Ah…its so nice to see your name in all caps when it has Photography By preceding it…I’m not being arrogant but I swell with pride after seeing my work published in a travel piece. Its not some of my better work but its work…made from nothing. Well, not exactly but it was made from experience and knowing how to push when nothing is easily seen.
I got commissioned a few months ago by the Oregonian’s Mix Magazine to shoot a travel piece on the best places to dine on Oahu. I shot (and ate) everything from locally made Ono Pops (Mexican style paletas) to fresh opelu (mackerel) at He’eia Kea Pier General Store & Deli. Its not all about eating mind you as I have to spend an inordinate amount of time setting up a plate (well…thats mostly the Chef’s call) but having to direct a chef to create a food masterpiece on the fly, sometimes surrounded by styrofoam, in bad lighting, and customers all around. Its can be pretty tough.
The food shots are very editorial as they are all natural light with fill bumped in from a white bounce or even white table cloths if a proper bounce isn’t around. But mostly the reason I can somewhat capture food well is from all the years of assisting NYC food photographers back in the day. Mostly the training was shooting in studios with top food stylists, fake ingredients, big lights, and sometimes big ovens. You know…the mash potato ice cream or the cooked-with-a-blowtorch-steak. I remember working on a Pizza Hut job where we shot dozens of pies pulled out of an industrial oven in the City’s West Side. Yong Yoo, the then photo assistant extroadinare, and I had screaming fight because the neurotic photographer made us load what seem to be his entire studio into a cube truck, unload on location, and reload the truck in the pouring rain. At the end of the day, we fought about how to roll some immensely large and heavy studio camera stand that was taller than the cube truck up a ramp as the rain poured all around. Ah how I miss those days yet would never go back.
There is something very important about being a padawan (apprentice) in the big cities. I never could have been successful here, especially here in Hawaii without some type of grueling informal training I had in those dreary New York years. Every conceivable subject that can be photographed I probably helped put a studio light on it, or at least rolled a studio stand close to it. Everything from Revlon lipstick, to beer bottles, to celebs and rock stars to rain sets, to shooting in the bloody rain.
(How on earth I go from chatting about Mix Mag to get on this subject…I will never know. Stream of … uhhh…what were we chatting about?)
So in the above picture, the author dances around a rigged rain set with a Fender Strat guitar. My memory dims on what job we were working on other than it had a Korean model in tight shiny pants that fit her very well. I remembered I had this piece of chrome somewhere and fumbled through a bunch of old film files finding it next to a bunch of negatives of Trisha, a model who’s sister I knew from Texas. Funny how I didn’t remember those pictures and funny how I forgot about this chrome. Not wanting to start up a proper film scanner, I masking taped the chrome to my Mac, opened up a white doc in photoshop and made a few exposure on a make shift light table. Not the sharpest but a good illustration, nonetheless. The chrome was lifted from the studio where we worked that week but I just couldn’t resist? The chrome came from the initial test rolls so no one would have missed it. Besides, its me dancing in the purple rain!
Back into the Mix. All those years of New York drudgery made me into the so called photographer I am. Its not the greatest career but its a great living here in Hawaii. I get a job like this Mix Mag job and use all my skills from my shooting years all the while reaching back to those “wet behind the ears” days when I held someones camera.
Literally, I was probably wet. It always seemed like I was…