TEXT BY MISSY HARRIS • IMAGES BY STEVE PUETZER How does one take a variety of products and campaigns, each new design unrelated to the last, and make them all jump off the page with color, originality, and vitality? D/X Photography has found the answer in the diversity and creativity of its photographers.
"Each photographer at D/X has his or her own distinct style," says Jeffrey Thomas, director of services at D/X Photo. "Marissa Kaiser's work, for instance, is best described as avant-garde garde with a fine arts feel. She prefers working on documentary-style portraits and apparel projects. Anthony "Rush" Ledbetter is the principal shooter for all our fashion, lifestyle, and athletic shots. His sense of drama in his studio lighting complements his use of fill and key light outdoors to give a more natural design to each of his shots. Bob Bahner, principal photographer, excels at product and table-top photography and is an admitted 'tinkerer' who gets as much pleasure out of creating the set, setting up the shots, and playing with the incident angles and lighting as he does out of the final photograph."Capabilities brochure for Electric Lightwave; art director, Eric Haag.
Located in Portland, Oregon, in an area dubbed the Silicon Forest, D/X Photography was one of the first studios in the Pacific Northwest to offer full color, live-action digital image capture, while retaining traditional film photography as its core technology. A closeup look at a few choice creations will shed some light on the group's creative process and digital dexterity.
Mergers & Spices
Cadence Design Systems had a merger in the works and needed a campaign that would pull together the two companies into a unified force, in a fun way. "Wanting to assure the software engineers who used their products that the merger would mean better products and services, the creative team designed ads that literally merged opposite pairs to get the point across," says Bahner. "Shooting the tennis shoe and the wing-tip shoe separately, at the same angle, we were able to preview the shot on the computer screen, cut and paste it into Photoshop, and fine-tune the image, all in less than two hours' time."
Cadence enlisted D/X Photo's help again to sell its "hot" suite of software products, PSpice 9.2. Playing off the name of the software, they grouped a variety of spice bottles together with the PSpice bottle"the star"in the foreground. "The art director wanted to retain the images of bottles, yet not be able to read any of the labels. At the same time, the lighting needed to provide a clear outline shape and give some "pop" to the bottle in the foreground," says Bahner. "Digital photography saved us the hassle of waiting for film to be developed only to find that the results were less than we wanted."Ad in "Information Is Currency" campaign; art director also Haag.
Electric Pea Pods
Pea pods were the focus of a campaign developed for telecom provider Electric Lightwave, entitled "Information Is Potential. Let It Grow," which portrayed the dichotomy and symbiosis of nature and technology. Bahner explains, "This campaign illustrated that information is the lifeblood of a business, and that ELI is the company to trust to deliver information over its extensive fiber optic networks." The team gathered several fresh pea pods then carefully slit them open to find one with uniform peas inside. It was then suspended from a wire, backlit to make the pod transparent, and frontlit to give it a glow. The Internet connection shot was done separately. In Photoshop, the images were blended and the pea pod image was manipulated, colorized, and resized to achieve uniformity.Ad promoting Cadence Design Systems' "hot" suite of software products, PSpice 9.2.
Captured for a West Coast apparel client, Kaiser shot the happy couplethey are real life partnersat dusk with a Hasselblad.
"I used a Hensel strobe unit to create a washed-out quality and light up the subjects against the background. The image was shot just as the sun was setting. It was cross-processed, shot on slide film and processed as negative film, to enhance the contrast and color."
From Capture to Backup
In addition to a fully equipped darkroom and all the traditional camera gear to support conventional systems, D/X has four digital systems:
• For premium high-resolution they use an Imacon 3020 mounted on a Hasselblad ELX, tethered to a Mac G4 shooting station with Sony and LaCie monitors. They also use the 3020 one-shot for in-studio live action imagery.
• For backup or location product photography, they use an Imacon 2020 back on a Hasselblad body, tethered to a hopped-up Mac G3 laptop with a separate monitor for color-critical viewing. An attachment to the tripod lets the laptop rest securely near the camera while shooting.
• For studio or location fashion or lifestyle shots, they use the Nikon D1x with a video monitor to view each shot enlarged in real time. CompactFlash storage cards or a LaCie portable hard drive stores information on location.
• For select B&W portraits, location shoots, or scouting or casting sessions, they rely on their Kodak DCS-460.