This was a fun project. McKemie Place is a great organization that helps a lot of people. Years ago I shot some ads for them and I was fortunate to shoot their latest campaign.
LEWIS creative director RT Herwig said it best "Bride, Ballerina, Pilot and Astronaut. What's our campaign about? We all had dreams growing up—and oftentimes there are obstacles that keep those dreams from happening. McKemie Place breaks down those barriers by showing homeless women new perspectives and new opportunities. As the only emergency shelter for unaccompanied women along the Gulf Coast, McKemie Place relies on donations, and they asked us for our help to get the word out. "
Pilot - Shot at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport parking deck
Not only was I tasked with making a series of images, but they also had to tell a story in each photo. We had to rely heavily on the locations, the talent, the wardrobe and the props. After several brainstorming sessions, we had an idea about what the locations needed to include. I've scouted Birmingham a bunch for countless projects, so I knew a few places to start looking. I also relied on Google maps to digitally pre-scout bus stops in the area.
Little details and subtle hints are mixed throughout the images and help the viewer discover the story behind the person. For the Bride image, we chose this particular alley because of the concrete strip running down the middle. It draws your eye to the person similar to an isle in a church. Traditionally, brides take their place on the left side and face the right. She is wearing shades of white to mimic a wedding gown and more weeds/greenery were added in post.
Bride - Shot in an alley in downtown Birmingham
Ballerina - Shot on UAB's campus in downtown Birmingham
Trying to keep costs as low as possible, the wardrobe and props were mostly sourced from items we already had or from thrift stores and friends. In fact, only a few items were purchased from Amazon or big box stores.
The most challenging shot was finding a 70s style finished basement complete with outdated carpet and wood paneling. After exploring options for the astronaut scene, we decided to build the set we needed. Most of the locations that were already secured were in downtown Birmingham, so it made sense to use the LEWIS studio. Surprisingly, wall paneling can still be purchased at local hardware stores. Throw in a thrift store sofa and end table and it looked convincing.
Astronaut - Shot in the LEWIS studio in downtown Birmingham
The images were very well received and were used as print ads, posters, outdoor boards and on social platforms. I couldn't be more proud of how they turned out and glad they benefited such a great organization. To learn more about their mission, visit McKemiePlace.org.
Behind the Scenes
A few behind the scenes pics from the summer of 2021.
Client: McKemie Place
Photographer: Jeff Williams
Retoucher: Andy Cargile
Creative Director: RT Herwig
Art Director: Alex Yancy
Art Director: Audrey Mecke
Copywriter: Evan Beasley
Producer: Jacob Garner
Producer: Theresa Webb
Styling: Ande Fanning
Best of Show - Print : 2022 BHM Addy Awards.
Featured in : CA Photography Annual 63
Lurzer's ARCHIVE Magazine Vol 5+6-2021.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about this project.