My first trip to NASA last year was to photograph Robonaut for IEEE Spectrum. They created an interactive iPad app that highlights robots from all over the world, used in various industries. I was the lucky kid who got to hang out with the space robot.
We created animations that feature Robonaut’s human like hands, its ability to life weights with torque similar to a human, and it’s range of motions. This thing is up on the space station working along side astronauts, and has to use the same tools that they do. So it’s important that it functions much like a human. Except it doesn’t need a space suit. Pretty convenient.
On top of the space robot stuff the app is pretty neat. I thought it was interesting, but my four year old nephew thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. When he refused to put it down for dinner his mom gave him a timeout. Sorry dude.
AARP asked us to create the shape of the United States out of food. Yeah, easy, we can do that. No problem! Then the curve ball…they wanted each state defined. By color. Even Rhode Island… and Alaska… and Hawaii.
If you’ve never been grocery shopping by color, try it. It’s worth it to watch the cashiers face when you go through with one monochromatic cart after another. Also, a big thanks to our UPS delivery guy who is from Alaska and showed up about the time we were styling that state. We had formed the inside passage wrong and he corrected our green beans.
We LOVE this image. So simple, yet so clever.
I wish we could say it was our idea but it was not. Thanks TJ, Leslie, and the rest of the art crew at Texas Monthly for such a great visual and for letting us execute it.
At the end of 2012, ESPN Magazine sent my buddy Bill & I to the great white north (Wisconsin) to dismantle and photograph Levi Lavallee’s snowmobile. Below is a little recap of our trip.
I just got the CA type annual and was flipping through some really great work, pleased to see some friends represented, when I stumbled across a magazine that my pals at Pentagram Design did. First I said “Wow, more Pentagram work in here,” then I remembered, “hey, I shot that!”
A few months back our friends at Pentagram called us up to photograph some water abstracts for a cover story. Designer Barrett Fry created the cover copy, and thought it’d be interesting if it were distorted by ripples of water, so he sent the type my way and I started to play.
We simply printed it out and set the copy under a tank with an inch or so of water in it. And some food coloring. Then we just splashed up a storm. I tried to keep the distortion to a minimum for legibility, but art director & legendary designer DJ Stout called me up an demanded more ripples and splashes. And good thing he did. The results are below…
In addition to being the 40th anniversary of Pong, the world not ending, and Leonard Cohen releasing another album, this year has been a lucky one for us. I went to NASA twice, hung out with a space robot, we created what feels like thousands of photographs for dozens of magazines, and I began a massive personal project that I hope to complete by the end of 2013.
Sooooo much work hasn’t even been published yet, so I’m not allowed to show it (no matter how much I want to!). Some of it has, but we’ve been taking so many photos I haven’t had the time to share anything new. Ugh. Oh well. Until I get my act together….
PONG!!! <click the link, click the game, start>
All your base are belong to us!
Happy New Year,
A few months back writer Kris Wilton interviewed me about conceptual still life photography. I forgot all about it until I flipped a page, and there I was, along with a few fellow practitioners. According to the article conceptual still life is really hard. So if anyone out there has any aspirations, you might as well give up now.
For me, I feel like the hardest part is making an idea satisfy the masses. Not thinking a good one up. There are tons of great ideas. Once you have an idea to illustrate a story, you simply need to make it fit the magazine’s look, satisfy the style of the photo editor, the photo director, the art director, creative director, and obviously all of the editors, and all of their spouses, and the office cat.
If an idea can do that, all you have to do is take the picture! One time I had an idea for a magazine that I knew was perfect. But they weren’t going for it. So I went ahead and did the shoot, but added this extra option. It ended up running as the cover. Maybe I just did a terrible job sketching the idea out? Who knows. The cover looked good though!
But there are two sides to this coin. Frequently an idea is okay, but after a few back and forth emails and a phone call, that idea can become something really special. I think there is a perfect place between collaboration, and art by committee. Wherever that place is, I’d like to be there as much as possible.
Side note; the article mentioned this type of work typically does not look photoshopped. That made me happy.
I’m humbled that our campaign for Caesar’s grabbed a full page in the current CA ad annual. As simple as the images were, it was a massive amount of work for Robin to style, me to not just shoot, but also retouch, and creative director Mike Ferrer to concept, and harder still, sell to his client. I’m very proud of this project, and glad to see it gain some more recognition. Also thanks to my c-stand for holding up the magazine while I photographed it.
Spirit’s design director, Kevin de Miranda, called me about their past two covers. November’s cover feature focused on forgiveness, and finding (or creating) a good in the darkest of situations. We decided to photograph a dove. An iconic symbol of hope. For readers sitting in a metal tube rocketing through the sky, i’m hopeful that the story was uplifting or insightful. But for me it was an opportunity to spend an evening patiently exploring a dove over a glass of wine. Or three or four. I don’t remember. And it was one of the rare occasions that Robin looked at my images and said ’what if you light it different?’ I asked how. ‘I don’t know, just different, maybe backlight it.’ So I did.
The October cover required a vintage camera, and lucky us, I have one or two. This ended up being a self portrait. Sort of. I’m not exactly the polyester sport coat and tie sort of guy. But those are my hands!
As in Texas Monthly, who recently launched a redesign. Part of their new look includes this front of the book touts page which sums up parts of the mag like an extra TOC section. We were tasked with creating this ongoing series each month. The idea is to highlight the typography while using images from the magazine. The challenge is to do creative things without distorting the type, and to do it in the last day or so before the issue ships (since we can’t start until all of the art is in).
We started the project very straightforward to establish the idea with readers, and I’m hopeful that we will be able to go more abstract as the project progresses. The possibilities here are really exciting. So far, the jigsaw puzzle is my favorite.