In 2006, I created imagery for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). The main visuals, some of which appear in this article, were published as a 12-page magalog that appears in various high-profile travel and fashion consumer magazines.
The new campaign was to be a departure from the quite sexy images we had produced on the first go-round. The creative director, Soren Thielemann, wanted his own imprint and strong design approach to be evident in the final ads.
Soren wanted a more stylistic approach, utilizing purple, the new hot fashion color, as an overall color theme. The agency felt the color would help immediately brand Miami in the consumer’s mind, using the unusual sexy theme in tourism that only Miami could call its own.
An Amazing Team
In a shoot of this scope, it’s all about the team. I work with a great agent, Sabrina Crews, who set up casting, negotiated the models’ rates, and helped me put together a great team. I doubt we could have been as successful without Sabrina’s hand in all this. All of my hair, makeup, and stylists came from Blink Management in Miami. They knew exactly what we were after.
Danny Santiago, one of the top wardrobe stylists in the U.S., has an amazing eye. He is responsible for the overall fashion feel for this campaign. Julian brought an additional dimension to the look of the models with his flawless makeup and hair.
For the first shot on the golf course (bottom left), we were all wondering what the model would come out wearing. When we saw her outfit, we knew we had the right stylist creating the look and feel for the whole campaign. She looked amazing!
My photo crew was hand picked and well seasoned. We’d worked together for several years prior to this shoot, although everyone is freelance. Steve G. from Wrench productions in Ft. Lauderdale ran the show. Think MacGyver. This guy can build, tie, weld, and create anything from scratch. He’s a pretty darn good sports shooter too. He really knows his lighting and how to deal with the elements.
Korny and Jason added the depth we needed to move quickly. In some instances, Jason, who is also a terrific still-life shooter, was pre-lighting, while I was finishing a shot. Louis, our digital tech, kept us running smoothly, which was a challenge as we moved from inside to outside, to the ocean, to the roof, and back again. As I said, it’s all about the team and a great attitude. This is the best I’ve ever worked with!
There were very real production challenges. Making the budget work was one of the greatest challenges. The scope of the project itself was daunting. There were 10 hotels that had opted into the original package. Some signed up for two photos on their property—one business and one fashion/branding image. Others selected three photos. The branding images would have the sexy purple-tinted “Miami” look. Some of the hotels also contracted for an image without the purple, with more of a business architectural theme. This meant we had to go from sexy and edgy, to business architectural, in the blink of an eye.
Another challenge was to make all the images fit together. This demanded a very tightly choreographed shoot. Producing six dynamic advertising images in a day, with a variety of models, at one location, is enough of a challenge. Imagine having to go across town in the middle of the shoot, and start again at another hotel without exceeding a 10-hour day. We had to feed the crew, models, staff, and move from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.
Then there were the challenges of models not showing up, hotels not approving the shot or locations we selected, rooms being occupied, the weather not cooperating—typical obstacles with this type of work.
At one point, we had to be prepared to tie off one of the models on the roof of a hotel so he could walk to the edge and pose as if he were diving off a cliff, while shooting with a long lens from a completely different part of the roof using walkie-talkies to communicate. Several times we had to hang lights off a balcony to mimic light coming in from outside, on the 21st floor!
The logistics of moving a large crew of assistants, digital tech, hair, makeup, wardrobe and assistants, equipment, models, producer, and clients was quite a feat. At the end of the week, we were given an additional challenge: to shoot for the China market. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors’ Bureau was opening a tourism office in China to generate tourism to Miami. Our images would take the lead. Getting a Chinese fashion model in Miami in one day, who’s hot and knows how to move, is not easy. Finding a male model who works well with her is even harder. Sabrina made it happen.
We shoot with the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II and Phase One CaptureOne software. We process the files in CaptureOne and finish them in Adobe Photoshop CS2. We back everything up by the shot and utilize 2GB cards, so we don’t put too much onto any one card in case of a glitch. Louis hands a disk over to the client at the end of the day for the editing process to begin.