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The new BMW 8 Series Coupé went on a very unique maiden voyage for a TV ad filmed at the Canal Grande in Venice, the car-less city. Put together by BMW, the campaign was photographed by Berlin photographer J. Konrad Schmidt, who worked with Leica S and SL cameras, among others. We spoke to him about the challenges involved in the campaign.

Where did the idea of Venice come from, and how was it taking pictures of a car in the car-less city?
Venice as the setting was the idea for the film and the interpretation was the film director’s. Of course, it’s a captivating idea. From the logistics point of view, it was a challenge for all of us, because even on foot it’s difficult to get around the city. You can’t get anywhere quickly. There’s water everywhere, no room, everything floats and rocks, narrow alleyways, tourists. It’s delightful, but it’s also an extremely unusual place to work in. It was wonderful! To work with great people outside your comfort zone is very energising, and something you remember for a long time.

What were the biggest challenges of this endeavour from your perspective as a photographer?

It’s always a challenge to manage a photo shoot and filming in a short amount of time. We were there in June, around the summer solstice. If you then need an early sunrise, you don’t get much sleep. But that’s just small stuff. In the end, the uniqueness of the idea reigns over everything we did. You take everything into consideration. At least, that’s how I felt. Working from a boat, you’re always wondering how close you are in any given moment to the car, and if the depth of field is sufficient, and, if it is, if the picture is sharp. Every thing’s rocking. Even when you’re sitting in a restaurant you have the feeling that every thing’s moving with the heave of the waves.

What kind of reactions were there?

Most tourists stood around with gaping mouths and all of them pulled out their cameras. It was the Asians in particular who were speechless. Many gave us a thumbs up. They smiled. They shook their heads as this baggage train moved along the canal. I imagine it really looked crazy to an outsider. Such a performance for the launch of a car and in such a setting, is a great thing and very rare! Many people saw the car. Wedding couples, culture tourists. Even the Venetians knew all about it after two days and talked to us in droves about the project.

Many thanks for your time.

You can see a selection of photos in the coming issue of LFI available at: LFI shop.

You can see the official TV clip for the launch of the new BMW 8 Series Coupé on the BMW YouTube Channel.
© Leila Ivarsson

J. Konrad Schmidt

J. Konrad Schmidt is 34 years-old, studied photography, is a members of the BFF (Association of Professional Free-lance Photographers and Filmmakers) and works as a free-lance photographer based in Berlin, in the areas of fashion, automobile and portrait photography. Schmidt likes to work in analogue black and white for his personal projects and books. His works has already been recognised with numerous awards, including the Bronze Prix de la Photographie Paris, and the AOP Photography Award in London.

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