Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
I came across this campaign and it really hit home for me. I remember a hotel I stayed at in Chinatown that looked great on the website, but when we checked in the Queens Bridge was right next to it- I mean, right next to it. Some rooms had the subway racing right outside your window. I reached out to the photographer, Jonathan May to find out more about this campaign. The interesting thing about Jonathan’s work on his site was that all categories are personal except for one for his advertising work. But, I could see the connection between personal images and the work he was hired to create. This is always the result of a brilliant art director or art buyer.
Google Maps Street View “Know before you Go” campaign awarded a silver for print in The Moscow International Advertising ‘Red Apple’ Festival 2011, it was also awarded a silver at The Epica Awards (Europe’s premier creativity award). And was also a finalist in the Eurobest Awards and featured on the Best Ads website.
Suzanne: I went to your website and like how you show mostly personal work but I see how it is the inspiration to the commissioned work you have been hired. Have you ever been hired by an American agency? Or do you find that if an American agency doesn’t see it, they aren’t sure how to hire you?
Jonathan: When I first started visiting agencies I had two portfolios, one was for personal work, and the other for commissioned. I quickly noticed how art directors and buyers were instinctively drawn to the personal book first. I realized the importance of having a strong body of personal work because that is what expresses your vision and creative ability. Further, it illustrates the point of difference that you can offer and that sets you apart from the next person who knocks on their door. I was very careful at picking which commission work I want to display on my website. I wanted to make sure that it is not too far divorced from my personal point of view and style. This is also the reason I decided to exclude branding and logos from my commissioned work.
In terms of being hired by an American agency I haven’t pushed myself too hard in that region, but I have worked with Goodby Silverstein and Partners (San Francisco) on a month long job, shooting all around Australia for the Commonwealth Bank. The images can be seen on my website under the division “Rural Australia”. I am originally from Sydney and have recently relocated to Europe so am currently focusing on that region. My long term goal, however, is to work in the States. About 8 years ago, my mentor http://www.photography-arc.com.au and good friend asked me: “What do you want to do with your life?” and my response was “I want to be a photographer in New York” and he said: “the only thing stopping you is yourself”. So I am driving myself in that direction.
Suzanne: I wish the agency had used you in the other two ads and see a difference in the style. Do you think you could have added a more human element to the other ones? And how did you shoot this one?
Jonathan: The Sex Shop image concept was by far the simplest. It was all shot in camera. The only element I had to shoot and then drop in is the hotel awning and sign. The beauty of photographing everything is being able to control the depth of field and overall sharpness of the images. When the agency is searching for photolibrary images they need to bear this in mind and then of course the constant struggle of trying to find images with matching light intensity and direction. I think the agency and retouchers have done a sterling job on making everything in the other concepts look believable.
Suzanne: Google is International and I would love to see this ad being picked up for a global campaign. Have you ever reached out to the other agencies that have the account?
Jonathan: I will be speaking to the agency down the track, once the award season is finished, it seems to be doing very well in Europe so far.
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Jonathan May studied photography in Australia where he received several awards for his work. Recently he has been voted into Lurzers Archive (2011, 2012/13) as one of the top 200 international advertising photographers and has relocated to Moscow where wife has an acting job for a year.