November, 2016

rj muna on the road in transylvania for audi

Just a few days before Halloween, RJ Muna found himself standing in front of Dracula’s castle with a bright red Audi R8. He was there to photograph Audi’s spectacular Halloween social media campaign, a concept that was developed by MUH-TAY-ZIK HOF-FER to promote Audi’s higher-end vehicles.

When RJ got the brief, ‘Let’s go to Transylvania and shoot cars in front of Dracula’s castle,’ his response was “Well yeah, of course, let’s do that. I was ready to go,” said RJ.

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To many, Count Dracula is only a fictional character from Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel, Dracula, but in fact, the novel is inspired by the 15th century Romanian Prince Vlad III known as Dracula, whose castle still stands in the village of Bran, in the heart of Transylvania.

The images were shot over a five-day period just before Halloween—snow was already covering Romania’s craggy Carpathian Mountains. The goal wasn’t just to shoot the car in front of an old building; they wanted to make the images dark, creepy, and ominous to contrast Audi’s modern “monsters” with the monsters of the past.

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RJ’s team photographed the cars roaming the streets of Bran and Dracula’s birthplace of Sighisoara, driving up the steep and winding Transfăgărășan Highway—a road unlike no other—and in the dense trees of the Transylvanian forest.

You wouldn’t think of Romania as being really beautiful. When you think Dracula you don’t think ‘Oh, it’s beautiful’; those two words don’t really go together. But the fall leaves were really falling and they were brilliant colors and everything was quite beautiful going up into the mountains,” said RJ.

Outside of Bucharest, RJ said most of the towns were very small and each one had a castle on a hill and several churches. They came across one church that had been built in 1260.

That’s one of those things where you have to stop for a moment and reflect on how very old that is. It’s been around a long time and the math just doesn’t do it justice,” said RJ.

The silver Audi has 560 horsepower and made a sound akin to a sleeping giant. While the roar of the red 10-cylinder Audi engine certainly made a statement rumbling through these ancient villages, RJ said in they somehow still seemed right at home.

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You get this sense from Romania, certainly out in the countryside where we were, that old and new sort of go together. There were horse drawn carts with firewood and cabbage and people just walking on the side of the road, kind of the way they would have 300 years ago. The cars would go by and they didn’t bother nor interest anybody or anything—not the people, the horses, or even the wild dogs,” RJ said.

There is an image of the silver Audi poking out of an arched opening, which was shot at a castle dating from the 1300s, a block away from where Dracula was born. What can’t be seen in the photograph are the café, a pizza place, and the umbrellas of the sidewalk patio nearby.

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RJ’s small team was made up of producer Mark Hofmann, assistant Josh LaCunha, and digital technician Kerry Mansfield. Because of the tight turnaround time, RJ also brought his retoucher Susan Scott with them; they fed images to her as they went along so she could send them on to the client in time for Halloween.

The images can be seen on Audi’s Facebook and Instagram feeds.

RJ credits the success of the campaign in large part to a great idea from the agency: “To me, the best thing to shoot is a good idea. When the concept is good, everything else falls right into place.

The initial email sent from Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer head of production, Michelle Spear Nicholson was this: “We have an EPIC Halloween idea brewing with our friends at Audi. We’re looking for awesome night photography in particular. Of course, I thought of RJ.

Thank you Michelle, we can’t wait for the next one!

deep in the heart of texas: matthew turley for ram

Matthew Turley recently spent three weeks in Texas shooting Ram’s entire line of trucks. Because each truck, from the Sport to the Big Horn, the Rebel, and the Laramie, appeals to a different demographic, a considerable amount of thought went into how and where to shoot.

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In contrast to many campaigns where the background should be no one particular place, the images would have a decidedly Texas theme. The team spent a week in Austin, a few days in Dallas, and another week out in Marfa near Big Bend National Park.

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We overtly shot the architecture in Austin and Dallas, the new freeway in Dallas, the Texas high school football field, which was kind of a Friday Night Lights shot. It was a much more location-driven project than most jobs I’ve ever done before,” said Matthew.

The Friday Night Lights truck was the Lone Star, a true Texas truck marketed exclusively in Texas. “That was supposed to be the most ‘Texas’ of all the shots,” explained Matthew.

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Matthew says the most interesting location was shooting up and down Dallas’s new LBJ freeway with a half-mile rolling lock-up, that is, a police escort that opens up a half mile gap in the traffic. “Our camera vehicle had a platform mounted six feet off the road that I had to lay down on; it was pretty crazy when we were in traffic.

Other shots include the Rebel, shot with ATVs out of Big Bend, and the more upscale Laramie shot pulling a massive horse trailer. There was also the Ram 1500 against the Stella building, which is actually the Ballroom building but the team couldn’t get the licensing to use the original signage. “I was doing some retouching and it needed some kind of a name, so as a placeholder I named it Stella after my Airstream—and the agency really liked it.

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Coincidentally, Matthew had spent a month and a half in Texas last fall, living in his Airstream and inadvertently scouting nearly all of the locations they ultimately chose to shoot. “The Airstream picture that’s part of the campaign, that’s the spot where I stayed. It was kind of fun to do a shoot in another state but to still know the locations so well,” Matthew recalled.

It wasn’t his trailer and truck pictured in the shoot, although it could have been—Matthew has almost an identical setup.

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Matthew said his producer Steven Currie did a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly and the schedule as simple as possible, but it was still a lot of driving every day. “Texas is just such a big state.”

Matthew collaborated on the project with Creative Directors Jimmy Bonner and Rob Baker, and Art Directors Natalia Fredericks and Parker Bell of The Richards Group.

A big thank you to Jimmy, Rob, Natalia, Parker and Julie for the amazing project, it was tailor made for Matthew.

randal ford’s couch chameleons

CenturyLink Prism’s Couch Chameleons campaign was simple: photograph people at one with their couch, enjoying CenturyLink Prism television so much that they’re actually beginning to blend in.

When I first saw the concept presented by Arnold Worldwide, I was so excited. I knew it was going to be amazing. It would be such a fun idea to bring to life,” said photographer Randal Ford.

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While the CenturyLink campaign came to Randal with the idea pretty intact, it was up to Randal to implement it. It all started with the couch.

Randal came up with four different couch eras and styles, and then brainstormed what type of room the couch would be sitting in, and who would most naturally be sitting on it.

The first couch was a 1970s plaid model in a dated home, a little bit of a mess. The couch sitter would be in his pajamas. There would also be a mid-century modern couch, a boho loft-style couch, and one that Randal nicknamed “Grandma Glam.”

Grandma Glam was eclectic, in a sort of older, traditional style,” explained Randal. “Golden Girls meets Iris Apfel.

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Once the scenarios were determined, they got to work building the sets. “We upholstered three out of four of the couches in the same fabric that was used to create the wardrobe.” The boho couch and couch sitter were created in different but nearly identical fabrics.

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We worked with a fantastic prop stylist/set designer team,” said Randal. “They did a terrific job.

The photographs were used exclusively for a new social media content marketing/advertising campaign and were shared on CenturyLink Prism’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The series of photographs was included in the International Photo Awards, and the photograph of the 1970s plaid guy, which is Randal’s personal favorite, was selected for Best in Show.

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There’s a certain amount of realism in that shot that I really like. The guy’s a little heavier set, sitting on an older dingier couch, and the grainy lighting we were able to achieve is really natural, it shows off the glow of the television,” he said.

I definitely wanted to photograph all of the images in a way that would feel consistent from one shot to the next, but still have its own unique mood,” added Randal.