I think most people out there don’t understand the amount of effort that goes into an image. The complexity of lighting, staging, shooting, and editing all come together to create “the shot.” I think people usually just look at a photo and think that you can haphazardly walk in, put the people where you want, take a picture and have that be the end result. I was suppose to work on a collaborative project with a MUA/Hair stylist, we got together and brainstormed ideas, I got a designer lined up to create the gown, then later the MUA/Hair stylist contacts me to apologize and say that she was going to try and photograph it herself. More power to her, but there is a reason why she’s the MUA/Hair stylist and I’m a photographer. We both play different roles.
When I go into a shoot, I usually have an outline from the client in what they want such as look and feel, target audience, and a shot list. 75% of the time, I’ve seen the location, the other 25% makes me nervous because I don’t know what to expect. Even if you’ve scouted the location, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you have to think on your feet quickly. In this post, I’m going to dissect the Yeyo Tequila ad. Originally on our walk through, we had decided on a corner to be the “hero” shot that showed off the Couture Lounge pretty well. It had really cool wallpaper on one side and the other side had window slits with colored lights shining through. The three guys (Jon, Alex, Mark) were going to be sitting at a frosted glass table, surrounded by the ladies, almost like a poker table but not chips or cards, just Yeyo. But on the day of the shoot, Jon brought in the table and it was a little underwhelming, so I vetoed the shot. I discussed my concerns with Jon and he gave me his blessing to do whatever I wanted. My assistants had to break down the lights and set up for the next area (the bar), in this case I actually think it works to our benefit since it is a Tequila campaign. Even if the original location would have worked out, I think it wouldn’t have been as strong of a shot as this one. We wouldn’t have had time to do both shots.
In this shot, I wanted to create a club/lounge scene. The walls on either side of the TV didn’t have any life compared to the rest of Couture, so I had my assistants throw up a couple lights behind the counter with red gels on them to add some color to the atmosphere. I asked Mark (one of the owners of Couture) to take down some permits that were hanging on the right side of the wall.
I decided to leave the twigs to give it depth and texture to the photo, and it also adds a little height to that side since Alex is a little shorter than Jon.
While the girls were getting their hair and make up done, I had the three fellas show me their gear. They all brought nice suits, I definitely didn’t want the Yeyo brand to seem stiff with a bunch of business guys standing around, so I told Alex to just wear his “wife beater.” He looked at me with one raised eyebrow and asked, “Really?” with a little smirk. Alex was perfect for this character that I wanted to portray. He had tats on both sleeves and I had to take advantage. I wanted to create a dichotomy of the two personalities and the fact the Yeyo Tequila is the bridge between them, and that Yeyo is for all kinds of people.
Taking group photos is a lot more difficult than single models. You have to make sure that everyone complements each other in their outfits, posture, poses, hair (or lack there of, Jon & Alex). Nothing in this image is happenstance. Here are a couple pictures of me trying to show and explain to the models what I wanted in their poses. Thanks for catching it Bryce, you sneaky bastard. =P
When you first look at the image, your eye is drawn to the logo on the TV screen, then makes its’ way down to the bartender (Mark, Owner of Couture) who is my favorite character and the main pillar that holds the brand. He draws you in by making eye contact with the consumer, you. You then realize that he’s got a swagger, the Tom Cruise (1988 Cocktail) flash, by pouring Yeyo Tequila (from high above) into the glass without having to look down. It’s the Cool, Wow factor that Yeyo Tequila brings.
After looking at Mark, your eyes WANT to look at the hot blond =) but it’s drawn to Jon because of the big bright red empty space that hovers over his head. Our eyes tend to naturally move towards bright areas or negative space of an image. I wanted Jon to be the second focal point, after all he is the Founder of Yeyo Tequila. I wanted to portray Jon as the classy confident male who’s approachable. His body is facing towards the camera and he’s engaged with the target audience. I wanted to add an element of sensuality to the image with Michelle. I didn’t want her to look at the camera. I wanted her to be all about Jon without being overly slutty, so her outfit wasn’t your average “clubbing” attire. It was more business and conservative, but yet sexy.
On the flip side, we have Emma, a sexy blond “party” girl. She’s flirtatious. She’s making eye contact with the male audience. She’s with Alex, but unlike Michelle, her body language suggests otherwise. There’s distance between Alex and her. Alex hears you coming up behind him, so he turns slightly to see who Emma is smiling at. He’s guarded. He has his back to the audience, his jaw is clenched, Alex is less welcoming than Jon. His hand on Emma affirms that he’s protective and territorial. His tattoos adds “street credit” to his persona.
We’ve come full circle. Our eyes go back to Yeyo Tequila, the common bond between these four people.
Yeyo Tequila as intended.
That might have been TMI for some of you out there, but just thought it be cool for you to go into the mind of a photographer.
I had two strobes in the back with red gels for the mood.
Rim light on each side.
An overhead light.
Main light at 45 degree.
Umbrella bounce in the front on each side for fill.