Assignment: Deep Within the Recesses of the Earth

When I got the call to make photographs inside a copper mine that had been abandoned for a decade, with no electricity or lights, it was at once exciting and scary. It was a new client who had come across my web site and selected me based on my corporate and industrial experience. The company who had just bought the old mine had new technology that could mine for copper more efficiently than ever before. Now they were having their engineers make plans to put it back into operation and they needed a prospectus, complete with compelling photographs to entice investors.

The Challenge: Making photographs deep within a pitch mining tunnel, showing veins of copper and engineers examining the rock. We had no photography list and so It was up to me to “make it up as I went” and make a creative set of photographs. Even the entrance to the mine was in a state of disrepair that needed creative angles to describe the size and depth.

The Solution: For days before the shoot I fretted over what lighting technique to use. I learned that the walls would be about 10 feet wide and the ceiling to the tunnel, also about 10 feet high. I considered a power generator, then discounted creating potentially dangerous fumes and setting up a vibration. I settled on some form of painting – with – light. I rehearsed around the house and studio after dark with all the lights turned off – painting with a powerful flashlight and also with bursts of a speedlight. When the day came that I entered the cave I had a plan. The light painting created beautiful depth and texture and dramatic appeal that the client loved. When copper prices soared the next month, my client told me they were Riding the Tiger and we'd be doing another project soon.

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Real People at Work

Shooting for the Washington DC small business advocacy group, the REAL PEOPLE working their trade proved to have the energy and personality to propel the campaign.

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Assignment > Challenge > Solution

THE ASSIGNMENT: A campaign series for a major medical group, including scenes of real surgeons in simulated surgery.

THE CHALLENGE: Working in tandem with a video crew, mixing hot lights with ambient light, I needed to quickly create a dynamic image with a sense of urgency.

THE SOLUTION: Stepping in with a wide angle lens and asking the surgeons to act out the steps of a procedure allowed me to catch the surgeon on the left turned to view a display, setting up a dynamic image.

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Stylized Portraits

In a recent photo session, we made stylized portraits for the clients. Energized, crazy-cool-sexy stuff was the goal. I went free-form with the lighting and propping and the portrait clients added the personality.

A portrait session like this is a progressive event for both the photographer and the subject. It is important to completely involve the client in the process. If I say, “Let’s try this out … it may or may not work, but let’s experiment”, then it becomes OK with the subject to be loose and take a chance – usually resulting in a spontaneous look.

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Shooting with Tom Bergeron

During a recent photo shoot with Tom Bergeron, host of Dancing With the Stars, Tom confided to me that he was not always so relaxed in front of a still camera. When broadcasting to millions of viewers across America, no problem.  He told me that he started to practice in the mirror. I’ve done that, so I can relate. He rehearsed so he could understood how to generate a variety of facial expressions. We were shooting a public service announcement ad for Muscular Dystrophy Association. The photo session was dynamic. It was a delight working with a true professional like Tom.

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Annual Report Challenges

I stood on a platform at the edge of the telescope after a two hour drive up the volcano. Breathing from an oxygen canister at a 13,600 foot elevation, I surveyed my first shot of the morning

The Challenge: Compose and light a cavernous area of hydraulic mirror controllers while showing engineers in a dynamic setting.

The Solution: Position myself, my camera and laptop on a portable hydraulic lift to achieve the composition. I placed lights and rehearsed the action of the engineers.

The Result: A spread in the Annual Report that delighted the CEO, inspired the investors and gave the marketing department confidence. The funding allowed the scientists to continue their research.

From the board room to the assembly line, on location or in my studio, I envision every possibility to create successful photographic solutions for my clients. Valued collaboration and communication with the client create results within realistic budgets. See the Corporate Photography Online Portfolio.

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Portrait of the Artist

Chris Deverill is a sculptor who is establishing himself in the West with extraordinary work. We had photographed some of his pieces several weeks ago. Chris contacted me about making a portrait for American Artist Magazine and for some of his upcoming shows.

The Challenge: Create an environment that felt like a workplace and gallery and that would convey Chris as a personable artist.

The Solution: I built a set in the corner of the studio using a window to give the feel of natural light. I placed his sculptures in the near, medium range and background for a sense of depth. I added lighting with an irregular pattern on the back wall.

The Result: A portrait of the artist that is engaging and will be published in magazines and press releases. The image will also be printed for gallery displays and literature.

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Stylizing the Location

Arizona Mail Order Company is a long standing client for whom I shoot women’s shoes and clothing accessories in the studio and on location. AMO is one of the largest mail order companies of its kind and competes on a national level in the sales on medium prices shoes. The art directors come to me for “location” photography to match looks of mountain trails, gardens, beaches, marinas and urban scenes, all of which get constructed just outside my studio in the Southwestern desert.

The Challenge: Create an environment that simulates an Eastern beachside, a resort poolside, a potting shed and a marina with props gathered from around the studio and various suppliers.

The Solution: I gathered my materials and then built medium size sets on the studio grounds where I could use sections of hardscaping and sand from the desert wash to simulate a beach. I crafted these sets as if doing a window dressing, placing the shoes according to the art director’s layout.

The Result: Images of shoes that matched the locations in a convincing way. The art and marketing directors were pleased but the real test is in the sales generated from the pages. Statistically every book we have produced together has shown an increased revenue for my client.

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Shoot for the Sun

The Boneyard Project at Pima Air & Space Museum presents spectacular photographic possibilities. This shot into the sun added energy and dynamic to the image.

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Assignment: On Top of the World

The WM Keck Observatory is respected by leading astronomers and scholars world wide. Situated on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, the twin 10 meter telescopes gather data that is transmitted to the Remote Operations at Headquarters in Waimea. Scientists then interpret and distribute their newest findings about the workings and origins of the universe.

The Challenge: Make inspirational photographic images of the people and facilities at Keck that will motivate others to become involved within the community and inspire financial contributions.

The Solution: As a repeat client, I was familiar with Keck’s facility and many of the staff. I could already imagine how to utilize props, people and light to make fresh images. I worked at Headquarters and at the Observatory on the Summit with strobe lights and my Canon 1Ds Mark III wirelessly tethered to my PowerBook. I proceeded to build lighting patterns and place subjects to create imaginative, compelling images.

The Result: Fresh Annual Report images that have personality and graphic appeal, complimenting Keck’s slogan: Let the Universe Inspire You.

See Keck Observatory’s new COSMIC MATTERS Blog: http://keckobservatory.org/blog

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Telling Gabby’s Story

Photo session with Gabby and Mark for MAKERS in connection with AOL / PBS. MAKERS features the stories of women. Gabby told of her life, career, recovery and future.

See MAKERS at www.makers.com.

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