In the bad old days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, advertising photography and public standards were of a different nature and political correctness. Advertising commissions that I was given, and happily photographed, are now looked at with entirely different eyes and thought processes.
Take the newspaper advertisement completed and published, for our Australian national broadcaster, the ABC. Whilst there was no difficulty in getting our model Jenny to leap into a swimming pool and pretend to lift her t-shirt (carefully printed with the catch phrase by the ABC Advertising Department), I doubt this concept would get past Aunty’s management drawing board today.
I have no idea of what was in the heads of the creative department of the Brisbane branch of a well known international advertising agency when they conceived a shot containing seven naked small children of both genders and an almost naked male (yes male) media personality and a large bathtub!! Mind you the precursor to the AIPP (the Institute of Australian Photographers – IAP) was happy to put the image on the front cover of their May/June 1979 issue. I was happy that they did, the magazine included a double page spread sprouting my ability.
Talk about degree of difficulty! Whilst seven children feature in the shot, there were another three who didn’t co-operate who were removed from the set just prior to the shoot. Placating those mothers (by promising to pay their model fee) and wrangling the other mothers off the set, and laying out electronic flash cabling in a safe manner, AND preserving what decency one could – this was a difficult enough task. And did I mention that the only large bathtub that I could find with enough space around it was in a dubious Bath House – which we could only use on a Sunday afternoon?
Supplying an eye catching photograph for a suburban “pop-up” market at very short notice from the advertising agency (with little or no talent budget), called for cajoling female friends of friends seeking a favour from them – from memory in return for a crocheted string bikini.
For this remarkably low budget commission, I probably received an hour’s studio fee and the sale of a few 10×8″ black and white glossies.
The 1978 Beenleigh Rum Calendar was a big job, with a good sized budget and required on location surveys and model casting sessions.
What were they/we thinking? The session was eventually shot in the studio and not on location in a sugar cane field near the distillery – much to the model’s relief.
At the time it wasn’t considered out of the question, and there was a faint possibility that the resultant glossy calendar may even garner some advertising awards.
Digging through the archives has unearthed a rich vein (?) of such dubious and questionable images that I will save some of the others for a future post.
Look out for Part II.