Thursday, April 16, 2009

Western Star Tucks

Just got some new layouts of the Western Star campaign I’ve been working on this past year. Shot in Maine last fall in a logging camp and then we shot in Little Rock this winter some over the road truckin’. For those of you that don’t know, Western Star is the Mercedes of trucks. They’re owned by Freightliner, the biggest semi truck manufacturer, but it’s their flagship brand, Western Star, that they’re most proud of. More expensive, better built. Ask any trucker and he will tell you about them. Because they have such a stellar reputation as the best built and toughest trucks, the logging industry uses them because logging trucks are beat to hell pulling 100,000 pounds of logs out of the woods over dirt, mud, and gravel roads. Over the road truckers use them too, but it’s in the woods that these trucks really excel and stand out. When I talked to the creative director, Jeff Nichols, he was very passionate about how these trucks should be portrayed. Emotional. Rugged. Not scared of anything. We wanted to show them in a non-traditional way for the trucking industry. Not the standard 3/4 beautiful sunset shots of the trucks, but down and dirty and ready to do anything. No washing or detailing them, just honest. He sold the concept to the client by showing them my hummer stuff from Alaska, my monster truck and NASCAR work, and the Jesse James book. They loved it and loved the concept. We decided to head to the northwest woods of Maine where lots of logging takes place. Beautiful country indeed. Usually there’s some sort of shot list on a job like this, but we didn’t have one. Just ideas of how the shots should look. Dirty. Rugged. The hero of the woods. Its great to work like this, but very hard too. It takes a lot of trust from the client and creative director to just turn you loose as they cross their fingers and hope you produce and all the stars align without a clear shot list….our base camp in Maine was Pelletier brothers logging company in a little town called Herman. The Pelletier brothers own about 15 Western Stars, so our idea was to hang around the lumber yard as guys came in to offload, meet them, shoot them and the truck as they worked, and hop into the cab with them as they drove back out into the woods so we could shoot out there too. Sounds like a pretty sketchy plan, but it worked out believe it or not. Truckers are a pretty crusty bunch, but so are photographers, so we all got along pretty well as my jeans are just as dirty as theirs. Saw a moose calf one day as we were cruising along through the woods, I think we scared the hell out of him. The logging road is gravel and goes about 70 miles through the woods. We went about 40 miles in to various logging camps where we would just kind of watch as trees were cut down, hauled out of the woods, and loaded onto the trucks. Take pictures of the trucks in action. Pretty cool stuff. A forestry officer is there and goes through ahead of the loggers and marks trees to cut. That way there’s no clear cutting and he knows which trees to take for the lowest impact on the forest and the critters that live there, as we all love critters and want to take care of their home. I know I keep saying it over and over, but the best part of this job is the education I get about the world. I get these intense little vignettes about a part of the world and a way of life that I would never get as just a casual traveler. Taking pictures on a job like this is really just exploring my curiosity. The camera is just the vehicle to satisfy my hunger for knowledge, and hungry I am..…. here’s a few of the layouts he finally sent me last week, and a few of my favorite images as well. Enjoy