Photographer Lifts the Lid on That Jesus Super Bowl Ad

The photographer who took the powerful foot-washing images for a Jesus ad that played at Super Bowl LVIII has revealed the huge production value behind the photos and hit back at critics who say the ad was AI-generated.

The advertisement from the group “He Gets Us” is a Bible reference to when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the night of the Last Supper.

Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten was commissioned by He Gets Us to shoot a series of high-quality, fine art photos of people washing the feet of others.

Feet Washing Jesus Super bowl Ad
The pictures taken by Julia Fullerton-Batten shown at Super Bowl LVIII.

Feet Washing Jesus Super bowl Ad

The big production shoot was shot over the course of a week in Los Angeles at the end of last year and Fullerton-Batten tells PetaPixel that she had to keep the project quiet.

“They wanted this campaign to be very powerful, very meaningful. It’s about loving your neighbor, and you can’t choose your neighbor,” she says.

“It’s about washing one another’s feet, which is what Jesus did. It’s passing on that message: I wash your feet, you wash the next person’s feet.

“Taking shoes off and kneeling down and bowing down and washing someone’s feet is a very powerful statement in my opinion.”

Super Bowl Jesus ad

The ad — which has been a hot topic of conversation since it aired — is a series of photos set to a moving soundtrack. Each still was a huge production involving elaborate sets and dozens of photo assistants.

“We were like a big enormous TV crew,” Fullerton-Batten adds. “We had to shut down a whole street just to park the vehicles.”

So Good That Some People Don’t Believe The Photos Are Real

Despite Fullerton-Batten’s and the crew’s hard work, some were questioning whether the images were actually generated by AI. SB Nation went so far as to actually publish an article that falsely claimed the ad was made by AI.

“I’ve read on social media that some people are questioning if it’s AI,” she says.

“That’s a problem when something’s so beautifully and highly produced that people start questioning if it’s real or not real. I think that’s a shame. That makes me very sad because we spent so much time creating and there was amazing teamwork from everybody involved and people make flippant comments, ‘Is it AI?'”

Fullerton-Batten says she wanted the people in the photos to remain normal looking — something she was conscious of in the editing process.

“[I wanted] to make it look as real as possible in this kind of highly staged, cinematic scenario. But at the same time, hopefully, it feels real and people can connect with it,” she adds.

Super Bowl Jesus Foot Washing ad

The London-based photographer says that when she was doing the initial research, she couldn’t find any pictures of people’s feet being washed that weren’t related to a spa treatment — Yet more proof that the pictures weren’t AI-generated because AI models have to be trained on existing photos.

“That in itself [the fact there were no existing images] is also exciting for me as a photographer,” she says.

“This is the kind of campaign that I like to do — this is what excites me — passing on messages and doing something very creative.

“For me, they’re like art pieces. And that’s why I took on the project as well, not only because of the message but also to create beautiful imagery.”

A set of AI images did appear during a commercial break at the Super Bowl, but it was the Minions making fun of them.

More of Fullerton-Batten’s work can be found on her website and Instagram.

Image credits: Photographs by Julia Fullerton-Batten