03 Nov Arizona Ice Tea Beverage Company, Portrait for Forbes Magazine
Very cool shoot assigned from the good folks at Forbes. I was tasked with shooting some portraits of the CEO of Arizona Ice Tea at their headquarters over in Woodbury Long Island. After a few back and forth emails and phone calls with the communications director we were set to go. I showed up a little early so we could get a tour of the space and we could start scouting. WOW, and I’m not kidding, I have never been in an office building like this. Don Vultaggio, the owner has recreated a 50’s diner, a NYC subway station, an amazing rooftop deck with gardens and party space, his executive office and a personal dining area complete with private chef. Quite the place. I needed to create a portrait for the opening section of the story which is always a 2 page horizontal image. For this particular portrait I decided to use his office. It was very large and regal in its tones and detail. Over the top furnishings and wood work, some of which was done by Don himself in their basement woodshop. My knowledge of the Arizona Ice Tea market share prior to this story was fairly limited, turns out they are a juggernaut. So with this in mind I wanted to portray Don Vultaggio the founder as a king. Don is a very tall guy, and he has a very large office chair. Which was perfect to use as his throne. So I had Don sit back, cross his legs and look the part. On the technical side this portrait was not the easiest to light. The room is very large and would have been nearly impossible to properly light in the time constraints we had, so we did what I like to do anyway, which is to let the available ambient light do the heavy lifting. So we set up a large shoot through umbrella as the main light, and tested it. LOOKED HORRIBLE! So I decided to up the ISO on the camera and only use the modeling light in the ProFoto head. Now the color temps matched up and it didn’t feel overly lit. Down side is my base exposure was low. I had the camera set at 1/40 at F5.6. Not a lot of room to move around but the camera was on a tripod and I instructed Don to not move to much. The second portrait of Don and his sons happened down in the “Diner”. This set of portraits were also tricky due to the lighting and mirrored setting. Here Evan Mann, my assistant, and I figured that we needed a little cleaner light to separate the subjects from the background so we went with the strobe, but bounced it into a nearby wall that was painted a fairly warm color so it was not entirely off in balance. This was tricky like I said due to the mirrored surfaces but with a little strategic camera placement I was good to go. The last portrait with Don was to take place down in the basement of the building where Don had recreated a subway station, complete with benches and large images of the platforms. This was truly well done. We sat Don down on a bench and the shot took itself..
I would also be remiss if I did not mention that we were invited to sit and have lunch with Don and his family. This was a feast, his chef prepared an amazing meal that made shooting after lunch quite difficult!
Mr. Vultaggio and family were a pleasure to work with and made my day easy. Enjoy the images.
Other Forbes stories you might want to look at.