When photographers land work with big-name clients, they’re not always sure what drew the client to them. While not essential, it’s always nice to know just why someone like Warner Bros. would want you on board. Fortunately for Erich Saide, the person who hired him pinpointed a specific image that got the Vancouver-based photographer the gig.
I received an email from Tom Strodtbeck, the Digital Content Production Manager for Warner Bros.’ Worldwide Television Marketing. He found me through Google, and he told me it was this image below that really hooked him, in large part because of how I used my lighting.
Tom hired Erich to get images of the cast of the CW show Supergirl, which was celebrating the airing of its 100th episode earlier this year. Due to the conceptual nature of the shoot, Erich found himself collaborating from the word “go” as opposed to being told what to do.
The purpose of the shoot was to create publicity images for the Supergirl 100th episode launch on TV on February 23. Tom and I went back and forth on concept and how we would use a gobo to shoot the Supergirl logo onto the cape backdrop. Tom also sent me a very rough mock-up of the concept as well as a rough mood board of the overall vibe.
The concept was that the talent would be standing on a massive red cape with gobo lighting of the Supergirl “S” emblazoned on the draped fabric.
This assignment marked a new challenge for Erich: using a gobo — shorthand for “go-between object” — which is a stencil or template placed inside or in front of a light source to control the shape of the emitted light. Lighting designers typically use them with stage lighting instruments to manipulate the shape of the light cast over a space or object (i.e. to produce a pattern of leaves on a stage floor). A veteran of the Vancouver photography landscape, Erich knew exactly where to go for help in this regard.
My biggest unknown was I hadn’t used a gobo before. This was a great opportunity for growth. To get started, I headed over to Beau Photo in Vancouver, my go-to rental and gear house. I learn so much from them.
They had the Profoto Spot Small I was able to test and then get the specs so that WB could get the Supergirl logo gobo made.
After setting up for three hours, Erich and his team got to work get images of the cast members. Since this shoot was for a milestone moment for “Supergirl,” a number of important people were at the shoot, which made the collaboration quite smooth. Things went so well, in fact, that Erich essentially landed a follow up job on the spot.
The concept was solid and my creative freedom would come the day of as we built the set and created the lighting. I work from feel when I light. We have a good idea of “how” and “what” beforehand, but we usually work with the client and keep adjusting where the light goes until we’re both happy.
As we built the set and created the lighting, Tom was super excited. During the shoot he was so happy and already asking how he could get us down to Comic Con this summer to shoot similar gallery executions.
Two of the main cast members, Melissa Benoist and David Harewood, were some of Erich’s favorite subjects. Though he didn’t get to speak with them during the shoot, Erich did manage to chat with David at the afterparty that celebrated the 100th episode milestone. The Canadian also got instant feedback from Tom as he made the images, which found their way to the show’s Instagram page among other publicity-based locations.
Melissa and David were both amazing to work with. I didn’t really get the opportunity to chat at the shoot, as we were shooting as the cast came off the red carpet before going into the celebration for the 100th episode party.
The reaction from Tom as each image came in can only be described as proud. This was the first execution of this type he had put together and, as he saw his vision come to life, it was great to see how proud he was.
And because this was such a big deal for the network, Erich also got shots of the higher-ups at Warner Bros. What better way to network than with a plethora of suits who are in a boisterous mood and are enthralled by your work? This is the kind of shoot photographers chomp at the bit to land. Viewing Erich’s work, it’s easy to see why he was chosen to complete it.
A bonus was shooting the top executives from Warner Bros TV. Because this was such a huge milestone for the show, the company brought the top people up to Vancouver, like Chief Executive of Warner Bros. Television Peter Roth.
Working with these highly respected people was such an amazing feeling!
Photo Assistant: Vince Ferreira
See more of Erich’s work at erichsaide.com.
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