One thing we’re quite proud of over here at Boulevard Artists is the wide range of talents our artists posses. Whether it be a still or motion shooter, we have more than enough options for one to choose from. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest or South, there’s someone for your assignment. This month we’re highlighting four of our photographer’s who also work in the field of motion— though they are just four out of many. Three of them were featured in our September Newsletter, so make sure to check out our previous posts to read up on more of what they’re doing in the industry. But for starters, let’s take a look at the work motion work of Geoff Johnson, who is based in Omaha and Minneapolis.
Geoff finds many of the clients who he works with need motion captured as a part of their final assets. Many of these assets are beautiful b-roll shots the client can have in their visual library, that they may pull for multiple uses. The types of shooting he is doing is sticking to what he does best, which is industrial, agriculture, slice of life/ lifestyle, and some healthcare. These are primarily the types of shoots where he is asked to provide still and motion.
He recently did a television ad for a company called Trozzolo— a Kansas City Advertising Agency— and their subsidiary company Prairie Dog, which is the healthcare wing of the agency. Together they did a campaign for Inure Health, where real people were casted by Matt Antrim, a reality show casting director from Los Angeles who had recently moved back to the Midwest. The broad idea for the shoot was about moments, more specifically health related and the expected human reaction that coincides with hearing a family member has cancer, or your own health taking a turn for the worse. While the subject matter at first seems bleak, the idea was to convey a sense of trust in the health professionals who were going to be taking care of a loved one or yourself. The whole campaign was based around these “yes” moments, built on a range of emotions from excitement, to very sad, but in the end it needed to be conveyed that you or someone you loved was going to be taken care of, or had already successfully been treated.
The difference between Geoff’s motion work in this example and what we traditionally think of as motion, is his use of still and audio to create a successful motion spot. This is what he means when he says he is doing a lot of motion components in one way or another, elevating his still work by adding depth effects to the imagery and audio flowing throughout.
Our next featured motion artist is Evaan Kheraj, a New York based shooter who we featured last month on the blog. Evaan has been working with motion since his years in University, where he developed his background in film. Cameras now are far more easily accessible than when he started out, and not to mention far better quality. While he is primarily a fashion and portrait photographer, he sees his motion as an extension of that body of work. It all comes down to him wanting to know people and understand their personal worlds.
One piece in particular of Evaan’s that we were drawn to is called The Exchange Alley, which showcases his interests and talents in unconventional photojournalism. Exchange Alley is the name of a restaurant a friend of a friend runs, who Evaan met and found to be an interesting subject. The short film turned into an extension of a portrait, delving much deeper into understanding who the subject is, in ways a photograph couldn’t tell you.
Shot over the course of two days, Evaan set out to make the small documentary about the restaurant itself, but it turned into less about the space and more into Paul Gerard’s— the owner and head chef— life. Evaan’s own fascination and love for New York City was inside of this eatery, and the place having a Brooklyn born and raised owner was like a dream come true for him. Chef Paul Gerard was born in South Brooklyn during rough times, and nothing was going to stop him from achieving his food dreams. Evaan’s documentary spot perfectly reflects Paul’s tough as nails attitude, showing the viewer how someone who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth can come up in one of the biggest cities in the world.
Visually, the aim was to have the film read like a post card of the East Village in Manhattan, and the areas Paul grew up in such as Union Square. Evaan shot this glitz free, using the beautiful ambient light of New York City to light his scenes. Even his decision to use only found light made for a truer portrait of Paul’s personality, where he does things his way, unapologetically.
Paul even has the grit of the city in how he makes his food, which you can see below in the video:
Along with television campaigns and documentary shorts, many artists on our roster have also directed music videos. One for example is Corey Nickols, who we spoke with last month about his incredibly unique GIFs.
Corey acquired the music video job a few years back through someone he knew at Emmy Magazine, one of his repeat editorial clients. A friend of this contact was close with an artist by the name of DEV, who is best known for her song Like A G6. DEV needed someone to direct a music video for her new song Kiss It, as well as come up with a general concept on a tight budget. Corey oversaw the entire shoot from location, to crew, to making sure everything was permitted and ran smoothly.
Corey finds going from photographer to director to be an interesting transition. The biggest thing with being a photographer is being hyper aware of the camera, making sure it is running this way or that way, but when directing it’s entirely hands off. And in a weird way, Corey believes directing to be a little easier than being a photographer, as there are less technicalities to worry about. All of your worries as a photographer such as making sure the light is flashing right, the exposure being correct, etc. is taken care of on a film set by your grip crew or camera operator.
Preproduction for the photoshoot was full of all the crazy tasks no photographer ever wants to deal with, and usually hires a producer to work on for them. He had to make sure he had all the right permits, and that the location was perfect but not going to gauge the budget, yet still give him what he wanted. And while permits and hiring teams for hair, make up, set design, and catering are all things one would usually deal with on a photoshoot, it is in the end more difficult to film in Los Angeles (where Corey is based) than to make photographs. Once you tell someone in Los Angeles you are looking to film something on location, they double the price. Corey says he could have the same amount of people on a photoshoot, but if it turns into a video shoot, it doubles the rate of everything. Dealing with a budget and working around it was difficult and tedious, especially in a city like Los Angeles that isn’t the most film friendly (quite ironically).
As far as his post production for the project went, it took awhile as well. He wanted to work hands on with the editor to make sure everything fell into place right. But for anyone that has ever edited video, they know it is like a beast. The final edit can make or break whatever the vision is, or what the message is that you are trying to convey. Trying to find the story within the story, Corey spent about two weeks editing the video.
Though the process of directing is more demanding than photography, Corey is open to directing more motion work. As a photographer, it is much more carefree, the set being much more laid-back than a film set, regardless of the fact that you’re more hands on when behind the camera. Setting up the initial shots for a film shoot takes a lot longer, and there are far more moving parts than on a still shoot set.
Corey finds directors who were originally photographers have much stronger visions to set up unique shots and angles. Being a photographer, your whole job is setting up the shot and making sure it looks good in the camera, which helps one transition into directing a lot easier. The craft one naturally comes up with is what will come out when directing. His entire job as a photographer is working to make something look aesthetically great, and there’s not doubt that skill translated effortlessly into his directing work.
See the music video for DEV below:
Another motion shooter on our roster is Rick Wenner, who creates a wide variety of video work, but this time more specifically we’re going to touch on yet another music video.
Earlier this year he released his first music video for a musician by the name of Fiona Silver, for her song Love Grenade. It was filmed at ART FACTORY in Paterson, New Jersey. It is a million square foot old silk factoriy, renovated into film and photo studios. Rick and his team spent a whole day back there in December of 2016 shooting the project on an 8K RED Camera, though Rick directed it and had a camera operator running the machine. Though he prefers not to edit video footage, Rick himself edited this project with his retoucher doing the final color grading. The final video is only 3 1/2 minutes, but it took an entire working day to capture the footage.
Rick chose the ART FACTORY as his location for a few different reasons. One specific space they have in their giant abandoned warehouse is room with beautiful textures and brick walls, sprawling old hardwood floors, and along one side old beat up windows. The location itself worked well as a visual contrast for the lyrics in her song Love Grenade. The song is about her opening her heart up to a new love interest in her life, but being still aware of being hurt in her past. Rick wanted to show the contrast between this beautiful young woman and the beat up old warehouse. The warehouse represents how she used to feel, while the scenes of her dancing in a stunning, flowing red dress shows the new her. The video transitions between scenes of her in this red dress, to her sitting in a stool in the warehouse, in jeans and a black leather jacket, playing her guitar. The scene is void of any other objects or people, isolating her in the middle of these wide, barren shots.
For the shots of Fiona in the red dress, Rick used all available light coming through the windows to capture it. Towards the end of the day, for the isolated and band ensemble shots, he used simple 2K Ari lights, with an 8 foot silk, and an Ari LED for backlighting the band footage. A fog machine was also used for the band shots, giving them a very atmospheric, gritty, yet simple feel.
Fiona was an extremely emotive subject, who was wonderful at showing how she was feeling and playing to the camera. Luckily for both her and Rick, they received great feedback on the video from all the press she received. Though she has come out with a few videos for other tracks on her album, Love Grenade was the one to get the most feedback.
Rick typically likes to do the same kind of style work for photographs as well, so that is how he was able to easily transition his still work into video work; keeping it simple & straight forward, but beautiful at the same time.
Check out the music video below: