With 7 out of 10 Brits owning a smartphone it is not a surprise that advertising the newest device is a rather big deal for the manufacturers. Earlier this year I was invited to shoot stills on the set of the newest Samsung device online advertising campaign. These were to go with Samsung’s online videos advertising the newest Galaxy S5 smartphone and the GearFit watch.
I do not work with video myself (other than my keen use of hyperlapses as you may have noticed on my instagram) and this was the first time I was invited to do a series of stills to go with video material. Meaning - it was one of the first times I was on a shoot where photography was not the primary focus. This turned out to be a fascinating experience.
Firstly, the budgets and the teams on such big film sets are much bigger than your average photoshoot. This means more people, more lights, more instructions. I had an opportunity to work with incredible equipment and it was joyous how easily the lighting team created a beautiful hazy sunset on what was a dark and wet afternoon.
The tip top organisation on a set is amazing - no threads are hanging loose, no minute is wasted which means everything works like a good swiss clock with one minor challenge - there wasn’t much time for stills. So me and my assistant had to be super prepared as the film crew were only giving us a minute or two to shoot the relevant stills. Video production is all about a long, consequential processes and taking any more time to photograph would interrupt the flow of the filming. I had an almost playful relationship with the assistant director - always reminding him about the importance of stills.
There were other fun challenges too but of a more photographic nature. Releasing helium balloons and making them blow in the desired direction is not easy outdoors in any circumstances. Releasing them so that we get each balloon placed perfectly and captured on the smartphone screen in my shot makes the task even more difficult. We must have done it right though as the videos and my photo material to go with them have so far been watched over 2.8 million times and were liked on YouTube over 4000 times.