Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guest Blogger Randall Fullmer

Wyn Guitars, Randall Rullmer

I recently had Scott do a couple of photo shoots for my bass guitar company, Wyn Guitars. I was to the moon with the results and thought I'd blog my experience so others can get a sense of what a total pleasure and fantastic creative photographer Scott Shepard is.

Wyn guitars, Randall Fullmer
I started building guitars at the age of 12 and after an amazing life as an animator and producer at Walt Disney Feature Animation, over the past 20 years, I decided to get back to full time guitar building as a profession. (Wyn Guitars is born out of my middle name Wyn taken from a cool old Welsh uncle of mine. He had the music in him and I have to think that's where what ever musical talent I have came from!)

exotic wood, Randall Fullmer, Wyn Guitars

So I'm having the time of my life busily building bass guitars out of exotic African and Central American hardwoods. Woods with intense beauty and amazing tone properties. I am currently in the final stages of putting together a website. It quickly became apparent to me that if people from all over the planet were going to be interested in my basses, I better have very accurate and lets face it, delicious artful photographs of my guitars.

hand tools, Randall Fullmer, Wyn guitars

A good friend of mine from Disney, John Blas, a talented illustrator and marketing guru told me he knew just the guy. Scott Shepard. John had known Scott since high school and said you're just never going to find a better photographer and a nicer guy. You bet I said!!

workshop, Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

So initially Scott came to my shop to shoot my tools and processes, work in progress guitars, and to capture my working environment. It was a comical shoot. While I was busy explaining to Scott all of these very mundane ideas I had about what to shoot, I noticed him sort of wandering off and clicking his camera at very different things. I wasn't even sure what he was doing half the time. I started thinking I'd lost control of the shoot. Come on, I worked at the Walt Disney Company, I know how to do a shoot!! Was I going to get what I wanted?

drill press, Wyn guitars, randall Fullmer, exotic wood

Well Scott would eventually shoot every thing I asked for, but when the photos came back from Scott I really had to laugh out loud. All of the really interesting shots came from Scott's eye and his curiosity in my shop. From his "seeing" things that went right past me. I realized that when I just shut up and let him capture what his eye saw, he made me look like a genius!! And that lady's and gentlemen is my admission that I apparently do not know how to run a photo shoot!!

depth dial, Wyn Guitars, Randall fullmer, shop

Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

We spent the day shooting perhaps 200 images. Scott was able to get to far more than I imagined he would. With his lighting and computer equipment in addition to his camera and multiple quality lenses, Scott was a one man wrecking crew, a flurry of activity. Really stunning what we got that day. My first thought was that I can't really have anyone come over to my shop, because it really isn't half as interesting as it looks like in these shots. But another fun gift grew out of this shoot. I found myself enjoying my shop and the lighting in my shop (I have six skylights) much more than I had before the shoot. It was really that I had to see my shop through Scott's eyes to realize what a special place it is. Pretty remarkable!
Wyn Guitars, exotic wood, Randall Fullmer

Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

So I am clearly leading a charmed life. A mutual friend recently put me together with the great and famed bassist Jimmy Haslip of the Yellow Jackets and numerous inspirational jazz , rock and fusion groups. He came to my house, tried out one of my latest prototype basses and loved it. So the next thing I knew, we were collaborating on building Jimmy a 6 string left handed bass out of the most exotic woods I had ever used. Wildly flamed Cocobolo Rosewood and African Wenge among others. He found an amazing shape of a rose as part of the grain pattern in some of the wood I showed him (I think we're picking up a fairly clear pattern here that everyone else sees amazing things that I seem to miss. Hmmmm).

Jimmy haslip,Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

Jimmy has a lovely daughter named Rose. Gabriela Rose to be exact and he decided that he wanted that naturally occurring rose shape to be front and center on the guitar along with her name engraved accross the front. "Yes Mr. Haslip!!" What a fun moment that was. It immediately personalized the bass for him and for me. Months later, after many visits and I must say great ideas from Jimmy, I was completing the bass. I started having those pangs of trepidation. I was going to send my baby out into the world with Jimmy Haslip. A thrill to be sure, but man I had worked so hard on this guitar, I better really document it well.

Yes, Scott immediately came to mind. A second shoot was all about this one guitar. I learned so much that day about photography and filtered lighting and photoshop to get exactly what one was looking for. And Scott served me the greatest home made Cappuccinos and treats while we pondered our various results. How good can life be really? We worked hard, had incredible fun, and I walked out of the session with photos that were so clear, artful, well composed and appealing.

Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

So now I'm back to worrying if anyone sees the bass in person, will it not add up to these amazing photographs? Do I worry too much? I think I do, but all I can say is that when ever I show them to friends and people in the luthier trade, the first thing out of their mouths is what fantastic photographs these are. Not what a great guitar this is, just how great the photographs are. Which brings me to my warning and conclusion. Scott Shepard Photography will ruin your life. What ever you have photographed will look so good that the original item will shrink by comparison. Your life will be reduced to showing fantastic photos!!!

Wyn guitars, Randall Fullmer

I keep that bass in hiding now so as not to reveal how it really looks!! (Actually Jimmy Halip just toured Denmark and Sweden with the bass and will be recording and touring with it all year.) But my ability to take Scott's photographs and show them to prospective buyers of my basses will really increase my ability to succeed.

Wyn Guitars, Randall Fullmer

Scott is also a world class nice guy. The creative process for me always goes best when there is a fun easy way about it. The fact that if you don't like his cappuccinos, he becomes an intolerable screamer can be managed if you know it's coming!!

Randall Wyn Fullmer


  1. Beautiful photographic compositions capturing moments of a stunning creative process!!!

  2. Thank you so much Randy for such kind words. With out your killer guitars there would be no need for the photography!

    Best Regards,

  3. Scott and Randy,

    What a great melding of talents! I can't decide which are more gorgeous---the guitars or the photographs. Simply splendid!

    As a side effect, this little slide show and narration stimulated my creative juices, however thin they may be in comparison, into some sort of action today. Exactly what form this may take remains to be seen, but this brief experience was truly an inspiration.

    Ed Millis
    (long-distance friend of Randy's)

  4. Congratulations to you both, Scott and Randy! Like the process of building Mr. Haslip's bass, I think this is a great collaboration. You are obviously both extremely talented and love what you do.

    Can't wait to see what the future of this great pairing yields!!!

    Stew McKinsey, bass geek

  5. Hey Ed,
    I am humbled if our little project can inspire you to be creative. I wish you the best and good luck with whatever you decide to create today.

  6. Hi Steve,
    I think Randy and I are in for a long relationship, not unlike an old couple! He is always moving...when I call him I can smell the sawdust over the phone.

  7. Awesome photos of awesome craftsmanship! Scott, you've captured some amazing detail in Randy's wood-working wonders, and I'm glad you two found each other to make this happen!