Paul Owen: Target

Jun 15, 2017
Photographer Spotlight

Minneapolis-based photographer Paul Owen already had a long and productive relationship with the retail giant Target, when he was commissioned to shoot one of its weekly ads focusing on home goods. Since Target is based in Minneapolis, Paul previously had the opportunity to work on various projects for the brand. He was eventually awarded this large campaign after his persistence and good track record with the retailer.

Paul partially credits his ascension with Target to his ability to make friends with the art directors on set and continuing to nurture those relationships through networking, print promos, and portfolio showings.

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer, Wonderful Machine  
This particular project for was for a Back-To-College pop-up campaign, kind of a mini story within Target's weekly ad. Art Director, Rebecca Cahill wanted the photos to maintain Target's bright, fun, and poppy aesthetic they're known for — something fun and a little quirky to showcase their back to school items.

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer, Wonderful Machine

The preparation for the shoot began long before Paul became involved, but his collaborative skills were utilized a month or two before the shoot took place. Paul worked with Rebecca to cast several models in their early twenties with fun personalities as a foundation for the shoot. From there, they both worked with stylist Nicole Uphoff to pre-visualize the activities and props that the models would interact with. Paul was closely involved in brainstorming concepts and choosing the color palette they would work from in order to give the shoot a unified and energetic feeling. 

We wanted to bring everything together and keep it simple in color and form, while still maintaining the fun and curiosity associated with millennials. 

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer, Wonderful Machine

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer

When it came time for the shoot itself, Paul enjoyed the challenge of bringing the ideas he had helped conceptualize to life. It was a constant challenge to keep the energy upbeat and lighthearted throughout the shoot. They had at least three solid ideas for each scene, but as with most creative endeavors, pre-visualized ideas don't always easily translate to reality.

They would occasionally get stuck during the process, but these roadblocks gave them the opportunity to push through - letting each image they created spawn new ideas and help pave-the-way for more. 

It's frustrating and hard sometimes, but that's how new ideas are born...

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer, Wonderful Machine

Paul appreciated Target's willingness to give him creative freedom during this shoot, and he loved the fact that Target allowed him to experiment and play with the concepts. 

We're so often tasked to crank out too many images in a short time, and we often don’t have the chance to fully work out and perfect an idea, or try out some new ones. Target really gave us what we needed on this one. 

This freedom allowed Paul to let the images guide the process, resulting in some fun and unexpected results. 

One of Paul's favorite aspects of photography is the collaboration and opportunity for fun on the set.  At one point, everyone on set was folding paper airplanes, and in another, they were blowing bubbles.

Paul Owen, Target, Brand Narrative, Back-to-College, Summer, Wonderful Machine

In the end, Target loved the images! So much so that Paul is already gearing up to shoot this year's campaign for the upcoming back-to-school season. He's proud of what he was able to create and is excited to see the concepts progress and evolve. Although he hasn't seen Rebecca's initial ideas for the next shoot, he's confident they'll once again be able to make something fun and poppy.

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Tags: brand narrative photography paul owen target