Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hero Photography for Corporate Safety Campaign

See last year's campaign
Kimberly-Clark is a world class corporation that makes many of the brand name products you might use everyday like Kleenex, Huggies and Cottonelle. Every year they have a Safety Campaign aimed at maintaining the safety-culture of their company. Last year I took a set of photos of workers decked out in Personal Protection Equipment, or "PPE" as it is known in the biz. See previous campaign.

This year, the theme changed slightly from workers in the factory to family members. It was decided to use a young child and his father for the "hero" photo. This was a real father and son to make it more realistic, and it was probably the only way to do it. The young boy was no more than 5 years old so we would be fighting a short attention span. Having the parents there would help me coax the emotions that the art director was asking for. This is was challenging for many reasons.

The concept for the photo was that the boy would be seen hugging his father dressed in Dad's PPE which consisted of safety goggles and vest. This is where the process got fun. The art director wanted black hair and a black shirt on a black background. Not only that, the boy was to wear wrap-around, highly reflective safety glasses that reflect EVERYTHING! I knew this was going to be a challenge to light.

In all, I used 1 softbox, 1 umbrella fill, 1 horizontal strip light and 1 gridded spot light and some reflectors. Removing any of those would have made parts of our subjects fade into the black background especially the hair.

All the safety goggles were highly reflective and showed all my studio lights. The highlights had to be managed.
We tried 3 different sets of goggles to give the art director a choice, and soon we were done. I tried every trick in the book to get the right expression from our young talent... I even bribed him with a robot from my childhood toy collection. Talk about going the extra mile.

The retouching phase of the project got a bit "hairy" as I removed individual stray hairs, and gave the Dad a hair cut. Below is a BEFORE and AFTER detail of the photo.

BEFORE Retouching
This process involved rebuilding the shirt collar and skin texture on the neck, plus adding back digital hairs in certain locations. I also removed a major unavoidable softbox reflection and added some color to the boy's eyes. Overall, I am very pleased with the results given the circumstances.
AFTER Retouching
This poster will be translated into 21 languages and hung up in factories all over the world. Pretty cool.