Detroit photographer Marek Dziekonski’s latest project started with a phone call from a friend, Nathaniel John. Nathaniel, also a model and actor, initially inquired about headshots for his portfolio, but after a short conversation, Marek convinced him of something a bit more unique. In lieu of a standard headshot session, the two decided to get creative by simulating an ad campaign for a car company. Marek wanted to push himself to develop something new and interesting, and Nathaniel could be rewarded with images that truly demonstrated his skills.
There were a number of points Marek wanted to touch on with this shoot. First, he wanted to make sure to showcase Nathaniel’s ability to perform in a commercial modeling scenario. Marek also wanted to test his skills and limitations when photographing a simulated ad campaign, without the assistance of a full commercial crew. Although Marek’s portfolio usually featured luxury vehicles, he felt that it would be a good opportunity to expand his own portfolio by working with mid-range cars.
Nathaniel knew that the shoot day itself would be challenging, considering he flew into Los Angeles with only an hour and a half scheduled for the shoot. The short session schedule with the additional constraints of a last-minute project, pushed Marek to use all his skills and flex his creative muscles.
I had to depend on my knowledge and experience with shooting around downtown Detroit. I had two different directions prepared for the shoot so we could move forward quickly, regardless of weather conditions.
Marek decided to primarily use natural light for the shoot to allow him to be more mobile and try out multiple locations in quick succession. The photos from inside the car ended up requiring some additional lighting, but Marek was prepared for any curveballs. There were some inconveniences, such as heavy foot traffic and construction, however being a downtown Detroit veteran, Marek had no issues with the crowds.
I was excited to see if I could achieve quality images despite an extremely tight timeline and without the resources or benefits that I would usually draw on while working on a similar project for an ad campaign. I enjoyed solving the multiple visual and logistical problems we encountered while shooting.
Marek’s social media circles have given an overwhelmingly positive response to the images and Nathaniel is quite pleased as well. Though this was a self-assigned project, Marek is set on using it as a learning experience that he will draw on for future assignments and personal work.