Rose Byrne For The Wall Street Journal

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Rose Byrne is in a new movie…Juliet, Naked…that’s coming out August 17th and Alexandra Wolfe just profiled her for the ‘Weekend Confidential’ feature in the Wall Street Journal. Coincidentally, we shot Ethan Hawke…her co-star in the film…a few weeks back. Here’s a look at our day with Rose…

Rose and the Glam Squad took over the back end of the studio…

After going over the wardrobe, we really liked a beautiful beaded dress for our first shot…very soft and feminine…and since the studio had a nice wall of windows, we thought of using the natural light…

…but the natural light wasn’t quite enough to rely on, so we had to improvise a bit. I added a 5′ umbrella outside the door for our main light…

…and a second five-footer clamped to the fire escape for the other window…

Those two big umbrellas gave us the consistent soft daylight look we needed…

But a third five-footer was added above the camera for some soft fill and we tweaked the color & contrast corrections in Capture One…it looked a lot better with Rose in place…

For our second shot, we dragged the umbrellas off of the fire escape and quickly positioned them into a ten foot high wall of softness against some whitewashed wood planks…

Let’s go with the white motorcycle jacket and black jeans…

For the final series, I wanted to get a bit darker & moodier, so we set up a boomed 7′ parabolic umbrella against a rough concrete wall…

As much as I like the previous shot with the white MC, the black-on-black version was really the way to go…

And for one final variation, we simply dialed in the shadows a bit…

The Rose Byrne interview is in The Wall Street Journal right now…

Thanks for the great day, Rose…

Damn Ugly Photography Is A Little Less Ugly

After far too many years, we finally decided to put a new coat of paint on the website. Today we flipped the switch on an all-new, HTML-5 based platform…

So drop whatever you’re doing and head on over to The New & Improved Brad Trent Dot Com and check it out! I think you’ll find things much easier to navigate with the grid-pattern thumbnail galleries, it’s far more iPad & mobile phone friendly, and the HTML-5 is a lot more stable and works one Hell of a lot better than the old Flash site!

But try as I might, some ‘Damn Ugly’ stuff still managed to creep back in…

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…


…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…


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


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…


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



Tony Bennett


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


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!!!

The Jersey Boy – Frankie Valli

Frankie Valli

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Imagine you’re just sitting around, not doin’ anything besides playing with your cat, and you get a call asking if you wanna shoot Frankie Valli? Yeahā€¦that happened. Kat Malott at the Wall Street Journal offered this chance to me and it once again reinforced that decision I made to be a photographer. We talked about crossing the river into New Jersey and shooting him in his old neighborhood in Newark, or on the street in New York, but the logistics were getting tough and the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we decided on the wonderful surroundings of Shoot Digital Studios. But no stylists, wardrobe or big productionā€¦Frankie was just gonna come down for an hour or so and we’d see what happenedā€¦


For our first shot, Kaz and I picked up this great tabletop from Surface Studio and an antique microphone. The Journal has an affinity for grey backgrounds, and this classically lit portrait would fill that needā€¦

Frankie Valli

Frankie Valli

For the next shot, we put the microphone onto a mic stand and fired up the spotlightā€¦



Finally, I really wanted to do something with this windowā€¦




We were happy with what we had done, but then looking back at the first setup, I saw the chance for another shot, so I pressed Frankie for a few more minutes of his time, pulled out the tabletop and backed up a bit for theseā€¦

Frankie Valli

Frankie Valli


So thank you Kat for the opportunity…and thanks Frankie for a day we won’t forget.

Frankie Valli

The BIG One: Behind The Scenes At The 2014 Barron’s Roundtable


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In an attempt to freshen things up around here, today I’m giving the blog a fresh coat of paint in the form of a new Theme. The old dark grey was getting a bit depressing, so I chose a brighter version complete with much larger photosā€¦and larger text for those of you who might rely on reading glasses. I also slightly modified the title. After much deliberation, gone is any reference to the Song of the Day, since my increased work schedule has made dropping a regular stream of free tunes on you guys just about impossible. I’ll still post on music that catches my ear when I have the time, but I think going forward I’m gonna focus on why I’m here in the first placeā€¦Damn Ugly Photography. With that in mind, I have a lot of catching up to do, starting with today’s mega-post, long-winded as it is…

The posting frequency has been reduced to such a level that we completely blew off discussing this year’s Barron’s Roundtable from earlier this year, but fear notā€¦today I’m gonna spew out the full behind-the-scenes for the three issues that ran back in January, as well as how we put together the mid-year cover story that hit the stands this past Monday. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been eight years since Adrian Delucca first called me to shoot the Roundtable Feature for Barron’s, and each year we have tried to one-up ourselves with new ways to shoot the ten Roundtable members for both the January and June issues, including multiple cover images, inside opening shots and individual portraitsā€¦and get it all done in the two hours before their meeting begins. And this year, for the first time, we would have to come away with four cover images instead of the usual two. We had our work cut out for usā€¦

With the increased image count, we had to set up three separate shoot areas in the very tight confines of the President’s Room at the Harvard Clubā€¦




Adrian and I cooked up a re-working of the old financial Bulls & Bears theme, and our Big Ticket prop items this year were a couple of mascot costumes we had made for the event. Photo assistants Rob MacInnis and Takeshi Koike got to spend the day sweating inside the furry suits.


But I’m getting ahead of myselfā€¦we’ll talk about those costumes later…

The first January cover would involve shooting each Roundtable member on white in various poses to make them look like they were in Pamplonaā€¦running with the Bullsā€¦





ā€¦then in post, I would hafta do a bit of magic with a cobblestone street and a toy bull I shot earlierā€¦




ā€¦which eventually turned into thisā€¦

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable


Now as complicated as that might seem, the inside opener for Week One was actually waaaay harder to pull off. I now had to convince these ten financial gurus to imagine running away from, jumping outta the way of, cheering for and riding…an imaginary bull. For this, I first went down to Wall Street and shot the famous Bull statueā€¦


ā€¦then I took some outside shots of the Federal Reserve Buildingā€¦


ā€¦and combined the two images with those cobblestones againā€¦



Now we had to get some reaction shots of the Roundtable membersā€¦



Oscar Schafer and Mario Gabelli are probably hoping they won’t have to ride the sawhorseā€¦







ā€¦and finally, many, many Photoshop hours laterā€¦

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable


With Week One outta the way, we now had to get workin’ on those furry suits for the Week Two & Three covers.







And here are the final imagesā€¦

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable



The 2013 Barron's Roundtable



Are you gettin’ tired yet?!!

Finally, for the Midyear Roundtable cover, Adrian and I wanted to assemble a group shot in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. Our initial idea was to do the puzzle effect in Photoshop, because I had heard there was actually a filter for that, but after a bunch of tests we decided it just looked too fakey and soā€¦we had some real puzzles made by!


I put my still-life photographer cap on and shot the assembled puzzlesā€¦

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable

The 2013 Barron's Roundtable




And with that, one more year of the Barron’s Roundtable is done!!!