Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Everyone's Poop Stinks...

...even mine! I learnt a few different things in school; primary amongst them were:

1) How to tie a real bow tie - yep, I actually learnt this during a math lesson - the teacher brought in a whole bunch of bow ties and taught us how to tie them. You may be wondering how this could ever be useful - well...if you're a little tipsy at a black-tie event there's no better chat-up line than actually knowing how to tie up a bow tie.

2) The other lesson I learnt was that only your friends would tell you when you "stank"; your real friends, the useful ones. And this was a really useful life lesson.

I've long been told and believe very strongly that the best way to find success and to accomplish great things very quickly is to find mentors...ones that will tell you that your poop stinks AND how to freshen it up a little, or even make fresh, better poop, that isn't poop at all. This proved invaluable as I made the shift from architectural designer to photographer, a career move that has been unbelievably enriching and challenging.

In architecture the first mentors I found were those seasoned industry veterans who could tell me the pitfalls and the trampolines and most importantly how to think completely differently - learning how to think is very useful. As I moved into photography I found many mentors in the ranks of local and national photographers who were willing to give me incredible advice on how to look. Learning how to look is pretty much essential in this line of work. They also told me how the industry worked and taught me how even though I was a small part of the industry it was essential that I protect that industry and play a roll in improving it. So who are my latest mentors? Luckily my mentors now include the people that work with me at the studio. Last week I had a really challenging conversation with my studio manager, Kate, who's kinda awesome. We made an overview of all the work I've done and then chatted about the industry, clients and both the strengths and weaknesses of my work in it. It was one of those tricky conversations where it's really important to be objective and have an opinion and it was a lot of fun and really bloody productive. You will definitely be seeing the product of this conversation very soon.

So, I would definitely recommend finding yourself a mentor and making sure you keep them very handy as you make decisions and develop your portfolio, your business, your brand and you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cabin In The Woods...not that cabin.

We photograph a lot of very unique buildings - but this one was a little different; a stunning lakeside log cabin. We originally photographed the exterior for Ply Gem's marketing materials and had a really fun time - we were then approached by the contractor and a magazine to photograph the full interior and off we went again. This time we worked with the fabulous Glenda Bailey and the home owner on some beautiful styling and created some really lovely images - a huge thanks to the home owner (you know who you are!) for making all of this happen.

Ply Gem
Stylist - Glenda Bailey
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nutella = Yummy.

So we've been doing a lot of images in the studio with strobes, and so today we decided to play a little with our windows. You may not have had a chance to taste Nutella - it's one of those European things - but if you see it, buy it, spread it, eat it. It's yummy.

Food Stylist - Trina Kahl
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The importance of impartial input to your business.

We all know how it goes…you've created something. Whether it's an image, a piece of art, a campaign or even a recipe it's something you spent your time and energy creating. The creation of anything, whether creative or not is an emotional event. It's exciting, exhilarating and wonderful. You have experienced a range of emotions surrounding this amazing thing you've created. The downside is you've experienced this range of emotions and now you are emotionally connected to this creation. So when it comes time to decide how to edit it, share it, ditch it, promote it or sell it you can't separate yourself from the emotions you now feel for it. And the emotions aren't always good ones. Let's face it not all projects go as smoothly as you want them to. Some projects take more out of you than you anticipated. Some projects weren't as exciting as others.

Does that make the work any less impactful? Not to the end viewer, but sometimes you have trouble seeing past the emotion and experience of the creation to be impartial. It's these times when you need to engage and rely on the input of someone you trust to be impartial and help you select the best of your work to represent your talents and skills.

We trust our portfolio to the talents of Amanda Sosa Stone. She takes a years worth of images and culls them down to the few we need to showcase on our website and in our printed portfolio. She has the amazing knack of looking at an image for what it is, not how it was created, what the experience was like shooting it or GASP how much money we made or didn't make creating it. We benefit in more ways than we can count by having someone like Amanda as part of our team.

Check out her work on our latest website update.


Amanda Sosa Stone

Friday, May 18, 2012

Amazing School Architecture

A year or two ago I had the privilege of travelling to Hutchinson, KS to photograph the vocational school there for DLR Group - it was a lovely shoot and definitely one for the books. So last fall we got to go back to Hutchinson, visit the Cosmosphere and photograph some beautiful architecture - I love the tree-like trusses in the lobby.

DLR Group
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ohhhh..maha Office. Beauty in Design.

So DLR Group just got a beeeeeaaaaautiful new office space in Omaha, designed and owned by them. It's pretty darn gorgeous. Last fall, we made the trip up there, while the whole of I-29 was submerged, and got the chance to photograph it for posterity. The interiors and exteriors are lovely, but I have to admit the roof angle was my favorite - glad someone had a hold of the back of my pants!

DLR Group
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why should you come to Kansas City?

So the new VisitKC magazine is out for 2012. We are excited to be included representing the wonderful KC Chiefs - from our great shoot last year with Populous. Last year wasn't all I've come to expect from the Chiefs. But I'm quietly confident for this next one!

Burns & McDonnell
Turner Construction
Kansas City Chiefs

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Parade of Pups. We love them.

So Kate, our lovely studio manager, promised her husband, Shaun, some beautiful portraits of their puppies as a present - and then we got the chance to take them. So welcome to Hunter and Gracie, Hunter is the Hunter looking one, while Gracie is the soft, fluffy lab. Definitely a pair of lovely pups.

Assistant - Adam Caselman

Friday, May 4, 2012

When showing the portfolio!

The oddest things can happen - I'm always certain to meet incredible people and see some of the most beautiful, creative offices around the country. But without a doubt my favorite was this year when visiting Campbell Mithun. Yep, this is a photo of me in a soundbooth, doing a voiceover for the agencies entries into "The One" show. I have to admit that while my silly accent has proven very entertaining over the years I've spent in America, this was the first time I actually had someone choose to record it for posterity - thanks go to Kat Dalager for a very entertaining time.

Kat Dalager, Campbell Mithun

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Big Adventure

Finally home from a really fun job - definitely a huge dash around the Mid-West. AWG came to us with two aims - firstly to capture the last twelve months of construction and new design in their supermarkets for their annual report and secondly so they could enter a design competition in Progressive Grocer. The big part of the challenge was that from the phone call to the final delivery for their competition we had three weeks. Three weeks to drive over 2,000 miles and then fly to Odessa to get that one outlying store that needed a plane flight

A lot of the blog posts I read chat about the wonderful imagery, or the equipment, or the craft services - lunch, yum - but the big part of this shoot wasn't Adam and I running around in the field, working twelve hours a day, shooting, driving, retouching, repeat, but rather the front-end organization that enabled us to get out there and deliver the wonderful imagery, on-time and within budget.
Of course all that production is handled by Kate, our Studio Manager (also referred to as the Stupid Manager - she manages the stupid, i.e. me). One thing about Kate is that she is pretty wonderful; she works her arse off on the front end to ensure we all prepared when we go in the field, that our travel prep is all in place, the locations are all ready for us and job packet has all our info in it ready to go. This one was pretty insane, a different location almost every day, hundreds of miles apart and it was flawless, and quite often fun.

P.S. The Tampax shot was a special request from Kate - she wanted to see what we could do with it - she's very silly.

Associated Wholesale Grocers

Photographer - Adam Caselman

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Couldn't Be Prouder Of Our Architectural Photography

Ever since I started my journey into photography I've been an avid reader of PDN. For me it's the primary source of news and advice for almost all aspects of the commercial photography industry - ranging from advertising photography, to photojournalism, to fine art and wedding photography and pretty much every thing in between. It's read by a lot of photographers and a lot of art buyers. The magazine runs a few specialized competitions - chief amongst them the "Photo Annual", their annual photography competition. It's a pretty big deal, from what I know.

So we did the usual thing of entering a couple of pieces (I think we entered last year as well) and you know what's really weird and unexpected and quite wonderful? We actually won - we're amongst the winners! We're actually going to be published in PDN. That's right, the magazine I love is going to actually feature a photo of mine. Yep, it's in the June issue, out any day now (the on-line version is out and apparently it's page 77 if you want to take a look). And having had a brief look through the on-line work the other images are absolutely breathtaking; and it's an absolute honour (British spelling of course - we'll talk about aluminium next) to be amongst folk like that.

I'm kinda shocked, I have been for a couple of months since we heard. We've been holding off on chatting about it until we saw it on the on-line version. And we got an email the other day saying we can feature the fancy graphic below and I get to go to a party in Manhattan - the fancy one - to meet the other winners - this is kinda cool.

Needless to say I'm "chuffed to bits" and pretty humbled to get this sort of recognition. I know that Kansas City's had a lot of attention from PDN over the years - David Morris was featured for his really cool blackboard image this year. Austin Walsh had that wonderful Christmas video in there last year and, most ironically, The Wade Brothers are on the facing page to me this year - congrats lads. I'm sure they are others as well but this, for me, is pretty darn amazing!

So what did we win for? It was a really cool project that we worked on with Blacktop Creative and Ply Gem. We've done several projects for them over the years documenting their exterior home products. For this project they teamed with Extreme Home Makeover and donated all the exterior finish products for all seven of the homes they built in seven days for their Joplin Christmas Special. It was an incredible donation by them and a pretty emotional project to work on. The homes were incredibly unique and we were charged with capturing overalls and individual details of each home. Over the course of several days we worked on all the different aspects that Ply Gem had delivered. We had, honestly, some bloody awful weather. That meant we were on location for long periods, up well before the dawn, trying to get that perfect moment and we definitely found some gorgeous images of the homes. One angle we settled on immediately was a front elevation shot with a really dominent portion of sky in each image to make a set where the unique designs would hang together as a set. For this series we had a really short gap of good weather, and we literally ran down the street to get each image in as nearly identical lighting as we could get.

So here it is:

Thanks to everyone for all their hard work on the project - it was a really fun set to be on and the co-operation with the film crew was wonderful. The final result had some real meaning for a wonderful group of families.
Ply Gem
Blacktop Creative
Creative Director - Dave Swearingen
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the road...Again and Loving It!

So, I'm on the road a lot...a lot in my opinion, I know there's folk out there that travel more, but it feels like a lot! And I've grown to really enjoy it, luckily, last year we did about 30 out of town shoots, and ended up with a little over 100 days on the road and saw so many fabulous places and met some cool people. This set of shoots are part of AWG's annual report - capturing a whole series of retail interiors for them - it's a lot of early mornings, over a dozen locations, a thousand miles of travel and a lot of spinning of cans to make them look perfect. The results are great and we'll share a couple of the finals with you when we get to the end in another week.

But for now we've been set the challenge, by Kate, to capture a unique snapshot with a special product at each location - it's definitely made it interesting, hunting out the unusual products. Today we were in Bryant, AR at a Food Giant, and they are "The Meat People". And yes they are - here's a snapshot Adam caught of me slobbering over the 1 1/2" thick t-bone's and porterhouses that were bigger than my head.


Associated Wholesale Grocers
Photographer - Adam Caselman

Shatto means tasty.

I've been working for a few years with the wonderful people at Shatto and SHS and have loved seeing the packaging design/packaging advertising evolve in new and exciting ways. So, here's the latest products (which I think you can already find in your neighborhood grocery stores). A new ice cream flavor with new ice cream packaging and three new butter flavors with radically new packaging. This stuff not only looks great, but it tastes delicious!

Shatto Milk
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Art Director + Photographer = Something of Beauty

We were back in the studio and having some fun working on a concept shoot with Shaun Crockett, of AdFarm. It was a pretty cool shoot that we have been working on for a very long time. We actually pre-lit the scene in late December and only just had a chance to return to it and give the shoot the time it really deserved.

As you can see Baxter was in his usual spot - right behind the action and making sure we were safe. In the meantime we were working with some very tricky subjects - a very reflective stainless steel dish and some very shiny objects in them. It was great fun focusing some precise lighting and highlights to give us a beautiful final shot; which we'll be showing you very soon.

Art Director - Shaun Crockett
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Our print. Always cool.

Tearsheets are pretty darn fabulous and we had some odd ones last year - ranging from priests, to hangover cures, professional football (soccer for you American folk) and the architects and union workers who build the stadiums and even a clock maker who restores historic clocks - the really big ones. I love the variety of the projects we get to cover, and while I do have my favorites it's phenomenal fun to be working with so many wonderful subjects.

Room 39
Sporting KC
Architect Magazine
Historic Preservation Magazine
Columbia Magazine
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Here's the rub...Part 3

This was the last part of our recent mailer campaign and while the salmon shot is a really simple image, it's definitely one of my favorites. We tried a variety of different hanging techniques to support the salmon. We tried using the whole fish and variations on it, but ultimately we found Adam (my wonderful assistant) was a great prop to get over the scale of the fish and show off a fun way of supporting it. Trina did a fantastic job of peeling back the skin, one of the outtakes was so perfect where we trimmed the skin it just looked like we did it in post, so we finally worked with this solution, where we pinned the skin back and kept the rub strictly on the exposed portion of the fish.

Meanwhile we worked with Sarah to get the "Bake" image just right - here we tried a couple of different models and wound up finding the blonde skin and long hair of Haley Middleton was a perfect match.

Definitely a fun shoot, a wonderful mailer and thank you to everyone for all the kind comments we've received.

PS. The rub does NOT work as a sunscreen.

Food Stylist - Trina Kahl
Stylist - Sarah Thompson Lift
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Secret in Florida

Sometimes we do work that we can't talk about - this is one of them. It was a lot of fun and sunny and there were palm trees.

Burns and McDonnell
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why do I do it...

So I typically use the blog to show off the new images, so I wanted to try and post some stuff that's a little less shoot based and a little more me based. I occasionally get asked "how did I end up here", pretty much all the time - it's the accent I think - and while it generally relates to me being in America and talking in a strange way, I think it could equally relate to my photography. So yeah, how did I end up here. I started off in a very different direction; I was going to be an architect, like my father, and wound up doing an exchange program to the University of Kansas - there's a long story there - and then wound up designing retail interiors and exhibits all over the country - several long stories there. I loved it, it was a really cool job with some really exciting projects...and then I started photographing them.

That was that.

I just bought a camera from Best Buy, and twelve months later I was done, I chatted to some wonderful full-time professionals, who critiqued and advised and helped me adopt the best practices. I went to the library and read, I picked up the camera and practiced, I looked and looked, at my work and other people's work and then just walked out.

So why?

I love the camera, I love the physical nature of capturing that fragment of time, that moment, I love the technique, the multiplicity of options to solve almost any visual option. I love the incredible range of styles.

That's why I do it.

So I take a lot of photos, a lot of photos, and sometimes I get asked what my favorite image was. Last year I finally had time to go home at Christmas and see my family for the first time in four years...yep, it sounds soppy but my favorite image was this outtake that really took things full-circle for me. There are some images I want to frame, some I want to frame and have in the house, but I don't have many images that make me this happy.


Mum and Dad

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here's the rub....Part 2

Part two of our mailer campaign recently went out and again, thanks for the ongoing feedback. On this one we opted for a postcard mailer so we could show off the artwork a little larger. This time we opted to use the rub as a hair tonic with my good friend (and fellow photographer) Phil Peterson stepping in to model for us. Also, that's Kate's hands are doing the rubbing. On the food - Trina prepped a beautiful tied pork roast and this was one of those occasions where we got to eat the props - we finished shooting this one just before lunch and without any obscure adulteration to the food Trina finished it off and we just sat down to reflect on a great shoot. Thanks to Sarah Thompson Lift who styled the head rub shot and made sure Phil left with his eyesight in tact - safety first.

Part three is coming up next. I hope you are enjoying the images.

Food Stylist - Trina Kahl
Stylist - Sarah Thompson Lift
Assistant - Adam Caselman

Portfolio: Architecture & SpacesPortfolio: FoodPortfolio: PeoplePortfolio: ProductAbout Alistair TuttonContact InfoBlogStudio