Yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is approaching and most of the advertising is done or will be done soon. Annual photos of Santa or elves or shoppers or… Fortunately for us, DDB and their client Syncrude believe in a bit of a different Christmas message. Syncrude is big into reclamation (returning the land to its former self) and part of that reclamation is maintaining a herd of bison on their former mine site. Thus a large part of their identity is the bison itself. Which leads us into to this years’ photo. A mockup was sent of a bison standing in a doorway of a home. We needed to photograph the bison, then photograph an open and closed door for a Christmas card, as well as an exterior of the home for an ad.
Due to timing we had to photograph things a bit backwards and do the bison shot first, then shoot the home. It would have been better to match the lighting on the bison to the lighting in the home rather than the other way around. Lucky for us, however, a home was scouted for us and we had detailed photos of the entrance before we photographed the bison (thanks DDB).
Now it was up to us to photograph the bison and make it work. Fortunately we are quite familiar with our favorite bison named Bailey. He lives just outside Edmonton and we’ve photographed him a few times over the years. Our initial thought was to photograph him in the doorway of his house (inside of which he spends some time with his owner, Jim). Logistically it just wasn’t great since there was no room for our lighting to fit. We studied various angles in and around the house and decided to photograph Bailey in the garage.
He was more comfortable there as opposed to inside the house. How do we know? Well, when we arrived Jim was in the garage vacuuming Bailey for the photoshoot and shining up his horns with oil. We made a makeshift wall out of seamless white and tried to mimic the wall inside the home as well as the warmth and the type of lighting we would experience at the home. The idea being, it would be dusk outside with warm light spilling out from the entryway.
When we shot the house shot, we dressed the doorway with snow, then our assistant James stood in the doorway to cast a shadow on the snow. We shot as the light went down, settling on the right amount of dusk.
Here’s a little behind the scenes video, and as always, Bailey was incredible.
Apparently our motto around here is ‘safety third’
Finally the image itself. Thanks DDB and Syncrude and of course, Bailey and Jim.