• 3.5.15   Ars Thanea Gets Extreme

    Our technology has given us the freedom to explore our world in new ways and connect with each other seamlessly. Our devices are integral to how we interact and as we bring technology into every facet of our lives we place these devices at risk. Each venture on the other side of home’s door contains the potential to destroy those devices, but why should we hold back because we’re afraid of the fragility of what’s in our pocket? Our phones and tablets are supposed to open new experiences, not hinder them. LifeProof cases solve a lot of the problems that active tech users find. Protecting against water, dirt, extreme temperatures, and shock, these cases wrap around all types of different phones and tablets so that anyone can bring them along on their adventures. The trick is to spread their message in a way that’s as exciting as the experiences LifeProof’s cases enable. “Whatever happens: it’s your story, it’s your experience and you can keep your phone close to you at all times,” explains Marcin Molski from Ars Thanea, the studio that created LifeProof’s latest line of advertisements. “It could be extreme, and it’s still fine.” Using extreme sports as a backdrop to highlight each of the protections that LifeProof offers, Ars Thanea used a series of photographs to simulate time lapse photography to show the action in a still composition. “All the actions show situations where you can lose the phone,” explains Aleksandra Watras at Ars Thanea, but the athletes aren't worried about it. Instead, they can focus on what they're doing. Each sequence shows the athlete stumbling or falling, only to pick themselves off and keep going. As the ads say, “Leave Nothing Behind!” In training that statement means that you give everything you have, always performing at the highest level possible, which is what LifeProof cases are enabling. The training continues, regardless of the stumble, and the athlete gets to write their own future, instead of considering the safety of their device. "We show different poses for each person because it shows their story,” says Marcin. A story that's possible because of LifeProof's cases.
  • 3.6.15   Todd Selby Lets the Kids Run Free - Safely

    Kids say the darndest things. And they do the darndest things too. Kids have a way of getting their hands on whatever it is you’re trying to hide, whether it’s a box of cookies, a box of tampons, or the family firearm. Their curious nature is inherent, and to make sure they don’t meet the same fate as the curious cat, we have to protect them as best we can. Todd Selby teamed up with Evolve on a series of PSAs that brought that message home with as much hilarity and good will as they could. Leading with the copy “If they find it, they’ll play with it,” Todd and Evolve riffed on the idea that kids will find a way to play with whatever’s in arm’s reach. Juxtaposing the innocent nature of children and the inappropriate things they can find, the set-ups revealed the potential comedy of these situations. “It was funny, the kids just took the stuff and went on their own which was funny because they don’t have the same connotation as we do with certain things,” explains Todd. His favorite moment was when one of the kids took a pair of fuzzy handcuffs and attached them to the neck of a dinosaur as a leash. “We were just laughing so much,” Todd says. “It was hard to keep it serious. Just trying not to lose it laughing.” The serious nature of the PSAs get a welcome counter from the energy that the kids brought to it. To ensure that the photos communicated authentic lightness, Todd gave them a lot of room to actually play. “We set up the scenarios generally, and then the kids got in there and did their thing which was really fun,” explains Todd. Then he gave them plenty of time to explore and enjoy themselves, finding games with the objects, and photographing the discoveries as they made them. Of course, in this closed environment, with direction and chosen items, the kids were totally safe. But the photos highlight the larger issue of familial safety at the heart of the campaign. If a young boy can do a very good Wolverine impression with a box of tampons, finding a firearm could have results that aren’t funny at all. The message is communicated effectively through disarming humor, thanks to the kids' innocence, which is exactly what they're trying to protect.
  • 2.27.15   Bigshot Toyworks' Icons Confront Serious Issues

    Subversion is an art form. Taking popular images and finding something new to say about them requires a delicate balance between respecting the original message and finding the kernel of new truth. This is a balance that Bigshot Toyworks understands completely. They’re masters at the form of reinterpretation, having worked on some of the most recognizable characters in pop culture. “It’s always fun to play with those characters, whether it’s for the actual company to reimagine what the character looks like with a bit of a twist, like we’ve done with the Quik Rabbit, My Little Pony, My Pet Monster, developing them for an updated look,” says Klim Kozinevich from Bigshot Toyworks. “It’s always fun to play with that and we always try to have a sense of humor about it and not be gross and disrespectful to the brand.” At the end of the day, they want to maintain the integrity of these characters, borrowing them to make a statement, without changing their souls. For the latest cover of Bloomberg Business magazine, Bigshot Toyworks got to try their hand at Tony the Tiger. Kellogg’s Cereals has seen a dip in sales lately, and Bloomberg’s reporting found a trend between that dip in sales and consumer confidence in the brand. When buyers are more sensitive to particular ingredients (like GMO corn, high added sugars, and dietary preferences) they’ll avoid the products that haven’t adapted to the lifestyle changes they’re making. It’s time for Kellogg’s to catch up to consumer demands. The image Bigshot worked on went through a series of revisions to strike the right tone. They started with more aggressive imagery, finally arriving at an image of Tony the Tiger regarding a bowl of cereal: radioactive in its unappealing existence. It walks the line of framing a major issue without striking a death knell. It’s a gut check, but not a final blow. Tony sees the problem, now it’s time to adjust. Bloomberg was kind enough to show how this revision process proceeded, and we’ve included their visual representation of the development. For the cover of AdWeek, Bigshot got to subvert a whole other set of characters. Like Kellogg’s need to bridge their consumer gap, Hasbro’s My Little Pony empire is in the process of recalibrating to market pressures. Where Kellogg’s is dealing with content, Hasbro has to change delivery. Their current readjustments follow the passions and interests of their fans, which are constantly changing in the evolving market. As kids move away from the television and towards more mobile media, Hasbro’s more conventional media investments are not finding the success they need. So it’s time to change. Klim explains the illustration of these issues in their composition saying, “It’s a My Little Pony character absorbed in all different devices while not paying attention to the TV behind her.” Hasbro’s television network is facing the most serious trouble, and they have to follow their own successes to ensure their brand’s future.
  • 3.3.15   Chrissie Macdonald and Lydia Whitmore Created a Monster

    The Internet is a volatile place. When anonymity is the standard and shaming is the go-to response to the unsavory, lives and careers can see destruction in a matter of days if not hours. The list of casualties from the mob rules of the Internet is long and growing, with any number of causes. Whether it’s the result of a single ill conceived tweet (like in the case of Justin Sacco), or a private photo made public (like Lindsey Stone), the calls of an anonymous public deafen reason and careers, relationships, and in the most drastic cases, lives can be lost. Covering last weekend’s The Guardian was a story by Jon Ronson about the danger of the internet mobs, detailing his own troubles, and examining other, better known cases. To illustrate the idea, and communicate the emotional issues behind it, The Guardian tasked Chrissie Macdonald for the cover and a spread. She partnered with B&A still life photographer Lydia Whitmore to help her bring it all together. And they didn’t have much time. The concept, shepherded by Guardian Weekend Art Director Maggie Murphy, was using emojis to illustrate the emotions behind the dangers of the anonymous masses. “It was quite a quick turnaround, but I quite like the idea of trying to create emotion in everything in as little mark making as possible,” explains Chrissie. “It was about keeping it bold and graphic and playing around with the different expressions to see how it worked.” After spending a few days playing with a number of materials and applications, Chrissie created a literal monster. Since she was using a paper cut technique on balls, she found she could alter the projected emotions of each character with a slight movement, doctoring each face to ensure it told the story precisely. Once Chrissie had made her figures, she brought Lydia in to get the composition just right. For Lydia, communicating the power of Chrissie’s creation was about angles. Shooting the monster was about placing the camera to look up at it, giving it the illusion of scale and strength. For the cover, it was the opposite. “Since we’re looking down at the guy getting squashed he’s kind of more pathetic,” explains Lydia. We find ourselves feeling sorry for a little squished yellow ball. Both Chrissie and Lydia are very sensitive to the mysterious whims of the internet masses: both have largely shirked social media. “I avoid all of that stuff,” says Lydia. Once you put something out into the world on social media, you cannot be sure how it’s going to be interpreted. Lydia explains her hesitance: “I don’t like that you have no control over the audience.” For Chrissie, once those interpretations are solidified, things can get out of hand. “It’s kind of easy to gang up on someone en masse on social media in a way that maybe you wouldn’t in the real world,” says Chrissie. As Jon Ronson explains it, there's a fine line we all have to walk, less we squashed.  
  • 3.2.15   Jason Madara Brings Grace to the Unrefined

    A Civil War fortress may not be the first imagined location for a rug campaign, but when ABC Carpet & Home needed a setting for their latest project, that’s exactly what they chose. Fort Totten in Queens, New York still maintains a U.S. Army Reserve presence, and one of the most dynamic physical settings in the five boroughs. Jason Madara continues his collaboration with the interior giant, highlighting their new Sunclipse Collection, a series of rugs that draws inspiration from the relationship between the sun and the horizon. For the images it was all about harmony. On the outset, there were two very different elements that Jason had to bring together into seamless compositions. “We have these beautiful, warm, colorful delicate rugs, and then this hard, stone, green/grey weathered fort. How do you make those two things harmonious together?” asks Jason, rhetorically. “It’s a delicate balance of light and shadow and manipulating light. And making them basically about texture.” That texture is what leaps out of the images. Whether it’s the fine nap of the broad rugs, or the deep, rough façade of Fort Totten, the images are supremely touchable and communicate what is unique about these elements. Each element reflects the internal relationship inherent in each rug: the hard, unmovable horizon and the elegant arc of the sun. That confluence creates an otherworldly impression. “In reality these carpets would never be in this sort of environment, but in the end they look as if they belong there,” says Jason. “It’s as if this fort, this concrete structure, was made for these rugs." In these compositions, Jason has effectively suspended reality. Bringing together these two alien elements requires no small amount of wrestling. Many different sources and forms of light had to be carefully balanced to create that harmony. Fort Totten is from a bygone era, the sun playing on its stone windows and doorways like a jungle gym. Each opening was a new source of light that couldn’t be controlled, only managed. As the sun arced across the sky during the shoot, Jason had to constantly adjust and shift the compositions. “This was like race for time on some of these shots,” explains Jason. “So I have to override the sun, which was tough, I had to block it where I could and I had to use it where I could. So it was a constant manipulation of strobe versus sun.” The continual recalibration maintained the harmony he needed. The success in the creative direction of this campaign is thanks in large part to Angela Gruszka, ABC Carpet & Home’s Director of Marketing. Her conception and direction of the project guided Jason’s creative path, each of them working towards collaborative creative achievement.
  • 3.4.15   Emily Nathan Brings Her Authenticity to Target

    On the surface, Target might seem like a different artistic angle for Emily Nathan, the creative mind behind Tiny Atlas Quarterly. Tiny Atlas’ signature is the apex of lifestyle photography. Using the whole world as a backdrop, Emily and her collaborators do not manufacture compositions. Instead they attend the unfolding of the world, and document the beauty they find on the other side of their lenses. Target is known for highly stylized, conceptual imagery that might seem contrary to Emily’s wheelhouse. But it turns out it’s a different side of the same coin. “The challenge is to breathe life into that scenario,” explains Emily. “I have to try to have it be the Target poppy colors and somehow carry an authenticity to it and bring a little life and reality.” That’s exactly what Emily is known for. In Tiny Atlas, Emily is on a never-ending pursuit of authenticity, so when she has babies in front of her camera for Target, she’s immediately in her element. “Babies are not capable of being inauthentic,” Emily explains. “When you’re doing that kind of shoot with an adult it’s a lot easier for the adult to fake their emotions. But babies: if you want them to giggle, you have to make them happy. If you want them to sleep, you actually have to make them tired.” Like with her lifestyle shoots, she has to bring moments of reality into the shoot to make it happen. When she’s in Big Sur, she follows a conservationist on his daily trek to save that ecosystem. When she needs an image of a sleepy baby, she has to quiet the set and walk the baby around and around until he falls asleep. Emily’s pursuit is authenticity, so what she shows us truly is authentic. Emily is a mother herself, and came to the project with a mother’s eye. Children can be unpredictable and sensitive. You cannot anticipate how they’re going to react over the course of a long shoot, and Emily is sympathetic to the changeable nature of children. Sometimes a baby needs a break and finds a little bit of distress. Of course, if their expression doesn’t align with the plan for the shot it can be frustrating, but Emily is more aware of the larger picture. “As a Mom I want that baby to be comforted. So the baby goes and gets comforted by their Mom and if they feel like playing they come back.” Until then, Emily works with what she has, eking as much real life as she can out of every moment.  
  • 2.27.15   Amy Taylor Gives a Peek for Nylon

    This far into the winter, sometimes you just want to break out, throw open the windows and let in some air! In the latest issue of Nylon, the story “Peep Show” opens a window in fashion that gives a unique look. Prop Stylist and Set Designer Amy Taylor brought in the themes of what can be seen through the apparel’s windows into the shoot’s sets. By using rolls of cut paper as 3D graphic backgrounds, Amy’s sets reflect what happening in the clothes. She created a fully immersive environment that allows the models to play in a tailor made space, bringing a surreal spin, and making the bold looks feel right at home. Whether the model is popping through a large hole, with her windowed Louis Vuitton bag and top, or stepping through a small window like an avant garde curtain, we see the dynamism these layers add to the looks they surround. We get a glimpse at the hidden, highlighting a reveal, and enticing an invitation to something a little more personal, a little more intimate. Check out the full story photographed by Aaron Richter.
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