Blast from the past: Playing chicken

Photoshop manipulation of news photos is strictly forbidden. But with photo illustrations, which are considered to be akin to drawings or paintings, more artistic license is allowed. They’re typically used in the features sections of papers (such as The LENS section in The Record). Such pictures should be always labeled “photo illustrations.”

In January 2008 I shot a photo illustration to go along with a story on how to carve a chicken. The story followed Yosemite Meat Market owner George Lucas on the proper way to cut up a whole chicken. I got step-by-step photos of Lucas in action, but I was wondering how to do a different, more playful photo to help bring readers into the story.

I came up with an idea of chain sawing a giant roasted chicken. It was a simple matter of shooting a supermarket rotisserie chicken in the Record’s studio, and having another shot of someone pose with a chainsaw and then putting the two shots together. Record Photo Editor Craig Sanders brought his own chainsaw for the shoot and thus became my model. We had a hard hat and some rubber boots lying around the office to complete his ensemble. It became just a matter of copying and pasting the two photos together in Photoshop.

I noticed something in the Relish Magazine insert in the Aug. 4 edition of the paper. On the back was an advertisement for Pam non-stick spray that took up the entire rear cover. It was of a woman standing on a barbecue grill (whether she was supposed to be miniature or the grill was supposed to be giant I’m not sure), using a chainsaw in an attempt to saw off cooked chicken that was seared onto the grill. It immediately reminded me of my shot. I’m pretty sure that the similarities are just coincidental, but maybe I should be calling them about royalties.

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