09 Jun New York City, Portrait | Bruce Flatt, Forbes Magazine
This was a two part photo assignment shoot, though it did not start that way. Initially starting back in December of 2016, I get a call from the photo editor at Forbes telling me about an assignment photographing Bruce Flatt, the CEO of a major investment company, Brookfield. One of their investment vehicles is real estate. They not only buy property but they develope new properties all over the world. This particular portrait was to take place at their new venture over at New York City’s Hudson Yards. A sky scraper going up on 33rd and 10th Ave. and in a stroke of brilliance and forethought they allowed us a scout day with one of their people so we could get a location or two lined up and be super efficient with Mr. Flatt’s time on the shoot date. So I show up and meet with the construction site liaison and the head of marketing and we get a private tour. After getting outfitted with hard hats and bright orange vests, we first visit the media sales room which was interesting, very airy and open and indoors, which was important if we had a bad rain day, or even snow, this was December after all. We then went up to the penthouse floor. This floor was still under construction and was fully open to NYC’s awesome skyline. The terrace area had a safety net set up and a bunch of construction materials around. Great cool place for the portraits. It set a stage for Bruce. SO my master plan was to shoot a portrait here and some quick variations up on the roof. Then utilize the construction elevator which was being held for us and go down into the pit area and grab another portrait. We had an hour of his time which was very generous and we could pull off these 2 portraits and their variations. OK good!… Not. We get informed by the editor that the PR person now tells us we have 30 minutes. Ok I can probably still make it work as long as I hustle. I park the car and get another text from the editor telling me we will have a groomer on set, ok great, oh but that the groomer will use some of my valuable available time..hmmm, ok, I can still do it but now I’m in full overdrive. So we get up to the rooftop and lo and behold due to a storm earlier in the week the construction guys sealed off my vantage point with plywood! I had planned on using a slightly under the roof line spot to block Bruce from the sun and still seeing the full skyline background. PLAN B!!! So we go out onto the terrace which is very cool , but is in full sunlight. Sun is beating overhead at this point in the middle of the day and its harsh. Luckily due to it being winter the sun was a tiny bit lower and behind him, so I used a big white California Sunbounce and filled him in as much as possible. It was strong and made him squint a bit but I had no real choice. Shouldn’t say that, I could have strobed him but I really am not into the flash overpowering the sun look. I feel that it always looks fake. So reflector and a bit of squint it is. So we start shooting and I have due some changes in his position. After 15-20 frames he asks if we are done. To which I reply NO, I’m just starting, but he is getting antsy so I shoot a few more portraits and wrap that shot. I ask him to wait a minute and will move the camera position. I then hear that he is giving us about 15 minutes of which we have used 10 already. No going down into the pit.. No second shot.. I’m pretty bummed, the shot I got was very strong though so i was happy that I got that. It goes like this sometimes, these guys are in a rush all the time. They don’t really care that you are trying to make them look great. You would think that looking good for a magazine article would be important but apparently it is not. So anyway we shoot a few more frames and I bid him farewell. We pack up the gear and head out. Whew.. I send the images off to the magazine and they liked them but they tell me to hold off finishing them.
3 Months later, I’m told that the magazine is ready to run the story but now it’s turned into a cover story. And since I shot him earlier do I want to shoot the cover.. YEA! You bet I do. The location for the shoot will be at his office space on Vesey St in lower Manhattan. We will shoot him against a gray backdrop and then get a couple more shots of him inside the building. Specifically down in the mall area. Which if you have never been there is this beautiful space dressed in glass and marble with high end stores and food. Very cool. So after a few days of logistics taken care of we arrive at the location with all the gear necessary to shoot a cover and some additional portraits. The main cover portrait follows a Forbes “look” which is fairly straightforward, but the secondary shot that they want to explore is a little more tricky. Down in the mall area they wanted Bruce to be there with a flow of people around him. All blurred except for him. Once we found the spot and shot 20-30 frames of Mr.Flatt we sent him on his way and proceeded to shoot long exposure plates of the scene. After a few test frames we got an exposure that worked with the particular speed of the moving crowd and lens we were using. I shot maybe 30 frames of groups and singles of people walking by. These were later all composited into one frame seamlessly giving the illusion of Bruce Flatt standing very still in the swirling crowd. Very effective portrait. Very happy with all my portraits from this shoot. After a quick selection process the magazine found what they were looking for and I submitted the finals. My first cover for Forbes and it went very well, hope I get more.
Some other Forbes Shoots I’ve done: