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UPDATE - My Current Obsession 


UPDATE: Photographer found! Thanks to some good online sleuthing the photographer of the above image has been located in London! Great shot Christopher Pillitz and I look forward to hopefully hearing more about the shoot one day soon. 

My most recent obsession is this image. Since Christmas it has been sitting there teasing me in all its glory. The content of the magazine has been long forgotten (It was an issue of Time if that matters to you) but I digress. What matters to me is this image.

It seems like a pretty normal ad at first, it was after all produced for an oil company - Shell to be exact. At first glance, the photo looks like something we would expect for a car advertisement. A car, human connection, colours close to that of the logo, a vague reference to the environment (which Shell has been focused on for some time). It all seems so normal. So what then has made me obsessed with this photo? 

For all its intentions – the realism, the journalistic feel – this image seems so produced. The light, the traffic, the ‘ubiquitous-yet-still-NYC/CHI’ cityscape. And how can we forget the snow; That perfect flake, big ‘n slow moving snow that makes me want to quit it all and move to the mountains. The more I looked at it/obsessed over it, the more I needed to know about it. 

Let's not forget that talent. Ohh the talent! Was she cast? She had to be, the image would lose impact if she were a he (no one cares for a guy carrying coffee in the cold) Did she sign a release? She must have, it is Shell afterall. Or maybe not and they are hoping she is just unrecognizable enough. If this was a true street shot and she did sign a release how did the photographer track her down? I am not aware of many street shooters that get releases for semi-recognizable people in their shots! For that matter the spontaneity of such an image, almost impossible to recreate in a controlled setting. And the woman in blue, perfectly placed on the left side of the frame - taking up space that would otherwise be void without her presence. Plus, it looks cold. Miserably cold. Which is why this cab, presumably filled with Shell gasoline, is present to help our young heroine home with her coffees. 

Or she could just be crossing the street to work. Which would render our cab, and in turn the copy, useless. 

Or this could all be CGI which makes more and more sense the longer I think about it as I have never seen a photo journalist pull off this type of produced perfection.

And if it is CGI where does that leave you and I who want to create ads this damn good in camera and Photoshop? 

Suffice to say the hunt is on. I will get to the bottom of this photograph. And a serious tip of the hat to the photographer and creative team behind it. This is one of the best ads I have seen in a very long time. 

Reader Comments (1)

Not that it helps any, but it was done through JWT, London (http://www.jwt.co.uk/#/?page=Work&project=Shell). Vince Squibb directed the motion part of the campaign but I couldn't find anything about the print portion.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDustin Parr

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