I’ve been working in print and broadcast for a long time, and each medium presents its own challenges and rewards. More and more often I get the opportunity to shoot both on a single set. Last month I headed down to Miami to shoot a multimedia story for ESPN.com featuring Danell Levya, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in men’s gymnastics. I captured his World Championship routine on the parallel bars in still and motion, and the resulting images and videos are paired with Danell’s descriptions of what he experiences as he goes through the moves. You can check out the story at ESPN.com and see some more of the photos below:
I recently got back from a week in my hometown, Tarentum, PA. Far from a quiet visit home, I spent 7 days shooting the 2016 US Open at the Oakmont Country Club for ESPN.com, one of the toughest golf courses in the country. I knew going in that the tournament would be unpredictable with the difficulty of the course, and I was only more sure of that after photographing the practice runs Monday through Wednesday. Then, on Thursday it rained about three inches, probably giving the golfers a false sense of optimism with the extra drag on the lightning-fast greens.
But as the course started to dry out, the game became more and more difficult every day. Some of the top ten players like Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy didn’t even make the cut, let alone come close to winning it all. After the tournament, Jim Furyk told PGAtour.com, “Oakmont has a way to turn pars into bogeys and bogeys into doubles.”
“Rough Cut,” the photo essay I did for ESPN, clearly captures the players’ stress as they battle the crazy elements at Oakmont. For me, a photo that sticks out is the shot of Shane Lowry, his hands over his face. Earlier, he had been holding the lead by 3 strokes, and then started to fall behind. By the time he reached the 18th fairway, he had known for a while that he had lost. I took the picture of Lowry right after he putted in, and got the exact moment when he seemed to finally let go of all of the emotion he had been holding in.
Check out the photo essay at ESPN.com and take a look at the outtakes below:
At 23 years old, jazz saxophonist/singer and Brookline native Grace Kelly released her 10th studio album, Trying to Figure it Out.
“It’s a compilation album of human experiences I’ve had during the last couple of years as I’ve been looking for myself as an artist,” Grace says. “12 years of being on stage has been a learning process, but I think my own thing is finally embracing all of the pieces that make me me.”
If only all of us were that sure of ourselves at that point in our lives, our 20s would have been far less messy. But that’s Grace for you–an old soul with the hip, blue-streaked hair of a millennial.
Grace is a natural performer, which is obvious from her cool attitude in the photos. She nurtured the dream of being a Broadway star as a child and took countless dancing, acting, and singing lessons from ages 6-12 before hitting the road as a professional musician. There’s something about music that just takes over her and sets her at ease. She said she had a felt a bit awkward at first, stepping in front of the camera for the Improper Bostonian shoot–mostly due to her feeling under the weather that day. But as soon as Michael Jackson started pouring through the speakers and filling the room, she was able to really have fun on set.
“John has such vision and knows exactly what he’s looking for,” Grace says. “He’s so awesome to work with and laidback–so humble too. When I saw the photos, I was stunned.”
The idea for the shoot was to place Grace in a stereotypical, smoky, underground jazz club–the complete antithesis of who she is as an artist. Yes, she adores and take notes from jazz legends like Stan Getz and Paul Desmond, but Grace also loves to blend modern genres with her old school training and inspirations.
“Sometimes in the music business, people don’t know what to do with me because I have such a wide range of styles, and switch between singing and playing,” Grace says. “But my own thing is uniqueness and audiences embrace this.”
The best part about these photos of Grace Kelly is how that “uniqueness” is captured. The photos are vibrant yet moody, highly stylized yet simple, energized but they feel mellow–a collection of dichotomies, odds, and ends that sum up one young woman Trying to Figure it Out.
For information on Grace’s music and tour dates, check out her personal website. Head over to the Improper Bostonian’s site to read a full feature on Grace, and take a look at some outtakes from the shoot below:
I was recently interviewed by Heidi Volpe for Rob Haggart’s photography blog, A Photo Editor. We talked about the technique involved in shooting synchronized swimmer Bill May for the ESPN feature, and she even spoke to Bill May himself. Below is my introduction from the piece. Click the preview to read the rest of the interview on Haggart’s blog, or head over to my website to see the entire collection of Bill May photos.
This simple story sum things up nicely – Alfred Eisenstaedt was hired to shoot our college portraits. He came into my class of 20 kids, and he asked everyone, “What kind of photographer do you want to be?” I was one of the last kids to be asked, when it was my turn, I replied, “fashion photographer.” He asked why. He’d not asked any of the other kids this follow up question. I panicked and blurted out, “Because I like girls!” Everyone in class had a good laugh, and then Alfred later explained that being a fashion photographer is no different than being any other type of photographer. You have a subject in front of you, treat that subject in front of you the same as you would a gown on a hanger. It becomes a portrait of a gown, just as if a person was standing there.
So, I don’t look at myself or categorize myself as a sports photographer, I see myself as a photographer, and I see the subject in front of me as a subject. At the end of day, all photographs are solved with the same notes, regardless of the subject matter.”
When I was a kid, I had the privilege of attending baseball games at the old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh twice a year as a reward for my service as an altar boy. I lived for those days, being able to watch the games in seats so close to the action. I think that’s where my love for sports really started. Once I picked up a camera in my early teens, I wanted to learn how to preserve that action so that I could relish it more than only twice a year.
I had a great time following the Celtics this year, especially since they had such an unpredictable season, full of highs and lows. Some of the peak moments: Early on, Isaiah Thomas was averaging a solid 21.5 points per game; on April 1st, in one of their most exciting games of the season, the Celtics killed the NBA’s longest-running winning streak by a home team when they defeated the Warriors in Oracle Arena; and on February 5th, Avery Bradley buried the Cavs at the buzzer for one of the most memorable wins so far. Their off-season promises to be just as interesting. With 8 draft picks this year and the amount of money the team has to play with, they could potentially really shake up the roster.
I can’t wait to see what happens next with the Celtics, and I’m sure neither can all of their loyal fans. In the meantime, feel free to reminisce on the past season with some of my photos below. You can see the intensity on the players’ faces, and being that close to that kind of action never gets old. Diehard fans might also be interested in checking out the “Superfan” spot that I directed for the team last year and the editorial feature that I shot for Improper Bostonian Magazine.
Libby DeLana is just the loveliest person. Meeting the sweet and laidback woman, you probably wouldn’t guess that she’s one of the advertising industry’s most successful and influential forces. Multi-talented Libby studied philosophy, trained as a graphic designer, and is now one of the industry’s leading creative directors. She actively advocates for female leadership in and out of the ad world, and is heavily involved with a handful of charities. In her spare time, she founded branding firm Mechanica in 2004 with Ted Nelson and Jim Garaventi. She also describes herself as a devoted mother and wife. Basically, she’s the woman who can do it all.
I’ve worked with Libby on many projects throughout the years. Most recently, we collaborated in January on a shoot for Saucony. Her vision for the campaign was a departure from the typical athletic wear campaign, where you see somebody running down a lonely road or through an urban landscape. Libby wanted to do something more minimalist and artful.
Working with Libby is always great because true collaboration is something she values, which I really appreciate–that’s what this industry should be all about. We had countless phone calls and chats over clamballs at Woodman’s where we bounced ideas off of each other for what the final pictures would look like. On set, she allowed me the creative freedom to deviate from the original plan and play around with light and composition. For example, the black and white portrait of the female model began with a strict lighting set-up and then evolved–or devolved–to a more natural shot taken with available light.
Libby is an inspiration to work with, the kind of woman who could pick a leaf up off the ground and design something around it. Collaborating with her fueled my own creativity, and being able to play off of her was a lot of fun. At the end of the shoot, I dragged her on set to take a couple of photos of her and her striking long, gray hair. I think they really capture her spirit.
Take a look at some photos from the shoot: