Going Downtown With Petula Clark

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Petula Clark…an 85 year-old, still touring, Honest-to-God, 100% Legend…and Kat Malott at the Wall Street Journal asked me to shoot her! As a kid, I remember my Mom playing Pet Clark records until they were almost worn out. When she was on Ed Sullivan or the Dean Martin show, the whole family would be locked in front of the TV. This shoot brought back so many memories from when I was young. It was just great…

Kaz an I walked into the studio and were met with a wall of windows throwing all kinds of cool shadows…

Sure…why not?!!

Next, I pulled out a dark blue canvas drop…

…which let me get a little more dramatic and played off nicely with the blue top she wore to the studio…

And finally, I kinda wanted to do an homage to a very famous portrait of Christine Keeler shot by David Bailey Lewis Morely from the 60’s…

…only brighter…

Maybe not that bright…

When Petula saw what we had set up, she remarked, “This is just like that famous photo of Christine Keeler by David Bailey!”…

Here’s how it looked in the Wall Street Journal

Thanks for the memories, Pet…

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Clive Davis

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Clive Davis. Music industry icon, record company head, legendary producer, prototypical A&R guy, Grammy Award winner, member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…and the man who had his hands on the careers of Janis Joplin, TLC, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, Christina Aguilera, Carlos Santana, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Laura Nyro, Santana, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Loggins & Messina, Usher, Outkast, P!nk, the Notorious B.I.G., Sean Combs, Toni Braxton, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd and Whitney Houston…should I stop with the list now?!!

Adrian DeLucca sent me down to Sony Music Entertainment…where even at 85 he is still the Chief Creative Officer…so I could get a few portraits for PENTA. Here’s what we came home with…

Knowing that we were probably gonna have no more than 5 minutes with Clive, Robert and I set up a couple of identical sets with different backdrops…

The 5 minutes was about right, but we got what we came for…

…and Adrian liked my pulled-back set portrait so much, they used it for the opener…

Thanks, Clive…

Steve Madden Don’t Take Shit From Nobody

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Most people might think they know who Steve Madden is. After spending an afternoon with him for the Wall Street Journal, I can guarantee you have no idea who Steve Madden is! The Journal was doing a profile on him in conjunction with the release of ‘Maddman’…a documentary that tells his rags to riches story, from selling shoes out of the trunk of his car to becoming the mogul of a billion-dollar designer footwear empire to being sentenced to prison because of his entanglement with Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street guy) and how he’s rebuilding his empire and his life following his release. He is a nonstop bundle of crazy, manic energy and I had to corral that energy into a few portraits for the story.

When we showed up at his showroom, we immediately were presented with a Warholian wall of ‘Maddman’ movie posters…

I know right off that would make for a fun portrait. I wanted it to be punchy and for the colors to really pop, so we went with a Profoto 3′ RFI main light with a ring light fill…

…and when Steve showed up, it almost looked like he walked right outta the posters…

As we were setting up the first shot, it occurred to me that the B&W graphic wall next to us had some potential as well…

We set up a similar lighting as the first shot, but with a gridded Beauty Dish in place of the RFI for the main light…

(Robert asking Steve to remove the giant wad of cash from his pocket before we begin)

Yeah…this works, too…

Now we already had two pretty strong portraits, but I wanted to get Steve as just Steve…alone on a seamless…so we dropped a roll of white in front of the shoe racks and went to work…

it looked good…

…but something told me shooting it B&W was the way to go…

Steve told me he never let anyone shoot him without his baseball cap…

…but I put him in a good mood…

Philipp Haemmerle For Die Zeit

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Philipp Haemmerle is perhaps the hottest, most in-demand set designer/art director/style maker for some of the biggest names in fashion and photography. Peter Lindbergh, Mario Sorrenti, Bruce Weber, Tom Munro, Paolo Roversi, Richard Burbridge…they all have Philipp on their sets for the biggest campaigns in fashion. Not bad for a guy who got his start as a performance artist on the streets of New York.

I got a call from Florian Fritzsche a few weeks ago…head out to Industry City where Philipp has his studio and come back with some cool shit…here’s how it went…

His studio is huge, has outrageous light pouring through walls of industrial windows…and under it’s other name, Sunset Studios, doubles as a rental photo space. I really didn’t wanna do a literal portrait of a guy building sets, but the first thing I saw when I entered was a gigantic sculptural piece of driftwood…

…but when Philipp arrived, we had to move quickly, cuz as nice as that light was, it was moving fast…

With a little shift to the left, plus some attitude from Philipp and this shoot was making itself…

Next, we simply did a 180 for a view in the other direction…

Finally, Philipp suggested we try to do something that showed off his great view…a view that went all the way from the Statue of Liberty to Lower Manhattan…

…his artistic intuition paid off…that’s the shot Die Zeit chose for the feature…

Thanks to Florian and photo director Jutta Schein for the opportunity.

The Village Voice, Over & Out…

After 62 wonderful years, the final print edition of The Village Voice got dropped into the familiar red boxes on the streets of New York this morning.

Besides looking back at six decades of Voice history, the issue features a photo essay by Celeste Sloman of some the people who have worked for the paper over the years. She shot everyone at a final party that was held a week ago at the Downtown Community Television Center in TriBeCa. Portraits of Robert Christgau, Sylvia Plachy, Michael Musto, Lucian Truscott IV, Peter Noel, Robert Newman, Amy Taubin, Jerry Saltz, Joe Conason, Joe Levy, Guy Trebay, James Hamiltom, Susan Brownmiller, original publisher Ed Fancher and many, many, many more graced 50 pages of the issue. It payed respect to these people in a way never before seen at the end of a publications lifespan. It was gorgeous.

I’ve only been contributing to the collective history of the paper for the past couple of years. My pal Andrew Horton got me in shortly after he became Design Director. It wasn’t a lot, but it was honestly some of the best work I’ve ever done.

I am going to miss The Voice. Terribly…

Kurt Andersen For The Village Voice

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As the Village Voice ends it’s 62 year run as New York’s best alternative newspaper in a couple of weeks, I was given a last opportunity to contribute one more portrait session to the time capsule. Photo Editor Andrea Maurio asked me to meet author, editor, radio host and Bon Vivant Kurt Andersen in a park in Brooklyn…here’s how it went…

Setting up under the trees…

Kaz under ambient light, overcast…I sure hope that Sun pops out…

Add the 3′ Profoto RFI…

Insert subject, press the button…

Kurt was on a tight schedule, but for a quick second shot we just had to turn the camera 45 degrees South for this view under a row of trees…

Kale Friesen was also helping out that day…he got to be Macbeth Boy…

This was OK…

…but I told Kale to go grab one of the cafe chairs we saw on the other side of the park…

That did it.

Here’s how it looks in print…

And you can read the story online HERE

The Voice has two weeks to go in it’s print life. Go out and pick up a copy while you still can.

THE PICNIC TABLE STUDIO

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I’ve just finished a run of three back-to-back portrait gigs, all shot in the same empty, end-of-the-hall location at Barron’s. We’re calling it the Picnic Table Studio because at some point in the past few months somebody decided what that empty hallway needed was a fancy Picnic Table. For all three shoots we would have very little time. Each person was either going into or coming out of an interview and we would have five minutes…or less. Here we go…

The space itself ain’t nuthin’ you would gravitate towards as a location. There was the table…

…and a hallway…

But the low ceilings and tight surroundings didn’t make it an ideal place for lighting. So for the first two of our three shoots, we decided to just go with the bank of windows for our main light and add accents as needed with my continuous DIY ‘Ghetto-Flo’ lights.

Our first subject was Alan Colberg, the CEO of the Assurant Insurance Company. I liked how Kaz looked at the Picnic table, but it needed a bit of help. First thing, we had to cool down the color temperature…

The windows threw in a lot of light, but it still needed something. So we added one Ghetto-Flo on either side of him for a bit of separating rim light, and we were ready to go…

Since that only took us about two minutes to shoot, we quickly reset for a look down that hallway. Again we relied on the windows for our main light and then popped in one skim light on the right side…

Here’s the final page…

The next day we were back for Round 2. Jamie Dimon, the Chairman, President and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Now I have shot Jamie a lot over the past twenty years and I knew he wants the photo shoot to be over before it begins, so this had to be super-quick. Adrian said he wanted something very simple and matter-of-fact…just Jamie looking back at the viewer. Something like this…

And again, we decided to work with the available light and just add one skim light off camera on the right side…

Jamie’s simple black jacket gave just the right amount of negative space to the overall bright scene…

For a second shot, we wouldn’t have time to relight, so without changing our lighting I threw on a 200mm lens to come in tight…

…but his black jacket gave me another idea. Why not go black?!! So I had Kaz hold a black scrim behind Jamie and we instantly went from a high-key setup to a much darker, more dramatic look. We were able to get off three frames before he bolted…

The final shoot was less than five minutes long and gave us two separate features…

A few weeks later, we were back again…this time to shoot Henry Ellenbogen, a Portfolio Manager at T. Rowe Price. Like the others, he was there for an interview and we would get him for a few minutes. But this time I wanted to bit more control that the bank of window light would give me. So I brought along one of my Gravity Backdrops and a small Profoto kit for a nice, simple portrait setup…

Do you get the feeling Kaz is getting sick of setting up in the same place?!!

As you can see, the ceiling height really prevents us from an optimal setup…

…but even still, the light was kinda great…

With a little contrast control and desaturation, here’s how things looked when Henry sat down…

And the final image in Barron’s…