I wrote a post a couple years ago about how I’m not a photographer. I’m still not a photographer, but it seems I just can’t get away from shooting photos. I suppose it just comes with the creative territory: a job needs to be done and I make it happen. So, here are a few photos and stories from my latest shoot with a stellar group of butterfly knife enthusiasts:
Back to Blade HQ
A few months back my old employer gave me a holler and asked if I wanted to come back as the Marketing Manager at Blade HQ. It was a stellar opportunity, so I put my grad school plans on hold and went for it. (I’ll get that MBA next year!) I spend most of my time these days managing a team of five extremely talented creative folks. And sometimes I sneak out of the office to keep my own creative mind afloat.
Back in June I was in Atlanta for Blade Show and it was decided I’d be the hack-job photographer on the trip to produce content for social feeds and future campaigns. Trips like that are a wild time: I’m a guerrilla marketer at heart and a gathering of 10,000 knife enthusiasts is a knife content creator’s dream. It’s hustle time. We had a couple new butterfly knives coming down the line, and I wanted lifestyle photos to include in email blasts and social posts.
Did You Say Butterfly Knife?
Sometimes I forget that folks outside the knife industry see knives as dangerous objects used by street hoodlums. Hollywood hasn’t been kind or particularly truthful in that regard. Truth is, most the folks who flip balisong knives are average dudes who stumbled upon the sport and enjoy the challenge. I don’t personally participate in their enthusiasm for flipping sharp objects, but I respect the craft and I get a kick out of watching it. And I really enjoy snapping pictures of the madness in action.
To showcase the the highly anticipated Barebones knife, I snagged Frank. He’s a French Canadian who flips knives like a crazy man. His hands were all cut up from some previous intense flipping battles, and I felt like that was an important part of the story with these guys. Cuts are just part of the sport. They slap a bandaid on it and keep flipping. Additionally, I wanted the flow of the photos to feel like they were out on the street in an interesting environment.
I didn’t have time to location scout… this is guerrilla shooting, remember? So, I pulled Frank over to a dark building exit and started snapping with the high contrast and natural light:
Frank also makes some amazing faces when he’s flipping. There’s nothing serious about it: it’s pure comedy. When I got back, I couldn’t help but turn his flipping face into a montage:
Two Knives, Two Styles
With two competing butterfly knives up for sale at Blade HQ, I wanted the two products to have a very different vibe. For the HOM Butterfly Knife, I wanted a street feel that was very different from the Barebones. Stu was my model for this one and a rolling garage door acted as the backdrop. It’s a serious flow, but bright and slightly whimsical.
Both of these knives sold out with 6 hours. Pretty impressive. There’s a lot that goes into a launch like that and photos are simply one piece of the puzzle. That said, it’s an important piece. Consumers’ instinct to buy the latest and greatest bright shiny object is greatly influenced by the photography that displays the product. When something looks good, they’re more inclined to buy it.
I snapped all the photos on these shoots, then brought them back to Darci Larsen, the real Blade HQ photographer to edit. She crushed it on the edits. Like I said, I’m a hack job. If I’d done the edits, they would have been functional, but not incredible. Darci has a knack for this stuff and I’m grateful she’s on my team. Additionally, our videographer Mark Hansen shot this solid video with the flippers. It turned out very nice and has garnered 45,000 views over the past couple months:
I still don’t consider myself a photographer. I’m a marketer. I’m a storyteller. And oftentimes I need photos to get those jobs done. Despite not taking photos or shooting video on a regular basis, I’ve tried to keep those skills up by taking on small projects every couple weeks that keep me fresh. My philosophy as a marketing manager is that I should be able to reasonably fill in for anyone on my team. This doesn’t mean I’m an expert at each individual job (far from it!), but I can scratch and claw my way through it to produce quality work. I believe in the value of specializing, but when it comes to a small business where we wear many hats, deliberately diversifying is critical to success.
As a bonus, here’s a butterfly knife video I shot a few years ago. It’s at 250,000 views now and it’s a fun watch. Like I said, watching butterfly knife flipping is a riot.