Fifty from 50 - Images from US Highway 50, from California to Maryland, fourth in a series of posts

Constructed in 1926, US 50 was part of the original United States highway system and extends from California to Maryland. Our recent move from Oakland, California to Silver Spring, Maryland near Washington, DC inspired me to travel on this historic byway and document my journey. All work was shot on a Mamiya 6, a film camera that creates negatives that are six centimeters square. This camera really forces me to shoot with intention. The film stock is mostly Ektar 100, for those who are curious.

Fifty from 50 - Images from US Highway 50, from California to Maryland, third in a series of posts

Constructed in 1926, US 50 was part of the original United States highway system and extends from California to Maryland. Our recent move from Oakland, California to Silver Spring, Maryland near Washington, DC inspired me to travel on this historic byway and document my journey. All work was shot on a Mamiya 6, a film camera that creates negatives that are six centimeters square. This camera really forces me to shoot with intention. The film stock is mostly Ektar 100, for those who are curious.

Fifty from 50 - Images from US Highway 50, from California to Maryland, first in a series of posts

Constructed in 1926, US 50 was part of the original United States highway system and extends from California to Maryland. Our recent move from Oakland, California to Silver Spring, Maryland near Washington, DC inspired me to travel on this historic byway and document my journey. All work was shot on a Mamiya 6, a film camera that creates negatives that are six centimeters square. This camera really forces me to shoot with intention. The film stock is mostly Ektar 100, for those who are curious.

The Light Is Fantastic

Photography: Portraits of a stage artist, student and tech wiz

I love working as a photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. The light is fantastic, there are numerous locations offering great architecture or interior design, and because of the culture’s embrace of creativity and innovation, many of the subjects are game to play and experiment during photo shoots.  To show you what I mean, I’ve selected just three images from some recent assignments.

Theater artist Taylor Mac won a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2017. Mac writes, directs, acts, sings, and performs experimental works that work as theatre and social commentary. I had about 15 minutes to photograph Mac for the MacArthur Foundation. Between performances of the groundbreaking “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” Mac was staying at the Hotel G in downtown San Francisco, built in 1909. The hotel room abutted a stairway; I peeked inside, saw the color of the walls and the window light, and immediately knew this was the place to make a picture. I had Mac play the ukulele, which was slightly difficult due to a hurt finger from stumbling in high heels during last night’s performance. Nonetheless, Mac was able to strum two or three chords, humming a quiet melody as I made pictures.

Photographed for the MacArthur Foundation.

Aaron Chow, an economics freshman at UC Berkeley, decided to research and investigate a real estate investment trust that a friend had invested in, only to discover that the trust had failed to file all kinds of SEC paperwork. Oops! Good for him, and probably bad for shady investment firms, once this young man graduates and starts his career. Chow suggested we shoot at the Asian Studies library because it has "cool architecture." By the Japanese periodicals, I custom white-balanced the fluorescent light by his head, which pushed the huge skylight in the background into a deep blue. I love it when I can employ optical physics instead of a dolly full of lighting equipment to make a compelling portrait!  Photographed for The Wall Street Journal.

Aaron Chow, an economics freshman at UC Berkeley, decided to research and investigate a real estate investment trust that a friend had invested in, only to discover that the trust had failed to file all kinds of SEC paperwork. Oops! Good for him, and probably bad for shady investment firms, once this young man graduates and starts his career. Chow suggested we shoot at the Asian Studies library because it has "cool architecture." By the Japanese periodicals, I custom white-balanced the fluorescent light by his head, which pushed the huge skylight in the background into a deep blue. I love it when I can employ optical physics instead of a dolly full of lighting equipment to make a compelling portrait!

Photographed for The Wall Street Journal.

David Wallerstein, the “Chief Exploration Officer” for Tencent, works in a converted church in Palo Alto. We made a number of moody pictures by the stained glass windows, and thought we had it in the bag. As we were walking back to the front door, we passed through the kitchen area where I saw the yellow-green wall with symmetrical clocks. At this point, we were warmed up and talking. David was using his phone to play some of his band’s heavy metal songs for me, and I commandeered his public relations assistant to hold a strobe. As you can see, David rocks!  Photographed for The Wall Street Journal.

David Wallerstein, the “Chief Exploration Officer” for Tencent, works in a converted church in Palo Alto. We made a number of moody pictures by the stained glass windows, and thought we had it in the bag. As we were walking back to the front door, we passed through the kitchen area where I saw the yellow-green wall with symmetrical clocks. At this point, we were warmed up and talking. David was using his phone to play some of his band’s heavy metal songs for me, and I commandeered his public relations assistant to hold a strobe. As you can see, David rocks!

Photographed for The Wall Street Journal.

On Commission: Non-profit photography for Plant It Forward Farms

A recent commission to create fresh imagery for a Houston-based non-profit organization allowed me to see first-hand how refugees are being helped to establish themselves in their new country. Plant It Forward serves mainly Congolese refugees by allowing them to farm unused land in urban areas while letting participants keep all their profit. Farmers sell their fresh veggies at local farmers markets as well as farm-to-table based restaurants.

The images were used to build a new website, create print collateral and for social media publication. 

From the archives: Bull Riding School Student Portraits

I recently took time to reorganize some of my negative archives when I came across some portraits I took at a bull riding school in 2014. I remember my goal was to make a portrait of the students immediately following their first-ever ride on a bull. The students, to my surprise and initial disappointment, looked nonplussed. I wanted to see a modicum of vulnerability in their faces, but instead only saw pictures of teenagers in cowboy clothing. I scrapped the idea and moved on.

A second look this month, at least three years later, revealed there is an underlying tension in the images, for me at least. Whom of us as adolescents couldn't wait to grow up to be the archetype we most admired? In some of these images, I see some who easily slide into the role, and others have a long trail ahead of them.

In case you're interested, the images were shot with a Hasselblad 553ex and Tri-X film. Let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Eric

From the archive: Gothic Beauty Pageant

In time for Halloween, a post from the archive:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for some people, that includes leather, studs and a whole bunch of creativity. I live nearby Numbers nightclub in Houston, which hosts an annual Gothic Beauty Pageant. I decided to set up a photo booth to photograph some of the contestants. Tom Phuckery, below, won first place in the men's competition.

20140323_goth_beauty_pageant_0017.jpg

On Assignment: Cover shoot for The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Amy Lampi, a development director at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, is using analytics to help boost fundraising for the organization. The Chronicle of Philanthropy asked if I could shoot the cover photo for the feature on Lampi, and had a great idea that I was excited to be a part of.

The publication wanted to see Lampi seated in the theatre, with individual, random theatre seats lit up around her to symbolize potential new donors. A great idea, but it was now up to me to carry it out. My initial solution was to use grids on strobe heads planted on stage and pointed toward individual seats. I got a wakeup call, however, when I noticed that the light spread, even though I was using 10 degree grids, became too wide once the light made it to the individual theatre seats. To solve this problem, I decided to turn the power down on all the lights and position them right in front of the seats I wanted to illuminate. This created a new problem, that I could now see the top half of the lights in the frame. A quick search backstage and I came back with black(!) towels to put over the tops of the reflectors. With three lights balanced on seats and camera cases, and a reflector with a three-degree grid on the subject (positioned from the stage), we were good to go.

In post-production, I photoshopped out the tops of the lights by copying the top of the seat next to which ever one was illuminated. The editor later also wanted an extra seat illuminated. Again, a layer here, a quick mask there, and voila! - an extra illuminated seat.

August 2016 cover of The Chronicle of Philanthropy

 

 

On Assignment: Link Ermis for AARP

AARP, one of my newest clients, sent me to Huntsville a couple of months ago to photograph Link Ermis, a military veteran whose social security benefits have been turned upside down. Ermis is "one of 1.5 million public employees nationwide, including teachers, firefighters and police, who face a big reduction in benefits because they worked jobs in which they and their employers did not pay into Social Security."

The editor asked for live photos as well as some portraits. Things were going to be tight. Ermis drove a school bus to school and had less than 10 minutes to sit for a portrait before he had to begin his first period history class. I used a small Quantum strobe for some outdoor portraits, then we hustled inside so he could start his class. He used my presence as a quick lesson to his class about what he was contending with personally with his social security benefits. I also got a refresher on the start of the First World War as he explained it to his students while I made pictures.

Digital tearsheet

On Assignment: Laura Jo Degan for Newsweek

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Tuija Kalpala for Ekonomi magazine

Back in March, I got a message on my Blink app notifying me that a photo editor in Finland needed someone to shoot a cover photo for Ekonomi, a Finnish publication for economists. I had the pleasure of photographing Tuija Kalpala at Neste US, a company that produces bio-diesel. A pretty sweet gig, and all just for having an app on my phone.

On Assignment: Travis Arnold for MD Anderson Cancer Center's Conquest Magazine

I'm proud to have another great-looking tear sheet from an assignment I completed for MD Anderson Cancer Center's Conquest Magazine. Travis Arnold, a 17-year old from Spring, Texas, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia - a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. With the help of the doctors at MD Anderson Childrens Cancer Hospital, a half-match bone marrow transplant was performed. Travis recovered and is now a top-rated golfer on Klein High School's Bearkat golf team.

Page 28 and 29, Spring 2016 issue of Conquest magazine

JLabs at the Texas Medical Center for Houstonia Magazine

In a former Nabisco cookie factory near the Texas Medical Center stands a futuristically decorated science and technology incubator called JLabs. The project, "part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC, is a network of incubators providing emerging companies with many of the advantages of being in a big company without the capital investment. Residents have access to turnkey, state-of-the-art infrastructure, including singular bench tops, modular wet lab units and office space on a short-term basis." - http://www.tmcinnovation.org/jlabs/

An assignment from Houstonia magazine that began as a request for interiors for a quarter page turned into a full-page portrait and multi-page display after ad pages were added to the magazine near the end of production. Working with the talented and versatile art director Tanyia Johnson, we turned out some tear sheets I'm quite proud of.

Mark Stefanik for The Wall Street Journal

Shooting a portrait about cybersecurity for The Wall Street Journal, I had spontaneous inspiration to purchase a chain and pad lock 15 minutes before the shoot and to have the subject stand behind a chain-wrapped computer monitor. Of course I also shot the portrait without the chain, which is what eventually ran in today's Wall Street Journal. Nonetheless, my computer monitor in bondage lives on here, at my blog. Enjoy.

 

Mark Stefanik of Advantage Benefit Solutions was hit by ransomware when his computer files were locked by a cybercriminal. Stefanik paid $400 ransom to unencrypt his data. 

Arcade Fire for Metro

For two weeks in October 2013, I was living the dream as a photographer for the band Arcade Fire as they played a series of warm-up shows for their Reflektor tour in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. During our time in Miami, we produced a portrait shoot at a Haitian restaurant called Tap Tap, which has lovely paintings inside and great natural light. The images below made it into print in Metro, a British newspaper based in London. The shoot was produced on 800 ASA Porta 35mm film using natural light.

One of me by the band during the shoot.

Tom Bastian for Fortune Magazine

A couple of months ago, I was fortunate to complete my first assignment for Fortune Magazine. The assignment was to photograph Tom Bastian, who manages the Invesco Equity and Income Fund. 

 

I had great backend support from a photo editor at Fortune, Michele Taylor. We discussed options and even location snaps I made before the shoot. It was great knowing that at least the background environments were approved before I even began. We shot in what is probably the biggest boardroom I've ever seen but in the end, went with a couch on the periphery that had a nice, mirrored grid as a background, courtesy of the building next door.

 

 

Tom Bastian in the Invesco Houston office.

Digital tear sheet from Fortune Magazine.

Francisco Sanchez for Emergency Management magazine

In the United States' fourth largest city, emergency management is crucial. Emergency Management magazine recently published a profile on Francisco Sanchez, the liaison for Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  Having shot at the TranStar facility before, I already knew what the interior looked like and what to expect. Wanting to do something different, I suggested we go to the roof of the building. I saw a nice bank of clouds from an approaching cold front I knew would make a good foreboding background, and my gut was telling me the roof was likely filled with antennas, which it was. Having been photographed many times before, Francisco told me this was the first time anyone had suggested photographing on the roof. Once I knew I had a decent shot, I showed him the back of the camera and he was as pleased as I was.

 

Tearsheet from Emergency Management magazine