In the last quarter of 2004, we produced a project for PacifiCare. Our objective was to create a variety, or small “library” of images to represent a specific sector of their market, which in this case was that of the “frail & elderly”. The type of folks you would find at an assisted care facility. This wasn’t to be images of bed-ridden seniors, but of ambulatory individuals who needed some assistance in their day-to-day care. Just a slice of life, or captured moment, in a day in the life of….
For the most part we have always shot medium format black & white film for PacifiCare. But this would be our second major project for them using digital. PacifiCare’s entire branding revolves around black & white photography and shooting it digitally is very satisfying. It cuts down a bit on some of the “stuff” you have to bring to a shoot, but ultimately you still have to be prepared for anything. So of course we would still plan on bringing a full complement of lights as well as appropriate equipment to work with available light.
In putting together the production we started by looking at some assisted care facilities across the west to shoot at, but started to see that the logistics and requirements of some of the locations were just too restrictive. We then started to consider casting models and shooting on a set or staged location. The process went back and forth for almost a year, as some of the creative team changed. Then, after doing an actual first round of casting models, the project reverted back to shooting “real seniors” in a “real location”. We ended up down in San Diego at a delightful assisted care facility. I’ve been in just enough of them to know that most of the time you’re not anxious to rush back. But this one was different. The residents were fun and engaged. The facility was cheerfully decorated. And the staff was warm and accommodating. We wound up at just the right place!
Well needless to say, with all of our hustle and bustle and equipment and crew, we were quite the attraction that day. The seniors who agreed to participate were thrilled to have a “day of beauty” with the hair & make-up and wardrobe stylists! But I think it was the “seniors” who gave us a run for our money! After we got past a lot of dry humor and a little bit of flirting, we were given some great subjects to work with who were like pros in front of the camera. I have shot everything from infants to high fashion models. But let me tell you, it’s the seniors that always make you feel good at the end of a long shoot. Whether they are “real people” or actors, they have always given 100% and then thank you after it’s all done! I’ve done a lot of senior campaigns and hope to do a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, I love the energy and excitement of a good fashion shoot! But there’s something to be said for calming effect of having people on the set who have “been there and done that”, and are now only interested in enjoying the moment!