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Peering through the keyhole in Rome – St Peter Basilica

August 8th, 2012 Comments off

Tucked away in Rome, a little piazza designed by Piranesi in 1765 is a gate, leading to the gardens of the Knights of Malta (one of the last surviving orders of knights left over from the Crusades). Peering into the tiny keyhole and you’ll see this stunning view of the St Peter Basilica.

St Peter Basilica of Rome through a keyhole

Rome is truly a wondrous city filled with architecture that is one of a kind in the world. Every street is filled with cobblestone pathway and building that bounces the light from the sun in magical ways.

Via Della Dogana Vecchia, Rome

Tired of the city and architecture in Italy? Even stepping out from Florence to an outlet shopping mall filled with name brands such as Prada, Chanel, etc. a few footsteps away from the very outlet presented Tuscany landscape that makes one wonder, why are there so few landscape photographers in Italy?

Tuscany countryside

Lifestyle photography and how it markets

December 7th, 2007 Comments off

San Francisco Bay Area is one of the city that is saturated with demands for lifestyle work (as oppose to Los Angeles or New York that draws demands on fashion)

So, what exactly is lifestyle?

Shopping It really is one of those variable word that means something entirely different to everyone you inquire. Some will affirm that it’s about the softness of the images. Some claim a peek of the environment where the shot took place. Others note that it’s the matter of less makeup, real-world scenario played out, a soft blend of photojournalism and commercial. Yet more will point that it’s displaying people doing their thing.

It really is all of the above!

Coffee Lifestyle images helps the advertiser with a few aspect of their marketing:

  1. It provides the setting, ambience and styling of the product & services.
  2. Gives a snippet of the demographic of the users (oh, that teenage cute girl looks just my age and she is using the sexy looking iPod, I bet it’ll look cool on me too)
  3. Creates an attitude and continuity in marketing. Nike, for example would always showcase top athletes in peak action. (they associate their products to provide the last 1% of excellence, in this fragile world of diminishing returns)
  4. Demonstrates the usage, how it fits, its scale or size.
  5. Showcases the benefits and features of the product in the real world.
  6. Differentiate the product in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

J Crew Lifestyle photos excel when the images are placed on catalogs that are used as a support vehicle to upscale retails (i.e. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom).

There are potential pitfalls, however.

  1. The product in a lifestyle photograph can disappear from view as the image gets busier. Some of the interesting props in the image can steal the attention away from the product.
  2. If the product is new and has yet to penetrate the market, you may be better off photographing a large image of the product instead of lifestyle.
  3. Lifestyle shoots can cost more and require a bit of planning compared to a straight product shoot.

Many catalogs use a balanced mix of product and lifestyle shots to retain a fashionable look to their catalogs. Whichever type of photography that is used should support the brand and is consistent with the marketing message.

– Michael Soo

2008 Warrior Girls Swimsuit Calendar Unveiled

November 30th, 2007 2 comments

2008 Warrior Girls Swimsuit Calendar The 2008 Warrior Girls Swimsuit Calendar was unveiled last night at the Oakland Coliseum with thousands of fans watching the huge 20+ feet TV atop the court and plasma TV all over the entire coliseum. What was it playing?

Oh boy, this footage below played, over… and over… and over… again. Even a burly security guard walked to me to shook my hand like he knew me since I was a little boy. LOL. T’was quite an interesting… rather, exciting time.

The management team did an amazing job showcasing the calendar. The line to purchase a calendar, to be signed by the cheerleaders were…. extremely long. The poor celebrity girls must have signed hundreds of calendars in the first 30 mins alone. Hey, anything for the fans!

View the high resolution video (38 MB) of the shoot.

Video is copyright © 2007 Golden State Warriors. All Rights Reserved.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIB6fG-NZ5M]

Embarrassed to say, this is the first NBA game that I’ve been to. It’s quite an eye opener to breathe in the energy of the fans and learning the etiquette. The Warriors did amazing that night, defeating the Rockets 113-94, with Baron Davis taming Yao Ming utilizing skills over physique. GO WARRIORS!!!

Check out the imagery in my gallery. Hey, you may even find some hidden jewels, i.e. images that are not in the calendar, a la Photographer’s Cut! 😉

The 2008 Warrior Girl Swimsuit Calendar is now available!!
Get yours today online at warriorsteamstore.com.

– Michael Soo

Lifestyle & Jewelry Photography

November 20th, 2007 Comments off

Juliano Jewelry So, I got a bit bored of shooting straight product shots this week. Although they are pretty, nothing conveys the feeling of “if I buy that diamond ring, I’ll look as gorgeous as the model in the poster” better than a lifestyle photography of model(s) wearing or using the product in an ad campaign.

This genre of commercial photography takes a lot of work and can cost a bit more. Think about it. Instead of only hiring just a product photographer and his/her assistant; you’ll be paying a crew of talents that range from great model(s), a makeup artist, a hair stylist, photography assistants, coordinators, security guards, location rentals, equipment rentals, etc, a la Annie Leibovitz le grandeur style. And of course, don’t forget about the knowledgeable photographer who needs to project manage this team of artistic and talented players in the studio or on location.

Juliano It’s no wonder that only the large jewelry companies are the only ones that can afford the types of ad campaigns that slap enticing images into several pages of popular magazines. These larger scale expenses can chew into the profit margins of large corporations with a tight budget. For the smaller guys, these types of campaigns are near unreachable.

I don’t think it needs to stay that way. Amazing lifestyle imagery with products can be achieved without breaking the bank.

Juliano So, how can we increase efficiency in a photoshoot? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Substitute some of the less important roles with freelance models. Your photographer has probably worked with plenty that they think have high potential. Ask him/her for suggestions! Do note that, a risk involved is the ability of how the model to performs. Professional models are a bit more in-tuned with their poses, look and style that will match your creative needs.
  2. How about getting a good photographer who has the know-how in lighting and can work his/her own lights without hiring 5-10 assistants that he/she can bark out orders to. Yes, of course, project size varies and there are times where a large crew is necessary. What I’m merely recommending is to increase productivity without creating waste or cutting corners.
  3. A photographer who owns his/her lighting equipment means that he/she won’t have to rent them and that can be a great cost savings too! Equipment rentals can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars!
  4. Also, getting a good coordinator to manage the time is absolutely critical and can save you money overall. Bottlenecks in production can halt the entire process and increase cost!

On another note, last week was an amazing week. I am proud to say that my photographs (both comp cards and beauty shots) help propel two more fantastic models to get recognized and interviewed by huge international status agencies; i.e. Ford Models and Marla Dell. These are the agencies that supply models to ads and campaigns such as Elizabeth Arden, Cosmopolitan, Glamour magazines and Abercrombie catalogs.

Suffice to say, there are phenomenal opportunities that can open up to them and I’m truly happy to be a big part of this turning point of their lives and careers!

– Michael Soo

The whole is more than the sum of its parts

November 2nd, 2007 Comments off

Poker Face Many a times, we use a single image to sell a product or to show beauty. For whatever purpose that image portrays, it needs to convey its story. That one image will also need to stand on its own unadulterated territory, emitting glory and charm to seduce its audience. However, like a fragile twig, that single image is an uninsurable agent that can’t please the world.

Beauty Photography In comes the collective. You have most definitely seen them. They are a collection of artifacts in a museum like the King Tut’s tomb or an art gallery displaying the sum of the work from a single artist.

Triptych Fashion Paradigm You certainly may or may not get Wow-ed by one of the pieces. However, the collection of coherently simple work can conglomerate to become a powerful set of art that ascend your mind to new heights.

The trick to successfully use a collection of images is actually to avoid the ultimate pitfall of treating each image as a single piece.

Am I confusing you? Think the classic example of a football team where the coach would kick a great player off the team due to his/her inability to work as part of the team. It’s all about teamwork.

Primary Colors Suppose you have a series of 10 beautiful photographs you took in Yosemite. All eight of them looks fabulous in black & white while two, look resplendent in color. By submitting to the temptation of processing 8 into B&W; and 2 into color, you have essentially destroyed the series or collection. Now, each piece will have to stand on their own.

Do note that the application of this knowledge isn’t solely on art but on marketing, branding and even engineering (consistency and change management)!

– Michael Soo