Photography as Meditation

Branded Content

National Geographic & DELL

Branded content takes vision to execute well.

It has to cut through the noise of advertising and amusement to carry a values-driven message straight to the heart and mind of the viewer. For National Geographic and Dell, their shared value in the power of creativity is at the core of their series, Alter Ego, and the story we were tasked with crafting in Photography as Meditation.

So, how do we tell a story that provides the same depth, inspiration and relevance National Geographic audiences expect and value, while also motivating them to connect with a partnered brand (Dell) in an authentic way?

What did we do?

We wove a story about the power of visualization. About photography in self-expression and mental health with practical tips, techniques and tools toward achieving your perfect shot. This allowed us to position the Dell XPS as an essential companion in both the field and in the studio. 

Production for episode 3 of Alter Ego, a branded content series presented in collaboration with Complex, Architectural Digest, National Geographic, Vox and Dell XPS + Intel, began in Portland, Oregon in mid-summer 2021. Managing production, IKA Collective assembled an outstanding collaborative force. Long time collaborators and veteran director, Ronni Thomas and DP, Robert J. Carnevale didn’t waste a moment getting to the heart of what proved to be a powerful story. Capturing genuine and inspiring moments as renowned photographer, Kris Graves is introduced to and instructs NBA pro, Kevin Love — who is a self-described amateur photographer.  

Kris Graves photographs waterfall
DP Robert J. Carnevale in production of Photography as Meditation
"From the very first draft, we knew we had something very special."

In post-production, we know that when Ronni and Bobby (Carnevale) are in the field, we’re going to get a treasure trove of material to work with. We’ve developed a shorthand over many years working together, which is invaluable when crafting a story captured within 5 cameras over 3 full days of shooting on location. We were able to pull the first draft together within the first week of post-production and National Geographic was beyond delighted with the results.

Post-production continued over the next few weeks with editorial and color fine tuning the story experience, yet we are particularly proud that the narrative of the piece went unchanged from the very first draft unto release.

We zeroed in on the story that the footage was yearning to tell. That insightful approach took a solid piece of content to an extraordinary new level where a genuine, authentic connection from the viewer could be made.

Color Grading is always a great opportunity to add an additional layer to a story. For Photography As Meditation, we knew we wanted to capture the iconic, vivid look that makes National Geographic magazines and photographs so amazing. Yet, we also wanted to meld in a cinematic look to heighten the subtle drama and meditative feel of the piece.

The final result is a stunning, vivid, cinematic short film.

Kevin Love seeks the perfect shot

Branded content delicately balances business objectives with audience needs and expectations.

Done right, it can yield a powerful connection with the viewer by providing value, insight and a moving experience. More over, they represent a chance for everyone involved (the brand, the creators, and most importantly the audience) to each do what they do best and ultimately share a captivating moment together.

Kris Graves instructs Kevin Love on shooting a portrait

What were the results?

National Geographic released the video, Photography as Meditation on Sept. 7, 2021.
Within its first week, it generated over 50,000 views and 100 comments on YouTube.

They then extended the experience on their website with a great story
written by Maryellen Kennedy Duckett.

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