A lot goes on in the creation of a commercial production shoot. This one developed over a relatively long period of time. Recently, almost by chance I had reconnected with an old colleague and friend, Glenn Gravett, who I had met when we both worked designing my own company apparel and surfboard art, decades ago.
Glenn and I share much in common, having been raised on the same stretch of coastline, and share similar passions for the Ocean and Art.
Over a period of months, I had been invited to sit in and contribute to a series of product development meetings, where I discovered that Glenn was at the helm of a fantastic crew of artists, all of whom I had admired for quite some time. People like Meegan Fiori, Ron Croci, Wade Koniakowski, Rietveld, etc….
One day Glenn casually asked me if I would like to be the featured Artist for the company he worked for, Coastal Classics, which is headed up by Thom Hill. Not thinking anything other than I really like Glenn, and that we would get to be around each other, I said sure yea, in a very nonchalant fashion. I was so casual about it, (and somewhat clueless) that Glenn knew to take me aside and explained : “Dave, this is sort of a Big Deal. People look and wait for years for this. Look at who we have in our lineup.” I did. Gulp. “Wow and you guys want ME?”
I laughed. But inside, it was game on. I had a close look at the company and artists. A chat with my colleague and friend Robb Havassy, confirmed it all. Better pay attention. I would be engaging and creating imagery with some of the cream of popular culture’s Art crop.
Great artists are funny. I have found that frequently, they are so understated, that human nature causes them to be overlooked. Havassy is like that. So much so, that I almost did not get my work to him in time for his remarkable book, Surf Story.
Glenn is like that. So is Thom Hill. So are ALL of the Coastal Classics people. It seems that somehow, I was being drawn right back into the vortex from which my photography had arisen decades ago, that of drawing, painting and the traditional craft of the working Artist.
So when Thom casually asked if I would be interested in doing a little catalog work for them, I agreed with a simple: “Yeah that would be nice”, and began doing my homework. In a down economy Coastal Classics is growing. As a company grows, it has certain requirements to embrace it’s historic modus, (those things that created forward momentum in the first place), yet morph into what it needs to become, in order to compete in the marketplace.
This week, in a commercial space that is to be the Coastal Classics art production location in Ventura, California, I loaded in my production equipment, assembled a group of my own creatives under the direction of Thom, and Glenn, and Sarah Lubeck, the Coastal Classics artist director, and went at it. The shoot was originally scheduled to be for two days with an additional day safety if needed.
We completed principal photography in twelve hours. I did 16 different set ups. We shot in three locations, and produced both catalog and branding imagery that featured many of the artist’s work, I had admired for so long.
Primarily using continuous lighting, and Canon’s 5D Mark 2 system, I was able to created a rich tableau of work in 1854 shutter actuations. We drove nowhere. This was shot in my home town. We walked from our studio (I jogged) to the beach and Thom, Donna, Glenn and I simply just had a nice little casual golden hour evening down on the pier and at Surfer’s Point, much as all of us do on any given day here in Ventura.
There is no place like home, and the charm and allure of a small town. Ventura has been wonderful that way. In spite of what appear to be some onerous changes to the nature of this place on the horizon, this shoot was all home town charm.
This once again illustrated the importance of planning, connection, friendship, trust and vision to me.
That is how forward occurs.
My fabulous crew were:
Chris Jensen, Photographer and first assistant, Donna Von Hoesslin, Stylist, Angela Izzo second assistant and production assistant with the super quiet and uber efficient, Rachel Evans doing principal hair and makeup.
Models were Gabe Witmer, Marie Avery, Jeanette Ortiz, Hailey Partridge, and the Hill kids. (Yep, Thom’s kids rock.)
Well, since it is Labor day and I am actually ( as is the tradition with many of us) laboring, I reckon that I should share Seth Godin’s take on the meaning of modern craftsmanship with you all.
The following image gallery is a small, unfinalized sample cull from the 360 image final file. Art defines culture. It is a privilege to be able to engage in that as a craft.