Thursday, January 23, 2014

My First Underwater Photograph

When I was in Miami for Art Week, I was fortunate to have an amazing assistant, Elisabeth Murray. Her daughter, Daniela, happens to be a Brazilian national golfer, and I immediately asked to photograph her for Athletes Among Us. With the help of my friend, Jeremy Saladyga, I came up with the idea of a golfer "playing through" in a swimming pool. It's one of those ideas that sounds great until you actually try to do it. 

Many complications ensued, including a freezing swimming pool, aprehensive volunteers, an uncooperative golfball, and my total lack of understanding of underwater photography. But the most difficult challenge we faced was buoyancy:

Finally, it all came together. Daniela and I hit the bottom at the same moment, and I shot this one frame before she floated away:

I can't wait to do it again. Next time I'll bring a weight belt. And a snorkel! Check out the full series at

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: What an Amazing Year!

Last week my four-year-old daughter, Salish, was watching a behind-the-scenes video of me on a photo shoot.

      "Is this work, Daddy?" she asked.
       "Yes." I replied.
       "Cool," she said.

That about sums it up. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful life. I have a happy and healthy family that I adore and a career that I absolutely love. I want to thank all of my friends and acquaintances for your continued support and enthusiasm, and I truly hope you have a very happy holiday!

Here are a few professional highlights from this exciting year:

New York Times Bestseller

I began the year with my book, Dancers Among Us, holding steady on the New York Times bestseller list. Just two years before, the project was DOA. Then Workman Publishing took a chance on a photography book with no movie stars or cute puppies, and their gamble paid off.

My Rockstar Adventures in Korea

It was a busy summer for exhibitions, including large-scale public installations at The Grace Building and One New York Plaza in Manhattan, and solo shows at Jacob’s Pillow, The National Museum of Dance, and the Savina Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea. This three-story exhibit inspired the blog, While You Were Sleeping: My Rockstar Adventures in Korea.

Going Fast with Paul Taylor Dance Company

My 2013 campaign for the Paul Taylor Dance Company helped generate record ticket sales for their run at Lincoln Center. This was my second collaboration with PTDC, and one of several major campaigns I shot in 2013.

Fall for Dance

I had the great honor to shoot some of the world’s best dancers for the 2013 “Fall for Dance” campaign at New York City Center, which was seen in subways and on busses and billboards all around the Big Apple. For a dance photographer, shooting "Fall for Dance" is one of the highest honors.

Take a look at this cool behind-the-scenes video of the shoot:

Athletes Among Us

This summer I announced the beginning of a new project, Athletes Among Us, which was received with great enthusiasm by both the public and the media, including features in the NY Post, the NY Daily News, the Huffington Post, MSN, and the Daily Mail UK.

The Today Show - Jersey Shore

The Today Show brought me to the Jersey Shore to shoot a series of portraits of local residents, which they used to produce a beautiful and touching segment about strength and resilience:

Traveled the World Shooting Dancers Among Us

I was extremely fortunate to travel a lot this summer, photographing dancers all over the world. Some of my favorite spots: Paris, Tuscany, Prince Edward Island, Seoul, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, Miami, and Acadia National Park.

Circus Among Us

Just this month I began a new project, Circus Among Us, with a magical shoot in NYC featuring the fearless artists of Cirque Eloize. To see some jaw-dropping moments, take a look at this behind-the-scenes video:

Dancers Among Us Calendar

The 2014 Dancers Among Us wall calendar has been included on many “Best Gifts of 2013” lists, but much more importantly, my kids think it’s cool! 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

Last week, I asked Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for volunteers to shoot Dancers Among Us as a test for a Hasselblad camera review in PDN Magazine. I was overwhelmed by everyone's enthusiasm. How could I possibly choose?

The submissions ranged from the patriotic:
@BrookieBallet (Instagram & Twitter)

To the collaborative:
@ShanerDennis (Twitter)
 To the poetic:
@OfficiallyIrene (Instagram & Twitter)

 To the acrobatic:
@Moderina7902 (Instagram)

But this one of Maria Ambrose really caught my eye:
@mambrose9 (Twitter)

Ironically, the photo was taken by Dancer Among Us Jennifer Jones:
Jennifer Jones channeling Marilyn Monroe in NYC

Kismet! I decided to shoot Maria for Hasselblad yesterday in Ft. Tryon Park, NYC:

Then as the sun set, I grabbed my Nikon and continued to shoot, inspired by Maria's enthusiasm and fearlessness:


Thank you to all the dancers who submitted their photos. I've kept links to all of your photos and will likely be contacting many of you soon to shoot! And thank you to dancer and photographer Jennifer Jones for the collaboration.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fifteen Ways To Relax Your Subjects (without music or massage oil)

The greatest challenge facing portrait photographers is the anxiety people feel when they get in front of a camera. Here are a few lessons I've learned over the years that help me get the very best from my subjects:

1. Get them up so early in the morning that they're just too tired to be nervous.

2. Give your subject something to hold so they're not thinking about what to do with their hands. 

3. Many photographers get their subjects a little tipsy before shooting. While I'm not usually an advocate of this approach, if I'm gonna do it I don't mess around...

I might even join in myself...

...but not too much drinking or bad things can happen.

4. If alchohol's not your thing, ice cream is a good alternative. Gets the blood pumping. 

5. Encourage your subject to bring a friend or two...

...or a rock star.

6. If you're shooting an engagement photo, go back to the place where it all began. 

7. Kids hate to stand still, so don't ask them to. 

8. If you're shooting a group photo and they don't know what to do...

...have them try some silly stuff to loosen up. It will probably be the photo they love the most.

9. Encourage them to wear the clothing that suits them best.

10. If you ask your subject to do something dangerous... it with them.

11. Respect their personal space. Get a long lens and shoot from really far away. Especially if you have bad breath.

 12. Show some enthusiasm for the photos. It will encourage them to go further.

13. If you're shooting outside and they complain about the cold weather, suffer with them in solidarity.

14. If they keep complaining, challenge them to a push-up contest. That'll warm them up.

15. Finally, tattoo this positive affirmation to your arm and refer to it whenever your subject says "No" to anything!