Skip to content

Photo Studio Holiday Card Rocketboy and Gears: Is The Case Claused?

December 20, 2020
We created a Rocketboy and Gears Adventures Photo Studio Holiday Card to celebrate our Photo Studio abilities. Here’s why and how we did it.

The McKee Photography Studio Christmas Card - 2020

Welcome to the end of 2020! Our Photo Studio Holiday Card was photographed and created under some pretty unreal circumstances this year.

A feeling that, I think, will be shared by … well… the whole world.

However, we keep on truckin’, as they say.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. We, at McKee Photography, want to wish you a warm, safe, happy, and above all, healthy holiday season.

See you in 2021!

Photo Studio Holiday Card - Rocketboy and Gears Adventure books number 21

Check out the card and the Rocketboy and Gears Adventures FAQ below!

Scroll to see the full card

The Evergreen Paradox Story Excerpt:

Story Excerpt:

“You know that he finally found a mask to fit over that bushy beard, right?” Gears glanced over.

Rocketboy fiddled some more with his old welder’s helmet. It needed a little TLC. Scratch that. It needed a lot of TLC. And, new glass, straps, filters, some oil and a whole lot of polish.

“I still don’t understand why all those helpers of his couldn’t whip up a quick one for him,” he said.

“Apparently, they were too busy, what with all the special orders off the internets,” Gears explained.

“Oh,” sighed Rocketboy.

There was a rumble from the street outside, followed by a squealing of brakes. Something thumped loudly against the door.

The boys looked at each other and then at the door.

A heavy engine revved loudly outside before the sound of tires peeled away into the darkness.

Gears frowned. “You expecting another delicate delivery?”

They opened the door to the empty street. There was a smell of tortured rubber in the air. A twisted, dented, wet cardboard box sat in a puddle in the middle of the walk.

They dragged the box in and cleared a place on the table before pulling out a box knife and cutting the tape.

Inside, were two old fashioned razors, blades and an extra large can of shaving cream.

And, what was left of a handwritten note. The ink had run.

Rocketboy and Gears FAQ

2020 Photography. The Year That Was.

This has certainly been a unique year. (At least, I hope it is unique!)

Like so many people in a thousand industries, 2020 started out with potential for greatness. And, then, a fire sparked up in a dumpster, which turned into an inferno that shut down the world.

Thank goodness I was able to retreat and social distance in the studio. (Some might say that I didn’t really have to change that much. Being alone in the studio is sort of a default state.)

And, my Rotary Club gave me an opportunity to socialize, via Zoom, and set me up with a unique project: our Annual Duck Race.

Some clients resurrected projects that were placed on hold. Others figured out stringent Covid Photoshoot Safety protocols or remote shoot supervision methods.

While this year’s volume of photography is way down, I am very grateful for those clients who have adapted to the times and hired my team and I to create their photography.

I am also eternally grateful to my family, without whom this series would not exist. We all worked together to stay safe and sane… and keep me from Doom Scrolling all night.

The McKee Photo Crew
The McKee Photography Crew on a Holiday Tree Hunt

How We Make The Studio Holiday Cards

Every picture tells a story. But, that story has to come from somewhere, right?

We usually start brainstorming a scene that we think will be visually interesting. Through that process, the story of the book comes out.

Sometimes, it is really dark, too! The Candi Canes story started with Santa’s illegitimate daughter having an addiction to candy canes.

We, ah, dialed that back a bit.

Then, after spending time editing the picture, I start writing as if I was an author. No, I am not an author.

At least, not yet.

But, I do my best and plunk down an action scene, as if it was a page from the middle of the book.

Oh, and one rule is that one of the characters has to make a bad joke at the bottom of the page.

When Gears, er… Hunter, our oldest, was born, we wanted to create a photo studio holiday card to send to family, friends and clients.

However, I was not a fan, creatively speaking, of the standard generic family portrait. So, my wife and I collaborated to create something a little more interesting. It kind of snowballed into … well… photography, photoshop and general mayhem

And, has continued to snowball for the last 20+ years…

My favorite comment was from my young second cousin. She mentioned how much she loved seeing the cards every year. And, that she really wanted to read the “books”!

 
The Original "Gears" for Rocketboy and Gears. Year 1

Yes. I have heard that before. (Thanks, Aunt Peggy!)

In the beginning, it was just my wife and I spitballing ideas and trying to figure out how to show people how the boys have grown and give me an opportunity to show off my retouching/compositing skills.

Now, however, the planning process for the photo studio holiday card usually starts with pitch meetings in the first quarter, followed by various updates.

Such as: “Wouldn’t it be cool to do it in a library that could be attached to last year’s office? What would that look like?”

Rocketboy and Gears #21 Sketch

When my wife and I were growing up, The Hardy Boys Mysteries and Nancy Drew Mysteries were always on our respective reading lists. And, I was always excited when I saw a collection of those books lined up on a bookshelf. To this day, that still gives me a thrill.

When the Rocketboy and Gears concept really gained steam for us, those book covers, which have shown up as excellent memes now, became a touchstone for our creative process.

The Blender Set for Rocketboy and Gears Adventures 21

When my wife and I were growing up, The Hardy Boys Mysteries and Nancy Drew Mysteries were always on our respective reading lists. And, I was always excited when I saw a collection of those books lined up on a bookshelf. To this day, that still gives me a thrill.

When the Rocketboy and Gears concept really gained steam for us, those book covers, which have shown up as excellent memes now, became a touchstone for our creative process.

The set for Rocketboy and Gears Adventures 21

In the beginning, we were shooting film and scanning the image for some retouching. Nothing too serious.

Then, with digital cameras, we got much heavier into compositing.

The last few years, we brought heavy duty cgi, through the magic of Blender, to the party. That is when the sets got a lot more minimal and the worlds got much bigger.

This year, however, I found myself going back to photoshop to drive the concept.

Rocketboy and Gears: Coal Case File

That is an excellent question! We have out grown the cute little boys battling the giant robot. We are even starting to push past the YA version.

The boys college plans went a little sideways this year, so scheduling the shoot was fairly easy.

But, at some point, I am sure they are going to be out of the house and then it will be much more challenging to organize these.

The short answer, for me, is that I will keep on making these holiday cards as long as my fellow collaborators want to come and play with me!

I can see, someday, in the future a few years, Rocketboy and Gears may pass on their batons to a new generation of crazy McKees…

The Cast for Rocketboy and Gears Adventures 21
The Complete Rocketboy and Gears Adventure Book Series

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Stay Safe and Healthy out there.