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annabelle breakey for rao’s homemade

Rao’s New York is one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the country, serving authentic Italian cooking on the Upper East Side since 1896. The 10-table establishment is notoriously hard to get into, even for the who’s who of New York City. Fortunately, they’ve bottled their favorite sauces so the rest of us can experience the freshness and flavor of the Rao’s Homemade family recipes handed down through the generations.

For an outdoor ad campaign in NYC, Annabelle Breakey was tasked with bringing Rao’s Homemade to life in a way that honored the company’s nostalgic history and showed off the sauce’s wholesome ingredients in a fresh and playful way.

Rao’s wanted to do a modern interpretation of their sauces, so they did this really cool splat. No plate, no nothing. One set of images was of the ingredients, and the other was of what you can make with the various sauces,” explained Annabelle.

The concept for the campaign was developed by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. The images appeared on huge posters around New York City.

It was a “tough” day in Annabelle’s San Francisco studio: The team was given a list of ingredients and a set of recipes to follow (available on the Rao’s website)—and they tasted them all.

They’re super delicious and natural. The sauces are made with really good quality ingredients,” said Annabelle.

The ingredients are simple, but the splats—deceptively not so. The haphazard look requires a lot more work than the final image might suggest; the real challenge was not to make them appear too over-styled.

I love the casualness and the immediacy of the images. And it’s just fun to do splatted food! In a world where you have to be so clean and tidy, it’s nice to let loose once in a while and do something organic and pretty,” said Annabelle.

A big thank you to Suzee Barrabee and the team at BSS&P for the opportunity.

rj muna shoots the audi A8

Product: 2019 Audi A8

Agency: Venables Bell & Partners

Design Director: Cris Logan

Designer: Jon Donaghy

Senior Art Producer: Shelly Amin

rj muna and liss fain dance: a recomposition

In the world of modern dance, the promotional photographs for an upcoming production are often taken months before the piece is fully choreographed, not to mention before sets are built, lighting is designed, and costumes are made. So it was something of a luxury when photographer RJ Muna and choreographer Liss Fain met in the studio to create images for Liss’s Fall 2018 production, A Recomposition: I Don’t Know and Never Will.

The piece was initially performed in March and re-choreographed for the fall season.

The shoot for the original piece had been about letters and communication and the relationships you form through letter writing. The concept of soil didn’t come to me until later on in the piece. The first photo shoot was really more about letters, and the piece ended up being about digging down into your past and into your history. That first shoot was wonderful, and the photos are stunning, but they didn’t really represent what the piece ended up being about,” explained Liss.

The recomposition is rooted in soil, which represents history and the fabric of life. Liss brought five huge bags of soil to the studio for the shoot. On stage and in the photographs, the dancers are in the soil, they are connected to the soil, not just hovering above.

RJ has been shooting for Liss Fain Dance for a decade. The best relationships between photographer and dance company are often built over a long period of time. Dance is about movement and elevation, the apex of a leap that happens in 1/1000th of a second. Photography is a static interpretation of a moment so fleeting, it’s often imperceptible to the naked eye. The result of the two together is greater than the sum of its parts, but to know when to click the shutter, the photographer has to understand the language of the choreographer.

I’m shooting a dialogue of movement. Every choreographer speaks a slightly different language, and the movement they make is unique—in style and look. I have to stay within that language, as broad as it may be, in order to portray what that company’s movement is about,” explained RJ.

One choreographer may have an inward type of movement, and another may use a lot of large extensions. The photographs have to be consistent with the language of the choreographer and company and the emotion of the piece.

The language learning curve goes both ways. “Over time, I’ve learned to understand what kind of information RJ wants from me. When I first started working with him, he had to educate me about the sorts of things to look for when creating a static image of something that’s in essence about movement.

The process of shooting modern dance is almost directly opposite the process of creating commercial work—in a commercial project, almost nothing is left to chance. The comp and the layout have already been defined and approved. By the time RJ and his team get to work, they are executing what’s been presented in the comp, and the only room for variation is something that will enhance the original idea.

With modern dance, often, they’re working from a concept with a relatively wide latitude of how it could be interpreted. However, RJ notes this is somewhat particular to modern dance since classical ballet is made up of several precise moves; when it comes to Swan Lake, the basic choreography doesn’t change.

I love getting into the ideas and the concepts behind the piece, and I think RJ enjoys talking and thinking about that kind of thing. Sometimes if I don’t have a specific image, but I do have a clear concept of what it is, RJ will have an idea about how to realize it visually,” said Liss.

In the case of A Recomposition, Liss had a very clear idea of what the piece was about and how the images should look, and it didn’t hurt that RJ had seen the March performance.

I usually try to come in with some sort of idea of the movement that would be appropriate, but RJ has his own ideas too. The dancers are so good so that if he or I suggest something to them, they just run with it. For example ‘fall into the soil,’ that was one of the images we used. ‘Stretch as wide as you can,’ ‘dig down into the soil’—it’s a very loose prompt to give somebody, but it represented some of the movements that were in this piece,” she said.

Ultimately, dance photography does not seek to precisely replicate a piece, but to evoke the emotion of the idea.

The photographs have to represent a concept and not just a pretty person dancing—that’s one of the reasons I like working with RJ, and I think he likes working with me. These photographs are really my absolute favorites. I really love them.

randal ford brings the zing for innovage

Randal Ford’s second video spot for InnovAge is a lighthearted spoof on the beloved Cheers theme song, Everybody Knows Your Name. The video shows 10 talent and a dog singing the song while highlighting the many services InnovAge offers seniors: transportation, medical and dental facilities, food, entertainment, and the opportunity for social interaction.

This video has a slightly different feel than the last one. It’s a little more fun, more relatable. It’s got a little more zing,” said Randal.

The piece features 10 talent and a dog and opens with a bus driver and an InnovAge community member riding the bus to the center. Along the way, they pick up a few more riders and then cut to the various activities available at the facility. It was produced in partnership with Tango, a Dallas production company where Randal is on the roster.

We were basically doing a music video with older talent who aren’t necessarily music performers. The first thing we had to do was create our own 30-second sample track for Everybody Knows Your Name. We played the track at the casting, and the talent had to lip sync—50 to 80-year-olds singing that song. There were some absolutely hilarious moments!” laughed Randal.

They shot the video on location at the InnovAge center in San Bernardino. Randal used a one-camera set-up and the scratch track. Each scene was pegged to a section of track. By the time they were done shooting, they’d heard the song a few hundred times.

Back in the studio, each of the actors’ voices was matched with a professional singer, and then the video and audio were put together in post. “It was hard to find older talent who could sing the way we needed. On the day of the shoot, we wanted the actors to focus on the acting performance rather than on their voice,” Randal explained.

As a director, this project was a challenge, but it was also a really gratifying experience. I loved learning to shoot the music video, and working with all the talent was a blast.

shaun fenn hits the courts for usta

Shaun Fenn says any excuse to photograph sports is fine by him. For the past two years, he’s been working with the United States Tennis Association to create a custom library of images to use across their website and advertising platforms.

He was brought into the project by Wunderman to shoot fresh, healthy imagery for the USTA’s Net Generation, a program to promote tennis to a broader demographic of youth. Net Gen aims to help kids build skills and character on and off the court while creating a new generation of lifelong players.

They shot in L.A., first in a very urban environment, shooting chain-link everyday tennis, and later in an elegant private club, shooting the more typical upscale version of tennis. In both cases, the goal was to make tennis feel accessible to any player.


For this year’s revamp of the USTA’s primary website, Shaun took a larger creative role in the project, collaborating earlier on directly with the USTA to develop scenarios and scout potential locations.

The in-house team at USTA was comfortable that we were on-brand and aligned stylistically, so we were given a lot more freedom to generate work for the website revamp that met the needs of the USTA both creatively and technically,” said Shaun.

Shaun’s emphasis on creating authentic imagery combining humanity and active lifestyle has created the positive reaction to his work. Shaun and his team focus from the beginning on the details to set their projects up for success. “It really comes down to preparation and planning for these large commercial projects. This attention to detail up front allows us to really focus on creativity on set while maximizing productivity for our clients,” says Shaun.

“Once we are on set and we are collaborating with our creative team, we tend to work at a pretty aggressive pace. Everything that has been put in place – because of our years of experience – is developed to help support our creative process. The earlier we can engage with the client the better, because they can really leverage our expertise with large productions.”

While sports like sailing and surfing are inherently sexy with bright colors, a gorgeous blue backdrop, and a ton of action, tennis is not an easy subject to shoot. There’s no dimension. There’s no location. The court is surrounded by walls. It’s basically a big, green cubical.

There’s probably nothing tougher to shoot than a cubical,” laughed Shaun. “But for me, it’s a really fun creative challenge to work on scenarios which are more common everyday and make them look aspirational and inspirational. It just seems our sweet spot is working to get believable, authentic images which feel like they have some depth to them. Getting to work on projects like USTA which include outdoors and athletics are just an absolute bonus!”

randal ford for texas monthly

As a rookie photographer, shooting covers for Texas Monthly was the gold standard of photography assignments.

Texas Monthly has always been really respected for their photography and design aesthetic. A lot of the photographers I looked up to 10 years ago were shooting covers for Texas Monthly, and I thought, that’s what I want to do,” said Randal.

A decade or so later, and his 22nd and 23rd covers, May and August 2018 respectively, have been beautifying newsstands across the Lone Star State.

Texas Monthly is a client near and dear to my heart. I feel honored every time they ask me to shoot for them.

For the 300-year anniversary of the city of San Antonio, the magazine asked Randal to shoot resident artist Cruz Ortiz in front of the iconic Mission Concepción. The city’s five 18th-century Spanish missions make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ortiz is known for his colorful, playful plein air style of painting, and uses his work to address issues related to his experiences growing up in the bicultural landscape of South Texas.

I loved the idea of the modern folk art painting of a historic old world mission in the background. It’s such a simple but powerful concept. I wanted to shoot the image using natural light to allow the subject matter tell the story,” said Randal.

Over the course of the shoot, Ortiz created two very different paintings. The first take was in the mid-afternoon when the sun was higher and harsher. The second was later in the evening as the sun was going down.

It was amazing to see how fast he works. I’ve never seen anyone paint on location the way he does. Even though he has this particular folk art style, as the lighting changed, so did the tone and style of the painting. As a photographer, that was very cool to see, and I really enjoyed learning about his process,” recalled Randal.

The August 2018 Small Town Revival issue of Texas Monthly featured the new demographic in the Texas barbeque capital of Lockhart. Road infrastructure updates have cut the travel time from Austin to Lockhart in half making this once sleepy town into the hippest new suburb of Austin.

The story is about hipsters moving into small towns across Texas and peacefully coexisting with the folks who have been there forever. It’s two different styles of life that are merging together, and it seems to be going really well,” explained Randal.

The shoot was on a scorching July afternoon just after the fourth of July. The Pearl is a classic Texas shotgun-style bar. The building is more than 120 years old, and it has been a bar for most of that time. The newly renovated space reopened as a cocktail and wine bar featuring live music with old-time Texas flair.

The Pearl still had their festive red, white, and blue flags of above the windows. It was so Rockwellian, classic small-town Americana. Those flags really made the shot,” said Randal.

jim salzano on the front lines with tony vaccaro

When Jim Salzano got the call to shoot a short video interview featuring photographer Tony Vaccaro, he didn’t know who he was. “And I know a lot about photography,” Jim laughed.

The assignment was from long-time client Hallowed Ground, the publication of the American Battlefield Trust. Jim has shot several pieces for the magazine, which primarily features stories about the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Long-time collaborator, creative director Jeff Griffith wanted to do a video series interviewing battlefield photographers from different conflicts.

Tony Vaccaro is best known for the 8,000 photographs he took during the last year of World War II—of action on the front line and portraits of the men with whom he served. But what’s most interesting is that Vaccaro wasn’t assigned to the 83rd Infantry Division as a photographer.

A 21-year-old draftee with a passion for photography, he took an Argus C3 35mm camera with him to Europe. Compelled by compassion for what was happening in Europe, Vaccaro took it upon himself to document what he saw.

The Army said to him, ‘If you want to take pictures, that’s fine, knock yourself out, but you’re a soldier first.’ They didn’t realize how talented he was—technically and aesthetically sharp,” explained Jim.

The assignment from Hallowed Ground was for a live-action piece, but Jim also wanted to do a portrait.

Going to the studio was really amazing. He took his jacket off and put his little smock on. I thought, ‘This guy is such a master.’ I thought it would be a little intimidating to shoot him but he’s just such a naturally relaxed guy, and it really comes through,” recalled Jim.

© James Salzano

The image he’s holding is one of his most famous from WWII, of a soldier kissing a little French girl during a spontaneous celebration in St. Briac, France, in August 1944. Years later, Vaccaro went back to France and reconnected with the two women dancing in the background of the photo.

Being a soldier first and then making a decision to photograph as the conflict was happening is one of the reasons his imagery of WWII is so powerful. An important photograph from that collection is called The Last Step. It was taken as one of the men he was fighting with was running across a field. As Vaccaro was photographing him, a mortar round went off in front of his subject. Vaccaro captured the image at the moment of death.

During the war, he wanted to dignify these men who were giving up their lives every day. He was always concerned about people’s feelings, about how he could make a great picture and portray them with the most dignity possible. Even after the war, he always came back to the idea of compassion and dignity. He continues to carry that through his life, personally and professionally,” said Jim.

Vaccaro went on to have a successful career as a fashion and lifestyle photographer in the decades after the war. He shot for Life, Newsweek, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country. His subjects include Marcel Marceau, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Lloyd Wright, and John F. Kennedy. He’s won dozens of awards and published half a dozen books of photography, but somehow, he remains relatively unknown.

His portraits of Picasso and Sophia Loren are on the wall next to his desk. You look at these pictures, and it’s as if Arnold Newman or Irving Penn or Horst took them. The portraits he took of the men in his battalion look like the work of August Sander. The breadth of his style and versatility is just amazing,” said Jim.

Now 95, Vaccaro is long retired from professional photography, but he still likes to take pictures. “He was taking pictures of us while we were shooting him,” said Jim. He has been featured in the HBO Films documentary “Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro” and regularly exhibits in small galleries in the U.S. and Europe. Jim’s piece for Hallowed Ground will be released in mid-2019.

L to R: Creative Director Jeff Griffith, Photographers Tony Vaccaro and Jim Salzano at Tony’s New York studio

randal ford and charles barkley for capital one

During March Madness, Capital One released a television commercial directed by Spike Lee featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley in his “snack hoodie.” To coincide with the TV ad, they asked Randal Ford to create an ad for a three week run on Snapchat.

I’m doing more and more shoots where the media buy is exclusively online or exclusively social media,” said Randal. “From an advertiser’s perspective, it’s a way to reach a highly targeted audience, in this case, 20- to 30-year-olds interested in March Madness.

Randal said there are different challenges for these types of projects. “There’s pressure to make it as visually simulating or humorous as possible, while also needing to make it really authentic. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for photographer because there’s no shortage of a need for content.

In the case of the Charles Barkley Snapchat spot, Randal did shoot it with a camera, but turned the camera vertically because the ads would only appear on a phone.

Snapchat is the definition of authentic. It’s so scrappy. There’s no filter and you can’t curate everything,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be too pretty or perfect. But you’ve got to take it seriously because what you’re really trying to do is get people to stop scrolling for a moment.

A big thank you to Suzanne Koller at DDB Chicago for the opportunity, and to Charles Barkley for being the consummate professional.

Client, Capital One

Agency, DDB Chicago

Producer, Suzanne Koller

CD, Shelby Georgis

CD, Billy McDermott

Director, Randal Ford

DP, Roger Peters

Production, Production Squad

Post Production, Whitehouse Post

matthew turley for travelocity

Matthew Turley is accustomed to working with a whole range of subjects — models in Namibia, Ram Trucks deep in the heart of Texas, and even the occasional stingray — but working with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome was a little bit different.

I learned that the Roaming Gnome is very particular about his public persona. Far from being a prop you carry around under your arm, he insists on being held upright and facing out – presumably so he can socialize with his fans. In fact, people frequently stopped us and asked to take pictures with him. I was surprised by how much brand recognition there was. Of course, we also got a lot of ‘Hey, what’s with the gnome?’’” said Matthew.

Matthew Turley Travelocity Roaming Gnome

Matthew Turley Travelocity Roaming Gnome

Matthew and his team set out to shoot a series of images with the Travelocity Gnome in well-known travel destinations—San Francisco, Yosemite, Hawaii, New York City, and Rome. The locations chosen were intentionally recognizable icons. They shot in front of the Brooklyn and Golden Gate Bridges, at the base of El Capitan, and outside the Coliseum.

Matthew Turley Travelocity Roaming Gnome

A lot of the shots were really off the cuff. We had general ideas of the kinds of shots we needed, but sometimes they simply didn’t work. Since there was no time for any tech scouts, we’d often show up and find that maybe the light wasn’t right, or we couldn’t get the angle we’d hoped for – and so we’d just roam around with the gnome and find cool spots for him to hang out,” Matthew explained.

While most of the images feature the gnome in iconic locales, they did a few that were more humorous, like a shot they set up of the gnome in front of a table enjoying a gelato. The shot of the gnome on the pier in San Francisco in front of the Transamerica building was taken while they were waiting to have lunch. Others were pure luck.

The sun was setting on our travel day between San Francisco and Yosemite when some horses suddenly appeared on a hill above the road. We hit the brakes and ran up with the Gnome just in time to get a few shots before the light died. And in Maui where we needed to get a shot with a car. It was our last day and the sun was setting fast. From previous trips, I knew of an ideal section of road along the coast, so we all hopped in the van and drove out there as fast as we safely could. We stopped at the first pull out with a clear ocean view just as the sun reached the horizon, which only gave me a few minutes to pull off the shot. Actually, a lot of the shots were like that,” Matthew recalled.

Where will the gnome turn up next? Check out Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome Instagram page to find out! A big thank you to Tatyana and the team from Campbell Ewald for the great project.

annabelle breakey’s urban metallics for method

Method teams up with a leading designer every year to create a limited edition collection featured in Target. Brooklyn-based interior designer Athena Calderone came up with this year’s collection called Urban Metallics. The collection, made up of four fragrances and seven metallic colors, has been well received, even earning accolades from Real Simple magazine.

“Just when you thought all things gold and rose gold ran their course, the fashionable colors strike again,” wrote Tamara Kraus. “The scents not only smell great, but they are also pet-friendly and planet-friendly, thanks to their recyclable bottles made with 100-percent recycled plastic. And of course, that means they’re people-friendly, too, with a naturally derived formula that leaves hands ultra-soft and clean.”

The images were created by Annabelle Breakey. While Annabelle has shot several campaigns for Method, this one was particularly challenging because not all of the high-shine metallic soaps had been manufactured at the time of the shoot. Instead, she photographed naked bottles and added the colors and graphics in post-production.

“We had some of the colors, so we photographed the ones we had so that we’d know where the highlights and shadows would look like,” shared Annabelle. The fragrances, cool lavender, burnished cedar, copper rain, and golden citrus, come in a combination of polished nickel, pewter, brass, rose gold, and copper colors.

“Emily, my in-house superstar retoucher, put the image we shot together with the missing colors and the bottle graphic, which comes from an Illustrator file created by Method.”

Annabelle said it’s actually fairly common for a client to schedule a photo shoot before the product is ready for market because a certain amount of lead time is required to develop the content for the numerous marketing channels that will be utilized—print, video, billboards, social. Other times, a computer-generated image is higher quality and more appropriate for large-scale advertising.

“Sometimes when you photograph the actual printed piece you can find on the shelf, there’s a dot pattern to it, and when you run it through the printing press again you get a moiré, which doesn’t look very good when you blow it up really big. Often what we’ll do is take the art off the package, photograph it, and add the package art from the Illustrator file to make it really pretty and clean. You can blow it up as big as you want and it still looks amazing,” she explained.

Look for Method’s Urban Metallics Limited Edition Collection at Target and Walgreens through summer 2018.

powered by yentas, randal ford for jdate

If you’ve been in New York City in the past couple of weeks, you’ve most certainly noticed the humorous new advertising campaign for the Jewish dating site Jdate “Powered by Yentas.” A yenta, in case you’re not up to speed with your Yiddish, is “a person, especially a woman, who is a busybody.”

For countless years, old women have played an integral role in bringing single Jews together so they can procreate and keep the Tribe alive. Our campaign highlights these matchmaking yentas who’ve been working tirelessly in Silicon Valley to code the best Jewish matches,” said creative director and standup comedian David Roth.

The idea was to photograph a trio of 80 and 90-year-old women as if they were the brains behind Jdate—burning the midnight oil to match new couples. The concept was shot in New York by Randal Ford.

We thought Randal was the guy to elevate this campaign and we could not be happier with how his work turned out. It’s a rare combination to create photos that are both beautiful and truly funny, and Randal achieved that. He was very collaborative and fantastic to work with. All the women were put at ease by his handsomeness and charm,” Roth said.

The task was to create three individual portraits and a fourth group shot. Donna Grossman Casting led the search for the “models” while our production team Toni Bashinelli of Lockbox Productions got busy with the rest of the details; finding the appropriate props—an energy drink can called Kosher Energy, a coffee cup that says “Best Bubbe Ever,” and stickers for the back of their laptops in the shape of menorahs and dreidels. The wardrobe had to balance between millennial techie and Jewish grandma.

A lot of this terminology was new to me. I’m an Irish Catholic Lebanese Texan. If that’s not a mix, I don’t know what is. I didn’t know what a mensch was and I’d never heard the word kvetch. It was a learning process for me, but getting up to date on my Jewish terminology was a lot of fun,” said Randal.

Bea Slater, a real 90-year-old Jewish grandmother, was chosen as one of the primary figures. She was shot in a pod chair wearing a velvet tracksuit, sneakers, and headphones. Though she had never modeled professionally before her debut for Jdate, Bea is the daughter of a commercial photographer and not only grew up having her photograph taken regularly, she also worked as a children’s photographer before she got married. “It took me 90 years to become a professional model, but I like it,” said Bea.

With four shots to achieve and a lot of moving parts, it was a long day on set for the women. They all had a fantastic time, but by the end of the day, they were beat.

There’s something so wonderful about working with older people in this manner, seeing their sense of humor. I just really enjoy it. In the last shot of the grandma on the hoverboard, the woman in the background was actually sleeping,” recalled Randal.

Response to the campaign has been outstanding. “I’ve gotten a bunch of texts from friends in New York who’ve seen the billboards, and they’ve all had a good laugh” Randal said.

We love the Yentas,” said Bart Visser, Brand Director at Spark Networks SE, “and having been around for 20 years, Jdate is very much like a yenta—tenacious and unrelenting in the search for that one perfect Jewish partner, and passionate about the preservation of the Jewish identity.

Randal says the success of the project is in large part thanks to a great creative team. “Without awesome concepts like this, I don’t have much to work with. And they trusted me to bring their concepts to life. I take that as a compliment, and I take it pretty seriously, too” he added.

A great big shout out also to Art Producer Sabine Rogers and the Hogarth Worldwide account team, who worked with us in a very tight timeline to bring David’s amazing concepts to life.

randal ford rocks the tech world for NTT data

To announce the integration of Dell Services into Japan’s NTT Data, the company turned to photographer Randal Ford to create a video and a series of print ads. The assignment was simple: Show off the experts at NTT Data and Dell as the IT rock stars they are.



They’re really passionate about what they do at NTT Data and we wanted to highlight that. In their world, they are rock stars. They’re some of the best at their craft,” said Randal.

The shoot took place in Dallas, including six talent, three of which were featured in the video and accompanying print ads.

While directing live action and shooting photographs nearly simultaneously has it’s own challenges, Randal says he’s pleased with the results of the shoot.

Switching gears back and forth can be physically and mentally exhausting and it’s certainly a unique challenge to do both, and do both well, to where they feel stylistically cohesive and on point and focused throughout,” he said.

Creative direction was by The Richards Group with production by Liberal Media Films and post-production by Charlie Uniform Tango. Roger Peters was the director of photography.