First let me add some context: In the world of high powered advertising photography you are paid to get the shot. The client hires an art director who hires a photographer to get the image conceived by the client and art director. The client doesn’t want to hear that you aren’t good enough or resourceful enough or that you’re philosophically opposed to the concept. They paid you big money to get the shot. Period. Exclamation Point! End of discussion. You may be the most talented shooter on the planet but if you can’t deliver the goods on time you may end up working in the camera department at Best Buy. I spent enough time in the photo biz and hanging around advertising photographers that I am fully aware of this concept.
So there I was, driving along Chandler Blvd in Chandler, AZ when I noticed a Black Angus steakhouse. My thoughts immediately went to the imagery of David Stoecklein who supplied all the marvelous photography in every Black Angus I’ve ever been in. And here’s the deal….
I don’t subscribe to Outdoor Photographer and haven’t for 3 or 4 years now. It was a great magazine but when it started to resemble Popular Photography magazine based on all the ads in the back I didn’t renew my subscription. One of the things OP used to do was what I like to call Photographer Weekends. They would bring 2 hotshot outdoor or nature photographers to a major city for presentations. One guy on Saturday and the other guy on Sunday. I attended several of these over the years and really enjoyed them.
A few years ago the Photographers Weekend was held in Denver. It featured Rick Sammon and David Stoecklein as the presenters. I’d seen Rick Sammon a couple of other times and liked his show and I am a great admirer of David Stoecklein’s work so I ponied up my money and went to the shows.
David Stoecklein is famous for his images of Horses, Cowgirls, Cowboys, and the Western lifestyle but he made his bones (and his money) as a big time advertising photographer. Word in the industry was that Stoecklein could get the shot. I had heard his name in the advertising world and admired his work on display in the chain of Black Angus steakhouses so I signed up.
David’s morning session was pretty uneventful right up till nearly lunch time. He described how he had to do a shot of a cowboy in a blizzard….in the middle of July. A couple of phone calls to a company in Idaho and the next day he had 10,000 lbs of potato flakes making a summer blizzard for his image. Then it happened. Keep in mind this is an auditorium full of ecology minded nature photographers. David was describing the logistics of a photograph he created for Jeep showing a Grand Cherokee perched at the top of a seemingly vertical cliff. In describing the shot he said “…..so then we had to cut down about a dozen trees so the helicopter could bring in the Jeep.” The audible gasp nearly sucked the oxygen out of the room. Here we are, surrounded by earth shoe wearing, granola eating Nature Photographers. They were aghast at the statement. It bordered on Blasphemy. Then we broke for lunch. After the lunch break a full auditorium seating about 150 people was only about 1/3 full. Apparently they just don’t get it. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get the shot. If it means cutting down a small forest, well, you need to get the shot.
Oh, and if you’re speaking to a group like David was and like I frequently do, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Rock on David.