A photographer is to a creative director, as a camera is to a photographer. It is for this reason that the events that took place, culminating in a Gold ADDY still baffle me.
The client was a high tech, ultra secure server company formerly known as IO. The concept was to show servers in a way that they had not been shown before. Think less dark rooms with blue and green lights and more clean white form abound with symmetry. The CEO of IO pictured a campaign where servers were shown in the same style as luxury automobiles, and Lavidge was the perfect agency to execute his vision.
By this point you can probably see where this is going…
I received a call from my friend at the agency, telling me he had something “different than what I was used to” to chat about. Absent minded as I am periodically, I even asked after he told me the concept, “so there aren’t any people to photograph… and no cars… so why did you call me again?” He (Bob) at this point asked what my thoughts on architectural photography were. I could see he had a vision in his mind that was firing on all creative cylinders.
Over the course of a couple of cocktails we developed the vision of the photos, but ahead was the hard part. The agency would have to pitch IO on a photographer that had never shot architecture to do an…. architecture campaign. We put together a deck that had many of my race cars and fighter jets in it. Upon presenting it to the CEO of the company, he looked at the first image and asked that I be hired to do the campaign.
A few weeks later, I welcomed my first child into the world and the day after she came home from the hospital I was doing a pre-production meeting and scout of the first facility we were to photograph. I had all of an hour of sleep and can honestly not remember anything after the first 30 minutes. Two days (and three hours of sleep) later we arrived back the 500,000 square foot building in Phoenix and began creating our vision.
The good people at Hasselblad had sent over multiple lenses for this project and we used everything we had. For the first time I was shooting 24mm on the H6D-100c (16mm equivalent in 35mm), which is a lens so wide you feel like you are looking behind yourself. Also worth noting, I shot most of the campaign with the waist level finder, which let me look for symmetry without readjusting my eye for perspective vs focus. For me, the decision to go waist level was one that not only allowed my eye to see the visuals in a more complete view, but also one meant to celebrate the idea of the great architecture images shot on cameras like the Hasselblad 500 series, one of my favorite cameras.
The days on set at the Phoenix location were fun, warm and a ton of walking… however the second part of the shoot awaited.
The second location for this campaign was in New Jersey, where the weather would be fighting to reach the 20’s and the facility was 1,000,000 square feet. To put this into perspective, there were individual rooms in this building that could fit not just my house, but my entire block in them. The first time walking through the building was overwhelming, and I would spend more time in the following days at the top of a scissor lift that I would on the ground. However, the vantage point from up on the frigid (it was windy) scissor lift was captivating and the images presented themselves at a rate that was tough to keep up with, but rewarding in its practice.
In the weeks that followed, we found that making the selects from the body of work we created would be tough. Some locations had 4 rounds of cuts just to get the edit under 20 deliverables. The final result was one that we celebrated with drinks, with no idea that we would be toasting them again at the ADDY Awards.
To the great people at IO (Trevor, Hutch, George), at Lavidge (Bob, Shaun, Andrea, Elisabeth, Stephen) and my team (Paul, Zack, Chris, Mike):
Thank you doesn’t begin to describe how grateful I am that we could produce this art together, all because you took a chance on me for an architectural campaign.
To the judges of the ADDYs that awarded us Gold,
I am honored, and hope that the aforementioned group’s names will fit on the award.