Best of Behance: Tim Tadder
Who: Tim Tadder
What: Photographic Art
Behance member since: 2010
Tim Tadder, a photographic artist based in Southern California, really enjoys trying things—new things, old things—and he’s always creating. He tries to “stay in front of the sheep,” and to do so, he knows that his work needs to be new, fresh, and inspiring.
“In today’s rapid transfer of visuals, doing this means constantly breathing life into new images, so style and aesthetic need to be more fluid than they used to be,” he says. “You do this by producing, producing, and producing more—making volumes of new work constantly, making dynamic visuals, and demanding that your voice be heard with overwhelming contributions to our visual vocabulary.”
With his Bella Umbrella project, Tadder wanted to create large-format fine art prints, full of color and visual wonder, that would look amazing on people’s walls.
“I was inspired by a few Instagram accounts where I saw some smoke and umbrellas as loose props that artists like Butch Locsin were adding to complex scenes. I wanted to greatly simplify and stylize what they were doing and make it very, very graphic,” he explains. “Also, I wanted to add a René Magritte sense of style and an anonymous protagonist’s point of view. ...There is an intentional mystery to my hero; it makes the art more about the shape, color, and movement than the actual subject.”
A project like this starts with a team, and creative collaborators are the most important part of the process, according to Tadder.
“I drive the idea and motivate the other artists, but it’s the great people who bring together the talent, the props, the wardrobe, the physical space, the makeup, et cetera, who all make something real,” he says.
Together they plan carefully, review multiple times, and then bring everything together for execution.
HEART ATTACK ON A PLATE
Still, even with the best planning, things can sometimes go awry.
“The Bella Umbrella shoot was a heart attack on a plate,” Tadder says.
He originally intended to shoot on white, and because of the smoke, the team had to shoot outside.
“The wind was insane that day; it blew apart the outdoor studio we set up,” he explains. “Shooting on white was impossible due to the wind blowing around the background. We quickly turned to shooting against a black wall in a parking lot.”
And the difficulties kept piling up.
“We shot some of the executions analog, meaning no postproduction—single shots right from the camera—but then we burned a very expensive dress and umbrella,” he says. “When I calculated the cost of execution if we continued in the same vein, we pivoted and decided to take a more digital route.”
Tadder ended up compositing the smoke in many of the images completely: “We shot plates of smoke on black with one of the damaged umbrellas; that gave me the shape of the smoke to match with the umbrellas,” he explains. “With Adobe Photoshop CC, I put that layer over the subject and cloned out the umbrella on the plate, then masked in the umbrella of the talent on set. I used smoke brushes to paint the edges with sampled smoke, so the edge blends were natural.”
WHEN A FAIL ISN’T A FAIL
“Bella Umbrella is a fail, really, but it's still a worthy, beautiful exercise,” Tadder says. “There were great compromises between what I wanted and what I ended up with. I think the concept can be better executed, and I hope to revisit it….with experience.”
In fact, Tadder says that he “fails” more than he succeeds at bringing his vision to life. “It's a lot like golf: You rarely hit the perfect shot, but when you do, there’s nothing finer.
“That touching on perfection is what keeps me coming back for more,” he adds. “It's elusive but obtainable, and I will keep reaching for it. That's what's important: It's not the destination, it's the journey. We must remember that.”
UMBRELLAS IN MOTION
For Tadder, that journey will continue to include working with like-minded people who are passionate about creativity and bringing innovative images to life.
He’s intrigued by a current trend toward blending stills and motion into a new medium.
“I’m excited about blending these two mediums to create dynamic content,” he says. “Wait until you see the Bella Umbrellas in motion....”