The Random Frame
THE RANDOM FRAME
THOUGHTS AND ADDITIONAL IMAGES FROM SELECTED SHOOTS.
This was a wonderful photo shoot we did a little while back but I have been holding off sharing it so the folks over at Chefridi could show off and utilize their images on their timeline. But now that they have shown many of the great images we made its my time to brag a bit!
This shoot was very successful in both planning and execution. Lucia and I met with Corinne and Sierra from Chefridi a month or so prior to the shoot and went over the goals and expectations. As a little bit of history, we had worked together several years back and produced some really nice images.
They were interested in seeing what we could bring to the table this time. So Lucia started brainstorming and storyboarding the shoot. When we met with them they brought their ideas and together with ours we came up with a schedule and an outline. We both wanted a model who felt like the classic client of Chefridi but still bridged the gap into the potential client. So a casting was done and we ended up with a terrific woman who had both a natural beauty and a approachable quality. For hair and make up the super talented AnnMichelle was tapped to perform her artistry. So with talent and crew secured the next step was up to Lucia and I.
Shoot flow, and production. We created 5-6 set ups with each set up able to yield 2-3 images. If plans worked we would come away with a very good library of images that Chefridi could use throughout the year for all sorts of media. Which was to include show banners, web advertising and web site imagery, printed pieces, and magazine covers. No small challenge!!
We had a general idea of a color theme that Chefridi wanted so we worked around that and a lighting feel they desired. Using a variety of paper backdrops, wallpapers, hand made curtains, and various room sets to achieve this.
I could just keep talking about how successful the shoot was but I think I will let the images speak for themselves. Oh and there are more images that I cannot show yet, looking forward to adding as soon as I can.
Thanks so much to Adel Chefridi and his stellar team. Check them out here, Chefridi.com
Life as a Hudson Valley Photographer
Photography is so much more than taking a pretty picture.
It’s about capturing a moment in all its complexity and showcasing it.
Photographers have to find the perfect light to form the best image possible. Our goal is to use our knowledge to find the best way for the subject and its surroundings to go together.
Photography is a form of art that is constantly changing, and photographers have to keep learning to get the best shots.
This is what I aim to do every day as a Hudson Valley photographer.
Each photograph I take has a lesson to learn and a story to tell.
What Photography Means to Me
Photography has always been an important part of my life.
My father was an avid photographer, and no matter where we went, there was sure to be a darkroom in our home. This was an integral part of my childhood that shaped my entire life.
I bought my first camera as a teenager and have not looked back since. I was incredibly lucky to have had many talented mentors early in my career. They taught me every aspect of photography, including the business side.
I got to see different types of photography and found what truly fed my passion.
Portraits were my calling. They allow me to tell a story by understanding the person in front of the lens and capturing them in an honest way.
This is what photography means to me.
I want to truly understand who I am photographing so I can tell their story truthfully and beautifully.
My years of travelling around the world and living in many different places make it easy for me to relate to others and adapt to different situations.
This is why I can photograph different people and highlight their features in a way that tells their stories.
Types of Photography
Many different types of photography exist, each with its own focus.
There’s photojournalism, sports photography, fashion photography, and architectural photography, to name a few. Most photographers are capable of dabbling in all types of photography but have one that they specialise in.
My specialty lies in portrait photography. This is where my unique skill set lies, and it is also what I have the most experience in.
Let’s take a closer look at this type of photography and what it entails.
Portrait photography is when a person is photographed in a way that shows off their personality and facial expressions. It can be posed or candid and entails an understanding between the photographer and the subject.
How I photograph children in families is entirely different from how I photograph seniors or celebrities. When it comes to methodology, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The person I photograph will vastly influence how and where the photograph is taken.
Their personality needs to come through, and it is my job to make that happen.
Headshots can be considered a type of portrait photography that showcases the subject without highlighting their personality too much.
You can think of them as identity photos used on business pages, social media profiles, and audition applications. Headshots only have a single subject, whereas portraits could have more than one.
Also, there is a clear distinction between the person in the picture and the background. Most headshots have a solid, neutral, or one-color background.
Depending on what the headshots will be used for, people can choose to display a range of emotions or keep them neutral.
Business photography has expanded recently. They no longer look like stiff, posed photographs as businesses aim to make their staff seem more relatable.
These business photographs can be headshots or full portraits, but the aim remains the same.
As a photographer, I need to understand the culture of the business and the image they want to portray. Photographing staff at a law firm differs from photographing staff at a design company.
The client has to decide how they want to be seen by the public, and I will help bring that vision to life.
Branding photography is a step up from business photography. Its goal is to show a person's brand invariably and honestly.
A brand photo should not leave you questioning what a person does or their business details. It is a visual representation of what your brand stands for. This is why I take the time to get to know the person I will be photographing and what their brand represents.
In this way, I can ensure that I represent them and their brand in every photo I take of them.
The Importance of Having Professional Photos
Many people think that a skilled photographer's professional photos are unnecessary.
If you have the right tools, you can take great photographs, right?
Unfortunately, this is not true. Even if you have the best camera in the world, you still have to have the experience and skills to use it.
Photography is an art form, and the photographer is the artist!
Photographers, like myself, can tell your story how you want and ensure that you are indeed seen. We can highlight your professionalism, creativity, brand, and personality in portraits.
In this way, your professional photos stand out from the rest. It has the ability to reach your audience and get the desired results. You can attract more clients, gain more sales, and even get the attention of investors and casting agencies.
They will appreciate professional photos over the alternatives.
My life as a Hudson Valley photographer has been full of interesting people and intriguing stories. I love getting to know my clients and showcasing their unique personalities.
One of the best parts of being a photographer is seeing their expressions when they see their photos for the first time. It is what makes me continue to follow my passion for portrait photography.
Rocco Commissio for Forbes Magazine
So when I got the call for this assignment I was excited, it was to be a possible cover story and not only that but its was in my backyard. Well Orange County anyway. The subject was Rocco Commissio the CEO of MediaCom, the 5th largest cable TV provider in the US. You would be forgiven if you have not heard of them as their market is primarily in the midwest. The shoot started with a phone call with myself the Forbes’ writer Noah Kirsh, and Rocco and his Communication Director. I wish I had a recording of this call, it went from funny to dramatic and back again in short form. Rocco had been photographed in the recent past and really did not like the job that was done. He felt that the photographer had done a very unflattering job on him. So my job on this call was to really assure Rocco that we were there to make him look good, to flatter him, as we did not have any other agenda. Noah, the story’s writer, also worked to calm Rocco down who was at this point needing to control the shoot in a way that would basically stop the shoot from happening. Most magazines unless they are photographing a star who is so big that they demand refusal rights on the images will not allow the subjects to steer the conversation both written and in photography. This is done to maintain some editorial control and to present in the manner they are designed to do. After hearing Rocco’s concerns I told him that we were shooting tethered to a computer and I would allow him to preview the shots and if he hated them we would shoot something else. I did tell him that I could not allow him to yay or nay the shoot though, that was the magazines job and even I as the photographer did not have a say in what images were going be selected. Eventually he relented and we set a shoot date.
Day of the shoot we showed up at 8:30 am and pulled up in front of a tremendous glass and steel modern building standing in the middle of nowhere. We met with the communications contact and were given a quick tour. After scouting much of the space we set up for the cover image first. These shots are usually done to a formatted look so not a lot to think about technically except making someone feel comfortable in a completely foreign land. Piece of cake, lol! The direction is the hard part here, due the way the cover image gets cropped. A fair amount of space above the subject is needed for the Forbes logo. So what happens is that if hands are down on the side of the subject you tend to lose them and not only lose them but they get oddly cut at the wrist, not so nice. So pretty much every photographer who shoots covers for Forbes has to convince the subject to bring their hands up into the image area. This is a struggle as most people have a hard time using their hands in a conversational manner, so a lot of time and effort goes into this aspect alone, at least for me. Once we had this image done Rocco looked over what we had shot and was somewhat surprised by what he saw. The images looked good and his personality and energy was apparent in the still captures. This was the toughest shot, as not only was it the first set up, but Rocco was still very apprehensive about the whole shoot, but now that we had jumped that hurdle I felt confident about the rest of the day.
We proceeded to set up on the second floor balcony area of the buildings lobby area. A fantastic display of Italian engineering, steel and natural stone work done to perfection. Rocco’s pride in this building which he had made was apparent and was a wonderful setting to create his portrait. This shot was very quick to set up, a couple of lights bounced into the wall behind the camera balanced with an ambient exposure created a fairly natural look and it took hardly any post work to make perfect. We then moved in to his office. Rocco wanted some shots with his desk but I was not feeling it. A previous photographer had photographed him there and the results were far from good. I mentioned this to him and he agreed that he did not like what he had seen before so he allowed me to position him onto his marble conference table. He looked great sitting there with a view of the land surrounding the property as a background. Again a quick light setup, 2 heads bounced into the ceiling and wall with attention to reflections in all the windows. A powerful portrait of a successful man. The third shot was to satisfy the magazines need for more literal imagery. An image of Rocco within something that illustrates his business, which in this case is cable TV. So we found the one room in the building that offered some clue as to what they do. The data center, this is where the agents respond to customers calls and can dispatch field techs for service. Here we went very low tech, I had my assistant hold a small speedlight bouncing into a column that happened to be right behind the camera. I dragged the shutter a little to get a working exposure on the large screens behind Rocco. He was sensitive to the fact that we were among all the employees and he didn’t want a big spectacle. So we shot 20-30 frames and moved on.
At this point I knew we had the story photographically. Throughout the day with Rocco we saw examples of his love for soccer and came to find out he is major stakeholder in the NY Cosmos Soccer team. So I asked if he would be comfortable playing a little soccer in this very cool hallway lined in bright yellow frosted glass walls. I asked him to take his jacket and tie off.. He was totally into it and kicked the ball around for 10 minutes, we managed to get this lit with the same small speed light again, very fast and no fuss.
In the end Forbes ran the story but not as a cover, very disappointing, we worked very hard to convince Rocco to relax and let go and let us photograph him. I have not talked to him since the shoot so I do not know what his reaction was, but I was bummed. This has happened before, stories get moved around and current events can mess up the best laid plans.
In the end though I’m very happy with the portraits that we did and very happy that Rocco placed his trust in me. Grazie Rocco.
2018 Woodstock Bookfest Mugshots
Every year now since the beginning of the Woodstock Bookfest, we have tried to do something in conjunction with them. Many of our portrait clients are participants and attendees of the event, so it’s a natural fit. We have done various things from offering special shoot rates for authors during the weekend to shooting portraits in collaboration with Eyebobs eyewear. So this year we were brainstorming on how to make it interesting and had come up with a couple ideas. But when we got the theme, Read to Resist, from event creator Martha Frankel and Kitty Sheehan the idea formed pretty quickly. Kitty Sheehan came up with the idea of the mugshot portrait as a visual to the term “resist”. We instantly loved it and knew it would be visually strong and graphic, but we did wonder if there would be some pushback. I mean who wants a mugshot anyway? Lucia got on the computer and created the backdrop we used and the fine folks over at Catskill Art in Woodstock printed it out for us along with a sign. I set it up in our space to test run it and it was perfect. The next issue was to where to set it up. After some back and forth with ideas we were on for the last day of the festival, at the Kleinert in Woodstock. We were allowed to use the small green room. It was perfect, small, but with my efficient rig we set up and we were good to go. As attendees made their way into the panel discussions we asked them to come back and be photographed. I shot 4-8 portraits of each person with the instructions to be happy through angry. Some people hammed it up with a full range of emotions and others were just happy.. I left the camera in one position and allowed for the height difference to be part of the fun, such a range..
In the week prior to all this, I started to think about how I was going to showcase these wonderful mugs. In the past I had just put them into a video and and allowed the images to speed past and be on screen briefly, I like this method. So with that part done now came the soundtrack. I wanted to create a piece of music based around a cool guitar riff something very AC/DC-ish. But when I plugged the guitar in and set up a sound I liked, the riff from Queen’s “Tie your Mother Down” came out and it was instantly a good fit, and as much as I tried other things, I kept coming back to it. So I laid down a couple tracks of the various guitars and contacted my brother who brought in his expertise to help out with the drums. His touch brought it all to life. A couple police siren sounds added the finishing touch. An homage to one of my favorite guitar players and bands..
We shot about 700 frames on Sunday. I went through the captures and removed the truly awful expressions and dropped the remainder of the portraits into Final Cut. To fit the music the images are timed to fly by.. I love the feel and with the music its perfect.
Something happened that I had not actually planned on. As we shot so many people, getting everyone a copy of their portrait was going to be too logistically tricky. Where there is will there is a way though. People started stopping the video on their own section and doing screen grabs. They shared their images on Facebook and Instagram.. This was so great and unexpected. What a fun project!
Big thank you to all the participants who sat in on Sunday. Big thanks to Martha Frankel, Kitty Sheehan, Lucia Reale-Vogt, Nan Tepper for all the help.
Here is the video and some of the portraits..
Barry Price Architecture
Going way back to even before I got heavily into photography and music, I had an attraction to the idea of architecture, and being an architect. I even took a high school class on drafting and really liked it. I have since been a fan of modern design and modern architecture. I feel like the two go hand in hand. I have had the immense pleasure and honor to have worked with an architect that I really admire, Thomas Contigiacomo. He helped with the modernizing and reconfiguring of the house that I now live in. In talking to him and though his recommendations I learned so much more about what was possible. That was now over 10 years ago and in that time I have had the new pleasure to meet another architect. A local visionary by the name of Barry Price. Many of you know him as father and a husband but there is so much more. I had met a while back with Barry as I was totally excited by what I saw on his web site and what he would share on Facebook. So we sat down over a cup of coffee and talked a little about how we share our work, and how we try to get people excited about what we do. As many commercial creatives know, hearing other artist perspectives in business can be fascinating. Anyway, I digress, one thing that did come out during the conversation was the fact that Barry was going to update his website, and he needed a new portrait of himself. He told me he was interested in doing something interesting, and was not wanting a straight head shot. We thought about doing something with reflections.. My thought was to have many of the elements of Barry’s design aesthetic within the image. His ability to combine modern design, with natural elements, steel, and concrete and make it all look like it belongs together is innate.
Jump forward to last month, when Barry tells me that his site is coming together and he is ready to move forward with his portrait. This just happens to coincide with a wintery January, during a cold snap. Outdoor shoots in January can be tough, but this day was ok, we had a sunny day with temps in the 30’s. Barry tells me that he has several homes we can visit and one that’s actually being built.. Cool!
The first house we visit is up on the mountain with great views of the reservoir. The structure is dark, with glass, steel, and wood.. All of his elements on full display.
So the idea for me was to shoot these elements that I could then later combine in Photoshop and create a double/triple maybe quadruple exposure final image. So we walked and talked as I snapped away around the property with Barry explaining what went into this particular project.
I then shot some straight shots of Barry who was pretty relaxed in front of the camera.
We packed up and went to the second home. This was even more fascinating, a uber modern house in the woods. Barry explained that this house was built from the ground up to passive house standards, basically this means the house is constructed like a big Thermos. Sixteen inch thick insulated walls and triple glazed windows insure that it is super efficient. Warming and cooling these types of homes costs a fraction of what a normally constructed home would..
So we shot some more and went on to the last home which was getting an addition added onto to it. This home showcased another material Barry likes to use which is concrete. The raw concrete walls made for great tactile backgrounds. Also it made for great textures to use in my composites. We shot a few more portraits there.
I had enough material at this point to satisfy my needs. But Barry gave me a gift, he took me to a home that was just being constructed.
This last part might just be my favorite. Seeing a completed and decorated home is one thing, but to see how one of these passive homes is made was a real treat. We arrived onto the site as the roof line was being lowered onto the house by massive crane. Basically all the exterior walls of the home are manufactured in a factory elsewhere and transported to the site on trailers.. The crew then assembles the pieces into a super tight package. Once fully assembled, which can rapidly take place well under a month, the contractors can start work on the interior aspects. So cool.. I told Barry as we parted that afternoon that I was so jazzed by seeing his work, I just wanted to plow my house down and start fresh, with him at the helm!.. After studying what I got that day I started playing. This is what I came up with. In the end Barry chose a couple images, I will let him show you what he went with when his site goes live. I love them all..
Moonfarmer, Group Portrait
So this shoot came about through a series of events. It all starts with local filmmaker Aaron Weisblatt. He and his team started a campaign on Seed&Spark to fund his new short film, Rooster and the Queen. I had decided to offer a portrait session or two as an incentive/gift for would be donors to the film. Kale Kaposhilin over at Moonfarmer graciously donated to Aarons cause and in turn got my portrait gift. After speaking with Kale on the phone we went over some details of what he had in mind and how we could pull off something interesting. The idea first floated was shooting at their space in uptown Kingston, but after talking about it we decided it was going to be too tight to get the the whole team of 15 people in the frame. Kale suggested the use of the BSP performance space. I immediately loved the idea, it had plenty of room and cool possibilities. So we set a date. Fast forward to the shoot. Lucia and I met with Kale and Erin at the space on a very cold January day and went scouting. First thing you have to know is that when BSP is not being used it’s not heated, so the back room where we were to shoot was probably around 35 degrees. Its all very dimly lit, but one thing I did see right away was a curtain with icicle lights. Shazam!! Very cool backdrop. Next Lucia started looking for chairs, stools and whatever else we could use as seating. The idea was to have a wide shot of the team sitting and standing. I did not want a flat shot so we varied the heights and depths of the sitters. Next came the lighting, I wanted a more dramatic quality to this shot, something fitting the coolness of Moonfarmer and what they do, which if have not seen you must go look. So I used 2 of my largest lights off to the side. OK, here is where it gets interesting. I wanted to shoot the portrait in a painterly style. If you have ever seen an Annie Leibowitz portrait of a large group, like the ones she does for Vanity Fair you know what I mean. These shots are often compositied, meaning they are shot in pieces and assembled later on the computer. The major advantage to this style of shooting is you can make the light for each person perfect. The downside to the technique is the amount of post production involved, but I wanted to do it. One, it was a fun challenge and two, I really believe it makes a big difference in the quality of the shot. Now to be safe I did shoot the group all at once to have the shot locked in camera as it were. But then I asked everyone but a few people at at time to leave as I concentrated just on small groups. I shot eight individual groups, the background plus the seating area all separately. Everyone was a real good sport as I had them all take off their coats and gloves and hats, remember it was very cold. Anyway we shot it in about 1 hour total. Once I got back to the office and started to look at my RAW files I knew it was going to work and look great. There were a few logistical errors that I made while shooting but in the end they were easy enough to overcome with Photoshop. The shot came together really well and they were very pleased with the results. I made a little video to show the layering of the PS file. Its a little out of sequence and some steps were left out for expediency sake but it does give a good idea of what I did.. Enjoy.
Matthew Zeiler for Forbes
Cool assignment alert!! Forbes called with portrait assignment a couple months ago. Matt Zeiler is an interesting guy. The quick story is that while finishing up school and an internship he was approached by Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook to name a few with job offers for his field of speciality, Artificial Intelligence. While that could have been very lucrative, Matt decided to go on his own and start up a company, wow. Presenting Clarifai.. Now four years in, this tech startup is known for its software with image and video recognition.. No small feat considering his competition. The story editors wanted something interesting depicting Computers and AI. Problem with a lot of these type of shots, making things look techy, is that they can also look hokey. So I worked up a couple of portrait ideas using reflections and glass. I ended up with a partial reflection shot that I liked. Important also is that I had to be able to take this set up on location to the Clarifai NYC offices. So I bought a large piece of glass for the reflection and black background cards. The basic idea behind the shot was to see how the machine was looking at Matt. The actual portrait was rather simple. Matt was positioned in profile to the camera, with him looking into the glass which was at a 45 degree angle in front of him, and a black background behind them. I aimed a Profoto head through the glass positioned slightly behind Matt allowing for a little light to bleed over. The shot had very little variation possibilities from the profile position so we were done pretty quickly. The only thing I did in post was to add the blue overall color and to add a texture on to the glass reflection, in a shameless nod to the Matrix code kinda thing.. I really like how it turned out, cool without feeling I like I was trying to hard, and it also feels unique.
Then we walked around the office space and figured out 2-3 more portraits. After being with Matt for a few minutes I could see how relaxed he was even though the office was humming along.. So my next shot was to show him exactly as you would expect a young non-corporate guy in his space. I turned his chair around and had him get into a very casual pose. It did not feel forced at all and he looked great. Again 25-30 frames later and I got it. I don’t over shoot as general rule but sometimes things come together so quickly that you know you have it within the first few minutes, and this was one of those times..
Both Forbes and the folks at Clarafai liked the images. Successful shoot! Check out the story here on Forbes’s website
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.
Don Vultaggio founder of Arizona Ice Tea in his office.
AUTHOR PORTRAIT : NYNA GILES
Marketing and PR maven, Mental Health Advocate and now Writer. Whew! Nyna Giles has a full plate and now as an author of a new book, The Bridesmaid’s Daughter, soon to be released by St. Martin’s Press, I suspect she will be even more busy. Nyna was recommended to me via her agent with whom I had talked to some months back. I had a short call with Nyna as we discussed various aspects of the portrait session and how it would happen. She told me she was down in the Westchester area but was willing to drive up to Woodstock for our shoot.. How nice! So we set a date and decided on the style we would go for. That’s something I should probably mention if anyone was wondering how I do this. Unlike some photographers who have a unique look to their headshots and professional portraits I like to vary my approach to my subject. This doesn’t mean that the shots don’t look like my shots, in the end my stuff always looks like my stuff. Overall though the lighting type and quality of shadow or fill can really vary depending on the subjects face and desires. This has two benefits, first one is the lighting is tailored to the subjects face which is so important to creating flattering portraits, and two, I would get so bored if I did the same lighting for everyone. Anyway, back to Nyna, she had expressed a desire to have some classic looking images. Nyna’s new book is very personal story about her mother and the relationship she had with her growing up. Her mother was a former Ford model and had sat for many if not all the top photographers of her time. So with that in mind I wanted to stay very simple and create a modern version of any portrait you would see in the 60’s. Something that would feel timeless, portraits that would last. To Nyna’s credit she also wanted a hair and makeup person on the day of the shoot. Although this does add to the budget it can be so helpful, so we called around and Inanna King answered our call for hair help, and she brought with her Doria Riker to do makeup. POWER DUO!! They brought a pro polish to the shoot. The first shot came from a image that inspired me, shot sometime in the late 50’s. With big open light and a very flattering angle. This something I don’t often do, which is shoot down on my subjects. I usually like a very “level” to camera approach, but this looked great and felt good. I ended up converting this to black and white as well and did a very strong, contrasty and rich black technique which I ended really liking. Maybe even more than the color, though the color is very beautiful. Portraits can really be so different in feel based on their printing. That was my deep thought for the day..
Anyway, after moving on from that shot we went for a fairly safe direct portrait and again Nyna’s comfort in front of the camera made it easy to come away with another winner. This one required a little bit of playing with the light, as my first lighting set up did not flatter her face, so I quickly reset the light to a soft but very directional single head.. Her face was instantly sculpted and it brought out her eyes. Portrait number two done. As a third idea we had the thought of a casual looking image, something that would feel like a very good snapshot. Something that might have been taken at a party and was not set up in a studio. So we changed up wardrobe, lighting, and used a piece of vintage fabric as a background curtain. By using a continuous source film light we got a very different feel from the strobes we had been using. Not only did the color balance skew to very warm the heat and directionality of the light creates a completely environment for Nyna to be in. She saw the first few test frames come up on the screen and was immediately attracted to the quality of the light and feel. It felt completely different and cool. That elevated snapshot feel I wanted was there.. Shoot complete!
The response Nyna got to her portraits has been great and I cannot wait read her book and it’s fascinating story. Her site is going up right now and I will link back to it as soon as it’s ready, in the meantime you can read about Nyna on her site. The book is available for preorder through all the sellers..
Thanks Nyna for your trust in me to help bring your story to the world..
Enjoy the images.
Nyna Giles author of the Bridesmaid Daughter
Nyna Giles author of the Bridesmaid Daughter
Nyna Giles author of the Bridesmaid Daughter
Nyna Giles author of the Bridesmaid Daughter
NEWPORT RHODE ISLAND, INTERIOR PORTRAIT | CAROLYN RAFAELIAN
Another fun shoot for the folks at Forbes. Very cool one at that. A portrait session of jewelry designer and entrepreneur Carolyn Rafaelian of Alex and Ani fame. But the really cool part of this one was the mansion she owns and is meticulously restoring. The photo editor explains they need some shots of Carolyn to accompany a cover story that is in the works. I am to drive up to Newport and take some portraits in the mansion. Cool, I look up the location on the almighty Google and it’s fantastic! An amazing mansion by the name Belcourt. Carolyn and her team have been restoring this home piece by piece. It’s a great story, take a look at the profile Forbes did on it. So we pack up the car and drive up to Newport, arriving in the early afternoon. After gawking a bit at the grounds I go in to make contact with the PR person. They have a video shoot in progress so I meet with the construction supervisor. Funny story, at first he wants to kick me out. Turns out that even though the mansion is still not officially open, people wander in all the time asking for tours. After that got cleared up he showed around and we determined that were 2 great interiors that we could use as backgrounds for the photographs. The library and the upstairs dining room. The library is magnificent and after the guys do a little dust removal for us and take away the drop cloths we start lighting. The room is very tough to light, its very dark wood with a white ceiling and 3 sets of glass doors letting in daylight. Photographer’s dilemma. We have day light mixing with tungsten, yuck. Very dark mixing with very light. Interiors can be tough. I set up a couple lights and found that they quickly overpowered the room, killing the mood. Not what I wanted. I start my process of removing light, subtracting until we have a balance that feels natural and yet gives the subject enough luminance to stand out from the background. This was one of those portraits that the backgrounds were as important as the main subject. So equal love needed to be shown to both. Carolyn comes in and after a quick styling decision we are ready to shoot. I literally get the shot in about 10 frames, so we try a few different things but I know we have it. So we quickly move up to my second interior location, the dining room. Now normally I would have had this shot technically all sussed out and ready to go but due to the lack of prep time we did not. I knew what I wanted though and I knew I could get away with all available light. So with my subject right there I quickly shot a few test frames and locked everything in. Very stressful. I do not advise anyone to work out tech stuff in front of their subject. Luckily the room glowed with light and the shot came together in seconds. I started with her off center but it felt unbalanced in my very symmetrical composition, so I had her sit dead center. Voila, again 10-15 frames and we had it. When she and her team saw the images on the computer they were very very happy. Yay! I got the thumbs up from the photo team at Forbes as well.
If you want to see what else I have shot for Forbes take a look.
New York City Editorial Portrait | Nedo Bellucci for Forbes Life Magazine
New York City Editorial Portrait | The Dead Rabbit : Grocery and Grog
Washington DC Executive Portrait | Marillyn Hewson for Forbes Magazine
TODD MIHAN : CD COVER AND PROMO PHOTOGRAPHY
For a few years now I have been watching Todd Mihan play his weekly youtube videos. If you have never seen him play and want to be knocked out go check him out. His range on the guitar is so wide, going from burning country to full out rock speed, to soft melodic chord work. So I was knocked out when he approached me to do his album art. Being a guitar player myself I love collaborating with other musicians, and these portraits proved to be terrific. Todd and I had a fairly brief telephone conversation discussing the album name, Compass, and some shoot concepts. I told him that I would brainstorm a little with Lucia and come up with some visuals around the album name.. Lucia immediately saw a compass reference in an intersection. A crossroads of sorts. I really loved the concept and started scouting. My idea was to have that road that Tom Hanks parks on at the end of the movie Castaway. A four way dirt road intersection. Todd had also expressed a desire to somehow incorporate his new Jeep, so this was perfect.. After striking out finding what I wanted I went to Facebook and asked my community if they had any ideas. We got lots of suggestions, but none were perfect. After a few hours of driving around I realized that I was referring to this “scene” as a Crossroads.. Once that set in my head, it bugged me that I went right to Eric Clapton, everytime. So I decided to lose that idea, which was too bad as I had invested a lot of time and energy, but it really didn’t feel right anymore. So, what now? We had an early idea to shoot on a beach, I had seen some images that really appealed to me. A guy walking on the beach, black and white, very moody. Ok cool how to make it happen? Nearest beach was too far a drive so we started looking for maybe a river scene. We do after all live near one of the most beautiful rivers, so this should work. Lucia then remembered seeing some pictures of a beach in Kingston. After a quick bit of Googling we knew we had the location. Kingston Point Beach. So we went and scounted and it was perfect. I wanted a certain look for the shoot and I knew it would happen at the end of the day. Low light portraits. The sun had to be down so the light was very flat. I was going to do a bit of magic in post production after the fact so I needed this very flat light. Todd showed up around 4PM and we started to figure out where we would set him up. Then we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally around six the sun had gone down enough to make this magical shadowless light source. Lucia ran up and down the beach like a crazy person clapping her hands and making the seagulls take flight. In some frames you can see 20-30 birds, but in our final we have one lone bird flying. Todd was super relaxed and trusted us, and we shot 4-5 set ups. Many of which you can see on the CD. The shoot was fantastic, we got a lot of really nice images. We then followed up with a studio shoot at my place to do some more controlled things. Again we got some great images. In the end Todd was super pleased with the results and has the work feature heavily on the album. I could not have been more excited to do this. Thanks Todd. Want hear more from Todd go check out his site. http://www.toddmihan.com/
Behind the scenes with Todd Mihan
Behind the scenes with Todd Mihan
CD art of Todd Mihan
CD art of Todd Mihan
Album Art for Todd Mihan at Kingston Beach
Album Art for Todd Mihan
Album Art for Todd Mihan at Kingston Beach
Album Art for Todd Mihan
Portrait of Todd Mihan
HUDSON NEW YORK AUTHOR PORTRAIT | CHLOE CALDWELL
A little rain didn’t stop me or my wonderful subject, author Chloe Caldwell who bravely ventured and indulged my photo safari in the gray, 45 degree misty day for an hour or two. On assignment for Chronogram Magazine I met up with Chloe at her place for her author portrait and we walked for a couple of miles, exploring Hudson all the while photographing. One of the best parts of photographing authors is that they make some of the best subjects to talk to, never a lull in the conversation. Most authors however do not like the camera much. Chloe was different in this regard, she had both the gift of conversation and a certain self assuredness that as we walked and talked the portraits kind of made themselves. Hudson as a backdrop was fun and the damp inclement weather made for a softer feel. When I got back to the office and and uploaded the files to my computer I was knocked out at how many shots we had done, and more interestingly how many I really liked. Chronogram usually runs one or at most two author portrait images, so I thought everyone might like a look at what I got, there were more but I narrowed it down to these. Thanks Chloe for making my job easy, it was great talking and spending an hour or two in the rain with you.
Photography, Hudson Valley Portrait Photography, Portrait Photographer, Portraits,
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.
WOODSTOCK NEW YORK PORTRAIT | LUCAS HANDWERKER
I had the pleasure of meeting Lucas Handwerker several years back and did some really nice shots of him in the studio. Cut to several months back and I get an email from Lucas wanting to use one of the images on a bill board for his upcoming show at the Woodstock Playhouse. I agreed to send him the image and I knew I wanted to see the show as well. Lucas describes himself as an actor playing a psychic. Well this is really a simplification of what he does. He uses his knowledge of human tendencies, body language and a very focused intuition to guess and trick the audience. His show was so good and lucas was so on point for such a young man that I came away from it not only amazed by his performance but really jazzed to photograph him again as well. So I messaged him a day or two after the show and told him I wanted to work with him again, and happily he agreed. We met at my place again, but this time I wanted the shots to feel more timeless and maybe even bit older in era and style. We had a great session, Lucas brought some of his stage props to the shoot which was cool. I love so many of these shots, I’m only showing my top faves but there were more. Enjoy the images. Check out Lucas whenever he is performing, guaranteed to not disappoint.
WOODSTOCK NEW YORK CD PHOTOGRAPHY | LINDSEY WEBSTER
Lindsey Webster again? Yes again, and better than ever! I have had the pleasure of photographing Lindsey several times before and the shoots have always yielded a nice batch of images for Lindsey and her band to use as promo and album covers. This time the pressure felt like it was on a bit more as The Lindsey Webster Band has just signed on with a new label. So everyone involved from Lindsey to her label people seemed to be concerned about getting specific images they could use for the upcoming album and show promo material. This of course adds pressure on the day of the shoot. I have never not performed on a shoot so i was not so worried, but i do want everyone to be happy so I did feel some pre-shoot concern. I had done a lot of research into what I wanted to capture so we could shoot without over thinking the moment. Normally I let my shoots evolve a bit more organically as we are going along but on this one I had 4 concrete ideas that I wanted to explore, and also because we had more people involved it helped keep on schedule. Speaking of more people, I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful hair and makeup person we used, AnneMichelle Radcliffe. AnneMichelle brought in a full on suitcase of goodies and she was a pro! I cannot reiterate how important good makeup and hair can be. It will take so much time off of the post production end of any job not to mention that the look is really established before your subject even steps in front of the camera. So with hair and make up ready to go Lindsey sat in front of the camera and we started with the hardest shot which was the cover. Having worked with Lindsey in the past certainly helped put her at ease, but in all honesty she was great without my direction. We shot for an hour or two with a gray backdrop and changed up the set and did a few more things before we headed out to uptown Kingston to shoot some environmental images. In all we came away with many really nice images many you might have seen already as Lindsey is already using them for various social media announcements. Lindsey’s new album is scheduled to release in November 2016, can’t wait to hear it and see the images featured. Want more info, go check out her websitefor all the details. Thanks Lindsey!
WOODSTOCK NEW YORK PORTRAIT | JOHN SEBASTIAN
So in total I have had the pleasure of photographing John Sebastian three times in the last 3-4 years. He sat in a while back for the Woodstock Writers Fest- EyeBob collaboration. we spent maybe 5 minutes together back then but got some cool shots. Flash forward to September of last year and I get a call to photograph John for his elementary school for their alumni magazine. I got to spend some time with him at a local studio and we produced a couple nice shots, I have included them in the images. But even more fun than just photographing him, I got to discuss guitars with him. Now those of you who know me well, know that I just love guitars and could talk about them all day, it’s kinda of a problem actually, well honestly the real problem is I cannot play that well and have no room for a guitar collection. But besides that I do love me some guitar.. Anyway, with John being so charming and knowledgeable on the subject, we ended up talking probably more than we shot.. Now flash forward to a month or so ago and I get a call from John, he needed some shots and wanted to know if I could help out and, well, OF course! So he came over and brought one of his guitars and an auto harp. I had decided prior to his arrival that I wanted to do a very graphic and stark B/W shot of him, possibly in a way that he has not been photographed before. When John arrived I told him of my idea and he was game so we went into the studio/mancave and did a couple of setups. He was very relaxed in front of the camera, we shot for a little less than an hour and created 2-3 superb portraits (if I say so myself). We have since gotten together a couple times and again talked guitars more than photography, and in my book that’s a good time. Thanks John, I so look forward to our next get together!
29 JAN GROUP PORTRAIT FOR MOONFARMER.
Posted at 14:34h in Uncategorized by francovogt 1 Comment
So this shoot came about through a series of events. It all starts with local filmmaker Aaron Weisblatt. He and his team started a campaign on Seed&Spark to fund his new short film, Rooster and the Queen. I had decided to offer a portrait session or two as an incentive/gift for would be donors to the film. Kale Kaposhilin over at Moonfarmergraciously donated to Aarons cause and in turn got my portrait gift. After speaking with Kale on the phone we went over some details of what he had in mind and how we could pull off something interesting. The idea first floated was shooting at their space in uptown Kingston, but after talking about it we decided it was going to be too tight to get the the whole team of 15 people in the frame. Kale suggested the use of the BSP performance space. I immediately loved the idea, it had plenty of room and cool possibilities. So we set a date. Fast forward to the shoot. Lucia and I met with Kale and Erin at the space on a very cold January day and went scouting. First thing you have to know is that when BSP is not being used it’s not heated, so the back room where we were to shoot was probably around 35 degrees. Its all very dimly lit, but one thing I did see right away was a curtain with icicle lights. Shazam!! Very cool backdrop. Next Lucia started looking for chairs, stools and whatever else we could use as seating. The idea was to have a wide shot of the team sitting and standing. I did not want a flat shot so we varied the heights and depths of the sitters. Next came the lighting, I wanted a more dramatic quality to this shot, something fitting the coolness of Moonfarmer and what they do, which if have not seen you must go look. So I used 2 of my largest lights off to the side. OK, here is where it gets interesting. I wanted to shoot the portrait in a painterly style. If you have ever seen an Annie Leibowitz portrait of a large group, like the ones she does for Vanity Fair you know what I mean. These shots are often compositied, meaning they are shot in pieces and assembled later on the computer. The major advantage to this style of shooting is you can make the light for each person perfect. The downside to the technique is the amount of post production involved, but I wanted to do it. One, it was a fun challenge and two, I really believe it makes a big difference in the quality of the shot. Now to be safe I did shoot the group all at once to have the shot locked in camera as it were. But then I asked everyone but a few people at at time to leave as I concentrated just on small groups. I shot eight individual groups, the background plus the seating area all separately. Everyone was a real good sport as I had them all take off their coats and gloves and hats, remember it was very cold. Anyway we shot it in about 1 hour total. Once I got back to the office and started to look at my RAW files I knew it was going to work and look great. There were a few logistical errors that I made while shooting but in the end they were easy enough to overcome with Photoshop. The shot came together really well and they were very pleased with the results. I made a little video to show the layering of the PS file. Its a little out of sequence and some steps were left out for expediency sake but it does give a good idea of what I did.. Enjoy.
Big, and I mean very big thanks to Moonfarmer and especially to Kale who was very trusting of the process and let me have fun..
The Team at Moonfarmer.com
ULSTER COUNTY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
I received a call from Brian Mahoney over at Luminary Media telling me that they had a new client, The Ulster County office of Business Development, whose main purpose is promoting and nurturing business in Ulster County. An organization that helps small and large businesses with various resources and guidance, and who couldn’t use that?
He mentioned that their next ad was going to be with the folks over at Fruition Chocolate. I had met Fruition’s creators Bryan Graham and his wife Dahlia in passing a while back so I was excited to partner with them and create a working relationship.
After talking with Bartek Starodaj the account manager at Luminary, and seeing what he had in mind we set a shoot date and schedule.
Lucia and I showed up at the Fruition shop in Shokan and met Bryan who promptly told me he had never seen a photograph of himself that he liked. Alright, challange number one. A young woman on his staff gave us a quick tour so we could see the facilities and scout possible shot areas. The actual “factory” space was very clean and sparse in it’s photographic appeal. So it was time to make photo magic, challenge number two. We start setting up in the front of the store, the retail area of the shop, as it was nice looking and had the display cases as a background, but soon found it to be a bit busy and compositionally unfocused. In the back area of the shop where they process the beans there is a bean storage area. Within this room there were big sacks of unroasted cocoa beans. The room itself was really unadorned but it did make for a clean background in which to put Bryan and the folks from the business development office. There was a big window to one side of the room letting in daylight. Needing gobs of light to work with I placed a large shoot through umbrella outside and blasted it through the window, adding to the daylight. Back inside we took a few test frames and we were good to go, with not a minute to spare. As it seems with most photo shoots, there is never enough time.
We positioned Bryan and the three staff members of the UCBD and carefully arranged them so we were not getting a complete back shot on anyone. I then instructed Bryan to basically show the others what the beans looked liked and give a little talk on the subject of chocolate. Bryan clearly knows he stuff and instantly relaxed while talking to the group. We shot 20-30 frames and then slightly rearranged everyone and shot another 20-30 frames and we were done. Suzanne Holt and staff were able to leave on time and get to other scheduled meetings.
In post production I took out a few distracting elements and cleaned up everyone a bit, but that was it. This was a mostly in camera affair, just like I like it.
Thanks so much to Fruition, the UCBD team, Luminary Media and Brian Mahoney for having me. Hope I can work on future shoots with you all.
RHINEBECK, NEW YORK EDITORIAL PORTRAIT | CARY FOWLER
When I got the portrait assignment from Chronogram to photograph Cary Fowler I was very excited to meet the man behind the Seed Vault. What’s the Seed Vault you might ask? Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a vault up near the top of the world in Norway containing agricultural seeds from all over the planet. Why? To preserve and archive that’s why..
So, most countries have their own vaults, with seeds from their own land. What has happened though and tragically more than a few times is that these local vaults have become compromised or completely destroyed. War, flooding or other natural events or simply mechanical issues have destroyed these seeds. So in an effort to combat these issues, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was born. A world vault if you will containing roughly 930,000 samples. I urge you to read more about this as it’s a foward thinking concept that is attempting to preserve our seed heritage. Cary also has a book out about the vault with many incredible images called Seeds on Ice, check it out. I also an interview on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, they ran a good story on him.
Oh right, my shoot.. Cary was a easy going man to photograph, I met him and his wife at their beautiful home in Rhinebeck. He showed me around and I saw a couple things but I really wanted photograph him with the seriousness that someone of his caliber deserves, so I set up a small studio shot in his kitchen. I then also decided I wanted the shot to be in black and white, I wanted gravitas.. The shot came together really quick, and after no more than 30-40 frames I had it. We quickly moved on to his office, where I got a sense of who Cary is. He apologized for the messiness, he had been traveling he mentioned. After seeing his level of disorder, it occurred to me that my office looks like I have been away for 25 years.. After the office Cary brought me to the greenhouse. Wow! Something so amazing to see, a fully verdant greenhouse in the late part of the winter. I took some shots but these felt more obligatory and somewhat expected in nature. In the end Chronogram ran the studio portrait full page and its looks great.
Thanks so much Cary, great pleasure meeting you.
TAGS: Cary Fowler, chronogram magazine, editorial photography, Franco Vogt photography, Headshot Photography, Hudson Valley Portrait Photography, Portrait Photographer, Portraits, Portraiture, Seeds on Ice,