Posts from the ‘featured’ Category
I know I’ve said it before, but what I love about my job is the variety of assignments I get mostly on a moment’s notice. Since I’ve been back in NYC from a week in Ohio shooting for a college, I’ve had a range of assignments each day since I’ve been back: a jazz club, an author’s portrait, a scent museum exhibit, Barbara Cook’s 85th birthday at Carnegie Hall, a dress rehearsal of a Broadway play, and most recently a rare portrait opportunity with NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
It all started with a call around 10:15 AM asking if I could meet the Mayor on the Upper East Side across the park from where I live for a shoot that was still being arranged. It would be at either 11AM or noon. No problem. Quickly, I was told the shoot was at noon, so I thought I had some time to finish editing the previous evening’s shoot. At about 10:35 I get a call saying “change of plans, the mayor wants to meet you at City hall at 11AM. Now, I live on the upper West Side of Manhattan which is quite a trek from City Hall in the first place. To top it all off, I still hadn’t eaten breakfast or really gotten dressed for the day.
So I had to quickly upload the photos I was editing while getting dressed and my gear ready to rush out the door in hopes of getting to City Hall by 11. I already knew the time was not going to work and told my editor as much, but I was their only hope of scrambling someone as the mayor’s schedule shifted. I grabbed a cab which took me to an express Subway station on 72nd Street and I took the 2 Train directly to City Hall. I was above ground right at 11, but after going through the security checkpoint outside City Hall, it was 11:15 by the time I was inside. At that moment I got a call from my editor just as a mayor’s aide said, “Sorry, he’s left!”
Ugh, so I spoke with my editor and she asked me to go back to the Upper East Side location, the offices of the Bloomberg’s charitable foundation, where the reporter and I would have about 45 minutes of the mayor’s time. After waiting a bit, we were led to a room where we (well, the reporter) sat down and spoke with Bloomberg about his reason for not endorsing either presidential candidate. It really was an interesting conversation which led to a decent amount of photos of the mayor sitting in a chair gesturing.
Towards the end of the interview, I stepped out of the room and asked one of the mayor’s aides if he’d stand in while I found a couple of locations for portraits if I could convince Bloomberg to give me a minute or two of his time. As the interview concluded I asked the mayor if he’d allow me to take a few quick natural light portraits in a large gallery room with floor to ceiling windows. I used the window light to make about 3 separate portraits with different and distinct looks: a full, medium, and tight shot.
I knew that my editors would have a really nice variety of options both from the interview and portrait session with the mayor. As it turned out, only a photo of the mayor sitting alone giving the interview was used, so I thought this blog would be a good way to share the rest of the take!
Most corporate shoots are boring and involve photographing stiff executives speaking at a podium and shaking hands. But that wasn’t the case a few weeks ago when I photographed a special event held at The Harvard Club in New York City. The event was a fundraiser for Cinema For Peace, a worldwide initiative promoting humanity though film and has events all over the world with big celebrity backers. I was shooting the event for one of the sponsors, a bank based out of Berlin.
My task was to photograph the CEO of the company interacting with the celebrities and other business executives in attendance. This particular event was a fundraiser for the organization and raised money through auctioning some amazing prizes that ranged from Sting’s autographed guitar (sold for $20K), guest starring in upcoming movies, official after-party tickets to the Golden Globes, to yachting adventures around the world.
The experience was quite fun for me…I’d never been in The Harvard Club before. It’s a members-only facility that offers hotel rooms, dining rooms, athletic facilities, and more….and of course you have to be affiliated in some way with Harvard University to be a member. So that might be why I’d never been invited in the past! The entire place screams wealth and old school luxury. Think leather chairs, libraries, reading rooms, animal heads all over the walls, chandeliers, and so on.
So there was a red carpet situation set up for all the attendees of the event to get paparazzied during a cocktail hour before a fancy dinner with speakers, an auction, and a private performance by Sting, who is a big supporter of the cause. Sing ended up playing 4-5 of his classic songs. He was a good sport and let me take a few portraits of him while he was at his dinner table too.
All and all it was a great experience.
Every so often I’ll get a call from an editor asking me to shoot an assignment that just makes me laugh. Tuesday was one of those days. Fresh off a plane from a two-week shoot in Hawaii, a metro editor at the NY Times rang me asking me to hop into Central Park (always my favorite assignment location) to photograph a “Bad Elmo”. Since I was off the grid from a full day of travel, I hadn’t heard about the recent news of a hate-spewing Elmo who was yelling at people the day prior. I’m talking about the silly people who dress up like characters and pose with tourists for money. Think Times Square or Hollywood Boulevard in LA.
Since I live right on Central Park West, I often get called for last minute assignments in the park, like this one. Apparently the reporter was doing some investigating and found the Bad Elmo in the same spot he was the day prior, posting with tourists and collecting $1 and $5 bills for his talent. Turns out these guys can make a pretty decent living doing this. He said his suit cost $300 off the internet and he can make around $200/day.
As he continued to speak with the reporter the story turned more and more disturbing and I was shocked to hear him be so candid, explaining that he was just let out of a psychiatric ward at the local hospital where he’d been held since the altercation that put him there a day earlier. He went on to give the reporter his background which involved both running and being an actor in a PORNOGRAPHY website based out of Cambodia he created called “Rape Camp”. That’s right parents, the Elmo that is on his knees embracing your children ran and acted in a website called Rape Camp.
So anyway…I just found it amazing how this creepy dude who was candidly talking about his disturbing past to a reporter was continually interrupted by parents so that he could be paid to hold their innocent little children. Hopefully the NY Times article gives you pause next time you see a random person waltzing down the street cloaked in a furry costume.
I’ve shot a lot of concerts in my days as a news photographer….especially in 2010 when I shot 85 Justin Bieber shows (yeah, seriously) when I was touring with the kid making his book. But rarely do I shoot a single concert that makes all my (older) family members envious. Last night I shot Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the New York Times as part of a VIP concert for Serius Satellite subscribers who were celebrating their 10 year anniversary.
I was tasked with not just shooting the show itself, but also to try and get a sense of who was attending this VIP show being held in one of the smallest venues Springsteen has played. I arrived around 6:30 to the Apollo and there was already lines of folks waiting to get in, as well as many people just loitering around in hopes of snagging a loose ticket.
I don’t come to Harlem all that often, but I think it might be safe to say that there were more white folks in their 60s than this venue sees in a month…not to stereotype a Springsteen fan…
Some of the more famous VIPs that I saw there included Michael J Fox, Tommy Hilfiger, Brian Williams, Coach Tom Coughlin, Harry Belafonte, Ben Stiller, Elvis Costello, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and a host of others who I didn’t personally know.
The set list was long and consisted of early hits and tunes from his newest album. It was my first time seeing The Boss in concert and I must say I was impressed an old white guy could rock a stage like he did.
On top of simply being a fun night at work, I got to see an old pal from the Bieber tour, Adam Courtney, who was my busmate for 6 months while I toured with Justin Bieber, and is now touring with Springsteen. Good seeing you bro.
I had a great shoot a few months back with actor David Schwimmer of FRIENDS fame for a New York Times article. These days he’s directing movies and living in Manhattan with his wife and his new baby daughter.
Anyhow, as usual I wasn’t given much information about what or where I could or couldn’t shoot because my editors are working with his publicists. In general, the more people it takes to schedule a shoot, less information makes it’s way to me. Par for the course. I was simply told to meet David at the 92Y Tribecca.
Because I didn’t know exactly where I could shoot or how much time I’d have to bang out a portrait, I enlisted the help of my friend and fellow photographer Charles Ludeke. We arrived about 20 minutes early and checked out the neighborhood around the 92Y and quickly found a nearby location with a pedestrian bridge over the West Side Highway and a street with very little foot or car traffic. I took a few test shots of Charles before we headed back to the rendezvous where we were to met up with David.
Once David arrived, he was entirely friendly, non-rushed, and talkative. We really hit it off as his wife is also a photographer and we had a nice and somewhat geeky conversation about camera gear. He’s now familiar with DSLR cameras, using them for some of his productions.
For the most part, all the portraits I took were natural light with an extremely shallow depth of field. I used the city, streets, buildings, and bridge as a backdrop. I did break out a strobe (Canon 580) for one setup, but it was very simple. In fact, my assistant Charles became a human light stand and held the light for me.
All and all, I had a nice time and productive shoot. A few weeks before David had his new baby, he kindly invited me out to lunch to a restaurant in Greenwich Village. Not surprisingly he’s a great guy and just as friendly as he seems on the big screen.