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 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.
“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.