Sometimes the best cities aren’t high in the mountains or down by the beach, but situated in between everything, with endless possibilities for enjoyment – whether you’re staying over or stopping by. Fayetteville, North Carolina rests perfectly between Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington, making it a welcome stop along the way on many a road trip across the state. Durham-based photographer Natalia Weedy was eager to aid the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau‘s recent campaign, as it sparked her curiosity to represent a city that she hadn’t yet experienced in full.
This project aligned perfectly with my love for travel, my ability to capture stills seamlessly on a video set, and my desire to learn and share stories about different cities’ history and culture.
Natalia first set her sights on this campaign when she was contacted by Mythic, an agency she and her team work with out of Charlotte, NC.
Their Director of Production asked us to submit a proposal for the project and everything grew from there.
Having been one of those who had only passed through Fayetteville before, Natalia was ready to discover what makes this part of the state unforgettable and unique.
The goal of the project was to share the hidden, memorable moments of Fayetteville that not everyone may be aware of while representing the client’s brand identity as a fun and adventurous destination.
Before shooting, Natalia and her team collaborated with the creative team at Mythic and the video production team at Joyride on all aspects of the campaign.
We worked hand and glove during pre-production to bring the project together, including scouting the locations for both creative and technical potential, preparing the shot list, and weighing in on talent, wardrobe, and prop selection.
The team considered 8-10 locations for the shoot, and with the help of the client, narrowed that to a short list of 8 places for Natalia to concentrate on.
We went down to Fayetteville for pre-production and scouting with the video Director to determine the best locations to fulfill the project’s creative direction. Ultimately, we selected 8 locations for the shoot but sadly, a hurricane blew in on the final shoot day and kept us from capturing two of the locations.
Despite the weather’s unpredictability, Natalia had a lot of material to work with for this all-inclusive campaign. Going from kayaking, ATV rides, and treetop adventuring, to bustling restaurants, live music, and all the charm of Fayetteville’s historic streets and stores.
The main theme for the campaign was to feature a variety of experiences around Fayetteville for visitors to participate in so they could answer the question from the campaign, “Have you done it Yette?” That ‘experience’ thread pulled all the images and footage together.
Keeping energy high and the experience authentic, Natalia helped capture a live scene at a restaurant with a band playing at full volume for a crowd of extras.
It was an exhilarating and challenging experience orchestrating multiple elements at once. Coordinating the band’s performance, directing the extras, and ensuring optimal lighting and composition all demanded careful planning and execution. The aim was to create images that truly conveyed the dynamic atmosphere and excitement of the scene.
Because the scenarios varied, so did the talent needed for each. The subjects ranged from seasoned pros, and first-time extras, to real-life experts and non-professional hero talent. As Natalia puts it, “It had it all!”
There are certain things that I do no matter the experience level of talent in front of the camera; I introduce myself and my team, keep things moving and fun, encourage them constantly and authentically, and value them as creative collaborators! In cases where we need a super high-energy result, I’ll bring on an assistant director to interact with the talent to ensure I don’t miss the moment!
The tone set at each iteration of the shoot was an extension of Natalia’s work ethic and her collaboration with the other team members involved in the project.
The passion and ambition of the team, coupled with the focus on adventure in Fayetteville’s urban and rural areas, created an atmosphere that fueled movement and enthusiasm and resulted in images that truly reflected the spirit of the city. Between the agency, video production team, stills production team, and talent, we had quite the crowd moving around the town.
With so many locations, the crew had to keep the gear and shot list tight but made sure to equip themselves with the necessary means to battle the elements wherever they were needed.
We’d be sure to pack specifically for each shot and location as each would require different equipment including a surplus of tarps and umbrellas for water, mud, sand as well as waders and an aquarium to be in the water with our expert kayaker. All the moving pieces in a production this size is always a challenge, but one we enjoy conquering. The weather was one of the largest production challenges on this shoot.
No one on the team could predict the hurricane that prevented shooting at two of the locations. Natalia’s years of experience helped her navigate the many unexpected challenges, with new lessons learned along the way.
Planning is always paramount! Even though you think you have enough tarps with you, always bring just 1 more, always keep your cases closed when not in use and gear protected, and having a proper scout and experienced production team sets you up for success to lean into the creative on the shoot day!
See more of Natalia’s work on her website.
Production Company: Cowboy Collective
Stills Producer: Virginia Dees-Boyd
Assistant: Molly Brock
Retouching: Amber Hogan, Jennifer Sanderson, and Lindsey Warren
Digi Tech: Alex Craig
Art Director: Chris Grauwiler
Management Supervisor: James Stevens
Account Executive: Jordan Gayle
Read more about Natalia on our Published blog.