R.I.P. Bert Stern

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Bert Stern was one of the first photographers whose work turned me on to photography. His ‘Last Sitting’ of Marilyn Monroe made him famous, but even as a kid, I can remember being drawn to his images in magazines. Advertising and editorial pages in the 60’s and 70’s were plastered with his work. His portfolio could be used to illustrate just about everything you see on “Mad Men”. Later, when I become more and more involved in photography, I learned who he was. I bought a book of his early work that I have to this day. Looking at the photographs in that book brought back all those memories of my early childhood and like a lightbulb going off over my head, it was then I knew I was meant to be a photographer. For me, he defined what a photographer was all about. He was single-minded in his passion for creating memorable imagery. His work transcended commercial photography…he was seen as a cultural hero…a straight-up Rock Star. And for more than a decade he was the most sought-out guy in the business. But the excess, copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and failed relationships took its toll and he quite literally burned out and disappeared from the business. He resurfaced in the late 80’s as a kinder, gentler, Bert, but the World had changed and the days of jetting off to Egypt to shoot a martini glass in the sand were long gone…

Bert died Tuesday. He was 83.

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Have Fun…

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Scott Milleisen is not only the head of the sports banking group at J.P. Morgan Chase, he’s also a Managing Director at the bank, so getting him to do anything outta his comfort zone for a photograph wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done lately, especially with somebody from J.P. Morgan Corporate Communications over my shoulder the whole time. But even though were were led up to the top floor of the J.P. Morgan World Headquarters on Park Avenue…

…the floor with more modern art on it’s walls than you’ll find at MOMA, but not one that exactly screams ‘SPORTS’ at you…I still wanted to tie in the sports angle to his business. And given that he regularly puts together gazzilion dollar deals funding sports teams, the idea of shooting him in front of the twin Warhol Marilyns (Steve Cohen picked up one Marilyn from Larry Gagosian for $80 million a while back!) just seemed right. All that was left to do was hand him a baseball bat and get him to take a few cuts at the ball I hung from a boom stand.

Next we went around the corner and did a simpler shot of him hamming it up with a football against a brushed steel wall…

…and of course he had to strike the Heisman pose!

Photo Editor Sarah Morse sent me on this one for Institutional Investor and it’s on the stands now.

I Love Chicago…

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If you haven’t already guessed from my lack of posts recently, this month has been kinda busy here at Damn Ugly. Sorry ’bout that, but the necessity to work often gets in the way of me filling up the interweb with bloggy bits. So to get back in the saddle, I’m offering a little love letter to Chicago, where we found ourselves last week. I’ve been to Chicago a million times, but I was struck this trip by how much the city has changed…and I don’t just mean because of that gigantic Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn Monroe on Michigan Avenue. No, the city just feels more vibrant and polished. From the abundance of public spaces to the overwhelming amount of new buildings dotting the downtown area, everything just has a fresh energy about it. And on the one afternoon that wasn’t busy shooting I had a bit of time to take it all in. Between the iPhone Panorama’s, Hipstamatic shots and some stuff I did on the Canon, I built up a nice little portfolio of my walk around the Loop…..

Remember the Wilco album, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’?!!

I love that cover…and those buildings…

While I was looking upwards, I became momentarily fixated on streetlamps…

And yes…I know it’s very blue!

What a way to make a living…

Next, I ended up in front of Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’ at Millennium Park…

…and it’s Circus Funhouse Mirror appeal…

Walking back to the hotel I knocked off another iPhone PhotoSynth panorama along Wacker Drive…

…and some Hipstamatic prints…

And one last shot of Marilyn with a guy really happy to be in Chicago…

…and finally…back to New York…