Toyota Motor North America Project – Sean C. Rice, Photographer


The challenge was to capture these images of the Avalon within an extremely limited window of opportunity, as we were collaborating simultaneously with a commercial. The night before the shoot day we were tasked with a group shot of the vehicles at the LA Convention Center location. With only 8 hours’ notice, we successfully rented equipment and lights for a 3-car composite set-up. We arrived before sun-up at the parking structure to learn that it wasn’t possible to turn off the building lights. Painting with light, in complete darkness, in the parking garage, was out of the question. Challenging! Thanks to a last-minute rental, we were able to light the scene quickly, within 2 hours, with only one strobe head. Completed the shot, just in time to return the cars to the next objective – the commercial.

Sean says, “I’m not always afforded the luxury of pre-planning out every shot, however with years of post-production experience, supported by my ability to composite my own images, prepared me to get the lighting plates needed to properly light the car elevating the rugged look of the environment as well as enhancing the design features of the car, just the way the original designer intended.”




Piggybacking on a commercial has challenges, it often runs late.  We were scheduled to shoot the talent wearing the Apple Play Watch that allows him to verbally start the car with CarPlay.  CarPlay is a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car through a vehicle’s infotainment system that allows the driver to stay focused on the road.  The shoot day was nearly over, we had been asked to strike our lighting and grip, and just before the sun hit the horizon, the talent was available to be photographed between takes.

“I called for everyone to clear the scene, I asked one of the PA’s who was using a vape pen, to blow his “smoke” into the reflection of the sun.  The now diffused light, not only took some of the warmth out, it also made the light soft enough to enhance the Apple Watch and the talent’s face as he spoke to activate the Apple Play feature.”


“The one “thing” I carry on every shoot, no matter how much you prepare, your biggest asset is the ability to assess every situation, figure out how to adapt, and then overcome every obstacle that arises,” Sean said.


Toyota upped the ante with a new, modernized design for the Avalon appealing to the traditional audience and also younger drivers looking for sportier performance and a more aggressive design – and of course CarPlay. Avalon makes a statement with an unmistakable sleek silhouette.


Client:  Toyota Avalon  2019

Agency:  Burrell Communications

Associate CD:  Derrick Harmon

Art Dir:  Vinh Tran

Senior Producer:  Carlo Treviso