Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Adrian Mueller Wins Industry Attention - Behind the Scenes of the Costa Sunglasses Campaign

Attention is turning toward our New York based photographer Adrian Mueller. Whether its winning awards with his own creative imagery, like this month’s Feature Shoot Award of summer location photos (http://www.fabrik-studios.com/location/thumbs), the 2015 Graphis Advertising Awards for his work with Maker's Mark, his selection as a finalist in this years Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Awards in London, or being one of the few selected for Communication Art’s Photography Annual 2015 for his work with Costa Sunglasses - Adrian Mueller is certainly grabbing the attention of viewers and industry professionals alike. 
 You may have received your copy of the Communication Arts Advertising Annual or could be anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. When it’s in your hands, flip through it until you find a bold crisp image of a giant fish with shiny colorful scales. This is made entirely of sunglasses and has earned Adrian Mueller the recognition this epic hands-on shoot deserves. When the agency working with Costa Sunglasses contacted Adrian Mueller, their initial idea consisted of using 6 sunglass parts to make a small fish. Adrian immediately had something bigger in mind.

The agency was ready to work on a Bass, Swordfish, and Tarpon and with this new bigger fish idea, the talk of CGI naturally came up. Adrian offered to bid this out either as CGI or Photography, but continually came back to the desire to make these fish from sunglasses and sunglass parts only, with the smallest amount of post production as possible -  keeping the photography to be the place for art and craftsmanship and for creating a piece that could be hung on a wall, just like a taxidermy trophy fish so sought after by sports fishermen. They hired Mark Borow, incredible prop man and art department champion to help figure out how many pieces they would need and how to build and achieve the structure of the fish. 

photographer: adrian mueller
model maker: mark borow
art director: tim cole
creative director: james mikus
ad agency: mcgarrah jessee inc.
client: costa

They started with a styrofoam body Mark built and attached the sunglass pieces to the form. It was soon evident that each fish required a custom lighting set up made with custom built diffusion material. Also, the lenses needed to be painted on the non-reflective side, so you wouldn't see the glue lines.  It became a game of color and light science. Each lens had to be painted a different color to achieve the true reflection color. Blue lenses with black backing paint made them reflect green! Achieving the accurate reflection colored depended on whether the backside of each lens was painted black, white or an entirely different color.
Once the color and light science was figured out, there was the actual task of building these true to scale fish. Each sunglass piece and each lens was individually prepared, cut to ideal fit, and placed by hand. After the Costa CEO saw the first three fish in 2011 he immediately said “I want one in my office!” and he wanted the biggest fish he could get. So more shoots were scheduled. The first three fish were big, but still fit in the freight elevator of the studio and could be shipped from NYC (where the shoot took place) to Texas, where the agency is based. The following 2012 and 2014 shoots of sunglass fish were another matter entirely. As all the fish are made to actual size, when the choices of fish got larger (like the Sail fish in the second round), it got too big to ship with a conventional carrier.

Another stroke of creativity was needed - the agency wrangled the popular TV program Shipping Wars to get the massive fish from it’s building and shooting site in NYC to Texas.  Adrian had to get creative in finding a new location to shoot the new fish, since they did not fit in the freight elevator anymore at Noho Productions.  They ended up renting a drive-in studio,  where they could pull right up with these massive fish and unload them on street level into the shooting space. This drive-in studio (Fast Ashleys in Brooklyn) was accustomed to shooting cars at their facility, so when they asked what car they would be photographing, they had to tell them it was not a car at all, but a fish made entirely of Costa Sunglasses, that was almost the length of a car!

When it was all said and done, there were 8 fish total and the award winning 11ft long Blue Fin Tuna is hanging in the CEO’s office in Florida. 

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