Seattle-based Ed Sozinho is an adventure and lifestyle photographer whose creativity is often kindled by time spent outdoors. Through his work, he’s made numerous connections with outdoor videographers, crew, and craftsmen who perform labor-intensive jobs of all kinds.
Ed’s extensive experience in the outdoor industry and his network proved to be a crucial element of his recent shoot for Case Knives. Instead of coming to him with a fully fleshed-out story, Peter Perakos Director of Production at the McGarrah Jessee agency asked Ed to leaf through his own Rolodex of artisans and makers to find compelling characters who would shape the direction of the shoot.
They leaned on my connections in the industry to find the talent. Then we molded the vision to fit the subject and started expanding the list of possibilities for each character.
One of the subjects featured for the shoot was Hama Hama Oysters, a fifth-generation family-run shellfish farm nestled in a crisp, cold-water tributary off the Puget Sound. These farmers use knives regularly to cut nets and crack open shells so it wasn’t hard for Ed to capture the products being used authentically.
Ed’s previous work shooting underwater inspired him to capture some images from that perspective. In his commitment to tailoring the shoot around the subject, Ed realized that the waterway was more than a location to photograph around, but also a space in which most of the work was taking place. Whether the farmers were cutting ropes or netting that had lodged itself onto rocks, Ed’s imagery illustrates the farm’s unique application of the tool.
As we discussed how we wanted to highlight the knives in this setting, we played with the idea of how the tool is handled underwater. It seemed an essential part of the farmer’s work.
The forested region of the Pacific Northwest was an ideal location for the shoot, both for its access to the coast and the abundance of greenery. Ed’s own adventuring lifestyle enabled the small production team to stay on location for several days, with both talent and crew working out of his own camper van.
The Hood Canal in Washington is a beautiful piece of the state. It’s located on the backside of the Olympic Peninsula and has long stretches of treed coastline.
The team consisted of McGarrah Jessee’s creative director, Tim Cole, producer, and brand supervisor Katyee Jordan, and Ed’s assistant Josh Huston. He also shared this assignment with videographer Drew Stoecklein, who filmed the subjects while Ed simultaneously captured the stills. Ed collaborated with all individuals involved in the project, ensuring that the film content didn’t overlap with his photography while also working with the agency to maintain a cohesive look throughout the images in the series.
While the shoot lasted a couple of days, the wildness of this location left no room for creating sets and staging the images. Ed found himself shooting landscapes, portraits, and product stills all within a 30-minute span. He was sharing the subjects with Drew, the videographer so he didn’t have time to reshoot once Drew began filming. Though this added an element of difficulty to the assignment, he discovered that this kind of strain pushed him to work as efficiently and effectively as possible.
This shoot made me realize I really thrive under pressure in a high speed production.
Ed’s experience with outdoor photography and his personal affinity for natural environments allowed him to easily tap into local talent that fit the vision for the project. He found artists, woodworkers, and hunters whose experience in the outdoors called for a tool that was sharp and compact. Once he found the subjects, Ed simply needed to bear witness to their skill and craftsmanship.
I loved the documentary nature of the shoot. For me, it’s about sliding into my creative space to see what is happening and react quickly enough to get in front of the action.
Ed determined that by shooting as wide open as possible, he could capture as much of the environment while still producing razor-sharp quality. In finding foreground and background material that he then threw out of focus, he was able to use this unique layering feature to showcase the product as the focal point.
This technique was crucial for pulling the knives out and making them the main subject of the images.
The McGarrah Jessee agency knows that when highlighting the real-world application of a product, it is important to capture the varied subjects and uses to demonstrate its versatility. Through their many outdoor lifestyle campaigns, they’ve developed relatable stories that establish a brand’s identity and cultivate its audience. When they sought out Ed for this project, the agency knew his contacts and experience would benefit the authenticity of the series.
I was working with a great creative director Tim Cole. We were on the same page and had a great time finding the shots and executing the images.
Photographer: Ed Sozinho
Client: Case Knives
Agency: McGarrah Jessee
Executive Director of Production, Location Producer: Peter Perakos
Creative Director: Tim Cole
Producer: Kaytee Jordan
Film: Drew Stoecklein
Photography Assistant: Josh Huston