Friday, November 23, 2007

The Party Set

Miami Beach is certainly one of the world's most famous nightclub cities. And, one of its newest clubs is Set from the Opium Group developers.

Personally, I have never been a part of the nightclub scene. With two young children, my wife and I are lucky just to get out for a few hours to eat a quiet dinner somewhere close to home. My college years were not much different: I was always the first of my friends to go home and fall asleep, usually before midnight. And before I married my wife, I was on a date with a woman who actually told me, "You're boring!"

So, when the avant garde magazine Wallpaper asked me to shoot the newest, hippest and most exclusive nightclub in the world's coolest, hottest city, I felt this project would be the closest I could ever get to such a place.

As we were setting up the location, the club's daytime manager ran down the list of famous people who drop in from time to time, including: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, Sean John and The Artist Formerly Known As Sean Combs. The club manager also mentioned other famous names but I hadn't a clue who they were...further proof of my unhip life. (That's ok because I love getting a good night's sleep and nothing spoils fine cuisine like the burn of a tequila shot going down your throat.)

The first image is the main bar area with an original Dale Chihuly chandelier and two green vertical plexiglass tubes. On any given night, club-goers will go inside the tubes and dance for the gawkers down below who pretend not to notice. These are not paid, professional models but regular SoBe partiers (as if there were a difference). The large vodka bottles shown are Belvedere magnums which sell for $1,500 apiece. So, with nine bottles appearing in my shot, we were careful not to bump any.

Another shot features the DJ booth with a giant flat screen. We needed to freeze an image from the looping video so I chose a frame with artist Andy Warhol, seemingly filming the nightclub crowd down below (a subtle hint to South Beach's exhibitionist lifestyle). Adding some scale to the over-sized faux elephant tusks is "DJ Jazzy" Jeff Herron, a fellow photographer who assisted me on the shoot.

The main bar shot appears on page 144 of Wallpaper's December issue.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mediterranean Serenity

Back in the summer of 2003, Crystal Cruises hired me to shoot their newest ship Serenity as it sailed from Lisbon to Sorrento. Since I was already in Belgium for the summer, I flew to the ship on Virgin Express for an amazingly cost-effective 199 euros round trip. It turned out to be one of my most memorable shoots to date.

Of the 80 final images delivered to the client, one of the nicest has to be the balcony of the Crystal Penthouse, an $18,000/week private residence located midship on the 11th deck (a 24-hour butler is free with purchase).

We had already shot the typical residential angles: foyer, bed, bath and dining, but when I took a walk out on the teak balcony (or veranda as they say in the cruise business), I just had to shoot it. And since the Mediterranean was especially calm that evening, we decided on a long-exposure dusk shot.

Shooting film back then, we loaded my favorite Fuji Reala negative and did multiple 10-second exposures as the soft blue ambient light went dark.

My camera, the legendary Hasselblad 903SWC (pictured left), was my all-time favorite until I sold it to help pay for my digital equipment not too long after this balcony shot was taken.

I could probably go on and on about how much I loved this camera...still miss it was my best friend, etc...but that would make me a scary photo geek so I will spare you, dear blog reader.

The shot went largely un-discovered in the Crystal Image Library until just a few months ago when they added it to their current print campaign as seen in Virtuoso Life magazine's gatefold above.

Better late than never.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bienvenidos a Miami

I haven't posted in a little while...very busy with lots of things that I'll share in a week or two. In the meantime, I'll post this shot of downtown Miami, taken just 48 hours ago.

Anyone in the South Florida area has certainly noticed a recent change in the weather. The low humidity is producing fiery sunsets and the cool breezes are making higher-altitude clouds that move during long exposures (the above was about 50 seconds). Aside from some exposure masking (mostly toning down the bright, patriotically-lit I.M. Pei building) there was not much color enhancement. It really looked like this.

Miami's reputation as a party town (among other things) overshadows some of the best aspects of the city. With the islands, bridges, water and sunsets like this, I've always seen Miami as one of the world's most naturally beautiful cities.

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