May 032017
 

Editorial Photographer Tear Sheet

LACC Jazz Band - Editorial Photography

 

Late last year I photographed the Los Angeles Community College Studio Jazz Band for the Chronicle of Higher Education as they rehearsed for the following night’s concert. The story was about how the school had just received a $10 million grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation, which would be used to make tuition free for all music majors. Alpert, a jazz musician who founded A&M Records, and his foundation already had a history with donating to the school, but last year decided they wanted to give a legacy donation that would make a big difference in the lives of LACC students. The story reminded me of an episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast that I listened to a few months ago in which he discusses a man named Hank Rowan who, in 1992, decided to give a $100 million donation to a local community college in order to create an entire engineering department. The podcast argues that more donors should think this way rather than only giving to the top Ivy League schools, which today have endowments in the multiple billions of dollars, but generally educate people who are starting with a lot of advantages. Thus the money doesn’t really do a lot for them in the way it would for the underserved students attending the small schools. It appears the Herb Alpert Foundation had a similar mindset. It was great to not only meet some of the beneficiaries of the foundation’s generosity, but also sit in on what felt like a private concert put on by a talented group of students.

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Apr 242017
 

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine - Pink Flamingo

Tear sheet - Zibbz

I got to spend some time last month with Swiss brother and sister rock duo Zibbz at their Los Angeles bungalow for a profile just published in Blick Magazine. The magazine wanted to show their home lifestyle, in what it referred to as their “hippie flat,” for an article that would coincide with the release of their new single, “Run,” which just came out on March 10th. They were great to work with, allowing me to shoot wherever I wanted, even climbing up on the roof with me despite the fact that it was in the middle of an unusually hot day. Unfortunately those photos didn’t work out, but I appreciated their effort! If you read German you can learn more about them here. If not, you can at least check out their new music video.

 

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine - musicians, available light

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine

Zibbz musicians editorial for Blick magazine

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine

 

Apr 232013
 

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis World Tour poster

 

To borrow a line from their hit single “Thrift Shop,” the above headline is what was going through my head while shooting the world tour poster for the hip-hop collaboration Macklemore & Ryan Lewis two weeks ago on a dry lakebed 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Shooting a world-famous hip-hop group in the middle of nowhere with live animals, including a very large, and fortunately very well behaved, tiger. Just another Tuesday, right?

The image references their song lyrics as well as their recent music video for their song “Can’t Hold Us,” which includes shots of their trumpeter Owuor (sounds like “No War”), riding a camel. It was conceived by Macklemore and Ryan and I was stoked when they called on me to execute it. The image is currently being used to promote their upcoming world tour on the heels of the release of their new album, The Heist.

Making the shoot happen was no easy task, and owes a lot to the group’s producers, Nic and Honna, who managed to arrange for the musicians, a live camel, tiger and flamingos, a variety of props including a rare 1980’s Cadillac they found in San Diego, me, my assistant and all of the lighting and grip gear I requested, to be assembled out in the middle of nowhere. Once together, my role was as much photographer as it was director, not only composing and lighting the shot, but communicating with the talent and the numerous animal wranglers (from Hollywood Animals and Gentle Jungle), who were fantastic when it came to getting the animals in the right place at the right time. And if things weren’t already interesting, we had to contend with 30 mph winds that knocked over props, knocked hair out of place and turned the 8-foot octabox on my key light into a giant power kite that at times required the strength of my assistant, two producers and four sandbags to keep it from flying away. Also, as you can imagine, the tiger could not be in the same shot as the camel or flamingos, lest she become a little…hungry. She was, as I said, well behaved, but not so much that she wouldn’t be interested in some tasty pink snacks. So we had to shoot plates of the tiger and flamingoes separately, that were later combined in post.

The group was fun, but was all about business, which made working with them a great experience. What I like best about them is their insistence on going it alone despite offers to join the ranks of numerous labels. (Hard to blame the labels for wanting them considering the “Thrift Shop” video now tops 250 million You Tube views, as well as their recent appearances on SNL, Conan and the MTV Movie Awards.) This means they have creative control over everything they do, which I’m sure is a dream for many creatives with their level of success.

Word is they’ll be in Europe most of the spring and summer and will be returning to tour the U.S. in the fall. You can find out more at www.macklemore.com

And in case you doubt that the tiger was real…

 

tiger

Sep 242011
 

Big Talk at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas

Big Talk at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas

Last week I photographed the Stella Artois Draught Master competition at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. It was my second year in a row shooting the event and was much improved this year with the addition of a rock show by Vegas locals Big Talk to finish off the night. The band is a side project of The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr., who in this band takes the role as lead singer and guitarist. The show was pretty good and helped draw a nice crowd to the event. I’d never heard of the band before, but of course am at least somewhat familiar with The Killers. Brandon Flowers, The Killers’ lead singer, made a crowd-pleasing guest appearance midway through the show actually. This is a shot I like from the end of the evening. I was pretty much done shooting the action and retreated to the bar to take a break. The color of the stage lights contrasted nicely with the color of the liquor bottles lining the bar shelf. Vannucci is actually a very expressive singer and I got numerous shots of him belting out the lyrics, head up, eyes closed, mouth agape. The image lacks that moment for me, but the color combo helps make up for it.

The next day I stuck around for a portrait shoot I’d set up on the side. It gave me the opportunity to explore Vegas off the strip, which I rarely have done. Most of my visits there are results of gigs that usually take place somewhere along the strip. It was nice to see more. I’ll show the results of that day’s work soon.

Nov 222010
 

Rock Show Kibitz Room Los Angeles

Black Mambooza at the Kibitz Room at Canter's Deli

A woman dances under red lights at the Kibitz Room in Los Angeles

Devil at the Kibitz Room at Canter's Deli

Kibitz room doorway, Los Angeles

Kibitz Room

I had a rockin’ week starting with watching my friend Curtis record a track in a garage studio behind his house and ending with a night at the Kibitz Room at Canter’s Deli where we watched his roommate’s band, Black Mambooza, perform. I’ve only had a few experiences at the Kibitz Room, but they’re usually memorable. It’s a dark place with colorful people. Photos from Curtis’ studio after the jump!

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Jun 112010
 

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Geffen A&M

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine at the Thom Thom Club, Interscope Records, Santa Monica, Calif.

Last Friday I received a last minute call from the Financial Times in London asking me to head over to Interscope Records in Santa Monica to photograph Jimmy Iovine, the co-founder of Interscope Records, for a story they were doing on Iovine’s latest business venture, Beats by Dre, a line of high-end headphones that he is hoping brings about a higher level of appreciation for the quality of music being produced in the studio, but which is most often listened to using laptop speakers or iPod’s ear buds. When I got on the phone with his PR rep, she informed me that a last minute change of plans was making it possible that Dr. Dre, the company co-creator and namesake, not to mention hip-hop legend, would be available for the shoot. With little time and no budget for an assistant, I woke Erinn up and asked if she wanted to go meet Dr. Dre. After thinking about it for, say, 1.5 seconds she agreed to come along and help me out.

When we got there the initial plan was to shoot in Iovine’s office, which looks more like a typical fancy living room, except that along the oak-paneled walls are numerous photos of Iovine with the various rock legends he has produced or recorded over the years. I recall seeing photos of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan among others. More recently, Interscope produces Lady GaGa, Puff Daddy and Eminem. He is credited with handing Eminem’s demo tape to Dr. Dre, who produced him on his Aftermath label and also produced the Curtis Hanson film 8-Mile. Despite the nice setting I asked if we could go to one of their recording studios across the street, which is where we initially set up for the shoot. While they were waiting for one of his assistants to bring down a few sets of earphones, he invited us to look around the rest of the studio and it turns out there’s a full-blown nightclub in the back, called the Thom Thom club, with a DJ booth that has a custom sign saying ‘The Dr.’s In!” that’s only to be lit up when Dre is in the house. As you can see, we decided to forego the cliched studio shot. The whole facility was pretty amazing. There were a couple full-sized recording studios with soundboards wider than my living room and tray tables covered with bottles of Hennessy, vodka, candy bars and chewing gum. Down hallways from there are a full kitchen and a rec room with a pingpong table. It looks like a pretty comfortable place to hole up for a multi-day recording session.

After we set the location, the shoot was pretty simple. We brought the lights in and, with some help from his assistants, rearranged the DJ booth to suit our needs and began shooting. Both subjects were very cool and patient during the shoot, making my job pretty easy. Ten minutes later we were done.

From there we packed everything up and headed out. On the way home a bolt came loose on my right front caliper, causing it to grind into the wheel rim. But that’s another story. At least the first half of the day was good.

The article just posted today and can be seen here.