Ready on Set, Action … Adventure!
Ready on Set, Action … Adventure!
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be part of a Winnebago photoshoot?
By: Emily Christian, Marketing Specialist at Winnebago
Photo Credit: Peter Holcombe.
When you look at this image – what’s your first thought? Is it the raw beauty of the Arizona landscape? Or is it the shine of the cherry camper van that catches your eye? Or maybe, like me, you have a small pang of jealousy for those lucky folks captured in this moment – wondering to yourself, why can’t I be there? Is teleporting a thing yet?
While images like these can make us all react differently, I think one thing is for certain: they leave you with a strong impression. For some, it plants the seed of wanderlust for future adventures, and for others, it inspires dreams of what can be. But have you ever looked beyond one of these images and wondered what goes on behind the scenes to make this moment happen?
Well let me tell you, it takes a small village. And while the moment looks beautiful (and it is!), so many factors play into capturing this photo. It can take hours, several takes, and sometimes days to capture the “right stuff” – the stuff that will spark the dream.
Behind-the-Scenes at a Winnebago Photo & Video Shoot
This past March, I had the opportunity to be a part of not one but TWO lifestyle photography and video shoots of some epic products – the Winnebago Travato and the Winnebago EKKO – in the wilds of Arizona and Utah. While my job with Winnebago offers me countless travel opportunities, more often than not, I help coordinate these shoots from afar. But this time, I seized the opportunity to be in the mix and to immerse myself (literally) into the shoot.
Our first shoot took place over the course of four days. It split into two strategic parts – a lifestyle photography shoot of the Travato in the beautiful Arizona landscape and a video shoot capturing a series of how-to videos to create an online resource for new (and seasoned) owners about the ins and outs of their new rig.
For a better understanding on the how-to resources I’ve mentioned, check out what we’ve created for Solis and Revel owners. The Travato how-to resource will be coming soon! Stay tuned for further details.
This shoot was unique in that the product planner of the Winnebago Travato and I had traveled down together in a pair of vans and would be living in them throughout the entire shoot. While our decision to live in the vans was the right call and offered us an unparalleled experience, it did make life interesting when it came to filming. Call time for shooting was set at 7:00-7:30 a.m. each day, but our mornings would begin much earlier as we would prep the vans and shuffle our belongings from one van to the other to accommodate the shoot schedule.
In the planning stages of a shoot, you set high ambitions of knocking everything out in a few days and cross your fingers that the weather will be your friend (I mean, it’s Arizona, it should be perfect, right?). In reality, things move a lot slower, and the weather can be a bit of a pill even when it’s 70 and sunny.
A Typical Day on Set
The first day on set started with a rundown of the day’s schedule and then quickly transitioned to set-up mode – a tedious dance of finding the right placement for cameras, lighting, diffusion, and crew. One suddenly becomes freakishly aware of how loud they talk and how your reflection appears on every surface.
Then the analysis of every detail of every shot begins. It becomes this game of questions – did we film those steps correctly? Has anyone operated this feature? Will the language we’re using make sense to a new user? The longer you question, the longer your talent has to stand in front of a camera, shooting take after take, which leads to this odd effect of words losing their meaning or simple phrases becoming thick in your mouth with an adamant refusal to be spoken.
At the close of that first day, you feel unsure about everything and have a creeping fear that not enough progress has been made. But, if you’re lucky like we are at Winnebago, you’ll have an amazing film crew like Armosa Studios who will remind you that the first day is all about finding your rhythm. This process is filled with highs and lows, and it requires nurturing the confidence of your talent’s ability (and yours!) as well as giving everyone time to become comfortable in front of the cameras. Ultimately, it’s about knowing that good things take time.
We collapsed at the end of that first day into borrowed lawn chairs and consumed whatever food was within reach. The conversation quickly transitioned from talking about all things Travato to every day ‘goings-on’ of our lives and a quick banter between old and new friends. It’s in these wind-down hours before bed that you forge the bonds of friendship and create the happiest memories – it’s where you find your true rhythm.
Adventure Photography in the Arizona Wild
Now for me, I always like to keep busy or have a defined purpose. While I could prove useful on the video shoot, my role in our photoshoot was better suited to my skill set (we had the product expert onsite for the how-to videos – I can’t beat that). That meant I was free to go off with the amazingly talented photographer and Revel owner, Peter Holcombe, for shooting scenics of the Travato. My mission that I had chosen to accept was that of the driver and, with my acceptance of that position, I had also agreed to model … yep, model. You didn’t believe me when I said that I fully immersed myself into the shoot, did you?
Well, immerse I did. Luckily for you (and me!), you’ll only see my blurred face from distant shots in any of our marketing campaigns or materials.
Photo Credit: Peter Holcombe.
In the days before the shoot, Peter had scouted various locations that would best accommodate the product we were shooting. And with photography, lighting is everything. Lighting is dependent on so many factors such as cloud cover, the position of the sun, or the way the light would hit the surrounding rock. All these variables would require us to head out (or camp out) in the wee hours of the morning to capture the blue and/or golden hour and then head out again in the evening to capture more.
Peter would direct this novice driver through a walkie talkie, giving commands like: “You need to pull forward, now reverse about 3-5 feet, hold your hands on the wheel like you would normally, go down the road and turn around where you feel comfortable” (which would sometimes mean a mile or more down the road). Or even: “Pull off, there’s a bike coming.”
Before this trip, I considered myself an adventurous traveler, but after traveling and working with Peter, I have learned that I’m average at best. But, I’m growing. The roads we traveled together expanded my horizons forever.
The “roads,” if you can call them that, were questionable and far from the back roads of Iowa. BLM roads usually require you to travel down rough washboard roads for several miles with the added fun of hugging one side or the other to maneuver gently through potholes that feel large enough to swallow the whole van. The wonderful thing about those awful roads, though, is that they lead you to some of the most epic locations. And, for me, they gave me the privilege of watching an artist work in his element.
On the Road to Find the Best Shots
Those roads led us not only into the wilds of Arizona but through the diverse landscape of southern Utah. We met one of Winnebago’s newest kids on the block, the Winnebago EKKO, in Page, AZ, then spent the next several days hovering over the Arizona/Utah border, shooting photography and video simultaneously against Mars-like rock formations.
I remember our arrival to this unique landscape especially well because it would become my first official “creek crossing,” but it was also where I witnessed first-hand the EKKO’s grit as it easily mastered the terrain. I also have the distinct memory of watching it zoom up and down a HUGE packed gravel hill. I swear my heart rate would elevate with both excitement and anxiety with each ascent and descent as they pushed the accelerator to the floor. Okay, okay … my memory of the hill and the amount of pressure applied to the accelerator may be exaggerated, but the effect on my heart rate was very real.
As we headed north into Utah, the EKKO shined on the infamous Moki Dugway as it traversed the cliffside for multiple takes. Our team on walkies were strategically scattered throughout the narrow road to capture video, drone footage, and still photography from every angle. Atop the dugway, the moody weather created dramatic backdrops of Monument Valley and the deep canyons of the San Juan River.
The wonderful thing about the EKKO is that it’s a diverse rig fully capable of handling all sorts of landscapes which made showing its versatility our most important objective. The need to achieve this goal sent the EKKO, Peter, and Armosa Studios east into the snowy mountains of Colorado and sent me on my way to my next adventure.
Final Thoughts on Getting to See the Magic Behind-the-Scenes
Photo Credit: Peter Holcombe.
I wish I could accurately describe the magic I witnessed over the course of those two weeks as we shot the Travato and EKKO footage, but I hope you will see glimmers of it in the content we produce for these products. I feel privileged to be in a position that has given me the ability to travel, work, learn, and play with some incredibly talented artists. Yet, I’m most grateful for the ability to meet and travel with owners (like you!) that continually inspire and influence the content we capture.
I hope it is not lost on each of you that our end goal is to not only spark a desire for adventure in future RVers, but to tip our hat to those seasoned travelers and to truly recognize, understand, and appreciate that the rigs we create/build change lives.
I’ll meet you on the road!