R.I.P. Bert Stern

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Bert Stern was one of the first photographers whose work turned me on to photography. His ‘Last Sitting’ of Marilyn Monroe made him famous, but even as a kid, I can remember being drawn to his images in magazines. Advertising and editorial pages in the 60’s and 70’s were plastered with his work. His portfolio could be used to illustrate just about everything you see on “Mad Men”. Later, when I become more and more involved in photography, I learned who he was. I bought a book of his early work that I have to this day. Looking at the photographs in that book brought back all those memories of my early childhood and like a lightbulb going off over my head, it was then I knew I was meant to be a photographer. For me, he defined what a photographer was all about. He was single-minded in his passion for creating memorable imagery. His work transcended commercial photography…he was seen as a cultural hero…a straight-up Rock Star. And for more than a decade he was the most sought-out guy in the business. But the excess, copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and failed relationships took its toll and he quite literally burned out and disappeared from the business. He resurfaced in the late 80’s as a kinder, gentler, Bert, but the World had changed and the days of jetting off to Egypt to shoot a martini glass in the sand were long gone…

Bert died Tuesday. He was 83.

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A Few Minutes With Bill O’Reilly

Bill O'Reilly

When I got the call from Dave Baratz at USAWeekend to shoot Bill O’Reilly, I immediately could tell from his voice that this was probably when was of those quick in-and-out gigs, and I was right. Bill had extremely limited time available and wouldn’t go to a studio, so the only place we could shoot him was on the set of The O’Reilly Factor at Fox News. Oh yeah…we were told we would only have about ten minutes with him…immediately before he taped his show!

I figured I had better go check the place out…

It was small…really small! My wide-angle lenses were gonna get a workout! The only place I could drop a seamless for the cover would be in a back corner behind the cameras…

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For a second shot, the only other possibility seemed around his desk…

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But when I saw the Stage Manager sitting in a nook to the side I had an idea…

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Because of the time constraints and the fact that I was going to shoot him against that backlit set, I made the decision to light Bill with a couple of 1′ x 1′ BiColor Litepanels. The BiColor variator made it super easy to dial in the correct color temperature and the output variator allowed me to match the intensity of the backlit blue wall in seconds. I’ve really come to appreciate the WYSIWYG aspect of shooting the the Litepanel system.

Bill O’Reilly…on set in 3…2…1…

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Bill O'Reilly

That took care of the opener…

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Now, on to the cover.

I took a subjects-eye-view of the cover setup…

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…which sort of shows how tightly backed into that corner we really were…

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Since the story was about volunteerism, Dave and I thought it would be nice to play off the old Uncle Sam, ‘I Want You!’ poster…

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And Bill got into the whole Uncle-Sam-pointing thing which made my work that much easier…

Bill O'Reilly

And here’s the cover that came out yesterday

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Bill and I hope YOU enjoyed todays behind-the-scenes look!

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Three Canadians Walk Into A Bar…

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Even though I’ve lived in New York since 1982, if someone asks me where I’m from I immediately say, “Edmonton!”, so when Terri Belley…the Art Director at Avenue Magazine…asked me to shoot a feature on another ex-Edmontonian, actress Catherine Mary Stewart, I jumped at the chance. I mean, this was the hot chick from “Night of the Comet”, “The Last Starfighter” and who can forget…“Weekend at Bernie’s”!!! And designer Michael Kaye…another native son of Edmonton now calling New York home…was gonna be providing the fashions.

But then reality kicked in. Avenue ain’t Vanity Fair, and as such, the production budget was very tight, so we decided to shoot everything at Michael’s design studio. The only problem, he just moved in and when I went by to take a look at what we might have to work with, the place was still under construction. Even so, there were a few things that caught my eye…

These mirrors…
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A Knoll Egg Chair…
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A wall of dress forms…
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And something all Canucks have on their walls…a really cool mounted head!
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Michael assured me the studio would be completed in time for the shoot, and a few weeks later Kaz and I hauled a thousand pounds of gear uptown and went to work, starting with those mirrors…

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Well, that sucked…gotta get that color balance right…

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Much better. Let’s do it…

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

And here’s how it looked in the magazine…

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Now…the dress forms…

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Way too much ring light and too little drama…gotta bring in the Mini-Octa…

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Perfect!

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So good, it ended up on the cover…

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Michael had a black pony area rug on the floor that I thought would look good from above…

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The high angle was great, but the day bed wasn’t working, so we went with the Egg Chair instead…

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And as the only horizontal I shot all day, it fit right in as the opener for the story…

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Since I had been to the studio on the scout, Michael had added some shelves that showed off his collection of fashion illustrations on either side of the Antelope head. Catherine was going to wear one of his signature Tartan dresses that he designed especially for her, and I originally thought it might look good with a stark ringlight effect…

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But it came off like a Terry Richardson rip-of and was too different from everything else we were doing, so I brought back the drama with a spotlight on her…

Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart

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We had already shot a lot, but Michael had one more gown he wanted to include and although we had pretty much shot every angle of his studio, after wracking our brains for one more idea we thought it might be fun to offset the stunning beaded dress against a haphazard pile of chairs…

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Works for me!

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

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After a very long day in a very small studio, we were three very tired Canadians! And the June issue of Avenue magazine is on the stands now!

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart