He & Me Blend Classic and Contemporary for Volkswagen
When He&Me were set up on Glenilla Road in London, they found themselves with something of a challenge. One of the homeowners didn’t want her house to be in the ads they were shooting for Volkwagen’s latest Jetta. With local permitting they could shoot wherever they wanted, but Tom Menneman and Yona Heckl wanted to find an elegant solution and do something that would help complete the concept of the ads: they digitally composited a building over her home. They were in a section of London where most of the architecture is historic; the homes are the traditional brick and mortar of the Georgian era but the new building that they added in was very modern. That contrast was a crucial element of the shoot.
“It was part of the concept to show modern architecture next to old school architecture,” says Tom. “It’s such a traditional, classic Volkswagen car with high technology inside,” adds Yona. The blend of tradition and technology that the car represents needed to be reflected in the final compositions, so Tom and Yona employed the visual cues of contrasting architecture. Throughout the entire series of images, all shot in London, you can see that juxtaposition of Georgian themes and the glass walls of modernity. But like London, the new Jetta blends both of these seemingly opposing elements seamlessly into one vehicle. This contrast also has cultural elements. Tom explains: “Normally older people drive Jettas, and Volkswagen is trying to push it in a younger, fresher direction.” In showing off the complimentary historic design with contemporary technology, Tom and Yona help open the car to a new generation of drivers by widening their perception of what’s possible.
When they’re balancing these two seemingly opposing forces, there’s a lot to juggle on set. But for Tom and Yona, once they arrive on set they let the exactitude of preparation fall away and just focus on the moment. “You know the light direction. You know what time you're going there to shoot it and then you stay there until the moment comes. And if it’s different from what you expected you have to see what you can do,” explains Tom. Not everything goes to plan, especially when you’re shooting on the streets of a city like London. But sometimes that unplanned chaos is exactly what the images need. “That’s the nice thing if you shoot on location and not in the studio: Things can happen,” says Tom. “You can have moments and catch moments and add it to the picture.” Those moments add a living energy to the photos that can not be faked, and help bring the story that He&Me is telling to full life.