The first 1/2 foot.

Fresh snowfall on Northerly Island, Chicago

The Field Museum: Hiding in plain sight

A great time to visit the Field Museum of natural history is during any winter blizzard in Chicago because it's empty and most creepy. I visited the home of Sue the dinosaur today as the city was being blanketed by 6 inches of fresh powder. I was actually prop shopping at the gift shop for an upcoming shoot for Discover Magazine with a prominent evolutionary biologist. After which I took a stroll into a long darkened hallway.

Deer hiding in a diorama

The most extraordinary thing I rediscovered was the museum's wealth of gorgeous
taxidermy dioramas. Hundreds of beautifully preserved animals mounted into painted environments, some of them actually give you vertigo while peering into them.

Great Horned Owl diorama

Dozens and dozens of glass vitrines of exotic animals acting out the frozen dramas of their natural lives meander along the first floor of the old museum.

Zebra family diorama

As a photographer, I can not ignore the brilliance of Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto
who made nature dioramas into gorgeous photographs in his own way.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2004 Gorilla

PDN interview with Liz Miller-Gershfeld

December's issue of PDN has a feature in which they ask prominent Art Buyers, “What was the best creative risk you took in 2008?” Senior Art Producer, Liz Miller-Gershfeld at Energy BBDO spoke about two projects I shot for the Art Institute of Chicago promoting their Edward Hopper and Cartier Bresson exhibits.

Do Anything Creative This Year?

Interview by Rachel Hulin

Liz Miller-Gershfeld
Vice President, Senior Art Producer
Energy BBDO

"Two ads stand out this year, not for being particularly unusual or offbeat, but for being elegant solutions to creative problems. Both were ads for the Art Institute of Chicago; both were for upcoming shows. Rather than using an image from the show and simply running type, the creatives incorporated existing artwork into new photography in intelligent and conceptual ways.

The first ad, which was to promote an Edward Hopper exhibit, used the famous Hopper painting "Nighthawks," and incorporated the painted people into a photograph [of a] Chicago diner. The art director, Steve Denekas, wanted the ad to have a particular Chicago flavor that reflected (in a contemporary way) the vibe of the original in its time. We had less than a week to prep and shoot this ad. We selected Chicago photographer Saverio Truglia. This particular technical problem had not been solved in his portfolio; however, we knew from working with him previously that he has a strong ability to take each project on its own merit, and to solve the puzzle from a cohesive conceptual and technical perspective. Johnny's Diner in the Logan Square neighborhood was the location that really felt right. Saverio took hundreds of exposures to literally paint with light and to make everything fit in a way that felt entirely natural and artistic.

The second and more recent ad was to promote an exhibit that included works by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The assignment was to use (in less than one week) an existing Cartier-Bresson photograph and to find a distinctly Chicago location that the image could be composited into. Art directors Jessica Campbell and Mike McQuade wanted the two worlds to flow into one another. What a daunting creative task for a photographer to take a photograph that is intended to be composited with a Cartier-Bresson photograph! Art Producer Laura Ricardo assigned the job to Saverio Truglia knowing of his enthusiasm for the Art Institute of Chicago. The moment Saverio knew we were using "Hyeres, France, 1932"—a photograph of a cyclist on a cobblestone road from above a stairway—he began scouting so that the clients could see potential locations the next morning. In the end, the solution was in our own backyard: the grand staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The print producer, Heather Beck, had a strong sense of where both these ads needed to go in terms of all post-production and she was integral to their success. The lesson in all of this is to not overlook photographers because we don't see something very similar to our upcoming project in their portfolios: to be more flexible thinkers when we assess the appropriateness of a photographer to a particular assignment."