Archive for April 2010
A few weeks ago I got a call from David Skinner, a friend a production designer. (David’s Reel) He was working on yet another Bing TV commercial and wanted to create and old masters type portrait to use as set decoration for the commercial. His first thought was to spend some money comping a portrait of the general into a stock photo purchased from Getty Images. Although my estimate was more than the cost of a (good) stock photo we both agreed that it was worth spending the extra money having me try to match the concept so that we would have total control.
In a matter of days I was setting up in the production office for an impromptu shoot that coincided with the wardrobe fitting. On the way to the shoot he called and informed me that instead of a single portrait of the “General”, we’d be shooting the general and his trophy wife. The benefit of having the shoot at the production company is that we would be close to both the director and agency to get approval. There’s nothing like having the director and the ad agency art directors around to help out during a photo shoot. In the end we got so many great shots it was hard to pic just one.
After the shoot the image was turned over to (ridiculously amazing) Graphic Artist Jamie Rama to get the old world painting look. The ending result was printed on canvas and framed.
Every spring Photo District News announces their 30 photographers to watch. It’s a great time to see what the commercial photography industry is taking notice of and because of the respect and reach of the magazine it’s a pretty big deal to make the list. Each year when I view the PDN30 I see a lot of what I am not. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Knowing what I am not helps me to figure out what I am. Being able to wander around shooting ideas helps me find out what’s for me and what’s not for me. In college my goal was to be a sell-side analyst. For those unfamiliar with the investment banking chain of command, a sell-side analyst is the person responsible for writing research reports on sectors and companies and making buy, sell or hold recommendation to the investment community. I achieved my goal and eventually hated the job. With photography I have taken a different approach – try different things to see if what’s a good fit. In 2006 some friends suggested I look into children’s photography. I booked a couple test shoots with friend’s kids, had fun and a new business was born. The following was a shot from one of those test shoots.
A few years ago I started working with small battery powered strobes and wanted to set up some test shoots to find their limitations and see what I could pull out of them. I asked everyone who came in for a shoot to wear the same thing; a white wife-beater. Despite all the different faces, shapes, colors and moods the wife-beater helped bring everything together. It was a great exercise and I learned a lot. Recently I was looking over the series and appreciated how real they were. I was able to capture great images of people without fancy lights, locations, makeup or wardrobe. I also noticed that through that series I made some great friends and continue to have relationships with quite a few people I photographed.
I saw the value in the exercise and my current project was born. It’s a similar portrait project although a bit more stripped down. Back in November I had a model sit for a very close up portrait before our fashion shoot. It was the spark for the current series. It’s ongoing and I welcome everyone who’s willing to come in for a shoot. Click on the photo to check out the project’s website.
I don’t look as my photography as art. I never have and it takes effort to consider it as such.
I started off taking pictures of my skater friends during middle school. It was fun; I thought it was cool and my friends appreciated great shots of them skating. My interest in photography waned until my job sitting all day behind a desk forced me to look somewhere for a creative release. I signed up for an intro-to-photography class through UCLA extension and renewed my interest.
During and after the photography class I shot a lot of photos of stuff; mostly street photography, a lot of architecture and the great majority of it was shot at night. I didn’t consider it art – it was just for fun. In my need for further release from the chains of the investment bank I took a week long trip to Paris and came back with 26 rolls of film and a new passion for photography.
A few weeks ago a friend and model posted a request on facebook asking for help from a photographer for an art project. She is building a portfolio to apply to art school and needed help translating the idea in her head. Her idea was a series of shots of her walking into the ocean at sunrise. After a couple emails and phone calls about the project I figured I could help her while still bringing my own creativity and experience to the table. My own goal with the project was to come away with enough coverage and the right frames to be able to tell a story. The following series is my result. (Be sure to click on the image and view the larger version.)
To make the shots work meant meeting at the beach at 4:45AM. We met at a beach in Malibu and trekked down to the water using flashlights. It reads better in the large version but you can see the stars in the first shot. It was the first shot of the day and I took it at 5:05AM. We shot for about an hour until I was cold and she was freezing.
Is it art? I’m still not sure. I just like to make photos and tell stories with them.