Category Archives: editorial

Rockstar trashes hotel room at WPPI!

Longtime readers will know that nothing crawls up my spine quite as much as taking wedding photography — a job that, in the end, is about providing a deeply important and heartfelt service to others — and making it about supposed “rockstar” photographers. After all, there ARE no rockstar photographers. Nowhere is the cult of the rockstar more prevalent than the annual WPPI conference in Las Vegas. This isn’t WPPI’s fault — at 16,000 attendees, it’s the biggest show in town.

Anyway, I had the fantastic Stephanie in town for some some shooting, and so I thought we could have some fun with the idea. (I had some Ke$ha style fun with it during prep for the shoot).

The last photo is an illustration of a concept I tell clients all the time: Photography is a wonderful liar because anything outside the frame doesn’t exist. With creative framing can take a classic beauty shot even if you happen to be lying on a bed of Coors light cans.*

I was helped with lighting and styling on this by Sara and Dylan of Sara K Byrne Photography, Boise’s finest. Here Sara shows us how real rockstar photographers roll:

*By the way, the Coors light wasn’t mine. I think we should just make that clear.


30 Rock’s Dot Com (Kevin Brown) and Barbara in “S & Om”

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Kevin Brown, whom 30 Rock fans will know as Dot Com, came by my studio last night for a really fun photoshoot, with yoga instructor Barbara Purcell. This is all stage magic, folks — Barbara is actually a lovely, kind person*, and Kevin was having a blast. He has been doing yoga every single day of 2012 so far. As some of you know, I’ve been studiously committed to fitness this year, but my jaw is still hanging open at his commitment.

I can’t even describe how much fun this was. Kevin is as kind an open as people come in general, not just for actors.

*though with more Urban Master Manhattanite in her personality than standard Yoga Earth Mother, which is appreciated.

Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: Two Sb-900s, one bounced, one through a Softbox LTP


Photo(s) of the Day: New Year’s Eve at War? (Point&Shoot photos)

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I had such a fantastic New Year’s Eve, thanks to being around some great people. I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico with some new friends. One of them was originally from the area, and had an invitation to a party for friends and family at one of his mother’s friends’ houses. It sounded like such a change from the normal club scene that we had to take up the offer.

I’m glad we did. Everyone was so warm and inviting, celebrating first the San Juan-time New Year’s and then the New York-time New Year’s with dancing and an amount of fireworks that would get you thrown into a federal penitentiary in New York. Since I decided against bringing my expensive Nikon D3s out on New Year’s, I captured the scene with my friend’s automatic point and shoot, the Canon 780. I embraced the limitations, switching to black and white mode, pushing it to ISO 1600, and pre-focusing and metering so I could get the shutter speeds and exposures I wanted. Whereas the D3s can capture pretty much any scene with more literalism and detail than your eyes can, here I embraced the expressionistic quality of a limited camera. And I had a great time — as my friend said, “These look like you spent New Year’s in Beiruit!”

A few more:

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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy!

I had a great time last night seeing Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Highline Ballroom with my friend and fellow photographer Rachel Kemble. I’ve always loved swing music — especially since, while having absolutely no talent for musical performance, I love to dance. We picked up some press passes from the staff, and I had fun shooting a lot of video with the Nikon D3s. I’ll cut it together properly after Christmas, but here’s a quick clip. I’m pretty impressed by the sound on the D3, since this was all with the built-in mic.

While I shot mostly video, of course I took a few photos. After the show the band had me set up a quick group shot. I had no flash and the stage was being broken down so I couldn’t use the stage lights as a backdrop, but figured the festive lights were a good accent for the end of their holiday tour.

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Rachel, shooting away
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Celebrities I Have Shot

There are some days when I realize that, while I’ve got this picture-taking thing sort of figured out, I’m a mewling babe when it comes to marketing, branding, all of those buzzwords. (Let’s not even discuss SEO). This was brought to my attention again a couple weeks ago, when one of my grooms mentioned he was a huge fan of Eli Manning.

“I’ve worked for Eli Manning, you know,” I said.


At which point I realized, of course he didn’t. I never really mentioned it anywhere. So yes, I photographed a charity event for Eli Manning and St. Vincent’s hospital … um, six months ago.

In fact, I do all sorts of rewarding work for charities and non-profits, and I get to run across all sorts of interesting people. I tried to compile a set of photos of the celebrities I’ve shot, but to my surprised delight, it was WAY too large. But here are some of my favorites. I never had any particular interest for celebrity portraiture (let the scores of photographers who care fight it out), but these are generally people lending their time to a good cause. Plus, I figure it’s never bad for couples and planners to know that I have ample experience in the sort of venues where weddings costs hundreds of thousands of dollars (wink and nod).

So here are some shots, mostly photos you haven’t seen before, and why I like them. These aren’t always the most famous people I’ve photographed, just some shots I liked that I could find in a quick search. There are others to be found on the blog, most notably in this set of the Al Smith Dinner with McCain and Obama.

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The Champ. Muhammad Ali. I love this one mostly because it’s Ali, but also because it’s sadly not easy these days to photograph him in a way that shows the inner fire that still burns inside him. Boy is it prevalent here, though. I also love the intimidated boy in the background, because that was exactly how I felt.


Here’s the thing about editorial photographers — we love backgrounds. And so here a chandelier in the mirror becomes a glowing crown on Obama’s head. No deep political analysis meant, but everyone will read their own into it. That very night, Obama made a joke about the imagery: “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.”

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No nicer guy than Smokey Robinson. The image on the left was used during the Kennedy Center’s celebration of his life.


The idealist in me likes seeing two political enemies laughing it up together.


An unshaven Stephen Colbert, and his Tek Jansen comic book. On the left, I told him “Stephen, show me your Comic Book Best Friend!” And he did. Fans of the show will get the reference.


Brian Williams and Katie Couric, with an obscured middle gentleman, wave at the Al Smith Dinner.


I’ve taken a lot of photos of the controversial Nobel Prize winner James Watson, but this one shows his personality, which is cheeky and eccentric to say the VERY least, and that he stands apart.


Kristen Johnston, from 3rd Rock from the Sun, has fun as the impromptu host of a charity raffle.


Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia, from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, ham it up. There is a story about Carson that I will save for the memoirs.


The indomitable Brooke Shields, at right greeting Kenneth Cole.


Darrel Hammond. One thing I like about this is that the blurred out on-screen version in the back kind of looks like the real Al Gore to me. But I’m weird.


At left, Eli Manning and his wife, from the charity event that started this post. At right, Nona Hendryx rocks out at the 25th anniversary gala for St. Vincent’s hospital.

And, though it’s on the other link, Mo Rocca did say this photo of him with Katie Couric would be his Christmas card, so I should include it here:


Storm's a-comin'

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Another from my shoot with Dr. Jim Fisher, author of the forthcoming “On the Irish Waterfront.”

Shooting notes: This shot uses the wonder of Auto-FP mode on the SB-900, which uses rapidfire pulses instead of a single flash to allow syncing at any shutter speed, even, as I used here, 1/8000th of a second (to get those ominous clouds really dark). You lose a lot of power, though, so I was holding the flash attached to a a Lumiquest Softbox III just an inch or so outside the frame, very close to his head. Fired at 1/2 power. Nikon D3, 24-70mm f/2.8.