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Posts Tagged ‘Publication’

When Prevention magazine’s Helen Cannavale called me up with an assignment to illustrate a story about the effects of sleep deprivation on the workforce, I immediately knew we were going to have a bit of fun on the shoot.

Based on the journalist’s findings, Helen and I bounced ideas around about what it means to be half asleep at work.  We figured the model should be wearing a night gown and slippers to make it obvious that she should still be in bed.  Then we came up with three work situations that can be caused by being overly tired.  The first being a good nap on your desk, the second being a portrait of a cold, which tired people are more prone to, and the third showing clumsiness and irritability.  Yeah, good times.

We scouted the workspaces at Prevention’s midtown office and found a corner with a few (mostly) empty rooms that worked out very nicely.  We could set up there and be out off everybody’s way for the duration of the shoot.  Then Helen worked her magic.  First she booked the beautiful red haired Jana Schoep (Ford Models), who totally fit the color palette, did some nice acting and was a great sport on top of it.  Then she got Jane Choi to do hair & make-up.  Jane is a true artist and has worked with some great photographers and film makers.  She did makeup on Bill Clinton and Christopher Walken for Martin Schoeller, for instance.  Great Stuff.  She can do nice and subtle and she can do nice and over the top.  Here she  turned our healthy, happy, well-rested model into a cold-suffering insomniac on the verge.  After Jane was done with the makeup I kept wanting to apologize to our model for still needing her around for a few hours.

Maria-Stefania (Halley Resources)  was the stylist and she put together a good outfit that worked well within that red, purple and blue color combo of a cold sufferer’s face.

We shot with a Mamiya RZ and a tethered Phase One back.  We used Profoto Acutes to light the backgrounds and as fill lights and a ringflash as the main light because I wanted to get that “deer-in-the-headlights”-feel. The ringflash produced also some red eyes in the model, an effect that we didn’t expect (this was only my second shoot with it) but that we happily accepted.  No, wait, wait:  That we didn’t lose any sleep over.  HA!

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Riding a bike was part of my growing up, but not exactly my favorite part. The only times I was very, if briefly, excited about biking was when I was given a banana seat bike, and again after I got a snazzy 10 speed racer. For the most part though I only biked when I was too late to walk someplace. My biking career ended abruptly and not surprisingly on the day I got my driver’s license.

To my amazement though, biking has made a strong comeback in my personal life as well as becoming an important part of my photography. I thought it might make for a nice intermittent series of blog posts to write about the bike shoots I have done.

It all started with me still being a committed pedestrian, when my good friend Silvia (a journalist) and I teamed up as a writer-photographer combo. We were mulling over possible projects to propose to German publications, when we came across ” The Ride of my Life” the autobiography of Mat Hoffmann, the daredevil BMX champion and later Jackass semi-regular. The book was highly entertaining as it described the growing-up and daily brushes with death of a child/man with no fear. Anybody reading the book would seriously question his/ her desire to become a parent, since one would suffer at least 47 heart attacks if fate would bless one with a little Mat Hoffman. To read about it though, was great.


©Unknown Photographer

Silvia and I wrote up a proposal to portray Hofman and send it to a high-brow weekly newspaper in Germany, that has a section somewhat comparable to the NY Times Magazine. They liked the idea and hired us, but then our arrangement kind of backfired on me.

On a previous job I did for the paper the expenses ran (not terribly) high. Not completely because of my fault either, but my invoice was definitely higher than usual. Then the editor for the paper called me up to suggest that I pay for part of the unexpected expenses by lowering my fee. After a bit of arguing back and forth I agreed to do it, if and only if he payed the same amount as I towards the bill. I thought it would be only fair if we both help the paper financially since we were both involved in the production. For some weird reason though, spending his own money was less attractive to the editor than spending my own money, and he agreed to pay my invoice in full. Of course little victories like that often come back to bite me in the ass.

And now was ass-biting time. When Silvia and I got the assignments to produce the Hofman story, the editor presented me with a budget that was so tiny that I had to work for free instead of very cheap, which was normal. I would have never done that, but here he clearly had me by my huevos. If I just turned down my assignment, they would have sent (and paid) another photographer to shoot my story. If we had turned it down as a team, I would have cost Silvia her job as well, and they might have sent another team to do our story. Silvia graciously offered to share her fee with me, which I didn’t take because of course it was more the principle then the dough. In the end we did the story and I was glad we did, but I never worked for that paper again. To paraphrase Paul Simon: There must be 50 ways ways to lose a client.

The shoot was taking place at the Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando, FL. We flew down and up in one day, and sans assistant of course. To transport my equipment ( 1 Pro Acute 1200 with 2 heads) in the park, Universal gave me a hard plastic double toddler stroller. It’s always important to travel in style when on a job.

Mat Hoffman and a bunch of fellow BMX’ers were doing a regular show there that summer in a bike park in an amphitheatre. I looked for a quiet location that didn’t scream theme park and provided us with some privacy and a clean graphic background. I found it behind the theatre. After an hour of corporate interference we were finally allowed to shoot there.
In the first portrait I tried to come up with a classical pose in which he can be clearly seen and can make eye contact with the camera, yet in which he also shows his athleticism. We talked about this, and Mat came up with different suggestions. Finally he busted out the one seen on top. I love how he looks like he’s just loitering on his bike with a half-bored sarcastic ta-daa pose. I used a little slower shutter speed to get a little bit of movement in. This way you realize that he’s not just leaning against the wall, but rolling down the lane.

For the second picture I asked him to take off his shirt. I’ve been around athletes a lot and have seen some banged up people, but no one ever came close to Mat Hoffman. We talked about his knee, which was his injury-du-jour and he showed me how he could move his kneecap around in ways that made you question every assumption you ever had. His torso doesn’t look so terrible until you start zooming in on all the scars and bruises hidden in plain sight.

His amazing pain tolerance and complete lack of fear still astounds me. A while after the shoot Mat was in a vicious car accident in which he nearly lost his right arm. For years after that he couldn’t ride a bike, but thanks to a special brace and some major physical rehabilitation he now is back on the bike again.

There is a recent ESPN movie out about Mat, that was produced by Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville. Looks like it could be a lot of fun.

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© Jamie Warren

I met Julie Grahame a few years ago at a portfolio review, which felt like a very mild waste of time until I sat down at her table at the very end of the shindig. She was sharp, insightful, articulate, and very funny. A few months ago she started aCurator.com, a wonderful and highly entertaining online showcase for photography. So here, without further ado, is the The Heavy Light’s first guest blog written by the curious Julie Grahame:

I’ve always fancied publishing a magazine, having a desire to show more images than regular magazines do, and since I know a lot of interesting photographers I felt I could launch something with content that people would really enjoy. No bells or whistles, not much editorializing, just fabulous content. aCurator came about because Mike Hartley, owner of bigflannel web design and luckily also my husband, was brilliant enough to develop something straightforward for me to use which is gorgeous to look at. Photographers were really into being published in ZOOZOOM (full screen fashion magazine, launched in 2000, Webby Award winning, visionary, which Mike ran for a few years and latterly I worked for) so I thought I probably wouldn’t have trouble getting features from new contributors. And, happily, I was right. aCurator has brought some wonderful people back into my life (including yourself, Dirk) and a bunch of new contributors with whom I’m thrilled to have developed relationships.


© Ashok Sinha

It launched a few weeks ago and I’ve had new submissions daily; I’m still working out what schedule makes sense for viewers – one feature a week, or two? Thanks to Google Analytics I get plenty of data to muse upon. It’s important to me that I also have a blog, so I can publish more than I would put in the magazine itself. So far, the feature that has brought the most traffic is M. Sharkey’s ‘Queer Kids’.

© M. Sharkey

I’m asked what’s important in a photo and I find it a difficult question to answer – I go very much on my gut, but I can critique for a photographer pretty well. I’ve been in the photo biz for 20 years now, I’ve seen a whole lot of photographs; I want them to tell me something, make me feel something. Inevitably, there are some days that are utterly uninspiring and humorless, but I work on other stuff too so I can always take a break from aCurator and hope that tomorrow doesn’t bring children or animals.


© Leland Bobbe

As far as what I want to see, though, I’m really open to all kinds of work. As much as I like consistency, I will look at different styles from one photographer, but I do crave some info about the work – always nice and often lacking. Give me some sense of who you are; naturally, I try to do some research, but it’s almost like looking for staff – why, out of 100 resumes that are kind of similar, should I call YOU in for an interview? I don’t care how established you are, or not. For a good example, a British guy named Max Colson sent me an email explaining his interest in photojournalism, included a statement about his photo-video project, links to it and to his stills portfolio, and asked for feedback as to whether I thought he could be a fit for aCurator. Max is going in my blog, and hopefully in the magazine itself soon. I’m particularly interested in personal projects that the photographer has not published elsewhere and that would benefit from viewing in this format – I think of it as the best online tear sheet you’re likely to have for some time!


© Rob Hann

I could spend my entire work week on aCurator, but until it’s making some kind of income I can’t afford to do so. My aim right now is to develop a bigger mailing list and get a lot more viewers so that it is something I can market. Print sales, sponsorship, I think there are more opportunities to come.


© Dirk Anschutz


© Simon Larbalestier

You mentioned things like making difficult decisions, staying creative; I believe I am a good editor, it’s something I love to do, so if the hardest decision I have to make is whether to run 5, 6, 8, or 12 images from one contributor, I’m happy to have that problem! Staying creative, well, thanks to all you brilliant artists, I don’t have really have to. Mike is creative as far as the building and design of the site, he is always thinking about development, so I need to keep the magazine fresh to secure his creative input.

Julie Grahame.


© Yousuf Karsh

aCurator.com

aCurator Blog

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This is a story about how inspiration can emerge out of the darkest circumstances.

I was standing in line to pick up a package from the post office on 14th Street and Avenue A, feeling real sorry for myself. Why was I feeling that way? Well, you’re probably not from New York. Here, everybody knows, that the post office on 14th Street and Avenue A is the worst post office ever, definitely in New York but most likely in the entire universe. And any day I have to go to there is a sad day for me.
Anyways, I was standing in line, minding my own business, when I saw a weapons catalogue abandoned on a table. A weapons catalogue!!!! in a post office!!!!!!

I mean, come on, do you really have to give them ideas?

So, I took it to make sure that it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands, and since I was standing there for a very, very long time I gave it a pretty thorough look. One of the funnier things I came across was a camouflage suit made entirely out of artificial leaves.




Now, the American obsession with camo is kind of fascinating to me. Especially since a lot of people I’ve seen wearing this stuff are xxxx large, which always makes me wonder: if you’re trying so hard to be invisible shouldn’t there be a little less of you?

In any case, I eventually got out of there, disposed of the catalogue and went on my merry way.

A few weeks later Betsy Keating from Money Magazine called me up, and with beautiful serendipity asked me to shoot a photo for a leaf blower test they conducted. There would be a model and we’d go somewhere in the country side to blow some leaves. Of course I immediately remembered that glorious suit, and after a quick Google search, sent Betsy a picture of it.

Betsy liked the idea and lobbied everybody at Money to go full camo on the shoot.

She asked me if there was a model I could recommend for the job and I thought of Juan, a guy I worked with once before on a Photonica shoot. He was a good sport and a pleasure to work with and looked like a suburban homeowner. I sent over some pics and Betsy liked him too. Juan was ready, willing and able and we had our model.

Jane Clark, the main PE at Money had a nice little house with a big garden / back yard upstate and we had our location.

Probably the hardest part was finding dried leaves to blow around since this shoot was in the summer and all the trees were still going strong. Betsy somehow worked her magic and organized a few giant garbage bags of fall foliage from some store in midtown. You just gotta love NYC.

There were two assistants on set.

There was also a guy from Stihl, the company that made the test winner. He supplied us with the actual blower, the goggles, the ear muffs and the gloves. Always remember, kids: safety first!

I shot with the usual RZ and Phase One P25 back and a 4 head, 2 pack 7B set up. We used a mix of regular reflectors and gridspots.

We shot a few different versions of the image. Here’s one with Juan in regular suburban sweat shirt and slacks. Betsy did the styling.

For lunch Jane supplied us with fruits and veggies from her garden. It couldn’t have been better a better outing.

In the end, to everyones delight, the most iconic image of the day was used (see top of post).

I tried my best finagling to get the suit after the shoot, but someone at the magazine had the same idea. I don’t know who ended up with it, but if you don’t see them, you know why.

Here’s a little epilogue:

Betsy and Jane were amongst the first people to ever hire me in NY. Year after year I got some very nice jobs from them and always enjoyed the cool, calm and collected professionalism they brought to the table. In a sign of these shitty times, neither Jane nor Betsy are with Money Magazine anymore. Both are gifted PE’s, great to work with, and even better to hang out with.

Best of luck to both of them.

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I’m proud to announce that one of my Giddy Up pics got chosen for the American Photography website. Yeehaw again.

http://www.ai-ap.com/cfe/APss/APSlideChosen.html

3rd one from the top.

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My Giddy Up series is featured on Julie Grahame’s top notch web magazine acurator.com. Yeehhhaw!

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