Toward the end of 2018, UBER India had been looking for a lifestyle photographer for the launch of their 2019 national campaign when they finally found Bologna, Italy-based photographer Felix Reed. According to Felix, “[UBER India] was looking for a fresh and genuine approach, that’s more focused on people and their experience of traveling with UBER instead of the car. […] as far as I know, their creative team was struggling in finding a photographer with the right style.”
It wasn’t until a copy of Lürzer’s Archive arrived in their offices that they discovered Felix’s work. “I first received an email from them, and in a couple of days we organized Skype call.” Along with UBER India’s production house Glitz Modelling & Production, the group began talking about the project and their needs. In almost a month, everything was decided, and then the team was off to Delhi for a couple of weeks of shooting.
How did you come to be involved in this project?
It was our first collaboration with UBER. They came to me after seeing an ads page of mine in one of the issues of Lurzer’s Archive. In that particular issue, I decided to publish a series of automotive lifestyle images, with a happy family packing their luggage for a trip with their car. It was a personal project of mine shot some six months earlier in South Africa. And, as you can imagine, I was extremely happy to see that investing in personal work pays off.
How did you prepare for the shoot?
They had very specific needs, and they were looking to produce 23 different pictures and scenarios to explain the different services UBER has in India. The production house Glitz sent me a production document that included possible locations and models for the project. We started to discuss the different possibilities, they were very open to hear my comments and accommodate my needs. So, after a while we defined the final list of models for each shot. Of course, I left them the final call about the best locations in order to optimize the strict schedule we had to work around, to avoid losing too much time on transfers.
What message was UBER trying to convey?
From what I understood, UBER India is the major market for UBER worldwide in terms of number of trips they do on a daily basis. They wanted to communicate their different services in terms of type of the vehicle (motorcycle, automobile, premium cars) and trip range across the whole India — a huge country with different niches and traditions in each of the different states. We used different ethnic types of models and different kinds of outfits, to better accommodate their audience in each of these regions.
Were you shooting for a specific layout and how much were you able to improvise?
[The images] had to follow pretty tight guidelines, both speak the same “global” UBER language and to accommodate the text on the final layout. These tight framing rules and needs can of course limit a little bit of the freedom and the creativity of the photographer, but I feel that we are able to achieve some great and spontaneous results anyway. Usually, for each scene, we started the shoot following the creative layout they provided and once obtained the picture we were looking for, we started to improvise and experiment with more freedom around the subject. And I have to say that on various occasions, they ended up selecting one of these fresher and less constrained images.
What was your vision for this project? How does this reflect or represent your photographic style?
As a lifestyle photographer I always try to capture spontaneous and authentic moments. Even though those moments are not candid and real, as they have to act in front of the camera, I always try to keep a friendly and joyful atmosphere on set, in order to keep the models and crew at ease and obtain those happy, friendly, and genuine expressions that I’m looking for.
What was your favorite moment from this project?
One of the most unusual and favorite parts of each shoot was the beginning of the shooting day. Crew members always made a small ritual to Ganesha (one of the most well-known Hindu deities) that involved smashing a coconut in front of his image while saying a loud prayer, to gain his favors.
How have these photographs been received?
For what I’ve been told, the reception of the images has been really positive. They are now displayed across all of India on outdoor billboards and digital materials.
UBER Creative Director: Bipin Bist
Production house: Glitz Modeling & Production
Executive Producer: Amit Arora
Digital Assistant: Gemma Benassi
Stylist: Ramneek Gupta
MUA: Shaan Khan
See more of Felix’s work at felixreed.com!
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