Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hot Wheels in 3D

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You're Now Entering Another Dimension

I've always been a huge fan of Rod Serling. He used seemingly average situations to illustrate unique ideas with both style and substance. After every episode of Twilight Zone, viewers were left thinking "I've never thought of that before."

How does the late Mr. Serling relate to my photography business? Well, it might be a stretch but after 11 years of shooting still images (along with the occasional video experiment), I am currently in the middle of my first 3D product shoot for a manufacturer of hair products.

We used a live model to create a series of 52 still images from unique angles and then stitched them together in post-production. It is a less creative, highly technical process that what I am used to. The result is an impressive 3D image that viewers can click/drag back and forth with their mouse. For web designers, it takes up less space than showing multiple angles and you could certainly never show all 52 of them!

Since Blogger does not have the capability to show 3D images, I have set up a separate blog for this work:

Out there is another dimension. My goal is to find as many applications as possible for this unique imaging technology.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New York State of Mind

I just returned from a quick 72-hour trip to New York City and as usual, there were a few "only in NY" moments.

As a child in the early 70s, I remember riding the subway, walking through Times Square and playing in Central Park when these areas were well known for muggings, assaults and other fun things. By the late 90s, the Giuliani regime had cleaned up much of the city and aside from the occasional one-finger salute, tourists can now enjoy most parts of Manhattan unscathed.

One of the most beautiful areas of the city has to be Central Park. There is one area within the park featuring a majestic elm tree-lined path where my family and I enjoyed a few moments of zen over the weekend. And when I wanted to photograph the beautiful tree canopy, I used my mini-triopd to set my camera at a very low, dramatic angle, dead center of the pathway.

While adjusting through my camera, I watched a grey-bearded wizard-type creature walk right up to my lens, mumbling something like "At your service" and "Google my name." (He looked like a KKK member after raiding the wardrobe department on the Harry Potter set.) I turned around but there were no film crews, kid's birthdays or early Halloween parties in the area. I didn't know where to redirect him out of my shot.

In my experience with shooting in other urban areas, I remembered the magic formula for getting people to move out of my shot...money. So, I offered the wizard guy $1 (expecting him to politely turn it down as not to compromise his holy wizardry) when all of a sudden...POOF! The wizard—along with my dollar—was gone.

When I returned home, I did in fact Google his name "Blackwolf the Dragonmaster" and found not only did he recently appear on Conan O'Brien but has many YouTube videos including this one which will give you an idea of how Central Park's characters have evolved versus 40 years ago.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Play That Funky Music

A Miami-based hip-hop/R&B music promoter is looking for a graphic designer to produce CD covers, posters, banner ads and other marketing pieces.

I'm no graphic designer but above are two quick sample CD covers I did using images I shot a little while ago. It's funny what just a little cropping and typography can do.

Before this week, I probably would have referred them to one of my very talented designer friends. But now, I feel like taking on new and different things so let's see how well this white boy understands the hip-hop market.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smile, Cupcake!

Now for something completely different.

Lise Ode, a good friend of mine, is starting a wholesale gourmet cupcake business. She's been baking custom wedding cakes for hundreds of dollars each and will now segue into the neglected cupcake market.

If someone would pay $4 for a cup of coffee, would they pay another $3 for a cupcake to go with it? We will see. In the meantime, she needed product shots and it just so happens that I do accept cupcakes as payment.

The lineup above is (left-to-right for the color blind) Pinkalicious, Minty Chocoate Mint and Creamy Lemon Dream. If you're feeling hungry about now, check out http://www.prettyinpinkcake.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Never Say Never

Remember when Bush The Elder made a campaign promise of "No new taxes" and then a few months later introduced a bunch of new taxes? Well, I always said I would never get back into my former life of graphic design but here I go again.

David Omsky, a 12-year-old amateur tennis player will be having his Bar Mitzvah this year. Since he loves tennis (and therefore loves Rafael Nadal), I asked him to sacrifice his teeth for a really great shot. I used the shot in the above invitation design and voila, I'm back in the graphics business.

If your dog is having some friends over for tea, I might even do an invite for that too. Aunt Gladys having her 200th birthday party? Let me know because I might actually enjoy this job the second time around.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hotel Rwanda: Part II

In the mid-1990s, Rwanda literally could not find a friend to save its life. Now, everybody wants in on Rwanda's prosperity and I guess that's just how the world works.

Back in March, I received a phone call from a man telling me about this 4-star hotel he built in Rwanda and how he wants top quality images to help market the property. He said he liked my work for Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz and others and he was willing to pay for that same quality.

My first thoughts (aside from that movie) were: How could there possibly be a photogenic hotel in a place like Rwanda? Are four Rwandan stars the same as four American stars? Does this man know what American photographers charge?

As it turns out, my impressions of this central African nation were still left over from 1994 when CNN, NBC and a few other media outlets were kind enough to preempt an episode of Seinfeld in order to debate the definition of genocide.

In the 15 years since the horror, this tiny country has experienced an introspection and self-improvement that even "The Greatest Country In The World" would be smart to emulate. Women now make up more than half of Rwanda's parliament. Dubai World has committed to US$4 billion in Rwandan development. There are plans to install high-speed broadband across the entire country and construction is booming. I guess success is easier once you've hit rock bottom.

A small component of this success is the Top Tower Hotel, a short drive from the new U.S. embassy in Kigali. It was designed by a Chinese architect and built by a Chinese general contractor. My client deserves the credit for hiring me all the way from Florida versus a local African photographer. I'm sure my cost estimate was a tough sell internally but he's somewhat of a visionary and an example of the country's new thinking.

I am thrilled to play my tiny part in helping promote the new Rwanda. But I'm also proud to be one of the few Americans to see that Rwanda's sequel is so much better than the original.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Art vs. Commerce

With the partial collapse of the commercial photography market, I think it's a great time to venture into the completely collapsed fine art photography market.

I received a request to do a large print of one of my favorite images shot in 2002. It shows the platform area of the very beautiful Centraalstation, Antwerp, Belgium's main railway station designed by architect Clement van Bogeart in 1895.

The image was shot with a Nikon F3 and 28mm tilt/shift lens (the lens later suffered cobblestone impact thanks to my then 3-year-old daughter). The film was Fuji Reala which I was obsessed with due to it's great color saturation and low grain. However, with such a large print from such a small negative, film grain is an unavoidable yet beautiful component of this particular piece.

Printed at 76x50" (1.93x1.27m) on an archival light-sensitive substrate and mounted on 1/4" acrylic and 1/8" sintra backing, the total cost to my client was very reasonable including delivery and hanging. Being an "unknown artist," I haven't a clue what a gallery would charge for a piece like this so if there are any art consultants out there, please let me know.

I've only made a few art prints in my 11-year photography career and it is certainly fun. But, my true love is marketing: Creating and licensing my images to help clients move merchandise, put heads in beds, butts in seats, a turkey in every pot (you get the point).

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Dream In Color And B+W

Had the craziest dream the other night...

I was walking by Harrod's on a bright and sunny day when I noticed a young lady ringing a bloke from a red phone booth.  She was dressed just like a fashion model.  I reached for my camera and started clicking.  Instead of turning away, she struck a pose and make very fashion model-like faces.  The shoot lasted all of two minutes and then before I could invite her for tea...POOF!  She disappeared.

When I woke up, I ran over to my camera to find the above two images on my flash card...crazy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Humbled by NOTCOT

My updated portfolio site was recently featured on the design blog http://notcot.org

NOTCOT monitors style and trends from all corners of the globe so to say I'm flattered is a great understatement.  If you love great design in fashion, architecture and gadgets, this blog is for you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Love Tennis

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to shoot the ladies' singles final and the men's doubles final at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. A good friend of mine could not make use of box seats which, you can see from the angle of my shots, were very close to the court.

First, Belarusian 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka defeated Serena Williams. Then, Israeli Andy Ram was playing in the men's doubles but we didn't stay until the end of the match because we realized everyone had gone home except us and Andy Ram.

Larger versions of these shots can be found on my new portfolio site http://redsquarephoto.com which I am quietly updating as we get some kinks worked out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Remember This Name

You heard it here first...Laura Scott.

We had a great shoot yesterday with 19-year-old Laura who brought her 12-months of experience, a bag of clothes and some great genetics to an impromptu shoot along the Miami River. Full of ideas and attitude (the helpful kind), Laura is sure to be America's next top model.

As for me, I'm discovering the freedom and creativity that comes with shooting fashion. A corporate client might say about the above shot, "Looks great but can you have the model stand up straight and smile at the camera? Oh, and...we need it in color."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pretending To Be A Studio Photographer

In 10 years of shooting professionally, I've never needed a studio. Since all of my work was architecture and travel-related, most of my shoots were on location somewhere. If I did need to shoot something small, I would convert my kid's playroom into a makeshift studio.

Yesterday marks the big turning point in this journey. I booked a 4-hour studio at TYE in Ft. Lauderdale and shot the lovely and professional model/singer/dancer Allyse Gibson for her portfolio and my stock library.

We'll see what the future brings.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Perfect Gift For Your Farmer

You've always wanted a video camera with cows, right?

The famous USB Flip video camera now comes in high-definition with b/w cow photography design.

The Bovine Edition Flip MinoHD holds 60 minutes of HD-quality video on an internal 4GB hard drive and sells for a very economically stimulating $240.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Longevity Of A Golf Shot

We shot the above image for Hyatt on a shoot in Kauai back in 2004.  What you see is about 80% of a 110-degree panoramic image of Poipu Beach's stunning volcano-to-Pacific golf course.  I just recently stumbled Hyatt's website and was pleasantly surprised at the image's long shelf life on their Gold Passport golf-specific portal.  Considering the landscape hasn't changed in thousands of years, they can probably keep using that image for millennia to come.

The Kauai shoot was done with a total crew of 12 including client, agency, models, etc.  It was a large production that I'd love to see again sometime but I get the feeling resorts are a bit scared to invest marketing dollars at the moment.  Where do resorts sit on the necessity food chain?  Probably right next to resort photographers.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Undisclosed Leading Retailer

Nothing is more annoying than a photographer who feels compelled to drop the names of his clients, hoping that someone else's hard earned brand equity will suddenly rub off on him.  After all, if his work is good, the photographer should feel secure enough with himself...right?

I will tell you that we have been shooting interiors for a French retail client who is not known for being a low price leader.  There...that's all I'm going to say.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Think Different.

This was Apple's advertising slogan back in 1997. The company, long known for its creative thinking, inspired its core customer to think outside the norm.

After shooting about 300 hotel rooms over the last decade, I've learned the bed, desk, TV and lamps are all givens. So, if a photographer's job is to set clients apart from their competition, they have to think differently.

I shot the above guest room for a major resort client on the island of Aruba and decided to just ignore the room (yes, a room shot that ignores the room) and focus on two elements: windows and view. After all, most consumers can figure out what the rest of the bed looks like, right?

While the last photographer of this room certainly didn't take a bad shot, it looks like a very typical Caribbean resort room. If you put both images side by side, which room would inspire you to pay more per night? If you were a magazine editor, which shot would you devote more space to?  That, dear reader, is the bottom line. Photographers who are able to increase the perceived value of a client's product will always get more opportunities to Think Different.

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