Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

Kremer/Johnson Places Emphasis on Continuity and Efficiency in Motion Work

Our photographers are often challenged to shoot stills and motion in a single shoot. As a duo, Kremer/Johnson has developed tactics to do this efficiently while maintaining continuity. Synergy is always at play, with Neil taking the lead on stills and Cory directing motion. Through cohesive teamwork, they are able to capture the same look for both motion and stills, using a variety of lighting techniques. 

Evolving industry precedents by innovating productions to become leaner and more intentional, Kremer/Johnson is always thinking ahead. Acknowledging that directing motion and stills within the same set is an added challenge, Neil and Cory have fine tuned their process to remove what isn’t necessary in production to put that money onto the screen. We sat down with Neil and Cory to understand their philosophy better. Read on to learn more.

What motion project are you most proud of? 

We were hired in 2020 to shoot still portraits for Root Insurance. It was a relatively simple shoot, capturing portraits of a variety of people in the middle of a street. We gave them 48 stills and ended up shooting motion with each one. The motion work looked exactly like the stills because the process we set up was very streamlined. We could keep the stills lighting and let that inform the motion process. They ran on national television for two years. We’re really proud of that project because of the continuity between the stills and motion.

What is your philosophy when approaching motion?

That there’s got to be a better way. Agencies and brands know that motion projects cost significantly more than a stills shoot. We’re confident that we can do it for less. Between the dividing of our skills between stills and motion, and our willingness to remove what is not necessary from productions, we keep more money on the screen. To us, that is the most important thing. We are intentional with our hiring. Can the assistant light stills and motion? We look for those small ways that will save money on the production side and put it into the casting styling, and elements that will show up on the screen.

What sets Kremer/Johnson apart from other directors? 

We really believe our process is streamlined and as efficient as it can be. With Neal taking the lead on stills and Cory directing motion simultaneously, we keep the continuity between the two without sacrificing time. We have spent a lot of time developing the distinct style of our stills lighting that we actually prefer to jump off of to use for motion. 

We see continuity between formats as important. We worked for a lot of years to develop & hone our visual style for stills.  When it came time to shoot motion, it just seemed natural to carry that same look through to the motion side as well.

Continuity is a theme that has come up a few times, how do you work to maintain continuity between stills and motion?

Lighting for motion can be very different from lighting for stills for a number of reasons.  However, when it comes down to it, a photon is a photon. With our experience, we believe we should always be able to bend them to our will in order to create a specific style, no matter the format. 

We start by diagramming our lighting setup for stills. We use from fairly specific modifiers for that, a lot of which aren't available for motion. Because of that challenge, we do our best to find or create modifiers for the motion side to replicate the look we set for stills. Sometimes, it's a super easy process, but other times we have to get crafty. It can take a lot of time, but we think it's work the effort. 

What is the most important element within a motion shoot?

We put a huge emphasis on casting. We always cast in person, assuming there’s not another once in a lifetime pandemic, so we can run through the lines with the talent. A lot of people cast form stills, but we think it’s really important to see the facial expressions to ensure we’re casting the right people.