Last year, before 2020 became a “bad year,” it started with a cover photoshoot of PJ Tucker for Footwear News Magazine. PJ is a noted sneakerhead and power forward for the Houston Rockets. They had a loose concept for a luxury bathtub full of sneakers and a shoot date built around the Rockets playing in Portland.

Super producer Therese quickly found all the coolest hotel bathtubs portland had to offer—the Presidential Suite at the Nines Hotel has a giant tub and was available for our shoot day. Great location, huge room, fancy-schmancy hotel. Perfect. Unfortunately, The Rockets stay at the Monaco Hotel. As a result, we were forced to change our plans.

Fancy hotel bathroom

The Nines Presidential bathroom, where we did NOT shoot.

Sometimes things go spinning out of control, and you have to find a way to rethink on the fly.

Us: “No problem, we’ll do our PJ Tucker photoshoot at the Monaco Hotel; we’re sure it’ll have an awesome tub.”
Hotel: “We have no freestanding tubs, all our suites are booked. Therefore, we can only offer you a mini-suite.”
Us: “Um. Sure. What’s a mini-suite?”
Hotel: “It’s the same size as a tiny hotel room, but we divide it into two rooms and fill it full of furniture.”
Us: “So. Tiny Room. For me, two assistants, a producer, a groomer, a wardrobe stylist, two clients from FWN, and P.J. Tucker and his manager. Ten people.”
Footwear News: “By the way, there’s a two-person docu-film crew shooting behind the scenes of everything.”
Us: “Twelve people. Plus all our gear and lighting. And P.J.s traveling shoe collection*.”
Hotel: “Yeah. It’s a really cool room, though.”
Us: “And the tub… at least that’s a nice luxurious spa tub, big enough to put a 6′ 5” basketball player in?
THEM: “Um… the tub is kinda small.” 

A very tall man in a too-small tub with his sneakers

‘When in doubt, freak out,’ as someone cool once said.

I had to find a way to surf the chaos, to embrace the changeups that have been thrown at me. I had to break it into pieces, see what was left, and then, Build. Create. Make.

A tiny tub? No problem, it makes it look like it’s overflowing with cool-ass shoes and P.J. look dramatically huge. Small rooms? Remove all the furniture. Embrace the visual chaos of the clashing colors, funky wallpaper, and crazy textures by incorporating them into the shots. Emphasize it all with some crisp lighting. Choose clothing and shoes that create even more visual chaos. 

Behind the scenes photo of Photographer Andy Batt shooting on assignement in a very small hotel bathroom

Not much space for any behind the scenes shots of the set.

PJ Tucker was stoked about doing the photoshoot —

He was a great subject. He worked all the variations I created with enthusiasm and took direction like a champ. Shannon and Peter from Footwear News were great collaborators and offered immense creative freedom.

It was a long day—but when a shoot yields images that I’m excited to put in my book, make the clients happy, and has the subject excited? 100% WIN.

*For reals. P.J. travels with an incredibly awesome kit of sneakers 

Andy Batt and PJ Tucker pose after a photo shoot

Behind the scenes and behind the lens, Andy and PJ celebrate a great shoot. 

Photographer Andy Batt and style director Shannon looking at their too-small location

Shannon and Andy try to make the world’s smallest tub work for the shoot.