Recently Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Carol A. Robles-Roman and Chief Advisor for Policy and Strategic Planning John Feinblatt launched a new public-education campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and to encourage New Yorkers to report potential trafficking situations. The multi-media campaign called "Let's End to Human Trafficking," features silhouettes of everyday people who may be affected by human trafficking. It's a terrible crime that involves force, fraud and coercion to exploit men women and children, whether they are U.S, citizens or immigrants. It's happening everywhere, but we don't always recognize it.
The mayor's office engaged Grey New York, the advertising network of Grey Group, one of the largest global communications companies, to create a campaign that told stories of people being victimized in the city right now. Both the mayor's office and Grey Group worked on the concept to raise public awareness about one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world today. The campaign provides the public with a way to take action if they suspect human trafficking is occurring-- how to recognize it, report it and most importantly to let victims know that help is available. They are not alone in this.
The creative team on the project from Grey New York included Exec. Creative Dir. Alice Ericsson, Art Director Natsuko Bosaka, Interactive Producer Naomi White, who produced the Web site portion of the campaign, VP Manager Art Producer Jayne Horowitz and Account Supervisor Lisa Montana. Bosaka wanted beautiful imagery that was strong but that would also convey these stories with emotion. It was about this time that photographer Rose Callahan entered the picture. Callahan is a good friend of Interactive Producer White, which brought her to the attention of Art Director Natsuko. Natsuko viewed Callahan's work online, liked what she saw and decided to assign the project to her. Callahan, a native of San Francisco and now a Brooklyn transplant, shoots portraits, lifestyle and fashion and also does reportage for magazines and newspapers. "This was a pro-bono campaign, and since I had not worked with Grey before, I thought it would be a good opportunity to work with new clients for a worthy cause. The concept and look for the campaign was strong, so I also saw it as an opportunity to make beautiful images/tears," says Callahan of the project.
Her challenges, short lead time and budget constraints, were the usual. Budget dictated that the shoot be done at the in-house casting studio at Grey. The space was about 15'x25', a very small area to set up with white silhouette background and not have light spill everywhere. "Luckily, the walls and ceiling were painted black. Also, I had visited the space prior to the shoot so I knew what I would need to plan for. Still it was a very tight fit," explains Callahan.
Her next big challenge to tackle was shooting 19 scheduled subjects in one day. Art Producer Jayne Horowitz, helped tremendously with the casting and logistics of shooting so many people. Since the concept for the photography was to show subjects in dark silhouette with identities hidden, they used all "real people" cast from the employees at Grey. With the tight budget and short lead time, doing any kind of street casting or casting actual trafficking victims was not an option. "I had about 15-30mins max with each subject, so it was a challenge to both connect with the individuality of each person and think of new ways to direct and shoot them to bring out the concepts of the campaign," adds Callahan. As the subjects were not models or actors it was especially hard to get the right emotion and body language in the subtle ways they wanted, but Art Director Bosaka's creative input and collaboration on direction were extremely effective in getting the desired results and emotional core needed. She also allowed Callahan to do her thing.
"Rose's photography for NYC "Let's End to Human Trafficking" campaign captured the emotion we needed to tell our story. We cast 19 different people for the shoot. Rose was extremely attentive to all, and as a result was able to bring out the most in each individual. She gave us a plethora of great shots to choose from, making it difficult to narrow it down to a mere five," says Bosaka. The agency is also exploring the opportunity of doing a video using Callahan's images from the shoot, but this is dependent upon further funding and approval from the Mayor's office.
The Images are now being used on the NYC.gov site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/endht/html/home/home.shtml and the current media buy is for 50 bus shelter posters within the 5 boroughs. The campaign has already elicited a community response from the WJI Times Observer, which can be accessed at http://www.wjitimesobserver.com/2010-convergence-course/anti-human-trafficking-campaign-sparks-community-response-1.2269554.
Recently Callahan expanded her services by forming Rarebit Productions, with partner Kelly Desmond Bray, to produce motion projects that incorporate video, motion graphics, animations for broadband content at http://www.rarebitproductions.com/.
You can see more of Rose Callahan's work now at www.rosecallahan.com and visit her blog for her latest news at rosecallahan.blogspot.com.