PetaPixel

How I Created a Series of Matching ‘Sexy’ Engagement Photos that Went Viral

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I bought a used Mamiya RZ67 Pro II a month ago, a huge medium format studio SLR with a negative area a full five times larger than the sensor on a Nikon D800 or 5DMKIII “full frame” camera.

A decade ago, the kit I bought would have sold for 5 figures, but thanks to film’s loss in popularity, I was able to get it for less than a tenth of what it cost new.

It’s a bulky thing, its six pound weight demands to be put on a tripod, it doesn’t autofocus or zoom, and dealing with film is generally a real pain in the butt. But damn it’s impressive for an empty box with a hole on one end.

For a first project I had the idea, partially inspired by Jim C. Hines, of taking a couple and posing them both in the same feminine poses and then displaying them side by side.

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I approached Adam McLaughlin, who officiated my wedding, and his fiancée Casey Grim (collectively known as ACoupleOfN3rds), who I suspected would be game.

I’d photographed both of them before, and was stoked when they they not only agreed to do it, but were enthused. Casey mentioned they’d previously talked about doing some over the top boudoir parody, so the concept resonated with them.

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This was my first time using the RZ67 and my first time using film since I last took photography classes in 2004. The shoot was generally a disaster: due to pure human error I shot everything 2 stops overexposed, I was having a hard time getting the lighting right without the digital crutch of instant feedback, I lost two whole shots because the focus was off, and figuring out the lighting took so long I didn’t have time to try any of the other film that I’d meant to experiment with.

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Adam and Casey were patient and up for anything, but I felt like I’d let them down on my end.

I had pretty much written the whole thing off and was deep in the process of thinking I’d made a stupid choice buying the camera in the first place when a few days later I got an e-mail with the scans from Photoworks. Despite the meager resolution of their scans, you could still see extremely good resolution in the eyes (where I’d actually gotten them in focus), plus the look of B&W film was honestly even more captivating than I’d hoped.

And though I was initially disappointed to see the few shots that hadn’t turned out and I never did get the lighting how I wanted it, they managed to save most of the shots from overexposure in the processing, and I realized I had enough decent pictures to try execute the initial concept. So I asked my wife Lauren to Photoshop the selects together and then uploaded the finished photos to Facebook.

I did not expect any response.

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Casey uploaded the pictures to an Imgur album and posted it to Reddit. Within a few hours that post got to #1 on /r/funny, which 3.5 million of reddit’s users subscribe to.

In the time it was on the front page, my photos were viewed approximately 440,000 times, which means collectively they’ve had more eyeballs on them than all of the photos I’ve taken from birth up until that time, and likely more views than all of my photos I will take from now until I am buried.

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Since then the photos have been featured on a couple blogs, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, and even on nationally syndicated TV. I’ve had friends message me to say they saw the photos (even one friend I haven’t talked to since high school).

I still have a lot to learn to reach basic competency with this camera, but all things considered my first three rolls have done okay.


About the author: Red Scott is a photographer and stand-up comic based in San Francisco, California. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.


 
 
  • 434343

    viral? really?

  • http://twitter.com/intensitystudio Antonio Carrasco

    those are funny as hell… bravo!

  • MMielech

    Those are not funny as hell. Go digital.

  • http://twitter.com/red_scott Red

    Yep.

  • http://twitter.com/red_scott Red

    Thanks!

  • aaa

    this is wrong on so mant levels.

    plus: congratulations on discovering film cameras. This is so fresh and inovative!

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.verge.1 Scott Verge

    I have no clue what using a film camera lends to pictures gone viral on facebook?

    I mean sure if you’re printing out wall sized prints go for it but Facebook and the net? Sounds like a lot of hassle for no good reason.

    I don’t mind the concept though, it’s kinda cool.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Breaking news: Guy With Camera discovers that photography actually requires skill and photographic knowledge when not using a DSLR that does everything for you; but doesn’t understand that he hit the viral ‘jackpot’ because he copies someone else’s already popular concept, and used a funny slightly pudgy* guy in it and not because of his process or skill.

    Film a 11.

    *no offense to slightly pudgy guys – it goes with the territory sometimes :)

  • http://twitter.com/red_scott Red

    Hey Bob, I’ve used film quite a lot in the past, it had just been several years. I’m not sure what you mean by “thinks he hit the viral jackpot”, I’m not looking to make any money, this is just an interesting thing that happened while having fun with some friends on a personal project.

    However, your sarcasm was super entertaining, can’t wait for your film.

  • http://twitter.com/red_scott Red

    Your comment is boring.

  • Ivana

    The only thing funnier than these photos is the photographer comment-pounding the typical negativistic in the comments.

    Good work on both and I hope you continue to do amazing things in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/red_scott Red

    I enjoy your comment the most 8 )

  • Ivana

    I like you the most.

    Maybe people should see the world more like you instead of coming to photography websites to hate on other people’s work.

  • John Kantor

    Some people should not be photographed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hurleysusan Susan Hurley

    Disagree.(Unless the people don’t want to be photographed…even then, it depends.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/hurleysusan Susan Hurley

    Somebody sounds a little green…

  • http://www.facebook.com/hurleysusan Susan Hurley

    Pardon my ignorance, but what are mant levels?

  • Daymon Ferguson

    Breaking news, bob cooley is an asshole, who feels especially comfortable being an asshole behind a keyboard. He’s most likely an asshole in person too, but the distance provided by online communication allows him to be an even BIGGER asshole.

    I don’t know a thing about photography, but I know assholes, and bob cooley is a huge gaping stinky asshole.

    *no offense to assholes-it goes with the territory sometimes

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Not at all, PetaPixel has just been publishing a log of non-stories lately. If you look at my background, I have no reason to be green – and I’ve earned all of it via knowledge of the craft and professionalism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hurleysusan Susan Hurley

    Are “skill” and “photographic knowledge” innate? Were you born with a camera in your hand? If not, then why hate on someone who’s likely at the SAME “level” you were at some point? Regardless of your portfolio, you’re just a hater.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Susan, if you took the time to actually read many of my posts here and elsewhere, I spend a great deal of time sharing my knowledge of the craft freely. Far from being a hater, I’m a constant contributor to the furtherance of real photography.

    My post was satire on Petapixel for publishing another story that’s really a non-story.

    If you wish to continue making Ad hominem attacks on me, feel free. And for the record, photographic skill is partially innate, and the ability to understand the mixture of art, physics, chemistry and psychology that it takes to be a good photographer are not something attainable by most.

  • Fox

    Lolz you’ve only earned making yourself look like an arse on a public forum. Have fun explaining your behavior to clients.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Thanks for your heartfelt ‘concern’.