ROB DURSTON PHOTOGRAPHY

Archive for August, 2014

Absolut Vodka – Anatomy of an Image

Sometimes, a few times a year, a really nice project comes along that you can sink your teeth into; a project that has no real deadline, a loose brief, a laid back art director and the option to pick your own post production.

All I had to do was take the art director’s comps and transpose them to real life. As any advertising photographer knows, whats on paper in front of you at an agency project briefing might not be exactly what is out there in real life, beyond those agency windows. In fact, I can remember a quick little story where an art director sketched out a double page spread with a hammock stretching from edge to edge. It was shaped like a banana and felt like the invisible man was actually laying in it. It took us a whole day to prop the hammock with wire and hang it with fishing line to get a reasonable looking form from it for the spread.
Okay, let me get back to this project. So the idea was to convey the landmark Harland & Wolff yellow cranes, Samson and Goliath, against an industrial Belfast skyline and the classic Absolut bottle outline, nestled between the cranes. I’m going to build up a fictional Belfast landscape with different elements from the waterfront and surrounding areas. Once I compile all of those along with a clear and unobstructed sky to lay behind it, I’ll send all this off to John over at Needpost.com who takes it all and makes some sense of it. He works with myself and the art director to make sure we have all the landscape filled in and representative of the original idea the art director pitched to the client.
So without looking through all the boring original images, lets go straight to post and with the help of a little bouncy music, let’s watch John “build” Belfast for Absolut Vodka.

It was produced specifically for outdoor advertising but hopefully it will get picked up for other media as well

 

Absolut Vodka 96 sheet billboard

Absolut Vodka 96 sheet billboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absolut Vodka adshell outdoor

Absolut Vodka adshell outdoor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun huh?
I thought it was.
Come back and visit us again for more adventures.


Having a Laugh with Pat Ruddy #onlocation

As all professional photographers and most of the readers of this “blog” (damn I can’t stand saying that word) know, assignment portrait photographers get very little time with their subjects. Last year I shot one of the biggest personalities in Ireland and even though I was promised 15 minutes . . . I got five. No amount of preparation, research or moxie will persuade some subjects from deviating from their path of stubbornness.

. . . and then it opens up to expose a beautiful seascape

So when a subject comes along and after a few minutes changes their mind from giving you an hour to “whatever you need”, you don’t waste it.
That’s what happened when Condé Nast’s GolfWorld asked me to photograph Pat Ruddy, world renowned golf course designer. I am not a huge fan of golf, I admit it. I always took the Bill Cosby approach to golf; “you have the ball, you put the ball down, you hit the ball then you chase the ball, why?” I just never understand the passion some people have for it. Yes, I’m in the wrong country to be questioning “golf” but as far as I was ever concerned it was never a sport, more like a leisure event.

My personal edit of choice for story opener

Pat was a true sport; I’m sure he could see I had no idea what he was talking about at times, my eyes’ glazing over while he talked. However as he talked more and more about the history of the game I became more interested. He explained his methodology towards designing and constructing the courses based on terrain, water, trees, landscapes and enumerable other factors; I found it extremely interesting, much more so than current world standings or chit chat about shafts and balls.

Pat explaining the finer points of bulldozing earth

Our location was his own course, located about 35 miles south of Dublin, called The European Club. The course is a beautiful piece of land, personally designed and constructed by Ruddy with the help of his family. No detail was ever too small and the course exudes forethought; each hole has a view but you only ever get to see the view Pat wants you to see. He built berms and hills to make you keep your eye on the game and then in positions between shots, he’d open up the view to expose an awesome seascape or landscape. We spent hours in between photographs talking about the mysticism of golf and whats good and bad with the game today. It was a real eye opener to me. I will never look at the game the same as I had in the past.

Another favourite

So all this was for one of Condé Nast’s great magazine titles, GolfWorld, which publishes weekly, well did publish weekly. I was published in the second to last printed version of the magazine, ending a tradition that started in 1947. The magazine now is only published online.
I had made five or six portrait scenarios over the span of the day with Pat, far more than needed but it is always nice to have a few extras in case of a shift in the story or if a photo editor really doesn’t like something. I had one scenario, the setting below, all mapped out in my head days before we shot. I knew Pat had a large library of golfing books and memorabilia and I had pictured in my mind a small scope of daylight, streaming into the otherwise dark cavern. When we arrived and scouted the property, there it was, just like I had imagined it; a dark library with a small doorway leading out to a windowed in balcony area. The source of daylight was perfect for what I had in mind, seating him close to the doorway, lit with a bit of contrast from the overcast sky, with the rest of the library just hinting of the vast array of books and magazines.
Now I only remembered to do this, honestly, after we said our good byes, following a 7 hour shoot day. My assistant Richard and I were literally walking out the door, mind still spinning from all the mystical talk of land and sea, when I turned sharply and asked Pat for five more minutes of his time. We dropped all the gear at the door and I just took the Canon with the 17-40 zoom and tripod back upstairs. A few little art directing cues; some books on the floor covering unwanted floor plugs and a desk lamp adding a warm glow and the stage was set. All Pat had to do, after a long day of entertaining us with his stories and jokes was give me a few strong facial expressions and he had no problems delivering.

My second choice for for opener

Most people might think its easy to after the shoot, a quick edit, send the files off and then invoice the client, well not always.
I set my selects up in a gallery for the photo editor to download and the library shot was left behind. Hmmmmm, I thought it was strong and deserved a chance in front of the story. The photo editor challenged me on it, cool I thought, someone who actually is looking at the images as a cohesive story to tie in the writer’s copy. She wanted me to layout the image as I saw it in my mind, with copy for the opener. Cue Facebook and an available designer friend in California and a few minutes later we had a couple of roughs to send back to the photo editor to show her what I meant. Below is one of those roughs.

My second choice for for opener with copy.

Even with the added lengths, the image didn’t make the cut but it was still nice to see someone on staff really thinking and grinding the images to make sure they work with a story.
In the end it was a great day, one of those shoots you will always remember. Whether it was the jokes rolling out of Pat or the paparazzi scenario as he came over a berm, yelling and screaming at us to get off the course (so damn funny), it was all fun. I’d really like to thank Pat and his son for looking after us and giving us their time to make it all happen, thanks.

Doing my best Happy Gilmore