Advertising, Editorial & Commercial Photographer in Melbourne, Australia

Putting Street Art on a Billboard

Melbourne’s largest billboard, featuring stencil art by street artist Haha and digital wizardry by Image Workshop

Sometimes the advertising photography we’re called on to do is less about being ‘visually creative’ and more of a technical and ingenuity challenge – like translating an artwork housed in a tiny garage into Melbourne’s largest billboard.

The Southern Cross Austereo radio network had a cunning idea for promoting Triple M radio station – commission Melbourne’s most notorious street artist HAHA to create a custom artwork and put it on the largest billboard in the city.

The artwork was 8 metres wide, made up of separate panels. The billboard was a whopping 45 metres long. Image Workshop came on board to meet the technical challenge of translating the artwork into a super-high-resolution digital image file for billboard printing.

8x one-metre panels had to be shot in a way we could prep a 45-metre print file

Ideally you’d shoot the artwork in a photography studio where everything is controllable and you can throw all kinds of precise lighting at it. Maybe even capture the whole thing in one shot with a high res medium or large format camera.

But the client’s timeline meant they needed shots literally as soon as the paint was dry, so to meet their deadline we agreed shoot the artwork in situ at the artist’s tiny garage studio. This made lighting and capturing the imagery a lot more challenging, and meant shooting the artwork in one frame on a high res camera wasn’t an option. We’d have to shoot it in sections and stitch the sections together digitally.

Shooting an artwork in a small space

Not the most ideal working space for photographing artwork – it was tiny, it was dark, but we had to make it work.

Working to get studio quality results in a tiny garage space – challenge accepted!

We checked in with the billboard printers for their required specs, did a lot of math, crunched a ton of numbers and came up with a shoot-to-stitch plan that allowed us to work in the tiny confines of the artists studio, achieve good lighting AND deliver a same-day turnaround of the image files – all thanks to Sharon’s Macgyer-esque ingenuity and Brence’s “I can fit a light in there!” optimism.

Doing the math and careful planning meant the final image was larger than what a 100 megapixel high resolution camera would have produced – and big enough for the billboard to be printed at twice the recommended resolution.

Not only that, the results looked so great that the client extended the billboard run from 3 months to 14 months ??

The final billboard – where it was seen for over a year by millions of cars travelling across Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge

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