SHAWN'S CAMPION BOATS JOURNAL

 

Truth be told, Campion Boats is one of the most important clients to my career.

 

The year was 2006 and I was living and shooting in Vancouver (primarily in the film industry). I was relatively new to the world of advertising photography and I was what you might call a "B-list" photographer for some of the larger ad agencies in town. One day I got a call from Think Marketing in Kelowna letting me know that they were pitching Campion Boats to become the agency of record against several other ad agencies and they wanted me to be the photographer of choice for their pitch. The bulk of the contract was the new photography that was needed to capture Campion's entire lineup of boats. Both Campion and Think took a huge chance on me as their photographer and, as a result of being awarded this photography contract with a large multinational company, suddenly I was "qualified" to then shoot for other large companies.

 

At the end of my first day of shooting with Campion Boats in 2006, during which time I was risking life and limb to capture great shots, I later learned that the marketing director at the time, Chris Clark, was asked by the owners of Campion Boats, "How did the shoot go?" to which Chris replied, "The photogapher is &#$%ing crazy but we got great shots!" That was the beginning of an outstanding relationship with Campion Boats that has now continued for over eight years.

 

There have certainly been highs and lows in the boating industry in the last eight years but Campion has remained true to their brand and they have consistently produced an outstanding, world-class product and I am absolutely thrilled to see them come out of the recession stronger than ever. It is an honor to work with such a highly skilled and friendly group of people.

 

SPECS  f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 50, 38mm lens        LOCATION  49.871202, -119.529410

Certainly a major challenge after shooting so many boats over the years is coming up with unique and creative ideas. With that said, there is still a formula for shooting boats. Boat manufacturers require: 1) a lifestyle shot (as seen above),  2) a "running" shot (the boat running in the water), 3) interior detail shots and, occasionally, 4) an awesome and dynamic "cover" shot.

 

On this particular shoot we set out to capture all four. Campion produces three models of boats: Allante, Chase and Explorer. Each one is marketed differently and so it was important to come up with ideas that accurately reflected not only the overall Campion brand but also the demographic that purchases those individual models of boats. 

 

The 'Chase' model is a high performance boat that typically appeals to younger buyers. We decided on a concept of a young man playfully splashing his girlfriend who is suntanning on the sunpad at the back of the boat. As seen in the episode, I often wear a lifejacket like a diaper to get my chest up above water level. This technique works extremely well and allows me to move around the model boat without having to rely on a boat driver to attempt to maneuver me into position. It also keeps my hands and camera nice and dry.

 

Speaking of boat drivers, I would just like to take a second to point out that Campion has the best boat driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Jason Spanier is an extremely experienced and competent boat driver and knows every Campion Boat inside and out. I have been working with Jason since 2006 and I am fairly certain that his driving skills have kept me alive more than once.

 

Jason demonstrating hull strength on the revolutionary and environmentally-friendly 'bioresin' Chase 600 some time around 2009

As I mentioned in the episode, when I came into boat photography I wondered why car photography seemed so much more beautiful and sophisticated than boat photography. My experience of working on car commercials in Vancouver led to experimenting with suction mounts, gobo arms and cardellinis to create "boat rigs", much like "car rigs" are used in films and TV commercials.

 

Occasionally, to capture one of those "how did you shoot that?!" shots, I will rig my camera to the hull of a boat, fitted with an ultra-wide lens, and then I will hide behind the driver's seat (as in the shot below) and fire the camera remotely using a radio transmitter. I then composite out the "boat rig" in Photoshop and I am left with an image that looks a little more similar to something seen in a car brochure. Whenever I begin shooting for boat companies every year I no longer look at other boating brochures, I look at car brochures. In my opinion, the images seen within those pages are often about as good as it gets when it comes to advertising photography.

SPECS  f/11, 1/800 second exposure, ISO 400, 14mm lens        LOCATION  49.906231, -119.518551

On this particular assignment, our final shot was a "running shot." I will occassionally capture these images from a helicopter, depending upon the optimal planing speed of the boat. But for most of Campion's boats (whose optimal planing speeds are typically around 30 to 35 MPH), a helicopter is unnecessary. For these running shots we instruct our "model boat" driver to aim for a specific point on the horizon and not deviate from that course. The "camera boat" driver (Jason) will then maneuver me in close, far, front and back of the "model boat" to capture various angles and shot options. I always photograph running shots with my Kenyon KS-8 gyro stabilizer attached to my camera. This amazing device helps to stabilize my camera and allows me to shoot at very slow shutter speeds. This causes the boat to remain extremely sharp while creating a lot of whispy motion blur out of the boat's wake. This emphasizes the sense of speed and makes the shots more dynamic.

SPECS  f/16, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 50, 29mm lens        LOCATION  49.818495, -119.550917

To see some more examples of my boat photography work, please check out the marine section of my website at www.shawntalbot.com/marine