Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to work on a project that is exciting, educational, fun, and for a good cause too. Last Spring, we were asked to produce a very special event and photo shoot for White House Black Market and Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an amazing charity devoted to connecting people to trusted information about breast cancer, and a community of support. White House Black Market has had an ongoing partnership with LBBC for years, funding countless programs and initiatives, and ton of of promotion. This year, they wanted to show their solidarity with the organization in a compelling way, and create an amazing image in the process.
Our client's idea was to create an aerial image that showed several hundred WHBM employees, arranged in the shape of a perfect pink ribbon, one that would symbolize WHBM's support of LBBC and breast cancer awareness in general. Sounds simple right? We thought so too, but we quickly realized we faced more than a few logistical challenges: site selection, timing/lighting, heavy equipment, permitting, airspace regulations, scheduling, shot angle, and inclement weather to name a few. Our biggest challenge was the need to get several hundred people into a very precise ribbon shape, in a very short amount of time. The size of the ribbon had to be perfectly calculated not only to fill the camera frame from an acceptable height, but also sized to accommodate the exact number of participants- if the ribbon was too small, it wouldn't fit everyone who wanted to participate- if the ribbon were too big, there would be too few people, and too many holes in the ribbon shape. We needed the ribbon to look densely packed, with good color, and nice clean lines.
After much research, we decided our best approach would be to paint a perfect pink ribbon shape on the ground, then guide the participants to stand directly on the shape until it was completely full. Assuming we got the dimensions right, this would allow people to place themselves quickly and easily, and for the color of the paint to enhance the image density too. We worked with an architect in San Francisco to get the dimensions of the ribbon shape perfectly calculated for 400 people, then enlisted our friends at Milestone Outdoor- a team of professional billboard sign painters from NYC- to fly down to Florida with those plans and execute the painting.
Our architect also created schematics of our location, and presented us with potential views of the ribbon from different heights and angles- as it turned out, we would need to shoot the ribbon from a camera height of 52 feet. Once we had this data, we started sourcing the boom equipment we would need to get our photographer and digital tech safely to that height.
The event-planning aspect of the day was another challenge. With over 400 people involved, it was critical that we devised a plan that allowed for everyone to enjoy the associated speeches and events, and have fun and stay cool in the 90+ Florida temperature while working on the shot itself. We decided to give everyone a number, and call them out to the ribbon in groups of 50 at a time. A long series of pop up tents and water coolers would keep the waiting participants calm and comfortable, and limit the amount of time everyone had to be in the bright sun. The participants would be guided from the photographer and producer 50 ft above, via bullhorn.
On the morning of the event, we awoke to blue skies and great weather. The pink ribbon mural looked amazing from the top of the boom equipment. The tents were in place, and the coolers were stocked. All we needed were the people. As they began to file into the auditorium, we greeted them all with a numbered ticket along with some pastries and coffee. The President of White House Black Market, Donna Noce, gave an inspiring speech to her team, and the energy of the room came to life. As everyone geared up for the photo shoot, our production team got in position and began guiding the first group towards set. Photographer Paul Thorburn was aloft in the boom at 50 feet, and gave the WHBM employees a hearty greeting via bullhorn. The shoot was off to a great start.
As more participants filed in, and got into position atop the ribbon, the energy of the day took hold. It was clear that everyone was having a great time, and was very excited to show their support for such a great organization. The final shots came together beautifully, and we were so proud to be a part of it. If you'd like to learn more about Living Beyond Breast Cancer, visit their website: http://www.lbbc.org. If you'd like to make a donation, click here!