Friday, March 9, 2012

Shooting Texas...

My week has been pretty crazy. The picture above will show you where I spent Thursday. Do you recognize the flat, windy landscape of Lubbock, TX in the photograph? My assistant and I left Dallas at 3:30am on Thursday and arrived in Lubbock six hours later... just in time to enjoy a nasty cold front that brought 50 mph winds, sleet, rain and snow with it! We spent the day doing photos and video for a NY Times feature that I'll link here when it comes out in a week or two. We finally got back to Dallas at 11pm that night. It was basically twelve hours of driving and seven or eight hours of shooting. It was a looooong day!

But, the long Thursday work day wasn't the beginning (and won't be the end) of my week. I started out with a Monday night shoot at Trees in Deep Ellum for a client of mine. They were throwing a big party with a celebrity tattoo artist and musician. It was a blast, but it also meant staying out pretty late. There was a photo booth at the event that I couldn't resist using. I got home, slept four hours and then started my Tuesday...

Tuesday? Yup, after spending the morning and afternoon dealing with Photoshop, I hopped in the Suburban and headed three and a half hours south to Austin, TX. It was night two of shooting music, drinks, tattoos and fun for my client. The Austin party was much more rowdy, in a good way! But, it was midnight by the time I was ready to head home, and I was tired. I made it all the way to the Carl's Corner truck stop, then slept for a few hours next to all the parked big rigs, and finally finished the last hour or so of driving.

I spent most of Wednesday doing more Photoshop work, and then it was time to get a few hours sleep before heading to Lubbock! Luckily, I had Friday as a slow day... some Photoshop work and video files to go through. However, it's giving me a chance to catch a breath before shooting all day on Saturday. So, what did you do this week?


Monday, March 5, 2012

A Recipe For Fail...

Bank of America must've spent a lot of money to take out a full-page color advertisement in the Sunday paper. Those things aren't cheap! However, they can still attract a lot of attention. There's a big pay-off, if the customers take notice. So, why put out an ad that looks like it belongs in the back of the local penny saver?

Look at a copy of the ad below. Now tell me, doesn't that photo look terrible?!? Did my grandmother take it back in 1987, right before she had her cataract surgery? The basic gray (or grey, if you are British) background would normally be complementary, but it seems to make this particular image look even worse!

Don't get me wrong, I understand the idea of making a photo look more like a "snapshot" than a slick, fancy, high-dollar production piece. The "it looks like something from my Facebook wall" aesthetic is in vogue with large corporations and their advertising agencies right now. They want to appear to be your buddy, so their advertising imagery is trying to emulate what you would normally see from your friends and family - not some $10k photo shoot with models, assistants, make-up artists and a fancy craft services table.

I was hired last year by one of the largest retailers in the world to take feature story and cover photo images for their monthly employee magazine. This publication has a circulation bigger than most major city newspapers! I was constantly being reminded by the art director and communications director that "these images need to feel like the average employee took them", but still feel professional and clean. It was a balance to make the images pop and grab the viewer, but still connect with the average person... not make them feel like they were being talked down to.

So, what's wrong with this BoA advert? It skewed way too far on the snapshot side of things and forgot about the fact that it still needs to grab the reader's attention (at least in a positive way). Harsh light, squinting eyes, tons of distracting background items... it just fails on so many levels. On a positive note, I like how the ad is tailored to the North Texas market. It says a lot that BoA found a local success story to champion.