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…

…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…

Mega-Investor Bill Ackman For Barron’s

$10.3 Billion Dollars. That’s the value of the funds run by Bill Ackman, the founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. When you’re in charge of that kinda money, even I know you probably don’t wanna spend a lot of time posing for pictures. But I had to shoot a cover for Barron’s and little problems like this weren’t gonna get the job done….

I went up for a location scout, but as is the case with most of the investment companies I’m tasked to photograph, where I can shoot is often extremely controlled. Pershing Square’s offices are very striking…42 floors above Central Park, ultra-modern, with white glass walls and a view most people would kill to shoot…but I didn’t really wanna do a ‘view’ portrait, and besides, I knew that Art Streiber had already done that picture for Portfolio Magazine a couple years back…and a lot of the other areas of their office we strictly off-limits because of SEC rules, so my choices were whittled down to these two spots…..

A possible cover location…

…and a second spot, in their kitchen, that had an repeated Op-Art view of a vintage print of the original Pershing Square…

Of course the two locations were on opposite sides of the floor, and of course we would have maybe ten minutes with Bill to get both photographs done! That meant setting up both shots ahead of time (with the ‘normal’ six tons of lighting gear!) and work fast. We started with the doorway shot…

…which gave Barron’s this for the cover…

And then were off to the kitchen for something a bit more relaxed…

And since we finished both shots so quickly, he even gave us another minute to re-set and blast off a few ringlight portraits, one of which sits at the top of this post.

Video of the Day

I’ve obviously been slackin’ off on my Song of the Day duties, but life and work have gotten in the way recently. So when I saw that Ryan had dropped a little video on YouTube of one of the many throwaway songs he’s recorded for the upcoming Low Roar album, I figured I could take a few minutes to quickly shotgun it out to you guys. Nice way to end a rainy Friday. You can check out more of what Ryan’s been doing with Low Roar over on his Facebook Page

Do You Have Any Stronger Sawhorses For The Chairman?!!

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A few weeks ago, Mr. DeLucca asked if I would like to take a trip up to Herald Square to shoot Terry Lundgren, the President, Chairman of the Board, Director and CEO of Macy’s. “Yeah”, I said, “but only if I don’t hafta do some lame picture of him on the retail floor!”. Thus began our journey…

I went up to Macy’s for a quick location scout and was of course shown every square inch of the million square feet of retail space in the World’s Largest Department Store…none of which really interested me. What I really wanted to see was their display department…I had a kind of cool idea that required mannequins and such, but I got shot down on that one. I was then offered a look around their ‘Executive Offices’, which is normally the kiss of death, but in this case it proved damned inspiring. The floor dates back to the 1902 origin of the building and was stunning, but what really got me going was the Executive Dining Room. The walls were covered in frescos painted in the 1940’s that show views of the building as it looked back then…

But using the P/R guy as a stand in, I saw immediately that just dropping him in front of the wall was gonna be flat-footed and boring…..

I needed to raise him up and get him into the scene, and that was gonna take a lot of gear! (And since this was a Barron’s gig, I only had one assistant) So Kaz and I showed up early…we got to Macy’s three hours before the shoot…and proceeded to turn the dining room into a photo studio for real. Besides my usual two tons of lighting gear, we hauled in apple boxes, saw horses, a sheet of plywood and a 4 x 8 piece of white plexiglass and went about rigging a platform that would raise him up to the right height…

But we still had one final hurdle to get over…the P/R guy walked in while we were setting up and had concerns about our plastic saw horses….”Do you have any stronger sawhorses for the Chairman?!!”. I had to get up on the platform and dance a jig to convince him we were safe. And it was worth it…here’s the resulting page in Barron’s…

But I wasn’t done. My favorite image was actually like that set-up shot I sat in for. The much more dramatic, pulled-back view of Lundgren is now sitting at the front of my portfolio…

Help Nick Get To Afghanistan

My ex-assistant and good friend Nick Cardillicchio will soon be heading off to Afghanistan to shoot a portrait essay on the men and women in the Marines who are deployed in that country. He came up with the idea to coincide with ten-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks and pitched it to the US Marine Corp, but he hadn’t expected them to get back to him so quickly…and now he’s faced with having to fund the entire project himself or lose his opportunity. He has set up an IndieGoGo campaign funding account where anyone can donate any amount to help him reach his goal. Besides his photography and travel expenses, the USMC requires that he purchase his own safety equipment including bullet proof vest, helmet, flak jacket and eye and ear protection. Kevlar underpants are expensive folks….so please head on over to United States Marines At Work and see if you can show Nick some love?!! I know he would appreciate anything you could toss his way.

So Mikhail Baryshnikov Says To Me…

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That’s right…Baryshinkov! I can’t help but love my job, but when I get to meet some of the people I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with, even I hafta to step back from time to time and ask myself…really?!!

I’ve done a few gigs lately for the London Sunday Times, so when photo editor Sean McKillop called and asked if I wanted to shoot Mikhail Baryshnikov and his wife Lisa Rinehart up at their country house for the weekend ‘Home’ magazine, I didn’t skip a beat before saying yes. The couple was selling the centuries-old converted barn they’ve lived in since 1981 and I was there to not only get a few portraits of them, but also as many views of the house as possible. The only problem…Misha’s schedule was extremely limited and I would have no more than half an hour with the two of them. Of course, the Times wanted ‘four or five’ portrait situations, never mind that on the day we were to shoot it was about 38 degrees and pouring rain!

After a whirlwind tour of the house, we started by lighting what would be the cover image of the two of them at the front door to the house…

…..then very quickly set up two additional portraits in the sunroom (bathed in clouds)…

…and in front of a fireplace in the original part of the house…

With his part of the performance over, Misha bid us good day and I then got off a photo of Lisa relaxing with one of the many cats that share the house with them…

With the portraits out of the way, we then went about shooting as many detail shots as possible…

Thanks to Sean for the gig and thank you Misha & Lisa for allowing me the opportunity to spend a bit of time with you…

Song of the Day

LOW ROAR
Friends Make Garbage, True Friends Take It Out


DOWNLOAD: Friends Make Garbage, True Friends Take It Out

Since Audrye Sessions packed it in last year, frontman Ryan Karazija moved to Iceland, got married to a lovely Icelandic lass, and spent a lotta long, cold, dark Icelandic nights writing news songs. Cold, dark, moody songs. And after trying out a few names for his new project, he’s settled on one that perfectly matches the feeling these songs evoke…Low Roar. Monastically holed up in an igloo with little more to eat than dried reindeer meat and the occasional sick Puffin that dropped outta the sky, he put together a collection of beautifully crafted stories, then went into the studio and with that remarkable voice of his, set them to music, playing all of the instruments and handling the production himself (with his friend and Audrye Sessions producer Andrew Scheps doing the mixing). Ryan told me today that the as-yet untitled album will be out in a month, he’ll be playing in California in August, and if he gets enough demand, will try to get to New York, too. Let’s help him out…head on over to the Low Roar Facebook Page and hit the “LIKE” button.

Finally, here’s Ryan doing an acoustic version of another of the new songs, ‘Help Me’…..