Rob Beckon_ art buyer and print producer_ tbwa/chiat/day/l.A._infiniti QX56 Print Campaign

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Few photographers familiar with shooting cars also have extensive experience with still-life work, but it was TBWA/Chiat/Day art buyer Rob Beckon's job to find such a person for Infiniti's print campaign for the QX56. The three design-driven ads were to play off of the rich textures and surfaces found in the SUV-wood, metal and leather-and juxtapose the surfaces with interior and exterior shots of the vehicle. Production allowed for the textures to be photographed separately from the vehicle, enabling producers to hire two photographers, but Beckon and art director Andy Nodfors felt that it was important to find one photographer to do both shoots, keeping a unified style throughout the material. "It makes things more cohesive," says Beckon. "That one photographer knows what everything is going to look like, and he knows how to match the lighting. It's really ideal to have one person who knows the whole story."

The agency called in a small mountain of photographers' books, both American and European, but found German photographer Igor Panitz in a photo reference book. "He just has a really fresh but classic approach, and it's very luxurious and rich," says Beckon. "A lot of his work used texture." Panitz had never worked in the U.S. before, but he came complete with an all-American work ethic that made for an intense yet relaxed atmosphere on the set that contributed to a smooth five-day shoot. "We were very happy with his work, and he stayed true to his vision," says Beckon.

After two days in the studio, the shoot moved to the three locations chosen to complement the textures in Panitz' photographs and contrast with the vehicles. Beckon says that the chosen locations, all in the L.A. area, had strong architectural lines, including the Avalon hotel and some residential areas with modern architecture. When a producer or art buyer does a good job, the result is often invisible, but achieving the slickness of high end auto ads requires the presence of a large complement of people who make the car look perfect. Making sure that agency, client and photographer all get what they need in all of this, Beckon says, is "always a collaboration, never a dictatorship."

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