A Location Scout In Brooklyn

This morning, Brendan Brown and I hiked around some of the more photogenic parts of the North Side of Brooklyn lookin’ for a place to shoot his band, Wheatus, for their upcoming tour. That’s all I’m gonna say for now…you’ll see the resulting shoot soon enough…

Song of the Day

Are You Gonna Waste My Time?

DOWNLOAD: Are You Gonna Waste My Time?

Today on The List we prove once more that everything old is new again. Fuzzy dueling guitars with whammy bars, echo, reverb, some honky-tonk piano and even a Goddamn cowbell…welcome to the 70’s, kids!!! Zeus are four guys from Toronto that obviously have prayed at the alter of Grand Funk Railroad, and their second album, Busting Visions, will be released next month. Besides making friends on Facebook, you can check out more of Zeus on their website, and for you New Yorkers, they’re playing The Mercury Lounge Thursday night (2/23/12).

November 15, 1984: Before Whitney Was Famous…

Back in the day, one of the guys I assisted quite a bit was Tony Costa, an L.A.-based celebrity photographer who was always coming to New York to shoot for People Magazine. He called me up and said we were gonna be shooting Cissy Houston’s daughter who was getting a lot of notices because she had been recording with Jermaine Jackson. It wasn’t a big deal shoot…just a quick couple of rolls of B&W on seamless in a cheapie midtown rental studio for a one-paragraph mention in the magazine…and then Whitney showed up with a couple of dresses she borrowed for the shoot. No entourage, not even a hair and makeup artist…just a shy 21 year-old girl who was terrified cuz she was gonna be in People magazine. Tony and I were floored! Then she tells us she’s got an album coming out soon and she was signed by Wilhelmina to model and suddenly our quickie shoot had me running out to buy more film cuz we ran out after ten minutes!

And today it’s all so damned sad.

Going Dark with Bob Amsterdam, International Lawyer…

Click on Any Image for Full-Size

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 Live In New York…

…and I’m hardly gonna be mistaken for a shrinking violet, but I still think these posters that have sprung up all over town for the new season of ‘Mad Men’ are in bad fucking taste

Just Google “Mad Men Poster” and you’ll get hit with hundreds of pages with the words ‘Controversial’, ‘Desecration’ and ‘Uproar’ featuring prominently in the headlines. Esquire suggests that the only people upset about this are “bloggers looking to create controversy”, and to that I cry, “Bullshit”! I had heard about the posters a couple of weeks ago when Michael Surtees, a graphic designer friend of mine who catalogs his daily existence on his flickr account, posted a photo of one of the posters he casually took on the walk to work with the caption, “I’m not too sure how appropriate is this Mad Men poster”

He then posted his own thoughts on the poster and the ethics behind producing such an ad on his designnotes Blog. Within days his photo had been viewed almost 37,000 times!

*EDIT* Michael just told me the photo is now at 250,000+ views…!

I hadn’t actually seen one in person until this morning when I got off the Times Square shuttle and the entire tunnel into Grand Central was plastered with them. It stopped me in my tracks. And it really pissed me off. When I was taking the shot at the top of the page, a guy walked by and said, “That Sucks!”, and I wondered if he thought maybe I was just another tourist documenting my time in the Big City and he wanted me to understand the frustration a real New Yorker might have over seeing something like this every Goddamned day as you commute to work. I wanted to say something back to him…to let him know I was just as upset as he was…but he was already gone, swallowed up among the thousands of people who seemed to be purposefully ignoring what was on the walls around them.

I know how ad guys think, and I know that not one of the fuckers who came up with the concept or worked on this campaign or greenlighted the final art didn’t know full well that they were capitalizing on the falling man imagery from 9/11 to advertise a bloody TV show. I know they’re all feelin’ puffed up and important, cuz look at how everybody is talking about what they did! All I can think is what kind of uncaring asshole would be proud of producing this, and especially to place them all over Manhattan! And before you cry that this poster is merely an extension of the show’s opening title sequence that has been part of it from the beginning, again…Bullshit! The Mad Men opening credits start in the context of an office environment and then the artifice falls away and the falling character very obviously implies the downward spiral of the shows main character. This poster was only produced to create the exact kind of controversy us ‘bloggers’ are writing about. And good for them. It worked! After almost two years off the air, we’re all talking about Don Draper again, even if it does bring up all those shitty memories from a decade ago. And maybe I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt Mr. Draper would ever sink so low as to pull up the memory of people leaping to their deaths to sell a product.

Song of the Day


DOWNLOAD: Crystalline

What’s not to love about this new song from Brooklyn-based Englishman Ed Vallance?!! Right from the intro with that twitchy guitar & syncopated snare drum, to the almost Steven Patrick Morrissey-like whiney wail of his voice, and the way it quickly builds to a flourish of mirrored backing vocals and distorted guitars and then slides back into the tick-tock tick-tock marching beat of that drum…everything just comes together perfectly. ‘Crystalline’ is the lead track from his second album, Volcano, which is due to be released this month, but check him out on his Facebook page and for you New Yorkers, he’s playing a residency at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan every Sunday in February at 10:00pm.