“They had been working with another photographer for a handful of years and were ready to change direction, from something that was fairly corporate, to something a little bit looser and more active. We were super excited for the opportunity,” said Shaun.
The assignment was to create an image library that would be used for a variety of applications. There were three dozen scenes on the shot list, from mountain biking to fishing to technology-driven scenes.
“There weren’t a lot of parameters. We were bound by budget and time, but that’s it. Basically, they said, ‘We want you to tell this story, these are the scenarios we want you to communicate—go,’” Shaun recalled.
For the ease of logistics and budget, Shaun and his team headed up to Lake Tahoe, an area he knows particularly well. They shot 10 images a day over a three day shoot.
“There was a long laundry list, but we’re comfortable with that, and it fits our style well. One minute we were flying down on mountain bikes, the next minute we had scuba gear on underwater in the lake, the next minute we were rock climbing sheer cliffs. It was super fast.”
Shaun credits his producer Darcy Diamond for keeping the whole thing on track.
“These types of shoots can be a logistical nightmare. There are boats and boards and bikes. All this stuff is following us around. Darcy is fantastic. She and her team don’t just keep up, they are consistently one or more steps ahead.”
In order to achieve the kind of authenticity the client wanted, Shaun felt it important to cast a mix of locals and models. “A lot of clients want real people so that the shot is authentic. They need to be interesting and good looking, but they can’t be too beautiful, and they have to move like real people. We’re active out here on the West Coast, we do a lot of sports, and we needed people who look natural in the scenes.”
The client wanted to include a beautiful but non-typical vehicle of some sort. It so happened that an employee at the company had a wonderful old VW bus in mint condition. The family drove it up, and when they arrived, Shaun took one look at the owner and his wife and two little girls and put them in the shot.
“If we had used a model family in that shot, it would have been hard to get the kind of warmth and emotion that we did—the husband kissing the wife while the daughter mimics the kiss. You couldn’t get a moment that authentic with models. It’s one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken,” said Shaun.
Shaun worked directly with creative director Nina Harris and art buyer Stephen Lazar at Charles Schwab. Later this year, they plan to head up to Oregon to shoot a second library of images.
“I think coming from an editorial approach sharpens your visual instincts. You’re constantly forced into a situation that you need to make something wonderful out of. You learn to always be on the lookout for the natural magic of the moment. On some commercial jobs, it can be easy to get locked into a scenario. You’ll spend a ton of time trying to make it look authentic and it never will. We work on our feet really well, and I think that comes through in the imagery,” said Shaun.
A big thank you to Stephen and Nina for the opportunity, and to Darcy and her team at Production Squad for the A+ production support. We can’t wait for the next shoot!