Air New Zealand Photoshoot – Sneak Preview – Stuck in Customs

Air New Zealand Photoshoot – Sneak Preview

Visiting Middle Earth and Bilbo’s Home in Hobbitton with Air New Zealand

Here’s an official unofficial sneak peak at one of the new photos from my über secret event with Air New Zealand.

Air NZ contacted me to shoot their new ad campaign, but I told them I really have no idea what I’m doing and probably wasn’t the best choice. I did! Regular readers of the blog here know that I’ve always said “no” to client engagements. There is nothing wrong with them — I just simply choose to shoot whatever I want and own all the photos. Normally, really, I’m a travel and landscape photographer. I don’t even know what happens at client shoots for products or services or whatever. I told them this repeatedly, but they kept at it until we finally came to something that would work. Air New Zealand is famous for their crazy safety video briefings, so I had a good vibe on the whole sitch.

We have an amazing behind-the-scenes video here from the Hobbitton Movie Set for this shoot that will be available soon made by the great Bel Jones. Be sure to check back here or sign up for the newsletter to see when that is available.

A Nightlong Day

a nightlong day - trey ratcliff for airnz

In this photo, I wanted to create something magical in front of Bilbo’s home in Bag End in Hobbiton. These flights to New Zealand are long, and day blends into evening which blends into night. It’s all a blur of movies and drinking and being served and thinking about landing in New Zealand.

So, on the right are two daytime passengers plopped into the anachronistic space seat whilst reading a medieval scroll of the inflight entertainment in a nod to the contract that Bilbo had to sign. On the left, descending from the the night and the warm Hobbit hole, is a rather studly flight attendant partially clad in leather armor and +1 Gauntlets of Riesling. Between them, the night flows into the day with a glow of evening and dusklight. I drove the image to be on that veil between fantasy and reality, but just on the one side of the veil that felt right. Technically, it was composed of over 45 photos taken at different parts of the day from the exact same location. It was all fused together using HDR and some of this crazy stuff I do… you can see more in the HDR Tutorial here on the site.

There are a great many more stories and a lot more how-to, but all that will come in time here to the website. I’d also like to thank Bel Jones and Jenna Young for all the great help!

Other Controversy and Consternation

I’ll also share in the future many more stories and reactions to the whole scenario. For one thing, I showed up on the set with 20 people while wielding my tiny Sony NEX-7 (see my Sony NEX-7 Review) instead of the giant DSLR system they were expecting. What were the reactions from the ad agency, the marketing group, creative directors, etc etc? What was it to shoot like on my first client job? Would I ever do anything like it again? What happened that I would have never expected?

Happily, Air New Zealand was thrilled with all the photos I submitted. I knew they wanted me for artistic reasons, so I took the style in the direction it felt like it needed to go. They were great partners, and I felt honored be have a short time among such excellent and admirable hobbits. 🙂

Teaser for future photos

I’ll leave you with this little teaser photo below for future shots… Here is one of the flight attendants we dressed up like an elf. I took this quick photo while waiting around for make-up and costumes to get everyone ready for another scene that featured Elves and Hobbits. She is 25% Maori, which is the indigenous people of New Zealand. One awesome thing about Air New Zealand is that they use all real Flight Attendants in their ads and videos.