Denver-based photographer Rebecca Stumpf lent her photographic and local expertise to Hemispheres, a United Airlines publication covering topics of travel, for a story called “Three Perfect Days: Denver.” Rebecca scouted locations for the various shoots and even researched land ownership in order to capture the stunning sunflower field image that graced the cover of the magazine. After an estimated 25 shoots around the Denver area, Rebecca curated a project that captures the essence of Colorado’s capital, from street art to the Red Rocks.
What was involved in planning/preproduction?
There was a lot of prep involved in this shoot. Selecting the locations to shoot was a big initial part of the preproduction, doing research via the internet, exploring the spots on Instagram, etc. I received a list of maybe 20 or so locations and chatted with the photo director to whittle it down (based on my local knowledge/experience) to around 10-12. Then once we decided on those 10-12, we had to reach out to them and coordinate best times to shoot. Some of the locations involved more preparation than others in terms of staging some folks to be a part of it, blocking areas off, etc.
How many shoots did you conduct to get all the images?
I think I lost count! I did an initial shoot with all of the individual places in the springtime (when Hemispheres reached out to me), and then we repeated some of them during the late summer, closer to the deadline, just to be sure we got the best time of year, and then refined the image selection. A handful of the places I had to go back to (ie to find buffalo and deer!) 3, 4, even 5 times in order to get what I was looking for. If I had to guess a number, I would say maybe 25 different shoots.
What were the shoots like?
The shoots were all very much editorial in nature, meaning it was often just me and an assistant (on some of the shoots) shooting for an assignment. Locations that were cover-contenders involved a few more people…a more previously planned out image, any stand-ins to be models in order to refine the scene a little more, etc. There weren’t any stylists involved, so I worked with the photo director, people at the location, and the stand-ins to create the best look possible for the scene. I was often in close communication with the photo director while on set, which was helpful because she could art direct from afar.
What was your favorite part of the project?
This project was a dream shoot for me because I love to explore and capture the essence of my home state and share that with others. I also loved how I got to explore some new places I didn’t previously know about (like amazing speakeasies!). I was honored to have it featured in the November issue, during a busy travel month, and hoped that I was able to inspire some folks to travel, or better yet, spend Three Perfect Days in Denver!
Did you face any challenges with this project? If so, how did you overcome them?
Each location really had its own unique challenges, and overcoming those involved a lot of problem solving. One challenge we ran into for example was when we knew that we really wanted to shoot in the well-known Colorado sunflower fields that are around the airport. It’s a popular place for visitors to go and see, but it’s all just open land and unclear who actually owns the land, and if it’s private property, etc. We had to make sure we were on property that we had permission to shoot on. So figuring out who owned the location we shot at involved some research. We figured it out in the end.
Another challenge was finding wildlife to shoot! We knew we wanted to include the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, but just going there didn’t guarantee seeing wildlife. I think I visited the refuge five or more times to see some wildlife. In the end, I don’t feel like I even got quite what I was looking for, and could have continued to visit to make the best image, but time ran out. We had to eliminate one place because we weren’t able to arrange blocking off some parking with them at the right time of day in order to make a specific image. So some places were eliminated due to logistical challenges.
I had to shoot in a couple speakeasies and the nature of those proved to be challenging due to the tiny size of the space (with a tripod!) and how incredibly dark they are. Other challenges were small things like scheduling, making the scene look natural if we were staging anything, etc. But like any challenge, persistence, grace, and dedication helped overcome it.
Photo Editor: Jessie Adler
See more of Rebecca at rebeccastumpf.com!
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