Bal­anc­ing act

Lara Wy­att talks to com­mer­cial pho­tog­ra­pher Ross Brown about his grav­ity-de­fy­ing new work that casts vodka in a whole new light

The Shed - - Assignment -

You may have seen them around your city — ac­ro­batic fruits bal­anc­ing on glass bot­tles, hon­ey­comb drip­ping down the face of a rock melon. The Smirnoff Pure Po­ten­tial im­ages de­mand your at­ten­tion while you’re strolling past the side­walk posters, or stuck at the traf­fic lights lazily glanc­ing at the bill­boards.

Meet the man be­hind the well-bal­anced cre­ations: Ross Brown has been in­ter­ested in not only pho­tog­ra­phy, but he’s held a spe­cific in­ter­est in ad­ver­tis­ing pho­tog­ra­phy since a young age. At 13, Brown had al­ready worked and saved up for his first cam­era.

“I loved pho­tog­ra­phy and I was in­spired, even at that age, by im­ages from around the world, and through mag­a­zines. I’d even look in awe at some ad­ver­tis­ing im­ages — not just the good pho­tog­ra­phers,” Brown ex­plains.

“I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in ad­ver­tis­ing, and back then there was still a lot of smoke and mir­rors about what was shot and what was real. It was kind of a time where if you needed pigs fly­ing, you’d find a way to get them to fly some­how and shoot them.”

The Spe­cial Group had been tasked with the creation of the Smirnoff Pure Po­ten­tial cam­paign and, hav­ing worked with Brown be­fore, thought he’d be the right pho­tog­ra­pher for the job. Brown says they briefed a strong, graphic style with strong com­po­si­tion, with the key be­ing shoot­ing fruit and bot­tles in a graph­i­cally un­usual way.

“They wanted su­per, su­per pin-sharp colour. It had to have punch to it, and lots of depth. I thought it was awe­some; I love the cam­paign and the bill­boards look great.”

As well as the vis­ual com­po­nents, the brief asked for a ‘story’ com­po­nent. Brown needed to cre­ate some­thing that would po­si­tion Smirnoff as the cat­a­lyst for amaz­ing so­cial times to the younger drinker. With such an in-depth brief, Brown found he stuck rea­son­ably straight to it — but ex­per­i­mented with a few el­e­ments where he could.

“I tried dif­fer­ent struc­tures where I could and played around with things to try and come up with dif­fer­ent ideas. So re­ally, we stuck to the brief but pushed ev­ery­thing a lit­tle bit fur­ther.”

Ice cream bal­anced on a bot­tle, bal­anced on a glass sounds like a shot that could only end in a dis­as­trous pud­dle — yet Brown ap­pears to have caught it with ease. Ev­ery­thing seems as if it would be work­ing against the pho­tog­ra­pher, from the light­ing at­tempt­ing to re­duce the creamy sub­stance to a mere pud­dle, and the ooz­ing liq­uid de­stroy­ing the per­fectly pol­ished glass.

“The shots are com­pos­ite in a way that I can make the glass look bet­ter. Ev­ery­thing in the im­age is set up for real, so the ice cream is on top of the bot­tle, which is on top of the glass. You had to be very quick and very ready. The light­ing for the ice cream had to be dif­fer­ent from the glass, and I’m not one to give re­touches — I like to get it right at the cam­era stage, so I had to ad­just the light to make sure ev­ery­thing was free of re­flec­tions and the glass had a beau­ti­ful translu­cent ap­pear­ance.”

It’s an ex­tremely ef­fec­tive ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign that de­mands at­ten­tion, and has even hit home with Brown’s most im­por­tant au­di­ence — his kids are also get­ting a real kick out of see­ing his work plas­tered ev­ery­where.

“They’re like, ‘Daddy, those are your pho­tos’. They’re pretty un­miss­able.”

To see more of Ross Brown’s com­mer­cial work and per­sonal projects visit ross­brown­pho­tog­ra­

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