Exum Photography Client Spotlight: Honda Motorsports

Seven days before the public release of the Ligier Crawford JS Formula 3 race car, the Exum Photography team – based near Greensboro, North Carolina – had the privilege of shooting this sleek, beautiful, open-wheeled automobile for its official press release. The F3 was designed in California, had its composite body built in Denver, NC and is powered by Honda. Our creative team included head photographer Steve Exum, photo assistant Timur Targay, and myself, Alexander Bernal, as a third photo assistant. Even though I have no interest in cars or racing, getting to see the car a week before the general public was pretty awesome. However, that didn’t diminish the fact that in large product photography, especially car photography, the work is challenging and the hours are long.

We had to arrive at the shoot location – The Decal Source http://www.thedecalsource.com) – in McCleansville, NC – bright and early to unload all the equipment, since we packed everything but the kitchen sink.  No joke, Steve had us empty the studio and pack the suburban full. Steve’s motto of “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it” was in full swing that day. This was my first location shoot where practically all of the studio’s gear was used, so I was curious and excited to see why it required so much equipment – until it dawned on me that I was going to have to put it all back the next morning. Figuring out good lighting for the race car was our first challenge. The interior of the Decal Source bay had colorful reflective stripes on the floor that had to be covered up. The F3 itself was highly reflective, so it was necessary for us to turn off all of the ceiling lights and shoot under about 9 different flash strobes strategically placed all around the car. Steve and Timur had to figure out how to control the certain reflections on surfaces while enhancing others.

Once all of the heavy, heavy, heavy gear was unloaded the F3 was rolled in and parked on top of seamless gray background paper. As someone who views cars simply as a method of getting from point A to point B without taking a week to walk the distance, the car certainly impressed me. Its body was sleek and look very aerodynamic. The tires, strangely free of grooves, were wider than any I’d ever seen on a car. I guess it’s a good thing I was impressed by it all because I got to spend a good portion of my day making sure the car was sparkly clean between shots. Every time we completed an angle, the car had to be moved and every time the car moved, the tires accumulated dust and grit. While Steve and Timur adjusted lighting for the next shot, I cleaned and polished the tires, dusted the chassis, aligned the steering wheel and safety harness straps, and checked to make sure the logo on the front wheels were perfectly symmetrical with the logo on the back wheels. If the logo on one wheel was even slightly misaligned, we all had to work together to lift that wheel off the ground and spin it until it was in the correct position. Turns out I much prefer lifting the studio equipment over lifting a car. Lift with your legs, not your back! At one point I played mechanic under the car, wiping mud off the underside of the chassis. Definitely not what I thought I’d be doing that day, but by now I should know that every day is something different at Exum Photography!

One of the most interesting aspects of automotive photography is that the car wasn’t 100% photo ready when the shooting started but it has to be photographed as if it was. For example, the halo around the driver’s seat on the F3 was loose and not bolted into the chassis, so we had to be careful not to touch it, or else we risked scraping up the car. As we were setting up lighting, a separate team was also working quickly to finish putting decals on the car as last minute changes were made to the graphics and logos.

Even though it wasn’t quite ready to peel out of the garage when we were done, that car looked magnificent. I say that the car was beautiful again and again because it was but the irony is that car won’t ever actually participate in a race. Sometime after the public unveiling, it’ll be taken somewhere to be slammed into a wall at very high speeds to test driver safety. It was a little strange, photographing what was basically a doomed-from-the-start car, but it also added to the moment in a way. Now I can say I was one of a select group of people that would ever get as close as I did to the very first  Ligier Crawford JS Formula 3 race car – in McCleansville, N.C., no less.

By Alex Bernal, Photographer’s Assistant at Exum Photography


Exum Photography Client Spotlight: Fisher Wealth Management

Fisher Wealth Management is a Burlington, NC  based financial advisory team lead by Rick Fisher. They manage retirement savings, college savings, investment accounts and more for their clientele. Exum Photography is one their clients and FWM is one of our clients.  The Fisher Wealth team is on the  Exum Photography Christmas card list receiving our zany Exum family Christmas card every holiday season. Years ago, Rick asked if we would create a custom birthday greeting card they could send to Fisher Wealth clients … something fun and memorable like our holiday cards. With that request, an era of creative birthday greeting card photography began. Our first concept entitled “Hope You Have a Blast!” featured their team crowded around a giant birthday cake with a single sizzling stick of dynamite. The card opened and the dynamite candle had exploded spreading cake innards and frosting all over the staff. The cards have become a unique conversation piece that have helped build rapport between the staff and clients at Fisher Wealth. They help keep their referral business strong with a funny and memorable marketing mailer. After the exploding birthday cake, the next year we created a Happy Days cast, followed by the Rat Pack, then a nod to the movie Saturday Night Fever, The Brady Bunch. Our last card just finished its year of circulation is “Born to Be Wild”. Photography by Steve Exum, Card design by Kelsey Flowers, Costume Design by Steve Exum and Kelsey Flowers. Hair and Make-up by Herita Jones and Jennifer McCollom.

Exum Photography Client Spotlight: Vineyard Camp

The Exum Photography team just finished editing a promotional movie we shot to market an international Christian sports camp, the Vineyard, near Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. The Vineyard Camp attracts youth from countries like France, Germany, Colombia, Switzerland, Mexico, Bolivia, and more. Every summer, young men and women from around the world gather in this picturesque mountain camp for outdoor adventure and Christian fellowship. International campers and counselors mix with their American counterparts to sharpen their English-speaking skills, while Americans have the opportunity to learn about the visiting cultures and their languages. The camp was started in 1983, and continues to be run by its founder, Dean Barley. The 3 minute movie ends with a 7 minute slide show featuring many more campers than the short film, encouraging featured campers to share the movie on Facebook. This marketing effort has been met with great success, as the movie has been shared 61 times and has reached close to 10,000 people since it posted on Friday. If you are thinking about a great 2018 summer opportunity for a child that will involve an international cultural experience in the mountains of North Carolina, consider the Vineyard Camp. If a camp like this appeals to you or someone you know, we also invite you to share the Facebook movie link on your personal Facebook page. This helps our efforts to spread the word about this unique summer camp experience. Many thanks and click here to see the movie.

For more information about the camp, check out vineyardcamp.com


Aerial Drone Photography – Ashley Woods Surf Team

At Exum Photography we continue to find subjects that are so much fun to shoot aerial drone photography. This weekend it has been surfing. Sawyer and 4 of his best buddies from our Ashley Woods neighborhood, Joseph, Brooks, Zach & John, spent Labor Day weekend in Holden Beach at the Martin house. The surfing conditions post Harvey Hurricane rain have been pretty good. Flying the drone just above the waves created amazing aerial photographs and video clips that were simply not possible a few years ago. Maximize your screen to watch this fun little aerial movie. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re wondering where Sawyer learn to surf … it was not from me … I’m not a bad windsurfer but when it comes to raw surfing Sawyer has be beat by a mile. I’m better at documenting.

Exum Photography Client Spotlight: Margaret Spellings

Spellings is the President of the University of North Carolina, overseeing the seventeen campus system since March of 2016. President Spellings is the former US Secretary of Education under the Bush Administration. It was with great honor that Exum Photography was commissioned to produce a series of portraits President Spellings could use for media requests. A compelling portrait is something every working professional should update every 5 years. Whether you need a professional studio headshot or an environmental portrait Steve Exum and his team work to find your best look and they excel at building the kind of rapport with their subjects that makes the photographic portrait process fun and successful. Contact our studio and let us update your look or that of your team of professionals.

To view similar work, check out our Environmental Portraits
Portfolio under Commercial Services. http://www.exumphoto.com/commercial-services/

Exum Photography Client Spotlight: Carolina Eye Prosthetics

Our Commercial Photography team at Exum Photography is privileged to serve a wide range of clients each with a unique story. Our mission with each client we serve is to find the most compelling way to visually tell their story with marketing photography or video. Welcome to the first in a series of client focused spotlights in which we share a small portfolio of imagery about one of our clients.

Carolina Eye Prosthetics based in Burlington, North Carolina does more than just make prosthetic eyes; they restore self-confidence in their patients. Their team shares a passion for the artistry behind making a custom prosthetic eye. Their craft is nuanced, detailed and comes with the challenge of helping make their patients feel whole again. Carolina Eye does this with grace, compassion and a warm connection to the patients they serve. Exum Photography tells their story with a combination of great commercial photography on their website and a brand video narrated by the CEP staff and their patients. 


Women’s March on Washington DC -Jan 21, 2017

On assignment for Getty Images photographer Steve Exum documented crowds of American citizens demonstrating their concerns over President Trump’s ability to lead with homemade signs, speeches, and chants during the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. Crowd estimates for the march where over 500,000 just one day after Trump’s inauguration.

2016 Exum Christmas Card – Star of Wonder

We all loved this year’s Christmas card idea – partially because each of us contributed something to the overall design but mostly because we were all super excited to feature our newest family member, Suheila Peña, our exchange student from Mexico!

Going into the shoot, we were pretty sure of ourselves. Shooting each person individually and then Photoshopping us onto the tree sounded like a breeze. We could work around everyone’s schedules and it wouldn’t take up an entire Saturday. Perfect! But the thing is, we are not perfect, we can’t pose like action figures.

You see, Steve shot the tree with little G.I. Joe action figures positioned exactly where he wanted them. They were our body doubles. All we had to do was get into our action figure pose from head to toe to finger alignment, smile, look natural, pretend we were climbing and then hold that pose…indefinitely.

Well, we are a loud and fidgety bunch with lots of ideas and very strong opinions and egos. And apparently, we’re just not good at listening or taking direction. I’m working on it. I’m sure it’ll be a new year’s resolution again. So, instead of the easy peasy shoot I had envisioned, it went something like this …

Exasperated photographer: “None of my clients behave this way!” Photographer’s children and wife: “Well, surely you don’t treat  your clients this way?!”  Oh, and believe you me, there were moments when we said things like, “maybe we should just cancel the card this year?!” Gasp! “Maybe we should just take a picture in front of the Christmas tree?!” Gasp! “Maybe we should just take a picture of Murphy – he will cooperate!” Not the worst idea.

We knew we had to remain civil and positive though. You see, we wanted to convince Suheila that being in an Exum family Christmas card is lots of fun and super cool. We weren’t fooling anyone. Just ask Kelsey or Alex. On second thought, don’t.

We got through it though because the bigger picture (the one we had all agreed on!) was more important. I mean, we all wanted the same darn thing! Also, we didn’t want to let anyone down or abandon tradition, and we absolutely had to pull it together and make good on our promise to Suheila – this is her first Christmas in the states!

So we dropped our egos and our individual ideas of “perfection.” We remembered our guiding light and we agreed to proceed and work together to hoist our star.

May we all find common ground and work together to see the Light in the new year.

Merry Christmas – Molly, Steve, Bella, Sawyer, Suheila and Murphy 


Steve Exum – Photographer & Heavy Lifter | Molly Exum – Storyteller & Star Support

Bella Exum – Tree-hugger | Sawyer Exum – Peak Climber | Suheila Peña – Guest of Honor

Murphy Exum – Furry Ladder | Kelsey Morgan – Graphic Designer, Creative Director & Film Editor  

Alex Tricoli – Behind the Scenes Photographer