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!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life's a Circus

While in Paris for Dancers Among Us yesterday, Cirque Du Soliel juggler Basile Dragon contacted me on Facebook about a photo shoot. I had no idea what to expect, as juggling is terribly difficult to photograph. He turned out to be a fun and collaborative partner, and together we conceived of a clown taking a coffee break.

Even Basile wasn't immune to accidents (this one cost me ten Euro, which is like $2000 dollars in the US).

As I got to know Basile, his story fascinated me. These are his own words:

"When I was a 14-year-old kid in Paris, I met the 'Smallest Circus in the World'. I decided immediately that I wanted to live the circus life, and I started to juggle. When I was 18 I started training professionally, which means 6 to 8 hours of juggling every day (plus dance, contortion, trapeze, acrobatic, theater, etc). At 19 I was already working, mostly in the street and in any underground show I could find in Europe (plus training 6 hours every day).

At 24, I went to the Moscow Circus School in Russia to learn the Russian juggling technique, and I never stopped traveling the world to work with the best jugglers. I created my own juggling technique that takes into consideration the human body in general, and each juggler's body specificity. It is body friendly and made to allow me to juggle until I'm old (very old).

Around 27, I started to work a lot in Cabaret, Circus, Theater, Opera, etc. Probably 200 shows a year, and I was 'only' training 2 to 4 hours a day (you have to spare your energy for the show!). I've worked with so many companies around the planet that I can't count them!"

Sounds like an awesome career to me! To see Basile in action, take a look at these Vine videos I shot after our session:

Vine Video 1
Vine Video 2

Basile Dragon's Facebook page:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

While You Were Sleeping: My Rock Star Adventures in Korea

Two weeks ago I flew halfway across the world to attend my first Dancers Among Us solo exhibition in Asia, and it blew my mind. The Savina Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul staged a flawless exhibit - three floors featuring 66 large-scale prints and two video rooms. Opening night was a lavish VIP affair, and I entertained the guests with a quick shoot featuring Korea National Ballet superstar ballerina Joo Won Kim and her partner, Jeong-yun Lee of National Dance Company of Korea.

Video of Opening Night

The media attention on Dancers Among Us surprised everyone. There have been over forty radio, television and magazine features in the Korean press thus far, and many more still to come. If you have time on your hands, you can see some of my favorite articles here: Korean Media.

TBS Radio
DongA Media
The Korea Times

I took a break from my rock star reception to photograph an actual rock star, Yoon Do Hyun, lead singer for YB, Korea's most popular band. Gathering the fans was the easy part - the crowd kept growing by the minute. We were finally stopped by security for causing a public disturbance.

My Korean publishers, Sigongsa, have done a phenomenal job promoting Dancers Among Us. When I entered Korea's largest bookstore, Kyobo Bookstore Gwanghwamun, I would have been excited just to see the book face out. I had no idea there would be a glowing neon shrine. I photographed four dancers from Seoul Ballet Theatre: Younghyo Ma, Miri Lee, Minguen Song and Junghyun Lee, while a huge crowd stood behind a rope line to observe.  

I hooked up again with Joo Won Kim, this time with a new partner, Jong Suk Park of Pennsylvania Ballet. We spent the day together (along with a production team, a stylist, makeup artists, hair designers, two trailers, and a van) to shoot a ten-page feature for the September issue of Noblesse Magazine.  

My final event was Seoul Dance Project, sponsored by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. I gave a talk and signed books before being welcomed with a three-story dance in my honor, ending on a rooftop garden. It was a perfect finale to a glorious week.

Thank you, Seoul. I've had my Beatles moment!