Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

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In Case You Missed It: Apple’s 30th Anniversary Ad Shot on iPhone Proves Almost Any Camera Can Look Great

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

There was a lot going on last night between the Super Bowl and all of the ads broadcast during it (I am not a fan of Budweiser’s beer, but they sure do make adorable TV ads… I mean really, who can resist puppies and horses?), so it was easy to miss the Apple ad.

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh computer and with it Apple’s now-legendary “1984″ Super Bowl ad (if you haven’t seen the ad, do yourself a favor and spend 60 seconds watching it), and many people were hoping Apple would mark the occasion by making another ad of similar caliber. Those people were disappointed when the game ended without anything from Apple, but it turns out that Apple did make a 30th anniversary ad; instead of paying millions of dollars to broadcast it during the game though, Apple chose to distribute the ad online on YouTube and it’s own website.

The footage is stunningly beautiful, and as is revealed at the end, it was all shot on iPhones.

YouTube Preview Image

Apple’s message here is obvious: the iPhone shoots amazing, beautiful video (and therefore you should buy one because then you too could create beautiful videos). While the iPhone’s camera IS actually pretty good (and for a smartphone it’s incredibly good), in my opinion the best takeaway from this ad is very different: with good lighting, composition, execution and editing, almost ANY camera can create great images. One of my favorite testaments to this truth is a 20″ x 24″ photo print I have on the wall in my office: I shot that photo using a $3.99 disposable film camera from CVS.

Camera makers like to make us think that if we just buy the right camera, we’ll be able to make beautiful images… and believing that fiction is a trap that even professionals fall into. Too often even professionals think “Oh, if I only had this camera or that camera my images would be so much better!” But most of the people reading this probably have shot videos on an iPhone that didn’t come out anywhere nearly as beautiful as the shots in Apple’s video above. The truth is that it is the talent, skill and experience of the operator (or in the case of high-quality productions like Apple’s ad above, the team) that matters. Just like buying the same golf clubs Tiger Woods uses won’t make you as good a golfer as Tiger Woods, buying this camera or that camera won’t make your images as beautiful as those made by a professional; only time, effort and experience can do that.

The flip side of that coin though is you don’t need fancy, expensive cameras to make gorgeous images; with practice and experience, you can make beautiful, beautiful images even with something as cheap as an iPhone, or a $3.99 disposable camera from CVS. So go out and shoot!

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Posted in Equipment, Gear | No Comments »

The Aerie “Real” No-Photoshop Campaign

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Aerie, a brand of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company targeted at the 15-21 year old female demographic and selling primarily bras and underwear, announced an advertising campaign on Friday in which it is promising to use photographs featuring women without any digital alteration or retouching.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

As a commercial advertising photographer the issue of drastic, severe photo manipulation in advertising and media is one that is of great interest to me (I refer to this manipulation, usually of women and usually to make them appear skinnier and with fewer skin imperfections than in reality [for example, all these], as “photochopping”… as distinguished from the more minor, lightweight “photoshopping” that I do on my images on a regular basis to do things like remove stray hairs, etc.).

There is no question that the imagery we see around us every day affects our perception of reality and our expectations; it is just another example of the old truism that if you tell someone something enough times, eventually they’ll start to believe it. Sadly it appears very clear that when women (especially young women and girls) are constantly shown fictionalized, impossibly-idealized versions of women’s bodies, their expectations of themselves and their own bodies change, even if they are consciously aware that the images are fictionalized. The resulting psychological damage that comes from being unable to attain the bodies women and girls think they should have seems almost inevitable.

That’s why I am so glad when companies pledge to use unmanipulated imagery in their advertising (happily, these campaigns seem to be gaining steam in the U.S., with the most well-known previous example probably being the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign). It’s great to see aerie in particular take the no-fakery pledge because the demographic that brand serves is probably the single most impressionable and susceptible to poor body image and self esteem issues as a result of manipulated advertising.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Looking at the images from the campaign above and below, there are several obvious (to people who do advertising photography for a living, anyway) examples in each image of things that fashion photo editors typically would have altered: a stretch mark here, an uneven skin tone there, a slight skin bulge or crease, etc. But all of these “issues” are very minor. All of the models aerie has featured in these images are beautiful women (who, it bears mentioning, while not digitally manipulated after the photoshoots, were professionally made-up by makeup artists before the shoots and photographed by a talented professional photographer who knows how to make people look good). The women featured in these images, to one degree or another, generally fit into our cultural standard of what would be considered attractive people.

Nevertheless, American Eagle is commendable (and smart) for making this campaign. Each campaign like this helps to both raise awareness that images in the media are often faked and also helps to give women and girls the confidence and self esteem to love their bodies the way they are (the campaign will also earn the brand a fair amount of social responsibility goodwill… so in addition to being a good deed, it is also good business).

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Ultimately though, in my mind, the choice to forego unrealistic (and unhealthy) digital fakery in advertising imagery would ideally not be limited to a single ad campaign, but would be a permanent, industry-wide change. American Eagle has taken the first step in that direction with the #AerieReal campaign; will they lead by example and stand for womens’ and girls’ body image and self esteem and make the change permanent? Or when the media and blogosphere spotlight on the campaign has passed, will American Eagle revert back to using manipulated images? I posed this question to the company’s representatives when they provided me the images above; as of the time this post was published they haven’t responded.

I’ll update this post if they do. Until then, this campaign is at least a good first step in the right direction.

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Posted in News | 1 Comment »

First Look – Kayak & Canoe Photo Shoot

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

A month or two ago I started working to set up a photo shoot focusing on recreational water sports like kayaking and canoeing. Anyone who knows me knows that there are very few recreational sports I don’t enjoy, and these types of outdoor activities are important parts of state & local tourism marketing and advertising campaigns in the Northeast, not to mention the advertising needs of outdoor equipment retailers like Eastern Mountain Sports, L.L. Bean and REI.

Anyone who has set up a shoot of this sort knows that between finding and booking models, scouting appropriate locations, nailing down assistants and negotiating contracts & coordinating schedules with all of the parties, setting up this kind of shoot is a fair amount of work. But good things don’t come easy, and all of the work was worth it. Last Sunday the crew and talent assembled at the chosen location on a river just outside of Boston and had a great day of shooting.

A full collection of images from the day will be posted here tomorrow, but here is one sneak peek.

Check back tomorrow for the full collection of images and the story behind the shoot.

Kayak & Canoe First Look - ©Chris Conti Photography

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Posted in Field Notes, Projects | No Comments »

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