Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.
Con Man is my most recent fine art project about one of the most prolific American con men of the 20th century, Howard Cogitz. My hope is next time you see these portraits, they will be hanging in a gallery. Time for the real work to begin.
Below are some behind the scenes pictures for those of you who like to see how things are made. A very big thank you to Jennifer Popochock, Alexis Steinman, Brian Kirk, Viktor Fejes, Duffy De Armas, my wife Nichelle, and Peter Hanson. Behind the scenes pictures by Peter Hanson. I feel like this is just the start of something pretty exciting.
Meet Radar, the talking dog. What was he saying when I took that picture? Oh, just the usual. “Hey buddy, you sure take a lot of pictures. Wow! How many pictures are you gonna take? Ok, I think you’ve got it by now.” You would think Radar is a celebrity of CEO going on like that. But seriously, does it not look like he is talking in the first picture!? Such a beautiful, expressive animal. I haven’t seen that much expression from any of the humans I have worked with lately.
So who want’s the real story? Radar is actually a service dog for a boy with autism. I shot this assignment for VIV Mag, and these are two of my favorite outtakes. I set up a raised platform in studio to photograph Radar, and he was not very excited about being on off the ground. It took several tries, and a lot of patience, but I got some beautiful images as a result. They say you should never work with children or animals, but sometimes it’s the most difficult challenges that pay off the most.
I shot this fun, quirky portrait for Condé Nast Traveler to go with an article about the crazy new gadgets people are using to avoid all kinds of germs and illness while traveling. I couldn’t even tell you what half of this stuff does, but I like how the image turned out. I’m bummed we didn’t get to shoot the SkyRest Travel Pillow, but there is only so much room for ridiculous travel paraphernalia in one picture. Enjoy, and remember to always fly safe.
I am a huge fan of Jeff Garlin. I really liked his work going into this shoot for NY Times Magazine, and I am an even bigger fan after working with him.
My friend Sara Coates was recently cast in a movie called Laggies. They just wrapped up filming, so it should be in theaters next year. On one of the first days of filming, Sara sent me a text message with a picture of Jeff. “I’m acting with Jeff!” I immediately thought to myself, “I would love to photograph Jeff Garlin!!!” That was a Sunday night. The next day, I got a call from my rep Julia, and she asked me if I wanted to shoot an assignment for New York Times Magazine. The answer to that question is always yes, and then she said, “It’s actor Jeff Garlin.” No joke!
This is actually the 3rd time this has happened to me in my career. Anthony Hopkins, Annie Leibovitz, and now Jeff. So naturally I am a big believer in the power of positive thinking, and “putting it out there”. I always tell my daughter, you’ll never know unless you ask. And now, she has learned the benefits of asking for stickers at any store we walk into. Who knew Chevron had stickers. But that’s another story. I can’t take all of the credit for many of the great opportunities I have had come my way, but this is the type of job where you have to make things happen, and tell people what you want. Even if it’s just declaring to your wife on a Sunday night while watching Netflix that you want to photograph one of your favorite actors.
Jeff walked into the shoot with a Leica around his neck, and I knew right away this was going to be fun. Thank you New York Times Magazine, Gabrielle Plucknette, Clinton Cargill for a wonderful assignment, and thank you Jeff for bringing the magic!
This has been a big year for Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. There has been a new company logo, the 40th anniversary of Starbucks, and Howard’s new #1 bestseller book Onward, which I shot the author portrait for as well as some pictures inside the book. I have been keeping pretty busy photographing Howard over the past few months with everything that is going on. Some of the images have not been released yet, but one of my favorite assignments which I can show was for The Sunday Times Magazine. I got some great shots from this one, including this 2-page spread, and the headshot outtake. You can click on the spread to get a closer look if you are interested. To get the expression, I sang several songs from The Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach which I think everyone enjoyed quite a bit. It seemed to be going well at first, but then I got distracted somewhere around Act 2 while trying to adjust my camera focus and my pitch went slightly off. I will admit it was not my finest moment, and clearly some in the room were not impressed. Nonetheless, my off key falsetto created a nice expression which went along perfectly with what the magazine was looking for. Despite the successful outcome, that will most likely be the last time I ever sing at a photo shoot.
I photographed Dan Savage for the March 28, 2011 issue of Time Magazine. Dan is a sex columnist (Savage Love), and the founder of the It Gets Better YouTube campaign supporting bullied gay teens. Thank you to Marie Tobias at Time for working with me on this assignment. It was a lot of fun to think through the lighting for a Black-and-White portrait for a change. There aren’t many assignments for B&W these days, and it really does take a different lighting approach than working with color. This is my favorite image, as well as the one running in the magazine.
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.
* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show of outtakes, and just for fun shots.
If I were starting a multi-million dollar company, I would do everything in my power to recruite Jeremy Lewis to run the show. He was a thrill to work with, and a great guy to boot. Jeremy is the CEO of Big Fish Games, and I recently photographed him for the May 09 cover of Seattle Business Monthly.
He seems to have found a good balance of taking business very seriously, but at the same time enjoying life with a good sense of humor. And I think that shows in these pictures. As further proof, I was intrigued by the fact that he is reading a biography on Charlie Chaplin, and drawing inspiration from Chaplin’s business savvy. “In both good and bad times, he did the same thing: He made enjoyable, safe, mass-market entertainment at a great value. He was a true business leader for his times.”
It takes a lot of creativity to find business inspiration from such an unlikely source as Charlie Chaplin, but I like that kind of “outside the box” thinking. Maybe we could send some of that kind of thinking to the Auto and Financial industries.
Big Fish Games is now the leader in “casual games” and they are quickly growing, despite the slumping economy.
“After netting $85 million in revenue and growing by about 70 percent last year, Big Fish doesn’t appear to be slowing down. This January, Lewis says the company’s subscription base grew 111 percent faster than it did in September 2008, when the stock market crashed.” – Randy Woods and Julie H. Case for Seattle Business Monthly
Click here to read the entire article in Seattle Business about Big Fish Games, and other companies who are thriving despite the economic downturn.