Yearly Archives: 2009

Christmas with Agency BTHtwo!

I recently flew out to shoot an ad for the agency BTHtwo, that consisted of the Easter Bunny, Honest Abe, Cupid, a leprechaun and the Jolly old Elf himself, Santa Claus. Here is how it turned out!

The crazy part about this production was the fact that it required the application of full hair and makeup, consisting of wigs, hand built beards, a prosthetic rabbit nose, and some insane amounts of foundation sculpting all of which was done by the amazing Danielle Carlsen, but also that it had to be done to the same model…in this case the Principle at BTHtwo himself! Are you getting this? That’s right you heard correctly, we ended up dressing up, dressing down, and applying full hair and makeup, which then had to be removed completely for each of the five characters, for the same person! Needless to say the poor guy’s face was pretty raw by the time we left that evening. Thanks Clark for being such a good sport!

My first assistant Shad , and makeup artist Danielle, both did fantastic jobs, and truly made this image possible. Regardless, I did still end up having to draw, paint, and illustrate quite a bit in post, for the areas of the image where we hit the “wall of reality”, as I call it. The shoot took place in an amazingly cool warehouse loft in a remote industrial section of the city out by a huge lake. I had the entire production filmed using the amazing Canon 5D Mark 2, in full HD 1080p, so look for that video soon!

In the end, the shoot went pretty smoothly, we ate delicious food, had some great laughs, especially myself, (I still can’t get the image of the shoot with cupid out of my head), and the client loved the final product. So as they say, “thats a rap”.


Spirit of Thanksgiving

As it is long overdue for me to do so, and at a time when it is so easy to be negative about things, I felt the need to reflect on something positive, in hopes that we can remember just how amazing this world really is.

My latest Reality Shoot production took me out to Utah for the first part of this week, and as usual I was greatly impressed by the shear beauty and grandeur of that state. I shot these images a while ago, but with how busy life has become lately , I was determined to get away from it all for at least the holiday, and post a couple of these landscapes, at this wonderful time of Thanksgiving.


Behind-The-Scenes “Hopkins At Sea”


Hey everyone I just loaded my newest Reality Shoot behind-the-scenes video, “Hopkins At Sea”, to YouTube and thought I would load a version just for my fans here on my new blog! I don’t claim to know how YouTube runs their show over there, but I did upload a HD version to their server, so we’ll see.

Be sure to check out the final image in the gallery, or pop over to my various other sites to learn more of what it took to create this crazy new addition to the Bryan Niven Reality Shoot collection! After you press play, be sure to click “HD” in the play bar to watch the video in HD.


Hopkins Reality Shoot At Sea!

From a knight in shining armor, to a seagull in flight. From the safety of the studio, to the ocean at night, this Reality Shoot of the Hopkins is quite the site!

Here is the final version of the long awaited Hopkins Reality Shoot. Be sure to catch the behind-the-scenes video coming soon to my new blog, where you’ll see me photographing IN the ocean, and where I also photograph my first knight wearing a Native American headdress, a ballerina that knows how to rope, a ballroom dancing therapist in an executive chair and the rest of the crew “in” their family boat “at sea”.


Hot Off the Press!

Those that have not read my post on my other Blogs regarding this image can click here to get more details on the shoot. Those that have already seen the other post, this entry contains the actual spread as it appears in themagazine. Keep an eye out for the behind-the-scenes video coming soon!

It’s always exciting to receive that freshly-wrapped magazine issue in the mail, with an image on the cover that you just spent weeks tormenting over, and now you finally get to see how it turned out. I often tell people that is my favorite part… seeing the image in print, only then does it become a reality for me. This image I created for XanGo’s “Go” magazine, was really fun to produce, and of course I always seem to walk away from each production with great memories, even though It was definitely a serious workout!  Regardless, I loved doing it. The icing on the cake would have to be when the person in the image, and/ or the client is just floored with the final piece, and explains that they had thought they had a pretty good visual of how it would turn out, but after seeing it completed admit they had no idea it would tun out the way it did. My favorite is the smile on their face, especially over the phone… you can just hear them smiling.

I think this spread really worked well with the story, the image… everything. Besides that, just getting to know Eric and his family was a great opportunity in and of itself, and as you will soon see from the coming video, I feel it safe to say that everyone involved had a fantastic time.

Fresh new issue of “Go” still in the plastic.




This is the actual image with a few personal additives that didn’t come to me until after the it had been submitted. Mostly I liked the XanGo “bottle cloud”, and then I did a few touch ups on skin and hair, and colors. In total the image is made up of nearly fifty separately shot pieces, many of which were arms, legs, hands, and faces. A really hard part about my job is posing regular, everyday-people. Keep in mind, these people have never modeled a day in their lives.  I actually enjoy the challenge of it though. It’s a great mental exercise.


© Copyright 2009 Bryan Niven

Xango Cover Shoot in Wisconsin!

Just got the green light for publicity on one of my latest productions. Check out this post to see my version of a Wisconsin countryside.

When I was a kid, I remember playing with those brightly-colored farm toys, that would teach you the names and sounds of all the farm animals. I usually found them in doctors office waiting rooms, in that big blue crate next to the fish tank; you know, so while your little head was about to explode with constant earache pain, you could learn the beautiful sound a cow makes, OVER and OVER, as the wheel always managed to end on that wonderful milk-giving creature. I seem to remember lots of farm puzzles too. Most of them had soggy, rounded edges with teeth marks in them, which made it difficult to know whether it really was the right piece for that space after all. Regardless, the images painted on these toys always seemed very bright and vivid to me –quite surreal– with wispy clouds, and perfect rolling hills in all directions. Even as I got older I knew they were just imaginative places…places that couldn’t possibly exist in reality… or so I thought.

As I left my hotel room the next morning, after arriving in Green Bay Wisconsin late the previous night, I started having flashbacks of those toys. We had driven about 40 minutes North to a town called Manitowoc to meet with the client, and scout locations for my latest Reality Shoot production.The sky was unbelievably clear, with only a few puffy white clouds strolling along high and silently above our heads. We cut through several side streets that took us through sections of endless corn fields, and oddly familiar rolling hills. Some of those hills were striped with freshly cut lines of grass, spotted with the occasional chubby red barn, and a gleaming silo standing proud in the near distance. The realization that I was driving through the very source of the images from those children’s farm toys of my past, was solidified as a gigantic tractor with massive treaded tires, (standing at a height of that just above our rental car), passed us on the road in the opposite direction. It shuttered by at a whopping 10 miles an hour, and included a friendly wave by its driver.

I may cringe at the thought of what those toys were coated with back then… after all they were played with by nothing but sick children all day long and thrown into a crate at the end of the day, but I can not deny the existence of a real place on this Earth that truly is like one of those toys, and puzzle pieces from my childhood.

Ironically enough, on the day of the actual shoot, it was pouring rain… yes pouring. With that in mind, try to imagine capturing “bright rolling hills”, and “saturated red barns”, with sky so dark you and your assistant had to block the camera and tripod from strong gusts of wind, as you waited for the self timer to trigger the shutter. Needless to say, I ended up shooting through the windows at the airport to get those clouds, just as we began boarding. So without further adieu I present one of my latest installments in the Reality Shoot portfolio… I give you the Welch Family!



This image was created for XanGo, for their magazine “Go”, and is featuring one of their top distributers Eric Welch, and his family. To see a larger version of this image, and for some behind-the-scenes video of the production check out my new blog I am working on here.

Final Prater Reality Shoot!

When I first signed on to the task of creating this family portrait for the Prater Family, I couldn’t  have known the total immensity of the project that resulted. In short, this Reality Shoot required two separate wardrobes that were pulled from two different states, (including some items having to be shipped in from across the country), a medium-level studio shoot in Salt Lake City, followed by a full warehouse production back in Los Angeles, two separate location-based shoots with nearly 1000 total miles of driving to scout, and ultimately shooting in the remote high deserts of Utah.  These miles were in addition to the nearly 4000 miles and two plane tickets that it took to get me back and forth from each shoot. The image further required the use of reference photography, allowing me the ability to photograph the school bus seen in the picture, by means of digitally cutting, splicing, and drawing much by hand, and ultimately recreating the bus they once knew so well, and yet, was long gone in reality. The image additionally called for live hamsters, a full-size motorcycle, a dog, lots of great styling, hair and make-up, (thanks Meredith and Chelsie), tons of delicious food, and a fantastic crew! As always- thanks to my wife Tami as well, for taking care of everything while I was physically, and mentally away.


Cover for XanGo in Wisconsin

A few weeks ago I got a call from XanGo asking if I would be interested in shooting the cover for their upcoming issue of GO Magazine. And since I can’t show you the image[s] themselves…yet… I thought I would share some of the photos of the trip itself. I shot over the period of 3 days in Wisconsin, in sunny, cloudy, rainy, and of course humid weather, but I loved every minute of it. I recently started taking my professional cameras around town when I travel as well, instead of just my little point and shoot, so it was great to see the amazing countryside of northern Wisconsin through Canon “Full -Frame” glory. We also shot tons of crazy video footage, which included me shooting in pouring rain, as well as shooting fully powered Dynalite strobes in a thunderstorm up into 2 large oak trees, all in extremely low light. As usual this production was full of random props, funny expressions, fantastic wardrobe, and will eventually include eight individuals, surrounded by the most surrealistic and beautiful scenery I can think up.

*note: The image below of the pancakes drenched in syrup, was actually taken by my assistant Shad the first morning we were there. He just kept snapping away with my Canon, determined to expose my obsession for Perkins butter packets.

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Pleased to finally present!

Words can not describe how it feels to complete a massive project like this, so hopefully the image will speak for itself. Introducing, the one and only, Prater Family!

Over the years I have learned many great lessons, and as I push myself harder and harder with each new project, I have realized how rewarding it is to give every Reality Shoot everything I’ve got. Sometimes when I get to a point well beyond what I had originally planned with a client, and the days and weeks of tedious post-production begin to weigh heavily on my body, I begin to justify accepting that a particular image is already “great”, and that the client will, of course, be satisfied with the image because I worked hard to get it to this point, and that we had never really discussed what would take the image from its current state to the “next level”, so no one would really be let down anyway; then I am reminded why it is I do what I do. This image was one of those situations.

Two plane tickets later, after shooting in nearly a dozen different locations, two full production shoots, and months of concepting, I actually had to order a new computer because the image itself was so demanding, so massive, and truly THAT complicated, that my current Mac needed complete replacing, and upgrading. I remember asking myself as I drove through two deserts while tracking thunderstorms and shooting in blistering heat and nasty cold rain, what it was about this image that made all this worth it. Once again –like many projects before this one– I was able to refocus my efforts and push on, ultimately creating what is by far one of my new favorite images. And once again, (although this image is almost completely fabricated from several locations, numerous props, and even fabricated sections of the individuals themselves), I can almost feel, somehow , the early morning fog rolling through the landscape, and the smell of smoke as it poured from the bus’ engine as it sat in the field. Although there may not be any place on Earth like what you see here, after working so long on the image itself, it feels almost as if I have been there, if only in my mind. I wish I could hike out to those distant mountains, and along the way check to see what it is that is written on the other side of those old billboards. Ultimately humbled and gratified, I was again reminded why I go to such great lengths to do what I do with my artwork. Needless to say, the client was pleasantly surprised when I showed them their final image… they remarked how it was better than they could have even imagined, and that kind of reaction is truly priceless.

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Bryan Niven � Copyright 2009

I have loaded a small sample of the nearly complete image above, with some minor fine details and refining still left to do. Be sure to keep an eye out for the behind the scenes video, and final posting of the image coming soon!

-your dedicated artist

SNEAK PEAK of the Hopkins Reality Shoot!

A Native American headress, sailors lantern, and a full suit of armor, are only one sixth of this Reality Shoot! Click here to see a little tease of the coming attraction!

Since Bryan Niven Productions is in full swing, being booked out until Fall, and I am in the middle of post-production for my previous Reality Shoot, this latest production for the Hopkins will have to wait… but I wanted to give you guys a little sneak peak!


Sketch by the amazing: Chris Sprague

The final image will portray the family sailing together on their small ship off into the sun.



Bryan Niven � Copyright 2009