How the West is Winning: Spotlight on Los Angeles and San Francisco
By Romy Ashby
“Less is more” is starting to apply to time as well. San Francisco’s Blue Sky LightGrid™ is a facility where studio space is often rented for very short blocks of time, and for some relatively new reasons.
“Blue Sky enables the micro-entrepreneur, student or individual to achieve professional results affordably,” says owner and longtime photographer Bill Delzell. At Blue Sky, which he’s owned for 17 years, he collaborates with his clients in his LightGrid studio. A patented turnkey solution, the LightGrid incorporates touch-screen lighting formulas into a robotically controlled studio where sound, light and capture—for both photography and video production—are seamlessly integrated.
With full green screen capabilities, the LightGrid eliminates hours of costly setup and preparation, once taken for granted as a part of any photo shoot. As a result, Delzell now sees a big demand for hourly use of the space.
Changes in technology have altered not just the photo business, Delzell points out, but the advertising industry itself.
“Adweek’s recent article on ‘The Tween Machine’ summed it up,” he says. “The author says this new powerful consumer does not want to be advertised to, they want to be engaged. The ‘Second Screen Audience,’ which means every screen but TV and cinema, is transforming everything from communications to content to engagement.” With this phenomenon, 60 percent of Delzell’s shoots are video; the rest are a hybrid of video and stills shot simultaneously.
With the understanding that a rental studio must keep pace with evolving client requirements to be successful, Blue Sky hosts a unique residency program called The Work Yard, which serves multiple purposes. In the studio, newly graduated interdisciplinary students gather to collaborate as a creative team, with a goal of refining and empowering brand strategy. The program offers an affordable solution to companies wanting to build their brands through the social media prism while giving new grads an opportunity to enter the work force with hands-on experience.
“I used to feel accomplished if I made one good image for an advertising client in a day,” Delzell says.” But, as he reminds the residents, everything that happens in front of the camera is still the domain of the creative individual, and that will never change. “It’s an exciting time for image makers of all disciplines,” he says. “Rethinking the path to a meaningful and engaging career is vital to anyone hoping to be seen, heard and recognized by this very elusive 21st-century audience.”