India

It's funny that just a couple posts ago I talked about how much I love work travel, and here I am so soon doing another entry about an international work trip.  This time I was in India for four days, and while I'm not able to share any images from three of them (sorry), I can post a few that I shot during the one non-work day I had there.  I had an amazing time, and I hope you enjoy these few things that caught my eye.

Yeah, pretty sure he's got this under control.

I actually bought a copy of Animal Farm and read it on the plane ride back to Seattle.

The jankiest scaffolding you've ever seen.

Super janky electrical work.

Friendly reminder.

Jewish In Seattle: Fashion Feature

A short time ago I was contacted again by Neomi Rapoport (art director of Jewish in Seattle), this time to ask me about shooting a fashion feature for a holiday issue of the magazine.  "Do they really mean to be asking me?" was my first thought, as I'd never claim to be a fashion photographer and do not, in fact, even feel that I'm particularly fashionable myself.  I was nevertheless totally happy to do it, of course, because it's fun to branch out and do different things, and I'd never pass up the opportunity to work with Emily (editor) and Neomi.  And wouldn't you know it?  When you have a great location, art director, model (Devon at SMG), stylist (Emma Ranniger), and HMUA (Kathy Evans), it turns out you wind up looking pretty good.  Especially when you have lovely clothes as well, provided by some of Seattle's finest designers.  Here are just a few images from the day's shoot, beginning with my personal favorite:

And then, because there was some question at the magazine about fashion for the cover, we did a few photos in my studio depicting different takes on honey and apples.  I quite liked them all.

Work Travel

I love to travel for work.  Love it.  It's not without its difficulties, of course—just last week I spent an entire night in the Toronto airport because my late afternoon flight home was canceled and there were no hotels available anywhere (ironically because of the conference I was there to photograph)—but there's nothing better than getting out of Seattle once in a while for a fresh perspective.  It really gets my creative juices in a blender.  (That's a good thing, in case that wasn't clear.) Over the past year and a half, I've been so, so fortunate to do more work travel than ever before.  Domestically, work has taken me to Palo Alto, Chicago (twice), San Francisco (lost count), Miami, Orlando, Portland, and San Diego (for the Comic Con, no less!).  Internationally, I've been to Toronto, Barcelona, Helsinki, Singapore, and Nairobi and Nanyuki in Kenya.  It has been nothing short of amazing.  Kenya was an especially unique experience, and one I'll never forget.  I've made space on my website for some images from that job, and I'd encourage you to have a look if you are interested.  It's a great story.

Truthfully, each trip deserves its own blog entry...but instead, I'm just going to post a very few highlights.  These aren't images I shot for clients, but rather quirky people and things of interest to me along the way.

Easily the best Leeloo you or I or anyone else has ever seen.  Taken at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con while covering the Halo presence for Microsoft.

You can't walk through La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona without thinking over and over again, "Are you kidding me with this?"  I was extremely lucky to see this place while in Spain to shoot the 2015 GSMA Mobile World Congress.

Spiral staircase in one of the towers at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, definitely the most audacious work of architecture I've ever witnessed.  Except for the few moments I spent taking these pictures, I hugged the outside of this staircase as I contemplated whether US safety regulations would ever allow such a thing.  Certainly not.

Door detail, La Sagrada Familia.

I didn't have a ton of time in Helsinki, but I did go out one night for drinks with our makeup artist, Pinksu.  Here we are exchanging glasses for a moment.  I'd've made the trade permanent—I think I look fetching—but she doesn't wear anything that isn't pink.  Meeting her was the highlight of the Finland visit, and I'm delighted that we still keep in touch.  Be sure to check out her work, because it's every bit as amazing as she is.

And this is, without question, the most...um, intriguing(?) thing I saw in Helsinki.  It's across the street from the ferry terminal, at...well, nowhere in particular.  Seriously, is this not the most arbitrary placement of public art you've ever seen?  What's going on here?  This is a statue called Bad Bad Boy, and I found it equal parts hilarious and grotesque.  Best part is, it's a fountain—like Manneken Pis in Brussels, this guy pees.  I'm bummed it wasn't active for this photo, and also that I didn't get a photo of its saggy little butt.  If you'd like to see these things, though, check out this video.

The most striking thing about Singapore that's readily apparent is the imaginative architecture.  These are just a couple buildings I was able to snap from the car.

In Singapore, you can go to a place called Selfie Coffee and have your photo printed on your latte's foam.  This is Jen, the very talented writer for the Singapore story.  Her selfie coffee is epic because she did her photo in such a way that she could have the straw sticking out of her mouth.

Just for fun, a selfie with a monkey hanging from the ceiling at Selfie Coffee in Singapore (I'm on the right).  In the middle there is Jen, laughing at me.

After the work in Singapore, we flew up to Thailand for a personal week instead of heading home.  This is a group of plastic zebras in Bangkok.  Lawn ornaments, maybe? Fun fact: a group of zebras is called a zeal, or a dazzle (see: dazzle camouflage).

Whether it's a painting of Mark Ruffalo or soap in the shape of a penis, you can get anything your heart desires at the sprawling, downright overwhelming Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.

In Chiang Rai, a couple hours north of Chiang Mai, is an astonishing place called The White Temple.  Designed and constructed by local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, it's not so much a Buddhist temple as it is an art exhibit in the style of one.  It's gloriously insane.  Oddest of all are the western pop culture references peppered throughout.  In the temple itself is an otherworldly mural (no photography allowed, unfortunately)—against a  backdrop of flames and strange planets, you'll recognize familiar elements such as Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda, the Terminator, Freddy Krueger, Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, the Twin Towers on fire, Transformers, Elvis Presley, Neo from The Matrix, and Angry Birds.  I kid you not.

Pop culture references on the White Temple grounds—Batman, Pinhead from Hellraiser, Hellboy, and others.  And a Predator, because why not?

Outstretched hands below the bridge to the White Temple.  I could have photographed them all afternoon, but the guards were quite insistent that people keep moving.

They even did the traffic cones.  Amazing.  And there's me hanging out with...geez, I don't even know what.

Jewish In Seattle: Conceptual Product Feature

In October I was contacted by Emily Alhadeff, the editor of the new magazine Jewish In Seattle, about a feature shoot highlighting the best of Jewish Washington.  She and Neomi Rapoport, the art director, envisioned a spread containing several images depicting Jewish objects and foods, all photographed in a clean, graphic, colorful and conceptual style.  I had worked with Emily before on projects for Microsoft, and was delighted that she thought of me for this one.  If you're familiar with my work, you probably know I'm not a product photographer.  But clean, graphic, colorful, and conceptual is exactly what I do, so it was great fun to apply those sensibilities to altogether different subject matter. I spent a day in the studio with Emily, Neomi, and Jonathan Kruger (my right hand on many projects), creating as many unique images as we could think of.  Here are a few of my favorites below, as well as scans of the final magazine layout (apologies for the quick and dirty scans—you know how it is).

I thought the above image would make a dandy cover.  You know, best of Jewish Washington, bagel is iconic, finger doing the "number one" thing...

I was really quite happy with this idea.  I like the way the round mirror echoes the bagel's shape, and it's just...delightfully weird.  I love quirky.  For this one, I shot a couple images and stitched them together in order to keep sharp focus throughout.  If I were a product photographer, I'd have a tilt/shift lens for that, but I'm not.  So I don't.  No big deal.

This one was Emily's and Neomi's idea—little jewels standing in for capers.  Very fun, very sparkly and happy.  And I particularly like it because if you think about it, it's a jewel caper.  So, you know, it works as a visual pun as well.  Here again, due to depth of field, I shot several arrangements of beads to hold sharp focus front to back.

Love this one.  Idea from team Emily/Neomi.  I forget how long we spent placing candles so they were spaced correctly, but...it was a while.

Three different loaves, replicated and patterned in Photoshop.

This, I think, is my favorite.  To be honest, I was having a hard time coming up with a conceptual idea for the sandwich until I started to think about that toothpick that holds a sandwich together, and what might take its place.  Receipt spindle!

And now the magazine!  Again, apologies for the rough scans—they don't do the magazine justice.

Thanks again to Emily, Neomi, and Jonathan!  It was a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to the next collaboration.

Life imitates art

I shot the image below very recently, and I kind of love it.  The model, a really charming kid named Derek, was an absolute pleasure and sat very patiently while my super talented makeup artist Erika Seward did her work with him.  He actually was pretty delighted with how rough he looked when she was finished, as I'm sure I would have been.

We shot at Derek's home with a borrowed bunny and stun gun.  The bunny's name is Mr. Thumps, and yes, of course the electricity leaping between the contacts on the stun gun was made in Photoshop.  I know better than to hand an 11-year-old a stun gun with the battery in it, thank you very much.

The photo is awfully funny to me on its own, but I think it's made even more entertaining by the story that came out of Portland shortly after I shot it.  Seems a 22-pound house cat attacked a family, forcing them to dial 911 from their locked bedroom.  No kidding.  To be fair, though, it does sound to me like the family had it coming.  The baby started it all by pulling the cat's tail, which earned him a blood-drawing swipe to the forehead.  Then the mom's boyfriend kicked the cat away, and that apparently is where things really went off the rails.

Me, I just enjoy it when I shoot something that turns out to be timely.

For those interested, the photo was lit with a 4-foot by 6-foot softbox from camera left to mimic daylight through a window.  A silver bounce to camera right filled in shadows a bit, and I used a smaller box from 3/4 rear, camera left, for a rim light.  Camera was set at ISO 100, f/5.6 at 1/60 sec.

Superhero sneak-peek

You're right.  I don't blog often enough, and I'm sorry about that.  The infrequency of posts isn't indicative of infrequent happenings, however, and I'll use this first blog entry in a while to demonstrate that fact with a sneak peek at a personal project I've recently undertaken.  It's a conceptual series about superheroes that I've been shooting these past several months, and am continuing to shoot.  The central question of the series is: What is everyday life like with a superpower, and what would superheroes do in a city without crime? All of the photos so far are composites of many more than just a couple photos, so each is fairly labor intensive and most have involved several individual shoots.  Here are a couple of the images I've done so far—I hope you get a kick out of them.  As always, feel free to click on them to view them larger.

This was a composite of seven shots in total.  Can you tell what they are?  Oh, you don't want to play that game?  Okay, the first is the cityscape—it's downtown Seattle as viewed from Smith Tower, a 38-story building from 1914 that until 1931 was the tallest building west of the Mississippi, and until 1962 was the tallest building on the west coast.  (I actually hosted pub trivia for years so forgive me if you're not interested in the factoids, but I think that's kind of cool...right?)  The second shot in this photo is also part of the cityscape—the tallest building, the one at both edges of the frame.  I added it for the sake of composition.  The third shot is the flag blowing in the wind, which I thought just added a nice touch.  The fourth and fifth shots are the superhero and her cape.  The sixth shot is the building on the left, the one she's cleaning.  It's a building a block from my studio, which I shot from a ladder at ground level.  I just kept the frame and replaced the windows with my own reflections.  The last shot is the sky, which I actually shot about a year and a half ago while on a road trip.  The "Capitol City Times" sign on the building was added in Photoshop to tie this shot in with the other shots in the series like the one below.

How does an indestructible person get a haircut? I found this wonderful barbershop while scouting downtown.  It's called The Stewart Street Barbershop, and the owner, Steve, couldn't have been more generous when I asked if I could shoot in his shop.  Nearly everything in the shop was as I shot it, although I did add every element (except the pole) on the wall behind the models.  And while I did have my superhero model hold an actual magazine, I mocked up a back cover and shot my own image for my new front cover.  The sparks, of course, were all made in Photoshop, as was the shop decal on the window.  And speaking of the window, the scene outside was shot about a mile and a half away on a different day.  In reality, a bus stop is outside the barbershop, and it didn't work for the photo.  Replacing the scene outside the window meant replacing reflections in the window—the barber's back, the sparks, the barber's pole.  All in all, this shot was a fair amount of work, but as I've said before, I really enjoy the details.  And I really like this shot.

As I say, these are just a couple—there are more already and there will be more in the future.  I'm really looking forward to going more in depth on the making of each photo, and to bringing the whole series to the blog and the site when it's ready.  In the meantime, I'll be offering peeks here and there, so please check back when you think of it.  Thanks!