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Watch Dave Hill Shoot a Gorgeous New Jeep Ad with Film

I've always been a big fan of Dave Hill's photography and creative vision. If you're familiar with his earlier commercial work, you probably know him for his progressive digital and composite techniques. Well, in recent years, Hill has been growing and changing as an artist and he's been exploring different techniques and mediums (not just super rad composites) and shooting a lot more automotive ads. Here is an example of a great Jeep Wrangler ad campaign he captured with — Gasp! — 645, 6x7, and 35 film.

If you watch the behind-the-scenes video, you'll see that he uses Mamiya, Canon, and Hasselblad H1 film backs and gear, but uses a digital back for tests in scenes like the rolling rig shots (that's an incredibly beautiful and expensive rig he is using for those images by the way). I suppose that makes sense considering large/medium format Polaroid proofs aren't very efficient or readily available.

One of Hill's rig shots for the Jeep Wrangler ad campaign.

So what do you think about shooting modern ad campaigns like this with film? You can see in the video that he faces technical issues during production with the Hasselblad and because he purposely didn't bring a digital SLR backup to the shoot, he had to adapt and shoot more content with the 35mm Canon 1v rather than the 645 medium format back. I think it is a pretty interesting concept, shooting this way. You have less images per roll and you're forced to be more considerate with how you shoot your content. Also, I suppose it doesn't surprise me that a guy known for being so composite/digital-heavy early in his career, that he would want to go to the other extreme and try working with film and challenging himself in a different medium.

I really commend Hill for attempting to shoot an automotive campaign this way. I personally cringed at the idea of shooting print ads for car manufacturers this way because I know how postproduction heavy car ads typically are. Although, I assume if you reach a high level like Hill, clients trust you to create your art however you see fit.

What do you think? Shoot your next ad campaign with film?

You can see more images from the Jeep Wrangler campaign on Dave Hill's website.

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Michael Comeau's picture

I saw these images on another site a few weeks back. When I saw them, I assumed they were digital and run through VSCO or something similar. It never occurred to me for even a second that they were shot with film.

Caleb Kerr's picture

I know I might start a war, but shooting this on film is so unnecessary. I fully and totally can appreciate someone saying they like to shoot film because the process is enjoyable for them and they like the experience. But to use it for a commercial client seems both unnecessary and borderline irresponsible. Dave Hill is an extremely talented photographer, so when I say that the final shot of the Jeep isn't that good, what I mean is that for the base level I know Mr. Hill is capable of achieving, the film is limiting him. (I know he's moving away from "the Dave Hill Effect," but that's not what I'm referring to).

Errol McGihon's picture

I don't care if Dave shoots film, digital or what format he uses. It's his skill to edit a scene with his eye and capture storytelling images with the camera and communicating with the talent to help it happen, all the while being calm and enjoying the process. I was fascinated by the digital images and composites he produced, but these "simple" images are even more impressive.

Paul Ferradas's picture

Who cares what it's shot with. As long as the final product looks great, that's all that matters.

Mark Davidson's picture

What struck me is the fact that he did not have enough backup on this shoot. I am also struck by the fact that leaf shutter lenses are not any more reliable than when they were busting for me in the 70's.

He does make a good point about not having to correct too much in post but then if his work only needs a crop and contrast adjustment he could easily do that in digital and just have a tech hassle the color. I see no real benefit in him doing his own scans other than being able to do them at midnight in his skivvies.

Jonas Karlsson's picture

Anyone know what film stock Dave is using for his "lifestyle session" at the end?

Mr Blah's picture

Check out Dave Hills photo blog.

Kodak Gold 200. But I have a feeling it was pushed (shot at higher ISO setting than developped at that Iso). Because 200 iso seems very low for the light on that day.

Mr Blah's picture

Images worked. I want a jeep now...

Mark Davidson's picture

Images worked. I want to meet that girl.

Mr Blah's picture

Jeep's cheaper.

Christian Berens's picture

Thanks for sharing!! Dave is ridiculously amazing! Talent and cool and collected. Definitely a great inspiration and seems like a fun guy to go shoot with lol

Ralph Hightower's picture

Okay, the film haters have already responded, but Dave Hill said that he does less processing with film than with digital. I have found that to be true.
Personally, I would rather spend less time in front of the computer and more time behind the camera. But that's just me.
Kodak Ektar 100 is a great daylight film. I've even gotten good photos because of shooting in the pre-dawn hours of a parking lot; I had to dump film so I could load an ISO 400 film pushed to 1600.
I still shoot with a 35 year old Canon A-1 that I bought new in 1980; I added a used F-1N in July 2013. I entered the DSLR age with a 5D Mk III in 2013. I will frequently shoot film alongside digital. Yes, I enjoy the auto-focusing of the EF 24-105 f4L, but I've also had to switch it to manual focus.
I enjoy shooting film and digital.

Mark Davidson's picture

What I thought was more interesting than film was the fact that he used no lights or reflectors at all. Complete available light shoot.
As for film, I shot for 30 years and processed my own B&W and color. Pushed and pulled. Beat it to death and still the high ISO performance of today's gear is better.

Film looks different. Preference of some. Fashion I say.

Kyle Normandin's picture

Film/digital, doesn't matter as long as the final result is pleasing and the client is happy.

Does anyone what kind of rig he is using? I'm guessing it's a film rig, but I'm looking for a specific brand/model.


Le sashimi's picture

so shooting film but, then having to somehow digitalise it edit the shit out of it (if only to get that awful bulky crane thing out).
Makes perfect sense.