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Here's How the Shooters Do It

September 24, 1988|ROBERT LACHMAN | Times Staff Writer

The odyssey of a photographic project is the focus of an exhibit called "Pieces" opening next week at the Cypress College gallery.

Photographer Robert Nease and designer Michael Standlee take the gallery visitor on a journey that--from conception to publication--can take them as long as six months. The big difference, of course, is that the visitor can do it in just a few steps.

They show how all the pieces--rough sketches, working Polaroids, press proofs, the final printed work--fit together to make a final product.

Nease, 35, is a Santa Ana-based commercial photographer who opened his studio seven years ago and shoots magazine ads, album covers, brochures, book covers and products ranging from cheese to lasers.

Standlee, 34, is creative director of Michael Standlee Design in San Juan Capistrano. Together, they attempt to bring life to static subjects.

"We start with a thumbnail sketch which might be one-by-two inches--the idea stage," Standlee said. "I might fill pages full of them. I talk to Bob about them to see if they are feasible to shoot or if there are any major problems in shooting them. Then we give two or three of the ideas . . . to the client. Next we work on a large color version in pencil to give the client a more realistic view."

It is a step-by-step view of a typical photographic shoot that always turns out to be anything but typical.

One such shoot was for Pempco, a large industrial firm that manufactures roller-bearing flooring for airlines.

"We worked to make it interesting, we tried to make it something the client will be proud of," Nease said. "We did a lot of lighting tricks and built a few things to simulate the inside of a plane. If something doesn't exist or, as in this case, access is a problem, we build it."

The manufacturing company also did work for the Navy so the pair had to build a reproduction of the side of a jet. They brought it in the studio, and lit it with color to give an impression of the setting sun. It was too much red tape and expense to get the Navy involved.

Another piece for the show includes a shoot done for a calendar. "The theme was: a spot of color. We got the month of October," Nease said.

"We had a concept of a lot of neutral color with one spot of color, so we used an orange balloon. We had painted a canvas background, had a court jester's costume made for a small child and a doll made to match."

The final version was a dramatic four-picture series of the small child interacting with an antique tricycle, the doll and the orange balloon.

"Pieces" will be on display Monday through Oct. 21 in the Photography Gallery in the Technical Education I building at Cypress College. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.

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