James Gellert for Barron’s

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I got a last minute call Tuesday from Adrian Delucca at Barron’s…could I shoot tomorrow…a profile portrait for the Hedge Fund Report? Of course I could…..and so the next morning we arrived at the offices of Rapid Ratings International to to shoot their CEO, James Gellert. The offices were small, but they did have one standout feature…Gellert’s wife, Jinsey Dauk, is a photographer and her work fills just about every square inch of wallspace. After we cleared out the conference room of it’s table and chairs, a lotta cool photos ensued……

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Song of the Day

THE HAPPY HOLLOWS
Faces


DOWNLOAD: Faces

After teasing the L.A. music scene with three EP’s, The Happy Hollows are ready to drop their first full-length album in October. You just gotta love Sarah Negahdari’s trilling, high-register vocal…it sounds kinda like a wilder Tanya Donelly from Belly, or maybe a sweeter Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…and the almost DIY quality of the production with the buzzy, crunchy guitars and cascading bassline keeps her grounded, even when she pleads in the chorus, “I cannot fake it, I can’t even pretend…”. The new album, ‘Spells’, is due out October 6th, but you can head over to Bandcamp Dot Com and stream to entire album right now…then go make friends over on their MySpace page

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Song of the Day

JET
She’s A Genius


DOWNLOAD: She’s A Genius

I’m willing to bet the ranch that the first time any of you heard of Jet was when Apple featured their song ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ in an iPod commercial a few years back…they milked that to death, but it morphed them from being a small indie act outta Melbourne into a major act playin’ arenas and everything! After taking a couple of years doing victory laps over their newfound fame, they finally got back into the studio to record their third album, Shaka Rock, that dropped last week. The reviews for the album have been kinda mixed, but I still kinda like ‘She’s A Genius’, even if it does sort of lift the guitar riff, bass line and percussion from The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ ….. wait a sec ……. it is ‘My Sharona’…!!! Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong and you can head over to Jet’s MySpace page to see who else they’ve ‘borrowed’ from!

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Song of the Day

JANA HUNTER
Two Cocks Waving Wildly at Each Other Across a Vast, Open Space, a Dark, Icy Tundra


DOWNLOAD: Two Cocks…..

I’m breaking one of my own rules today by taking a request. Francesco Ferorelli (whom I’m pretty sure I met when he was two years old!) has been holding my feet to the fire for years wondering why I never feature any of his bands on The List, but the simple fact is that most of the stuff he’s sent to me over the years has made my ears bleed before I even get to the chorus, so when he gave me the latest EP he put out featuring Jana Hunter, I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard. The spare, meandering guitar intro takes almost two minutes to get to her vocal, but when it does, the haunting Siouxsie Sioux-like quality of this song becomes evident…but then, I always liked the Banshees better when they wandered off on an arty tangent. And let’s not kid ourselves, with a title like ‘Two Cocks Waving Wildly at Each Other Across a Vast, Open Space, a Dark, Icy Tundra’, I think Ms. Hunter is firmly in the art-rock camp. She has toured with Tara Jane O’Neil, Rasputina, Deer Tick, Marissa Nadler and perhaps most notably, Devendra Banhart, who she also has also recorded with. Check out her MySpace page and then why not head over to Heart Break Beat Records and give a listen to some of Francesco’s other bands.

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Song of the Day

METRIC
Gimme Sympathy


DOWNLOAD: Gimme Sympathy

If you’ve been paying any attention to the way the Song of the Day operates, then you probably know I find a lotta new music from listening to some of my fave channels on the old Sirius…Alt Nation, Underground Garage, Sirius/XM U (the indie channel)…but I also frequent one terrestrial radio station that after all this time still pushes out great new music on a regular basis…Fordham University’s WFUV. New York radio has pretty much sucked the entire time I’ve lived here, but FUV has been the one welcome exception. I was listening yesterday when this new cut from Metric’s latest album, Fantasies, came on…I got so wrapped up in the hook-filled piece of synth-pop that I didn’t even realize I was listening to a heart-wrenching breakup song until I came home, downloaded it and listened a few more times. Emily Haines’ raspy vocal blends in beautifully with the dreamy synths and fuzzy guitars. But hey, I understand if you’ve had your fill of electro-synth and you wanna just listen to some great songwriting…that’s cool…then check out the stripped-down acoustic version on YouTube…

And then head over to their MySpace page and listen to a bit more and if you wanna stream WFUV, click here!

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So After 27 Years…I’m In Vogue?!!

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I moved to New York in the Summer of 1982 and I was gonna be a fashion photographer! In no time at all I was assisting some of the best guys in the business, but then a funny thing happened…after about six months I realized that there was no way I was gonna be a fashion photographer! Not that I’m worrying about how my career has taken me all these years later…I’ve had a pretty good run…but still find it kinda cool that after all this time, I get a shot in Vogue, and in the September issue, no less! The story is a profile on Victor Niederhoffer, written by his daughter, Galt and the magazine published the portrait I did of him in his Connecticut home.

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Who Is This Guy On My Floor & Why Is He Showing Me His Crotch ?!!

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Between all the boardrooms I’ve been in lately and my trip to the Oval Office, I worked on a project about how small businesses can ‘Go Green” for BusinessWeek SmallBiz magazine. We started on a boiling hot rooftop in the Bronx and ended up in a very cool brownstone in Washington DC. The Bronx shoot was of Lew Gold, owner of New York Beverage

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Lew had installed an array of solar panels on his roof as the main method to both be greener and save a bundle of overhead. My art director, Michael Scowden, like the roof shots so much he put it on the cover…

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Lew also switched over to more fuel efficient delivery vans and forklifts as well as installing more energy efficient freezers and ice makers. To show off his greener ‘fleet’, I set up a shot that showed off not only his vehicles, but his uniquely designed location…..

Me outside of Bronx Auto Body, ummmm…I mean New York Beverage!

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And Lew in the final shot…..

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Finally, we got outta the sun and did a shot of Lew and his fancy freezer…..

Kaz, color checking…..

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And Lew…hamming it up for the camera…..

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For the second part of the story, we headed down to D.C. to shoot Tomas Snorek of Ripe Design…..

Green wall…green ball…green story…God, the metaphors are endless!!!

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Tomas remodeled Ripe’s offices using low-emission, fume-free paint and sustainable materials such as bamboo flooring and has also installed compact fluorescent bulbs, only prints on recycled paper and bought one of his employees a bike so she can commute without burning any gas…

Obviously, Ian, Maryam and Tomas found something I said to be simply hilarious…..

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I did this amazing shot of Tomas with a tree growing directly outta his brain…..

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…but the one that made the Table of Contents page was a bit different…..

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And we wrapped up the shoot with some portraits of the Ripe Team…..

Tomas…

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Maryam…

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And Ian…

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BusinessWeek SmallBiz is on the stands right now, but I’m still feeling the effects from all that heat on that day in the Bronx!

Me and Michael Scowden cooking our asses off!

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Song of the Day

THE SWELL SEASON
In These Arms


DOWNLOAD: In These Arms

Today is one of those days when I went looking for the music, but instead, the music found me. I was heartened to find out that despite their recent breakup, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova will continue to perform as The Swell Season and that they’ve just finished Strict Joy, their first album since their Oscar-winning performance in ‘Once’. When asked about this song, Hansard said that it started as a small idea for a love song but soon blossomed into something much deeper about committing to trust and faith in another person…“Sometimes you’re just meant to commit to someone’s life, and you’re meant to go through all these experiences”….the resulting song is simply beautiful.

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Strict Joy drops October 27 and you can check out more from The Swell Season on MySpace or on their website

And as a bonus today, here is a YouTube video from their recent appearance on NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ hosted by Bob Boilen (and I strongly advise you to take the time and follow the link for the entire performance)…..

Song of the Day

RADIOHEAD
These Are My Twisted Words

DOWNLOAD: These Are My Twisted Words

Oh that crazy Thom Yorke…he’s at it again, dropping free shit on us and this time he didn’t even take credit for it! Yesterday, “These Are My Twisted Words” mysteriously showed up on the Web, and even though this thing has Radiohead tattooed all over it with that long, meandering intro loaded with simmering rhythmic complexity and Yorke’s trademarked mournful croon, the doubters out there were screaming it was a fake. But after enough people made enough noise, Thom did admit on their website that it was in fact a new song from Radiohead…hmmmmm…..could this be the song that has been rumored to be in the new “Twilight” sequel? Honestly, I could give a damn since I’m not a sixteen year-old girl and I didn’t see the first Twilight movie, but I’ll take all the Radiohead the boyz are willing to toss out. You can visit Radiohead on their official website

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Song of the Day

JULIE PEEL
Unfold


DOWNLOAD: Unfold

Here’s a lovely bit of Slow Core for this crazy hot summer day from Julie Peel, complete with perfect little flourishes of strings, a bongo and soft guitar waft along with her lighter-than-air vocals. And let’s not overlook her wonderfully sad lyric. ‘Unfold’ is from her Julie Peel’s full-length debut, Near The Sun, set to drop in September but available now for preorder on American Laundromat Records and you can hear more on her MySpace Page

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Tom O’Halloran & John Castle for Barron’s

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I’ve been spending a lotta time in boardrooms lately, but despite what a lotta people think, most corporate offices in America aren’t designed like the ones you see in the movies. For example, when I close my eyes, I can still see Gordon Gekko’s beautifully art-directed office in Oliver Stones ‘Wall Street’ with it’s sleek, sexy Italian furniture, floor-to-ceiling windows and made-for-photography views, but it’s very rare when I walk into a office location to shoot a CEO and have that warm & fuzzy feeling when an obvious shot jumps out at me (although my shoot at MTV last week was an exception!). I usually get the tour with the corporate communications director highlighting a series of sterile conference rooms, painted industrial beige, telling me, “We’ve done a lot of photo shoots in here…”. Or I get taken to a corner office that has nothing to do with the guy I’m shooting and shown the ‘amazing sweeping view’ that will make for a great portrait. OK…I’m just thinkin’ out loud now, but really…if I’m there to shoot your boss, why do you think having the Chrysler Building growing outta his head is gonna be what either of us wants?!!

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Which brings us to a couple of recent portraits I did for Barron’s. The locations for both Tom O’Halloran of Lord, Abbett & Co. and John Castle of Castle Harlan, Inc. can’t be described as Spartan by any means…in fact, they were both classic, old-school investment bank offices…full of the requisite walnut wood panelling, plush leather chairs, opulent design details with lavish antiques & art, complete with portraits of their dead ex-presidents on the walls and yes, that corporate communications director telling me about the great views. But they come with their own set of ‘issues’…that dark wood can be deadly in a photograph and the Hall of Ex-Presidents might be impressive to look at, but if I was a the current guy in charge, I’d find it a little creepy to to be put in that situation while I’m still vertical. And l generally pass on ‘the view’…it never (OK, rarely) works…but for the shot of O’Halloran I thought that maybe I could work with those big windows and kinda blow out all of the detail and wrap him in a cool, wrap-around light…..

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Hmmmmm…that kinda sucked….how ’bout we head in the opposite direction and go for the drama by knocking down the ambient light about five stops…..

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That’s much more like it!

Now let’s move on and see what we can do with Mr. Castle…..

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This one was actually a lot harder to do than I thought it would be and is kinda of those shots that doesn’t exist in ‘real life’. First, to even see this angle you would hafta jump up into the window well at the end of the room, press your body against the window to get as far back as possible, make sure not to fall through the air conditioning duct (that always freaks out the guy from corporate communications!) and then use the widest lens you have because you’re only about four feet from where the guy is gonna stand. Next, there was that wall of windows that ran the entire right side of the room. They didn’t have blinds on them and there was just way too much light pouring into the room. I had to reduce he ambient light from those windows just the right amount to keep things interesting, while still retaining enough from the chandelier and lamps in the background so that they would still show up. Then we aimed a hard spotlight from the table directly behind him so that it picked up the ceiling (which also gave us a cool shadow) and added some tasty highlights on the boardroom chairs that were fading into the dark. But the first couple of tests we did were really boring, so I cross-filtered the beauty dish I was using as his key light with a full blue CT filter, then set the gray-balance off of that light…this resulted in my other lights and the ambient window light having an overall blue cast that turned the sedate beige boardroom into something a bit more dramatic…and a bit more ‘Wall Streety’…..

And one last thing…..here is John Castle…with his Corporate Communications guy!

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Azim Premji for BusinessWeek

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Azim Premji owns over 80% of Wipro, the third-largest Indian IT company, which by default makes him one of India’s richest business people. He was actually the richest person in India from 1999 through 2005, but I guess the recession has taken a chunk outta his wallet, ‘cuz now he’s only the fifth richest Indian! He was in the States a few months ago and I photographed him for BusinessWeek for a story on how the global recession has affected India’s vast outsourcing industry…….

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That’s right…outsourcers. Wipro is one of those companies that you get to talk to when you call customer service after your computer breaks, or the software you installed doesn’t work the way you thought it would, or any one of a thousand other reasons the call to customer service that used to take to you to a guy named ‘Bob’ at the Home Office is more often than not routed to a call center in Bangalore…..just like in Slumdog Millionaire

He was at Wesleyan University getting an honorary degree and I had all of five minutes between appointments to get off my two shots. The first was a kind of dark & scary number where I sandwiched him between a stone wall and a gnarly tree trunk, but then I had a thought from the mosaic side of my brain that told me to shoot him in a way that would metaphorically illustrate the over-reaching effect outsourcing has on the World…and I came up with this Vishnu-like, multi-armed photo that made me smile…

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And I also knocked off a test shot of me showing off my new, modified-mullet haircut!

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Van Toffler for BusinessWeek

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In one week I went from photographing the President of the United States to photographing the President of MTV…..how damn cool is that?!!

Van Toffler is is president of MTV Networks Music/Films/Logo Group and is responsible for all of the MTV Networks music services including MTV, MTV2, VH1, CMT and all their affiliated digital services. I was shooting him for BusinessWeek because MTV is releasing The Beatles: Rock Band, a video game that allows players to use plastic instruments to jam as their favorite Beatle. The Beatles: Rock Band comes out September 9th.

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Song of the Day

GREAT NORTHERN
Houses


DOWNLOAD: Houses

As any of you long-time Song of the Day Listmembers can attest to, the summer months always prove kinda tough when it comes to finding truly good music to listen to…Hell, I even tossed out Katy Perry’s “Kissed A Girl” last year ‘cuz the pickings were few and far between…so I apologize up front for having to go back to a release from earlier this year for today’s song. I think L.A.’s Great Northern dropped “Remind Me Where The Light Is” back in April and I admit to having completely overlooked it, but I gotta say, there are some really tasty cuts on it…”Story”, “Snakes”, “Mountain” and the song I’m giving up today, “Houses”, all showcase Rachel Stolte’s dreamily harmonic vocals and the dubbed-up, buzzy wall of shoegazing guitars offered up by her bandmate, the former 30 Seconds to Mars vocalist and guitarist, Solon Bixler. With very little coaxing, I found myself wrapped up in the eerily surreal aural scenery that I was hearing. Give ‘em a further look on their MySpace page

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Song of the Day

GOSSIP
Heavy Cross


DOWNLOAD: Heavy Cross

Beth Ditto is hard to love. And I’m not talkin’ about her music…Hell, the girl’s got one of the best sets of pipes in the music biz…no, it’s that she’s not feminine…or conventionally pretty…or particularly video-friendly. Oh, let’s be honest…she’s a really large, militantly unapologetic lesbian who could care less if you listen to her music or not, especially if you’re a Katy Perry fan! That’s probably why that even after three amazing albums, The Gossip…oops, sorry, they’re just calling themselves ‘Gossip’ now…are much more Big Time in the U.K. than at home in the States, but now, with the release of their fourth CD, Music For Men, Beth seems to have dialed up the cute and channels a bit of Debbie Harry and Blondie for a sound that is a lot less punky and more Pop-Hook radio-friendly than anything the band has put out before! Hey, I was down with ‘Heavy Cross’ right from the beginning with the tasty, staccato guitar intro and her mewling Woo-Hoo’s, but then the disco drums and wah-wah pedals come out and this thing chugs me right onto the dance floor. I still don’t expect to see her on ‘Regis & Kelly’ any time soon, but it’s still lotsa fun and totally unexpected…gotta get it! Check out Gossip on their MySpace page or on the Official Gossip Website

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