Original Content

Markku Lahdesmaki Explores the Vivid History of Taxis in Mumbai & Havana

Markku Lahdesmaki has made it his life’s mission to create unique images that tell a thought-provoking story.  His love for photography started at the young age of 8 and over his many years of assignments from Finland to LA, he has consistently created vibrant and eccentric work for brands like Apple, Nike, Sony, Pioneer, Toyota, GE & more.

For his ongoing project, “Taxi Company,” Markku’s original vision was to bring the world of taxis to life. The project has since been transformed into a pictorial history lesson from the viewpoint of the cities’ taxi cabs & their drivers; first in Mumbai and then Havana. The final two-part series features 90+ images that showcase the eccentric and unique cars in the midst of the bustle, or the rare silence, of the two major cities.

We took a moment to talk with Markku about what inspired him to begin this project, and what he found during his journeys across Mumbai and Havana.

See more of Markku’s work through his AtEdge portfolio, his website, markkuphoto.com, or follow him on Instagram @markkulahdesmaki.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

What inspired you to begin this series?

My first Taxi project started a few years ago when I was on an assignment in India and I had a couple of days just to explore Mumbai, a city of about 98,000 taxis and 250,000 auto rickshaws. I found myself fascinated by the taxis and their drivers.

The little taxis (Fiat Padmini) caught my eye.  I ended up traveling the city’s endless roads hopping from one taxi to another and capturing the Padmini taxis and their drivers. I was shooting them against Mumbai’s landmarks, shady boulevards, and congested industrial area.  That way I was able to tell the real stories against the backdrop of the city.

After successfully completing the Mumbai Taxi series couple of years ago and receiving  recognition for the work from the Art Directors Club, International Color Awards/Masters Cup, Applied Arts/Canada, PDN Magazine & the Association of Photographers Awards, I began thinking about continuing to another city with an interesting landscape to document the taxis and their drivers.

It took a few years to figure out where to go next, but when Cuba started to open their borders, my creative partner and wife Anne insisted that we go there and capture the real, still unspoiled Havana before it moves to a new era. Cuba is visually unique with its rich textures, its interesting people and of course its uncommon fleet of taxis, which are mostly American cars from the 1950’s.  We knew that Cuba has been photographed a lot but not from this perspective. To concentrate only on taxis and the drivers was a nice, new challenge.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

Have you completed any projects like this before?

I am constantly working on personal projects. I was born in Finland and we usually go back there twice a year during Christmas and summertime and I have a few series based around there. I love to capture images of people and landscapes that are important in my personal history. One of the series I created in Finland titled, “Romantic Finland,” was shot in a little town called Eräjärvi, close to where we spend our summers.

The one thing all my personal projects have in common is that I try to share the human experience against the backdrop of unique locations.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

What, if any, special processes did you use to capture and produce these rich and remarkable images?

My wife and I would walk from early morning to late night, shooting around the city and looking for the situations & people that looked interesting or fun. After a day of shooting, we would go through the images in the hotel and check if there was anything else I needed. The next day, we’d go back out and shoot more elements for those images to make them complete. After walking for 5 days, we finally returned home and the images went into post-production.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

Did you notice any differences between the Mumbai taxi culture and the Havana taxi culture?

I didn’t really notice any real differences but I did notice a lot of similarities. In both cities, the taxi drivers and car owners are very proud of their profession and vehicles. And in both places, the taxis serve a high function in everyday life. Those cars are part of the city landscapes, symbols and they are a special part of the culture. For most locals, the taxi is a vessel to go from Point A to Point B, but unfortunately, the taxis and the history that they hold are disappearing in both cities. In Mumbai, the Fiat Padmini cars that I was so enamored by will soon disappear from the taxi scene. In Havana, the beautiful Chevys, Buicks, Fords and Plymouths will inevitably soon be replaced.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

Did working on this project help you discover some hidden parts of each city?

It always does. I found myself often thinking, how did I get here to this back yard, alleyway, back of the restaurant or any other place that normal tourist walks won’t take you to. I also met so many local people, who were very friendly to my wife and I and didn’t mind me taking pictures. Most of the time, the locals and I didn’t speak the same language but with a little patience and some creativity, we were able to communicate. Sometimes I even got invited to their homes or for a beer in the local bar!

©Markku Lahdesmaki

What outcome were you hoping for with this series?

I hope that people will enjoy the images, I hope they will find the humor and joy in them. My goal is always to create images that are positive. Hopefully, the images will help the future generations to have an idea how Havana or Mumbai was after the taxis and their histories are replaced.

©Markku Lahdesmaki

Will there be a part 3 of the series?

I would like to do a No. 3.  Maybe I will shoot some modern taxis in Europe or something else that has a new angle with taxis still as the main focus. Be on the lookout!

©Markku Lahdesmaki

Mac Is Back + Better Than Ever

Our annual large-format collection of the world’s best commercial photographers has now made its way into the hands of creatives and art producers.

Macroview 17 features a hauntingly beautiful cover image by Montreal-based Damian Siqueiros, plus 155 more hand-picked photographers who are among the most talented advertising and editorial image makers.

Haven’t received your copy yet? Select creatives can request a complimentary copy of our publications.

You can also Browse the Book and view full portfolios from all the photographers on www.at-edge.com. 

Be sure to reference AtEdge in print and online when considering talent for your next assignment.

Here are some sample pages from this Macroview 17:

 

 

Recap: AtEdge Face-to-Face Minneapolis 2016

The last Face-to-Face event of 2016 recently took place two months ago at The Marquette Hotel’s Windows at Minnesota, the newly renovated banquet space on top of the tallest skyscraper in Minnesota. AtEdge photographers used this occasion to present their portfolios to a group of 20 hand-picked creatives, art directors, and producers from all the top Minneapolis ad agencies.

Face-to-Face events are held twice a year— each spring in New York, and in alternate cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco & London in the fall. The events provide an opportunity for busy creatives to link up with groundbreaking photographers in a tranquil and casual environment, complete with sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

Making new connections and revitalizing old relationships is what Face-to-Face is all about. Please contact Elizabeth Owen, President of AtEdge, if you are interested in attending a future Face-to-Face.

We’re so grateful to all the following industry creatives that brought the renowned Midwest charm to our event:

Jenny Barnes | Content Producer | Carmichael Lynch
Amie Butler | Creative Producer | JT Mega
Lisa Crawford | Creative Producer | KNOCK
Eric Husband | Creative Director | Solve
Katie Husband | Senior Producer | Periscope
Kevin Johnston | Director of Digital Production | Fallon
Chris Lange | Founder/Managing Creative Director | Mono
Heather McQueen | Senior Producer | Martin Williams
Natasha Nikolai | Senior Integrated Media Producer | Target
Kym Ohna | Creative Director | Periscope
Jake Pasterski | Design Director | Target
Chris Peters | Senior Art Producer | Colle+McVoy
Matt Pruett | Group Creative Director | Olson
Pamala Saturn | Art Production Manager | BBDO
Erika Schumacher | Art Production Director | Mono
Puja Shah | Associate Creative Director | Carmichael Lynch
MK Smith | Integrated Producer | Olson
Adam St. John | Associate Creative Director | Colle+McVoy
Anne Taylor | ACD, Art Director | Preston Kelly
Jeff Tresidder | VP/Group Creative Director | Martin Williams

This accomplished group of creatives works with leading brands like Walmart, US Bank, Target, Talenti Gelato, General Mills, Walgreen’s, Subaru, Invisalign, 3M, Hormel, LensCrafters and much more.

“Creatives & buyers get so bombarded by emails, etc., so having an in-person event that goes beyond the usual ‘Check out our latest work…’ really helps us appreciate both the photography and the person behind it.”

Eric Husband, Creative Director, Solve

L to R: Photographers (Dana Hursey in the background) Paul Elledge, Matt Sartain & Brooke Embry with Puja Shah of Carmicheal Lynch

L to R: Photographers (Dana Hursey in the background) Paul Elledge, Matt Sartain & Brooke Embry of Embry Rucker with Puja Shah of Carmicheal Lynch

Jason Mitchell, photographer

Photographer Jason Mitchell of Ransom & Mitchell making connections

“I always find the Face to Face events to be one of my more important marketing tools. They get me in front of creatives that I might not have otherwise connected with otherwise. The quality of the events are always top-notch and I know I’ll only be meeting with the highest caliber art buyers/creative directors.”

Dana Hursey, Photographer

Puja Shah (left) with Andrea Donadio/RAD Represents (photographer Lisa Predko shown from the back)

L to R: Puja Shah of Carmichael Lynch meets with Andrea Donadio/RAD Represents and photographer Lisa Predko

“Loved the range and talent that came through. It was wonderful meeting the person behind the photographs. Learning about the process and the back story really helps you remember and appreciate it more.”

Puja Shah, Associate Creative Director, Carmichael Lynch

MK Smith with David Matheson

David Matheson shows MK Smith of Olson some of his recent work

Candace Gelman (agent)

Candace Gelman (agent)

“AtEdge creates the perfect environment for meeting creatives. It is always a thrilling and exciting night and extremely rewarding to watch creatives go nuts over your work.”

Bonnie Holland, Photographer

Photographer Damian Siqueiros meeting with Kym Ohna

Photographer Damian Siqueiros presents his work to Kym Ohna of Periscope

“I loved how well orchestrated the evening was. The break in the middle came at the right time and gave everyone an opportunity to engage in conversation with attendees they were not paired with. I have a much greater appreciation for the work when I understand the photographer’s background and personality.”

Natasha Nikolia, Senior Integrated Media Producer, Target

Carlos Rios, photographer

Carlos Rios, photographer

Photographer Lucian McAfee meeting with Chris Lange

L to R: Photographer Lucian McAfee in deep conversation with Chris Lange of Mono

“I loved that the photographers I met with had work that was relevant to the clients I work with.”

Lisa Crawford, Creative Producer, KNOCK

Engagement Insights: Saddington Baynes Defines Image Aesthetics With Neuroscience

Why wait for a campaign to go live before you measure its success? With Engagement Insights, a new approach to creative image production underpinned by the latest in neuroscience, Saddington Baynes can help optimize a campaign in line with consumer emotion before it even goes live.

It’s long been established that ad campaigns with an emotional hook outperform those underpinned by logical thinking – sometimes two-to-one.

The reason why is simple: we’re emotional beings. Advertising that systematically seeks out to rationalize value doesn’t strike that deeper emotional chord, and as such, is often ignored. Advertising that digs a little deeper into the group psyche, playing on our desires before we’re even conscious we have them, is what results in the greater success.

That deeper, implicit strand of emotional thinking can be very difficult to reach – unless you have a thorough understanding of neuroscience.

Engagement Insights

With Engagement Insights, the new initiative from production studio Saddington Baynes and globally renowned neuromarketing consultancy NeuroStrata, there is now a way to tap into those attributes that impulsively sell an image to a viewer, and with it, a level of campaign perception unprecedented in the image production field.

According to Saddington Baynes CEO Chris Christodoulou, “This isn’t about eye tracking, facial recognition, or focus groups – where the rational brain is engaged in responding to direct questions – so answers are unavoidably distorted by outside influences. Engagement Insights is about implicit, non-conscious insight – getting the answers people don’t even know they’re giving. The pure data.”

Creatively, Engagement Insights offers a holistic overview of the emotional aesthetics preferred by large groups of people; practically, it gives brands a way to measure the emotional impact and potential success of a multi-million dollar campaign during production – and before it’s launched.

Augmented intuition

Engagement Insights provides brands with what NeuroStrata consultant Thom Noble terms “augmented intuition” – essentially, statistics that reinforce a gut feeling as to why a certain image might outperform another once it has launched.

“At its foundation, Engagement Insights comprises a versatile test based on two psychological principles,” explains Noble. “There’s the notion of priming; that when we are exposed to something – like an image – the things we associate with it come to the front of our minds.

Secondly, there is the interference effect in reaction times: if you’re shown two things that are different, your reaction times on a task can be briefly slowed down compared to if you’re shown two things that are similar. These two effects are systematically used in our testing to measure the emotions, feelings, and concepts that people are automatically associating with an image.”

The test’s speed, rhythmic nature, and apparent contradiction in terminology and imagery produce an implicit response from the user, measuring automatic connections between image and emotional response in an essentially non-cheatable manner – users cannot consciously prepare for their answer.

The results are passed on to the neuromarketing team, where statistical analysis is performed. “We use the aggregated results to show the different degrees of emotional response to an image,” says Noble. “That allows us to build a vocabulary for a brand, determining what works and what doesn’t before full production has concluded.”

Stories within statistics

“Using Engagement Insights gets you thinking about design on a completely different level,” says James Digby-Jones, executive creative director at Saddington Baynes. “It might mean finding that your gut is backed up by the science, or the opposite: discovering that traditional assumptions are actually false.”

For instance, Saddington Baynes found interesting results regarding the direction in which a vehicle was facing: “In automotive imagery, the typical assumption is that giving the front three-quarters of a car prominence means an image tends to perform better,” continues Digby-Jones. “However, it’s likely that we’ve come to assume that’s the best angle as we see it all the time in marketing imagery: we’re primed to react to it in a certain way. With implicit testing, the results demonstrated that, for some models tested, it was actually the rear three-quarters of a car that incited a more positive reaction.

Engendering confidence

Using its database of continually growing, evolving data, Saddington Baynes is now able to provide a level of authority that can steer a campaign from the offset. “In an industry where many of the money decisions are made by left-brained people, Engagement Insights is invaluable,” says Christodoulou. “We can go to marketing teams and say, ‘You may want to rethink your flagship’s launch color because the science says it’s not the best choice’. It’s a way of giving that deeper insight into what they’re sending out into the world before they send it.”

The next step

Engagement Insights is now a two-year-old project, and the logistics are nailed. Via a robust setup and approach, Saddington Baynes can swiftly implement Engagement Insights during any stage in a project’s lifecycle, offering the client insight through quick, exploratory testing.

“And it’s not just going by the gut anymore,” Christodoulou concludes. “We’re not just creating beautiful imagery; we’re creating it in a way that we know works, and we know why it works. It’s the cross-section of art and science, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.”

Saddington Baynes invites you to find out about Engagement Insights.

AtEdge Director of Photography, Susan Baraz, Curates Photo Exhibition for Mayors Summit C40 on Climate Change in Mexico City

Work from several AtEdge photographers, including Matthew TurleyAndy Anderson & Simon Harsent, will be featured in the Addressing Climate Change exhibition which opens today at the sixth biennial C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City. The Mayors Summit will serve as a forum to highlight how cities across the globe are continuing to take local action to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

This exhibition was curated by our very own Susan Baraz (AtEdge Director of Photography & Co-Chair of the Lucie Awards), along with Lucie Chair Hossein Farmani.

The striking images of our planet in crisis are crucial to promoting awareness of a disaster that affects us all. Originally created for the historic COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, the exhibition proves that photography in the hands of great artists can transmit a visual message that can make an impact like no other medium. It was so well received in Paris that it was brought to Mexico City to be on display through January 11, 2017. Hundreds  of mayors, plus leading urban and sustainability experts from around the world, will view the exhibit during the three-day Mayors Summit (November 30 – December 2) as well as thousands of Mexico City dwellers and tourists alike. These photographs are on large billboards stretching the entire length of the walking path at the entrance of the park. It has already imparted it’s powerful, undeniable message as a call to action.

We applaud the wonderful photographers dedicated to this cause, as well as Susan and Hossein for putting it all together.

Please visit the Lucie Foundation’s website to view a gallery of the works on display.

Find out more information about the C40 Mayors Summit here.

©Matthew Turley

©Matthew Turley
Kolmanskop was a bustling diamond-mining town in the early 20th century until it was abandoned after WWI.

©Simon Harsent

©Simon Harsent, Melt 
This project begins with images of the massive icebergs as they enter Greenland’s Disco Bay from the Ilulissat Icefjord; it ends with the icebergs off the East Coast of Newfoundland, by which time they have travelled hundreds of miles, and have been so battered and broken down that they are little more than ghosts of what they once were.

©Andy Anderson

©Andy AndersonThe Kern County Oil Fields outside Bakersfield, CA
The most prolific oil producing fields in the United States, having been in continuous use since the discovery of oil there in the late nineteenth century. They produce a majority of the oil in California and 10% of the overall United States oil supply. Steam cogeneration from the oil fields also produces much of the electricity for both the Bakersfield and Los Angeles areas.

Exhibit on display in Chapultepec Park

Exhibit on display in Chapultepec Park

Andy Anderson

Andy Anderson

Matthew Turley

Matthew Turley

Simon Harsent

Simon Harsent

Braden Summers’ Personal Project Aims to Show Equality in Love

Braden Summers has been working on an on-going personal project titled “All Love is Equal” that aims to alter or change public perceptions of LGBTQ relationships.

Braden takes a “fairy tale” approach in his images that are predominate in heteronormative images. His goal in doing so is to show the world that the happily ever after dialogue can also exist in LGBTQ relationships.

In an article on Design Indaba, Braden explains his motives:

“By excluding these types of images of beauty for the LGBTQ community we are being told that we are not as beautiful, our romance doesn’t deserve this type of iconic treatment in the media and I thought that it was time for that to change.”

Check back here for more images in the series.

About Braden

Braden is a photographer, whose work alerts the viewer to the beauty in people & their environment. The undertones of his work are appreciative of diversity and acceptance, & ideas that are fundamentally supportive of a more positive lifestyle. His work has been featured in Marie Claire UK and on sites such as French Elle, French Glamour & The Huffington Post.

Braden is represented by Ramona Reps. To see more of his work, visit his AtEdge portfolio & his website, bradensummers.com.

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©Braden Summers

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©Braden Summers

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©Braden Summers

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©Braden Summers

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©Braden Summers

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©Braden Summers

Brian Kuhlmann’s Annual Electra Bike Co. Campaign

Each year Brian Kuhlmann teams up with Electra Bicycle Company to create a series of images for their annual campaign.

For this year’s campaign, Brian & his team aimed to capture images that elevated the human spirit and they were able to accomplish this goal against the backdrop of the beautiful Los Angeles cityscape and the neutral, rural beauty of Joshua Tree & Rimrock Ranch.

The resulting images highlight the attractiveness of the Electra Bikes while showcasing the beautiful personalities of those who ride it.

Brian’s images continue to contain a perfect mix of passion, originality & energy. To see more of his unique work, take a look at his AtEdge portfolio and his site: briankuhlmann.com.

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

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©Brian Kuhlmann

Candy Kennedy’s Recent WIP Project: The Home Space

Candy Kennedy traveled to Paris last month to add more images to her work-in-progress personal project, “The Home Space”.

Candy states:

“I find it the most interesting experience going into someones home and seeing how people live, how the family reacts to me being there & etc.  I wanted to catch real life moments with the kids as well, and the best place to do this is in their own home. I worked with a total of 5 families scattered around Paris and was able to spend 1-2 hours with each. I shot purely with available light for this project as I wanted to work with the ambient light setting and have more freedom to move around and capture spontaneous moments instead of setting something up and having moments feel more staged.”

Click here to view more images from the project and be sure to check back for new images from The Home Space project.

Candy is represented by JK&. See more of her work through her AtEdge portfolio and at candykennedy.com.

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

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©Candy Kennedy

Roberto Chamorro’s Recent Project Explores a World Without Art Education

Originally from Spain and raised in Miami Florida, Roberto Chamorro moved to New York City in 2001 where he began working as an assistant to Annie Leibowitz. After a short period of time, he launched his own career as a commercial photographer and has since traveled all over the world shooting campaigns for clients like Mercedes-Benz, Warner Bros Records, Univision, and LG.

Roberto’s most recent personal project, “Without Art Education,” draws from his positive experiences working in the art world and aims to bring attention to the importance of art education in the development of school-aged children.

We sat down with him to chat about the execution of the project and where he hopes to take it in the future.

To view more of Roberto’s work, visit his AtEdge portfolio and his website, robertochamorro.com

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©Roberto Chamorro

What personally motivated you to begin this project? Have you ever done anything like this before?

It began at a dinner party with a few friends. We started discussing the ongoing issue of public schools cutting art and music education due to lack of funding. Sadly, those programs are usually the first to go. We were all creative people with young kids in the school system, so it struck a nerve with us.  Just the thought of kids being denied the opportunity to be introduced and educated in the arts had me fuming. Creativity is something I’ve spent my whole life pursuing.  I have always felt lucky to have been exposed to the arts at an early stage in my life.  After that party, I spent the next few days trying to figure out how to shine a light on this topic.

Being a photographer who specializes in advertising, and with a subspecialty in shooting kids, it seemed natural to do something campaign driven. It was just a matter of hashing out a concept.

I started thinking about how different I would be if I had gone to a school that cut these programs.

This thought eventually sparked the concept of imagining who else would be different today if they had never been introduced to art and music. To be relevant and to engage with a bigger audience, I decided to portray current, well-known artists as school children. The idea being that without an early introduction to the arts, these well-known artists might not be the creative and accomplished individuals they are today. They might not have ever given the world the beautiful gifts they have bestowed upon us already. If Pharrell for example, did not follow the path he did in music, then the world might be a little less HAPPY.

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©Roberto Chamorro

What outcome are you hoping for with this campaign?

I hope that people will see this and realize how important it is to teach our young minds about art and music. How introducing them to it at an early stage is a huge factor in a child’s development. I won’t bore you with numbers, stats, and figures, but there is a ton of data on the benefits this type of education has to our kids growing up.

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©Roberto Chamorro

Tell us about your process while working on this project. Was it produced in-house? What challenges did you face?

Being a passion project that was self-funded, I had to produce this in-house and pull a few favors along the way. The location was tricky. I wanted a school that had character and resembled the elementary schools of my generation. Most schools these days look a bit sterile and too modern with their digital dry erase boards and technology-driven classrooms. Finally, I found the perfect school and after a few negotiations was able to secure it for our production. When it was time to cast the models, I knew that not only would they be styled in the same way as our artists’ iconic looks, but I needed them to have similar features and physically resemble the celebrities I was portraying. This was especially important for our Pharrell character, who was to be our featured hero of the shoot. After location and casting, everything else fell into place. I had an amazing team helping me every step of the way. From my usual rock star assistants and studio manager to my good friend and prop stylist Rachel Barker, who came on board to help source and custom build some of our props.

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©Roberto Chamorro

Will there be a “phase 2” for this project (i.e. plans to expand it beyond these still images)?

While the primary focus was on still photography, I wanted to take advantage of the production and also capture motion. I recruited another friend of mine, Davy Gomez and his team to come on board as my DP. We storyboarded and planned out the motion shots in pre-production so that we could capture video in between the still shots. The concept footage will be used as an intro to a longer, documentary-style film that is currently in pre-production. The doc film will focus on interviews that feature students and teachers who have faced these tough budget cuts and the elimination of creative programs. In stark contrast, we will also see the point of view from the other side, the ones that did have the education in place and the benefits they feel they have received from art and music being in their curriculum.

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©Roberto Chamorro

Where do you think you would be today if you had not been exposed to art and music programs in your youth?

Who knows what my career would be today if I had never been introduced to the arts?  Maybe I would have pursued business or finance as many of my childhood friends had.  Today, I can only assume that I probably would not be as happy doing that. I truly love what I do every day. Being a photographer is my dream job and I sincerely feel lucky to have a career that I very much enjoy. I honestly believe that my early exposure to art and music programs helped plant seeds that led to my creative path.

 

Jim Golden: Harper’s Bazaar Brazil

New work from Jim Golden of an interpretation of the voluptuous landscape of Rio de Janeiro via the female form.

Jim adds:

“This was one of the most challenging and inspiring assignments as of late for me and my team.”

Jim is represented by Deborah Ayerst. To see more of Jim’s work, visit his AtEdge portfolio and his website: jimgoldenstudio.com.