Everyone likes to think that when they do a commercial assignment, the photographer will have an enormous amount of control over what gets photographed and how it will be done. In corporate assignments, the team involved is similar to what you would image working on a movie set, and this doesn’t even begin to account for the number of corporate people on hand to supervise production. Tyler Stableford is among the leading location photographers who worked on an ad campaign for Stetson. This interview with him sheds light on the complexities and nuances of doing a corporate shoot of this magnitude on location.
PS: Tell me about how you got the Stetson job.
TS: I think with many ad agencies, it’s a court- ship that can take many months and even years. Pure Brand Communications in Denver is one of the top ad agencies—they had my portfolio and I met them six months to a year before I had a chance to bid on this campaign—that’s generally how it works. I never give my portfolio to an ad agency and they say, “Great, let’s start working next week.” It’s usually, “We’re interested in your work and what you’re doing, we’ll keep in touch.” And then I start a relationship—I’ve met the art directors and the art buyers and account managers, and then I stay in touch with them and say, “Hey, I’m continuing this work and do things in your genre.”
I think my work is a mix of outdoor adventure, as well as industrial and environmental portraiture. The Stetson project was double/triple bid, as usual. What that means is the bidding comes down to two or three top photographers being considered in the process. They want to know the budget—what would it cost to shoot this campaign over four days in a range of places, from the high mountains to a nightclub, to working ranches, and where should we shoot this thing—they were thinking maybe in Wyoming. I said, “I live in a really beautiful spot that has all that—everything from the country bars to working ranches. We could shoot it locally— keep cost down by shooting locally—have a local producer and crew.” I think that was appealing. It also meant if weather changed or things changed, my crew and I knew the area well and could adapt quickly.