Sometime (well, actually a lot of times) all the things we want going on in a picture just won’t happen at once. So it was with a smoothie image Rachael Ray Magazine asked us to make for an opener page about blenders. The inspiration was an illustration of a maelstrom with houses bobbing around in the water and being sucked into the vortex. They wanted the smoothie to look like the water, and the fruit to look like the houses being sucked down. Awesome idea, great illustration, but this image could not be taken in one capture. There were a few problems we had to solve:
1. The blenders we wanted to use for the outside of the image were not going to give the intense whirl effect we were looking for in the middle.
2. The blenders were also a little too small to be able to throw enough berries and bananas in and get the visual effect of fruit being sucked into the vortex.
3. The magazine wanted a whirl of yogurt to swirl in to the smoothie and be seen all the way down the vortex, but in reality it mixed together quickly.
4. And Lastly, focus was also going to be an issue. To get the whirl sharp from the top of the liquid down to the blades, Adam would need to stack multiple captures. Not so easy when the subject won’t stay still.
To solve for all these we broke down the problems and addressed them in separate images that Adam brought together beautifully. First, we shot the blender we wanted for the outside as a separate plate. Then, Nick hacked apart our Magic Bullet blender, which had the best whirl action of all the blades we tested, and created an oversize blender pitcher using a small bathroom trash can. The Bullet was then plunged into a rheostat so we could control the speed of motor. Next we set up PVC chutes on two corners of the Franken-trash-can-blender so we could pour a smooth and constant stream of yogurt in as it was running. And finally, Adam being the Photoshop wizard that he is, was able to bracket focus and bring together the different depths of the vortex smoothly and seamlessly.
It took quiet a few steps to get to the final image, but the results were well worth it.
And here are a few of the parts and pieces all brought together to make this picture work.
The September/October issue of Popular Science is out and we’re once again super honored to be able to say “Hey, we took that picture!”
The outside shape of the watch was actually a composite of two different watches, but the inside “space” part, was actually shot in camera. We spray painted an abstract cosmos on seamless, then spread the gears and planets out over a 10 foot span in front of the background to get the feeling of depth and space.
Beside the cover watch, we also made (and destroyed) a concrete alarm clock that was covered in vines to represent the passage of time. And also got to work with some fun trippy poster art and lava lamps for a feature opener about string theory. The cashier at Half Price books was amused when Robin headed to the register with arm loads of string theory quantum physics books. I think he knew they would never be opened.
For the September issue of Texas Monthly, TJ Tucker wanted a Tony Romo jersey that looked like it had been through hell. Dried blood, grass stains, plus rips and tears that correlated to injuries the Cowboy’s quarterback has sustained. The jersey they sent us to work with was in pristine condition. Thankfully we have a stylist assistant who was all too happy to help give the jersey a rough and tumble look that was completely organic.
This is Lucy, the best styling assistant on 4 paws.
It’s always a pleasure working with Ryan Cadiz and the team from Money Magazine. For their annual Millionaire Issue, they wanted the cover to capture the feeling of financial freedom that having $1M in assets can bring. After a lot of brainstorming and conversations with the magazine, it was decided that feeling involved a red Ford Mustang convertible and a beautiful sunset over water.
Because we were shooting this in Texas in July and also to give us the most control over light and the scene, we decided to shoot this in two parts. Part A involved Adam and Robin taking a couple afternoon drives to Canyon Lake, about an hour and a half outside of Austin, to capture sunsets. We have to say this was a first time a camping permit was purchased for a shoot. Part B involved finding the perfect car. We searched car museums and classic car clubs all over town. Finally, the Mustang Owner’s Club of Austin put us in touch with Diego Sandoval and the most perfect 1965 poppy red Ford Mustang we could have asked for. All original (except for the corroborator) and absolutely beautiful.
Adam and Nick put up a 20′ x 20′ scrim on a mildly breezy day (terrifying) and secured the heck out of it by anchoring it to other vehicles. Lights were set up and gelled to mimic a sunset in front of the car, and we were ready to rock. Our lovely couple were troopers, it was 102 degrees that day. A million thanks to Billy Mercer from Lip Service for keeping their hair and makeup perfect in that heat.
It took all of the sandbags, plus a Toyota Tundra, plus a Ford Explorer to keep the scrim from turning into a sail.
And here’s the man with the beautiful car. Thank you Diego for letting us use your baby!
This was a very special assignment for us. Mia Diehl from Fortune magazine called and asked us to contribute to their annual Fortune 500 issue. (SUPER HONORED!) The magazine was going to run multiple covers and each cover would focus on a different company on the list. We were assigned Monsanto and she wanted to know if we could shoot a combine in a field. Absolutely we could! And it was the perfect time of year to take this image. Robin’s father still had wheat in the field and it had just started to turn golden. So one weekend in May we loaded up the car with gear and drove to the family farm. It’s hard to find many photo assistants in the “middle-of-nowhere” Texas, but lucky for us our family was more than happy to help. We scouted the different wheat fields till we found the right spot. Mr. Finlay parked the combine in the field and over the coarse of the weekend we were able to capture it during two sunrises and two sunsets. On the last sunset we realized the cabin of the combine felt kind of empty, so Robin’s dad climbed in the driver’s seat and started his modeling career.
Thank you so much Mia for trusting us to venture out of the studio for this assignment. We’re not much for the waking up before the sun part, but beside that the experience was very rewarding.
Here’s some behind the scene pics from the weekend.
GQ came to us with an article about the future of football, and one writer’s theory that football will not become less violent, but actually more violent in the future. So we were asked to imagine what this more violent future might look like. Menacing spikes on the helmet, barbs on the shoulder pads, players with brass knuckles, and razor wire at the end zone was where we went. This was an amazingly fun set and costume to build. Thank you to makeup artist Tara Cooper for making our player’s skin look phenomenal!
And here were some of the out takes that did not make it to print, but we love the way they turned out.
We looked at all kinds of different spikes to find the most menacing. The end solution…..spear fishing tips! All ground down by hand. And yes, they were sharp!
Last, here’s some behind the scene images from the day.
Last summer, Adam, Nick and I were invited by Wired magazine to come to their amazing San Francisco office and shoot 10 featured products plus a cover for their yearly Design Life issue. It was 3 long days of levitating products and extreme angles with lots of focus stacks. The 10 feature products are sections openers for this special issue.
I think everyone was surprised by the quantity of gear we were able to fit in the studio. We deffinatly pushed it’s limits with two working sets going at a time.
We got to make an Army tank out of drug store items for a Fortune magazine story about Walgreen’s, CVS, and the battle for American’s medicine cabinet. This took about 20 trips to Walgreen’s trying to plan out what went where and a lot of strange looks from the cashiers with baskets of only blue and white products.
We could not decide between a white or blue background, so we did both!
And here’s some behind the scene images of the tank coming together.
We want to give a shout out to the Steven Mattern, the crafts person who made our Atlantic wooden puzzle. Not only are the pieces meticulous crafted, we even had our choice of what wood it was made of. Check out his site for more puzzles and some really rad wooden toys. Thanks man!
If you visit our studio and take a look at our desks, the first thing you notice (well, maybe the second after my mess of latte cups and receipts) are stacks and stacks of white copy paper covered in sketches. Sketching, physically putting pen to paper, is one of the first and most important steps for us when it comes to creating a photograph. Not a day goes by that we don’t sketch something. Sketches are the way we pitch ideas, think through composition, problem solve construction, and explain to each other the visions in our head. The sketches can be very detailed, or just a couple of lose marks. We have learned to interpret each other’s sketches and no matter how quick or how detailed they are, they become the road maps we use to get to a final image.
As a way to share our process we’ve created a new section of our portfolio we will be adding to periodically called “It starts with a sketch”. Below are a few images from that new section, the rest of the sketch/image pairings can be seen here.