Tuesday, September 28, 2010
wow. this summer and autumn have been so so busy, I've had some great shoots and adventures the last 2 months....in this post i've attached a couple of fun shoots for mens journal and people magazines. The mens journal shoot was a photo illustration about the dangers of the sun. the photo editor, jen santana, called and told me they wanted to illustrate the story with a full page picture of a guy with sunglasses, zinc oxide on his nose, just a blue sky behind him, and it cant look like nyc in ANY way (even though thats where we had to shoot it). At this point in my career, after living in nyc for 10 years and shooting almost everywhere, instantly i knew the perfect place to shoot, down on the waterfront promenade in battery park city at the southern most tip of manhattan. Being the outside location photographer freak that i am, i knew that this place would be perfect with a nice clean horizon line with new jersey way off in the distance. We cast a model for this, just a normal looking guy...i was really going for a "crispy" look, very "hot" and lots of good light courtesy of the profotos. it was a good time as usual, the weather gods were on my side and the sun held just long enough before a front moved in, and the lemonade stand was only about 50 feet away. I shot the sun separately and had my retoucher drop it in in post....and of course i wore sunscreen during the shoot!!
The other shoot is out this week in people magazine. When i got the call "can you go to lincoln nebraska and shoot larry the cable guy and his son", i jumped at the assignment. you see, its no secret that i'm a bit of a redneck. just a florida cracker making a living in nyc, and i knew larry and i would be a good fit. His son had hip dysplasia, but is ok now and larry is trying to get the word out that this can be cured if caught early and treated correctly...my family is from lincoln too, in fact the welch clan got their start there and homesteaded back in the 1800's. My pops and i even made a trip there together a few years ago (i was there on a job for rolling stone and he flew in and met me), and spent a day in the library researching old newspapers going through the obituaries trying to find the obit for my great great granpa, who we think was blackfoot indian. family legend has it that he drank himself to death. The indian story has always been a bit of legend in the family, but we've never been able to confirm it %100, just what has been passed down through the generations, getting foggier and foggier as each generation passed..anyway, we wanted to try and confirm that great great grandpa was indeed blackfoot, or at the very least find his obit for posterity. you can see the indian in my dads face: kinda long face and high cheek bones, he looks it for sure. We knew about when he died within about 5 years, so we got the newspaper microfilm for the time period and started looking through them. we also knew his last name was Harmon, so we had that to go on. I know, needle in a haystack, thats what i was thinking too. no way in hell we will find it. plus the family history is so vague that far back, we werent even sure the dates we were looking at were accurate. The good news about lincoln back then is that the newspaper was only a page long and came out once a week, and the obits only had a couple of people in it each week, so it was pretty fast and easy. after a few hours of looking, to my surprise I came across his obit. it read "the man harmon fell off his horse and was dragged to death" or something to that affect. we were super excited to confirm his death, but it still didnt prove that he was blackfoot indian. but we printed out the obituary and had an awesome steak dinner that night to celebrate, we had found the mother load. my dad ended up researching it a bit more when he got home, and talked to an expert that did indeed confirm that great great grandpa harmon was indeed probably an indian. you see, indians back then werent considered equal to whites (ya think!), and the fact that he was addressed as "the man harmon" in his obit and not "mr. harmon" was pretty good proof that he was indian and on the fringes of society. so, he probably drank a pint of whiskey, got on his horse, passed out and fell off and was dragged to death. not a pleasant way to go for sure. also while we were there we went to the one room schoolhouse that my grandma went to, it is now a national historic place. very cool to think of granma as a little girl in that little one room schoolhouse on the prairie. all kids, from k-12, in the same classroom. simpler times for sure..We also took a hike to an ancient cemetery with lots of my relatives in it on a little hill. not sure if great great granpa harmon was in there, probably not, seeing as he was an indian. and in fact i think the reason it was so vague in our family is because it was nothing to be proud of back then or even until recent history. now its kinda cool though, and i wish i would have known 20 years ago so i could have gone to college free or opened a casino!....anyway, back to larry, awesome dude, spent all day with him and his family, and had my favorite food, the famed Runza, for dinner. a very memorable 3 days in the fatherland...just another week in the life....
Posted by nathaniel at 11:30 PM
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Awesome awesome awesome....thats how i feel when i see my phone ring and the first three numbers are 515....because that means that ESPN magazine is calling me for an assisngment!! always excited to work for them, and this job was no different..the story was about "the birth of a college football team", about a major college (georgia state) starting a football team from scratch. When Catriona called she told me about the story idea, and how they wanted to shoot a baby on the field sitting on a football tee. It was a great assignment for sure, so we talked about how it would come together and figured it out all before hand...the first thing we did was cast, and that was a blast as i love babies...we had about 40 babies show up for the casting, and they were all so good and so perfect, but we settled on 4 to shoot in the studio. THe little guy that made the cover was named Jared, and he was definitely my fav, as he had the very young but wise old man look...So, we spent a day in the studio shooting babies, then the next day went to a football field and i shot a bunch of "plates" of the field (plates is photo jargon for piece of the overall finished image)....then I shot some skies, and then i went back to a shoot i did last year of a football player on a football field and we pulled the white lines from that shot. it's all getting so complicated these days and conceptual, you really have to think in a non linear way these days on shoots....anway, like i said at the beginning, awesome awesome awesome....had a great time, love the cover, very happy and hope i see 515 on my phone again soon!!!
Posted by nathaniel at 9:40 AM
Monday, September 13, 2010
I've always said that being a photographer really isnt about taking pictures at all for me....taking the pictures is just the vehicle that gets me in close intimate contact with people and experiences all over the world, which i crave. And the more i do meet people of all colors, ethnicities, religions, etc. on my shoots, and spend this intimate time with them, the more i realize we are all exactly the same. Same wants, needs, fears, insecurities, desires. I've shot presidents, rap stars, actors, nazis, athletes, business titans, middle class families, billionaires, the poor, and everything in between......and guess what, they were all the same person. I've known this for a long time now, and it's afforded me the ability to walk in and out of vastly different situations with comfort and ease. I've shot huge rap stars one day, and the next day white supremacist nazis. It's all just been part of the education and journey that is my life. And i've always come out relatively unscathed and better from the experience.......But nothing in my life experience has shaken me or made me stare in the mirror and think like the process of taking the pictures in this post. These kids are all orphans, on an orphan soccer team, that i shot last month in ethiopia. Most of them are HIV positive, all of them are playing an unfair hand that life has dealt them, parents dead from HIV, nowhere to go but the orphanage. I was there shooting for the WWO (world wide orphans foundation) and Dr. Jane Aronson, for a week with my wife, shooting Doc doing her work, and generally trying to capture all that the WWO and Doc do in the world of orphans. And these kids believe or not really are the lucky ones. Great health care, good food, an education. But still no family or parents to read to them or tuck them in at night like we do for Henry. Stuff we take for granted but every kid really needs. These soccer pics came at the end of the trip, and I really wanted to show them just like any soccer team, so i got the muslin locally and hung it as a backdrop. It was such an awesome experience as they were so proud of their uniforms and soccer skills, truly inspirational..... In another profound twist of my career, the day after i got back I shot the ESPN cover thats in the next post above this one. I was sitting there in the studio munching on a delicious catered breakfast before the shoot, and ironically shooting kids again, but with far different hands that were dealt to them. That was the moment that it really hit me. Not guilt for being lucky and dealt a good hand, just that profound understanding again of how truly similar we all are, trying to make the best of the hand that was dealt to us. Just remember that.
Posted by nathaniel at 7:12 PM