I have known comedian Tom Garland for several years. When I first got back into photography, I would shoot open mic nights at a local place called The Yacht Club. Tom asked me to do some promo photos which he has used for a few of his comedy albums.
Fast forward a few years and Tom has gone onto do some cool stuff in comedy. From touring with the guys from Jackass to headlining in Las Vegas. I have admired his ability to work the crowd, and how he can incorporate details from them into his set. When he reached out again to do some updated portraits and marketing material, I was all for it.
"I can't book you in Vegas with these pictures.
It doesn't look like you."
I met up with Tom at his place. He wanted a few corporate type headshots for promotional materials. Tom told me he has been using the same photos that we took almost 6 years ago.
"My agent in Vegas has been after me for a year to get this done. He won't even show my picture since I hardly look like that now." Tom said as I set up some basic lighting. I told him that 6 years is a good run for headshots, but we can make some better ones that will keep Vegas happy. We did a few corporate pics. Nothing too fancy, but good enough to get booked in Las Vegas apparently.
Tom needed to grab some stuff from Wal Mart before we started doing some on site photos, so we headed that way. We chatted in the car about his upcoming tour, and what he has been doing since the last time we saw each other. I must say, Tom has come a long way from hosting open mic nights once a week.
We got to our destination and headed inside. He told me that with as much as he tours, its almost cheaper to buy a $3 shirt and $2 pack of underwear than to try and find a laundrymat. Traversing the asiles, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a row of adult size onsies. We looked through quick and then it appeared from the heavens. The pink bunny suit from the move "A Christmas Story."
I grabbed it. "This is it. We will make this work." "Shit yea." Was Tom's reply. Luckily it looked like it would fit him perfectly. We were going for a grungier, dirty look for this shoot, so Tom suggested getting some cheap beer and dirtying up the bunny suit to fit the look we were going for.
"She just had to make eye contact."
Tom grabbed a few other things he needed before he headed out for a month long tour with wrestler Rob Van Dam.
"Let's hit the self check out. I don't need to be judged buying this rabbit outfit at Wal Mart." Tom said looking around for toothpaste.
We headed to the check out area and got in the shortest line. "You can use this kiosk, it is open.", an employee blurted out, waiving us over to a free scanner. She proceded to start the transaction for us, when she saw the outfit. To be fair, it was probably pretty hard to not see an adult sized pink onsie.
The employee mentioned it as soon as she saw it. "Oh, I love this. I got my boyfriend one last week." Tom was doing everything he could to not burst out laughing. I had to stifle a chuckle as well.
We grabbed our bags, said thank you, and made a b-line to the door. We both lost it as we got out of the store. "I was doing fine till she looked at me. She just had to make eye contact to really drive the point home." he stamered through fits of laughter.
We joked about it even more once we got in the car. I said it was a good way to start a tour. He agreed. Tom pulled into a liquor store and asked what beer we should get. I thought the cheapest beer possible. Not like it was going to be ingested. As luck would have it, the cheapest beer had a big logo on the side, and would work great for the photos. You would be able to read it and let viewers judge Tom even more.
Tom told me there was a construction site close to his house with a dirt pile that would work to throw the outfit around in, and we wouldn't get in trouble for opening a beer or two. Got there and took a quick scan of the area. He wanted to do a few portraits with the construction equipment as a backdrop before we started slinging mud around. Knocked those out and then the fun started.
I grabbed the suit from his car and Tom grabbed the beer. Our thinking was that getting the suit wet then rubbing dirt on it would make it the right amount of grungy. I cut one of the ears to really make it look like hell. Smearing beer and wet dirt on a bunny suit in near freezing temps makes for cold hands, and an even colder suit. Tom jumped into the suit. (Pun not really intended.) "It's a little wet and cold." he said as he zipped it up.
"Is that a "thats what she said" joke?" I asked. Tom laughed and thought that it very well could be. I grabbed my camera and flash and told Tom to just relax and make it look like he just got off work and is having a beer.
I took a few test shots and took it from there. I used my MagMod grid spot since it was pretty windy out, and an umbrella would have sailed to China if I had used one. Doing this gave more of a harsh light look, which helped the mood we were going for in the photos.
The sun started to set as we wrapped up the photos. I showed Tom what we had gotten and he told me which ones he liked. This would help me in editing so I knew which ones to focus on for delivery of the images. We chatted a little bit more about his tour and what he has planned after that. I consider Tom a good friend, and it was really nice to catch up.
When he isn't touring with any number of the guys from Jackass, or famous wrestlers, you can find Tom in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Currently he is on the west coast leg of his tour with comedian and wrestler Rob Van Dam. If you want more info on Tom, check out his website at:
Thanks for the laughs and fun shoot Tom.