Michael Kunde is a born-and-raised Utahn, so when the Utah Office of Tourism approached him to photograph a series of road trips across his home state for their multi-million-dollar spring campaign, he was all in. They needed the trips to feel real, so Michael, the talent, and the crew really road-tripped. We had to ask Michael about his wild-west adventure.
First off, can you you tell me about this project and how you got involved with it?
This was a very fun project to be a part of. Utah is a wonderful state with five different National Parks—yes, five! The goal of this project was to showcase the ultimate road trip to all five national parks. We shot three different stories, consisting of three different groups of road-trippers over the course of five days. One day in each iconic landscape. The best way to do this was to road-trip with these people and shoot their journey and fun along the way!
What was your goal with these images?
The goal of these images was to truly convey this epic landscape and experience what Utahns are lucky enough to call home. When you think of an ultimate western road-trip, these should be the images you think of. Authenticity and a loose shooting style was key to capturing these fun moments our talent shared with the landscape.
How does this project fit your photographic style?
This project was a dream come true for me to shoot. I am a Utahn born and raised and absolutely love the state where I come from. I’ve been surrounded by beautiful landscapes my entire life and I have always been drawn to shoot and document these beautiful locations. Throw some really fun creatives, talent, and locals into the mix and you have yourself a photo shoot where you can’t go wrong! I’ve been lucky enough in my career to travel to many different locations all over the world and I can hands-down say shooting our national parks in Utah is still one of my favorites.
What did the course of the shoot look like?
This was a whirlwind of a shoot! Everyday we shot in a different location, and in between each location we had many hours of driving to do. We shot every single sunrise and sunset for an entire week and every moment in between. On the longer drives from location to location I would sit in the back of a vehicle and download, backup, and start making selects and doing rough color treatments to show the client/agency. Let’s just say lots of coffee was drank that week and there was very little time spent sleeping in a bed.
What was your favorite part of this project?
My favorite part of this project was definitely the first day when we worked with real-life cowboys and their families. The agency, Struck Creative, came up with a great concept to shoot one of our road-trippers on motorcycles driving down a dirt road alongside of a cowboy and his team of racing horses. The shot ended up being one of my favorites and the cowboys and their families were so great to work with. They were super authentic and live a life that few people ever get to experience. I shot countless portraits of them and couldn’t be happier with the results!
What has the reaction to these images been so far?
So far the reaction that I have had about these images have been great! The campaign just launched and banners and billboards are starting to be printed up and placed in various airports and magazines around the U.S. I’m excited that these images will hopefully get people to Utah and let them experience first-hand what a beautiful state we have.
You can see more from the Utah Tourism gallery, as well as more work of Michael’s on michaelkundephoto.com.