"Keep camera with me at all times". That's my mantra these days. Because you never know what a cold winter day might inspire a union guy to do to stay warm at the Port of Oakland.
These moments between the moments are life's sweetest. Whether these moments are found or manufactured (okay, this one was manufactured), I'm always a stickler when it comes to believability. Facial expression, body position, juxtaposition of setting to subject, choosing between the four bear-suit options at the costume store, scuba tank so my assistant can breathe inside that hide: I believe in a strong marriage of elements. Oh, and fun. Above all, I believe in fun!
Okay, I'll tell you about the shoot. But what you've first got to understand is that in and of itself, a guy walking around in a bear suit is (and let's be honest here) a novelty. Then whatyou've got to understand is that the person in the bear suit is a real human being - with feelings, who is capable of complex thinking and problem solving, but who's physiology is such that when his face, mouth, lungs, and body are placed under tremendously opaque faux bear fur, becomes irritable and also irrational - not dissimilar to a real bear. But "Tim" was dedicated to my vision and concept. His frightening growls were reserved for (and inflicted upon) the poor park ranger on the beach in Alameda. That said, there could be no better fake bear than "Tim".
The chain-link fences, security cameras, and lack-luster interest on the part of America's fifth busiest container port pretty much ruled out the idea of having "Tim" transport his cargo on-campus. So we found a suitable spot in Alameda with similar asphalt characteristics. Shot him there, and then dropped him in the boxcar composition in post. (The boxcars were shot through the above mentioned chain-link fence.) Done.
But most of the fun was had after we got what we needed for the composition (bear pushing dolly). How's about a stroll along the beach at Crab Cove in Alameda? How's about delighting a small child, and frightening his parents? How's about digging through the park garbage? How's about climbing a tree and grunting at passers by? And how's about growling at the park ranger while still playing the part of a wild animal?
Me: "Tim, take off the mask. The ranger is driving up."
Ranger: "What are you guys up to here?"
Me: "Taking photographs for my portfolio."
Tim (without taking the mask off): "Graaaaaarrrrrr!!!!!!"
To be continued?
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