Brunner Works‘ creative director Dave Vissat recently reached out to Pittsburgh-based photographer Tom Cwenar with a challenge: he needed some help in bringing a larger presence to a little donut franchise in the area.
He began by telling me that he had this idea that places the really cool donuts that this shop makes on the heads of some of the world’s most iconic figures of the 60s. Think Twiggy, Hendrix, and Joplin.
So began the process of developing imagery for a series of posters that the franchise would place in its local stores and on social media. Tom knew his images needed to translate the “peace, love and happiness” vibes of the 60s, so in his research he asked a ton of questions, addressing everything from wardrobe and makeup to how models were typically lit and what kinds of poses would translate the mood of the era correctly. Tom then held a casting call with Docherty Models where he ended up casting 30 people for five posters. Having a casting was important to Tom so that he knew the talent could embody the essence of that groovy period.
With the models selected and the right idea about the clothing, jewelry, and hairstyles of the 60’s, stylist Reema Anbari set out to scour local thrift and vintages stores for the perfect pieces. Each model had multiple wardrobe options, and the overall color palette of each article of clothing matched with the donut colors atop their head.
Tom shot and made final selects of each model before photographing the donuts. He ended up shooting about ten different donuts for the each of the five models. To make sure the donuts didn’t look out of place on the models’ heads Tom had to do more than just making sure they were shot with the same lighting setup.
Getting the right angle of the donut was probably the most challenging part of this process. I had my retoucher outline each donut while we were shooting and place each donut on the model’s head. This was done quick and dirty but I wanted to make sure each one was shot at the correct perspective.
Over at Brunner, Dave and his team were already developing an app that puts you right into the action – identical to the corresponding ad campaign; the app turned you into a “donut head.”
The shoot day quickly came and went, and Tom’s team coordinated all the production details without a hiccup. The final images were such a hit that Brunner Works installed a larger-than-life mural with five of the final images surrounded by flying donuts, giving way to a larger audience being found on social media.
See more of Tom on his website.