Industry News

FaceTime Portraits Star in Jewelry Ad Campaign

November 13, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

© Taylor and Hart/Facetime Portrait by Tim Dunk

When the coronavirus first began spreading across the globe earlier this year, many photographers scrambled to adapt and figure out how to carry on with photo shoots while in lockdown. For example, wedding photographer Tim Dunk (who, we might add, was a Rangefinder 30 Rising Star in 2018), began experimenting with shooting FaceTime portraits back in April using his MacBook. And while the quality and resolution may have started out on the low side, he was eventually able to do higher-res images, good enough, in fact, to catch the attention of bespoke engagement ring and jewelry brand Taylor and Hart. The company liked them so much that they hired Dunk to produce a series of portraits for the UK’s first ad campaign photographed solely through FaceTime.

[Read: Working From Home: How Photographers Can Book and Shoot New Sessions Now]

One of the FaceTime portrait stars in new jewelry ad campaign of engaged couple.
© Taylor and Hart/FaceTime portrait by Tim Dunk

The Love is Happening Right Now campaign, according to Taylor and Hart, is set within the framework of the pandemic, highlighting that real love is still happening right now. Five newly engaged couples from all over the globe were captured in the confines of their own home by Dunk, who himself was safely ensconced in his home in Yorkshire, England.

The jewelry brand found its own customers through a contest on Instagram, asking entrants to show them their Taylor and Hart proposals; the winning five couples were contacted to take part in the subsequent campaign. Dunk created a series of images remotely that are now showing up in ads around London as well as on the company’s social media channels.

[Read: How Photographers Make Good Portraits in Lousy Settings]

Engaged couple Mindy and Sarah in FaceTime portrait ad campaign.
© Taylor and Hart/FaceTime portrait by Tim Dunk

The photographer called the couples via FaceTime—the couples were on an iPhone, the photographer on a Mac. He asked the couples to download an app that allowed him to control the shutter of the couples’ iPhones so he was able to control when the photos were taken. The couples were asked to set up their camera so the back camera faced them to ensure a high resolution.

“Tim worked with our couples, thoughtfully guiding them around via FaceTime to find the ‘good light’ and used a cutting-edge app to remotely control their phone’s camera,” writes Taylor and Hart on its company website. “The technique produces incredible results considering the photographer and the couples were in different cities and in some cases, countries!”

The site goes on to describe how the photographs capture love at its most intimate, with couples sitting on their own furniture, in their own space, with only themselves for company. “By allowing couples to get creative within the cherished home they’ve built together, the resulting photos were striking, touching and playful at all once,” according to Taylor and Hart.

The Facetime portrait shoot has definitely become a more viable way to photograph clients while everyone continues to stay home and safe. Earlier this year, when Dunk was still perfecting his techniques, he wrote an
article on Petapixel and was also featured on Apple Insider, outlining exactly how he was executing the portraits early on. “Ideally, the subject will be using an iPhone,” he wrote, though he says an iPad also works, “and subjects will need to be running iOS 11 later. Make sure the subject has toggled on Live Photos and sets their phone to upload their photos directly to iCloud.”

Since then, he has mastered a way to get better resolution. “Shooting through FaceTime has been an incredible way for me to connect with people all over the world,” he wrote on his website earlier this year, “and while I love the images I’ve created in all their charming lo-fi glory, the ability to use the full capabilities of the incredible cameras the newer iPhones have is an absolute game-changer. It’s all down to an incredible (and free!) app called CLOS. Unfortunately, it still requires both you and the subject to have iPhones, and requires the latest iOS to run.”

3 early FaceTime portraits of an in-home subject by Dunk in early April.
Photos © Tim Dunk

You can find more information about Dunk’s FaceTime techniques on his website. As Dunk summed up while still in the beginning stages of this style of portrait, “I had an idea to sustain myself creatively and socially, and threw it out to a few contacts—maybe with the use of some common apps and bits of tech, I could continue to make work. Using FaceTime, a MacBook Pro, and my subject using an iPhone under instruction, I was able to make portraits of people in isolation, distanced from the world and the people that make it up.”

It’s inspiring to see how Dunk achieved his goal to stay creative and stay working during a pandemic, was later hired by a big client who saw the work, and now has some of his FaceTime images gracing life-size billboards throughout London. Good job all around!