December 25, 2012

Simple Family Portrait

A simple family portrait made in their living room using a love seat and an empty wall.  I used a single shoot through umbrella with a 1/4 CTO gel to warm it up a bit and that was it.  Doesn't always have to be an elaborate setup to get a nice portrait.

December 21, 2012

Blizzard Lunch

Stopped in to Mia Za's on State Street for some comfort food while the blizzard raged outside. It's good quick Italian food at a decent price.

End of the World Blizzard

It was the eve of the end of the Mayan Calendar and the blizzard dumped nearly 20" of snow on Madison, prompting some to think it truly was the end of the world. Seriously, it was our first major snow of the season and just in time for the holidays. It was a winter wonderland!


December 14, 2012

Soga - The Isthmus Review Is In

The Isthmus review for Soga Shabu Shabu came out today and thankfully it was glowing.

After all the food they gave me during the photo shoot this past Saturday, I was hoping it would be good. Read the full review here and below are some images of the other dishes I photographed. Besides the Shabu Shabu, I think my favorite was the Spicy Salad.
Spicy Salad

Pig Ears

Poached Fish in Spicy Sauce
(#18 on menu says Chicken, but it's a typo.)

December 9, 2012

Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus

Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus is Madison's gay and gay-friendly men's chorus.  They perform two concerts and a fundraiser cabaret each year.  They also preform at various functions throughout the year.   The chorus has been singing in Madison since 1997 and have continued to grow and bring choral music to the community.

December 8, 2012

Soga Food Review Photo Shoot & Feast

I did a food shoot for an upcoming review of Soga Shabu Shabu restaurant on State Street for Isthmus today. The photo editor gave me five dishes were reviewed in the article. I showed the list to Xiaoling (aka Rene) and Seya since it seemed that English wasn't their strong suit. I asked for one or two dishes to work with. They being eager to please types, I got all six! Fried duck, sliced pig ears, poached fish, spicy salad and their specialty shabu-shabu not to mention bubble tea and an alcohol-laden tropical fruit drink.

After I completed the assignment, they insisted I sit down and eat. I had never heard of shabu-shabu before. It's an interactive dish popular in Japan and Korea that let's you do the cooking. You get a boiling pot of broth (one side spicy the other not) in which you cook the thinly slice pieces of fatty beef and a heaping plate of vegetables. Xiaoling being the good host, sat down across from me and did the cooking. Like a doting mother, she kept heaping samples of all the dishes on my plate. I tried several times to quit, but my pleas for mercy went unheeded. I must admit I didn't try too hard since the food was all quite tasty...though I wasn't the biggest fan of the pig ears. Kind of rubbery.

It was all a wonderful experience and for a moment I imagined I was actually traveling in China being treated to Xiaoling's hospitality in her own kitchen.

I sure hope the Isthmus gives them a good review after all the trouble and expense they went for me to make a photo. We'll find out on Thursday and I'll post the link to the article and a few images from today's session.  Fingers crossed! 

*UPDATE:  See next post on results of the review and more images.

December 4, 2012

Help-Portrait Madison 2012

Another great year of hanging with fellow photographers making portraits of appreciative folks at The River Food Pantry for the annual Help-Portrait event.   It's an international movement of professional photographers making portraits for people in need the first weekend in December.  

This was our biggest event yet with 139 Sessions in one day. That equals 476 people, 8 dogs, and one kitty between 14 photographers and a big group of happy helpers!  Thanks to Amandalynn Jones for her tireless effort in organizing this year's event.

November 28, 2012

Paul and the Magic Cart

Paul works for the WI Department of Justice. When it came time for the annual Partners in Giving Combined Campaign of Dane County to encourage co-workers sign up for 2013 workplace giving, the volunteer committee come up with the idea of a cart to promote the campaign. Paul decided to spice things up a bit. He spruced up this plastic utility cart, put a bell on it, loaded it with treats and cruised the aisles to raise awareness of the campaign.

His department had a goal of a 100 people to be signed up by the end of November. With hard work of the committee and the Magic Cart, they managed to get 100+ to make a pledge. The money raised from the treats went to general support of the campaign.

After much cajoling and whining on my part, Paul finally let me make a photograph of him and the cart; even coming in to the office over the Thanksgiving weekend to do it. The DOJ's central office is just across the street from the Wisconsin State Capitol making for a beautiful backdrop. Lighting was a challenge to balance the bright mid-day light with the dark office. Even more challenging was positioning the lights so they would not reflect in the windows. I managed that fairly well, but realized I should have tried a polarizing filter on the lens to reduce reflection of the room. Every shoot always provides an opportunity of learning and growing.

November 2, 2012

Isthmus Cover: Kevin Kennedy, WI Government Accountability Board

My first cover for Isthmus newspaper of Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board who overseas the elections in Wisconsin.   With all the regular and recall elections in the past two years, it's been quite a challenging time for Mr. Kennedy.  Read full article on Ishmus' The Daily Page.

The photo editor at the Isthmus gave me a few ideas she had in mind for the cover including having Mr. Kennedy at a voting booth.   I arranged with the clerk's office to pick one up the day before the shoot.  Unfortunately they gave me a wheelchair accessible booth which was a simple plain black and gray one on short legs...Mr. Kennedy is over 6ft tall.   It didn't come with the standard privacy panels with "Vote" and the American Flag  on the sides either.   Not very interesting for a prop.   I had to opt for plan B.

Produced in my tight apartment studio downtown, I gelled my lights with red and blue on the backdrop to denote the colors of the two dominant political parties. The GAB is supposed to be a non-partisan body.  It worked well with Mr. Kennedy's purple tie which he was all too aware of the potential fallout if he were to have worn a red or blue tie.   I experimented a bit with different lighting to fit the article headline asking if we can trust this man.   The editor picked the a split tonal of his facing half in the light and half shadow.

It turned out well I thought, though I must say that this version didn't quite fit the Mr. Kennedy I met in person.  He was easy going, patient and with a good sense of humor. He was very easy to work with and seemed comfortable in front of the camera.  Even with all the stress of the pending presidential and contentious statewide elections just a little over a week away, he managed to have an upbeat and positive attitude.

Once again I am reminded of one of the major perks of being of photographer is the opportunity to meet a interesting people doing interesting things.  May it continue.... 

October 5, 2012

Isthmus Indie Awards - Jeff Maurer / Markus Candinas

Isthmus called me to make portraits of Isthmus Independent Business Award winners Jeff Maurer of Fresh Madison Market and Markus Candinas of Candinas Chocolatier for their contributions to the community as independent business owners in Madison, WI.

Jeff Maurer - Fresh Madison Market
Jeff has brought a beautiful full service gourmet grocery store to downtown located in the University Square complex serving the UW Campus. This past summer he also launched Freshmobile, a 44-foot long trailer mobile grocery store to bring fresh produce to areas of Madison without convenient access to groceries also know as food deserts.

When I met with Jeff to make the portrait at the store, I could tell he was busy man, and I needed to be quick in getting the job done. To keep a low profile and out of the way of customers, I set up a single light with an SBII mini-softbox in the produce section next to the wall of windows. This was to allow some natural north light to balance out with the flash. I grabbed Jeff took several shots and was done within 15 minutes.

Markus Candinas - Candinas Chocolates
After a 3 year apprenticeship in Switzerland and 2 years heading up the pastry and chocolate division for a 125 year-old business, Markus opened Candinas Chocolatier in 1994. He has won many awards and accolades ever since and has expanded his offering through his downtown Madison retail store on the Capitol Square.

I met Markus at his downtown chocolate shop in the morning. The decor is simple and clean with the chocolate showcase counter being the focus. We had a nice chat about retail business (I owned one for 7 years myself) and he offered me some delish samples of his chocolates. Markus was laid back and soft spoken and very nice to work with. He was patient while I was having a little difficulty getting the light so it wouldn't reflect in the glass of the case and the prints on the wall. I managed in the end and like the results.


Read the full Isthmus Article here.

August 28, 2012

Vote for My Image for the 2013 Mercy Corps Calendar

I didn't win, but did come in second.  It was great to be chosen as one of the 3 finalists.
No matter if you are Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, or even an illegal immigrant please vote for my image! This is no war on women people!

On a whim, I entered a contest to be included in the 2013 Mercy Corps Calendar, and my image has been selected as one of the three finalists! If I get the most votes, the image will be included in the calendar, and I'll get a social media shout out from Getty Images.

You can vote once a day and is open until this Thursday (8/31/12)  11:59 PST. 

(No voter ID required!)

August 11, 2012

Wisconsin State Fair in Black & White

Fairs and carnivals are one of my favorite places to photograph.  There is so much going on from the livestock barns to the midway.   I tend to gravitate towards the midway of course given the lights, colors and carnies.  When I visited the Wisconsin State Fair with some friends, I decided to try to spend a little more time in the pavilions and decided to lose the color and switch to black and white.  I really liked the results, especially at the midway (always back to the midway). The colors don't distract as much, and the quality of light is a bit more interesting I think.


August 7, 2012

Mad City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

I was asked to do some pro-bono portrait work for The Mad City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to use on a postcard being designed for them.  They are also going to be participating in a fundraiser call Dunk A Nun where they will be sitting in a dunk tank.  Irreverent?  That goes without saying.  It's part of the shtick of the sisters. After forming in San Francisco on Easter Sunday 1979,  the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has become an international organization with orders all over the world bringing their irreverent good cheer to the charity and community work they perform.

As they state on their web site: "...the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit".


August 5, 2012

ACT10 - Wisconsin's AIDS Ride

This past Auguast I had the pleasure of donating my time and photography skills documenting the10th anniversary of the ACT Ride.   This is a 300 mile 400 day bicycle journey through south central Wisconsin to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to raise money for AIDS Network of Madison which supports and advocates for those with HIV/AIDS.  It's a wonderful 4 day traveling caravan of bicyclists, volunteer support crew and camp services who set up our home away from home at local high schools.  It's considered one of best supported charity rides of it's kind with it's a wonderful supportive community of riders and volunteers. It's hard work for all involved, but at the same time feels like a vacation.