Mark Hunter Gets Personal for Virgin Mobile
Virgin Mobile has millions of customers all over the world. They’re a company of inclusion, offering access to their wireless networks in a way that activates as many people as possible. They wanted to highlight that for their latest campaign and asked Mark Hunter to help them out with it. The images needed to be crisp and clean enough for a major campaign, but feel loose and friendly, almost like a club atmosphere. To walk the line between an efficient structured shoot while achieving the feeling Virgin wanted meant that Mark had to strike a very specific tone. Mark’s experience worked for him in hitting that balance. “It was really, really action packed, and they had very specific requirements because they had to showcase certain products in certain shots and reach certain target demographics,” says Mark. “It was about elevating my version of shooting nightlife but in a very structured way, or shooting lifestyle but in a very, very structured way.” The demands were high, but it was Mark’s ability to match those demands that made it successful.
They wanted to create a campaign that would appeal to everyone, so consumers would see the advertisements as a reflection of themselves. Rather than going the traditional route with models, they cast people who don’t typically work that way. It meant that they aren’t necessarily used to interacting with a photographer and a camera, but that’s not a problem for Mark at all. “I have a really, really fun time interacting with people that I’ve never met before,” says Mark. “This was shot in Canada, in Toronto where I’d been a handful of times but when we were working on the casting they were strangers to me. Within 15 minutes of shooting we were all best friends. I think that’s one of my greatest assets: that I can relate to my models and my talent.” That relationship totally changes the way things happen on set.
On any photo shoot there are so many moving pieces that can get in the way and be distracting, pulling focus from the most important thing: what’s happening between the camera and the subjects. But Mark makes sure that’s never a liability by connecting directly with his models. “It’s less about me and my equipment and more about my personal interaction with the subject,” explains Mark. “The camera is secondary because I’m so used to the way I shoot. I’m their friend, I’m with them in the moment.” Mark’s presence means that the people featured in the advertisements are present too, bringing us into their world and making us a part of it.