Behind The Scenes At The Most Expensive Barron’s Roundtable Yet

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We here at Damn Ugly Photography have done many, many, many Barron’s Roundtable shoots over the years, but this time we came close to breaking the bank…literally! Our cover idea was to have the members of the Roundtable rockin’ Chef Props as they cooked up the perfect economic recipe for the coming year, and for our ‘ingredients’ we needed cash…lots and lots of cash

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Since Photoshop has added high-tech security filters that make it almost impossible to scan money and print it out…and prop money looks way too fake…we decided to hit my bank and just get real cash (that’s about $30 Grand in the bag) to use in our recipes…

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The basic cover setup was a raised plexiglass platform that I could shoot from both a low angle for the cover image, and from slightly above for the inside compositions for the Week Two & Week Three images…

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Hasselblad H1/50mm f4.0 with a Leaf Aptus 33 for the cover and the 5DmkII/24-70mm f2.8 for the higher-angle inside shots…

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As in previous years, we have only two hours to shoot everybody…all separately as they arrive at The Harvard Club for the meeting…on two different sets, and we must come away with two covers (for the January and June Mid-Year issues), two inside openers for those covers, two feature openers for the second and third week follow-up issues and individual shots of each person for the June Mid-Year issue. In those two hours we try to cram in as many different poses and props as possible so we have enough to work with when it comes to assembling the final group shots. Here’s some of the fun…

Marni worked her super-fast makeup magic on everyone before they got on set…

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Oscar Schafer…

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Brian Rogers…

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Fred Hickey…

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Abby Joseph Cohen…

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Scott Black…

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Adrian and I liked the idea of placing everyone on the edge of a mountaintop made from a butcher block cutting board and viewing them from below…

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…so once I shot a bunch of angles on the board, we had all the raw materials in place. Now it was up to me to assembly the individual shots into our cover and feature opening photos…

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable

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The 2013 Barron's Roundtable

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This stuff never gets old!

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Stay tuned next week and you’ll see what we did with all that cash once Barron’s runs the Week Two and Week Three images…

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The 2012 Barron’s Roundtable Mid-Year Report

First off…I’m gonna thank Timothy Archibald for getting me off my ass and back on the blog! He wondered aloud on his own blog the other day about how facebook might be causing a lotta guys like me to slack off on our blog duties, so thanks T.A.

Now, back to business!

My twice-yearly Barron’s cover story on the meeting of their Round Table participants popped up a couple of weeks back, so just as I did for the Black Board cover back in January, here’s a little behind-the-scenes on how we put together the cover for Part 2…

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Since we only have about two hours to shoot all ten Roundtable members individually for both covers and all the inside photos for the two issues, we have to have our two sets nailed down pretty tight. And because we decided on the very complicated Black Board set for the January cover, the Mid Year cover set had to be somewhat simpler. Barron’s Photo Editor Adrian DeLucca and I came up with the idea to use arrow props that would be held to illustrate the Up and Down market trends and pose everyone on white around a few cubes…

Once we got all ten members shot, now I just had to assemble them into believable groups for both the cover and the inside opening spread…

…the final spread had most of those red arrows changed to blue…

…and for the cover we went without props altogether…

See y’all next January…

Going Dark with Bob Amsterdam, the Billionaires Lawyer…

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Maggie Soladay, Photo Editor at American Lawyer, recently sent me down to Washington to photograph Bob Amsterdam, an international lawyer whose clients include Russian oligarchs, South American political prisoners and billionaire Thai politicians. His biography reads like Robert Ludlum spy novel, and I’ll admit that I kinda went into this one with the idea of doing some dark and shadowy images. Problem was, we could only shoot him at his hotel in D.C….in between meetings…and the hotel said there were only a few areas available to use. Let the fun begin!

After a very quick location scout, we decided that one of the restaurants would serve our purposes. Against one wall was a framed tile art piece that sort of reminded me of the movie poster of ‘Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil’

…which after a bit of Photoshop magic looked like this…

Right around the corner was a white-washed paneled wall that provided a simple background for a second portrait…

…and that became the opener for the story…

But I wasn’t quite done yet. Right outside the restaurant was a staircase leading to the hotel’s courtyard. Despite the bitter temperature and rainy day, this fit the dark, forbidding idea I had in my head of this international man of mystery skulking in the shadows, and it helped that it was also shielded from the rain! I convinced Bob to stick around for just a bit longer, and Kaz and I quickly pulled some lights outside…

Nice, but not exactly what I had in mind. After dialing the color temperature down, Photoshopping all those leaves off of the stairs and doing some digital masonry by ‘bricking over’ the distracting area at the top of the stairs, this was our final image…

Three distinctly different portraits in half an hour, and then back on the turnpike to New York!

I Shot Mr. Post-It® Note For The London Sunday Times

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So I get a call from Andrew Mitchell, one of the photo editors at the London Sunday Times, and he needed me to hightail it to the Palace Hotel to shoot a feature on George Buckley, the Chairman & CEO of 3M. Now the Palace is a really nice hotel, but the idea of shooting a couple of portraits in his suite just kinda seemed flat, so after a bit of pleading with the hotel’s P/R people, they said if I was quick I could use the Gilt Bar as a studio. So Kaz and I packed up the van and made our way uptown, but not before making a stop at an Office Depot for some props. You see, 3M makes more than 55,000 products, including adhesives, abrasives, laminates, fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products, polishes, waxes, car shampoo, car chassis rust protection, electronic circuits and optical films. But if you had to pick the one thing they make that everybody knows, it’s the Post-It® Note, and I bought almost every Post-It® Note on the shelf at that Office Depot! I had been to Gilt a few times and I had an idea to dress up the ultra-modern lounge area with a few (thousand) of the little paper stickies…

Kaz sits in for the first test…

…about half an hour later, after Post-It-ing the set…

…and the final image of George…

For a second photo, we turned 90 degrees to the left and set up a shot with George framed by a golden wall and warm lights…

The gold wall…

A nice start…

That was nice, George…but what do you say we try this…

Dont’cha just love it when the CEO of a HUGE multinational corporation has a sense of humor?!!

Your 5 Minutes with the CEO of Bayer begins…NOW!!!

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Here’s another from my ongoing series of CEO Spotlights from Barron’s…this time featuring Dr. Marijn Dekkers, the new CEO of Bayer AG. He was up at the Barron’s offices to be interviewed and I was told that because of his tight schedule, I would have precious little time with him for the portrait session. So we set up in the tiny video studio the magazine has tucked away down a back hallway and waited. Precisely on time, Dr. Dekkers and his publicist arrived and yes, they were already looking at their watches. Still, the five minutes was more than enough time to get off a couple of looks…without getting a headache!

Big Rubber Balls, Bright Blue Walls & Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!

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A few weeks ago, Manuela Oprea, photo editor at BloombergMarkets, offered me a job that proved to be one of the more interesting business magazine gigs I’ve done in a long time…to shoot a cover story on Barry Silbert, the Founder and CEO of SecondMarket and some of the people that make up the largest secondary market exchange dedicated to creating liquidity for illiquid assets. Silbert came up with the idea for SecondMarket when he was an investment banker struggling to sell off pieces of the bankrupt Enron…he figured, “Wouldn’t it make sense if there was an organized marketplace, like eBay, where illiquid assets could be bought and sold?”. To me it all sounded ridiculously dry and boring. So much so that when I went up to scout the place I really wasn’t expecting any of the craziness that would follow…..

First off, the offices were painted in super-bright primary colors…

And unlike most financial offices, everybody was happy and seemingly loved their jobs!

…people sat on big inflated rubber balls…

…they wrote all over the walls…

…and played ping pong and air hockey to relax and had toys and games everywhere! Including this inspiring throwback to my youth…the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!

This ain’t your father’s stock exchange! And we were gonna have some fun!

We decided to use the bright colored walls of the reception area for the cover shot of Barry. Here’s what things looked like before we set up the lights…

And here’s what 6 lights and 5 Profoto packs will do to reality…

Next we went to work on that lime-green wall…

Which resulted in the opening spread for the story…

With Barry’s part of the shoot done, we moved on to the Green Lantern T-shirt wearin’ Chief Strategy Officer, Jeremy Smith, paired with the Uber-Traditional, buttoned-down Managing Director, Kevin O’Connor, over a nice round of Robot Boxing!

And the last shot of the day would be of Adam Oliveri, their Managing Director of Private Company Markets…

But we weren’t done yet. A few days later, Manuela called and said that the story would now include a sidebar on the venture capitalist who got SecondMarket off the ground…Lawrence Lenihan, the CEO and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital. While I was looking around for places to shoot him, I kinda barged in on lunch…..

…but it resulted in this rather tasty portrait…

But I really wanted to come away with a second shot, and the reception area had a nice feel to it…

…so after a bit of furniture moving, we did this…

And finally, to bring this endless story to a close, here’s 7 seconds of cell-phone video Manuela caught of me shooting Barry for the cover…

Damn Ugly Around The Blogoshere…

As I said in the SOTD below, it was a busy month for Damn Ugly. We’ve been getting a lotta notices all over the interwebs, so I thought I would share some of those mentions with the rest of you…

Profoto saw that PopPhoto piece on me and finally realized that since 98% of my Artificial Portraits feature one or more of their products, that just maybe they should jump on the bandwagon…..

ProFoto Blog: Brad Trent’s Unconventional Executive Portraits

Nothing To Nobody, the Australian online digital magazine for people with style, taste and intelligence, did an interview with me for their latest issue. I wish I could show you how groovy it is, but unlike most of the internet, they want you to pay to play…but don’t be a cheap bastard……it’s only 2 bucks!!!

Nothing to Nobody – Issue Three

Alan Dunlop, a photographer in Glasgow, put Damn Ugly in his list of the top five photo blog recommendations for January…..

Alan’s Diary – Top Five Photo Blog Recommendations For January 2011

Photography consultant, writer, event producer and educator Louisa Curtis featured me on her monthly Chatterblog, a roundup of cool photo-related stuff she stumbled upon…..

Louisa Curtis – February ChatterBulletin

The Curious Brain is a mashup of design curiosities, photography, illustration, social media, advertising, video, animation and found images that included some of my portraits…..

The Curious Brain – Brad Trent

And finally, Finnish photographer Klaus Elfving got so inspired after reading a little off-the-cuff tutorial I did on the Strobist Group on Flickr that he decided to mimic the lighting himself…..

Klaus Elfving Photography – Studio Friday I