I hit the newsstands once a month to look for magazines that jump out at me. Have always liked thumbing through Mental_Floss for the nerdy factoids, fun design and catchy feature openers.
It then came as a great surprise to get an email back in September from their AD, Winslow Taft, asking if I'd photo-illustrate an upcoming feature. After reading his abstract regarding science attempting to solve 10 of the world's most annoying problems, it really wasn't hard to say yes.
WRONG WEATHER FORECASTS WHINY KIDS WOMEN WHO DATE JERKS SPAM OVERHEARD CELL PHONE CONVOS SONGS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD NAME AMNESIA LONG WORK MEETINGS CEREAL DUST BEER GOGGLES
His list above had some immediate contenders for me, so I got started straight away on my typical doodle-sent-to-creative exercise that helps to gauge which ideas he liked most.
Our collaboration was effortless, and I really loved how this thing came into being as a barrage of emails sent over one weekend. Perhaps one of my favorite Winslow lines from our convos:
maybe something with powerpoint slides - slide 4 of 1000. . . maybe rip van winkle is passing a plate of donuts with dust and spiderwebs on it?
I wanted a very distilled look to the images that would put the concept front and center. Because these images were photo illustrations -- their payoff being completed in post -- we opted to photograph all the scenarios in a controlled, studio environment.
In the end, we decided to pursue cereal dust, overheard cell phone conversations, songs stuck in one's head a.k.a. earworms, long work meetings and spam email.
Sounds weird, but I just saw the spam image so clealy in my mind's eye before it was ever completed. Because of this, the direction for the shoot had already formed as this modern-day everyman in a quasi-purgatory space going about his daily tasks.
All of the images were preconceived, so it was just a matter of marrying plates containing subject matter -- the cans of spam above for example -- with the everyman character in another image to create the final, finished photograph.
If you have seven minutes and are still in the dark as to what I'm getting at, there's a pretty good video tutorial on the compositing process within Photoshop over on Layers Magazine here.
Thanks to Ian Goode for coming out of his squid tank to lend that stellar face of his, not to mention his rad photoshop skills.
Must also extend a big thanks to Mr. Donald Markwick for his amazing beard and Ms. Alexandra Rose Dennis for her multiple personalities (chuckle).