What seems like many moons ago, photographer and friend Steve Squall contacted me about shooting for his new apparel company, Tribe. At the time, I had only heard of Tribe and really liked the branding and attitude behind it, but really knew nothing about it. Over time, Steve and I became closer friends and I really gained a liking for what Tribe represented and more importantly, the product they sold.
After we “tested the waters”, Steve and I scheduled the shoot date for the official collaborative editorial look book for Tribe’s new collection called “Strike First - Strike Steady”. The time line hit me like a freight train and before I knew it we were 4 days out and had no location, no models, nothing. Glass Label, my film production company, had just completed a 48 Hour Film Project and my life was a frenzy of shoots and meetings. The day was Monday, July 22nd and we had scheduled the editorial for that Friday, July 26th.
Steve and I work on a different plain. I like to be “overly” prepared with a timeline, shot list, storyboard and whatever I may need to get the best results. Steve on the other hand; fly with the wind, run and gun, improvisation…. So, Monday I received a text from Steve asking about models, I went into pure planning mode. We passed back and forth about 20 texts and I send out a gamut of Facebook messages regarding the shoot. Fortunately, we had already scouted our models, but contact had to be made.
We had 3 of 5 models booked and on board. Our next goal was the completion of our team, we called in a favor from the talented makeup artist Isidro Valencia and brought on a stylist Megan Thomas to assist. Tribe founder Jeremy Richie rounded out the team as creative director. Our next step was concept and mood.
We finally received confirmation from 4 of the 5 models and decided to move forward with the 4. We knew the aesthetic, but needed “conceptual characters” to forge from. Our aesthetic was simple; 1985, pacific northwest, summer, warm, lake & beach. While Jeremy spent time on story boarding, Steve had called in a favor from Brian Atchley who owned a small power boat. Will all those images in mind, we employed Brian to take us on a scouting trip UP the Ohio River.
Over the course of my high school years I had spent many summers on the river and remembered a few cool spots, the only problem: it was going to be a long boat ride. As we jetted down the Ohio, memories flooded into mind and I soaked in the evening sun over a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. What a life, I thought to myself. We hit two or three spots with average results, I honestly wasn't impressed and started to second guess the scouting adventure. There were no beaches or nothing that resembled what we wanted. After travelling up river 20 miles we hit a man made cove that didn’t catch my eye until we idled across to the lateral side. My initial thought; “This might work”, by the time we headed home; “That’s it”. The mountainous sand dunes and patchy grass was the perfect element to add to the overall aesthetic. The 45 minute boat ride home was a long one, especially because my iPhone died right in the middle of an epic Facebook update.
With the location on tap and the mood board coming together, I was starting to feel confident. We still had to set a time and place for hair and makeup. Fortunately, my parents live near the Ohio River and about 2 minutes from our “cast off” dock. That evening, I was able to set a call time at 3pm, at my parents house, 24 hours before the shoot. Also, I was able to finally verify model Melanie Hernandez. I knew she would be a much needed asset to the team. I felt determined and excited to take on the shoot, but for whatever reason I was still had a tinge of nervous anxiety about it. The travel logistics weren’t in our favor.
3pm came quickly, I showed up at my parents house to a barrage of cars already and waiting. I rushed up the driveway and opened the house up for load in. Isidro showed up shortly after and the process began! Unfortunately, we were pushing time. Minute by minute the sun was moving down and we still had a 45 minute boat ride to our location. By the time hair/makeup was complete and we arrived at the dock we were about 45 minutes behind schedule. The boat was filled to capacity with 11 people on board. We rushed down the river and didn’t slow once. Our sun had dissipated into a mild overcast evening, but we had plenty enough light to work with for 2 hours. Once we beached, we unloaded gear and I setup one light and a few essentials. While Dylan did some fixing up on the boat hair, I grabbed Melanie and dove right into the first set.
I started powering through shots with a steady quickness. I was all over the place, mostly on the ground rolling in sand and dirt. As Steve was capturing B-roll video and grabbing stills himself, I rallied couples, groups and individuals. Over an hour had passed and we were reaching our departure point. I still had to get in the water. I popped my camera in the underwater housing and jumped in the river, I had been looking forward to this moment for sometime.
Since the camera eye piece is only about an inch above the lens, when your camera breaches the surface of the water so does your eyes, nose and mouth. You can’t see anything and you’re holding your breath. So, I switched the camera to continuous mode and took a deep breath and guessed. The shutter rattled off like a machine gun. Focus and repeat. I did this for every model from depths of 6 feet to 10 inch shallow water. I had no idea what I had captured, but by the last individual set in the water, the sun has set and it was time to go, like right away. I broke down my light(that I didn’t use whatsoever) and jumped in the boat for the chilly ride home. It was a breath of fresh air and I felt very accomplished, despite only using natural light. From what I could tell the images looked fantastic and dramatic.
Once we arrived at the dock, we all said our goodbyes and bailed. Steve and I meet an hour later for drinks and a calm celebration of our success.
The editorial was released two weeks later to a wonderful applause. Despite Tribe closing a chapter and shutting down their retail store the day after the release, the editorial has solidified their online presence which is were their sole focus has shifted too.
Just think, this all came together in 4 days, imagine what we can do in 4, 6 or even 8 weeks. Plans are in place, this whole thing will come full circle.
BEHIND THE SCENES