Archive | April 2010


I was interviewed for a commercial shoot with Cheerios today. I didn’t get the gig, but my failure doesn’t bother me because I feel I was interviewed a bit unfairly.

During first period Western Civilization my history teacher was stressing the importance of essay revision. She spoke about using specific details and definitions in order to accurately describe historical events. She also spoke about the necessity of precision in conveying a message or vision in real-world scenarios. As an example, I was asked to explain my plan for an advertisement. An advertisement for what? For Cheerios. Uh well I don’t know, maybe some children with a healthy lifestyle theme (I vaguely remembered the cholesterol commercials that were run for a while.)

I proved her point rather well. My vagueness caused me to not get the job, but certainly I would have done better if given the chance to prepare. I didn’t want to make it to easy for myself, after all I am a professional. I alloted myself ten minutes, which turned into sixteen. The following is what I scribbled down after watching the two embedded videos of existing Cheerios ads, to identify my target market, and then my concepts for new photographs based upon my observations:

  • father/child
  • cholesterol improvement
  • special family moment
  • young-middle aged man
  • suburban setting
  • relaxing room (couches)
  • pajamas
  • backlit
  • quick camera cuts to different angles
  • blatant product placement
  • stripes on pillow blend with boys shirt
  • all natural whole grain
  • healthy lifestyle
  • wonder in the boy’s voice
  • same father/child scenario
  • replaces the original market of children with adults (stealing the girls breakfast)
  • special family moment
  • business man with healthy lifestyle

Target Market: Men between 35 and 45 years of age who live in suburban neighborhoods and are in the upper-middle class. The men are parents with children from 4 to 10 years of age and work in white-collar business or out of their homes. The men hold a fairly healthy lifestyle but wish to take it more seriously because of recent heart check-ups.

Photographs: Please forgive my sloppy sketches, I was already a few minutes behind schedule at this point.

#1: A man, around 35 years old, sits at a table eating his breakfast. He is dressed in a business suit and is lifting the bowl up to drink all of the milk because he has finished the Cheerios. His son peers up at him from across the table. The purpose of the windows is to show a suburban neighborhood.

#2: This image demonstrates the relationship between eating Cheerios and the lowering of cholesterol. A doctor holds up a chart with an exaggerated graph, which shows a steep dip in bad cholesterol levels. The patient is a man in his mid-forties who is smiling at his improving heart health. He clenches Cheerios in the hand behind his back to give the impression of the cereal being his “trick” to a healthy lifestyle.

#3: This picture highlights the “special family moment” aspect of Cheerios’ existing ad campaign. A young couple eats breakfast-in-bed together with trays of Cheerios. There is a child sitting cross-legged between them eating the cereal dry, out of the box. All the subjects are smiling and laughing at each other rather than focusing on the meal… hence the smiley faces.

This outline needs revision almost as badly as my history essay does. At least it is better than my original interview. With this background planning and knowledge under my belt I would be comfortable to speak with the client about revisions and add-ons. Again, this took me all of 16 minutes to write-up on some notebook paper. I should join the boy scouts with all my preparation.

take a picture,

jack pope



To the Art Benefit Haiti reception on Friday night.

If you haven’t heard, Mr. Primo and I have collaborated and somehow managed to pull off a student art show. This Friday the 23rd will be the last day of the exhibit and your last chance to purchase work and/or make donations.

Art Benefit Haiti Reception

Friday, April 23rd

6:30 to 8:30

@ The Litchfield Historical Society

7 South Street Litchfield, CT 06759

The idea came in early February. Jeremy Cowart of Help Portrait sent a mass email to photographers around the world asking them to host local art shows and donate the proceeds to Haiti relief efforts. Cowart urged everyone to hold their show on February 14th, Valentine’s day, so it could be a worldwide event. That allowed about two weeks to prepare and I could have done that. If I ordered some of my pictures to be printed that night and they would be on my door step in two days. If I made calls that night logistics for the show could have been figured out in a week or so. I would have been ready with a few days to spare.

But, in an attempt to stop myself from an excess of self promotion through charity, I wanted to involve the local art community. It is funny that with all of my event planning expertise I thought I could do that with two weeks. February 14th rolled by and only a few local painters had contacted me. Mr. Primo brought up that a number of staff from LHS are artists. We still didn’t have enough work. When we met with Julie and Cathy of The Litchfield Historical Society they suggested a student art show. They said it would be easier to collect work and market. Sure, that sounds good.

We collected of 30 pieces of established student work which are now on display. I hope to see you Friday night.

take a picture and look at some art work,

jack pope


Last Wednesday, Chase Jarvis announced his latest endeavor: The site promises free, live, creative education on topics from lighting to fine art painting. Although live video streaming has been a growing trend in social media/networking for a while now thanks to Ustream and similar technologies, this is the most important and ground-breaking use of it I have seen thus far.

Craig Swanson has been toying around with this idea for what seems to be quiet a while. Jarvis helped make it into a reality by offering a great amount of photography-themed “classes”. Some of the best photography instructors in the world are going to be streaming live throughout this quarter. Names include Art Wolfe, David DuChemin, Scott Bourne, Vincent Laforet, and Zack Arias. You can check out the calendar to see when the live shows will be streamed.

If you aren’t available for a showing or want to see something again you can purchase the digital recordings for what are IMO, very cheap prices. The two prices that are displayed so far are for the Ten-Week Fundamentals of Digital Photography Class which is $79 and the Five-Week Photoshop to HTML Class which is $39. These prices are fractions of what it would cost to attend a traditional workshop or seminar and make it move convenient because you will have a digital copy of the class to watch on any desktop computer or portable device you choose.

I am super excited to experience as many as these broadcasts as I can. Next Tuesday at 2PM EDT, Art Wolfe will air with “The Creative Eye” class… count me in!

take a picture,

jack pope


Since May 6, 2009 I have been posting a picture every week to an album titled, “Image of the Week” on my facebook page. I am somewhere around 50 weeks in and although a burden at times, the pictures are fun and have become a visual timeline. I chose to do a weekly project because whenever I come across a 365 project I tend to be disappointed. It is too much pressure and time commitment for most people to post an engaging picture everyday for a year. The pictures therefore result in being fairly lousy. One ongoing 365 project I enjoy is Zack Arias’ “Dedpxl” and even that has been slipping lately.

Anyways- I blogged about my headshots work with the spring play cast earlier. I had an idea in my head of this bully scenario that would utilize a levitation technique I saw in American Photo Magazine a while back. The idea is to have the camera on a tripod and to take a picture of the background and then place the subject in the frame standing on a chair and take another picture. In Photoshop [OMG PS CS5!] they are then composited together to erase the chair and create a levitation. I decided to do this here because we were already in the school and people were eager to help out with an Image of the Week.

I grabbed two friends, Christine and James, briefly explained my idea and had them pose. If I were to re-shoot this I would pay more attention to the details of the pose. James’ facial expression is a little too excited and I wish I had told him to put the bottoms of his feet against the lockers to give the feeling of more force. They were both in the midst of a dress rehearsal hence their out-of-place, vintage clothing. I don’t mind the clothing though, it actually adds to the unique factor IMO.

My camera was thrown on a tripod and aimed down the hall with the 18-55mm kit lens attached. Zoomed to 24mm. The lighting as shown in the foreground picture consisted of two hot shoe flashes. The main light was popping into a shoot-through umbrella about 45 degrees and 5 feet away from the subjects. The flash was zoomed halfway and I choked up on the umbrella rod so the light had a little more punch but still evenly lit both Christine and James. The second light was about 12 feet down the hallway from the first light. It was a bare flash that provided a little rim separation on Christine’s back. Here are the two original files:

[1/40 at f/4.0 ISO 100]

[1/20 at f/4.0 ISO 100]

The first step in post production was to composite the two images. I brought in the picture of the subjects on top of the background. It took a minute to align them due to my crappy walmart-pod/grubby hands. Once the pictures were in the right spot I added a mask to the foreground layer and meticulously painted everything around the people black with the paintbrush. This process took quite a bit of patience and reminded me frequently of why I dislike composites.

The rest of my time in PS was pretty easy-going. I copied the composited foreground layer and cloned out Christine’s mic that she had been wearing because she was due on stage shortly. While on my cloning rampage I noticed the hand-truck down the hallway that I didn’t like. I copied the background layer and cloned that out as well. Jumping back to the foreground layer; I copied that one last time, de-saturated it, added a high-pass filter, and set the layer mode to hard light. The subjects were a tad out of focus and this pulled them back into detail. I think I lowered the opacity of the high-pass layer to 70% or 80%. After compositing I lost all the shadows which made the picture seem as if the people were just floating randomly. To fix this I made a selection via pen tool of the shadows from the original picture and created a curves adjustment on those areas. I bent the curve towards the bottom right corner of the graph to darken the selections and create shadow. The last physical change I made was to draw the toe of Christine’s shoe. The chair leg cut it off in the pictures so I drew a selection via pen tool of the shape I thought it would have and cloned in surrounding materials from the shoe. Here is where we are at now:

I then did a quick contrast enhancement using levels. My next problem was the color. The original background was very green because I didn’t have time while taking the picture to figure out the correct white balance so I fixed that with a color balance adjustment. I added a little more blue to the background with another color balance adjustment and then added a “warming filter” over the subjects by using the same technique. Lastly I added a vignette with the curves adjustment set to luminosity. The vignette runs into the hallway on the right side in order to center the viewer’s attention on the subjects. My layers palette:

Arriving at the final image I am pretty happy. I still need some work on my compositing skills and I wish the pose was slightly different as mentioned before but all-in-all I like the result.

take a picture,

jack pope