As some of you already know, the past couple of months have had me furiously redesigning my current website with the folks at APhotoFolio.com and yesterday Rob Haggart, Mr. APhotoFolio himself, informed me that they have become the first photography website company to deliver custom designed iPad sites, built using HTML5, for all of their customers. Check it out…
As I sit here resizing TIFFS down to JPEGs for my new site, I hafta wonder if the next thing I’m gonna be doing is purchasing a carload of iPads to act as my portfolios?!! Given how labor intensive, not to mention expensive, printed portfolios can be, having everything on an iPad just might make sense! I dunno…it’s all very early in the game, but if I can get over not having a printed book of BIG prints to show an art director, who knows?!!
And now, here’s a quick look at a sample page from my new website, which will be up as soon as I finish resizing those damned JPEGs…
Click on image for Full-Size
It’s kinda bittersweet to be posting about a job I just did for BusinessWeek on the same day I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding the expected job cuts, but what the heck…it might just be a long time before I have another BusinessWeek story to talk about, right?!!
Last Tuesday, I get a 7:00AM wake-up call from one of my favorite people in the whole World, Sarah Morse…the magazine just got an eleventh-hour OK to shoot Ron Burkle, the supermarket Gazillionaire, and would I be available…like right now…to shoot him?!! I was literally getting ready to head out for a location scout on another gig, but sure…I can call and get Bo’s lazy ass outta bed and the two of us could hang with Mr. Burkle for a bit. And I actually knew a lot about Burkle…he was a huge Democratic fundraiser, a regular on the New York Post’s Page Six, he owns the Pittsburgh Penguins, he hangs out with Bono and Diddy and Leo and various Supermodels…and he recently bought Sky Studio, a triplex photography studio with it’s own swimming pool that I used to rent, as a New York pied-à-terre for about 17 million bucks and that’s where we were gonna do the shoot! Of course, we were told that he would have very little time for the shoot and I wouldn’t get to meet with him until he arrived, but that didn’t matter. Even with a ten-minute shoot window, I figured I should be able to pull something kinda cool off…..
Click on any image for full-size
The backlit, cantilevered staircase gave us a grand entrance focal point and we quickly saw it as the perfect location for our opener. Thank God Burkle showed up wearing a suit and not the jeans and polo shirt his publicist had promised!
After an extremely quick five-minute shoot on the stairs, I asked Ron if we could have a few more minutes to shoot him up on the roof…he graciously obliged and this was the result…..
You can read the article, ‘The Other Ron Burkle’, HERE and y’all stay tuned to see if I have any more BusinessWeek stories to relay in the future!
The sad news racing through the photo community this morning…or at least the small portion I find myself a part of…is that another sweeping round of axings layoffs at BusinessWeek is imminent. I suppose my acting surprised might seem a trifle disingenuous, but since Bloomberg assumed the reins back in December and the initial firings were announced, things seemed to be stabilizing and I was hoping (against hope?) that the friends and colleagues I have known for years would be spared further cuts, but with word that a new design team is in place and both the New York Post and Daily Finance reporting that as many as 30 more people might face the chopping block as early as tomorrow, it’s probably time to face the fact that the magazine I knew is due for some pretty big changes.
Sue Bloom gave me my first assignment back in October of 1988. Roxanne Edwards (then the Photo Director) took a chance and gave me my first cover story a few short months later. It was in 1991 that I began working with the current Photo Director, Ronnie Weil, when she sent me of to shoot the CEO of Pepsi. And Larry Lippman, Kathy Moore, Scott Mlyn, Anne D’Aprix, Sarah Morse, Andrew Popper, Mindy Katzman, Lori Perbeck, Regina Flanagan, Kat Malott, Burte Hughes, Sandra Torres…throughout the years these photo editors and researchers have been like family. This is one of very few magazines I have worked for where I could drop by and feel like an insider and that my opinions and viewpoint actually mattered. I’ve been allowed access into some pretty amazing executive suites over the years…culminating in Ronnie and me getting to spend an afternoon in the Oval Office just a few months ago for our Obama cover story…and I’ve had the opportunity to produce some rather interesting work. I honestly can’t tell you how many covers I’ve shot for them, but it’s gotta be North of thirty by now, and through it all it’s been a wild ride. Now all any of us can do is see how the next act plays out…..
Another year is over and another decade done and all that’s left for me now is to cook down the music I’ve served up over the past twelve months into an easily digestible, playlist-sized morsel. God…even after all the years I’ve been doing this, it’s still not easy. With all of the inspiringly good music that came out this past year, the wrap-up could have easily been 30 songs long, so I’ll apologize up front if you felt Carbon Leaf or Blitzen Trapper or Wye Oak should have been recognized, but I had to swing the axe on something, otherwise why have an end-of-the-year list at all?!! Surprisingly, none of my faves showed up on lists compiled by Rolling Stone, Spin or any of the other ‘big’ name music mags. Well…NME did have The Horrors ‘Sea Within A Sea’ at #2…does that make me a little bit mainstream?!! And it might sound melodramatic, but many of these songs have become touchstones to my life…they jog my increasingly bad memory and remind me of how I was feeling, who I was with and what I was doing. As I sat here editing down the list and listening to these all again, it was as though I was watching the year musically speed past me…bringing it all back again as the melodies filled me up. So here they are…my favorites songs of 2009……
There was absolutely zero chance this wasn’t gonna be my number one song this year. From the first time I heard it leap outta my Sirius while listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel I was sold. Ryan Karazija has been compared to everyone from Bono to Thom Yorke, but the simple fact is his voice is an amazing instrument all it’s own, his timing and phrasing are extraordinary and he’s backed up with three of the most talented young musicians I’ve seen in years! And the cherry on top was that I got to shoot them when they were in New York back in March! Their self-titled debut album came out in October and you can check them out on their MySpace page
The one thing that nobody should ever have to witness is me singing, but this is the one song this year that I find myself harmonizing with (horribly) whenever it plays! Rachel Stolte’s trembling, trilling yet powerful vocals send shivers up my spine and the wall of fuzzy noise that accompanies her gets me swaying from the jump. Great Northern dropped “Remind Me Where The Light Is” in April…check ‘em out on their MySpace page
Yup…those three goofballs from Leeds who studied the Nirvana songbook easily grabbed the #3 spot on The List with ‘My Rock & Roll’, certainly the most glorious rock anthem of the year. I found ‘em on MySpace…where else?!!
There’s a certain member of The List who has told me in no uncertain terms that if ‘Quiet Dog’ didn’t make the Songs of the Year List, I would no longer be welcome at her dinner table! Well…she didn’t hafta threaten holding back food to get me to put this thing on, ‘cuz when I saw Mos Def do ‘Quiet Dog’ on Letterman I was instantly maintainin’ the rock and I don’t stop! Mos Def is the King of Kool…and he’s on MySpace
Just imagine…if it hadn’t been for me tossing and turning from a wicked case of insomnia and then switching on Kimmel I probably never would have known who Anya Marina was, but even in my sleep-deprived state I knew she was the real deal and in an incredibly short time she has rocketed to the top of the indie pile with the kitten-sexy ‘Move You’. In fact, she’s so damned good that she stole the show from headliner Emiliana Torrini when they played the Highline Ballroom this Summer! ‘Move You’ is off of her second album, Slow & Steady Seduction, Phase II and you can hear more on her MySpace Page
So what if Metric are electronically-driven popsters from Canada? Every time Emily Haines’ pleading, raspy vocal cries, “Gimme sympathy!”, it pulls at my heart! It’s just one of those perfectly hook-filled pop songs that I find myself humming long after it’s over and what can be wrong with that?!! Head on over to their MySpace page and listen to a bit more.
Few bands blew up as big as Band Of Skulls did this past year. Besides touring the World in the summer, they also killed it at the Lollapalooza festival and just when they thought things might die down a bit, one of their songs was featured in the blockbuster movie, ‘Twilight – New Moon’…not bad for a group who last year at this time were still playing skeevy clubs in London and only had a couple of EP’s under their belts! Hit ‘em on MySpace
Karin Dreijer Andersson’s solo experiment, Fever Ray, caught even the most diehard fans of The Knife off guard. Where The Knife could wander off into an electronic miasma of utter weirdness, Andersson’s icy-cool vocals, haunting melodies and slickly-produced musical constructions created a surprisingly approachable, yet intensely primal, world of minimalism and harmony…while still remaining pretty damned weird! Hear more Fever Ray on their MySpace Page or over on the Official Website
Kate’s new album, White Horses, isn’t due out ’til next Spring, but I’ve been giving out tastes for most of the year! A document of heartache, lost love and rebirth, it’s an intensely personal diary that she presents with an anguish-filled urgency that you feel from the first few notes. Kate’s a friend of The List, and I’m expecting you all to pre-order a limited edition signed and numbered copy of White Horses (Release date: March 2010), and Kate will send you a free gift! Just go the the ‘NEWS’ section on Kate’s Website for details, and then check her out on MySpace
The Idle Hands were basically unknown, but they turned a lotta heads at SXSW this year when they debuted a bunch of the new stuff they’ve been working on, including this Nihilistically re-worked version of ‘Loaded’, for an as-yet unnamed new album. All you Emo Boys and Backpack Kids can check out more songs over on MySpace
What’s a list without a bit of Goth?!! Sure, they wear a lotta eye makeup and they’re probably very full of themselves (I mean, just look at how they pose!), but so did Bauhaus and these guys are the closest thing to that late-great band there is! For those of us with a penchant for gloomy poetics, Faris Badwan’s vocals come across like the like the bastard-child of Peter Murphy and Ian Curtis…just the kinda thing you need to listen to as your life slips away from you…..visit their MySpace page or their website for more.
This was the very first Song of the Day when I moved The List from the e-mail distribution to the blog and it has remained one of the most-played songs I’ve come across all year. Seattle-based Eric Elbogen performs as Say Hi, recording albums out of his home, playing a majority of the instruments and vocals. He is often compared to such disparate artists as Belle & Sebastian, The Beatles, The Strokes, Interpol and Gary Numan and since 2002 has put out a pretty damned impressive body of work…visit his MySpace page to hear more.
I’m always fascinated by Sarah Negahdari’s voice…at times it’s like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but then she’ll get all introspective and moody like Tanya Donelly from Belly and just when you think she can’t morph into something else, she’ll do a mash-up of Patty Smith and Yoko Ono!!! It’s her trilling, high-register vocals that drive this L.A.-based power trio like a buzz saw on steroids. Their new album, Spells, dropped October 6th, and you can head over and make friends on MySpace
Even more tough-girl vocals from Sarah Daly, the lead singer of London-based post punk pop band, Scanners. Daly’s femme fatale swagger…part Karen O, part Chrissie Hynde…fits in perfectly with the eerie vibe on ‘Salvation’, with it’s dark harmonies that overlay a haunting melody. They’re set to release their second album, Submarine, in February on Dim Mak, but for now, check ‘em out on MySpace
It’s kinda fitting that we come to the end of a list of the year’s best songs with a band that doesn’t even exist any more. The Sun were a collective of crazy talented musicians from Columbus, Ohio who packed it in back in January, but before they left, they finished Don’t Let Your Baby Have All The Fun that you can download gratis over at their old label, Rock Proper. And if you like following dead bands, head over to their MySpace page and ask ‘em to get back together again, but to maybe come up with a better name!
Well…that’s it for another year. I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves! As for me…Hell, I just wanna be a rock star…..!!!
Because I can’t get it outta my head, I was searchin’ for the mp3 of that AutoTune mixup of 2009 that I posted a couple of weeks ago, when I stumbled across the website of Steve Porter…the DJ who did the remix…and ended up in an hour-long hole watching a bunch of his videos…but at least my time wasn’t a total waste, ‘cuz this one of Henry Rollins discussing his deep love of Techno is killer, because after all…who doesn’t love anything that features the Techno Viking?!!
And as a bonus, I actually did find an mp3 copy of The Year 2009 Filtered Through AutoTune. The quality ain’t gonna win any awards, but what the Hell…
I have taken a rather long time to talk about the two shoots I did with Kate when she was in New York back in October…partly because I was waiting for her to finish her new album, but now that ‘White Horses’ is in the can, I guess this is a good time to bring them up.
Kate was in town for CMJ and we knocked around some ideas for a cover shoot that involved horses…she was thinking of calling the new record ‘White Horses’…so we took a drive up to Connecticut to look for some horses…but the horses didn’t wanna cooperate and with the sun rapidly falling outta the sky, we had to change direction and came away with these shots…
A few days later, back in the city, we talked about doing something a bit edgier and since, like all rock stars, she was staying at the Chelsea Hotel, we thought we might try a commando-style shoot in the halls. Johanna Cranitch, of Johanna and the Dusty Floor, has been singing back-up with Kate and she joined in the fun. We managed to get off one shot in front of Harry Houdini’s eyes before a security guard kicked our asses back to Kate’s room…..
…but once we were in the room, the light pouring in through the windows gave me more than I needed……
Remember…Kate’s album comes out next Spring, but you can pre-order a limited-edition signed and numbered copy of White Horses and receive a free gift from Kate right now…just check out the ‘NEWS’ section on her Website for details.
Uh-Oh! Somebody must have broke into Kanye’s crib and stole his entire act…ummmm…I mean his AutoTune! Then they used it to put together a pretty damn catchy end-of-the-year dance mix that’s got me groovin’ at my desk! And thank God they didn’t forget that Lady GaGa occasionally dresses like Kermit the Frog…..Brilliant!!!
I had the opportunity to spend some time with multi-faceted designer Todd Oldham when I shot him for a BusinessWeek story that documented his nasty public breakup with Old Navy. It’s been a long time since I’ve met someone so completely at ease and refreshingly upbeat, especially given the drama he’s been put through for the past couple of years in his dealings with Old Navy.
One thing that came out of this whole mess was that since Old Navy had most of his trademarks tied up in a contract dispute, Todd couldn’t really work on anything besides book projects. The good news is that he just released a fabulous book, Kid Made Modern, that I would whole heartily recommend to anyone with kids! The book has over 50 craft projects inspired by modern design masters such as Alexander Calder, Noguchi, Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson and on and on and on and I can’t think of a better way to introduce young minds to art & design. Christmas is coming….are you parents listening?!! Check it out at Todd’s Website (where you can get an autographed copy) or over on Amazon
Although the time we had was short, it was truly inspiring to be able to hang out with Todd for a while.
A couple of weeks back, I shot Stuart Janney and John Hilton of Bessemer Trust for Barron’s…but the cool part you didn’t get to see was the location across from St. Patricks Cathedral…go on….click on the photo below for the really BIG view…I dare you!
I don’t wanna sound like an old fart, but The Sun obviously didn’t name themselves with Google in mind! Maybe if they weren’t so damned hard to find, they still might be together! I dare you…try to get any information about these guys…it ain’t easy, but here’s what I know…..The Sun were from Columbus, Ohio and was made up of Sam Brown (Six feet One inches tall and enjoys the beautiful mountain state of Alaska. He’s a rugged mans’ man), Bryan Arend (Four feet Eleven inches tall and two hundred and thirty-seven pounds. He usually carries a firearm), “Bobby” Brad Forsblom (A handsome Five foot Eleven and walks with a limp. He is a craftsman and was injured in an unfortunate kiln-related accident), Chris Burney (Five feet and Six inches tall. He suffers from the short mans view of things. Don’t get too close) and Bradley Caulkins (Six foot and Four inches tall, all muscle. He was primarily added to the group so the other four could start shit, then get Brad to kick their asses). They apparently packed it in back in January, but if the fuzzy blast of melodic noise kicked up on ‘In Perfect Time’ gets you going, then you can visit Rock Proper and download their entire new/last album, Don’t Let Your Baby Have All The Fun, for nothing! And then why not check ‘em out over on their MySpace page to show them a little post-breakup love?!!
You might have noticed that things have been kinda slow here on the Song of the Day…sort of a combination of me bein’ jacked up with other things and my not finding a lot of good new music to toss out to you guys. Then yesterday I heard ‘Everywhere I Go’ off of the just-released debut EP from Lissie Maurus, an L.A.-based singer/songwriter who says she’s influenced by Gram Parsons, The Mamas & The Papas and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Her arresting, achingly beautiful vocal on this track stopped me dead and finally, for the first time in a week, I knew I had something truly worthwhile for The List. The EP, Why You Runnin’, was produced by her friend Bill Reynolds, whose day job is playing bass in Band of Horses and his bandmate, Tyler Ramsey, is on guitar for some of the tracks, but the real reason you’re here is for the haunting voice and raw emotion that Lissie has spilling out of her. Head over to her MySpace page and check her out.
The Brooklyn (by way of Florida) duo (sometimes quartet) of Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham claim to only write about two feelings…..one is the first day of summer when you and all of your friends are standing on the edge of a cliff watching the sun set and being overcome with all of your hopes and dreams at once. The other is when you’re walking alone in the rain and realize you will be alone forever. Well…I’m uplifted and depressed all at once…I guess ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, off of their ‘Summertime’ EP, draws more from the former feeling than the later. The boys are workin’ a wonderful new-wavey/post-punk vibe with the low-fi guitars, trash can drums and doo-wop backing vocals and the music press seems to be noticing, with even NME calling them “New York’s official Coolest New Band”. Check out The Drums on their website or over on MySpace
I’m gonna do a bit of Friday afternoon blog-rolling on The List today. Frank Deis is a wine geek friend of mine and his son Tom plays guitar with the highly-regarded gang of Berklee College of Music grads who call themselves Via Audio. Frank did a shout-out to see if I could garner a few hits for the band the Fearlessmusic Weekly Poll that’s running over at www.fearlessmusic.com…..look over at the right side of the page…Via Audio is the last band listed….go on, give ‘em a click and they’ll be eternally grateful!
You would have to be deaf not to hear a bit of Tracey Thorn in Jessica Martins delivery and I know singers hate to be constantly compared to other vocalists, but the similarities are there, and wonderfully so…especially when she cries, “…but when it’s good, it’s really good…”…..damn…it gave me goosebumps! Pleading, mournful and just the right amount of sad. And the production, handled by Spoon’s Jim Eno, blends her voice with the infectious, stuttering electric guitars and singalong harmonies perfectly. Head on over to their MySpace page and give a listen to a few more cuts.
A couple of weeks ago I got a 5:00PM call from Ronnie Weil, BusinessWeek’s Director of Photography, asking if I was available to shoot a rush-rush cover. The magazine was doing a feature on retailing and wanted to show a shopping bag filled with various products….and they needed shot the next morning….and the finished art that afternoon! Fast forward to the next morning and my stylist Megan Terry swoops into the studio with bags full of props and we get to work on Rich Michiel’s layout…..
Rich would be adding a houndstooth pattern to the white shopping bag in post, but we had to shoot multiple variations of the bag’s contents for them to decide on the final mix of products. After moving the props around into a hundred or so different arrangements, Bo, Megan and I managed to squeak in before the deadline…..
…and the cover (without the Teddy Bear) hit the stands that Friday!
As I was in the studio shooting this week’s cover for BusinessWeek, the news finally came down that Bloomberg LP was the ‘winner’ in a long, drawn out bidding process for the magazine. For me this was extremely emotional…BusinessWeek is one of my best clients…certainly the one I have worked for the longest. I checked the files and saw that it was back in 1988 when photo editor Sue Bloom took what must have been a huge risk and gave me my first job to shoot the CEO of the ad agency J. Walter Thompson. A few months later, I shot my first cover for them. Throughout the years I’ve worked with the magazine as it’s evolved and changed and I hope to continue working with them as this latest chapter unfolds…..
In yesterday’s New York Times, I read of the passing of Marty Forscher.
Marty was as old skool as it got…I mean, he got his start serving in the Navy photographic unit headed by Edward Steichen, for God’s sake! After the war, he opened his own repair shop, first on Lexington Avenue, but later at the 37 West 47th Street location that everybody knew. Professional Camera Repair wasn’t just a repair place…it was one of the ‘hubs’ of the New York photo business. The old bulletin board in the waiting area was filled with assistant’s resumes, studio shares, camera ‘for sale’ notices, photo show openings and just about everything else you could imagine that related to photography in this city. And when Marty wasn’t simply fixing cameras, he was always coming up with ways to make them do things that the manufacturers didn’t think of…or inventing his own stuff…the most famous of which was the Forscher ProBack. What a simple idea…a Polaroid back for a 35mm camera…except is wasn’t. There were all sorts of optical reasons why you couldn’t simply slap a Polaroid back onto a 35mm camera, and before the ProBack, the only way to get an instant image from a 35mm camera was to slap on the ungainly monster known as a Speed Magny…..
For those of you who spent any time in a physics class, you can imagine how the long optical path of that periscope-like device would suck up light…in this case, about about 5 stops worth…so a shutter speed of 1/250 second effectively became 1/8 second…not very useful at all. Marty had another idea…he invented a system that used a free-floating fiber optic lens to transfer the image from the camera film plane directly onto the Polaroid film plane…..
I’ll always remember the day when I saw my first ProBack…and then the second, and the third…..and soon there was nobody who didn’t own one! To anybody not involved in the business, this probably seems like nothing, but overnight, Marty’s little invention had changed the way a generation of photographers took pictures! Here is the first two-on-one 35mm Fiber Optic Pro-Back Polaroid shot ever taken…..that’s Marty with one of his repair techs, Noah Schwartz…..
It’s been a long, long time since I have seen Marty, but I’ll fondly remember him and how he would offer up a bit of grandfatherly advice or a few suggestions on how to solve a problem…..then he’d shoo me away from the counter ‘cuz there were other customers waiting!
A few weeks ago, Adrian Delucca and Pamela Budz from Barron’s came to me with a cover project…..would I be interested in re-working a shot I had done for them last year that didn’t run into a slightly more stylized version for Penta, a new insert Dow Jones is including with the magazine. This was the original photograph I did of financial analyst Stephanie Pomboy…..
First, we had to come up with the same piece of furniture that Stephanie had in her apartment…thank God for The Conran Shop! The only tiny wrinkle was that it was in bright orange and we kinda had our hearts set on green…..
…but I knew that Photoshop was gonna let me pick and choose whatever final colors we needed! Next, I had to stuff the drawers with a few hundred thousand dollars of prop money…..
…and finally, after Kelly worked a bit of her magic on Jackie Mumm, our model……
…we ended up with this…..
…and our final cover image…..
Pretty much all that was left for us to do was to horse around on the set!!! Adrian got to trash the money…..
…and my stylist, Naila, wanted to burn the place down!!!
(Don’t ya just love what happens when you spin those Photoshop dials?!!)
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……
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.