Fuego Living contacted me late last year to help reintroduce their Element grill, a killer new design for a BBQ grill. To date, they’d been using CGI for their visuals, but they wanted art with a stronger point-of-view and a more authentic feel, and since I specialize in each, I was glad to help.
We pulled together a crew in short order, and shot a whole library of product images over two days. The entire team was great fun to work with: the AD and I swapped notes on the latest (or oldest, too) music, and, since they were shepherding their first shipment of product, we talked with the founder about the challenges of modern manufacturing and logistics. Of course, food stylists and their clever tricks never get old, so we tried to get them to reveal the perfectly-curled-bacon method.
The grill is really attractively designed, and efficient as well.
Not the sort of fire I usually work with.
Speaking of logistics, sometimes you have to improvise: the Element comes in enamel (left), and stainless (right). The day of the shoot, we learned that the stainless version hadn’t arrived. Disaster? I lit the enamel one to make it look like stainless, and saved us a bunch of ugly retouching.
We shot around a bunch, all casual-like, and did a series of different meals on the grill as well.
I worship at the altar of great products.
Is the Element for you? If you’re short on space and value good industrial design, and a responsive company, keep an eye out for it – it’s available nationally, and shipping soon. Bring yours by…I’ll sign it!
The Sephora MerryCrazy thing was only up through 12/25, but here’s the initial animation.
January 7th, 2014 · Ads, Product
I made these still-life photos for a Lookbook that went out to all 375 Sephora stores, around the world. The book’s quite luxe – the glossy cover is die cut, and for each of four different looks, features a beauty shot of the finished look, instructions and techniques, and most importantly, a glamorous still-life of the products used.
The art director and I spent two days arranging the products on white, which is…well, we just make it look easy. I greatly prefer working with the objects (and the set, and the crew) all together at once, as opposed to photographing each object independently, so I appreciated the art director’s dedication to integrity. It makes lighting the scene a little more challenging, but it’s nothing I can’t handle, and it’s well worth it for the feeling of authenticity the final image transmits.
My favorite, probably because of the red Marc Jacobs lipstick case, although…
This Dior compact is really nice.
The art director really pulled this one off, and it was a challenge.
This shot feels the most authentic somehow.
And, no, I didn’t photograph this, but it is the cover.
Have you seen the book in the wild? Any favorite products in there? In what circumstance would you demo this eye treatment?
For Sephora – their MerryCrazy Giveaways.
I worked with the great Hiroshi, who built the boxes, and with Laura Kramer at Sephora. We had a great time creating the stop motion for the intro, and the little wiggle.
The project was a little MerryCrazy itself!
My photographs of gasoline explosions have been getting a lot of attention lately, and I’m always eager for someone to put them to creative use.
Tricycle Magazine has used them to illustrate an article about monks and self-immolation. I think it’s a pitch-perfect use of my images, because they are both beautiful and violent, and because an abstract image is so much better than a literal one to illustrate such a fraught topic.
The article describes the long history of the act of self-immolation, and is surprising. Preview it at Tricycle.com.
November 11th, 2013 · Projects
The inspiration for this one is classic bad luck – very rocker.
I sketched designs for all of the photos, but this is the only one I have left.
The head is the centerpiece of this photo, and really important. I found an artist, Sarina Brewer, a sort rogue taxidermists, who got what I was after, and did an amazing job. The cat looks menacing and fierce. She only works with animals that have died…
Courtney brought a broad assortment of numbers – paper, ceramic, large, small. The big paper ones were perfect, but I wanted more dimension, so I cut some new ones after tracing the paper ones.
This one has a lot more elements than the others. And the earlier versions had more than this. Simplify.
I’ve mentioned before about how I started photographing fire because I needed it as material for a photograph. This is that photograph.
The history of this symbol is much deeper and older than the others, and more directly spiritual. It’s an awesome symbol, in any case, and such a tense mix of suffering and hope.
Actual barbed wire is too big for the pig heart, so I twisted up some model barbed wire, and painted it gloss black. I did an opaque blood to give it a little connection to all the illustrations through history. And the dwarf roses were another genius touch from prop stylist Courtney Walch.
The funny thing about bird wings is that their main purpose is to provide lift, not serve as decoration in a symbol, so they’re more complicated than, uh, they need to be.
At one point, I thought the most authentic approach would be to use an actual bird. This bird was awesome.
Awesome at being a bird, maybe. Modelling, not so much. This would be great for some weird version of that german bird. He wasn’t being hurt, but that didn’t stop him from getting mad at, and trying to bite, his handler.
In the end, I ended up going with taxidermy wings, a glass heart, and ribbon with dry-transfer lettering on it.
I went through multiple iterations on this one, and the lesson is; trying to save money usually wastes time.
Going with the idea that each sculpture features something real, I called the East Bay Vivarium, the local reptile house. I talked to the owner about my idea, and said that I wanted him to bring a rattler to my studio, coil it around a skull, and bear it’s fangs toward the camera. He thought that this was crazy and he told me that there’s one circumstance in which the rattlesnake will bear it’s fangs – when it’s about to kill something.
So, okay, no live rattlesnake. A rubber snake is right out. Taxidermy then. I had noticed that there were taxidermy rattlesnakes on eBay really cheap. I contacted one of the vendors and it turns out that she freeze-dries rattlesnakes. I explained what I wanted, sent sketches and photographs, and conferred over the phone, but she soon gave up in frustration.
She was semi-professional, so I upgraded to professional. I found Captured Moments in Reno, and was able to work with him in his studio. Taxidermys mix of sculpture and biology is interesting, and so is Rob. He did a bang- up job on the wings for the glass heart (link to), but my requirements for the snake were too extraordinary, and we gave up after a couple tries.
Finally, I went Hollywood – Bischoff’s. They do a lot of stuffed animals for films, and have been around for a long while. They got what I was doing, and were quick and responsive. Even though the snake looked great, the skull shattered in transit, so I had to cut the rattler off the remains, and put it on a new skull.
The end result is almost perfect. The slightly visible stitching on the belly is probably my favorite part.
In the end, I’m definitely reminded that time is money.