Sunday, May 31, 2009

We're off to the NBA Finals!

Once again, we are off to the NBA Finals to take portraits of the players with Rick. We travel to Los Angeles, California to shoot the Lakers and Orlando, Florida to photograph the Magic. We always get excited for these whirlwind projects. It's a lot of hard work and incredible pressure, but we seem to do well under these conditions. We are working directly with ESPN and Vidiots again this year. They are incredibly talented people that have won an Emmy for editing and visual FX! The portraits will fused with video footage and will be aired on ABC/ESPN again this year. So, if you are tuning into the NBA Finals, look for our work!

Here is an example of what we did last year...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Discovery Workshop - Final Images

We are so happy and proud of all of the women who attended the Discovery Workshop with us. We asked all of the participants to send us some of their final images so we could post them onto a website for all to see. We are still awaiting a few entries, but most of them are now online.

Check it out HERE!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Matts Birthday Weekend

I just knew that my birthday weekend was going to be great. It started on Friday when I was hired by Jeff Minton to scout the coast for a portrait he is making of Gavin Newsom for New York Times Magazine. I wanted to make sure that I had a person in the scouting images to give him some perspective on the location. No one was available in the office, so I decided to see if Laura and the boys would be interested in scouting with me. They were overjoyed! Until now, I had only brought Mason with me scouting and it was a wonderful bonding time for us.
Our destinations for the day were Ocean Beach and Fort Funston in San Francisco. Fort Funston is a beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean where dogs are allowed to run free, hang gliders cruise like birds over the cliffs and you can walk the beach for miles at low tide... It is a great spot for a day trip. The wind was whipping that day and the hang gliders were out in full force. The boys had never witnessed hang gliders before and they were watching with open eyes and mouths. Along the path, Mason stopped and asked every dog owner if he could pet their dog. Anytime I can scout and have my family there and take some great portraits, I'm in! They had such a great time here... Here are a few shots from our family scouting journey.



I woke up on Sunday morning to breakfast in bed! What a great way to wake up. I have never had breakfast in bed before and I can say that it was a little more stressful that I thought it would be with each of the kids eager to jump on daddy with my piping hot coffee in hand. However, it was very enjoyable to eat my breakfast in bed with my family! We continued the day in one of my favorite places on the planet... our backyard.

After a celebration with friends on Sunday, we enjoyed our Monday by dropping off the boys at Garrett and Tanya's house for a few hours while Laura and I went shopping. Yes, that's right shopping... I had told Laura that what I wanted this year was to go clothes shopping alone with her. We are both in need of new clothes and we have the hardest time shopping with the boys... So, Laura made the arrangements and I couldn't have been happier. It was very reminiscent of our first date together where we met down on Haight street and walked around, went shopping and had a yummy lunch. THANK YOU GARRETT AND TANYA!

We ended our day back at home. Mason had given me a science kit as a present so he and I could do projects together. It was so heartwarming to open his present and hear him soo eager work on these science projects with daddy. So at the end of the night, he and I started project One - Building a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I'm not sure who was happier, Me or Mason! Laura again captured a few of the moments.

Thank you to everyone that helped me celebrate this weekend. I had a blast!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Discovery Workshop - Day 3

Day three took us back to Cavallo Point were we began our journey. The day started with a reflection of our individual photo assignments from day two. Problems, epiphanies, stresses and ah-ha moments were all discussed at this meeting of the minds. Many of the participants of the workshop had never had a photo assignment like this. Whether it was photographing a subject different than they normally photograph or having their first photographic assignment given to them, they were thrown into these situations. Each of the ladies worked through their excitement, nervousness and fears and emerged on the other side, one step deeper into their own self discovery.

We set up the next part of the day as a classroom breakout sessions. Each of the instructors took on teaching an intensive 45 minutes class on a photographic area of interest. MeRa taught one-on-one marketing and a website critique for anyone that attended her class; Rick went on a photographic exploration with his class, teaching them about background, texture and depth of field; Brian and Garrett took on flash lighting techniques; Matt taught organization, workflow and post production techniques, and Laura helped with branding and made vision boards with her attendees. We all enjoyed our sessions immensely and the feedback from the ladies was that they all wanted more. More time, more breakouts, more!

After our breakout classes, MeRa and Brian were able to go over their 21 tips for photographing people. All we can say is that we can't wait to use some of their tips on our next wedding! If you want to know more about their 21 tips, you can sign up for one of their workshops!

After MeRa and Brians presentation, Garrett organized several families, couples and kids for each of the women to photograph. What a great send off! This was an opportunity for everyone to take what they had learned from the weekend and apply it to their own photography. Teams of two, three and four wandered the grounds of Cavallo Point with their subjects. It was really great to look out at all of the women sitting with their subjects, getting to know them and making portraits that were reflective of themselves as artists.

We are very excited to see all the photographs from each and every woman that attended this workshop. What a long journey it was and will continue to be for us all. We walked away from the experience wide open and thankful that we too took this journey. We stepped through dark places, worked through our own fears and emerged on the other side thankful, grateful and alive. We personally thank MeRa, Brian, Rick, Lesley, Laura, Genie, Jason and all of the 22 beautiful women that trusted us enough to embark on a self discovery journey together.

Here is a slideshow of images from this amazing weekend:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discovery Workshop - Day 2

On day two, the workshop went out the the coast in the town of Stinson Beach, which happens to also be Rick's home. The day was dedicated to Rick's approach to portraiture. We gathered at the Stinson Beach Community Center, built a big fire in the fireplace to cut the chill of the drizzly rainy day and got to work. Rick spent an hour talking about the importance of connecting with his subjects long before making pictures of them. He showed us various portfolios while sitting on the floor with everyone gathered around, kind of like adult story time. He told stories about his portrait sessions with Shaquile O'Neal and Lance Armstrong and Tony Hawk at the same time highlighting his point about connecting first...talking, checking in on where he AND his subject may be on that particular day, asking if there is some image they might want to create or play out. Rick's teaching style was organic, drifting between making strong specific points and entertaining us with stories of interesting portrait sessions....from Venus Williams to his wife and kids.

Rick then introduced us to the woman with whom he was going to demonstrate his portrait process. Her name is Lesly Robinson, a 63 year old Stinson Beach resident who owns a small catering company (she later cooked us a beautiful meal of stuffed peppers and chicken kabobs on the barbeque). Rick sat with her in front of the rest of us, speaking to her about any number of things. She talked about how much she loves her kitchen, cooking and aprons. Rick talked about how he perceived her as royalty in the way she held herself and talked. "Approachable Royalty" is how he phrased it. They talked for 20 minutes and decided they'd start working with Lesly's apron... The shoot unfolded and the connection between Lesly and Rick became stronger and stronger despite the presence of 25 other people watching. They had fun together and it shows in the images. It seems Rick also made his way toward the royalty idea by simply using a deep (royal) blue door bathed in beautiful even light from the overcast day.

After Rick's session, the ladies were let loose in the town of Stinson Beach. Prior to the workshop, Rick had arranged for eleven of the local residents to be subjects for the women to photograph. So, after much anticipation and nervousness, teams of two photographers each descended on the town with enthusiasm. The assignment was to make portraits that were meaningful to their subjects, based on the connecting and interview process that Rick was teaching, rather than working from preconceived ideas and projections.

Watching the women return from their assignments was rewarding and revealing. They had a new-found glow to their faces and they were radiant. We could see that this discovery experience had shifted and changed them.  The group spent an invigorating hour talking about their portraiture adventures with the characters of Stinson Beach, reflecting upon the connections that were emerging between the previous day's self portraiture, Rick's session with Lesly and their own shooting experience. After talking, tables were rearranged, tablecloths were put out and the fire was stoked, transforming the Community Center into a rustic dining room before the delicious barbeque meal was served. After desert, Rick took many of the women for a dusk walk down to the beach.  They were overjoyed, laughing and doing cartwheels with MeRa all the way down the misty beach as night fell.  What a wonderful way to end Day 2.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Discovery Workshop - Day 1

The Discovery Workshop with MeRa, Brian, Rick, Lesley and Laura still resonates with us strongly nearly 2 weeks later. We both came away from the experience with a whole new perspective on ourselves as artists and as humans. Our sense is that similar feelings were unanimous amongst all of the participants and instructors.


We began our journey of self discovery at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, CA. As we walked up the stairs to our classroom, we were greeted by 2 images that had a lot of meaning to the process we were about to embark on. The first image, by Lukas Felzmann, was a diptych of 2 owl wings side by side. These beautiful photographs spanned the entire landing on the staircase and it was impossible to miss.

The second image, by Arno Rafael Minkkinen, was perfectly placed at the top of the stairs. This black and white photograph was an image of a person about to jump off a cliff in the landscape.

Giant Wings... Jumping off a cliff... How appropriate. A sign of what was to come.

Day one was all about discovering ourselves through self-portraiture and introspection. A week before the workshop, Rick sent out the assignment of taking a self portrait and bringing it to the class. It was explained that we were all going to talk about what our self portrait means to us. The assignment alone brought up conflict for us and many of the participants... How are we going to photograph ourselves, portray ourselves to others and then talk about it with total strangers?

During the class, we were invited to break into groups of 5 to review our self portraits. We started with a simple but powerful process. One person would hold up their self portrait for the other 4 people in the group to look at. Then each viewer was asked to give specific feedback in the form of 3 statements: "When I look at your self portrait I see..., When I look at your self portrait I feel... and When I look at your self portrait I imagine..." The feedback was amazing to hear. Most of the observations were true to heart and some were revealing in ways that we didn't expect. After listening to the observations, we, as the self portrait makers, told our group what the image was about. There was a lot of emotion shared during this exercise.

If you haven't done this as a practice yet, we HIGHLY recommend it! Go do it, make a self portrait of yourself and then show it to a few people and have them tell you what they see, feel and imagine and then share with them what the image represents to you... You will be amazed.

Here are our self portraits that we presented:

Day one continued with Lesley directing everyone with a movement exercise. It started by grounding everyone to the environment and the space we were in. Than she took us on a journey that encouraged everyone to move and let any inhibitions go. We could tell that some of the participants were less than enthusiastic about moving their bodies, including ourselves. But, after the exercise, we felt a little more free to be able to express ourselves and get in touch with our 'inner artist'. MeRa said it best... If we have a problem with moving our own bodies, how are we supposed to expect that our subjects in front of the camera will be free to move their bodies.

Lesley then took us through a drawing exercise. With the idea of self portraiture fresh in our minds, we were to illustrate ourselves on paper. This was a challenge for many of us! She encouraged each of us to be guided by our vision and not to second guess anything. Just start drawing and see what comes. When they were complete, we all had a chance to share our drawing and find similarities or differences between these illustrations and our original self portraits. From our drawings, we were to make 3 statements of who we are right at that moment - using the 'what we see, feel and imagine' from our self portraiture images. This activity for many of the participants, was very eye opening and revealing.

Here are Garrett's:
I am running scared, looking for clarity.
I am exploring, jumping, turning... where does the time go.
I am streams of thoughts, emotional, ugly, don't forget family.

At the end of the exercise, Lesley performed a dance/movement for everyone and we were all floored. She was beautiful.

Day 1 ended with everyone taking a personal photographic journey. The instruction was to take a new image that was reflective of the sentences which were borne out of our drawing self portraits. The idea was that we were creating a new version of a photographic self portrait, sourced from a totally different place than our original "homework" assignment. We left the day feeling like we were on the edge of a cliff, ready to jump off and fly away...listening for the new singular voice emerging from within. What a great feeling.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sneak Peek - Discovery Workshop

We are still smiling...

We just finished teaching a 3 day Photographers Discovery Workshop with Me Ra Koh, Rick Chapman, Brian Tausend, Lesley Ehrenfeld and Laura Reoch at Cavallo Point and Stinson Beach. We had a such an eye opening and emotional time with all of the 22 women that attended. We feel blessed to have been part of such a wonderful discovery weekend.

Much more to come...