Waste of Time of the Day

So a few Microsoft engineers cooked up a demo website called How Old Do I Look? where you can upload any photo showing a face and the system will try to guess the age and gender of the person in the shot…

I uploaded my ‘Damn Ugly’ photo…


Sixty-Six?!! Microsoft assholes…I’m sticking with Apple!!!

Bid On This Misty Copeland Print For A Good Cause Now!!!


For more than 20 years, I have been involved with an organization called Leave Out ViolencEor LOVE. LOVE’s goal is to help youths prevent, reduce and respond to the violence in their lives. The kids involved in LOVE have all been victims, witnesses, and/or perpetrators of violence. Their lives have been shaped by bullying and fighting, assaults in their communities, gang recruitment, self harm, attempted suicide, domestic violence and dating violence. Many live in predominantly low-income communities across NYC’s five boroughs.

One of LOVE’s biggest fundraising activities is Images of LOVE…an annual auction where that get some pretty amazing photographers to donate prints, with the proceeds helping to fund projects like youth outreach workshops on photography, afterschool programs that encourage leadership and teamwork, and publishing books containing their photography and writing.

For this year’s Images of LOVE event, I contributed my multiple-image photograph of Misty Copeland, which I also had Misty sign…


Pre-benefit bidding for the Misty Copeland photograph is now open at Paddle8. Honestly, the print is gorgeous…it’s 24” x 36” on bright cotton rag art paper, and the opening bid is only $300…and runs until May 11th, when it transfers to the live auction. All winning bids are 100% tax-deductible and for more information or to purchase tickets to the benefit, please visit the Images of LOVE website.

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!



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


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


Robert and Julien sitting in for our cover…


Julien taking flight…



My stylist Karen Sherwood laying out the wardrobe…



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


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


and they quickly put on a little show for Misty…



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



…and so started our shooting day…





Here is the final portrait of Raven and Misty…


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









Misty approves…


…and the resulting photograph…

Misty Copeland

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…






And the final ‘group’ shot…


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




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

Misty Copeland

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


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…




Our cover image…


Here’s how everything looked in ‘Arrive’…






And finally, here’s the CBS Sunday Morning piece, complete with yours truly on set with Misty…


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…



Ms. Collins in the makeup chair…


And our shooting day begins…



We also had a Journal video crew following us around…



Here are a couple of final images…

Judy Collins


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…


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




Judy Collins

…and our final image…

Judy Collins


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


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

Judy Collins Interview & Behind-the-Scenes footage


Playing High-Stakes Chess With The Smartest Guys In The Room


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When January rolls around, one thing you can always count on is that I’ll be packing up 1000 pounds of gear and heading to The Harvard Club to shoot the Barron’s Roundtable. This year, Adrian Delucca and I worked up a few ideas based on the game of Chess. Here were Adrian’s chicken scratches that led to our cover shoot…


This year we would be publishing three covers in January, and the usual mid-year cover in June, so we had to set up three different lighting setups in the very tight quarters of the Presidents Room at the Harvard Club…

The main setup for the Week One cover and opener…


…the Chess Table set for the Week Two & Three covers…


…and third area for the mid-year portraits…



As usual, we would start shooting the ten Roundtable members separately as they began arriving at 8:00AM, and we had to be finished everything when the meeting began…at 10:00AM! That meant we had to shoot each person in enough different situations for three covers and three openers as well as individual portraits of each for the midyear issue…all in two hours. And we also had to convey exactly what we needed each person to do since they wouldn’t be posing with anyone but themselves and everything would be put together in post! They’re given no advance warning of what we’ve cooked up for them until they arrive.

That kinda thing is hard enough to pull off when you’re dealing with professional models, but when you’ve only got 5 or 6 minutes with a financial expert, getting him to instantly channel his inner actor is a wee bit harder…









With our Roundtable members safely in the bag, now I got to spend the next three days locked in front of my computer. I had already spent a day shooting a Chess Board & Pieces for our base cover image…


Now came adding the human chess pieces…




And after a considerable amount of Photoshop work, the final cover image looked like this…



Next up was the opening image…





And the final image…



Finally, I had to put together two different chess playing situations…from two different angles…for the Week Two and Week Three issues. This was our high-angle test shot (you can see the low angle tripod at the bottom of the frame)…


What would be so easy if we could just shoot it as one photo becomes a very complicated puzzle when you hafta shoot everyone separately while trying to keep track of who you’ve already shot and in what position…





These are the two final images…




Now on to the low angle…










Man…am I ever tired…….

And Now For Something Completely Different: John Cleese


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Even considering that I’ve had the good fortune to photograph some pretty impressive people over the years, when Ronnie Weil called from the Wall Street Journal and offered up John Cleese, it really knocked the wind outta me. People toss around the word ‘iconic’ a lot, but John Cleese is a true ICON. What he and the rest of the Pythons did to comedy in the early 70’s forever changed how people laughed. He is a manic genius who…to quote a famous Monty Python sketch…is a true master of sarcasm…dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire!

And I was getting 15 minutes with him…

Mr. Fawlty was in New York as part of a tour to promote his new book, “So Anyway”, and we met him in a midtown hotel where we set up two situations in a room slightly smaller than an average walk-in closet…

For our first shot, I wanted to do a tight portrait…just his face…to capture a range of expressions…


We started with just a gridded Profoto beauty dish on the grey seamless…


…then added a 4′ x 6′ Chimera over my shoulder for fill and a small strip light on the background for separation…


But something didn’t look right…the 80mm lens perspective was a bit uninteresting…so we swapped it for the 150mm…


Much better…now just add one Python…


…and let the rat-faced fun begin!

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

I began calling out various characters of his and sketches he was known for and he immediately knew where to take it…

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City


And because we had a wealth of great expressions, I made the suggestion that we do a montage of them. Here is how it ran in the Journal…


Then we turned 45 degrees to the left and played around with some 3/4 shots…


It was like shooting fish in a barrel…

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

Then he started doin’ this…


John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

…and like that, our 15 minutes were up. But I had a fantastic time with an honest-to-God ICONand checked off one more Bucket List item!

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

John Cleese - November 4th, 2014 New York City

Rick Masters + Jesus + Sgt. Elias = Willem Dafoe


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As a young photographer, I had this very dreamy, romanticized idea of what it must be like to shoot celebrities. One of my early photography idols was Bert Stern, and I just figured every shoot with a celebrity might end up like his famous session with Marilyn Monroe where they locked themselves in a suite at the Bel-Air Hotel for three days with a case of ’53 Dom Perignon, a couple of cameras and a few props, and emerged totally spent but with a collection of amazing photographs. But I moved to New York a couple of decades later…just about the time when shoots like that were becoming increasingly controlled by managers, publicists, agents and the studio P/R machine. Ideas had to be pre-approved and even then it didn’t mean you would get to do them. And three days? More like five minutes after your writer got to ask his five questions, thank you very much! But if you’re smart you learn how to work the angles, you keep a few tricks up your sleeve when you don’t have the cooperation you had hoped for, and occasionally, you get lucky…

Ronnie Weil called me at 5:00PM on a Thursday and asked if I would be available the next morning to shoot Willem Dafoe for the Wall Street Journal’s ‘Weekend Confidential’ section. His new film, “A Most Wanted Man”, was coming out in a week and they were given a last-minute opportunity interview him. Now I don’t know about you, but there are very few actors that I can remember from the first moment I saw them on screen, and Willem Dafoe is one of them. His performance as the slick criminal Rick Masters in “To Live and Die in L.A.” burned into my brain. I immediately knew this was a seriously great actor. So yes…of course…just tell me where and when and I’ll be there with a big grin on my face…

The Journal likes the portraits for the ‘Weekend Confidential’ section to be all about the personality, and not prop or location-driven, and so we typically keep things very simple…seamless backdrops or locations that don’t distract from the subject. And it’s not a fashion show, either. What you bring with you is what we shoot. Willem arrived…early, I might add…alone and ready to go. He was wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and a wonderfully disarming smile. After a few minutes of me heaping gobs of fanboy praise on him and a little light grooming, we were ready to go…

(Groomer Amy Komorowski)

Willem Dafoe was made to be photographed. He has one of the most expressive faces in the business…whether he’s playing a silent film Vampire (Max Schreck in “Shadow of the Vampire”), a Viet Nam-era Marine (Sergeant Elias in “Platoon”), a cartoon character arch-villain (the Green Goblin in “Spider-Man”) or Jesus Christ himself (“The Last Temptation of Christ”)…and I wanted my portraits of him had to capture the depth he conveys through the characters he portrays. I had a few ideas I wanted to try…and we were told Willem would give us about an hour…so here is how it went…





I started this first setup as a 3/4 body shot, but allowed myself to move in and out as his poses and mood changed…



William Dafoe







Then we sat down and came in for a tight series of darker, more intimate portraits…





William Dafoe

Now, I was already thrilled with what we had done and that Willem had given us so much time, but I kind of liked the white brick wall in the studio, so I asked him for a few more minutes to put up a fresnel spotlight and play around with the shadows…




William Dafoe

William Dafoe

In the end, the Journal chose one of my favorites for the article…


…and once again, I find myself surprised at how lucky I am to be able to do what I do…