Mr. & Mrs. Hawkeye Pierce In The Bronx

Alan & Arlene Alda photographed at the New York Botanical Garden

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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…

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…but this indoor fountain area showed some promise…

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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…

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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…

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

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…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…

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Here’s how things look in The Journal..

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

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

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Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

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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!

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

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

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Robert and Julien sitting in for our cover…

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Julien taking flight…

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My stylist Karen Sherwood laying out the wardrobe…

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

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

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and they quickly put on a little show for Misty…

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

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…and so started our shooting day…

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Here is the final portrait of Raven and Misty…

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

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Misty approves…

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…and the resulting photograph…

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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…

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And the final ‘group’ shot…

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

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

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

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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…

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Our cover image…

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Here’s how everything looked in ‘Arrive’…

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