In the world of Social Media, at least some of the smart money is on Behind the Scenes Photography and Video. For us here at Westside, BTS shots are useful in two ways: to show you the work and fun that goes into our shoots; plus, it can help our clients envision other ways of creating content for their clients- using BTS videos and stills as assets on the client’s blog, twitter, FB or even the main site. We’ve shot several recent jobs which have used BTS as a part of their larger media strategy and we’ve easily accommodated those needs.
In fact, our super smart assistants are getting so good at capturing the BTS magic that we’ve created several dedicated galleries on our Facebook page to accommodate the shots. Here are some faves:
I asked assistants Thomas Dagg and Gabe Nivera what’s the key to a successful BTS shoot. They replied:
Find angles that show how awesome your set is and for extra credit, pretend you’re Nachtway or another photodoc master.
Shoot first and ask for permission later.
He’s kidding of course…
One of the most interesting use of the Behind the Scenes convention is the Domino’s Cheese Pull Ad of last year. The ad documents the preparation for the hero Pizza shot to show the ridiculous lengths we go to to make food look perfect on camera. In this case, the BTS is the ad:
And, finally, to round out this post, here are some awesome BTS shots from classic film and TV. Enjoy:
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Ryan Enn Hughes has been on the east coast, shooting a documentary for Courage Canada, a not-for-profit that gets blind kids on the ice- helping them learn to skate and play hockey.
It’s an inspiring story: In 2009, founder Mark DeMontis (who’s promising hockey career was cut short when he was 17 by a condition that has left him legally blind) in-line skated from Toronto to Vancouver, raising money for the organization. This time, he’s finishing the eastern leg and left Halifax almost a month ago on this way back home to Toronto.
Here are some of Ryan’s pictures from the road:
I asked Ryan some questions about the project:
How did you get involved in this event?
I got involved with Courage Canada just prior to Mark’s first campaign “The Quest to the West”, when he in line skated from Toronto to Vancouver, a skate that was over 100 days on the road. I grew up with Mark DeMontis (he’s my younger brother’s age), and he was actually on my first ever hockey team as a kid, so I’ve known of Mark for a long time. He approached me about helping with Photography for Courage Canada just as it was starting out, and I was glad to contribute. This past Spring Mark contacted me about Directing a documentary on his second campaign of in line skating, and that’s how I got involved.
Courage Canada seems to have a strong focus on images and, if they are also making a film, on really documenting Mark’s journey. Do you have any opinions, and/ or thoughts on that?
Media is very huge to this organization. I also think its a generational thing too – Media, whether it be Photography, Video, Social Networks, and/or their intersections, is very much second nature to a lot of younger creators who matured at a time when massive changes occurred in these fields…all this media just seems normal to us. Its kinda like “of course” there will be a documentary, and photos, and blogging, and tweeting, and a website…why wouldn’t there be?
Have you ever covered something like this, in such an in-depth way before?
I haven’t covered anything this in-depth before. Its very interesting working in the documentary format, particularly conducting interviews as we progress, as this story is extremely emotional for alot of people, and I get to witness all of that – very raw and real feelings. Its also exciting being the Director – watching the story unfold on camera in real time – and then thinking about how certain events can be pieced together to create the narrative.
We’ll look forward to the final film. To learn more about Courage Canada and Mark DeMontis, who’s leadership is beyond inspiring, go here.
I have a friend who has been very involved with Tibet over the last 10 years – and leads cultural and art tours there (she is a botanical illustrator amongst other things). This year she had a “photo tour” scheduled but her PRO had to drop out at last minute so she asked me. Really – I was more of a photo “baby sitter” – just there to guide people when needed. And – of course I had free rein and time to shoot my own images.
What are the conditions like shooting in those areas? Just curious about your perspective as a seasoned travel shooter- any particular challenges on this trip?
The conditions where fine for shooting. Actually we could not get into the areas where we had intended to stay as the Chinese Government had been throwing foreigners out of Tibet for a few months (they have since relaxed things and the country is now by and large open again) – so we were restricted to the very eastern part of Tibet.
I can’t say that the “living” conditions were bad – we were supposed to be living out in huge hand made tents – but stayed in small hotels and hostels. Nothing luxurious – the usual, not the greatest bathrooms and the water was off at times – but really nothing that much of the world lives with on a day to day basis.
So you were in a teaching role- what specific slant do you bring to your lessons or teaching in general- is it about vision or technique?
I have never taken a photo workshop or led one before – although I have given a number of “talks” and lectures. It was a very loose workshop where most of the people on the tour were barely even keen amateurs. However, to the few who had more than just a passing interest in learning more (and there were at least a couple) – I tried to just help them get a little ‘closer” to their subjects (when they were shooting people) and to use shorter lenses – and not have the classic long lens look that to my mind flattens things out to much and sucks the character out of people – to “engage: with people, to stop and try to talk to them and if they really wanted to take their portraits – to tell them “why” it is that they want to take (make) their photo – ie -tell them that you think they look “unique”.”amazing”, “interesting” etc. Not to just either take a hurried long lens pic – and then when the subject looks up – look sheepish, mumble an apology and hurry off…
That kind of thing for starters…
Technique versus vision – that is all a whole new ballgame since digital cameras. Even so it’s all a bit easier now technically – I still tried to stress knowing the technique so that it becomes second nature and one doesn’t even have to think about it – one pretty much knows ahead of time HOW it will look. “Transcend technique!!”
As for “vision” – well it’s about what you choose to photograph as much as “How” you choose. And – what you don’t photograph (and show) is also important.
Andrew B. Myers has had a busy summer- two art shows plus he’s updated his website. But instead of showing you any of those super awesome images (go ahead and check them out here), I’ve asked Andrew to give us a visual guide to his work instead.
Andrew’s work is so unique, I was interested in where his inspiration came from. Do the artists he likes share a similar sensibility? Have a look- Andrew’s inspiration in no particular order:
Here’s the latest installment of our new feature 5+ which showcases 5 inspirations from creative professionals like yourselves.
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After several years and successful campaigns at Zig (now CP&B), Niall Kelly is now a Senior Art Director at TAXI (1). Niall also has the distinction of being actively involved in promoting super cool artwork through his wicked Tumblr, Cross My Art which you should check out here.
Anytime I find myself in a new city my first instinct is to hit the galleries and work my way through them until my brain can’t hold any more. I usually find myself drawn to spaces with more contemporary sensibilities. Walking through a well curated gallery should feel like taking a stroll through someone’s mind. The following are the top three minds I’ve had the pleasure of strolling through.
I think the first music video I ever saw was Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old at the time but seeing people decide that dancing on the floor was for suckers and making their way up to the ceiling to cut loose nearly blew my little mind. People have been prophesying the end of the music video as an art form and commercially viable marketing tool for years now. But bands like OK Go and Arcade Fire keep pushing things forward and technology is helping reinvent a familiar medium. And just when you think it’s all been done you see a video like this from the band Is Tropical. Like my friend Michelle Donnelly has always says, it’s all been done, just not in every color.
A friend sent this to me a few months ago. I think it’s something that every creative person, no matter their discipline, should read and keep in mind. It’s so true, and I wish I had read it years ago.
General Creative Consumption.
I think the old saying “you are what you eat” is so true especially when you apply it to creativity. I started a blog last year called Cross My Art with the intention of treating it like an online scrap book comprised of all the things that inspire me. Photography, film, illustration, interior design, architecture, painting, sculpture, installation, typography, technology, fashion, everything and anything that clicks. It’s nice to have them all in one place for future reference. I also started collecting art a few years ago but it wasn’t until I saw this clip of Dennis Hopper talking about his art collection that I truly understood why I loved it so much. He wasn’t collecting pieces he thought were bankable investments, he was surrounding himself with the art and artists that he felt made him better and richer in his own craft. Remember a little film called Speed? Of course you do. It fucking kicked ass!
Some works I own. From L – R. Greg Lamarche – O Blast. Steven Appleby-Barr’s – Punchy Cricket Bat. Steven Powers – Everything is Shit. (click for bigger):
This photo of Kim Kardashian.
She’s all kinds of inspiring. Sometimes if I’m working on a tough brief and the solution isn’t presenting itself I’ll just stare at her silver ass and ask “What would Kim Kardashian’s big gravity defying silver ass do?”. It would probably do something amazing.
In honour of the dog days of summer, Tyler Gray hit the highway, old-school style and shot this nostalgic Creative:
Tyler shared his thought process:
The idea came from a bunch of old family photos of my grandparents having picnics. Back in the 50′s and 60′s they’d go for weekend cruises up north (Wawa, Timmins, The Sault, places like that) in old Dodges and Chevy’s and at lunch time they would simply pull off the side of the road, pop the trunk, bust out the Coleman and put together a nice lunch. If that’s not the coolest and most relaxing thought then what is?
For reference, Tyler shares some shots of the Gray seniors:
Oh the adventures continue on the road with our intrepid shooters. Check out Chris Gordaneer’s weekend Swaziland pad:
Assistant Aric tells me:
Those monkey shots were done in Swaziland, tiny kingdom that is mostly surrounded by South Africa, with a small portion that borders Mozambique. It served as a shortcut to Kwazulu Natal, the homeplace of the Zulu people, and our next location. It’s truly a lovely spot, with some great scenery.
Traveller’s Protip: if you’re trying to leave Swaziland, the border crossing is behind the gas station. Left, right, right, left, and you’re through.
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Derek Shapton, a little closer to home, edited in the Confederation Room at the Fairmont in Edmonton.
Here’s a nighttime shot (with a Petzl headlamp as a key light) at the railroad siding in Melville, Alberta (Photo by Elizabeth Tham).
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Turns out there was indeed something rotten in Denmark. This appeared on George Simhoni’s door early Saturday morning:
Nevermind, George managed to get out and enjoy the city. Here’s a brave face for scouting:
And of course the team enjoyed some tasty, local delights:
To close, here’s the latest restaurant review from on-the-road-so-much-we-forget-what-he-looks-like Gabe Nivera:
After wrapping our job in Alberta, George spent 24 hours in Toronto before flying of to scout the next job in Copenhagen Denmark. I stayed behind another day in order to organize the files, get more gear (supplied by the wonderful experts at B3K – Jim Anderson) and do a bit of prep.
My flight was supposed to leave at 8.50 pm, but we were delayed on the tarmac until midnight, which meant George had to meet me in Denmark at around 1.30 pm. Because we had lost a lot of time, we went straight to our scout and did our tests. Needless to say by 7 pm, I was starving.
We ended up going to the Atlas Cafe, which was about 2 blocks from our main location. It was a cozy bar/cafe, recessed into the ground, with large bright windows that peered onto pavement level ; its quite interesting to just see legs and bottoms passing you by.
We ended up getting the traditional Danish fish cakes. Served with beet salad and a toasted almond and fennel seed slaw. The fish cakes were done wonderfully, golden brown, firm crust, but very moist and fresh on the inside. they came with a mayonnaise based sauce, with some dill and pickled vegetables in it – it was halfway between aioli and sandwich mayo, definitely the right kind of sauce of the cakes and I washed it down with elderflower – which was sweet but not overpowering.
Price: Hard to say, because our scout picked up the tab
Ambiance: 7/10 – some say cramped, i say cozy; filled with locals, you can hear yourself talk over the background din, and enjoy the eclectic collection of posters, pictures, maps, and paintings hanging on the wall
Service: 6.5/10 – while very friendly, it seemed a little slow – could have been the rush hour crowd or understaffed
Over all: 7/10 – definitely a place to go for a crew meal, but you won’t be making dinner plans here for your client
If you ever find yourself in Bobidi, South Africa, Aric Guite, Chris Gordaneer’s first assistant, has got your hook up for the food. Here’s his review of a restaurant called Safarilands:
Our second night accommodations (we saw three giraffes on the road to the hotel!) included a fixed menu meal shortly after we arrived.
Our first course was a delicious pumpkin and typhoid fever soup accompanied by a lovely bread roll which was interestingly shaped:
Once Chris wrestled it to the ground, we found it was divine: butter and honey glazed crust, toothy crumb, and just a hint of gaminess. Chris had the eyes, and is pleased to report they were succulent. He believes that his eyes draw strength from eating those of other animals (note to self: watch out).
The rest of the meal was entirely lack-luster (think dry chicken with a watery sauce and boring rice pilaf). Yum!
Service: 10/10 – we were literally the only people in the dining area. A personal welcome from the chef, 3 staff members made it happen.
Ambiance: Exceedingly quiet. No music, no traffic, no machinery. Just 4 people chewing.
Food: 10/10 – the bread made us laugh, and that carried us through the whole meal.
Overall: 7/10. If you’re there, you don’t have a choice, so may as well make the best of it.
I try not to take it personally when the Westside shooters, instead of giving me content for the Westside blog, start one of their own. Instead, I congratulate them and point all of you in their direction.
Well, like Nikki, Matt and Derek before him, Tom Feiler has recently launched his own blog. Seriously Feiler can be found here and features 100% Feilerific stories and images. A couple of posts in, read about his experience babysitting for Chantal Kreviazuk plus some important boating tips (aluminum canoe + thunderstorms = yikes).