Three years ago I walked into a small aviation supply store, and it literally changed my life. It's a small store, with advertisements provided by various vendors tacked up on the wall, and an exceedingly ordinary display area. The products are neatly arranged and the florescent light makes it easy to read the small tags under each item. Think antiseptic. To be honest, I can't even remember why I went in, as I'm not yet a pilot, or an aircraft owner.
But I found myself there nonetheless, and as I spoke with the man at the counter, I happened to look to my right, into the adjacent room. There on the wall was a treasure trove of aviation history, in the form of the Goodyear Aviation Tire calendar. Having never seen it before, I asked for and received permission to take a closer look. As I looked over the calendars from past years, I said to myself, "I can do that...and maybe even better than that!" I immediately resolved to find out who produced the calendar, and to bring my aviation work to their attention.
It was soon determined that the calendar is produced by Goodyear's ad agency out of Canton, Ohio. A phone call later I found myself having a very pleasant conversation with the account executive who had the original idea, and who knew first-hand the entire history behind the effort. It was all very intriguing, and gave me a great deal of insight into how to proceed.
The basic approach was to establish contact with the Creative Director, and to keep them both up to speed with my latest work, which I did. I also made it a point to meet the Goodyear Aviation marketing director at the Sun 'n Fun airshow, when the opportunity presented itself. When the time came last spring to entertain estimates to create the next five years worth of calendar images, I created an estimate and sent it in. After some intense "scrubbing", it was accepted. It was also decided that the images would be created during the week of Airventure 2010, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
I was elated, but quickly realized that I had better produce what I had promised. It's one thing to land a new assignment, but quite another to produce the work required by the client. Of the three estimates submitted, mine was the highest. However, I felt comfortable with my numbers in that I had been to Airventure several times, knew the physical layout of the area, and had already coordinated with several key people in EAA. It didn't hurt that I was also the only aviation photographer of the three as well. All of these factors would eventually prove crucial.
If you attended Airventure last year, then you are aware that it earned the nickname "Sploshkosh", due to the heavy rains that proceeded the event. While we were actually spared the week of the event, it nonetheless affected the way in which I approached the job. Because the ground was so wet (even a week later), aircraft movement off the hard surfaces was risky at best. Since several of the aircraft to be shot for the calendar had wheel pants, it pretty much dictated that they be shot in areas that were either hard surface or had dried sufficiently to permit movement. This in turn also affected the time of day we could shoot, as two of the aircraft could only be shot in late afternoon light, since we couldn't move them at all. Late afternoon light is always fine by me, but it limited the background selection to what was available where the aircraft was parked. Since the backgrounds are most likely to be stripped out anyway in post-production, that proved to be of no real concern.
As the job progressed (I'm not gonna' share which aircraft we shot, as that will have to wait until the calendar is published...), it became apparent that a great many people know about the Goodyear calendar, and actually look forward to receiving it each year. I've seen it on the walls of hangars, offices, etc. and it serves as a great reminder of not only a bygone era in aviation, but also as a great piece of advertising for Goodyear. I can tell you that we selected several vintage aircraft from the wide variety available at Oshkosh, and that when it was all said and done, they were either past award winners, or current award winners. All are unique, and offer a beautiful insight into what aviation used to look like.
It is with much appreciation to the folks at Goodyear, and the ad agency that I tip my hat. It was a satisfying job to photograph, and despite the obstacles faced, we came away with some great images. If you are anything at all like me, I'm sure you can't wait to see next year's calendar. I hope you like the aircraft we selected as much as I do. In the end, the agency Creative Director mentioned that because of my experience, and my knowledge of Oshkosh and the people there, they probably would not have gotten the job done had they not chosen me. That's humbling praise, but more directly demonstrates that thorough preparation goes a long way towards successful completion of a job. I felt confident going into the week, and inspired to have been chosen for such a key task. I'm sure it will eventually sink in when all five of the calendars are published what a significant event in my photographic career this has been. My only hope is that the aviation public will feel inspired too...
P.S. Tell your Goodyear rep when you see him that you appreciate the calendar, and want to see this program continue. Like many things in life, it's always up for evaluation. Thanks!