A moment of reflection before her surgery is set to start, in a room that used to be a kitchen now an operating room where doctors help women heal. Not just from physical problems, but from some emotional ones also, to live a better, and fuller life. Documenting a day in the life of the Gynocare clinic dedicated to women's health in Eldoret, Kenya.
This past Christmas I took advantage of being in the Dominican Republic, and started a project with my wife, Scherezade a fine artist. This project has been in the works for a long time it just took a while to get off the ground. We hope to have the project completed by this summer 2013. I don't want to give away too many details until we have it all done so the works can be seen as a body of work. Needless to say it will involve what we do best, using themes that we both find interesting and important. Here are a few in-process shots of one of the pieces without showing too much. This particular piece involved a burro (Chilingo's burro to be exact), Javier as our protagonist, and some costuming. This is just a start of the process.
This one shot of a series I plan to use for an installation that I have been commissioned to do.
In my travels I see all sorts of things that I would love to photograph but don't have the time, the right equipment, or I missed the opportunity (the story of my life!) So I file it away for future projects (the list keeps growing). Some of these projects have a commercial aspect, or is something I find interesting and want to explore. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to photograph some fighting roosters while in the Dominican Republic on a different project. The whole thing was set up on the spur of the moment, and I was not prepared conceptually or equipment wise. I created some photographs, but with the intention of coming back and doing something different. One of the hardest things about these kind of projects is being able to get access to things whether its people, places, or situations.
I always found the roosters to be beautiful and their movements visually stunning. Also the passions that are aroused by their fighting I found alien to me, but observing the people around me it is pretty amazing.
Here is the set in a private fighting ring at the Trava (fighting rooster ranch).
No animals were harmed for the photo shoot.
To make things happen sometimes you have to be part weather man, travel agent, anthropologist, a great dancer, sociologist, therapist, carpenter, charmer, general contractor, technologist, boss, artist, DJ, geek, historian, marketer, salesman, scientist, chemist, electrician, grunt, designer, mechanic, road warrior, chef, sommelier, truck driver, man about town, magician, good cop, bad cop, politician, clown, actor, comedian, wingman, and last but not least a photographer. Sometimes a few of them sometimes all of them, and you better be able to pull the all off well! I am sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.
I used a few of these skills except the clown skill (although she may disagree), and maybe the the sommelier skills to help my wife (Scherezade Garcia) install an art exhibit she was putting together...interesting stuff it deals with migration of people to the land of opportunity, and the issues that are encountered. Click here to check out some more photos.
A reality TV show (housewives of NJ) was filmed at a restaurant (Izakaya) at the Borgata hotel in Atlantic city where some of my large scale artwork is hanging. The restaurant was designed by Alvarez+Brock, and looks fabulous. Anyway in the video clip look for my art between 10 and 12 seconds mark. Also there are small parts of the other pieces shown later on in the show. Click here, here, and here to see the process of creating the art for the project. So there you go 2 seconds...I have 14 minutes and 58 seconds of fame left! I better get working on it.
Ok, so the opening party for the Matador photos at the Luxor in Las Vegas FINALLY happened, and I got to see my work up on the walls. After so many months of the back anf forth, retouching, and production issues. Its! done!. The party was a pretty crazy scene, and I did not take one photo. There were so many photographers there so I figured....hey I am going to not work. At least for today. Here is a link to the opening party. I will have some more images of the final place once I make them perfect. Vegas is an interesting place, a bit cheesy for sure, but great people watching.
Here is another shot from my recent trip to the Dominican Republic....It is definitely something on the vicious side, but there certainly is beauty in the movements.
Ok, the last piece of the project. No more geisha after this! Well unless another project pops up. The art has been installed and has gotten very positive comments. In fact I have been commissioned to make another piece for the client. Thanks to my crew who really, really helped make this happen, and continue to do so for other projects on a regular basis.
Finally! The Geisha prints are being installed. I went to make sure if there were any questions, like where should I trim etc...So they don't cut the top of the head off...stuff like that. The place was very much under construction with workers here and there pounding away at all sorts of things. The installers John and Randy were excellent, very efficient, and attentive to detail. I could not have asked for 2 better guys. They installed 2 prints, one 9x12 feet, and the other 6x14 feet that were mounted like wallpaper, and a decal 4x14 feet that will be transparent and go on the glass of the wine room. Right now its hard to see it, but once the wine room is lit...Wow! It will look fantastic! It was great to be in control of the whole process from start to finish. It was VERY satisfying and also the client was totally bowled over. Cool.
The top image is the final image that will be printed for the Borgata project in Atlantic City, N.J. It is an extreme crop from the original file you see below it. This shot was unplanned in the sense that we didn't know where it was going to go, and what feeling we were trying to give. So I had originally wanted to use an image where you can see the nape of the neck. The nape of the neck is considered to be very sensual. Also traditionally Geisha's don't show too much skin. I took a few liberties with that in my photos. Anyway in order to enhance the sensuality there is an area on the neck left bare with no makeup. I just couldn't find a shot that had all the elements in it when I did such a vertical crop. I do feel great about the one that was finally chosen, its going to look awesome. It will be 4 wide x 12 feet high and printed on a translucent material that will be applied to a glass wall in the wine room. Its a good thing I used a Leaf 75s back with a Hassalblad H2 camera so the quality is there. I must say this project has taken quite a bit of time. Besides all the research on Geisha costumes and makeup. I have had to manage all facets of the project from conceptual, production, retouching, printing, and will go to Atlantic City to supervise the installation. I want to make sure it doesn't get ruined in the end. Its refreshing as well as apprehensive to be able to have total control over the whole process. Thats what makes the work exciting! This is the reason I became a photographer to be able to do what I love. By the way any one looking for medium sized Katsura? Katsura is Japanese for the wig I bought for the shoot and would love to not have anymore.
I was finally able to make myself stop driving my re-toucher Mark Beckelman of Beckelman Imaging totally insane with my nit picking. I think the images turned out super, and will look tres cool 9x12 feet approximately. They will be permanently installed at the Shiso restaurant in the Borgata Hotel, Atlantic City. So if you are ever in that part of the world, and are not totally partied out have a look, say you know the artist. That's right you heard me I said artist! I can't promise you that you will get any special treatment though. Maybe a plastic cup for your winnings on the the nickel slots.Now to deal with the printer, and getting it delivered on time. It's gonna be tight! Thanks again to the photo crew and my client Alvarez-Brock Design. It was great fun creating these images. Lets do more!
Ok I wasn't going to post a photo from the "Vegas" art shoot until they were retouched, but I like the photo so much I just had to show it off. There is no retouching or anything done to it. Although I don't see too much to do....at least not yet...if you stare at it long enough you always find something to tweak! The production stills really don't do the final images justice though as you can see in the above photo.
I am posting a slide show of the behind the scenes. I didn't have time to do anything super involved like a video or a time lapse video...I do love those though, and I miss that for this project. I want to say though that advertising photography is not just about taking pictures. As you can see in the slide show, there are many other skills involved some basic some specialized. First and foremost a good crew to work with. That makes the production go smoother when you are working with people you can trust. Here is the break down....
- Copious amounts of research on what the look should be. Good thing I have seen a few bullfights in Spain
- Props from all over the US were located and shipped. Thank God for Ebay and the internet!
- The right type of dirt was found locally (that was harder that we thought)
- Get the dirt delivered. They only deliver by the tractor trailer load. we only needed a pickup truck full.
- All the necessary dirt grooming tools procured.
- Figured out how to make our 1/4 bull look more like half a bull.
- Lots and lots of garbage bags.
- 33 megapixel Leaf, Aptus 75i back
Still trying to get rid of the dirt in a green way and not throw it out. So far no luck.
Not to mention..... We moved 1800 pounds of dirt not once, not twice, but 4 times! grrrr. Anyone got a need for yellow clay...hardly used.
Many thanks to my assistants Andrea Patton, Zack Callahan, and Manjari Sharma. Also Allyson Vieira the über fashion/prop stylist who really made something out of literally nothing. My client Rafael Alvarez of Alvarez/Brock Design who just keeps raising the bar on what he keeps inventing. We did earth and water....whats next? Applause to our model the muy sexy Bridget who really got into the role! I will post the final retouched images once they are done. No animals were harmed in this production! Ole!
This is a prop for an upcoming shoot just arrived at the studio...Now I need the rest of the bull. Any ideas anyone?
The client wants a model standing on rocks in water. So I had to build a 12' x 16' pool in the studio to make that shot a reality. My client then asks for rain in the shot. Oh oh that would require a studio with drains in the floor and our budget going out the window so that idea is nixed. Here is a small super fast movie of the pool building and shot. Its kinda rough with no sound, but you get the idea. I will have a much slicker behind the scenes movie posted soon. Thanks to my assistant Andrea Patton who helped put it together.
Here are some more behind the scene shots for this project. The final images will be enlarged to 8'x12' and will be used in a high end restaurant in Atlantic City. I learned quite a bit about Geisha's in the process of producing this shoot. Thankfully I had Allyson Viera the prop/fashion stylist to make it all happen and guide me. Not to mention the model Natsuko who kept her good humor with about 25 pounds of makeup and costume to became our Geisha.
As you can see almost every square inch of the studio was taken up by the sets. Notice the pool in the foreground? More on that in the next post
Here is a quickie end of the shoot photo with Natsuko from a current project I am working on. I will post a behind the scenes, and finished pics when they are ready. Thats me in the shot by the way, and I am not holding the fan.....