“Warm, Independent, Free”: Braxton Wilhelmsen Helps SyberJet Create a New Aesthetic

Jul 31, 2020
Photographer Spotlight

Travelling to and from a shoot location can take up a good amount of time and make marathon days even longer. Though Braxton Wilhelmsen experienced multiple sun-up to sundown shoot days for the company SyberJet, he at least got to fly in one of their aircrafts to move from place to place across Nevada and Utah, the latter being the home of both the company and the photographer.

Syberjet found me via web search and contacted me because they thought my work was similar to the look they wanted for the re-launch of their flagship aircraft. The company is based in Utah and is undergoing some re-branding as they ramp up production and bring their product to market. 

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet SJ30 profile

So far, we have flown on the jet to a total of seven shoot locations around Nevada and Utah over five days. My images have already been used at trade shows on the company's marketing materials, including a wall-print in their tradeshow trailer that is about eight feet high and 20 feet long. 

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet tradeshow trailer banner

According its website, Syberjet manufactures “the world’s fastest and longest-range light business jets” and recently decided to change the look of its products to appeal to a different demographic. That’s where Braxton comes in, and the photographer’s previous work drew Syberjet to his services.

The old aesthetic was clean, white, and technological. They're moving now more toward a warm, independent, free, highway-motorcycle-ride-into-the-sunset vibe. They want to aim less for the corporate crowd and more for those looking to get a jet that will just help facilitate the enhanced lifestyle a person wants and give them the freedom to get where they want to go.

In order to get the slew of imagery needed for the rebrand, Braxton put himself in some incredibly risky places — like, for example, right in front of a moving jet. As an added bonus, the team only had a short amount of time with the natural light available; when that ran out, everyone moved inside and continued to work.  

I had to stand on the runway while the jet took off right in front of me and try shooting it as it flew over my head. It was incredibly loud, incredibly windy, my heart was racing, and it was tricky framing the shot at that speed. Also, we started shooting the interiors outside with the sun as the key light, but we ran too long and lost the light. 

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet taxiing to take-off

We moved the plane into the hangar, and I set up strobes to replicate the look we were getting outside. This was a challenge but the results are virtually indistinguishable. 

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet SJ30 interior with strobes

There was also a shoot where I was flown up in a small helicopter about 50 feet in the air so I could get some aerial photos. The wind was blowing so the helicopter was pretty unstable, and I had to lean out the side to get a clear shot.

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet shooting from above

Braxton’s background with shooting vehicles and their interiors comes from working with a car dealership about a half-decade ago. It was during this time that the photographer first got access to a plane that he could shoot to expand his portfolio. Though these plane shots weren’t what landed Braxton this gig, they nonetheless proved invaluable learning sessions.  

About five years ago, I shot cars full-time for a VW/Porsche/Audi dealership, which familiarized me with shooting upholstered interiors and shiny vehicle exteriors. Around that same time, I got access to a prop plane at a local airport and did a shoot there as a portfolio-building exercise, which turned out great. 

Not only has Braxton finished up two separate assignments for Syberjet — and had his work featured in various publications as well as a variety of other venues — he’ll continue to collaborate with the company down the road. All in all, a fun (if nerve-wracking and tiring) experience for everyone involved!

Braxton Wilhelmsen Syberjet tear sheets

I was very happy with the level of direction they offered, the amount of preparation they did, and the supportive collaboration we've had together. The images are great, the client is happy, and I look forward to doing more with them in the future as needed.

Credits:

Creative Director: Ty Jewkes
Model: Shona Kay
Model: Dan Fowlks

Check out more of Braxton's work at braxtonbrucephotography.com.

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