If you haven’t seen the September 2010 issue of Men’s Health yet, pick it up now. I have 6 full pages featuring my favorite football player, Jake Locker. This was my second time working with Jake, and he is one of the most kind and down to earth people I have photographed. Now, I know what you are thinking. Did he bring his pet coyote to the shoot this time? No, he didn’t.
So, what’s up with the helmet? And as big as this kid is, how can there be a helmet that is too big for him? I think it was a lineman’s helmet. Before the shoot, I requested a ball and a helmet. Someone from the university brought us one helmet that happened to be several sizes too big. It wasn’t until we were shooting that I asked Jake to put it on, and we discovered it wasn’t the right size. I’m totally fine with mistakes like that, though, because it turned out to be my favorite picture from the shoot. Fun and unexpected. Outtakes are the best!
For those of you who don’t know, Jake was recently ranked by ESPN as the number one college player in the country. These rankings are subject to change, but he has a legitimate shot at the Heisman this year if things continue to go well for him. As a Husky fan, I hope things go well!
I have been working with video a lot more lately. Some behind the scenes, and also a few photo and video assignments, as well as video only. I really like how this video turned out, and it should give you a little glimpse into how I work on an assignment like this.
Special thanks goes out to Men’s Health Photo Editor Mark Haddad for this assignment. I would also like to mention Affix Music which is a great resource for licensing music for slideshows, video’s etc. Amazing customer service! They are in the process of rolling out some new license options which will be even more specific in addressing the needs to photographers working with video.
Imagine rows and rows of boxes piled up to the ceiling at your local Costco. The boxes are matte black with bold white writing and a robot looking face on the front with beady red eyes. Maybe something like the Terminator, but more kid friendly. Suburban moms in California and Arizona are lining up to be the first on the block to own a personal laser mosquito zapper. Jacqueline from Rancho Cucamonga places her new mosquito zapper in the over-sized orange cart, next to her new cooler with a built in iPod dock, and the ten pound bag of chicken strips. She can already imagine the warm summer nights by the pool, free of mosquitoes. I envisioned the situation for these early adopters to unfold much like the Cornballer as seen on Arrested Development. Kids running around the yard with laser burn marks all over their bodies, hair on fire. You worried about your kids running with scissors? Forget about it. You’ve got a military robot with lasers in your back yard.
That was the scenario that popped into my head after hearing the words laser mosquito zapper, but as I found out more about the assignment, I discovered it was not the next ridiculous consumer item at your local big box store. 3ric Johanson and a team of really bright minds actually came up with this idea and made it into a reality with the goal of wiping out malaria. With a mandate from Bill Gates to think differently about finding a solution to prevent malaria from spreading, the Photonic Fence was born. The technical description of how it works is a little above my pay grade, but by recognizing the size, speed, sound, and speed and insect beats its wings, the Photonic Fence can differentiate between bees, flies, and even male or female mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes bite and carry the parasite causing malaria, so only the females need to be terminated.
3ric works at Intellectual Ventures, which is a research lab in Bellevue, Washington. In addition to the Photonic Fence, they are working on some pretty amazing projects including a super-thermos to transport vaccines, and a system to weaken hurricanes. While taking a tour of the lab with 3ric, he explained the reason Intellectual Ventures is so different from other labs is they are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries of what is currently being done. Failure is not something they are afraid of, and they have the luxury of pushing the boundaries because they have investors behind them. Because this type of work is so expensive, however, other labs often don’t have investors willing to take on this kind of risk.
Make is a really cool magazine, and if you get excited about DIY projects, I would recommend subscribing. You can also find out more about the Photonic Fence and Intellectual Ventures at this page. I was really encouraged to see some of the top minds working on projects with the single goal of making the world a better place for people who don’t share many of the luxuries we so often take for granted.
I’ll leave you with a super slow-motion video of mosquitoes getting blasted by a laser. Enjoy.
Seattle Weekly gave me a call last month with a cover story, and it was so intriguing and different from what I am used to, I couldn’t pass it up. The subject is Steve Sarich, and it is going to be very difficult to give good description of him without going on for several pages. Fifty-nine years old, former Penthouse photographer, used to date Anna Nicole Smith, currently dating a 20 year old aspiring model, medical marijuana grower and seller, and he is surrounded by an entourage of young “volunteers” in their 20’s and 30’s, including a personal cook who is really good! I photographed Steve at his new home in the foothills about 40 minutes outside of Seattle. He moved there after a home invasion at his previous residence, where he was sprayed by a shotgun blast just before he shot one of the intruders.
When I arrived at his home, I was greeted by a large pit bull and I honestly thought it was over. I may have thrown my hands high in the air and yelled something. Not really sure what holding my hands above my head would have accomplished had I been attacked. Then, I was mistaken for a “patient” and presented with some options. After quickly explaining I was the photographer and not a patient, I was introduced to Steve and got a tour of the compound. I know there are some new laws and marijuana is legal with a prescription, but apparently it is legal to grow and sell it now, too. Growing up with the understanding that marijuana is an illegal drug is a hard concept for me to shake. All through the day I found myself wondering, “Could I get arrested if this place gets raided right now?” Not to mention, guns make me a little uncomfortable.
“Marijuana’s never been on a path to greater acceptance than it is now. But to Steve Sarich, the change just isn’t coming fast enough. With his guns, brash manner, and retinue of followers who look too young and healthy to be in need of weed, Sarich is the enfant terrible of Washington’s medical marijuana movement.
Sarich doesn’t exactly shy away from confrontation. Where many activists believe that a quiet, non-profit model of providing pot to patients will keep them in the good graces of legislators and law enforcement, Sarich’s vertically-integrated enterprise has unabashedly mixed medical clinics with pot brownie sales, and scoffed at the legal limit on plants. And sent taunting emails to cops while he does it.” – Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly
The cover shot is a perfect example of his brash attitude and confidence. I asked him if he had a particular strain he wanted to hold and his eyes lit up. He had just created a new strain of pot and named it “Alloway 420”. Roy Alloway was a Bremerton drug cop who is notorious for his aggressive tactics. He retired shortly after this issue came out, but I’m sure his retirement had nothing to do with this story.
*UPDATE* 8/17/2010 – The PDN Faces 2010 Winners Gallery is now online with all of the winning images. There are some great portraits in there, and a nice note about my portrait in the intro on the landing page.
Over the past few months, I have had several assignments featuring everyday people facing big challenges. It’s a nice change of pace every once in a while, and I appreciate the opportunity to meet and work with people who have completely different stories than myself. It’s a humbling feeling to photograph someone in their 4 million dollar home one day, and the next day photographing someone out in the sticks who is really excited and impressed by my Hyundai rental car.
This portrait is of an illegal immigrant who has lived and worked in America for the past 20 years. There were no guarantees the subject would show up, which I guess is understandable considering the risks involved for her (being sent back to Mexico). I was told I could not photograph her face, only her shadow. However, after I met her and we talked for a while, she said she would let me photograph her from the back which is what I was hoping for.
I bought some small American flags the night before, and asked her if she would mind holding them. She said, “No, I don’t mind holding the flags. I love this country.”
Seattle Met / July 2010
Art Director: Benjamen Purvis
A guy could really get used to this whole book cover portrait thing. It’s exciting to see your work in full bleed on the cover of a book. No “10 Secrets to Sexy Abs” or “How to Keep The Doughnuts and Loose The Weight” tips plastered all over the cover. This is my most recent book cover photo, and as you can see, the subject is John Perkins. I have already written about John on my blog (here), and I have now had the opportunity to work with him on multiple occasions. Love Is The Final Fight does not come out until August 2010, but the marketing is getting under way now. John is a great man with an amazing story, and although I have not read this book yet, I would recommend it solely based on what I know about John.
I hope 2010 is starting out with a bang for everyone!
Here’s lookin at you Colorado. I just wrapped up this shoot for Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, and last week they released their new branding and ad campaign featuring Fred McGilicutty, captain of the snow patrol at Copper Mountain. This billboard can currently be seen in Dallas and Kansas City. Wish I could be there to take pictures of the actual things. If you find yourself driving through Dallas or Kansas City, feel free to wave at Fred and tell him I said hi. I hear it’s nice in KC this time of year.
I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I feel especially thankful this year and I am very grateful for everyone who has taken the time to read my blog and take an interest in my work. See you on the slopes.
Clouds I can handle, but it’s the rain that drives me crazy when I am supposed to be shooting outside. Thankfully I was photographing weather experts for this assignment, and it turns out they know a thing or two about predicting the weather.
As I was packing up to head out for what I knew would be a long day at “the office” I began to feel a little nervous about the dark clouds hanging over Seattle. After checking weather.com, my nervousness began to change into a good case of anxiety because they were predicting rain by 9:30am, and that was just two hours away. Maybe I could beat the rain and get in at least one outside portrait. The problem was I had to photograph one subject in the morning, and the second one in the afternoon. At the very best it looked like I would only get one of the subjects outside, but the show must go on. I headed over to the University of Washington where I would meet up with my first subject, Cliff Mass. My assignment was to photograph Cliff and Brad Coleman in studio for the opener, and get an environmental portrait of each of them individually. The thing that made this all really interesting was I could not get them both in studio at the same time or place. I had to set up a studio at UW in the morning, then tear it down, and set it up again, exactly the same at NOAA to photograph Brad. I had been planning this shoot for a couple of weeks including some minor styling and location scouting. This was an assignment I was really looking forward to, and I would have been really bummed if the rain forced us inside for the environmental shots.
To give you a little background on the men in the photographs. Cliff Mass was mentored by Carl Sagan while in undergrad at Cornell University. He is the author of “The Weather of the Pacific Northwest”, he runs a very popular blog, Cliff Mass Weather Blog, he is a weekly guest on KUOW radio, and he is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. To quote a UW press release, “He has published dozens of articles on Northwest weather and leads the regional development of advanced weather prediction tools.” Many people in the Pacific Northwest plan their weekends around Cliff’s predictions.
Brad Colman is the meteorologist-in-charge of the Seattle Weather Forecast Office. “A meteorologist-in-charge is the front line officer carrying out the National Weather Service’s mission of serving the American public by helping protect lives and property,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “NOAA’s National Weather Service is the official source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast systems in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.”
Back at UW, it seemed like it would start raining any minute, so I asked Cliff if we could change the schedule a little and shoot the environmental portrait right away because I was nervous about the rain. Embarrassed as I am to admit, it never occurred to me that I was working with one of the top experts in weather. When I told Cliff we should try to shoot outside while it is still dry, he promptly responded, “It’s not going to rain.” “It’s not?” I asked. “No. The cloud cover will begin to burn off at 10:30, and by 11:30 we will have clear skies.” And he was right. Take that weather.com! Once we finished at UW with Cliff, it was off to NOAA to photograph Brad. By the time we got there, the skies were opening up, and it looked quite different than just a few hours before, as you can tell in the pictures.
From this point on, I will include a weatherman on all of my bids. First assistant, second assistant, makeup artist, stylist, and a weatherman. Oh, and a falconer. I recently learned about the benefits of having a falconer on set. If nothing else it can be very entertaining, but that’s a story for another time.
A fun fact I learned on this assignment is Houston, New York, Miami and Boston all get more average annual rainfall than Seattle. We win the prize for most cloudy days though… Bummer.
Special thanks goes out to Robyn and Seattle North Face for the clothes. And also to Mandy for painting some amazing clouds which were not used in the final.
This is a video of Cliff explaining some weather basics. I like how he explains things in terms anyone can understand. Plus he has soothing voice.
I am pleased to announce I was hired by Harper Collins to photograph Sarah Palin for the cover of her new book “Going Rogue“. If you watched even just a few minutes of TV this week, or used the Internet, I am sure you have already seen the book cover. “Going Rogue” has not even been printed, and it is already the #1 best seller. It still feels a little surreal to me that my portrait of Sarah Palin is on the cover of her book. Just about every television network in the country has been airing the book cover and analyzing what it means. Why the clouds, why the smile… My favorite reference so far was on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, but only because he mentioned me… kind of. He talked about the portrait of her on the book cover, and then quoted “the photographer”. It was a fake quote of course, and he didn’t actually say my name, but that is pretty close to being on The Tonight Show… (Here) is a link to the video. It’s in the first 3 minutes of the episode.
The photo shoot only happened three weeks ago, so this is all still very new and exciting for me. After much planning and scheduling, I put together a crew and flew up to Alaska for six days to photograph the former governor. It was supposed to rain the entire week we were there, but we ended up getting blue skies and puffy white clouds the entire time. After a few days of scouting and prepping, I shot for three days straight. The last day we went to Hatcher Pass which holds a lot of meaning for Governor Palin. I had already scouted the pass a few different times, and I knew exactly where we were going to shoot. Every last detail was in place. After shooting at the base of the pass near a river, we caravaned up to the top of the pass where we were planning to shoot the final location. Half way up, I noticed the beautiful light that was sweeping across the valley, and the clouds that were developing on the horizon. I told the driver to stop, we had to change our plans. This last minute change ended up being the final setup we would do with her, and it also ended up being the cover image.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on this project. It is not very often that an assignment comes along to photograph one of the most polarizing figures in our country. Let alone the chance to photograph that person for her book cover. I would like to thank Harper Collins and Sarah Palin for working with me. This was a really big opportunity for me professionally, and I enjoyed it immensely. I am excited to see what happens next.
The end of the Greg Nickels era is near. Seattle mayor Greg Nickels has run this town for the past 8 years, but recently he removed himself from the Seattle mayors race, leaving two new guys to duke it out. I have photographed Mayor Nickels several times over the past few years, and he has provided me with some good imagery. I am going to miss photographing his intensity, but maybe the new mayor will prove to be a good subject also. It’s not like this is good bye though, since we are neighbors with the Nickels family. I could always walk down the street and borrow a cup of sugar.
(Here) is a link to the Seattle Met article in the tearsheet above. You can also click the tearsheet to view it larger, but the article is longer than the image shown here.