Arguably the most complex composite we’ve ever been asked to tackle, this vast menagerie of children served as the hero image from which Petit Bateau took myriad crops to form adverts for their clothing range.
Of course, this required the image to be absolutely huge in resolution, as close-ups from this image were to be blown up much larger.
The inspiration for the ad was Bruegel’s painting Children’s Games, and the painterly look and feel of the final piece was a deliberate reference to this – but with a brighter, sunnier feel than the great master’s original. Every detail needed to reward closer study with touches of zest that embellish each miniature scene-within-the-scene. At the same time, the same energy and carefreeness needed to be communicated in a quick glance, too; so the whole image was given a warm, cheerful colour grade.
The location was critical because there was a practical need to avoid hard light and differences in shadow direction over time. A village square was found in Andalucia in Spain which remained in shadow light for four hours a day – enough to get all the separate shots in…well, it wasn’t the same light, but it could have been worse.
John Offenbach shot the background in two halves on 5″ x 4″ transparency but the kids needed to be shot with 2 1/4″. Once all the elements were scanned, the most time-consuming part of the composite was correcting the lensing difference between the two cameras, exactly matching perspective for every image and also colour-correcting the colour temperature changes that occurred throughout the day. Once these exacting tasks were done, every original shadow and hair edge for each individual child was blended through, without the need to mask anything.
They do say never to work with kids: but when you end up with an award-winning image like this, it’s absolutely worth it.
See more SB Classic compositions: