Deutsch LA. Star Wars. Target.Â
Any one of these names would be an attractive project. Put them together, throw in a little Disney magic, a sprinkle of Lucas Films and Iâ€™m not sure the whole thing wasnâ€™t a dream.
I couldnâ€™t have been more excited to get the brief from Deutsch for a project to photograph the latest Star Wars toys for Target – toys which would be released for the upcoming holiday season. Â Wow. Amazing. Yes, yes, yes.
Throughout my career Iâ€™ve always been defined â€“ youâ€™re a reportage photographer, a corporate photographer, a dance photographer. Itâ€™s natural to try to fit people, and their work, into a neat little space. But I honestly feel that all of my work has been a continuation of itself regardless of genre. So though Iâ€™m not a â€œtoy photographer,â€ I was beyond excited to be considered for this project.
From the first call, it was clear that the agency saw past any proverbial boxes. They saw what Iâ€™ve just recently started to realize – that the movies and comics of my youth have been some of my greatest and most important influences in my life and my picture-making. These were key ingredients in who they were looking for â€” a photographer that loved cinema and also harbored an inner-nerd.
As timing would have it, I was on a Griswald-esque family vacation when this opportunity presented itself. While driving up, down and around the West Coast I pulled my two boys into the pre-production mix. Â “What are you seeing here,â€œ “what would you like to see happenâ€ – one of the first things out of their mouths was â€œDo we have to follow the rules?â€ and â€œIâ€™d like to see the hatch open and suck them out into space!â€ Kids. Funny and Iâ€™ll remember it forever. But, in truth their perspective also allowed me to start seeing things from a fresh point of view and channel the excitement of kids – the very kids who would take those toys and create their own rebel worlds.
The agency was just as excited as I was to envision the scenes that these toys would inhabit. I immediately imagined the toys as characters in a stop-motion film – pulling inspiration from the original King Kong, to Ray Harryhausen, to Jason and the Argonauts, to the genius of the recent film Anomalisa and the amazing stop-motion work from Laika. And they were totally on board with a cinematic approach, with everything captured in-camera.
Fast (and I mean fast) forward a few weeks and Iâ€™m in LA for a three day studio shoot. Â And while it always takes a village to pull something like this off, I am indebted to Deutsch for entrusting me to create these worlds, to the retouchers at Sugar Digital and to Amy Whitehouse, the producer that also led me to a kindred spirit set designer, Todd Davis, who was just as excited as I was to create these authentic small worlds. Wow. Deutsch LA. Target. Star Wars.