Recently Jim Smithson had the pleasure of working with RR Partners shooting for their client Norwegian Cruise Lines. He and his team produced 6 ads of NCL’s associates in New York, Alaska, Bermuda, Hawaii, Italy and the Caribbean.
The catch is that he shot them all at Smashbox LA in a 10 hour span.
“Naturally, my preference would be to shoot them on location so this gig was going to be a real challenge. We had 6 stock images that our real people talent had to be inserted into, with each location requiring a total re-light. In addition, issues of perspective and focal lengths had to be visually matched. Throw in a full compliment of agency and client in the studio and 10 hours to get it all done. His first though was, ‘What the hell was I thinking!’
In order to maintain the tight schedule, production had to be seamless and efficient. Sr. AD Hosea Gruber was instrumental in communicating the expectations of the campaign, which meant I had a clear understanding of each locations relationship to the travel agent and vice versa.”
Hosea had this to say about working with Jim, “From an art director’s perspective, working with Jim was just about as good as it gets. We had a challenging shoot, followed by some challenging compositing to get the campaign that we needed. Not only did Jim deal with all the pre-shoot changes, the during-shoot pressure, the post-shoot curve balls, and still deliver the beautiful art we needed — he also made our clients feel listened to and taken care of throughout the entire process. He was a true collaborator and that’s what I look for.”
Jim’s experience with post/retouching also played a key role, ensuring all the visual cues were in sync while he shot and retouched on the fly. “It was pretty smooth. It generally took a few takes to get lighting and perspective matched. Being able to drop them into the backgrounds and quickly treat them was very helpful to me and reassuring to the agency and client.”
Who would have thought that a simple request to a recent client to share his observations about a shoot would lead to such a lovely reply. It is not everyday that a client is able to take the time to reflect on their experience with the studio and then share it with the group. Well, Group Creative Director Eric Harris of Tracy Locke did just that. And for that, we are grateful.
Here is what he felt compelled to share:
“Leigh Beisch is a rare breed of photographer. One who truly drives the creative process; one who goes beyond merely capturing the result of it. For many reasons, it was clear to me from the beginning that Leigh’s vision would define not only our time in her studio, but also the outcome of our entire project.
First of all, what a rare occurrence in this industry to stumble across a photographer/stylist relationship like Leigh and Dan Becker. They compliment each other so well, and they speak very highly of each other (even when they think the other isn’t listening!). As the line blurs from styling to shooting, one of them is there to complete the other’s sentence… Visually. I can’t count how many times Leigh – looking at the monitor – would ask Dan to move a shred of parmesan, or add a small puddle of sauce to the dish. Only Dan had already done just that. And the difference in the shot was night and day. It’s an art director’s dream.
Speaking of art director, it’s clear that Leigh’s wheelhouse sits on an AD’s foundation. She injects and demands the highest quality design into every single shot. She deliberately and carefully affects every element of every photograph, and she does it seamlessly and gracefully. I found it particularly interesting that Leigh did not have a prop stylist on set with us. Leigh is so capable and confident in her tabletop styling that she understands the physical presence of a stylist isn’t necessary. When sifting through the props on set, I knew they were meticulously combed over by Leigh with her unwavering eye for what would support the brief. Props that added life. Props that added soul. Props that told a story.
Just like in her work, at Leigh’s studio it’s the details that make the difference. The little things: The quarry of cordial glasses resting on the hearth. The herb garden just outside the kitchen. Bella, the bloated little pug that sits around all day licking her chops. A sushi lunch on the picnic table in the backyard. These are not typically things we see in studios. These are all the makings of a home. And that’s how I felt when I shot with Leigh.
At home. It was the icing on the cake of beautifully strategic (or strategically beautiful – depending on your stance) work. “