Most everyone could say photographers have built their careers on SWEAT, but I have certainly done so literally!
I’m an ex-New Yorker who started his career back in the day photographing liquor and food. I am a foodie who loves the fruit of the vine.
Advertising agencies used to have cattle calls with photographers corralled into a room with our uniquely similar Halliburton cases. In those times where the “F” word (Film) was still hot, my case was always filled with 8×10 transparencies. Neatly cut black matte boards holding the best of what we had to show, waiting to have creative directors hold them up for 15-30 seconds and possibly grunt. There was always the potential for the awaited … ”Please, call me to review an estimate “.
I had done a particular still-life with very artfully created SWEAT. I planned this classic painterly set, did my thing and off to the cattle call I went. Then the big cheese walked in and grabbed my stack –o-chromes. I was very excited!
“This is some great sweat you got here, looks like you made grape leaves on the wine glass, very creative”. Then he asked me what kind of spray I used to get the sweat in the pattern that matched the label of the glass. I explained in my naïve eagerness that I carefully replaced cold liquids into the glass until the natural condensation started adding up. As this went on, I used a coffee stirrer straw and slowly blew the areas on the cold glass to create the grapes pattern (I could not afford the complex retouching for 8×10 “F” word). I stuck to my sweat.
The big guy said he was in this business for 25 years and roared that he knew great-sprayed sweat when he saw it. Cleverly, with foot in mouth, I responded that he was wrong and held to my story about what I did. His reply, the classic “you will never work for this agency buddy”. As every other photographer in the room saw the bottoms of his heels walking right out the door, I had the profound sensation of shrinkage. At that juncture, I packed my stack-o-chromes and melted out the door, sweat drying up fast.
That was the beginning of the 1990’s and soon we all stopped using the “F” word. I won’t even begin to discuss the value of what we can now do with Photoshop. I feel like one of Jane Goodall’s chimps after learning to use a twig to extract termites from a log…
I have sweated thousands of times since then. Today, I can tell my sweat from others, those who sweat where they should not (I have seen liquor images with “sprayed” sweat” on great acrylic ice-cubes?), I’ve learned to get steamed-up on occasions, and the benefits of silicone, and have developed my own tricks. I prepare my glassware with something that no-one has guessed, which I have used for over 15 years. It still is one of those: “if I tell you, I have to kill you” kind of a scenario.
I have learned to love sweating anything up. It applies to whatever the product needs to look its sweetest. My work is about making the drinks or products look totally 3D and sweaty in our 2D Collective world.
I have also learned to use the right lingo… condensation. Ahhhh, sweet mystery of life and advanced civilization!!
I am still sweating after all this time, and I am sticking to it, as long as my partners in the Miami Visual Collective don’t mind, and I manage to keep my clients happy!
You can see more about Sid Hoeltzell’s work on his main website
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