate with him on projects.


Aaron Nystrom says:

on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great stuff. I love the waders! That’s some real high class fashion there. Looks like you had a great crew and a good time at it. Thanks for sharing.

Pierre says:

on September 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Fun read as always Joe. Did anyone tell you that you look absolutely smashing in them waders? πŸ˜‰

Mark Mercado says:

on September 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Another great output Joe… I’m really a fan of the not-so-obvious flash lit shots that can only be made with flash…

BTW, I’ve just noticed, isn’t that too close for a 70-200 ? A 24-70 might be more realistic. Or it is important for her to wield a white lens as the 24-70 is black ?

Thierry Dehove says:

on September 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Great as always, Guru Joe
next time, underwater ?

Juan Pedro Diez says:

on September 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

It’s impossible spoke about your lighting: amazing as always!
Nice detail on the composition of Corinne’s arm. I don’t know if she’s using a grip but her elbow up would be a complete disaster. A bit unconmfy to shoot like that with that lens but “photographycally” speaking is really nice.
Well done!

Bryan says:

on September 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

There’s a guy with an Olympus taking the double behind the scenes shots πŸ˜€

Linda Brinckerhoff says:

on September 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

Actually, sounds like business as usual for you guys. You make the tough stuff look easy. I just got a little nervous, though, seeing that D4 so close to the water line…

Steve Strickland says:

on September 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

Looks like a lot of hard work and FUN! Also, a beautiful area to work in and around. One question…….back where I come from they call those things “rafts”, not docks. We used to have great fun on them. I’ve even seen diving boards and water slides attached.

RV says:

on September 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Hi Joe,

Just wanted you to know that I always enjoy reading your blog, including this wonderful Epson shoot. I love the stories that you write about your photo shoots. I also watch your Adorama tutorials and I’ve been learning from you. Oh man, you have a fantastic job and I’d love to have a similar job :-) Do let me know when you are in the Los Angeles, Ca. area. I would love to meet you.

Keep the blogs and tutorials coming!

Best regards,

Bill Littell says:

on September 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Great article as always. Looks like she is shooting vertically with
a long lens and the image out of the printer is horizontal.

Bob says:

on September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

what a great shoot that must have been, cause it made for a great read!

Mark says:

on September 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Are you using a D800 on this shoot Joe? It seems I can make a battery grip wheel.

Mark says:

on September 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Are you using a D800 on this shoot Joe? It seems I can make out a battery grip wheel.

Simon says:

on September 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Im guessing those long stretches standing out in cold water must have put some pressure on ‘bladder tolerances’ for the crew… those waders may have come in handy for more than one reason?

Great read as always Joe.

Afshin says:

on September 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

is perfect

Dani Davila says:

on September 27, 2012 at 6:21 am

awesome work Joe… is perfect!

Jonathon Levi Powell says:

on October 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I had a pleasure being a part of this shoot with you Joe! being in that river with my bottle of hair spray and brush was a memory I wont soon forget Thanks again! find me on Facebook! Jonathon Levi Powell!

brianclary says:

on October 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Wonderful as always, Joe. Your BTS work is so helpful…getting that tiny glimpse and few paragraphs of text is of great insight. Thanks for sharing! -Brian Clary

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