Motion and stills


More and more frequently magazines are creating interactive versions of their print magazines rather then just a static copy of it. Recently Macworld magazine has created issues for the iPad that works with Apple’s Newsstand.
My role as the photographer is really interesting because I now need to think of my photos as both stills and motion. The cover image and opening spreads are more likely to be used as a stills in the print magazine and as motion sequences in the iPad version.


When I photograph the still version I use still equipment. I could change to the 5D Mark III and hot lights, but that would double my work and change the look of the photo. The work flow that I found that works well is to use stop motion or a layered photo.
With stop motion the art director, Rob, and I plan out the best way to use motion that ends at a still image for print. I use Apple’s Motion program to combine all the stills into a video for the iPad version.


The other method I use is to shoot a still photo and then remove the product from the set after I shoot so I have a blank background. This way I have the product separated from the background. This allows me to bring the files in to Apple’s Motion and animate the foreground giving the photo a more animated feel. So far we have done this for two issues, I’m looking forward to fine-tuning and improving this as we go along.


The July issue and the November issue both have examples of this. Look for them in the App store.


Grace Kelly


San Francisco Magazine approach me with another great idea that got the creative juices flowing. This time it involved a scarf with a Grace Kelly inspired look. The twist was to have no one wearing the scarf, making it a free floating subject.

The challenge with this image was how to get the scarf floating in the air while having the interior visible. We used wire and paper to get the shape of a human head then cleaned any visible wires in post production. Since influence laid heavy on Grace Kelly, a moody beach was the perfect choice for a background.

Look for the magazine on newsstands or check out the free digital edition online here.



Hanging with Bikes


I love bikes, especially well designed and functional urban bikes and accessories. Naturally, I was excited when Dwell approached me to photograph some beautiful bike gear.

The idea was to photograph 3 bikes hanging on colored backgrounds. Normally, we would paint the walls the day before the job but the client wanted the flexibility to change the colors once we had decided on what items would be in each shot. In order to achieve this, we hung paper on the wall instead of painting. I was worried that the strong side lighting would show all the wrinkles in the paper. We were really careful and it turned out extremely well. The side lighting gave the sets great depth.

It was great working with the stylist, Janis, and the talented team at Dwell. Now I just have to curb my bike envy!

Look for the magazine on newsstands or check out Dwell for more great info.





iPad at Macworld

I was approached by Rob (the art director at Macworld) about their up coming feature “iPad on the Job.” We both thought it would be a good idea to try something new. Rather than shoot small sets in my studio we thought it would be appropriate and more interesting to take the photos at the Macworld offices. We wanted to keep it real. Instead of trying to build and style the “perfect” set, we would let an honest and actual desk be the setting.


The one thing I didn’t keep real was the lighting. Each set required relighting to give it the feel and mood I wanted. 

The image selected for the opening spread was photographed in Jason’s (the Editorial Director) office. Good thing he was on vacation—my lighting and grip really made a mess of his office!   It was a refreshing and stimulating challenge to introduce new parameters to our typical process. Looking forward to more such experiences in the future.






The Brokenmusicbox Full Album

The cover for the single, “We Will” was a teaser for the full album—which I’m excited to say is out in it’s full glory. The music, design and photography have all come together in harmony to form an exciting album.


How was it all done??


We met with Tony and Kim from The Brokenmusicbox in September of last year. In the meeting we talked about what the album meant to them and what they were trying to convey with it. During the meeting we came up with some basic ideas and then narrowed it down to one. After the meeting I gave them a final sketch of my idea which they approved before I started photographing.



The technical part:

The dirt was pilled up in front of a turquoise background. Once I was happy with the shape of the top dirt I placed the flower. I test photographed about 6 flowers but only one was used for the final image. The dirt was lit from above with a long strip box. This gave the dirt a nice edge light. The lighting also left the front of the dirt dark, making it easier to blend with the “underground” dirt photo. I had one light with a 7″ reflector coming from the back to give the photo lens flare. The flower that I picked didn’t have any leaves so I had to photograph them from a different flower. Once I was happy with the dirt and the flower I used a water spray bottle to add the rain.

The “underground” portion of the photo was taken separately and upside down. This way I had gravity working in my favor rather then against me. The root for the actual  flower in the final image wasn’t very photographic so I picked a different plant that had a nice root. I then used scissors to trim the root so it didn’t look too busy. Once the bottom image was photographed I just rotated it 180 degrees and blended it with the top photo.


It was great working with The Brokenmusicbox and Amy Gregg from A1 Design.


Listen to the full Album here http://thebrokenmusicbox.bandcamp.com I love all the songs but my favorite is “California Year.” Listen to the album and post which song is your favorite.

Editors’ Choice


The latest issue of Macworld Magazine gave me the chance to use my new 100-400mm lens.  San Francisco is the perfect city for it! Every neighborhood has a view.

It is crazy how many tourists come and go to famous landmarks. They take their photo and then on to the next spot. I guess I do the same thing when visiting other places. As we waited for the sun to go down, we were asked by at least 7 tourists to take their pictures.

Here are some photos I took from the same spot at full zoom.


The Brokenmusicbox Single

The Brokenmusicbox has a new single out, “We Will” from their upcoming album. You may remember their first album from when I used the song, “Time,” for my video, “Macworld Cover Creation.“ 

I was very excited they asked me to collaborate on the album art with them. The photography on the single is a teaser of what the photo will be on the full album. I was also lucky enough to work with Amy from A1 Design on the album design.


Checkout the song on CD baby or iTunes

You can also listen to the full song here.





Macworld January Cover


The iPhone 4s has been unleashed all over Macworld Magazine, inside and out. The cover may look nice and clean but the set to light it was a mess.


If you’re traveling for the holidays, load your iPad up with the Zinio version or look for the analog version at your airport news stand.

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

About a year ago (November 2010) Dwell magazine hired me to photograph a bunch of cool chairs. Of course one of the chairs was a requisite Eames chair. Dwell had asked if a film crew could come by my studio as well since the editor of the magazine (Sam) was being interviewed in a film about Charles and Ray Eames. They thought they might get some footage during the day. See photos from that day here


Fast forward to now, and the movie, Eames: The Architect and the Painter, is now out in theaters. I went to see it since I thought it would be interesting and I wanted to see how the film turned out. I wasn’t expecting to see any footage from my studio but was super-excited to see that towards the end of the movie my studio (and I) were shown. I even had a big line—I don’t want to spoil it—but it was something like, “I think we should move the chair.”


I encourage you to see my film debut this really fascinating portrait of an incredibly innovative, influential and talented couple. http://firstrunfeatures.com/eames




Red, Red, Red


San Francisco Magazine approached us with a fun idea for “The Trend” section of the December 2011 issue.  They wanted to incorporate the color red in an over-the-top fashion.  They provided a selection of red products to pick from to form the groups. Rather than washing the photos with a red overlay in Photoshop, we went old school and used red gels.  Each grouping was giving it’s own surface and gel treatment. This allowed the photos to have their own identity while relating to each other as a series.