I had been working on a concept for an advertising campaign centered around a local winery. I have known the family for a few years and have a pretty keen understanding of the particular aesthetic they appreciate. A rustic, medieval, candle-lit, low key sort of style. When I approached them with my idea for the this first "Test" image, they were excited to work with me and we scheduled a shoot for the following week. The concept I came up with was to build characters for the family members to portray and photograph them accordingly. For this image of Gregg Lewis, the owner, I wanted to convey him as a wise and noble author, sequestered away in his study. His business was built around stories he created to entertain his children when they were young, about a heroic fox and his friends, and the perils that come along on the heroes journeys. I thought the character fit because Gregg was very much the author of his own story and the legacy of The Dancing Fox. Designing the set took a few days of bouncing around ideas and collaborating with the middle son of the family, Jarod. I decided to use the winery itself as the location, as it has a beautiful rustic look to it. I rented the shirt he is wearing, made the fur shawl (Faux fur... don't worry) and brought in as many old looking books and medieval looking items as I could find, Jarod brought in a bunch of things as well that fit the scene, an old chest, a bear trap, more books, etc. I made a point to have the hand-carved wooden fox looming over his shoulder, as a hint to the authors fables. I had done some test shots the night before, to get an idea how I wanted to light the scene, but as always... life threw a wrench in the spokes once I got to the location and plans changed. Its important to always be flexible. It ended up being a 4 light setup: a gridded beauty dish covered by a layer of CTO warming gel coming from the direction of the candle to motivate that being the main light in the scene, a large octa to camera left as a fill for the other side of his face, a deep octa on the bookshelf to the right to add a bit of , and a little constant light with focused barn doors on the fox statue. The bookshelf in the background of the image is actually a wine shelf that they use for stocking and displaying wine. We switched out the bottles for books and spent about 2 hours setting up the scene and making adjustments here and there. I also filled the room with a generous layer of haze to establish a bit of atmosphere and a feeling of depth. It took quite a while to fill up the entire winery with haze... Like more haze than you think you would need.
Once I had everything set up how I wanted, we called in the subject (Gregg). We only spent about 15 minutes shooting before I got what I wanted. Overall both the client and I were very happy with the final result and they are excited to launch in to the next portrait of the series... stay tuned.