I used to be Senior Vice President/Creative Director at BBDO Worldwide, where I was responsible for creating national and international advertising campaigns for Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Frito-Lay, Visa, and Skippy. The work gave me the opportunity to ponder the concept of the global brand.
I realized that as companies get bigger, they tend to dissociate themselves from the very heritage that drew people to them in the first place. Starbucks is no longer about Seattle and its coffee culture. Coca-Cola is still headquartered in Atlanta, but Atlanta is no longer relevant to Coca-Cola. Toyota is so reluctant to be associated with Japan that they named a truck after Tacoma, an industrial city in the US.
I chose photography as a means to explore the significance of place because it enables me to work with a literal representation of reality. The question was whether I could “infuse” a local “flavor” into the literal image. This led me to devise a system that allows me to photograph through liquids.
The liquids I work with are relevant to the subject being photographed. I’ve shot Portugal through 20-year old tawny port, Turkey through Turkish coffee, Montreal through maple syrup, and the American south through sweet ice tea.
Most recently, I photographed Cuba through a liquid derived from Cuban cigar tobacco.