Mr. & Mrs. Hawkeye Pierce In The Bronx

Alan & Arlene Alda photographed at the New York Botanical Garden

Click on any image for Full-Size

Alan Alda. Academy Award-nominated actor, director, screenwriter, author, board member of the World Science Festival and a visiting Professor at SUNY Stony Brook School of Journalism. Arlene Alda. Photographer, writer, Fulbright Scholar…and just a Kid from the Bronx. Which is how we ended up at the Bronx Botanical Garden on a 20 degree day in February. Arlene has just written Just Kids From The Bronx, an oral history on what it was like to grow up in the place that bred influencers in just about every field of endeavor today, with thoughts from Bronxites as varied as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Al Pacino, Carl Reiner, Mary Higgins Clark, Colin Powell, and on and on and on. When Arlene and Alan began seeing each other, a lot of those dates took place in the Bronx, including taking long walks through the Botanical Gardens. And while it would have been great to shoot them walking the paths of the Gardens on a sunny day in May, her book was coming out now, so inside we went…here’s what we found…

While it was nice to walk among the greenery inside the Enid Haupt conservatory, it was still too early for the Orchid show and too soon for the Spring blooms…

IMG_9584

…but this indoor fountain area showed some promise…

IMG_9593

But I had also learned that the Alda’s had donated a bench on the grounds…and despite the freezing temperatures and the fact that it was buried in snow, I had to check it out…

IMG_9598

IMG_9599

On the day of the shoot it was a brisk 22 degrees outside…but about 85 inside with Lousianna-like humidity. When Alan and Arlene arrived, while I waited for the sun to come out of the clouds, we did a few shots of them just walking through the galleries…

alan_arlene_alda_MG_0048

And then Kaz and I set up our main shot at the fountain…

alan_arlene_alda_8196

…which seemed to please Alan and Arlene immensely…

Alan & Arlene Alda photographed at the New York Botanical Garden

Alan & Arlene Alda photographed at the New York Botanical Garden

Half-way through our shoot, Gregory Long…the President of the New York Botanical Garden…dropped in to get his copy of Arlene’s book autographed…

alan_arlene_alda_8329

Here’s how things look in The Journal..

2015_03_13_cmyk_VICE_02

And then…because we were just getting too warm in there…Kaz and I decide that we just had to shoot that bench!

alda_MG_0110

alan_arlene_alda_MG_0117

Thanks Alan…thanks Arlene…and special thanks to the Botanical Gardens for warming us up on one very cold day!

alda_MG_0130

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

Click on any image for Full-Size

I’m not sure at this point if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Misty Copeland. Besides making history as the only African American soloist dancing with the American Ballet Theatre, her best-selling autobiography, ‘Life In Motion’, dancing onstage with Prince, appearing in ads for Under Armour, Dr. Pepper, Coach, The Corcoran Group and T-Mobile, and her numerous features in magazines like The New Yorker, Vogue, Elle and New York Magazine, the 32 year-old ballerina is possibly the most visible face in the dance World since Baryshnikov. And my buddy Rob Smith asked me to put her on the cover of Arrive. Here’s the behind-the-scenes from our day at Bathhouse Studios

Since we knew we would have relatively limited time with Misty, Rob and I had worked up our ideas for the shoot early on. The story was about mentors, and we would be photographing Misty with Raven Wilkinson, the first black woman to dance full-time in a major ballet company, including Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, the Dutch National Ballet, and the New York City Opera Ballet. We had to get enough for our cover, a few opening shots, a portrait of Misty and Raven together and anything else we could fit in! But shooting at the Bathhouse meant we would have lotsa space to set up everything beforehand cuz the studio is so beautifully huge!

_MG_0024

_MG_0082

Our setup on the cyc…and that marvelously high ceiling…

_MG_0031

Kaz and I setting up the two-shot of Misty and Raven…

_MG_0091

Robert and Julien sitting in for our cover…

misty_copeland_1843

Julien taking flight…

misty_copeland_1869

_MG_0832

My stylist Karen Sherwood laying out the wardrobe…

_MG_0022

_MG_0042

Misty arrived just as we were about finished with our setup and went into hair & makeup right away…

_MG_0026

…but shortly afterwards, our little dancers from the ABT School showed up…

_MG_0269

and they quickly put on a little show for Misty…

_MG_0316

_MG_0363

Julien grabbed Misty to test the lighting on our first setup…

_MG_0296

_MG_0309

…and so started our shooting day…

_MG_0440

_MG_0460

_MG_0476

_MG_0574

Here is the final portrait of Raven and Misty…

misty_copeland_1937

Next, we moved onto the cyc for our opening photo of Misty with the Dance School students…

_MG_0619

_MG_0621

misty_copeland_1969

_MG_0651

_MG_0659

_MG_0676

misty_copeland_1973

_MG_0691

Misty approves…

_MG_0699

…and the resulting photograph…

Misty Copeland

Now I wanted to do a series of solo shots of Misty in different positions. The idea was that I would assemble these solo images into one unified ‘group’ photograph…

_MG_0804

misty_copeland_2012

misty_copeland_2066

misty_copeland_2043

misty_copeland_2018

And the final ‘group’ shot…

misty_copeland_group

Before I took Misty off the cyc, I pulled out my vintage stools for one more idea…

_MG_0814

_MG_0835

_MG_0823

Best shot of those two stools I’ve ever taken…

Misty Copeland

Oh yeah…I nearly forgot…CBS sent over Anthony Mason and a film crew to document our little shoot for CBS Sunday Morning

_MG_0905

Now where was I…oh yeah…the final shot would be of Misty and Raven together for our cover. We re-purposed that ballet barre from the shot with the kids, and set up a very simple situation with a big, soft Octalite…Misty in her costume as her mentor looked on…

_MG_0917

_MG_0936

_MG_0984

Our cover image…

misty_copeland_2130

Here’s how everything looked in ‘Arrive’…

AA0315_Misty_Cover

AA0315_TOC_xxx

AA0315_Cover_Feature-1

AA0315_Cover_Feature-2

AA0315_Cover_Feature-3

And finally, here’s the CBS Sunday Morning piece, complete with yours truly on set with Misty…

misty_copeland_2121

Suite Judy Blue Eyes

judy_collins_5842

Click on any image for Full-Size

Judy Collins…!!!

When Ronnie Weil called and offered me this one, all I could say was, “Wow!”. For five decades…my entire life…she’s been making music…beautiful music. Now Judy is recording a new CD that is tentatively titled “Duets with Guys”, an album that will feature her signing with Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Buffett, Don McLean and Kris Kristofferson, and Alexandra Wolfe was writing a profile on her for the Wall Street Journal. Here is how our day went…

Kaz sitting in for our first shot…

_DSF0797

judy_collins_5719

Ms. Collins in the makeup chair…

_DSF0809

And our shooting day begins…

_DSF0829

_DSF0835

We also had a Journal video crew following us around…

_DSF0836

_DSF0838

Here are a couple of final images…

Judy Collins

judy_collins_5923

For the next setup, I wanted to do something dark & dramatic, and more etherial. And while it doesn’t look like much with Kaz in place…

judy_collins_5716

…once Judy stepped on set, things got dialed in pretty fast…

_DSF0851

judy_collins_6048

judy_collins_6007

Judy Collins

…and our final image…

Judy Collins

2015_01_17_cmyk_NA_04

As a little bonus, follow the link below for Ali Wolfe’s interview with Judy…

_DSF0873

…as well as some more behind-the-scenes from our shoot:

Judy Collins Interview & Behind-the-Scenes footage

judy_collins_6003

Playing High-Stakes Chess With The Smartest Guys In The Room

__Blog_Opener

Click on any image for Full-Size

When January rolls around, one thing you can always count on is that I’ll be packing up 1000 pounds of gear and heading to The Harvard Club to shoot the Barron’s Roundtable. This year, Adrian Delucca and I worked up a few ideas based on the game of Chess. Here were Adrian’s chicken scratches that led to our cover shoot…

2015_layout

This year we would be publishing three covers in January, and the usual mid-year cover in June, so we had to set up three different lighting setups in the very tight quarters of the Presidents Room at the Harvard Club…

The main setup for the Week One cover and opener…

2015_rt__DSF0888

…the Chess Table set for the Week Two & Three covers…

2015_rt__DSF0898

…and third area for the mid-year portraits…

2015_rt__DSF0914

2015_rt__DSF0911

As usual, we would start shooting the ten Roundtable members separately as they began arriving at 8:00AM, and we had to be finished everything when the meeting began…at 10:00AM! That meant we had to shoot each person in enough different situations for three covers and three openers as well as individual portraits of each for the midyear issue…all in two hours. And we also had to convey exactly what we needed each person to do since they wouldn’t be posing with anyone but themselves and everything would be put together in post! They’re given no advance warning of what we’ve cooked up for them until they arrive.

That kinda thing is hard enough to pull off when you’re dealing with professional models, but when you’ve only got 5 or 6 minutes with a financial expert, getting him to instantly channel his inner actor is a wee bit harder…

2015_rt__DSF0903

2015_rt__DSF0906

2015_rt__DSF0915

2015_rt__DSF0919

2015_rt__DSF0923

2015_rt__DSF0924

2015_rt__DSF0904

2015_rt__DSF0910

With our Roundtable members safely in the bag, now I got to spend the next three days locked in front of my computer. I had already spent a day shooting a Chess Board & Pieces for our base cover image…

_board_base

Now came adding the human chess pieces…

bill_gross_2015_chess_6537

meryl_witmer_2015_chess_6428

marc_faber_roundtable_2015_chess_6305

And after a considerable amount of Photoshop work, the final cover image looked like this…

_roundtable_2015_wk1_cover_v3_2

2015_01_19_cmyk_NL_

Next up was the opening image…

brian_rogers_roundtable_2015_chess_6127

chess_pieces_5671

david_herro_roundtable_2015_chess_6167

meryl_witmer_2015_chess_6467

And the final image…

_roundtable_2015_wk1_inside_v5_fade_8bit

Barrons_011915_Trent-inside

Finally, I had to put together two different chess playing situations…from two different angles…for the Week Two and Week Three issues. This was our high-angle test shot (you can see the low angle tripod at the bottom of the frame)…

_MG_0015

What would be so easy if we could just shoot it as one photo becomes a very complicated puzzle when you hafta shoot everyone separately while trying to keep track of who you’ve already shot and in what position…

rt_week1_cover_MG_0134

rt_week1_cover_MG_0207

rt_week1_cover_MG_0054

rt_week1_cover_MG_0122

These are the two final images…

2015_rt_week2_1

2015_rt_week2_2

2015_01_26_cmyk_NL_

Now on to the low angle…

oscar_card

2015_rt_week3_MG_0170

2015_rt_week3_MG_0061

2015_rt_week3_MG_0309

2015_rt_week3_MG_0295

2015_rt_week3_1

2015_rt_week3_2

2015_02_02_cmyk_NL_

Barrons_020215_Trent_Inside

Man…am I ever tired…….

And Now For Something Completely Different: John Cleese

_MG_0102

Click on any image for Full-Size

Even considering that I’ve had the good fortune to photograph some pretty impressive people over the years, when Ronnie Weil called from the Wall Street Journal and offered up John Cleese, it really knocked the wind outta me. People toss around the word ‘iconic’ a lot, but John Cleese is a true ICON. What he and the rest of the Pythons did to comedy in the early 70’s forever changed how people laughed. He is a manic genius who…to quote a famous Monty Python sketch…is a true master of sarcasm…dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire!

And I was getting 15 minutes with him…

Mr. Fawlty was in New York as part of a tour to promote his new book, “So Anyway”, and we met him in a midtown hotel where we set up two situations in a room slightly smaller than an average walk-in closet…

For our first shot, I wanted to do a tight portrait…just his face…to capture a range of expressions…

bts

We started with just a gridded Profoto beauty dish on the grey seamless…

john_cleese_1430

…then added a 4′ x 6′ Chimera over my shoulder for fill and a small strip light on the background for separation…

john_cleese_1438

But something didn’t look right…the 80mm lens perspective was a bit uninteresting…so we swapped it for the 150mm…

john_cleese_1443

Much better…now just add one Python…

bts_1

…and let the rat-faced fun begin!

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

I began calling out various characters of his and sketches he was known for and he immediately knew where to take it…

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

bts_4

And because we had a wealth of great expressions, I made the suggestion that we do a montage of them. Here is how it ran in the Journal…

2014_11_15_cmyk_NA_04

Then we turned 45 degrees to the left and played around with some 3/4 shots…

bts_3

It was like shooting fish in a barrel…

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

Then he started doin’ this…

bts_2

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

…and like that, our 15 minutes were up. But I had a fantastic time with an honest-to-God ICONand checked off one more Bucket List item!

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

Enrico Ferorelli

Enrico Ferorelli

Enrico Ferorelli…my friend, my mentor and one of the smartest and sweetest men I’ve ever known…died this morning.

I worked as his assistant from 1983 through 1987. We traveled the World shooting Kings, Presidents, Athletes, Musicians, Scientists and Celebrities. Enrico, more than any other photographer I worked with, made me the photographer…and man…I am today.

I am lost. And I will miss him forever.

Joking Around With Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

Click on any image for Full-Size

I’ve had a pretty good run of celebrity shoots lately…Frankie Valli, Ricky Gervais, Tony Bennett, Spike Lee, Willem Dafoe…and I’m trying my best to catch up on the behind-the-scenes on most of them. This shoot with Seth Meyers was actually shot back in February, but it just published a few weeks ago in the latest issue of Amtrak’s ‘Arrive’ magazine. Rob Smith…Arrive’s Art director and one of my oldest friends…had a few thoughts on what he wanted to do with the shoot, and I had a couple of ideas as well, so we drove out to Queens where all the prop warehouses have moved to see if anything got us going…

Since Seth was the Head Writer at SNL, we both stopped when we came across these old desks and typewriters…

photo 5

photo 7

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

Next, we brainstormed a few shots based on the idea that Seth was not only moving from Saturday Night Live to the Late Night program, but when the story was scheduled to run Seth was supposed to be taking the show on the road. Moving his stuff in a little red wagon just made sense…

photo 4

With the van full of dusty old props, we headed down to Bathhouse Studios…truly one of the nicest places you can shoot at in all Manhattan…and got to work…

_DSF0321

_DSF0327

_DSF0329

_DSF0331

Unlike the low-key shoot with Willem Dafoe last week, this time the studio was filled with multiple stylists, make-up and hair people, and more NBC publicists than I’ve ever seen gathered in one place!

_DSF0334

_DSF0340

_DSF0342

And I know it might not look like much in these BTS photos…but dropping Seth into that precisely focussed spot of light against the cyc background created just the right amount of drama…it was all about Seth going out on his own…

_DSF0343

Here are some of the final selects…

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

_arrive_seth_spread1

Now where did we put that red wagon…

_DSF0322

_DSF0350

By the way…for all you lighting geeks out there…I am seriously loving the Rime Lite deep octas…as long as you know a bit about lighting, they’ll give you everything you expect out of a Broncolor Para, but for less than one-tenth the price!

_DSF0344

Seth Meyers

_arrive_seth_spread2

And since a lot of people figured that Seth taking on Late Night was a bit of a leap…

Seth Meyers

_DSF0352

…I thought having him stepping into the unknown kind of worked the metaphor nicely…

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

_arrive_seth_spread3

Next, we moved on to our cover setup…

_DSF0355

_DSF0358

_DSF0359

Seth Meyers

…which gave us both our cover and a pulled-back shot for the table of contents page…

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

_arrive_seth_toc

Seth Meyers

_arrive_seth_cover

So thanks to the huge team it took to pull this off and make things come off so smoothly, but especially thanks to Seth for giving up his time and being such a good sport!

Seth Meyers