Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Finding Authentic Travelers (and underwear models) in Colombia for ExOfficio's Made to Adventure Campaign

Client: ExOfficio - 2012 and 2013 marketing materials: catalogs, print ads, visual merchandising, trade show, web, email, and social media.

*Click here to see sample images and videos from the campaign

When ExOfficio asked me to produce their Made to Adventure 2012 spring/summer marketing campaign in the most authentic destination possible, I just knew I had to make it happen in Colombia. I lived in Colombia in 2009 and have been on assignment there at least once per year since 2008—it's probably my favorite country to photograph.

To extend ExOfficio's branding theme of "authenticity" beyond the destination itself, we decided not to hire models, but rather to use social media and networking along the traveler's trail to find real people on real adventures in Colombia. With two talented assistants, Kathryn Friedman and Willa Kammerer, and my friend and fixer extraordinaire, Hernan Acevedo, we set out a 10-day, 2,000+ mile road trip through the country to track down travelers that fit with ExOfficio's brand ethos in real-time. By the end of the production, we’d photographed 38 different people for the campaign—all of them were on amazing journeys and had incredible stories to tell.

The adventure took us to 14 different shoot locations--4x4-ing over 14,000 foot passes in Los Nevados National Park, walking across barren patches of sand in the Tatacoa desert, drinking Colombian rum in a string of cobbled spanish colonial towns, trekking through a valley with the tallest palm trees in the world, and chilling out on dreamy Caribbean beaches in Tayrona National Park.

The product focus was ExO's spring / summer line (including underwear).  We carried three large duffel bags full of hundreds of clothing samples in the trunk of Hernan's Subaru wagon.  The challenge was not only to look for travelers who matched the look ExO was after, but the talent also had to be the correct size and gender for the samples we were shooting in each geographic zone--eg. sun line in the desert, surf and water on the coast, Bugs Away in the jungle, urban travel in colonial towns, and cool weather and trekking garments in the Andes. It was also always a careful conversation to ask people we'd just met to consider modeling underwear.  But alas, using a mix of careful planning and serendipity as the guide, everything came together perfectly.

Here's a few images of the travelers we found for the campaign:

Mari - Found traveling on a bus through the Andes.  Profession: teacher on the Galapagos Islands. Home: Bay Area
Willa checking out a hand made guitar in Bogota. Home: New York City
Brian: Found in a hostel. His two year motorcycle road trip led to Colombia. Home: California
Audrey: Found on the street in a bohemian beach village.  She's traveled to 46 countries in the past 5 years.

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