How Passions for Photography, Business, and Web Design Turned Alexandru Vita into a PhotoShelter Certified Consultant Extraordinaire
Alexandru Vita can tell you a thing or two about…
Here’s a brand-spanking-new layout from the May Issue of Runner’s World
Magazine. I picked it up on the newsstand yesterday, which was an
exciting event since I had asked Timothy Archibald to document his day
on the shoot several weeks ago. Archibald has been busy lately; he’s
recently shot features for Skittles (TBWA Chiat Day), Monster.com
(BBDO), ESPN, Outside, and Men’s Health. He’s also working on a new
personal project, documenting his sons’ daily lives, called Echolilia :
Weird Pictures Of My Kid, much of which you can find on his blog.
I think what’s particularly interesting about this shoot is that
Archibald chose to go ahead with a composite shot, when he had very
little experience with that kind of work. Rob Haggart over at APE
recently talked about knowing when it’s a good idea to turn down a job,
and I was wondering if this could have been one of those times. Tim
says: “now is a time when I’m willing to take chances in my career. I
knew I had the right connections; I know I had someone who could find
me the right person to work with on the compositing. It makes me kind
of the director of the shoot, not just the photographer”. .
Below is a timeline of a day at the Archibald ranch, self-reported by
the always gracious and cooperative man himself. Also, there are visual
Take it away, TA:
5:45am: Wake up when my two sons and wife wake up, and make them a
breakfast of ham, soy yogurt, peanut butter breakfast bar, Vitamin C,
Multi Vitamin, and Fish Oil Capsules, and eat the same myself. We are
big on the concept of nutrition in a pill form.
8:00am: Arrive at Sintak Studio in San Francisco to begin work on a
series of photo-illustrations for a feature in Runner’s World.
After a frustrating week of trying to figure out how to depict a runner
and a human sized shoe box, we convinced the magazine that we knew how
to shoot the pieces and composite the end result. Today we have Suzy
Poling as first assistant, Micah Bishop on wardrobe, Tamara on Hair and
Make Up (both from my favorite agency, Artist Untied), and the key to this project– Erik Pawassar of Jelly Square
doing the compositing and post production on set as we shoot.
In reality, I have never worked that way and it easily could be a
disaster. I am bluffing my way through. The initial planning
conversation went like this:
Runner’s World: Timothy, we think this is a great idea, but we’ve
never seen you work this way before…is there anything on your site
that you shot with compositing?
TA: Well, no there isn’t.
RW: Can you guarantee us, 100% that this approach will work?
TA: A guarantee? Like a money-back guarantee?
8:30am: Eat bagels, drink coffee, say hello to everyone as they
arrive and tell them what’s going on today, as Suzy sets up the two
sets, one for the shoe box and one for the talent. We have cast two
talents for this shoot, just in case one seems better than the other,
or one is not appropriate. Anything like that can happen and we want it
to go smoothly. Alta, the female model, is still in high school and
needs to leave early for a test. WTF??? Why did we cast her if she
can’t be there for the whole shoot?
9:15am: The crew is here, the talent is here, the sets are up, but
the Jelly Square guy is not here. Ahh…that’s what I get for relying
on this guy to pull off the shoot. He probably got hit by a car and is
in the hospital, leaving me to get caught in my web of lies and stuck
with my own bad Photoshop work.
9:45am: Erik the Jelly Square guy arrives.
10:15am: Erik and I converse about the approach. He spells out to me
the pieces that he will need to put this image together. First, we
shoot the shoebox, then we shoot the backdrop, then the table with the
shoebox, then the table without the shoebox, then we move the light
to get the reflection on the table just where we want it in the end.
He’s got a surgical precision to his requests which is emotionless and
calm. We all just obey him and the set starts coming together on his
computer. We then shoot the talent.
11:30am: Food from The Sloe Club, in Soma. Suzy orders for everyone. I think it gets delivered.
12:30pm: We are eating and shooting and juggling it all. Kathryn
Schiff of Tidepool Reps comes by to deliver a portfolio to me. She
returns later in the afternoon to pick it up, a potential client has
requested it. She stops by again. The clock is ticking on Alta, who
needs to leave at 2:00pm. I just don’t know how we are going to get her
1:30 pm: We have 30 minutes left with Alta. She is adorable, she
delivers a lot of authentic giddiness to the role, and is mature beyond
her 17 years… but time with her is frantic.
1:55pm: Just finishing Alta and Erik interrupts: “Timothy. None of
the work we did this morning has enough depth of field. It looks wrong
when it is comped up. You’ll need to reshoot it all again.”
2:00pm: Say goodbye to Alta. Reset the shots from this morning with Riley and do them again. F22.
4:00pm: Erik starts comping things up and it’s looking believable,
beautiful and really, really commercial. Is this what my work has
become? A big post production manufactured product? It’s kind of
seductive, everything is so perfected and the color is tasty, but
utterly devoid of humanity. I used to always pride myself on the
humanity in my photographs, but lately I’m getting a kick out of these
big stylist heavy productions, with all the production bombs going off.
Hate to say it, but I kind of love it.
I forward a jpeg to my wife.
5:00pm: Suzy packs the gear and organizes it all for the week. Erik
and I go over the details of the post production with his rep Kate
Chase, of Kate Chase Presents. They both mock the fact that I use a PC
laptop, and are visibly frustrated by all the complications it seems to
Arrive home: See note from my son on my computer, pencil on pink post it:
9:15 pm: Lie in bed with my wife, catch up on the day. I
ask her if she has seen the shot I sent her that we worked on today:
TA: Did you get a chance to see that shot?
CS: Oh, that was what you did today? It was kind of the sellout of
all sellouts. It kind of looked like a Nike ad or something. It didn’t
even really look like a photograph….