My Discovery Channel Advertising Campaign Photoshoot “Anyone Can Be A Hero” – Behind The Scenes

I was recently hired by the amazing Maryland-based Discovery Creative – the in-house advertising agency for Discovery Communications – to shoot a new brand campaign for Discovery Channel Romania. I was to photograph an actor wearing a custom-made superhero costume in-studio and drop in the background. The entire theme behind the shoot was, much like Clark Kent would open his shirt to reveal the “S” of his superhero costume, our character was to rip open his costume to reveal civilian clothing underneath essentially to say that there is a superhero within all of us. I was under the brilliant supervision of Discovery Creative Art Director Chris Morrison, Creative Director Alfonso Cuesta, and Art Producer Mary Priestland.

Click this link to read an article, translated from Romanian to English, on the campaign:

We didn’t want to actually rip the expensive custom superhero costume to create the visual, but the suit was designed with a seam/zipper on the front. I had my stylist, Tara Papanicolas, create frayed fabric with extra material from the suit and a pair of scissors and fabric tape. We wanted the cape to flow, but since the image crop is so tight, we couldn’t use a fan to get the effect, so I clamped the edges of the cape to the light stand. To create additional folds for visual effect on the cape, we used small clips on the bottom of the cape out of frame and skimmed each side with a strobe flash with a 7″ reflector with a 30 degree grid attached. That creates nice shadow and shape without too broad of a light source to ruin the textures. We also spent a considerable amount of time getting that red tie to fold nicely like it was flowing. I love how the tie came out.

Lighting was done with 4 lights. Key light was a gridded beauty dish aimed close to the chest. This created a nice focus of light on the tie area and a nice falloff of shadows. I used two small lights with 7″ reflector grids on the cape, and a medium softbox pulled back next to the camera turned to a very low power for a slight fill light in the shadows.

Special thanks to Charles Butler at Union 206 for the great studio space as always. Also thanks to Zach Jopling and Joseph Cereghino for being my loyal production team.

In post-production we cleaned up wrinkles in the arms, darkened/removed distracting elements, added a little motion blur to the hands to add immediacy, and dropped in a sky. Project was turned around from shoot to final edit in about 4-5 days.

It was a great project to shoot with an inspired creative team standing behind it. We had a blast on set singing to classic rock songs and taking turns wearing the cape. Looking forward to doing more projects with Discovery!

Myself, Chris, and Alfonso (left to right) review the tethered shots as they come in from my camera


Alfonso and Mary review the images on the big monitor

One thought on “My Discovery Channel Advertising Campaign Photoshoot “Anyone Can Be A Hero” – Behind The Scenes”

  1. Great concept. The fake ripped fabric is a great touch. You used your lights to great effect, everything is well lit but it creates nice shadows that make you think of someone standing guard in a city at night.

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