Behind the Scenes: Creative National Ad Campaign with Michael Herb

A few months ago we featured one of commercial photographer Michael Herb's tutorials on masking and composting. Michael is back with an awesome behind the scenes video of a national ad campaign he shot for Textile Designer Patty Madden. Michael set out to create some creative photos to showcase the unique advertising that hasn't really been seen before in a nation ad campaign for furniture.

I recently sat down with the commercial photographer to get his take on this refreshing ad campaign.



"Textile Designer Patty Madden came to me with an idea to create a layered campaign with stark contrast between the soft curves of a beautiful model, intricate tattoos and Patty’s textile designs on interesting furniture. This of course was about as far from what the industry is used to as you could get. Designs are typically displayed rolled and simply photographed. Patty wanted nothing like that. The idea for the shoot was also to create a series of full page magazine ads for national publications.




The whole project was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to create seven ads for National publication I also had the privilege of working with a team of talented people including Patty Madden, Lea Jung (model) and Danielle Helms makeup.




The majority of my shoots are shot with the post processing in mind. Which means I shoot with a clear concept of the final image in my head. I joke to people that I can photoshop in my head and its actually true. I can break down layers in my head and lay out images so that I can capture the elements needed. I often pause during shoots and space out. This is me going into my head and sorting through the layers and checking things off.

When working with a team I take that mental image and sketch it up so everyone can see. This makes thing so much easier when shooting, similar to storyboards. The foreground shots were shot in my clients large garage in South Florida. We opted to shoot this way so we could utilize her large home, kitchen, bathrooms and not be under any time restraint. We thought about using a studio and although, it would have worked, it wouldn’t have been as comfortable.

I opted to utilize the budget on other aspects of the shoot, like backgrounds. The images utilized selective color to draw the viewers eye first to the product then to the image as a whole. We loved the look of the images in full color but tests showed that the viewer was first drawn to the model then the image as a whole and they never really saw the product as the focal point. Advertising shoots often require that creativity take a backseat to the product. After all, the whole point is to show the product and that is what you're being paid for. However, we stressed the creative aspect in this campaign and walked a very thin line between too much creativity. I think we found a good balance.




In the end we accomplished the goal and made people stop and stare. Regardless of whether they liked the ad or not, it was different enough to get them to stop and notice. It sticks in their mind and we win!

These images along with ads I created for another campaign can be found in current issues of Interior Design Magazine.




If you would like to connect with Michael and see more of his work you can go to his:

Patty Madden Software, Inc.
Lea Jung
MUA and Hair: Danielle Helms

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Tam Nguyen's picture

Selective color editing FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These seem to fall short of "Commercial" qaulity. I dislike trolls just as much as the next so I apologize if I appear as one but in my opinion these photos aren't professional looking.

On one side of agree as I've gotten much better since 2011 when these were shot. Although, on the other side I think you have to look at what else is out there. These ads are still rated the highest among reader polls conducted by Interior Design Magazine. Because they are the best ever? No, of course not. They work because they stop people and those people remember the ads. Good or bad I always enjoy reading comments.

I must confess that I commented before actually watching the video. It appears that you did just as the client asked therefore you did your job superbly. I also was unaware that they were done in 2011 as it doesn't mention that in the article. I learned alot from your masking video so when I first saw the images of course my brain subconciously compared these results to the guy I remembered from that video. Thank you for your calm response, I guess at the end of the day we are hired professionals to provide services within the expectations of the client and it appears you did that. Even if they don't tickle my fancy.

Ya, 3 years makes a world of difference. I appreciate you watching the video and replying to your original comment. I only wish I had a full crew following me around like I did this day. I'd really create some fun videos.

I'm not too familiar with compositing and was wondering what is the purpose of measuring the distance between the camera and the foreground objects. I saw it a few times during the clip.

Jason Vinson's picture

that way you can make sure other images you take have the same relative size as other images you took prior as well as the same perspective and horizon line.

Kayzar Bhathawalla's picture

Any particular reason for the dots on the background?

Dots were an experiment for post production compositing. I can measure the tilt angle of the horizon and match it up with my tripod. It worked to a degree but it was easier in the long run to just measure angles, camera height, and distance with a tape measure and reproduce those measurements when shooting other elements.

That was going to be my next question on how did you go about measuring for the background plate(images) when you go to a specific location.

Is there any chance you could write a blog post on this. It's something that fascinates me and I'm sure others would find it helpful.

I was browsing through your 365/52 project, fascinating and I can't believe you had the energy to do this.

Kayzar Bhathawalla's picture

Yeah, I would love to understand the measuring and aligning stuff. Maybe a blog post on shooting for compositing?

Impressive work. Although, I am more impressed with a "fashion" shoot that uses a woman who is real, and does not look like it would literally kill her to smile. The tattoos help too.

Nice work Michael. I'm a fan of composite images, and having done a few, I know how complex they can be. I like the choice of Leah Jung as the model. She rocks.

I'm not sure I would call sexually objectifying women for the purpose of selling textiles "refreshing".