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Archive for the ‘Upcoming Events’ Category


Mar 22

In Upcoming Events at 11:23pm

Heading to Beantown for the big meet up at the twice yearly NAPP fest, Photoshop World, ’09. Looking forward to it. I’ve been to many, many photojournalistic conclaves over the years, some of which have been truly profound and moving, while others have been sort of listless and self important. Let me say that “listlessness” is not on the menu for Boston. The energy of the PSW gatherings is bracing. People are jazzed. Truly jazzed. I mean, people camp out at the doors for Scott Kelby’s classes like they did outside of Apple stores the night before they released the Iphone. And what Scott doles out in terms of wit and wisdom is worth alot more than an Iphone, so it’s no mystery why folks are lined up.

Ahoy, matie! Mooster and I do a pre-con Safari, where we lecture and then hit the high seas with a bunch of folks to do flash portrait sessions on board the USS Constitution. It’s a great opportunity for Moose and I to explore our future as Somali pirates. Hey, I figure it’s one of the few growth industries around. It’d be cool, you know, going “Aargh!” and making off with a supertanker. (How do you say that in Somali, I wonder?)

I really don’t have the cojones to be a Somali pirate. Worked there once, in Mogadishu, and it is one seriously crazy place. Before I went in I had dinner with a journalist bud in Kenya, and he had this advice. “If you wanna go somewhere and the Somalis don’t wanna go there, don’t go, cause the Somalis are not chicken shits.” Quite true. I hung there for a week, tended to by my translator, my driver, and my own personal Somali army of 5 guys armed with Kalashnikovs. It’s the only way you could work at the time in Mog. Every morning the steel gates of the hotel would open and we would plunge into the craziness. My guys were strong with the Aidid clan, and they got me in touch with this bunch on a technical, which is Somali speak for a Toyota pickup with a heavy caliber belt fed weapon in the back. Might be an interesting option for Detroit to offer. Could boost sales, especially the way folks drive in say, LA.

Main drag, former financial district, downtown Mog. Shot with a Fujica 617 camera on 120 film.

Got in on a Red Cross plane, go out on a drug plane. Little Cessna puddle jumpers are gutted and stuffed with bales of khat, and then flown from Nairobi into dirt airstrips near Mogadishu. Somalis chew it and kind of buzz their way through the day. Can’t say I blame ’em considering everybody’s armed and there is no rule of law, no police, no fire department, very little running water and electricity, and an economy that makes our current state of things look positively rosy. I’d stay buzzed, too, I think. Difficult place, and sad…..

RC will be there. too. That’s RC as in “Non-Stop Concepcion.” Can’t wait till he bounds out of nowhere, camcorder in hand, in his patented guerrilla interview style of video interviewing. Probable question: “Joe, what’s the coolest thing about CS4?” Joe response: “Uh, well, umm, I, uh, well….I’ve always liked the number 4! So it’s bound to be a cool program! Right? Huh? Is that good?”

Actually, I’ve been getting better at the post stuff. Just got the suite of NIK filters. That stuff is cool, and makes things alot easier for a thunder thumbs like me. You’d think I’d learn faster, being at PSW and all, but it stays busy, so I don’t get to many classes. If you are out there, though, and trying to decide what you’re doing for the week, PSW is very cool. High energy, lots of like minded folks, great classes. You can really tune it up in the three days.


When PSW ends on Saturday, I jump on plane for the Middle East and the Gulf Plus Photo conference. Third year in a row. Just an amazing workshop, in an amazing place. Talk about a faculty. Teaching there will be David Hobby, Cliff Mautner, Vince Laforet, Chase Jarvis, Bobbi Lane, Carol Dragon, David Nightingale, Drew Gardner, Zack Arias, Asim Rafiqui, Chris Hurtt, and Robin Nichols.

Just makes you want to stop teaching and go to a bunch of classes. My hat’s seriously off to Mohamed Somji and his staff for pulling this off at a time when it is tough sledding even in a money haven like Dubai. He has stayed the course and organized all this in the face of daunting odds. It is the central clearing house for photo education, chat, and networking in all the Middle East. More tk…..

Its Alive!

Dec 19

In Equipment, Upcoming Events at 4:54pm

Yes, indeed, the Dobbs Ferry Workshops are alive once again. I’ve gotten pinged a bunch over time about reviving them, so we contacted our old studio building back on the Hudson and they said come on back. We will have a classroom/studio room, and the run of this old funky factory building down by the train tracks and the river. Great setting. Lots of peeling paint. Dingy hallways. Loading docks. Photog’s dream.

They will run Jan. 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24. We will have breakfast and lunch, snacks, free parking and multiple models, all days. Class size is limited to 12. Fee is $350 for a 10-11 hour day. We will go hard all day, showing examples, shooting demos, working big flash and small flash. Participants get time behind the camera as well as time gripping for shoots and moving gear. We will talk about light all day.

Bogen Imaging and Adorama have stepped up big time to help us out, and we will have toys galore, from big AC power packs to Elinchrom Rangers, Octas, beauty dishes, umbrellas, soft boxes, flats, panels, long throw reflectors, Skyports, c-stands. The whole deal.

We will use SB800 and 900 units, and craft i-TTL solutions that will rival the big flash solutions, and show how to move fluidly between big flash and small flash, and mix the two.

Beauty of working in Dobbs is how close it is to NYC, either a 35 minute train ride (we will pick you up at the Dobbs station, and drop you at end of day) or 45 by car from mid-town Manhattan. And the building is big. And we can move around, and move fast. We had a great time when we did these a few years back, and then we kinda let ’em go when we moved the studio a bit north to CT.

But they’re back and they’re alive. Hit Lynn with an email at [email protected], or phoner at 203-438-4750. She’s got details and class lists going.

You can also view the workshop announcment here, or download a PDF version here.


I thought Jeff ([email protected]) was gonna shoot me when I posted all this stuff and told the world to give him a shout. (But then he wouldn’t wanna hurt an old person.) Typical Jeff, though, he scrambled all the below together, so now you can go individual and get the pieces, or the entire kit, and save $25 and get free shipping. Bob Krist is also very relieved, cause he thought he’d have to start staffing up at home and putting all this together to ship out, and that would interfere with him watching Oprah every afternoon.

The entire kit listed below is SKU# JMLKE, in Adorama’s system (Though, it’s so new that it isn’t yet on their website- So if you’d like the entire kit, please contact Jeff Snyder directly at [email protected]; the same goes for the Westcott umbrella and Morris bracket).

FREE SHIPPING AND a $25 SAVINGS if purchased as the “kit”, vs individually





STCIM2500BK HARDIGG STORM IM2500 CS – BLK – 1 $120.95








MTH-202 MORRIS BRACKET – 1 $27.95

Notes, Thanks and…. In the Beginning, There Was Greg….

Oct 22

In Friends, News, Thoughts, Upcoming Events at 8:41am

Lessee….bunch of stuff….this just in, from David Hobby….many thanks to him from one half of JoeBob….me and Bob Krist did have a punch up on the new 900 video, and we’re thinking of doing a tag team guest appearance now on WWE;-) I loved Joe Bob’s reviews. Just loved ’em. My kind of movies always scored well, in other words, those kind of movies where stuff blows up, the women are as fast and sleek as the cars, and there is a subtle exploration of the nuances, depths and shadings of the human condition…you know the kind of movie I’m talking about….sort of a “Harold and Maude Meet the Killer Bugs from Ice Planet X” type of thing.

David’s onto something with that chainsaw. I think I’ll put it in my cargo bags, and it’ll be the first thing I bring out on location when I get to someone’s house. Kind of an ice breaker, ya know? More on that tk…

Many thanks to Scott Kelby for the mention of the Geographic cover story this month. I’ve shot for the yellow magazine for over 20 years now, which is wild to think about. For me, it’s just humbling to share ink with folks who have gone before, like Jim Stanfield, Bill Allard, Sam Abell, Jim Richardson….list goes on. More on adventures with Wilma, our striking cover subject, in blogs tk.

Ahh, location work. Shooting the spread above, we slid into a Spanish national park at sunrise, because it offered the only glimpse of the type of rocky terrain Wilma and her cohorts most likely experienced in their day. The cave where they found the new Neanderthal DNA, about 30 klicks away, is now surrounded by deciduous forest. I was a tad nervous, as we unloaded things, cause we did not have a permit to shoot in the park.

I’ve snuck into more places and shot pictures from more spots that I ain’ supposed to be than I can remember. Nothing unusual about that. Most photogs wouldn’t have a portfolio to show if they actually listened to the word “no.” And there are lots of folks out there with the word “no” already teed up on the tips of their tongues. I call ’em the walkie talkie assholes. Give somebody a 3 week course, a flashlight and a walkie talkie, and they can ruin your day. But I digress.

I was more worried about the light. Sunrise was not looking good. Pulled out an Elinchrom Ranger pack, which is my field light of choice. Gelled it warm and slapped a tight grid spot on it. Made some decent pix, but there was no rationale for this warm golden light hitting Wilma’s face, while the rest of the world was obviously gray.

But I should remember this morning the next time the light don’t work out, but, being a photog, I probably won’t. A slice of sunrise came through a break in the Eastern clouds, and hit the rock face behind Wilma. It was all I needed. I got about 10 frames and we were done.

Then we decided to move Wilma and give it another go, as it were. She is, well, not a delicate flower. She is 200 pounds of silicone wrapped around a steel frame. The best way to lift her is to circle round back, crouch a little bit, throw your arms around her ample pelvis, and basically give her a good, hard shag. Up she goes off her pedestal, and then you can trundle her, rather ingloriously, wherever you want.

We were in the process of doing this when around the corner came a patrol car with two Spanish National Park rangers in it. “Hola!” “Yes, she is naked!. But she’s not real!  No, its not what you think. See? She’s not inflatable!” The whole thing had to have looked hinky and kinky at the same time.

Luckily, one of our party spoke fluent and evidently persuasive Spanish, and engaged the officers while I told Brad to take the shot cards and put ’em someplace the sun don’t shine. We were allowed to leave, along with Wilma. I miss her, actually. When she was wrapped back up in bubbles for her drive back to the Netherlands, it was quite emotional. I told her it would be alright. Even if we never see each other again, we’ll always have Spain.

Photo East is coming up, and the toy warehouse will be spilling all over the Javits Center in NY, with widgets, gadgets, biddybops, thingamawhooziewhatzis, fast glass, smart cameras, whopper hard drives, and a lot of yakkin ’bout pictures. I’ll be doing some of it myself, teaching small flash on Thursday morning, doing a couple stints in the Nikon Booth, and signing some posters for Epson.

A word about Epson and Dano Steinhardt. I ain’t exactly Moose Peterson, JP Caponigro, Jay Maisel or any of these kind of master printer/shooter guys, but Dano continues to be an enormous source of faith and support for my studio, year after year. He is one of those guys who stays in the background, facilitating photographers, showing them the latest and greatest Epson stuff that in turn makes their stuff look great, and all the while, one of the best kept secrets in the industry is that Dano is one helluva shooter. He makes incredibly beautiful imagery out of things most of us walk right by. I think the key here is seeing photographs. He sees. And then he distills all the jumble and cacophony that attends just about any walkabout of modern life into clean lines and stunning symmetry that makes sense, not to mention beautiful pictures.

Same thing can be said about Kriss Brungrabber and Mark Astman of the Bogen Corporation. Their commitment is unflagging in support of photogs, and photographic education. If we decide to do something together, we do it on handshake, and its a done deal. Good people, and Mark in particular, who has been out on a bunch of my workshops, is a striking presence as a photo subject. Sort of a William Holden who knows everything about Elinchrom flashes:-) I’ll be hanging in the Bogen booth a bunch, with my buds Bill Frakes, Drew Gardner, and of course, Moose.

Strikes me a whole bunch of the yakkin’ about to occur on the West Side of NY is gonna be about light, and lighting, which means flash. Hmmmm…..interesting thing, this flash stuff. Lots of folks playing with it, yanking it around, trying different stuff, myself included. It’s all good, some of it is even really good. But it gets me to thinkin’, always a dangerous thing.

I really feel alot of the conversations about flash and light we’re having nowadays wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for Greg. When I say “Greg” I mean Heisler. To me, he’s always been one of the one name photogs, up there with Annie and Avedon.

Greg changed the way we all see. He burst onto the magazine photo scene in NY, oh, about 1980 or so, trotting out Norman 200B’s, gels, camera work and color that popped our eyes, stopped our hearts, and made for legions of imitators, myself included. He started working for Geo, LIFE and doing annuals for outfits like RCA (Remember that name? Remember the dog and the victrola?) and doing special projects like Day in the Life Australia.

His take outta the land of Oz just flat out flattened folks. He brought to the pages of that book color and drama that had legions of experienced shooters looking around and going “Wassup???” And of course the next question was, “How do I do dat?”

In the years since, Greg has shot about a bazillion TIME covers, and done it all, from the movie lots to the halls of state. No one has done it better, or with more panache and versatility. He single-handedly changed magazine photography by introducing a “look” (I might call it style) that all of sudden re-directed the missions of magazines and editors everywhere.

Olympic athletes have been one of his fortes. I’ve been involved with Olympians to a degree as well. You know, every four years, you get a call and start working with these amazing athletes. Its been fun to do.  And every four years, like clockwork, I have had my ass kicked. I would shoot somebody, think it worked real well, and then Greg bombs into town for a day, no less, and leaves with this ass kicking TIME cover. Frustrating. Maddening. Inspiring. Head shaking. In a word….Greg. A look see at his website is a must.

The Hot Shoe Diaries

Aug 26

In Lighting, Upcoming Events at 12:42pm

Back in the country, and back on the internet. Couple of reasons for blog lite (or, truth be told, blog zero) over the last two weeks. I’m shooting a Geographic story and they moved the sked up one month on me, which takes away a month for scheduling field time. Kinda compresses things. Another is I’ve been writing like a banshee on my new book, due in December, “The Hot Shoe Diaries, Creative Applications of Small Flash,” which you can find at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I wanted to call it HSD, Big Light from Small Flashes, but the above is okay by me.

I’ve always been a bit interested in noir, and crime novels, and my buddy Mark is the perfect subject. He’s a good guy and a good photog, so don’t jump to the wrong conclusions about him from all these mean streets pix of him. K-man, shot with small flash, just may be a recurring character in the book. Above, K-man on the streets of Gotham. Who knows where he’ll turn up next?

You can blame David Hobby, at least a little bit. When I told David the title, he was like, cool, you should shoot some noir stuff, and make stories. Fits, I guess. Remember Rear Window? Jimmy Stewart catches the bad guy with…flashbulbs.

The book will not be an instruction manual. Basically, it will be an irreverent brain dump of my whole history using small flash, back from when I first got my hands on flash powder to the SB-900. There will be sections on buttons and dials, batteries, flash attachments, light shaping tools from gaffer tape to umbrellas, and sketches. Along the way, of course, there will be lots and lots of pictures, some good, some not so. (Some will even outright suck!) I’ll show the ups and downs and sideways of using flash in the field. Mistakes, which I’m very open about, come with the package. There’ll be other notable sections, too, like one devoted to the instruction manual titled:


An homage, if you will, to the lucidity and riveting nature of instruction manuals everywhere.

Another event in the history of small flash will be noted….


And of course, the current transition from SB-800 to SB-900 will be discussed.

In Tucson right now for the Geographic. Continuing true to my history with them of going to places at the worst time of year. Arizona in August. Siberia in February. See below.

Above is noon time, Lake Lavozero. The Russians were impressed that I suffered on the ice all day with them, and that of course led to a vodka soaked dinner at the polar observatory where we were housed. It was an upgrade, actually, from the hotel I was staying at. In my room the day previous, I heard a repeated smashing sound from down the hall. Again. Again. Smash! I walked down to check it out, and this enormous woman, chef for the hotel restaurant, was lifting chunks of ice out of an ancient freezer. Inside those chunks of ice were chickens. She would then raise it over her head, and violently throw it down on the floor, freeing the chicken parts. Dinner that night? Chicken soup!

Anyway, one of the guys at dinner turned out to be the police chief of Murmansk. The next morning he opened the trunk of his car, which was filled to the brim with automatic weapons and handed me a Kalashnikov. He gestured at a row of milk bottles in the distance and took the safety off. “Shoot, yes?”

In the macho outback of the Motherland, one does not turn away from such a command. Honestly, it ain’t hard to chew through a buncha milk bottles with a machine gun, so it went very well. This lead to a conversation that became an opportunity to engage in one of the most depressing nights in my life. I spent the whole night in the drunk tank in the city of Murmansk.

I was doing a story on light for Nat Geo, and they sent me up there to where the cold and the dark lead to a lot of alcoholism and suicide. The drunks leave the bars in the wee hours and stagger into a snow bank and are dead by morning. The police send out patrols to look for these guys, and drag ’em into the cozy confines of the drunk tank to dry ’em out. Brutal.

Come to think of it, Arizona’s really nice in August… More tk.