Thursday, October 23, 2008

Michael Bonvillain


Cinematographer Michael Bonvillain earned an Emmy and a second nomination for his work on Alias, as well as two Outstanding Achievement Award nominations from the American Society of Cinematographers. It was my privilege to photograph him for an advertisement for Clairmont Camera. Clairmont Camera is a motion picture camera and equipment rental house. Clairmont is a big player in the camera rental business with offices in Hollywood, Vancouver, Toronto, Albuquerque, and Montreal.

I was contacted by Mardrie Mullen from Clairmont Camera to create images of Michael Bonvillain that establish a new creative direction for their company advertising. Mardrie wanted to do something more cinematic and dramatic than what they had been doing. She wants to showcase Cinematographers who can give a testimonial type endorsement for Clairmont Camera's equipment and customer service. Michael had recently shot the pilot for a new series called "Fringe". It has a modern, dark and edgy feel to it. Michael also has "Lost", "Alias", and "Cloverfield" on his list of film credits. The idea was to shoot something a little grittier and urban, instead of a DP sitting in the studio behind a camera.

Our shooting schedule was quite narrow because Michael had a very limited time with us. He had flown in from Europe late morning on the day of the shoot. Initially we had scouted a few spots at Clairmont Camera's building, but I soon realized that our time wouldn't allow multiple setups on different floors. Oh and to add to that the roof was a great spot but there was only stairwell access. Lots of fun with camera carts and capture computers and such. The day of the tech scout I found the underground parking at Clairmont. Right away I knew that it would work great.

On the shoot day Curtis Marzinzik and I arrived a few hours early to setup. Curtis is a Marine Corps buddy, the owner of Bouquet Pools, and trusted comedian. Anyway, we set up the Profoto strobes with a large Mola dish and a few grids and ran a few test shots to balance the background color temperature. This was a few weeks back when the humidity in LA was like 110%. It sure was hot three floors down. You would think that it would have been nice and cool in the subterranean concrete parking structure. Noooo! I think they turned on the heater to see if the two jarheads could take it.

By then Michael had arrived and we got started. He is a very nice guy and he was very up front when he said he didn't like his picture to be taken. Being the resourceful DP that he is, he came prepared with a solution (in a brown paper bag) to ease his reluctance. I only wish I had thought of that! We started to shoot a little and my producer Laurie, whom I tricked into marrying me, showed up to check on us. She had brought our kids to set and Michael, Laurie, and my oldest daughter Makena immediately hit it off. Once Michael started talking to them he completely forgot about me and relaxed. At one point he asked Makena to pose with him and he then asked her give him some direction in front of the camera. He wanted her to come up with an idea for a picture. She was a little embarrassed because everyone had stopped what they were doing and looked at her. She came through like a pro and told him to play with his hair and make it "stick up" (she tells me the same thing at home). Thanks to Makena for this one.


Michael saw the monitor after I did a quick B/W conversion in Lightroom and said he loved it. He said it captured the essence of what he feels like in this business. Kind of crazy, a little nutty.

We shot a few more set ups and reviewed the images . At that point we decided to wrap it up. We had created everything that Clairmont needed and Michael was set free. Michael is a great talent in his profession and quite charming. What I liked about Michael is that he knows about creating and lighting a scene, and he got what we were trying to do.


In the end we created some great images and the 17x22 proofs are beautiful. I had the great opportunity to photograph a very interesting person and produce a great job for Clairmont Camera.


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shooting For Yourself 2

After I had finished shooting Greg, we went surfing. While we were getting ready on the sand I saw a dude getting out of the water with his huge surfboard. The unique thing was he was getting into a wheelchair that was submerged in waist high water. Holy crap! This guy got onto his chair and rolled out of the water, over the rocks, and with his new Infinity surfboard in tow. That studs name is John Davis. John pioneered off-road wheelchair racing and discovered adaptive skiing. Today, John is a two-time Paralympic gold medalist, and is now surfing.

John Davis

I was so impressed with his determination and drive that I went over and started chatting with him. What a cool individual. I said I was totally inspired by him and I wanted to take his picture. You know what he said? "Ya dude, that would be sweet".
The next week I went back to San Onofre to take John's picture (what a perfect excuse to go surfing. My wife can't believe I call this work). He's a great person and the shots turned out beautiful. It was cold and stormy right before we started, then the sun burned through. What kick ass luck.
Some shots put me in chest high water with the old 1DS MKIII. When we were finished it was covered in salt spay and crust. It never failed, not once.

John Davis

Back to my original point. John works for The Hartford, a gigantic insurance company. He was showing the prints I gave him around and it turns out his friend just happens to be a creative at The Hartford's internal ad agency. It turns out that he wanted to do a little story on John in one of their national sales brochures. What do you think happened next?

John DavisJohn Davis

The moral of my little story is "shoot for yourself". I did and all I got out of it was a renewal of my passion for photography, some great images, a new surf buddy, and a huge national client.

John Davis

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Sony Pictures

I am going to start off with the last job I shot. It was for Sony Pictures Animation recruitment. I got a call from John Blas, who owns NCS Creative about an idea to shoot popcorn tubs. Yup popcorn tubs. His idea was to find some tubs and print out some sheets from some of Sony's movies and glue them onto the tubs. Here is the original comp that John mocked up in Photoshop and submitted to Sony.


After the comp was approved John sent me the artwork for the tubs. I used an Epson 3800 on matte and the transform tool in Photoshop to fit the prints to the tubs. Here are the artwork files ready for printing.


tall_cup_hancock_template copy

The rest was easy. Plain background and high res files (1ds mkIII) onto a portable drive and John was on his way home.


Below are the final files.




John did a great job and he makes it look easy. It should be, he was the Senior V.P. , Creative Director, Animation Marketing, at the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group before starting up his own shop.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shooting For Yourself

I wanted to talk about shooting for yourself. A couple of months ago I picked up a Canon 1DS MKIII from Samy's Camera in LA. I fell in love with the image quality. It wasn't the pixel amount, rather the smoothness of the colors and highlights. This won't be a review, there are plenty on the web. What I wanted to share was the new love affair I have with this camera. I am getting gorgeous image files and prints at 17x22 on an Epson 3800 that have to be seen to truly appreciate.

Anyway my point is that I started shooting for myself again and not just when there were jobs. Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua of Burns Auto Parts said once, that you should shoot what you love and make the effort to shoot personal projects.

While I was surfing in San Onofre with a close friend of mine, I saw him do something that caught my eye. He was rinsing off the saltwater in an outdoor shower surrounded by bamboo. I decide to carry my camera with me that I happened to have in the car. I snapped a couple of shots and later at the condo I looked at them and was inspired. After some beer (a lot of beer and an Opus X cigar), he finally agreed to go back the next morning and take some shoots.

I have had a chance to present these shots to some clients and the response has been very positive. The whole idea of shooting more for myself has led to more interest and from an unexpected place. More on that in the next post.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

About Me

Scott Shepard Photography

My name is Scott Shepard and I am a professional photographer working in Los Angeles. I have been working in this business for over 10 years. I served in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years and I did one combat tour in Iraq in 2003. My goal now is to continue to create great images for advertising and editorial clients. My recent clients are NCS Creative/Sony Pictures, The Hartford, and Walt Disney Studios. I am looking for creative assignments that allow me to work with great people and produce long lasting working relationships.
I am an expert with digital capture and post production services. I routinely handle high value productions and excel at client service needs. If you need it shot in a canoe on the Amazon river or in a studio in Hollywood, I can deliver it. I have a positive attitude and love a challenge. I have real world experience, from around the globe, that would benefit any production. By the way, If you surf, we'll get along just fine!

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