Men with mammoth hands for Wonderbra; personified song names for Virgin Digital; Albert Einstein, Bob Marley and entwined Kama Sutra lovers lusting after bottles of Perrier. Although 45-year-old Vincent Dixon's images skew toward the fantastic, what the Ireland-born, New York-based photographer ultimately strives for is reality. "I don't want people to think, How did he do that?" he says about his pictures. "The most important thing is the idea behind the photo. The photo can communicate beyond simply great production or retouching. If you try to impose the photography on the idea, you're putting it the wrong way around."
Prior to becoming a photographer, Dixon earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology. His intellectual roots might explain why he loves the challenge of a complicated production, often requiring the mashup of several different shots. It helps that he shoots digitally, of course, and has a skilled partner in crime, retoucher Helene Chauvet, based in Paris at Kilato, a company they co-founded. "One of the things we both try to do is keep the images photographic," Dixon says. "You've got to get perspective, lighting and shadows right and make it all look seamless." Those skills came into play on Dixon's first Wonderbra poster campaign for Publicis Conseil, Paris. As in the latest series, which features only men with oversize paws, there's no cleavage in sight?just a room, a bar and an escalator full of people staring toward the camera, caught in the headlights of the unseen Wonderbra woman.
Dixon says his challenge on that job was, "How do you shoot a restaurant full of people and not be distracted by anything else except their faces?" So he took a cue from a Renaissance master of light, Caravaggio. "In Caravaggio's paintings, you see only the faces; he basically lit the faces while the clothes and background all fall away to shadows. We did the same; in all three photos of the campaign, everyone had their own flash head." The understated humor of the work also falls in line with the subtle, smart laughs that Dixon goes for. "Less is more," he says. "Don't overgag it. Sometimes if you overdo everything, it loses credibility."