A few weeks ago, we announced the all-new Nikon D7500, a nimble and fully connected camera that offers the same image quality as the D500, our flagship DX-format DSLR. Singapore-based photographer, Scott A. Woodward, was tasked with creating the images for the D7500’s advertising campaign, but the story behind this starts way back in 2016, long before the camera was announced.
I have worked with Nikon Singapore for many years. The first work I did with Nikon in the region was in 2004, and I’ve been a Nikon Singapore Ambassador since 2009 including projects like I AM EYES OF NIKON, which showcased Nikon’s family of NIKKOR lenses in Bali, Mongolia and Australia. My team and I also shot the regional launch campaign in Bhutan for the D4s, but the D7500 was my first time working with Nikon on a global advertising campaign.
“It was a real honour,” said Scott, who was tapped to be the photographer for the campaign in November of 2016. “Nikon doesn’t launch that many cameras each year. As a photographer who has shot exclusively with Nikon for my entire career, to have the chance to represent the brand and create imagery to tell that story, what photographer wouldn’t be honoured to do that?
Why New Zealand?
Product launches are a lot different from editorial or advertising shoots, which I’m more accustomed to. For a product launch, it’s not enough for a photo to be beautiful or interesting, it also needs to showcase one or more unique features and capabilities of the camera.
When Nikon is developing these cameras, they do a lot of research into how photographers will use it, and what their needs are. They then develop features around that understanding. Therefore, part of the brief was an extensive shot list designed to showcase each of the camera’s features. For example, the camera has a tilt screen, which allows you to more easily take photos at awkward angles. This was one of my favourite features of the D7500. To illustrate this, one of the photos on the shoot list was a pair of feet walking through a river.
I knew the biggest challenge, for me and my team, would be to find a way to deliver on such a specific brief. Thinking through all the requirements of the shoot, I knew New Zealand was the perfect location.
Firstly, we wanted to capture both urban and natural scenes, and New Zealand is a place you can do that. It has both cities and unbelievable scenery, from mountains and rivers, to lakes, forests and the ocean.
New Zealand is a breath-taking country, but it also has fantastic light. Where I live in Singapore, we are near the equator and the light is very harsh. It is directly overhead, meaning the golden hours are short. New Zealand has long, drawn out golden hours with fantastic sunrises and sunsets. Since we only had six days to capture all the images and footage we needed, being able to count on good light was essential.
Planning for success
We spent about two months planning the trip. This was not a ‘show up and see what you get’ expedition, we had a tightly run 12 day schedule which included two travel days, six shoot days and four days for planning and location scouting.
One of my favourite shoots was on the first day. We rose at 4:00am and set off for a mountain top where we intended to photograph the sunrise. We visited this mountain when we were scouting locations, so we knew where and when the sun would rise, and where we would position our model, but the drive was long – a bit longer than we had planned for.
As we drove up the mountain, the sun started to rise, and it was beautiful. Ridiculously beautiful. It was probably the best sunrise of the entire trip. I was sat next to my producer in the car, and my assistant was in the back seat, and we were all freaking out and shouting because we thought we might miss it. When we reached the top of the mountain, the producer, the crew, the model and I were scrambling to get the equipment and everything out of the car. We just barely made it, but I think we got the perfect photograph. It was stressful, but it ended up being a lot of fun. It set the pace for the rest of the trip.
Another favourite experience from the trip was the canyoning shoot. If you don’t know what that is, it’s traveling down a canyon using rope work, technical climbing, swimming and much more. The water was 6 degrees Celsius, and I was in a full wetsuit. We had four prototype D7500s from Japan, which were in waterproof bags. It goes without saying that you’re not allowed to lose or break the prototypes, so this scenario made me very nervous.
At one point, I was photographing one of the models jumping repeatedly from a waterfall. I had abseiled down into the canyon with my entire crew. As I’m shooting, lost in trying to capture the perfect moment, I stepped forward, straight into a deep pool of water. I was in over my head, fully submerged, but I managed to hold the camera up over me, just narrowly saving it from certain ruin. It was a stressful shoot again, but I think the results were amazing and it was a lot of fun.
All-in all, it was a tremendous experience. Both my crew and I had a fantastic time and we’re really proud of the results.
Did we mention that the D7500 also shoots 4k video? See more of Scott’s journey in this film “IN SEARCH OF WONDER” shot exclusively on the D7500.
What’s in Scott’s Kitbag?
- 4 x Nikon D7500s
- AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm F3.5-4.5G ED
- AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR
- AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
- AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR
- AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G
- AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
- AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR
- AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR