Thursday, January 31, 2013

Personal Trip to Ecuador

Things have been a little hectic since the last time I posted. I just got back from a personal trip to Ecuador and a business trip to Switzerland. Now just trying to get over jet lag before heading back out.

I wanted to share with you some of the images that I shot over in Ecuador. South America and especially Ecuador are special places for me. The topography, climate, and the people make it a great place to visit and photograph. Also my wife's family is from there and she (and my son) speak fluent Spanish so that helps. We decided to take the trip this winter (which is their spring) to coincide with a milestone birthday for my wife.

One of the things about shooting in a foreign country and/or a foreign culture is making sure you don't come across looking like you are exploiting the people. Certain cultures are very wary of cameras and really don't like having their picture taken. You need to respect that. A lot of shooting that I did was from the hip. I would prefocus and at the moment of shooting would previsualize the image within the frame. It brought me back to a style of shooting that I used to do back in college.

Here is a sample of some of the images shot there. For a more complete and larger view please visit my website: and click on the Ecuador portfolio. Also I've uploaded some of the work we shot in Alaska that I talked about in the last post. Just click on the Alaska portfolio.

Till next time...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Keeping Busy-Trip to Alsaka

I've been wanting to post for a little while now and finally have a little breathing room before we head out again.

We had a wonderful opportunity in September to shoot a job in Alaska. The client was a Mutual Fund company who manages The University of Alaska College Savings Plan. We were sent to Anchorage, Alaska to photograph kids between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Most were Alaskan Native. All were Alaskan, born and raised. The locations ranged from inside home locations to outside Alaskan scenes. The concept was have Alaskan kids looking at the camera in a more spontaneous manner with copy that would be perceived as though the child was talking to the viewer (which was meant to be the parent).

Shooting in Alaska in September can be tricky because of changing weather conditions. We opted for being up there for seven days Saturday-Saturday(scout day, 2.5 day shoot< travel in and out, and a float day as back-up). One of the shots we had to do involved six very young kids sitting on a log. we were slated to shoot this shot on Tuesday. After the scout on Sunday, the weather forecast was looking pretty unsettled for the latter part of the week. On Monday I made an executive decision that we needed to shoot this shot later that day IF we could get the kids. The producer (who was awesome) got it together. We shot the image at 7:30 PM outside, on a point that looks out over the water (which can get very cold and windy), with no wind and mild temp. and beautiful sunset that lasted for an hour. It couldn't get any better than that. The photo gods were looking down on me that day. After that the weather went south and was cloudy, cold and rainy the rest of the shoot days. Luckily we didn't need the sun after the first shot.

Shooting the Native Alaskan kids was challenging. They were more shy than I was used to. In the end we got them to open up and exhibit the innocence that all kids do. We all got into making the kids feel comfortable. One shot involved a kid coming in the front door after playing in the mud completely covered in mud. I was setting up the shot and heard all this noise outside. I looked out and saw Tom (the art director) completely covered in mud in a mud battle with the two kids that we were using for the shot. I was totally impressed. Tom definitely got his hands dirty to get the shot. I owed him big time after that. One other helper was one of the kids grandmother. She was an amazing person. She got the whole crew laughing when she shouted out to the kids "who wants some of Grand Pa's MOOSE MEAT". I would have loved going over to her house for dinner.

One thing we tried to do was keep costs down for the client. I ended up renting a house for myself, my assistant, and the Art Director. This was a risky proposition since I had never worked with the Art Director. As it turned out it was a great experience. Having to ability to be under one roof, be able to brainstorm, and view/edit at the end of the day was invaluable. We also got along (which was a good thing)!

I hope to go back there again soon. I never realized how far away Alaska was. My business travels have taken me to Europe and South America but I have never felt farther away than Alaska. Pretty cool. Here are some snaps while we were there.

Till next time...
Float plane trip


fun's over, back to work

time to scout, maybe

Brendan and I, My headphones didn't work but I looked cool

Tom riding shotgun


stop for a pee break

cold day

Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier II

Exit Glacier III

Tom after mud fight with kids

Friday, May 11, 2012

Planes, Automobiles, New Work, and Snowboarding

Thought I would check in while I have a break in the work load. We had a pretty busy spring with a lot of Higher Education photo shoots coming in during March, April, and May; another USDA large production shoot; and various corporate assignments. Also during that time I was able to reconnect with some college friends out on the slopes in Tahoe and hit Utah with the family for another great spring break.

Personally, getting caught up with some old friends was a highlight of the winter season. We haven't seen each other in probably 20 years. Facebook got us all reconnected and when the invitation to meet in Tahoe for a week of skiing (snowboarding for me) was suggested, I was all over it. Traveling out on the plane I wondered what the week was going to be like. Not having been with these guys in twenty years, this could be a really long uncomfortable week. We got in late, (I met my other friend who flew in separately) got in the car (our third friend) and headed to his house. It was a feeling out period that night just getting settled. The next morning (around 5 to get to the mountain early) it was like nothing had ever changed. We had a 2 hour drive and just fell into how we were 25 years ago with all the joking and goofy stuff we did in college. Needless to say the week was one of laughter, joking, soul searching, good powder days, and some great memories. Below is a short video, camera work by me, edited by my friend Peter Lien:

My assistant and I had a busy time trying to fit in all the assignment requests that we had this spring season. At one point I had to fly to Ohio from Baltimore, then after two 12 hr days Ohio to NYC, grab a car, get to the location, shoot all day drive to NJ, get on a plane, get home, drive to Delaware the next day, come home, shoot in Baltimore the next day, shoot in DC the last day, Whew!
What we ended up doing in NJ was just to drive home with the rental car that we had. That took 45 minutes on the phone with the car rental agency to see if it would be cost effective to do. In the end it wasn't. We drove to the airport and were about to turn in the car when I thought to give the counter a try. I ended up working with a very nice counter person and we were able to work the whole thing out. It just goes to prove that face to face time can work to your advantage. The funny part about this is we're trying to make up time and get back to the home airport (trying to beat when we would have gotten in via air). We just passed the Delaware Memorial Bridge and I'm about to take the speed up when I see in the rear view mirror flashing lights. I'm like sh#t not now, we were making great time. The officer asks us what we're doing and proceeds to tell us that we've been driving without any lights on. My first reaction is "oh I'm sorry, it's a rental and I most have switched off the lights fumbling around to get some of this electronics off. I keep on saying I'm sorry and he goes"would you shut up for a minute, I'm not done talking, you were also going like 75 in a 55". Well at that point I'm figuring ticket time. He then starts asking us where we're going "home to Baltimore" we respond. Where did you come from "I say NY, my assistant says NJ". Now the officer is getting confused. He asks where did you start from. My assistant's response is well Ohio officer". I'm like "he doesn't want to know where we started in the course of the week". The officer just looks at us and says "stay here and I'll be right back". I'm thinking he probably thinks we're fugitives from justice or something. He comes back and gives me a warning, WHICH I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN. He says "keep your lights on, don't screw around with the dials, and keep your speed down. We were so lucky.

Anyway here are some snaps from my iphone during our travels. Also check out the website. I've got some new work in the corporate , educational, and the new video of Carson Kressley in the video section. Enjoy.

BWI Airport, on the way to Ohio

Clients under table during a fire drill

Ode to Lauren

Dissection lab, MA

Rhode Island Airport

Ready to travel again

Frogs Legs, YUM!


Football gone bad

Location unit 1

Peter Lien in Truckee, CA

Holiday Bowling Lanes, Heber, UT

My son Alex outside Red Iquana, Salt Lake City, UT

Corporate bathroom

NYC subway, on our way to Brooklyn for morning shoot

Monday, February 13, 2012

Great time shooting Carson Kressley

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot stills and video of TV personality, Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Bravo, How to Look Good Naked on Lifetime, Carson-Nation on OWN network) in his apartment in NYC for Philadelphia University. We had a blast with him from the moment we got there. I was taken by surprise when we got to his apartment and he opened the door, took our coats, and asked us if we would like anything to drink. It was so refreshing to not have to deal with a publicist or a handler. Carson was very accommodating throughout the whole video/still process and boy does he have a quick wit. Here are some shots from the shoot. And again, Carson, thanks for inviting us into your home, being a good sport, and making us laugh during our experience with you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just released new video campaign

New, hot out of the editing suite is our latest video campaign for St Johns School of Law. This was a three day project shooting two days, fourteen subjects, in Queens, NY and one day, four subjects, in Manhattan. The concept was testimonials from faculty, students, and alumni that would be used in an interactive viewbook for St Johns School of Law. For budget constraints we kept the crew small (myself and an assistant) and had our client handle the interview. Because of the time constraints, we tried to work with available light for almost the whole shoot.

All editing was done by Brett Abramsky

Check it out.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boy Scout Motto: Always Be Prepared

I never made it all the way through The Boys Scouts. The farthest I got was getting half way through The Webelos. I did like the blue uniforms in Webelos with the patches and the sash. I just couldn't put all the energy into Boy Scouts at the time.

It's funny, one thing has always stood out for me that came from those years way back when: Always Be Prepared.

A perfect example was a couple of weeks ago. I was hired to shoot a group shot for an international hotel chain. After seeing the mock up and an example of what the client was looking for I was thinking this will be a simple minimal lighting shoot. I'm bringing two assistants because we budgeted for two. On the drive down I'm telling the assistants that this shot should not take long and should be a simple lighting set up. We brought every light that we have "just in case" but I'm thinking "no way, one light, done".

We get to the location and the first hurdle is clearing the cars from the set (parking lot) which was to be the background. Second is picking camera angle and moving the scissors lift into position. Third is dealing with the wind which just happened to pick up and the temperature which was rather chilly. At this point I realize what I thought would be an easy shot turns into something a heck of a lot more involved. Luckily (after talking with my assistants that morning) we had everything we needed. The group shot of twenty-five employee's shot from above took six lights, various clamps for support in the wind, heaters, and some fun loving people. Here are some production stills from the shoot.