February 21, 2011


Last week a book called Wear This, Toss That was released authored by Amy E. Goodman. I shot 98% of the inside shots over 3 exhausting days in the studio. It was an extremely busy yet well produced shoot and the outcome was great.
Anyway, Amy was supposed to be on the Today Show Monday morning somewhere between 9:00am and 10:00am. I woke up to watch and as I waited I was amazed at how many commercials were between each segment. I don't watch morning TV shows. At the end of each segment they announce what will be next. Then, you're attacked by a barrage of commercials. I was so amazed that I grabbed a pen and wrote down each commercial and the time it lasted. Keep in mind this is only over a 30-minute span of time.

Here's my list:

Segment followed by

Lunesta - 1 minute
Sears - 15 sec
Dove soap - 15 sec
Neutrogena - 15 sec
Clorox - 15 sec
Dannon - 10 sec
Weight Watchers - 15 sec
Roots (enhanced ebook) - 15 sec

Then, a 3-minute segment followed by:

Discover Card - 30 sec
Activia - 15 sec
Aveeno - 15 sec
Clorox - 15 sec
Reese's - 10 sec
Sears - 10 sec
Bisquick - 15 sec
Pizza Hut - 10 sec
Maybelline - 30 sec

Today Show teaser - 15 sec
New York Times - 30 sec
Empire carpet - 15 sec

1 minute weather update followed by:

Nate Berkus show preview - 15 sec
Bob's furniture - 15 sec
Delsym cough med - 15 sec
SBI "healthcare career" - 1 min
Bob's furniture - 15 sec

A 4 minute food segment followed by:

Access Hollywood Live teaser - 15 seconds
Movie promo - 30 sec
Optimum online - 30 sec
Thread NY (NBC fashion blog) - 10 sec

Now, am I crazy here or is this total BULLSHIT? I think we stare at the TV without even realizing the amount of consumer propaganda that is pounded into our brains each day.
Later, as you walk down the aisle of your local store you think to yourself... Must buy Activia (and shit pants), must buy Clorox, must buy Delsym in case I cough, must go to Sears, must eat lunch at Pizza Hut....

Holy shit, if this isn't brain washing I don't know what is.
Consumerism, consumerism...
Just keep that huge corporate machine going.

February 18, 2011

Gag Me

Let me start this post by saying that I'm TRULY appreciative of ALL the work I get from Conde Nast and the other publications I work for. It's not their fault that I have to deal with all these huge egos.

The other day I got an assignment from WWD to shoot the (new) "Queen of Pop" at Trump Soho Hotel. The night before, I struggled with what type of lighting to use, taking into consideration she's been shot 50 million times before and I didn't want to do something everyone else had already done. I was told to be there at 9:30am and was assured I would be the only photographer shooting. I don't do the paparazzi thing nor the red carpet and I rarely do shoots if there's another photographer there unless it's an "in house" guy documenting the event. I arrived early to find that the "promotion machine" was already in full swing. A separate elevator for crew, assistants, PR people, security guys, stylists, makeup artist, MAC reps (sponsors), journalists, caterers and many random people mumbling into headsets... A major ordeal. The area where we were shooting was a magnificent space on the 43rd floor with one of the most amazing terraces I've ever seen overlooking everything north from Soho. Incredible views.

I waited out on the terrace taking snapshots and was finally told that they were ready for me. I decided on using a ring flash for a stark clean look. The "mega star" walked into the makeshift studio like some sort of royalty and I introduced myself. MAC had put up a banner-like thing called a "step and repeat" which is a background like the ones they have on the red carpet with their logo slapped all over it. Another great example of corporate sponsored bullshit. Anyway, she stepped onto the background, put her hand on her hip, struck a pose and I popped off 3 frames to test the light. Gag says, "I think we have it." Amused, I bristled and said, "No, we don't have it--I need more." I got her to step back on the lovely "banner" and asked her for some variation in her pose. Her response: "No." Then I asked her to smile... and again she said, "No." I asked if I could put her on a gray background for a variation and she told me to ask her publicist who sort of smirked and said, "Not gonna happen." Then "Gag" looked over my shoulder and made me delete the images she didn't like AND had her people write down the specific frame numbers she would "allow" to be printed. Two frames out of the eight that I shot (#'s 9468 & 9470, if anyone cares). Then, as fast as she appeared, she disappeared. I was promised 5 minutes (which is ridiculous) and I actually got about 2 minutes. I always find it funny that photographers are NEVER given ample time to do their craft. Can "Gag" write a song in 2 minutes? Can a builder make anything in 2 minutes? Do doctors do operations in 2 minutes? Can Picasso make a painting in 2 minutes? Can Spielberg make a short film in 2 minutes? How the hell does anyone expect me to create a cover shot in 2 minutes?

I was amazed at the number of people at this shoot/event/fiasco. All these "parasites" grouped around her either taking orders or barking out orders and all of them terrified that something might upset "The Queen of Pop". Such bullshit! Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame Lady G....

Eight frames. I dragged my ass out at 8:00am with 150 lbs of equipment for 8 stinking frames... Amazing. Makes me Gag!

February 16, 2011

20/20 spread

I shot this recent cover story for 20/20 Magazine. The day started out with the whole crew waiting outside of our location in 20+ degree weather because the women who was supposed to let us in supposedly had a family emergency and didn't tell anyone. After numerous frantic calls to various people we finally got in at 10:30am. It was a challenge trying to create the feel of a dark moody club (while eating the catered breakfast). It turned out to be a really great day though hectic because of the morning fiasco and loss of time.
I love working with everyone at 20/20. Hands down the coolest client I have.

February 14, 2011

Things to Baffle the Mind

Once in a great while I run across something that truly baffles me. Today I found an open package of Thomas' English Muffins tucked out of sight with a few muffins left inside. I bought this package no less than three weeks ago. They were still as moist as the day I bought them and mold free. How is that possible? A week ago I bought a loaf of multigrain bread from a local bakery and it was turning green 3 days later, no exaggeration. I had eaten only a few pieces before I had to toss it in the trash. Economically speaking I guess Thomas' are the way to go. From a healthy eating standpoint, you might be better off eating a head of lettuce grown at ground zero in Chernobyl. Reminds me of an old Jefferson Airplane song called "Eat Starch Mom" that has a line in it that says, "Preservatives might just be preserving you". We can only hope. I read that putting bread in the fridge isn't so great--it's like a sponge and picks up all the smells and tastes from the other food. Maybe freezing works better. Bread, such a dilemma.

This is another thing that fascinates me. Watch the entire video. It's truly amazing how these birds resemble schooling fish. The blue sky, the blue ocean. Darting and turning on a dime with such incredible precision. Amazing that evolution tells us that birds came from fish and they obviously still carry the DNA for "schooling" deep in the recesses of their little bird brains.

And, it gets better from the middle on. It's cropped here, but you can go to YouTube to get full view.

February 13, 2011

Creativity vs your Armani handbag

So it seems I opened a can of worms with my NGAS post. In emails, some claimed it was mean spirited, bitter and pessimistic. Others said my message was honest, truthful and had a more of a Buddhist "less is more" vibe. Here's the deal: I was basically saying that it seems that our value and self worth has become solely based on materialistic things and what we've acquired. Every single day someone tells you how they just bought the latest iPhone, Kindle, the newest Gucci sunglasses, a $600 handbag, a $400 dollar pair of shoes, a new Mac or their new stylish watch.

I find it nearly unbelievable that people stand in line for 15 hours or more to get their hands on the newest iPad or iPhone, just so they can tell someone (who might care) they got it first? How incredibly stupid is that? Our whole economy is fueled by this madness and consumerism. That absurd stimulus package our brilliant lawmakers came up with made no sense to me at all. The government sent everyone $600 and then told them to go buy anything with it, just spend it, piss it away... quickly. Remember, America consumes more (and pollutes more) than any other country in the world. Is that a good thing? It's obviously not working because our economy is tanking....

I digress. Back to my NGAS post. Many years ago I had a close friend who constantly reminded me of how smart he was. He seemed bright enough but according to him he'd give Einstein a run for his money in the brains department. One day while taking a drive, after a few months of hearing his incessant bragging, we were stopped at a traffic light and I remember looking over at him and saying something like this, "Hey, you keep telling me how smart you are. That means nothing to me. Your head is just a bigger file cabinet than mine, filled with useless information. You want to impress somebody? Create something. Play a beautiful tune for me on a piano or guitar, write a poem, paint a picture, write a book, make a wooden bowl out of a tree stump, take a blob of clay and make a pot, take a great photograph! Stuffing your head with information doesn't impress me, creating something does."

He never talked about how smart he was again. And, unfortunately, he wasn't very creative. My point is, or was, these days it seems like creativity has taken a distant backseat to materialistic "bling." I remember years ago seeing a moronic bumper sticker on the back of a Range Rover that said "He who who dies with the most toys wins". That attitude has created a serious plague on our hands, called consumerism. Which is defined as "an addiction for material goods."

Here are some fun facts:
Americans have $2.40 BILLION in credit card debt.
The average person has 3.5 cards.
There are 48 million Amex cards issued out there.
171 million Master cards.
269 million Visa cards.
The average college student carries a balance of $3100.
Total U.S. revolving debt (98% credit card) is $852.6 BILLION dollars.

This is ALL fueled by addictive consumerism.

So, that was my point of NGAS. Impress someone with something you created with your hands and mind, an act of generosity or charity or even with stories of a recent visually stimulating adventure you may have taken.

Just don't show me anything that you bought. Any dope can do that.

February 11, 2011


You just bought a new Vespa?
You have a 2000 square foot loft?
You just got a great new job promotion?
You found something at a flea market worth 400 times what you paid for it?
You have a brand new pair of boots?
Just bought a new expensive watch?
You just got a spiffy new hairdo?
Hey, I've got some news for you... NGAS.

I've come to the realization that, according to ALL these books I've been reading, we tend to buy things and then talk about them to inflate some sort of inadequate, unfulfilled ego we're dragging around.

Most of these things are said, bought and done solely to impress people. Though unfortunately it doesn't work. People are rarely, if ever, impressed by anything. In your twisted little mind (I include my mind in this statement) you hope that by telling people these things, they'll feel inferior, elevating you to some imaginary level of superiority. "My watch is more expensive than yours, therefore I'm more successful than you." "My home is bigger than yours, therefore I've achieved the American dream." Perhaps it's some innate, unexplainable desire to be envied and admired by your fellow man.

Truth is, I can't think of anyone in the entire world I'd want to trade places with. Most people I know hate their jobs, most people I know are unhappy in their relationship, or, unhappy not being in one and most people I know are in debt up to their ass. So, when they say, "I just bought a brand new car," I'm smiling and thinking, "You poor bastard, you'll have pay for all that gas, find parking and pay insurance." When I write on my blog, "Look at my beautiful new boots," they're thinking, "Yeah, big deal, we all buy new shoes."

So you see... the whole thing in a nutshell is this: Nobody cares. Nobody cares what you have, where you went to school, what you bought, what you're going to buy, what you've photographed recently, where you got your couch, how much money you have, how long you can hold a yoga pose, how big your house is or how much you have in your 401K. And no, not even that you cut your hair, got a makeover and especially not that you were the high school star quarterback. Nobody is impressed with anything of yours. And, if by some chance they are... it's fleeting. Ten minutes later they have forgotten everything you've told them. We're all thinking about ourselves and how we can impress someone with what we have or have done.

(Note: there is one exception. Mothers are impressed with most everything their children do. Which can be sad when they talk about their kids achievements to others. Most of which are unworthy of note. "Our son Jacob passed his swimming test last week." Yawn....)

So, the next time you're about to start gloating about anything...don't, because I promise you... NOBODY GIVES A SHIT.

(Note: I include myself in this post. I'm as guilty as the next guy.)


February 9, 2011

Stinkwood, Heels and Pears

Everyone is obviously over the snow and the cold. Especially here in NYC. Unlike most places in the country, New York City snow is beautiful for about... an hour. Here in Inwood, or as my friend Todd calls it, "The Dominican Ghetto," or as I call it, "Stinkwood," the snow is pretty for about 5 minutes. People toss trash everywhere. I need to learn the Spanish translation for "Use a friggin' garbage can" and scream it at the top of my lungs. I find that constantly disturbing. Woodstock this isn't.

Some people will forsake common sense for fashion no matter what. 5'10, 4 inch heels and icy streets. "Sorry, I can't work Fashion Week, I'm on crutches."

Hey, model girl, take a walk down these steps in those heels and live to talk about it.

I'm getting near the end of my supply of Pears soap that I hoarded just as they changed the formula. I went to all the 99 cent stores in the area and bought all the bars I could find. The new stuff looks similar but smells nothing like the old stuff. I wrote a nasty letter to Lever Brothers telling them of my unbearable sadness regarding this matter. I received no response. When my last bar has cleansed my stinky body, it will be a sad day. I may vow to never wash again.

Wikipedia reports:

2009 Change

A bar of Pears soap in the new shape.

In October 2009 the formula for the transparent amber soap was completely changed, making it unrecognizable from the earlier product. The new soap is slightly softer in texture, but the most noticeable difference is the scent. The aroma of the classic transparent amber bar, which used to be characterized by a mild, spicy herbal fragrance, is now a very strong smell akin to frankincense, creosote, or even insecticide.

The original listed ingredients were: Sodium Palmitate, Natural Rosin, Glycerine, Water, Sodium Cocoate, Rosemary Extract, Thyme Extract, Pears Fragrance Essence.

The listed ingredients of the new soap are: Sorbitol, Aqua, Sodium Palmate/stearate, Sodium Palmkernelate, Sodium Rosinate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, PEG-4, Alcohol, Glycerin, Perfume, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Meta Bisulfite, Etidronic acid, Tetra Sodium EDTA, BHT, Cl 12490, Cl 47005, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Cinnamal, Eugenol, Limonene, Linalool. As a result the "Hypoallergenic, Non Comedogenic" claim on the old packaging has now been replaced with "Gentle Care".

On 6 January 2010, after a Facebook campaign, it was reported in the media that Pears planned to abandon the new formula and that by March 2010 a new version would be available that is "much closer to the original". On 8 January 2010, it was reported in the media that Pears will not abandon the new formula but will "make further improvements, by delivering a scent that more closely resembles the product our consumers are familiar with while retaining all the benefits that the new formulation delivers".

One of my last bars.

February 4, 2011

Boots and other oddities

The boots arrived. Not snow boots but "everyday" boots. I opened the box and after putting them on I figure it will take me about 3 months to break them in. The stiffest (most stiff?) boots I've ever had on my feet, ever. These babies are well made and will hopefully last for many many years, but they may kill my feet in the meantime. I wore them for 45 minutes and felt like a victim of Chinese foot binding.
Well, this is the new look and the new boot. Has that "chopping wood in Vermont" vibe.
Like anyone cares. And yes, I have to take off the tags.

The old boots. Out with the old, in with the new. I've worn out many pairs of these boots over the past 10+ years. They were soft and comfortable, though not very durable. I liked those boots very much.

I've done this so many times. This guy was sitting across from me and passed out. Face down while reading. I would bet he planned on getting off before the end of the line at 207th street and I gave serious consideration to waking him up. But as the train pulled away at 200th (my stop) he didn't flinch. He'd find out soon enough.
Not long ago I fell asleep on the D train and ended way up by Yankee stadium... took me an hour to get back. The train has a way of lulling one to sleep.

Walking down Crosby street I saw this head sticking out of a heap of trash and snow. A curious sight.

February 3, 2011

Bad Snowmen

Walking around the city these past few days through the slush in my soggy shoes (still no boots) I'm rarely shocked by the weirdness that lurks around every corner. After all this snow we've had you might think that it'd be easy to find a traditional snowman somewhere in the city. I find it amazing that certain individuals even bother to get their hands cold making these poor excuses for snowmen. They have cigarettes for eyes, they have no shape, they're jammed in corners and have no resemblance to a traditional snowman whatsoever. So why even bother? Do these people walk away with some good feeling from their efforts? Do they take pride in their work? "Gee, that was some great snowman I just made out of 2 chunks of ice, a coffee cup and a few cigarette butts".
Maybe it's me not thinking outside the box. In a city full of artistic people, perhaps these are the "artistic interpretations" of the deep thinkers and true creators going beyond what they see as the traditional "man of snow". Frosty would throw himself on a roaring fire.

On the steps of a church where you can usually find a few homeless people sleeping.

I have no idea what this represents.

Cigarettes, blob...classic. Why even bother to get your hands cold for this?

Central Park... The closest thing I've seen to a traditional snowman. Ever. What's that little head?

Huddled in a corner, a "snow-drift man".

February 2, 2011

Okay... Enough...

Poet's Walk, last snow storm. This shot has only been taken about 4 million times. Actually, that might be a low estimate....

Central Park looking east.

Where's the boots?

It's 2:00am and I can hear the ice pelting against my window. They've already closed schools locally and we're expecting freezing rain causing extreme road hazards and possibly falling branches and trees. Hearing that, I'm tempted to grab a camera and head out to Central Park first thing in the morning hoping to catch some images of ice on the branches. I love it when it looks like everything is covered with glass after a storm of freezing rain.

During our first snowstorm months ago I was trying to decide whether to buy new snow boots. Somewhere in my storage unit, buried in one of the 60 or so boxes, there's a pair of perfectly good boots. I know they're there. So, I didn't buy new boots months ago, figuring I'd eventually find the ones I have at some point. Then, as the snow began to fall on the second big storm I went out on a massive "boot quest." Unfortunately 15,000 other dopes had the same idea. After going to 12 different stores I found that they were either out of my size (9) or they had jacked up the prices way above what they were a week before, preying on people's desperation (those boot selling bastards). Boots were selling like hotcakes. I stomped around through the slush in my soggy shoes for days, putting them on the radiator each night to dry (that's really bad).

For this last snow storm a week ago, which dropped 19 inches in Central Park, I decided the night before that the sky had to finally be out of moisture and opted not to buy boots again. Because of this I have completely ragged out my current "everyday" boots. They're shot, stained with salt and having been soaked and dried 50 times--they don't look so great. My feet look like they belong to a homeless person.

On the train the other day I was sitting next to a guy with boots that reminded me of ones I wore as a kid. Durable looking hunting boots. I asked him who made his boots. He replied "Thorogood." I came home, researched them and bought a pair online a week ago Monday. Opting for free shipping, I'm positive they must have strapped them to a turtle... so far, no boots. I just can't win.