Tony Bennett

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Three years ago I got to hang out with Tony Bennett for an afternoon. Then a few weeks ago, lightening struck twice when Ronnie Weil asked me to shoot him again for Alexandra Wolfe’s Weekend Confidential column in the Wall Street Journal. Just as the first time, we would be meeting Tony at his art studio on Central Park South…

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…but Ronnie had asked men to not concentrate on the studio this time, but instead to go for a classic portrait. Keep it simple. Focus on his personality. So with that as my brief, off we went.

As you can see in the above photo of his studio, there is a lot of natural light to work with. The entire north side of the room is a wall of windows facing the Park, so I decided to use my brand new Canon 5Ds with my equally new Sigma Art lenses with all that light against a black pop-up backdrop. Here is my first test with Kaz…

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But when Tony sat in place, the entire mood changed…

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And as much as we liked the color, I also processed the entire series in black and white as well…and it was kinda awesome…

Tony Bennett

And the Journal agreed. Here’s the final page…

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But I wasn’t done yet. I had set up a couple of lights against a wall for a second portrait…

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Tony Bennett

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Thanks to Ronnie for the opportunity…and thanks to Tony for allowing me to hang out with him one more time!

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Say My Name

Bryan Cranston

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I’m gonna keep this behind-the-scenes look fairly short and sweet…kinda like my time with Bryan Cranston…because I think the portraits will sort of do all the heavy lifting. Ronnie Weil needed Mr. Cranston shot for Alexandra Wolfe’s ‘Weekend Confidential” feature in the Review section of the Wall Street Journal and I was happy enough to oblige. Here’s how we set up our pop-up studio at the London Hotel for what turned out to be a pretty great morning…

Unlike a lot of the hotel shoots I find myself in, the London gave us a pretty nice (and large) space to work with…nice enough that I was able to break out some of my really BIG guns…the 79″ Rime Lites…

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Here’s how things looked with Robert standing in…

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That set would allow me to do everything from full length to tight portraits, but I wanted to also have a more controlled lighting setup for another portrait, so we pulled out the beauty dish…

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Here’s Kaz posing as fast as he can…

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Alright…we’re ready to go. Mr. Cranston, you’re on!

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Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston

Next, I broke out my favorite antique posing stool…

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston

After a very quick 5 minutes…with his publicist doing the countdown mambo behind me…we moved over to the second set…

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…and played around with the shadow and light on his face, getting progressively darker and moodier as we went along…

Bryan Cranston

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Bryan Cranston

And here is the final story as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal…

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And for you Breaking Bad fans, here’s a little Badfinger to play us out…

BADFINGER: BABY BLUE

Life is good when you love what you do…..

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Lord Julian Fellowes, Rock Star

Julian Fellowes

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Ronnie Weil from the Wall Street Journal recently called me up and asked if I wanted to add Julian Fellowes to my Rogues Gallery. The English actor, novelist, film director, screenwriter and member of the House of Lords…so that actually makes him Lord Julian Fellowes…was in town for the Broadway opening of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, ‘School Of Rock”. Lord Fellowes wrote the book for the musical. That’s right…the same guy who won an Oscar for ‘Gosford Park’ and got crazy famous for coming up with ‘Downton Abbey’ was now gonna turn the Jack Black goofball comedy into a Larger than Life Andrew Lloyd Webber musical!

So what was I gonna do?!!

He’s English…offer him some Tea!!!

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And it’s a Rock & Roll musical, so I gotta get a guitar. I shot Gabrielle Sterbenz right after she picked up her shiny, white Stratocaster and I knew it would be the perfect prop for a fine English gentleman in a bespoke suit…

Gabrielle Sterbenz

Now I just had to get prepared. Lord Fellowes would have very little time once he got to the studio. He was coming from a morning TV appearance and had an interview immediately afterwards. So Matt and I set up a couple of tastily lit portrait situations…

Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes

As good as Matt looked, Julian just added a bit more panache…

Julian Fellowes

And to my surprise, he took to the guitar idea immediately…

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Next we moved over to the full-length seamless…

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…but now we added the Tea Cup with Gabby’s Strat…

Julian Fellowes

And our job was complete!

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Thank you, Lord Fellowes…I can hardly wait to see ‘School Of Rock’…and for the final season of Downton!

Julian Fellowes

At Home With Judy Collins

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I had so much fun shooting Judy Collins for the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that they decided to send me uptown to shoot her at home for the ‘House Call’ column in the ‘Mansion’ section. Here’s how the day went…

Judy lives in a fabulous Pre-War apartment that immediately gave us a few locations to choose from…

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I wanted to keep the look and feel of the apartment without relying on too much lighting, so we figured using my DIY Ghetto-Flo Lights was the way to go. This way we could just drop in a bit of accent lighting where we needed it, but use the great available light that poured into the apartment. Here are the results…

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…and the final image used in Mansion

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Thank you, Judy…until our next shoot…

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Bill Nighy Is Way Cooler Than You

Bill Nighy

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Bill Nighy is cool. Throughout the meandering flow of his career he’s played a vampire, a wizard, an aging, sleazy burnout rock star, a nazi, a time traveler and even Davy Jones with an Octopus face! Whatever he’s in, he’s the coolest guy on the screen. And he wears a suit really well, too. When he arrived at the Golden Theater…where he was starring in Skylight with Cary Mulligan…for our Wall Street Journal shoot, he just oozed cool…that bespoke suit, his perfect diction, his silky smooth attitude…I thought to myself…he’s the King of Cool.

And…off we go…

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The mezzanine of the Golden had lotsa space for Julien and Kaz to assemble our pop-up studio…

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And a quick 45 degree turn to the left offered up a wonderful second shot…

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Here’s how everything turned out…

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy

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I wanna be cool like Bill…

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Communication Arts Award Of Excellence

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I am quite honored and humbled to announce that my portrait of Willem Dafoe for the Wall Street Journal was included in this years Communication Arts Photo Annual

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Thanks to photo editor Ronnie Weil for thinking of me such a plum assignment, art director Keith Webb for his elegant layout and writer Alexandra Wolfe for her always eloquent words.

Suite Judy Blue Eyes

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Judy Collins…!!!

When Ronnie Weil called and offered me this one, all I could say was, “Wow!”. For five decades…my entire life…she’s been making music…beautiful music. Now Judy is recording a new CD that is tentatively titled “Duets with Guys”, an album that will feature her signing with Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Buffett, Don McLean and Kris Kristofferson, and Alexandra Wolfe was writing a profile on her for the Wall Street Journal. Here is how our day went…

Kaz sitting in for our first shot…

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Ms. Collins in the makeup chair…

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And our shooting day begins…

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We also had a Journal video crew following us around…

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Here are a couple of final images…

Judy Collins

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For the next setup, I wanted to do something dark & dramatic, and more etherial. And while it doesn’t look like much with Kaz in place…

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…once Judy stepped on set, things got dialed in pretty fast…

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Judy Collins

…and our final image…

Judy Collins

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As a little bonus, follow the link below for Ali Wolfe’s interview with Judy…

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…as well as some more behind-the-scenes from our shoot:

Judy Collins Interview & Behind-the-Scenes footage

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