For an advertisement about back pain.
I spent too much time on airplanes and in cars over the past week and I've nursing some lower back pain. According to a Harvard medical specialist most lower back pain is like headache pain; there's nothing structurally wrong, it's usually a side effect of stress...
At any rate I remember coming across a few sheets of negatives from a shoot I did many years ago about back pain and I thought I'd test my ability to find that sheet of black and white negs and take a little walk down memory lane.
This image is pretty straightforward. We found a model who was in great shape but also in the age demographic the agency was targeting and we had a make up person cover him with a toner in order to make him appear more "bronze statue-like." The art director for the shoot found a tree stump somewhere and I remember that he had the stump painted gold because in the early planning of the shot the client and agency were considering running the campaign in color. This was back in the early 1990' when color ads were more costly to insert and run in newspapers and magazines.
The color got vetoed early on and we continued with black and white. I did my basic lighting for a white background and then I lit the model from the right to create a darker area on the left side of his body. We wanted that so I could put a diffused edge spot of light back in on the left side of the model, right where his hand is positioned on his "sore" back. We used a big 4x6 foot soft box on the right and a flash head firing into a grid spot on the other side.
The image was shot using black and white film in a 6 by 9 cm roll film holder on the back of a Sinar 4x5 view camera. We'd been using the 6x9 back for lots of product shots for two other clients and, at the time, it seemed like a good compromise between the economy of being able to shoot eight shots on a roll of 120 film but also getting more square footage of imaging detail than we would have gotten otherwise.
The 6x9 holder allowed us to do many catalogs and product set up with total control of rises and falls, tilts and swings. The Sinar made doing the technical stuff pretty easy. And the Schneider lenses we used were wickedly sharp.
Once the shots were in the "can" I went into the darkroom and processed four rolls of film leaving two safety rolls aside, just in case...
At the time ad agencies worked from prints for black and white so once the exact image was selected (not the one above) I went back into the darkroom to pull a 16x20 inch black and white print. Why 16x20 inches? A bigger print is much easier to work with if you need to airbrush or retouch details.
I am quickly remediating my back pain through a regimen of swimming, excessive coffee and getting in touch with my back spirit animal----which, based on the structural integrity of my back, must be a hummingbird or some sort of shrew. Ah well. Back pain comes and goes. At least we made a paycheck out of it once upon a time....