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Of course as a professional photographer it is always a great pleasure to be commissioned for a high profile shoot, but for me it was an exceptional honour to be commissioned to undertake this particular project….
In photography there is no bigger event than Photokina. It is the Olympics of the photographic world, it only happens every two years in the city of Cologne in Germany. Pretty much the entire photography world comes together to showcase their latest products, meet dealers, talk to the press and basically give it all they’ve got to show the world what they do.
One of the most prestigious brands on the planet (not just in photography) also always stamps its mark at the event in a dramatic fashion. Hasselblad, renowned as the premier in professional photography, is set to wow again with their imposing stand at Photokina 2014. With this in mind I felt privileged and honoured to shoot the campaign images for this iconic company and their huge Photokina stand artwork.
So where did it all begin? Several months ago Hasselblad’s communication and marketing department contacted me to pitch for a shoot. The brief was to create stylish imagery that was edgy, impactful, befitting of the brand and with a futuristic theme. This sci-fi style was needed to fit with the launch of the new digital backs for the older V system cameras and pay homage to Hasselblad’s involvement in the Apollo Lunar space missions. My first thoughts were this had the potential to be a disaster. I was well aware that there is a fine line between a sci-fi theme and what could turn into a costume party!
I made it clear to the team at Hasselblad that if I was going to do this I wanted full creative control and be allowed to pick the team that was essential to making the final images a success. Fortunately Hasselblad trusted me to get the job done and after a few weeks of creating concepts and ideas for my shots they were right behind me on the project. They were also very excited that some of the images I’d proposed would benefit from using the new CMOS version chip cameras.
So how do you make it happen? Well the video below shows you what goes into the shoot but how do you arrive at that point to begin with? Well as I mentioned it has to start with the concepts. My team and I set about with some initial pre-visualisation sketches that I prepared along with some mood boards provided by the client. From there I looked for inspiration from anything from ‘Bladerunner’ to Ray Bradbury. The initial idea for using tubes of light actually came from the artwork on an old Gary Numan album and from there I developed the ideas into cages of light or force fields of light trapping our ‘android’ or futuristic model.
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Once the concepts were finalised then the difficult part of problem solving is next. I worked with a great electrician friend Mark Quinn to design and build a wiring and power supply for a multitude of 6ft light tubes that we could move around freely. My colleague Tim also built an excellent MDF support to hold our light tubes and acrylic ‘cage’ in place. Having pre-visualised the shots and the requirements of a ‘force field’ of light enveloping our model I knew that filters were going to be necessary for some of the light tubes to combine with my broncolor flash exposures. Fortunately the guys at LEE filters bent over backwards to get me what I needed in time and provided all the gel filtration for my tube lights as well as the right ND filters I needed for the camera. In particular to capture the ‘force field’ of light shot in one exposure I needed a combination of an 11 second exposure to allow Fabienne time to move around the model with the light tube and then for the broncolor flash strip lights to fire at the end of the exposure. I’d calculated that the intensity of light from the light tubes was too high for the settings I desired and therefore needed an ND reduction on camera for part of the exposure plus colour correction on the light tube. It took a number of tests on the day but I was ecstatic that we made this shot work in the same exposure.
Beyond the props we also needed the right studio space with a large cove and we chose the brilliantly equipped Park Village Studios in London for this two-day shoot. Then of the utmost importance was the right team who were going to help me make this shoot a success: Our model from Select Model Management – Karina White – performed brilliantly as the part of our android and edgy futuristic girl. Stylist Bianca Swan put together a fantastic wardrobe and range of accessories for the shoot and hair stylist Tori Hutchinson and Make up artist Celine Bopp were also vital contributors to the project.
As always with this type of project there are many pieces to the puzzle and they all have to fit to create the final picture. Moreover each piece needs to know its place and understand the concept and the final goal. After an initial briefing on day 1 we all set about our respective tasks and after 3 hours we were finally ready to start shooting. I felt extremely pleased that by the end of day 2 the images we created were as close to my visuals as I could have expected, plus as often happens, a few extra ideas were discovered along the way.
Prior to the shoot I had two meetings with our stylist and about 30 emails concerning accessories and outfits, three meetings with Hasselblad, hours of designing concepts and ideas, plus the additional time of Tim and Mark in sourcing and building the props and components to make it all work. Although I won’t dismiss my own role in making the images a success I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to not only work with the right equipment but also the right team. Fortunately I had both with the added benefit of a selection of Hasselblad cameras and lenses on hand and all the broncolor lighting I could ask for. I guess it you could call it a dream job!
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I hope you enjoy the video and the final images and you will find us at Photokina where I will be conducting some live demos with Urs Recher from broncolor as well as presenting a slide show and talk with Hasselblad about this and other projects I’ve worked on. Hope to see you there. Karl.
All images are the © copyright of Karl Taylor Photography
Thanks to the following fashion design and accessories labels : Aldo, Andrew Majtenyi, Dee Vesali, Francesca Marotta, Hemyca, Hi Tek London, Leon Max, Manuel Diaz, Nap Sugar, O-thongthai, POP Pr, Tara Jarmon, Tube Gallery
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Article by Karl Taylor
Karl has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. His work is published internationally and he regularly works for some of the world’s leading companies. Click here to learn how Karl has helped hundreds of photographers improve their skills.
All pictures © Karl Taylor Photography