UCLA Magazine

UCLA / Bruins in Love

I’m debating the merits of opening this post with:  A) The sweaty haul my assistant Martin endured as he pushed 700 lbs of gear up the 100 yard steep incline up to Kerckhoff Hall (with one flat Magliner tire), or B) the actual story, process and background of this production?  Hmmm.  Well, I guess the “sweaty haul” has already been spoken for.

Opening spread for the feature.

The Assignment:

UCLA Magazine (the official alumni magazine of the University of California, Los Angeles) did this story on several alum who met and fell in love at UCLA – for the February (Valentine’s Day) issue.  My assignment was to photograph 3 of the featured couples.  In my initial conversations with Creative Director, Charlie Hess, we both agreed that the three images needed to jibe together.  Thematically and stylistically, they needed to feel like they were part of the same visual family.  As in most of my work, I needed to make things difficult on myself.  “Portraits” weren’t going to cut the cake, so I suggested we put the subjects in environments that said something about the love birds.

Love insanity in the woods.

The Challenge:

So it was agreed that we’d have Jared & Julia tromping through the woods (avid hikers), Sparky & Michelle in a vineyard (avid wine tasters), and Edward & Laura on the Santa Monica Pier (avid urban strollers).  Now here’s where the “make things difficult on myself” comes into play.  The factors:  1) Couple #1 and #3 are in Los Angeles and can give us an hour of their time – only on the UCLA campus, 2) Couple #2 are in Sacramento – 450 miles from the Santa Monica pier – and it’s pouring rain.  3) Editorial budget. 


The solution: 

Make things even more difficult on myself.  I will shoot the California locations separately first and then shoot the people on different days (matching the light to the environments).  The vineyard ended up being in Livermore, the forest is Muir Woods just outside of San Francisco, and the Santa Monica Pier in . . . duh, Santa Monica.  Yeah, I’ve done this before, haven’t I?  What a joyful pain it was!!!  Charlie is totally worth it.  (“Joyful pain” – I’m not really kvetching – I truly love this stuff.)  Thanks to Art Director, Suzannah Mathur, too - who is also worth it.

Visit the official website at:  http://www.mitchtobias.com