This is going to be a long post so buckle up. This spring I got a call from Melissa from Tri-State Generation and Transmission about a new ad campaign they were looking to shoot. The campaign was focused on “Power” the friendly
robot “visual representation of the work that electricity does in our everyday lives.” Power was going to be shot in various businesses to raise awareness of how much we rely on electricity, something that can be easily taken for granted these days. This sent us on an odyssey crossing four states (Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska) and 15 shooting locations ranging from hanging off a chair lift in Telluride to a cattle ranch in Nebraska and a spa in Wyoming. The biggest challenge was at each location we knew very little going in and had to figure out the best shot and lighting on the fly each time. Luckily we assembled an amazing crew that was up to the task every time.
Thanks to the great Evan Swinehart who was the video component to our team and put together this behind the scenes reel. Unfortunately most of the shoot I was getting over a cold and sound like a dying toad:
One of our first stops was at the Fox Theatre in Montrose, CO which is a charming old cinema built in 1929. We wanted to get Power in the seats watching a movie but the theater was in use. We had about 15 minutes between showings that we could do the shot. Once the movie ended and credits started rolling everyone ran into the theater to find the perfect spot and get lighting right. This one was lit with 2 Profoto B1s and 2 Lumopro speedlights 3 of which were gelled with blue doggy bags from Walmart (since I forgot my pack of gels). Everyone got into place and we ended up finishing up before time was done. Making his first cameo here is Ryan, who had the honor of wearing the Power suit.
After that shot we set up outside to get the marquee lights all lit up. Super assistant Josh was standing in for the lighting test while helping set up the light AND holding the tether computer.
The next day had us shooting in beautiful Telluride, CO. We started off at the Telluride Brewing Company then “Baked in Telluride” bakery before heading up to the slopes. Our original idea was to get power peeking out of the window of a gondola but once we got in a gondola we saw that the shot we wanted wasn’t possible under the current circumstances. We then shifted our focus to the chairlifts. Could we get a guy dressed in a robot suit onto a chairlift? Luckily the people at the resort were more than accommodating and slowed down the lift to get us on the last chair up for the day. Josh and I were one chair ahead of Power and shooting back. This was thrilling and the most I could hope for a backdrop but Power was incredibly small in frame. We really wanted to accomplish as much as possible in camera as we could but for this one with limited time and resources, we had to shoot Power on a separate lift that was shut down for the day and replace the background with the great one we got hanging off the back.
Up next was my home state Wyoming to a little town called Saratoga. First stop was the Saratoga Resort and Spa, which I would love to go back and visit sometime. Here Power gets the full spa treatment. After picking out the perfect room and spot, we went about getting Power down for his treatment. We lucked out that the cucumbers were the perfect size for his poor, tired, lighted eyes. Melissa also made her hand model debut here.
Then on to Hat Creek Trading Post in downtown Saratoga.
Followed by Sweet Marie’s Bakeshop right next door and not only did we shoot there, we also pretty much bought out the rest of her baked goods she had left (amazing).
Cloudcroft, NM was next, which is a small town in Southern New Mexico and sits on top of a mountain at a lofty 8,668 ft above sea level. We got into town to find that the town was living up to its name and was literally in the middle of the clouds. We had two locations to get, a yoga studio and the town’s brand new football field (including the whole high school team). The problem though was you couldn’t see more than 20 feet from the thick fog. After shooting the yoga, we drove out to the field and I was initially wary of being able to get anything, but we were there, the football team was there and we had to make it work. Once it got a little darker and the field lights came on the fog looked a little less ominous and started working. The kids came out in full gear and were very enthusiastic to be involved.
Finally our last day was in Nebraska. First stop was a pipe coating factory.
Then a cattle ranch.
Stephen, AKA Steve Jobs.
So after all that work the photos are now being rolled out into their new ad campaign and I am thrilled to see how they work!
A huge special thanks to Melissa and Amy for bringing me in to work on this awesome project and to all the crew that helped bring it to life! You can see more at powerworksforyou.coop/
Or look at the final images in higher quality on my site.
Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One P40+, Schneider Kreuznach 55mm LS f2.8
Lighting: 2 Profoto B1s with various softboxes, umbrellas, reflectors, doggy bags, 2 LumoPro 160 speedlights.