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Q&A: Volume Two

May 22

In Questions at 5:18am

1.  It seems like you’re always traveling.  Do you ever get some down time?  What do you like to do when you’re at home and you don’t have to work for a few days?  Does not working drive you crazy?

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I do travel a great deal. It’s the life I bargained for many years ago. My dad helped me get a student credential to the 1974 Democratic National Convention, and I was awestruck. I was surrounded by veteran shooters, wire guys, and they were all conversing. “Yeah, I got this then the Olympics, then the the campaign trail then the Inaugural. I’m on the road for…..” And I thought right then, this is the life I want. I want to be there where things great and small, curious and odd, momentous and cool, are happening. I want this camera to give me a ticket to the world.

Be careful what you wish for. This year, with Delta, I crossed two million miles. They sent me a thank you card and a choice of a gift, congratulating me on my “achievement.” I was happy enough with the gift but dubious about the notion that slinging my sorry ass onto a whole bunch of fast moving metal tubes with wings could be construed as an “achievement.”

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Getting up at 3am, flopping into a car service and making a 6am depart outta someplace like Laguardia, which is the airport equivalent of a condemned building, is just something you do to get somewhere. You got a job, so you go. You go early in the day before the tarmacs at the NY airports start to look as jammed as the access lanes to the Triboro Bridge, and because the early morning flights are often cheaper. It sucks.

But, it’s what I do. Not working does not drive me crazy at this point, except when I look at the monthly bills. Fear is a great motivator. I’ve occasionally been broker than a church mouse, trying to hang onto the tail of photo dragon for all these years, and been knocked about pretty good. So, I love some down time, and need it to recharge, rethink, and do some conjuring, but at the same time, work remains like a dinner bell. I answer the call.

My downtime is super unambitious. Heaven to me is time at home with Annie, windows open, summer breeze, bird chirps from the woods around our house. Good takeout sushi. Bottle of wine. Silly movie on TV, Annie and I on the couch. Sammy the cat, who has basically imprinted Annie as her mother, nestles on Annie’s chest, forcing a momentary break in her legendarily continuous work ethic. My head kicks over on Annie’s shoulder. It’s quiet. This is heaven. This is not the road.

2.  What’s the deal with your comic book-fueled youth?  DC or Marvel?  Which hero/heroes are/were your favorites?  (And if you could have your own super powers, what would they be?)

I went to five different grammar schools. It was often unpleasant, being the new kid on a continuous basis. So, I lost myself often times in tales of fantasy and ancient lore, or comic book heroes, or adventure stories such as those spun by Jack London. It definitely affected the way I see the world, the way I see color, and to a degree how I sort out the camera POV. Larger than life, hero sort of  stuff creeps into my work, often times. Witness a long ago cover of Vince Carter for SI for Kids.

Carter cover

I was resolutely a Marvel reader. Superman just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was that the Marvel crew was always more complicated, and angst ridden. I liked Hulk, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four. I also read a bunch of Conan. On the DC side, I have to admit I did read a lot of Green Lantern (the recent movie version was totally lame), and The Flash. I was always intrigued by these emotionally crippled or compromised characters who had this amazing thing they could do. The stranger, the better. My mother drew the line, though, when I wanted to do an 8th grade book report on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She thought the nuns would start sayin’ Novenas for me.

I guess I would like to fly, and be able to hover. That would cure the need to rent a helicopter, or mess around with drones. It would help with the budget on some of my jobs.

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Cool photo, I would have like to have your detailed descriptions like you normally do. I got the Slow Sync, perhaps Rear but hard to tell. The warm tungsten with the pink on Paloma is simply beautiful, just wondering how you lit this one. Thank You

 This was a film shot that cost me (actually, LIFE magazine) $5000 before I even took the cameras out of the bag. That was the price for me to walk onstage at the Met in NY. We were after a unique look, and given that price structure, it was in fact pretty rare to see this point of view.

It was shot on 6×6 chrome, and I chose a daylight film. Hence the background warmth, which of course bleeds into the foreground coloration as well. It was a one light picture, a 74″ Octa up and to camera left. Paloma moves, and my shutter speed, being about 1/4 of a second as I recall, shows that movement, mixed in with the stopping power of flash. Part of her body ghosts so thoroughly it basically disappears. This would have been a Profoto Acute light, AC powered, 2400ws unit. (Though I’m sure the pack was not at full pop.)

And that was about it. One flash, big source, shutter drag, and we were off the stage. Pretty quick shoot. They don’t let you linger up there on those famous boards.

Keep sending questions, if there is interest. We’ll keep a list and keep answering them!

More tk….

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Back to China

May 19

In In The Field, Jobs at 5:06am

Returning to Beijing this week, one of the more resolutely fascinating cities I have ever been to. Been there many times, though it is far too large, too energetic, and too rapidly tilting and shifting for me to …

Changing the light bulbs on the coke sign in Times Square

A Quick Lighting Build in Times Square

May 12

In Lighting at 12:17pm

Ah, the crossroads of the world, Times Square, New York City. Neon blares, thespians tread on venerably historic stages, with fashions, movies, and the cult of celebrity all shining brightly outside. It’s really the only place I’ve been …

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Throwback Thursday

May 7

In history at 9:59am

Just visited my old haunts at ABC TV, where the gracious editors let me peruse some of my old pics, and offered me a few scans to have for my archive. I was a staff photographer there during …

A Tripod in the Desert!

May 4

In Gear, In The Field, Jobs at 4:41am

I’m a perennial idea recycler. I’ve had picture notions rattling around in my head for years that have never met the click of a shutter. They’re the things in the attic of my head that go bump in …