Nearly 4 years have passed since my previous mailer. And let me tell you, a LOT has happened since then. My photography has matured, received more work, and made connections with bigger clients such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Pepsi, KFC, Porsche, STA-BIL, Harley-Davidson, etc. And now, I felt the time has come to accumulate my latest work and show it off… but if you know me, I don’t do simple.
Five years ago I had a desk job as an Art Director for multiple national magazines, which fortunately gave me a front row seat to photographers and illustrators sending me promotional mailers. Most were useless non-personal postcards or emails, but every now and then I got something that forced me to stop and look. As with anything when trying to find new business, you must be in the mindset that the people you want to contact, have no idea who you are. And that’s OK. But don’t make the mistake of only letting your work naturally fall in front of the right eyes, instead give it a push. I see it as my job to advertise myself. Considering the size of the agencies I’m sending these to, and the vast ocean of talented photographers available in the world, I had better make my first impression a good one.
The idea started out as expanding on my previous “GIVE ME A SHOT” mailer, but in a much more polished and mature way. I eventually thought of having bullet holes going through multiple prints at the same location, so when they’re stacked together it would make a noticeable concise hole. To take the idea even further, I thought it would be cool to include a bullet shell within the mailer to solidify the idea that each print has been “shot”. Get it?… OK don’t let me lose you… Actually, instead of creating a wall of words and going through my thought process, watch this video and read the captions below on how these 50 mailers were pieced together:
This is it! After a year of casually brainstorming, and sourcing the elements together, this is the fruits of my labor. Certainly longer than I had anticipated, but as a perfectionist I didn’t want to make any sacrifices when conveying my work to the top agencies in the country.
The guts of the mailer:
-Pelican case with my logo painted on the back (rubber feet included)
-20 5×7″ drilled lustre prints with 1 print detailing my contact info
-Hand painted bullet shell by my friend and local artist Christina Ramsey
-Custom foam cutout velcro’d in to precisely hold the prints, and hand painted shell
-Hand scored paper wrap with signed personalized note to recipient
-Snazzy business card
Trivial decisions like how to package and label the mailer were important, because after all, this is the first thing they will see. I went with a Caremail package because it’s rugged, yet environmentally safer than bubble wrap. I wanted the convenience of printing addresses at my office, so I rigged a way to seamlessly print Avery labels to the edge.
Why a Pelican case? If you’re a photographer, or remotely close to the creative world, you already know the answer. Nearly all production gear is transported within this iconic brand. A few were painted cyan and white in the beginning. They looked great, but I didn’t I didn’t want to obnoxiously SCREAM my name on the case since they would (hopefully) be keeping the functional iPad/tablet case. So I opted to paint the logo black on the back. Seems fairly simple, but look closely and you will see brush strokes. It compliments the hand painted bullet shells inside. Yes, I’m a bit insane.
This angle shows how snug the custom cut foam fits the 21 prints, along with a convenient notch on the side for easy removal. Notice how the drilled holes in the prints aren’t laser-cut precise? That is on purpose, I wanted the prints to have a jagged look as if shot by a bullet.
And this is the perceived culprit of the jagged holes in the prints. I don’t use the Canon 70-200 2.8L lens a lot personally, but I realize it’s one of the most iconic lenses ever made, and would easily be the most recognizable. The hand painted .50 caliber shell is also snugly put on display below a personally written note to each recipient. What’s the monster at the end??? I admit it’s a shameful attempt to have the reader go through all the prints to see…
…an info print about me. It’s something to express my personality, explain where I live, my clients, fun facts, and a few pics of my adventures. Oh yea, and a little terrifying Loch Ness monster I drew with the Wacom.
Drilling was a 2-step process. Jonathan had to use a small drill-bit, then the larger one for the final diameter, sharpening the bit every few hundred prints. Using just the final drill-bit was too much stress on the machine.
Break out the paint. Each Pelican case was stenciled with my logo on the back. I thought about just using a vinyl sticker, but paint shows a more personal permanent touch, whereas stickers are easily removed.
Slather on the paint, the more texture the better! Even from a few feet away, you can see the brush strokes in each letter. I let the paint dry for a good 15min before it got too hard for peeling off the vinyl stencil.
After carefully peeling off the vinyl and meticulously plucking out each “O”, “A”, “D” negative spaces with an X-ACTO knife, they were left to dry. The first few cases were painted with cyan and white. However, I thought if I wanted the recipient to potentially keep the Pelican case, then it should be more subtle.
You thought painting logos on each case took a long time? You haven’t seen anything yet! The main supporting element of the “GIVE ME A SHOT” campaign are the bullet shells painted like the iconic Canon 70-200 2.8L lens. I wanted the shells to look like the lens, but not to look too perfect as to show that each one is hand painted. Christina did an impeccable job of giving each shell enough detail to be easily recognizable, yet retain the texture that painting yields.
To make sure each shell was painted nearly the same, Christina drew a handy template. The attention to detail is maddening. Everything from the base off-white color of the lens, the silver/red line, to the red dot… I was breathless when she showed me the final results.
The Printshop was kind enough to lend me their HUGE space in Greenville, SC for 2 days to piece together every mailer…
…And lots of space is what I needed! Each recipient receives 20 prints, but each mailer is not the same. For instance, if I’m sending a mailer off to an agency that represents Cannondale bicycles, then most of the prints will be aimed at cycling and sports. If another one is aimed at an agency that works with a truck brand, then most of the prints will be the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter campaign.
And that’s it. Each mailer is personalized to each recipient. What is your reaction when you receive a letter in the mail that is addressed to “Or Current Resident”?… Exactly, most of the time it goes straight to the trash. If I’m going to make a first impression, I want it to be personal, impressive, and above all, memorable.
Many thanks goes out to my patient, and overly helpful wife Sarah (and our friend Leize). My friend Jonathan did an outstanding job drilling a precise hole in 2,000+ prints. Christina Ramsey blew me away with her attention to detail on the painted shells. And The Printshop for their huge workspace to organize all the pieces. Riker, the dog, however didn’t help much at all. He just sniffed everything. Thanks for nothing, Riker.
I love shooting cars, and I LOVE shooting people… So combine the 2 with a 900hp racecar and a *slightly* well-known multi-championship NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, and you have a very happy Clint. Pepsi has been on fire recently with their brilliant Disguise campaign… Basically dressing up famous athletes as regulars and surprising the
unlucky victims. Uncle Drew and Test Drive 2 went viral instantly, for good reason!
Our angle for photography was to shoot nighttime cityscapes in Charlotte WITH the actual NASCAR one night, and then the next day shoot Jeff and Kasey Kahne in a studio. After all the images were taken, we combine them together to put Jeff and Kasey in an unlikely scene outside the usual racetrack. The results can be seen at multiple NASCAR races, and your local stores that sell Pepsi Max.
Pepsi demands the biggest and best image quality, therefore my solution was easy. Thanks to Lance Schad at Digital Transitions, I test drove a medium format Phase One IQ160 camera (60mp) mainly for this shoot. I’ve boasted before about the mind-blowing quality this camera spits out, and I’ll say it again: THE SIZE AND IMAGE QUALITY IS RIDICULOUS! What’s most impressive is the dynamic range, and ability to retain detail in bright/dark areas. It’s pure wizardry. Scroll down to see some 100% crops of Jeff’s beautiful face and see why I choose Phase One. And no I’m not being paid in money or back rubs to say this… Which would be nice because my neck feels a little tight now.
Overall, 2 days of location scouting + 1 night of on-location shooting at night with the racecar + 1 day at Hendrick’s Racing to shoot Jeff in a studio = all you see below:
A MASSIVE thanks goes out to my assistants, Corey Jenkins, Linhbergh, and Jonathan Allsbrook. And of course the production crew Sarah Davis, Karen Weast, and the whole Pepsi Max Pack. Thank you!! Looking forward to what 2015 has in store.
6 days, 6 fresh all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, and 1 rainy week in an absurdly friendly city named Halifax, Canada =
all most of the images you see below. I was the lucky chosen one to shoot the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter lineup for North America, more specifically Mercedes-Benz Canada… in the most friendly Canadian city there is. Besides some of the best seafood I’ve ever eaten, this city packs some of the most picturesque places I’ve ever visited, and did I mention the people here are friendly??? The stereotypes about Canada are true!
The Sprinter van is a highly diverse vehicle appealing to flower shop owners, to down-n-dirty construction workers. Mercedes-Benz wanted a “darker, grittier, real-world” campaign to accommodate their newly redesigned van. To my ears, that meant on-location shooting with diverse scenarios. This also meant an extra element that’s relatively uncommon in the world of commercial automotive photography; people. The van of course is the main subject of the photos, but as a working van, it is crucial to also have the human element.
Basically the images are, and will be used for anything and everything Mercedes-Benz Canada, and North America please… this includes brochures, iPad apps, advertisements, websites, you name it. 10hr days were followed by 12hr days, then soon followed by 14hr days, but by the end of the week, beer had never tasted sweeter. Easily one of the most back-breaking weeks of my career, but at the same time 100x more rewarding.
A big thanks to my friends at Mercedes-Benz Canada and The Cargo Agency for piecing this monumental puzzle together, and ultimately putting me behind the camera to produce these diverse images. Also my Toronto buddy Ste Ho for assisting literally day and night. And let me tell you, you haven’t tasted syrup until you’ve had the local garage-made maple syrup. Slap yo mamma that brown nectar is good!!!
Why hello there. Nice shirt. What?? You would you like to get to know me better??? Maybe, take a peek inside my bag and see what I use?!? Well don’t you have a dirty mind!! But you did ask nicely… ziiiiiiiiiip
I don’t think I’ve displayed my photo equipment before, mainly because I don’t take much stock in the gear making the photographer. I believe that an aspiring mind is more important than any piece of camera equipment you can possibly own, because an aspiring mind will not ask questions like “how can I get that shot” or “how are you so successful” at a seminar; instead, he/she will already have the mindset that they CAN do it. In my experience, an eager mind coupled with setting goals will be able to purchase any camera gear in given time.
OK, rant over, that was unexpected, welcome inside my head too.
ShotKit recently sent me an email explaining the details of their website that goes inside multiple photographer’s bags. This was a VERY fun idea, especially since well-known photographers like Dave Hill, Erik Johansson and Seagram Pearce were on board as well. It’s always interesting to know what other professionals use to get their outstanding images.
As stated before, I don’t believe gear fully makes a photographer, as illustrated by Digital Rev’s Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera youtube series… but I will say there is a point where more refined equipment is NEEDED. When clients demand the highest quality, highest resolution images, then I call upon the powers of Lance Schad at Digital Transitions to use a PhaseOne system camera. The image size and quality are unmatched (more details on this monster in a future blog post).
A quick highlight list of what I use
-Canon 5DMKIII (40D as backup… it has less than 1000 clicks on it!)
-Canon L lenses (16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.2)
-Canon 580ex speedlight
-Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with 3030 head
-15″ Apple MacBook Pro laptop (2.6ghz i7, 16gb DDR3, 1TB PCi flash storage)
-Manfrotto 1004BAC stackable light stand kit (amazing, here is why)
-AlienBees lighting + softboxes/modifiers
-LowePro X200 roller bag (perfect for fitting in overhead bins when flying)
-74street leather bag (mainly for MacBook… LOVE!)
-CamRanger (for tethering Canon to iPad)
-Various Neutral Density and Polarizing filters
-6 PocketWizard triggers (never have enough of these)
-Lots and lots of various wires
-Westcott 42″ square Illuminator Reflector
I’ve definitely learned the tried-n-true life lesson that you pay for what you get. Sure it may sound absurd to spend $300 on a tripod, or $2000+ on a lens, but if that tripod and lens will last me for the rest of my life, then it is money well spent. The same goes for my newest leather bag from 74streetbags. I recently switched from PC to Apple.. in a big way. Basically I use my laptop for ALL of my computing needs. At home I dock to a 30″ monitor, and on the fly I can disconnect it and carry it with me wherever I go. So obviously I wanted a proper nice bag when traveling. After days of searching I came across this Romanian hand-crafted, hand-stitched, hand-cut bags on Etsy. The quality is stunning and it makes me feel like I’m Indiana Jones (before the aliens, that was just awful).
Welp, that’s about it. I was in no way paid to write/say any of these words… but damn that would be nice!
From my old trusty Canon with AlienBees to the latest and greatest PhaseOne with Profoto lights, here are some shots of the gear above in action from the past few years:
Read a little more in-depth about my gear and how I use it here at ShotKit.