Know it. It’s always nice to have this picture perfect studio set up where everything works perfectly, all the stars align and you create exactly what you were meant to produce. Well, fairytales were invented for Disney to make a pile of money. Okay, I’m not that pessimistic, but you get my point. You don’t know all the ins and outs of your camera’s capability for those shoots that go on without a hitch, you know them for those times that nothing goes right. So when your heart begins to race and your lungs fail you, your knowledge will pull you through. Allow me to share with you my experience.
In October, I was contacted by Getty Images Latin America to photography the 2015 ad campaign (including a calendar) for Pacifico. Of course the first thing I did was look up Diego, my contact, to see if he was real or if this entire thing was a scam. Thanks to the internet where nothing dies, I found that he had a solid digital trail dating back far enough to make me believe he wasn’t trying to pull a fast one.Diego was an incredible producer. He was even kind enough to show me around Mexico City and let me experience some of the culture. Of course this walk amongst the locals included the best pan dulce I’ve ever had, fresh squeezed tangerine juice, and cafe. I was in Mexico City for one full day to evaluate the models’ competency in the water at the casting. Out of the 50+ women that showed up, we had some great options, and two of my favorites were chosen.
Tampa -> Mexico City -> San Diego. Diego deferred to me for choosing a stylist. I instantly thought of Stacy Childers of House of Style SD. She’s an incredible friend and an fantastic stylist. I knew not only would we’d get along, but we’d have a wonderful time doing it. I flew in, she picked me up and took me back to her loft where all my equipment that I’d shipped, along with the wardrobe, had taken over her space. The next morning Susan, the designer of the corsets, joined us we loaded up the trailer and headed down to Baja Mexico.
I was over the moon excited when Diego and I decided to use Baja Studios tank. This facility was built for the filming of Titanic. My sister can attest to my obsession with the movie.
The first day was prep for Stacy and Susan while we hammered down the exact looks.
It wasn’t until the next day that we ran into trouble, you know, when it was MY turn to actually earn my keep.
I was all set up. Everything was retested and ready to go. By the time the model finally arrive from wardrobe and makeup, this wasn’t the case. My heart still races and I get a little nauseous just thinking about it. This shoot was all put together last minute, and I’d been praying everything would come together, and it did. God gave me a shout out and said “I’ve got your back.” He also seemed to think I needed to know I could do it without everything coming together. Thank goodness I have shot low budget MUCH longer than I’ve had the luxury of have $25,000 of underwater equipment. I’ve experimented every possible use of light underwater and that was about to come in handy. It also made all of our jobs a lot harder.
Without my strobes firing (I have come to the conclusion that it had to do with how extremely humid it was inside the building along with a few other things), I adjusted my game plan a little. I lied. DRASTICALLY. I drastically changed my game plan. I think I might have given Diego a little bit of a heart attack, but he had his crew leap into action when I told him what I needed and they delivered.
Working in a black hole is usually to my advantage. When you lose your light sources, the darkness no longer seems to be your friend. I already had them building me a blue back drop, to get some blue cast, so I added silver material to the list. I needed the limited amount of light available to bounce baby, bounce. Thankfully, I normally have my assistants firing my strobes through the white part of a reflector, so I had them use the silver part to reflect the light on desired locations.
I really can’t complain. I was hooked up to oxygen, had fins, a weight belt and a lot more experience than anyone else on set. My assistants help those four days were immeasurable. I couldn’t have done it without them. I always think the models have the hardest job. Please, hold your breath for as long as you can, but don’t look like you are and do these ridiculous poses without getting disorientated.
Even creative directors and producers don’t want to miss out on all the action.
I believe in being the best at you do and never stop looking for a way to create an innovative, fresh take on it. Sometimes circumstances force you out of your comfort zone. I’ve always been a fan of math. You learn a concept and you can apply it to any problem. That’s all photography is. Math. Understand the ins and outs of what you do and you can make any situation work. When all was said and done, I believe it was successful, but you tell me.
The best way to succeed is to surround yourself with wonderful people. And I did just that.
Ad Agency: Vertice
Creative Directors: Eduardo and Pepe
Producer: Diego, Getty Images
Location: Baja Film Stuidos
Stylist: Stacy Childers
Designer: Susan Bohn
Assistants: Dan Childres and Chris Richard
Stafety Diver: Hugo Salcido
A toast as we watched the sunset over the ocean.