THE SECRET LIFE of Treasure Island

PHOTO & VIDEO AD CAMPAIGN for Treasure Island Development Group

“…it was all worth it to hear the constant stream of enthusiasm coming from the client monitors…”

If you’ve ever taken the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland, then you’ve passed over Treasure Island.  Technically you’d have driven through (a tunnel in) Yerba Buena Island, a natural cone of rock jutting up from the center of the bay, to which Treasure Island was attached in the 1930s.

Treasure Island has been many things over its manmade life, World Fair, Airport, Naval base, and most recently residential space.  Yet, it’s arguably been ignored as part of the Bay Area’s landscape as 1000s of commuters speed past it between SF and the East Bay.

It’s now in the midst of a massive overhaul and facelift to modernize its infrastructure, improve housing, and update its parks and open spaces.  When completed it’s likely to become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in San Francisco (if I do say so, myself).

“…we flexed all that production muscle…”

With the history and future of Treasure Island in mind, I was quite flattered to win the job to create a photo & video campaign promoting the lifestyle of (treasure) island life.

Creating a lifestyle campaign for an island that was actively under construction was the first hurdle.  Other than a small corner of the island and half of the cove that divides it from Yerba Buena Island, nothing was ready for photography…

“…I challenge you to tell me which images were shot during pouring rain and which were shot with real sunshine 😎.”

Our team scouted the Bay Area for locations that looked and felt (from certain angles) like the proposed development on the island.  It took a lot of work, but we succeeded eventually, though I won’t tell you where they were for fear of ruining the illusion ;)

The shot list was also HUGE, and very specific, which, in addition to the constraints of shooting at locations that allowed only for very specific angles meant that every shot had to be planned in very specific detail. 

All this to say that, despite the free and loose feeling of this campaign, the production was a rolling behemoth of RVs filled with producers, clients, models, wardrobe, props, stylists, lights, cameras, film crew, a shooting boat, electric platform bike, security, and of course, me.

Having this flotilla of production to move around was at first a huge headache (have you ever tried to park in San Francisco?!), but when the weather turned ugly on us in the days before the shoot, we acknowledged, with grace, the latitude it ultimately provided us with.

As the weather shifted, we flexed all that production muscle to chase windows of clear sky, and to create pockets of shelter and simulated sunlight amidst the squalls.  Seriously, I challenge you to tell me which images were shot during pouring rain and which were shot with real sunshine 😎.

This was honestly the largest production I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on.  Despite my whinging about the cumbersome size, I never felt the weight of any of it because of the incredible team that worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

It took a lot of labor to make this thing work, but it was all worth it to hear the constant stream of enthusiasm coming from the client monitors from behind the camera as we marched through the shot list.

My most enormous thanks to everyone involved.

Director & Photographer: Kaare Iverson / Studio Iverson

Client: Treasure Island Development Group

Agency: Era Co

Production: Daniel Dobers Productions

Video: Coldwater Collective

Stylist: Lisa Moir

H&M: Sarah Ashton

Digital Tech: AG Digital Capture Solutions

Photo Assistant: Zachary Paul Raphael Gonzales

Photographing Kevin Jorgeson on a Bed of Razor Sharp Mussels



Razor Sharp Bivalves


“…a sport that puts climbers high above a safe height with no ropes and a high chance of falling.”

When I moved to Sonoma County, CA some 8 years ago, I felt a little like I was unplugging from my roots in the outdoor adventure space.  But I quickly discovered that this county is home to some of the most wild and visionary adventure athletes I’ve ever known.  It was here that I finally found a partner to climb El Cap with, rode my first bike-camping tour, and met pro-climber Kevin Jorgeson.

Figuring out adventure sporting in Sonoma County took me some time - in part because it requires vision, imagination, and research to find the goodies. 

This is still a land of firsts for many adventure sports and Kevin, who is known for his visionary pursuit of highball bouldering (a sport that puts climbers high above a safe height with no ropes and a high chance of falling), invited me along to photograph a new project far out on the rugged Sonoma Coast that he’d been developing.

“…local weather patterns that can generate deadly sneaker waves.”

We arrived at a massive boulder, somewhat bigger than my house, which had shorn free from the adjacent coastal cliff and tumbled down the hill.  The route he’s spotted, now named Full Circle, starts in the intertidal zone-meaning that the bottom half of the route is often wet, and a successful climb requires knowledge not only of tide charts, but also of local weather patterns that can generate deadly sneaker waves.

I joined Kevin on a scouting mission to explore the project and assess ocean conditions.  While he made a few attempts on the problem with a rope to secure him from falls, I calculated sun angles over the coming months to try to co-ordinate the best possible time to photograph the towering boulder.

The project wouldn’t be considered complete until he made a true “send”, which in this case meant ditching the rope and harness and facing a fall of up to 30’ onto jagged rocks and razor-sharp mussels.  So we would certainly be returning when conditions were favorable.

“…’send’, which in this case meant ditching the rope and harness and facing a fall of up to 30’ onto jagged rocks and razor-sharp mussels.”

Finally, a day arrived when Kevin felt the conditions were right (and the sunlight was raking across the stone, just so).

With an athletic shoot like this where the danger is SO HIGH, there’s typically just one opportunity to get “the shot”.  I knew though that I wanted to get both a horizontal and vertical composition at the same peak moment of action. 

To do this I synced 2 cameras to the same shutter: one on a tripod composed for the horizontal image, and the other in my hands for the vertical so that I could roam around a little.  Every time I pressed the shutter on my handheld camera, the second camera on the tripod took a picture at the same time.

I love the little spotter in the yellow jacket far below, fruitlessly holding their hands up - as though there’s any hope that they could help should Kevin fall.  

What a great sport :)

Fashion Photoshoot for Fitness Tech Company, Future., a fitness tech company based in San Francisco, recently launched their first branded apparel and accessory collection to compliment their personal trainer app service.  The art direction called for the implication of fitness or workout routine so that we could draw more attention to the apparel and the wellness lifestyle the brand promotes.

I had really wanted to find a rooftop basketball court location for this shoot with a view of a city skyline but the great option in San Francisco’s Chinatown (featured in the film Pursuit of Happyness) is currently unavailable to the public (or private commercial photographers for that matter)⁠ thanks in part to COVID restrictions.

In a subsequent search of the city we discovered this gem of a public park built right under a major interchange overpass. I loved the way the morning light cut hard lines through the urban architecture and how those lines are softened by park foliage. It’s the sort of architecture and urban planning that’s speaks to a hopeful future.

It took scouting a number of spaces across SF to finally settle on this one…frankly the dynamic shifting of light and shadow in this space made it a tricky one for the shoot we had sketched out, but with some on-point help and great direction we chased those shadow lines around and came out with a great set of images⁠.

On a bit of a tangent, one of my ongoing personal projects is about architecture, conservation, and restorative landscaping (I’ll share some of that work soon).  Some part of me wanted to sneak in a hint of that theme while still getting the nearly sci-fi cinematic look of large scale urban infrastructure.  This spot in San Francisco’s east shores is really in incredible and hopeful use of urban space.


Creative Direction: Studio Iverson

Photographer: Studio Iverson / Kaare Iverson

H&M: Sarah Ashton

DT: Gary Ottonello

Assistant: Julian Arreguin

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