Like a bolt from the blue? Not exactly. For photographer and visual creative Jeremy Bales ideas and concept inspiration are the result of collaboration and cultivation. Ideas that bring him to images like the humorous shot of a pristine Grace Helbig on a picnic opening a brown-bagged bottle of malt liquor are born from careful consideration of the subject and a sharp eye for location scouting.
Jeremy Bales had worked with actress / comedian / youtube vlogger Grace Helbig on projects in the past; So, when she approached him for concept / situation portraits he was eager to get started.
“Grace has such a specific style of humor,” Bales said. “It’s irreverent, unapologetic and surprising coming from beautiful and innocent-looking Grace.”
Helbig said she is thrilled with the final result. “It reflects my sense of humor pretty accurately,” she said, “It’s silly and sweet and there’s alcohol involved.”
Bales usually schedules a brainstorming session when coming up with the initial concept. The picnic idea came much more organically. “I knew that the humor had to be subtle and surreal,” he said. “That had been on my mind for a few days. Then I saw the location.”
Bales was on his way to see Reggie Watts perform at P.S. 122 in the East Village of Manhattan. “I was too early, so I took a walk through Tompkins Square Park,” he said. “The sun was just starting to come down through these ancient-looking trees that I had never noticed before. And there was that little grassy knoll. Then some guys got arrested under the trees for drinking or drugs.”
The concept came together all at once. “It helps that I was in a creative mindset. I had been thinking about what I would bring to the brainstorming session. I was on my way to see an inspiring performer. Then the light was right in a perfect location. I think I called Grace that night with the idea.”
“When Jeremy first came to me with the concept,” Helbig said, “I don’t think I let him get through his full sentence before I said ‘YES.’ Park, picnic, beautiful sunlight, forty, YES.”
Bales attributes the success of the shoot day to good pre-production and collaboration with the talent. “The tech scout made this photo look how it looks,” he said. “We were tentatively scheduled to start 15 minutes after this frame was taken. We would have lost the light by then. Then Grace’s performance was spot-on. She totally got the subtlety I was going for. Then there’s that look on her face as if she doesn’t care who sees her drinking a forty in the park. I even get from her expression that she HOPES people see what she’s doing.”
Helbig weighed in on the shoot. “Working with Jeremy is always fun and easy,” she said. “Everything was completely set up. All I had to do was change, sit down, and start pretending to open a beer. We were done in under an hour. Not a bad Tuesday afternoon.”
Bales and Helbig plan on working together again soon. “We never had our brainstorming session,” Bales said. “Turns out, she has some fantastic ideas too.”
“I already have ideas for 2,938,749,237 other shoots I want to do with Jeremy,” Helbig said. Then she winked and whispered “PILE DRIVER.”
To see more of Jeremy’s latest work visit www.mereps.com , check out Jeremy’s blog at jeremybales.blogspot.com for details about his tech scout for this shoot, and you can read Grace’s blog at gracehelbig.tumblr.com