Even cowgirls get the blues, and even computers get indigestion. Mine recently drew my attention to excessive and indigestible contents of its electronic innards by complaining in that passive-aggressive way computers have.
I set about transferring some content to an external drive and discovered a file that I had long forgotten. It contained old press releases. Every now and then I get, and sometimes use but more often just file, a press release that I don’t understand. It is usually because their acquaintance with English as I know it is tenuous but sometimes they’re from America or Europe and they refer to activities of which I know nothing, such as looking after a bike during times of snow. Sometimes they’re Australian and simply have nothing – nothing – to do with bikes, flogging time shares in holiday destinations or advising of esoteric government sports awards.
And sometimes I simply don’t understand why anyone would have thought that a press release was warranted in the first place. This is one of those. I can well understand why the good folk in the cloverleaf building in Munich thought that “the new BMW S 1000RR race bike” warranted a press release. But this weirdly solipsistic effort is – stay with me – a release about the photo session to take a photo to illustrate the release about taking the photo.
Even weirder is the way everything was made difficult for the shoot. You may have noticed that photo sessions for all sorts of products are normally conducted in the kinds of places where you can sit under a beach umbrella and sip drinks with little umbrellas of their own between shoots. Not so in this case. The shoot was scheduled for “one of the coldest days of the year” and not in Ibiza. In Bavaria.
“The motorcycle arrived in Munich in the early hours of December 10th and was taken to a small airfield at Oberschleißheim, where the team was waiting. With bad weather conditions forecast and only a few hours of decent light available at this time of the year, [the photographer] knew that every second would count.”
Over to “top photographer Markus Hofmann…” who “specialises in Stills, People and Events”, according to BMW.
“The new BMW S 1000 RR race bike is an outstanding looking motorcycle in terms of its design and styling, so I knew it would be an extraordinary motorcycle to photograph,” said Markus. “Because we wanted to have a helicopter in the shot, it was necessary to discuss all the safety instructions with the pilot and make sure that the shots that we wanted were actually achievable. One of our assistants was responsible for communication with the helicopter pilot, which was done by means of hand signals in order to ensure that he could manoeuvre the helicopter into the right position and move around if necessary.”
Markus, Markus, I have but one word for you: radio. Even back in 2008.
“The other assistant was in charge of handling the lighting system and protecting it from the strong rush of wind created by the helicopter’s rotors. There was also a stylist on hand, who would be refreshing or changing the look and make-up of Ann Kathrin Ruhl, our model for the day. The coldness, of course, made things difficult for everyone, and the ‘wind-chill factor’ was intensified by the helicopter blades, which affected Ann Kathrin more than anyone else, but she was very professional, having modelled many times in ‘extreme’ situations. With such a great team around me, I was able to focus completely on the photography and only needed to give short instructions from time to time, which made the job go smoothly. I think the results are very effective.”
The stylist agrees.
“This idea I had in this instance was to mix a style of feminine fashion and the typical motorbike outfit. I wanted the model to look like a strong independent ‘Bond’ girl who perfectly matches the BMW style and charisma, and I wanted the pictures to surprise and to create harmony – this job was perfect in achieving these objectives!”
Not that Ann Kathrin actually got to wear a “typical motorbike outfit”. She was “without a doubt the coldest person on the day… without the benefit of windproof, waterproof and thermal clothing, she still managed to look great, despite being chilled to the bone” said the stylist.
And look, she’s right. The pics are terrific. I’m going to have to take a serious look at having a stylist along next time we shoot any pics ourselves. Never know how some of us would scrub up with a bit of professional help, right? Right? Okay, maybe not.
Now I have written press releases myself, and much as I might joke about this one, I have to acknowledge that it has done its work for BMW. I published something about it when I got it, back in early 2009, and I have just written about it again. Two for the price of one supermodel, a helicopter and a “top photographer”. Not bad, really. And totally without any information about the new “race bike’.