Case Study: Scott Markewitz PWR Bike: At-Edge Photography

“I look at every project from a branding perspective and really enjoy the creative process of working on a visual direction that aligns with the client’s brand messaging.  Since PWR Bike was a new brand with no existing content for reference, it opened up many possibilities for creative freedom, but also added the challenge of developing a compelling and relevant look from scratch that was on point for the brand.”

Case Study: Scott Markewitz

  • Scott Markewitz: Recognized as one of the most influential outdoor photographers in the industry. He has traveled the globe with an unfailing eye in search of action and outdoor adventure in some of the most dramatic locations on Earth.
  • Motto: “Smooth is fast” – It’s more productive to take the time you need to set up the shot and get it right the first time.
  • Client list: Adobe, HP, Tag Heuer, J Crew, Charles Schwab, Salomon, Mountain Hardwear, Red Bull, Thule, Oakley, Specialized, Descente, Giro and many others. Scott’s images have been featured on more than 400 US and International magazine covers.
  • Awards: World’s Greatest Adventure Photographers (Men’s Journal), Ski Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Skiers of All Time list, and Ski Utah’s Excellence in Journalism Award recipient. Additional awards from the APA, PDN, The International Pano Awards, and The Spider Awards.
  • Scott lives with his wife, Veronique, and their son, Julien, in Salt Lake City, Utah and Provence, France.
Photographer Scott Markewitz

Case Study Breakdown

Client :: PWR Bike

Creative :: Falcon Productions & CrankTank

Job Description :: Consult as the DP and stills photographer on a project to shoot a brand launch video and supporting content for for the January-launch of PWR Bike, a new electric bike brand.

The Project :: The team at CrankTank put together a brand book focused around 4 core ideas – inclusive, simple, powerful and fun.  Unlike many bike brands that focus on cycling enthusiasts, PWR was targeting a broader audience with their messaging, aimed at people from many walks of life who want a bike for anything from basic transportation to casual recreation to outdoor adventure.  To highlight this versatility, they created a style guide for the shoot based on 4 scenarios – ‘hunt/fish’, ‘beach’, ‘urban commuter’ and ‘family’

Behind the Scenes

Challenges ::

  • Our challenge was to merge all of these ideas and scenarios in one video with a cohesive look that would appeal to a broad range of users. To achieve this, we approached it like a car commercial with the bike as the hero, supported by upbeat lifestyle shots and product detail hits, all shot with smooth steady camera movements to maintain a good flow throughout the piece. Photos would be shot to match the video for a consistent look across all platforms.

Good location scouting is one of the keys to success on almost any shoot, and for this one it would be a challenge to find locations for each of these scenarios close to our home base in Park City. The mountains and rivers in Utah are ideal for hunting and fishing, but it’s far from the ocean and as a mountain resort town, urban backgrounds in Park City would be hard to find. We spent a solid day scouting and after 100+ miles driving around the area, we found some great spots for the hunting and fishing scenes, a couple of business areas that were more suburban than urban, but could pass for the commuter look, a nearby reservoir for the beach scenario and a nice local park for the family scene.

The first day was the ‘hunt/fish’ day. We met in the dark at the top of a mountain pass for a sunrise bow hunting scenario with a local hunting & fishing guide.  It was a beautiful morning as the sun rose over the mountains and we moved fast to get as many shots as possible while the sun was low in the sky.  We had created detailed shot lists for each scenario that emphasized the bike at the center with activities happening around it, but with the great light and beautiful location, it was easy to get sidetracked shooting too many beautiful action shots, and we had to keep reeling ourselves back in to refocus on the lifestyle and product details we needed to get. After a super productive morning we moved on to a nearby river for the fly fishing scenario.   It was a great day to start the shoot where everything lined up with great locations, good light and authentic talent, and we were all stoked for the rest of the shoot ahead.

Hunt/ Fish day

Day two was our ‘urban commuter’ and ‘family’ day. These were the most relevant categories for PWR and it was important to nail the shots. It was a bright and sunny morning when we met at a local office complex, but things quickly turned dark when one of the models called to say she had been in a car accident on the way to the shoot and couldn’t make it. Luckily she was OK, but we had no plan for a backup model, and couldn’t pull off the shoot with just one guy. After a quick scramble the other model found someone who was available, and with only a few selfies for reference we brought her in. Luckily she looked great and we had a successful morning working with the limited backgrounds and selective angles to capture a suburban vibe. They say that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, but sometimes you just need pure luck on your side. We finished the day with a young family at a local park with nice fall colors and warm afternoon light.

The third day was our ‘beach’ day. The focus for the day was to create a fun recreational vibe with stand up paddleboard and beach fishing activities at a popular local reservoir.. It was a sunny midweek day with no crowds, but after a long dry summer, the water level was extremely low so anything resembling a beach was far from the shoreline. To make it work we focused on keeping the models engaged and being selective with the lighting, setups and backgrounds to make the overall scene look appealing.

All “Behind the Scenes” shots courtesy of Scott Markewitz

Final Deliverables

Solutions ::

  • In many ways this was a straightforward shoot. What could be more simple than shooting healthy attractive people enjoying themselves on a bike? We didn’t have to scale mountains or go way off the beaten path to get the shots and the setups were pretty easy. But, every shoot has its challenges and this one shows the value of how a focused approach with a solid brand and visual direction, thorough location scouting, a well-organized plan, detailed shot lists, and sometimes a little luck, can lead to great results.

Photo & DP – Scott Markewitz

Video – Ross Downard

Agency – CrankTank Consulting

Creatives – Adrian Montgomery & Lars-Erik Johnson

Producer – Falcon Productions Dave Steiner