bands and artists
I started shooting behind the scenes video during shoots (while the model was in hair and makeup) to give me something to do. On most occasions a model will spend 60-90 minutes in the chair which gives me a lot of free time. The more I shoot and edit this footage, the more I learn. I learn by doing. I’d make a video and get to edit and realize it would have been better if…. Next time I made sure that “if” was taken care of. On this particular occasion it meant getting some more action direct to the camera as opposed to finishing the video with stills from the shoot.
This was shot back in June with Jordan Colton and Stacey Ellis. stacey has recently started a new venture. Be sure to check her out at Ellis Salon
Hiring a photography consultant has been on my to-do list for a while. My goal with working with a consultant is to review and update my portfolio as well as get help with marketing. About a year ago I started the process of finding a consultant but work got so busy that I decided it wasn’t the right time. A few months ago I started the process again and interviewed two different consultants. Because I had never worked with a photography consultant, my goal with the interview was to gather information about what was involved with the process, how long the process would take and how much I should budget for the project. Of the two consultants I spoke with I went with Sherrie Berger. My decision was based partly because she’s local to LA but mostly because we found a good rhythm during our initial conversation that I felt she would be a good fit for my personality and my goals. Sherrie described her “program” as organic, which in the end meant that without starting down the path it would be hard to predict where we would end up.
For our first meeting she came to my office which was hugely beneficial. We started with a review of my website which led us to discuss and review various shoots in my archive. We spent a couple hours reviewing my work and discussing my business. Having someone else critique my work was a bit uncomfortable. It had been years since I sat down for a portfolio review and although uncomfortable, it also meant that the dread of a stagnant website was coming to an end. Unlike a portfolio review where someone is looking at the 20-30 images I deemed worthy of review, Sherrie was able to look at entire shoots and pull images I had skipped over or didn’t think were right for my portfolio. In addition to reviewing archived shoots she was able to suggest options to consider for my next shoot. Over the course of the next month we worked together to fine tune my portfolio and website. It’s still a work in progress but in that short time period we completely revamped my website by digging up gems in my archive as well as scheduling new shoots. The plan was to work together on a month-to-month basis and as the month was coming to an end my schedule for the following month wasn’t going to allow time to commit to Sherrie’s assignments so we took a break. Having the flexibility to start and stop the process was invaluable.
Despite Sherrie leaving me with assignments to work on I found that not having her to coach, encourage and motivate me made it easy to put off my homework. It’s incredibly similar to working with a personal trainer at the gym. Sherrie kept me motivated and more importantly she kept me accountable.
The broadway play The Color Purple is heading to London and Attitude Magazine needed help with portraits for their article featuring producer and songwriter Stephen Bray. In addition to his early work and collaborations with Madonna, Stephen helped create the music for the play.
As with any editorial portrait I never know what I am walking into. Will there be light, interesting settings, room to work? Lucky for us Stephen’s home and studio had all of the above. After introductions I asked if I could look around the house for places to shoot. We knew going in that the studio would be one option, but I was immediately drawn to Stephen’s wall-display of records and knew his front porch would be a great option for a simple portrait.
I had Deney Tuazon assist me with the shoot. Having an assistant around for these types of shoots is a huge help. In addition to help with the gear and set up I find having someone stand in while I test my lighting set-ups invaluable. For all three looks we set-up and tested the lights while Stephen got ready. In the end the magazine went with the studio and indoor portrait for use in the story.
My commercial portrait work has a definite vibe. It’s typically well lit; there a sense of emotion and I always want my subject to look beautiful. It’s a style I’ve fallen into over the years. When I first started out in photography I heard about the need to have a style, but didn’t know how to get one. Without knowing it, my style found me. In most cases when I am shooting portraits I want emotion over everything else. I want sexy and sultry yet still commercial.
Every once in a while I look at other photography and ask why cant mine look like that? I’m drawn to moody, uncontrived photos; very spur of the moment, filled with life or mystery. Sometimes I go out and deliberately try to shoot in a style that’s not my own. But there’s this force-field that pulls me back. My experience, knowledge and what I know resonates with the people I have photographed pulls me back to my comfort zone – well-lit and pretty.
This happened on my shoot with Taylor. I’ve known and been working with Taylor since 2006 . Unlike our previous shoots where I was driving the shoot, she called me with a concept that suited her needs as an artist and musician and the direction was out of my norm. When a client approaches me with a job that is a different style from what I do I always ask for reference photos. When I saw her reference images I thought quirky, edgy, snap-shots. Even though that’s not my style she felt comfortable enough to come to me with her concept knowing that I could take her input and produce photos that matched her goals.
A few years ago I made a slideshow using photos from every assignment I shot during the year. The idea stuck and has become a great way for me to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during the year. 2012 was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. All of those experiences brought one theme to the forefront – Family is Everything. And by family I’m not limiting myself to the family I was born into or married into. It’s the people that I have chosen to surround myself with. This year we have had the warm blanket of family wrapped around us when we needed it and we were able to be that same blanket of warmth and strength for others when they needed it. This year was life-changing for so many of our friends and loved ones.
Over the past couple years I’ve skipped using photos of my family in the slideshow, after all they weren’t paid assignments and so many were just snapshots. This year I’ve included them because my wife and kids are my world and are definitely the most photographed subject in my life. I also opted to include more than one image from the assignments. Limiting myself to one single image per shoot didn’t represent the scope and the fruits of my labor.
As with every slide show I always struggle with music. Each year I want to use a song that I fell in love with during the year. This year there were a couple of contenders.
Mumford & Sons – I will wait
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop I dare you to not bounce your head while listening to this song. I was bouncing my head for a couple weeks before I even listened to the words.
Ryan Adams – From The Ashes In January NPR streamed a pre-lease of this entire album. I listened to it over and over until the day it was released. Go buy it directly from his label/website.
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun This is probably my favorite song on the album but I opted for Tightrope becaue it matched the tempo I wanted for the slideshow.
For those of you that supported me and helped me create this year I owe you a world of thanks. Without you I’d be stuck behind some desk.
Music and photography. Other than my family, these are the two biggest influences in my life. I walked in to the Who Shot Rock & Roll exhibit at the Annenberg today and felt the power and weight of those two influences on my life.
I’ve grown up with music and photography. Music more than anything helps me tell time. As a kid whose father was in the Army we moved a lot. I can’t remember 8th grade without trying to figure out where I lived. When I think of where I lived I can remember the music in my life. 8th and 9th Grade was Anchorage Alaska. I was introduced to new wave and was coming off my introduction to heavy metal. I remember being introduced to The Cure, Violent Fems, INXS, REM, and The Beastie Boys. This is also the time in my life when I picked up my first camera.
The amazing thing about the exhibit was that in a lot of cases the photos weren’t made of rock gods and superstars. They were made by kids of other kids. Friends taking photos of their friends that happened to be in a band. In most of the images in the exhibit many of those friends went on to rock & roll greatness.
Don’t take my word for it. Go see it. Now. It closes in four days.
As I looked at the photos and read stories about how the photos were made I started to reflect on my music photography. Sometimes shooting music is great. It’s exciting, it’s loud, it’s fun. Other times it’s all wrong; they handcuff us together so that it makes it hard to get original and great images.
This was shot at the Bamboozle Left Festival a couple years ago. Here’s the reality of shooting most shows; you get to shoot the first three songs and then they kick you out. So basically there are a handful of us looking up the nostrils of the artist trying to get something cool and unique.
The key to so many of the great images showcased at the exhibit is access. Either being friends with the band or the band having enough faith in your work and vision that they trust you. They need to know that you aren’t going to make them look bad. In the case of this shot of Darrin Pfeiffer, the drummer from Goldfinger, I had access. I was on the stage a few feet away. Why did I have access? I know the lead singer.
Here’s another shot I love and it was made because I had access. Ever been to the Viper Room? It’s the size of a large walk-in closet. This shot of Run Run Run was made during a private showcase the band was putting on for a record exec. That shot would have been impossible to make had their been a crowd.
So many musicians I’ve shot know a lot about marketing and they want to look a certain way in their photos. With the case of The Josephine Collective they were in town living their dream, recording an album, looking cool was the farthest thing in their head. The producer invited me to his home where they were recording. As much as a Bel Air mansion screams success it doesn’t register well with a pop-punk band from Tennessee. So while all around me is a gorgeous pool and backyard I laid down on the ground and had them huddle up. There was no request for smiles or to say cheese. They (we) were just having fun.
Most recently I was contacted by The Rossetti quartet. They are a string quartet that has played around the world. They hired me to take shots that wouldn’t look like they were a “string quartet”. I treated them as I would any other band. I wanted them to look cohesive and cool.