Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Foreboding Skies & Happy New Year

Leaving the studio around 6pm last evening after completing the final editing and uploading of images from an assignment for the US Census Bureau, I was treated to this incredible scene being played out in the sky. There is no enhancement or increases in saturation, I assure you. The intensely beautiful and colorful moment lasted only a minute or two before the skies turned black and opened up with a vengeance. Rain began pelting down just as I was climbing into the car for shelter... the drive home became at times nearly impossible as the rains lashed the windshield, lightening bolts criss-crossed the sky and thunderclaps rumbled in the distance. At several points, I was unable to see beyond the vehicle's hood during the drenching and had to pull over until the fury subsided. We've been receiving regular, steady drenchings now since December 22. The rains are much needed and have been, at times, island wide.

The mountains are green again, the reservoirs near capacity and the drought restrictions temporarily lifted. This afternoon... though skies remain mostly cloudy, there have been moments of the only full sunshine we've seen in over a week. No doubt if the rains hold back until midnight, the fireworks in my neighborhood will shatter the peace and send Max the wonder dog into fits of shivering fear. The good news is the grounds are saturated and the risk of fires will be at a minimum. Max will just have to take his Doggie Downers and hopefully sleep through the midnite chaos.

Some end of the year house-cleaning before we say goodbye to 2008:

Horsesthink has an entry today about Fuji's instant Polaroid-like films and a new large format film holder for their 10pack instant color films. Reportedly, a B&W version is on the way. Read more here.

Interview Magazine interviews the man who introduced color to the world of fine-art photography, William Eggleston here.

Photographer & blogger Justin James Reed makes his predictions for what 2009 will hold in store for photography blogs, emerging artists and more... here.

Post-Bebop trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and vocalist Eartha Kitt are now headlining in the Celestial Ballroom. They will be missed.

A very Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Seasons Greetings To All... End Of Year Musings...

We are now officially into wind down for the holidays mode around here. 

Today will be my last "official" day in the studio until 2009. That's not to say that I won't be working in some capacity over the Christmas vacation period. 

I have a lot of personal work planned... this weekend I even dusted of the Hasselblad and burned a few rolls of Tri-X... the first film I've shot in quite a while. A request for reproduction 4x5 transparencies from a reknown island artist required that I ship in fresh E-6 chemistry from the mainland along with a few boxes of Kodak Ektachrome 100 Plus to get the job done. A week ago, I ventured back into the darkroom to clean up a bit after a couple of years of minimal use, fired up the old E-6 Processor and ran it thru a couple of test cycles for the first time in three years.The processor worked flawlessly.

It would be very nice to be able to just shoot the film and drop it off at the local pro-lab instead of having to do it all myself. Most unfortunately, however, art reprography requires very accurate color rendering. The only remaining E-6 lab here is still using an old refurbished Refrema® Dip & Dunk processor requiring massive amounts of chemistry held in large dipping tanks. These chemicals are automatically replenished every X amount of sq. ft. of film processed. Needless to say, there just isn't enough film being processed locally these days to run the required amount of film on a daily basis to keep things balanced and accurate. Compounding the problem further is that this lab now only processes E-6 film one day each week, if at all. The last time I processed slide film, the color was so horribly shifted magenta that is was virtually unusable. My processor, on the other hand, uses very small amounts of fresh chemistry for each film batch and is incredibly consistent and accurate. The downside is that I no longer have a merchant account with Eastman Kodak® and the shipping alone of 10 liters of chemistry costs a whopping $250.00 where it used to only cost $10-$15.

It will be fun to break out the Sinar View camera once again, to load film holders, to work slow and methodically again as we did in the days before the release of adequate digital SLR's. It will be nice to smell the fixer again, to hand process black & white film, to spend some time making wet, silver prints again.

2008 all in all has been a pretty good year. Even though the work volume has slowed considerably over the course of the past few months (who's hasn't?), we will finish this year a little better than the last. What's in store for the next few months or year is anybody's guess. All I can say is that I am ready to begin a new marketing campaign with a new direct mail piece ready to go out as soon as the calendar page turns. In lieu of steady assignments, there's a wealth of stock, scenic hawaii and personal work never previously tackled to keep me busy for quite a while. To my photographer colleagues also experiencing the slowdown, it's time to do the same... work on your portfolio, refine you client database, discover & shoot more personal work and most of all... stay optimistic. While the downturn may be prolonged, it can't last forever and those of us that spend our time wisely will emerge stronger, better positioned and with a potentially viable new body of work unfettered by the usual constraints of the editorial & advertising markets.

The Obama family is ensconced in a nice, beach-front compound in Kailua for the holidays. Let us hope and pray that our president elect returns to Washington in January - refreshed, enlivened and inspired by his days basking on our sunny shores. 

To the rest of you that stop by here... I wish you all the best and warmth of the season. As it is in all years, we have made some new friends & lost a couple of old friends that will be sorely missed. Don't forget to help your neighbors, share your abundance, your talent & your skills. We'll be back next year...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just One More, 'Cause It's Never Enough

I like to drop in every once in a while to photographer Emily Shur's "My Four Eyed Fantasy" blog to see what's up. Today, Emily posted about attending a concert by The Cure at L.A.'s famed Troubadour Club. This reminded me of the hours spent during the '80's listening to the dark, dreary, mesmerizing sounds of Robert Smith & Co. and of this... one of my all time favorite music videos.
Perhaps I'll spin a Cure tune or two tomorrow morning on my weekly radio program "The Academy of Errors" at Manao radio. Maui listeners can tune in from 6-10 AM at 91.5 FM every Tuesday morning.Those of you out of signal range can catch the program via live internet streaming here.

Just Do It

This didn't take long...

"Tis The Season...

It's a Charlie Brown Ad Agency Christmas!

And a special thanks to Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua at the Burns Auto Parts Blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Opening This Friday Night

Tomorrow (Friday) night, The Paia Contemporary Gallery will feature an exhibit opening showcasing the works of Mary Mitsuda from Oahu, Pascal Pierme from Santa Fe', and Wayam Karja from Indonesia. The opening is from 6-9pm. RSVP is requested. Email them at: or call 808.579.8444 to let them know you plan to attend.

The Quality Of Rain

"Rain showers my spirit, and waters my soul" - Emily Logan Decens

Waking up this morning to skies heavy & steely grey, the scent of rain was in the air. Before the first cup of coffee was downed, the rain had begun, steady... increasing and relentless through the mid-afternoon. Earlier in the day there was even the rumble of thunder and an occasional flash lighting up the dark sky.

Winter in the tropics brings rain & strong winds from the southwest. On the upper slopes of the Big Island volcanoes and even on Haleakala here on Maui, there can be infrequent dustings of snow. So far this year, there has been no snow and the rains have been late in arriving. Today's wetting is a welcome relief to island farmers & gardeners. Summer and Fall have been unusually dry, the island looks brown and parched so the steady, all-day rainfall is sure to put some green into things just in time to get things looking at their best for the onslaught of holiday visitors.

Bad news... the usual minor leakage here at the studio which occurs with every wet Kona storm. Nothing is damaged, thankfully, as this is a perennial occurrence and everything is stored well out of water's reach.

The photos above are from the files... the water drops on grass image was published as a cover image in Spirit of Aloha, the magazine formerly published by the now-defunct Aloha Airlines to illustrate a story & photo essay titled "The Quality of Rain". That cover won the 2002 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The image below it was taken from a Waikiki hotel balcony during an especially violent lightning storm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Sale: Found Objekts

The triptych pictured above came to be as a result of an encounter & meeting with Japanese artist Miki, now living & working in Paris. The subjects of each of the three photographs are common kitchen utensils found in some form in most homes... a bottle opener, a cheese grater and garlic press. These items, however, Miki found in "rag piles" on the streets of Paris. As she told me, in some areas of Paris, when someone vacates an apartment or flat, either by death or relocation, and they leave personal items behind... the building superintendents will often place the left-behind objects along the sidewalks for people to rummage through. 

Each item was photographed individually with a 4x5 view camera using Polaroid Type55 positive/negative film (unfortunately now nearly extinct), matted and framed for an art show fundraiser for The Maui Food Bank.The theme of the show was food related and the goal to raise money to help feed the needy. Over the years, I have made several series' of these photographs, all as traditional silver-gelatin prints toned sepia. I recently received a request from a sister for a set of these prints to grace the almost barren walls of her (relatively) new home. With little time to get back into the darkroom to make traditional silver prints, I experimented this morning with scanning the original negatives and compositing them as they were displayed in the original framed triptych. 

I am rather pleased with the results and have decided to attempt an experiment... selling the prints of this triptych thru this blog. Each series is printed on Hahnemuhle 17"x22" Photo Rag Satin paper using Epson Archival Inks. There is a numbered edition of 20 prints. This edition of unframed prints I offer at $75.00 each + postage. Silver Gelatin Prints are also available.

 You can order by sending me an email:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Quick Trip Into The Valley...

Today I enjoyed the company &  rousing conversation of Jupiter Images contributor, Robie Price over a nice lunch. Topics of discussion included sailing the coastal waters of the State of Maine, the state of the stock photography business (SuperStock Agency the latest to announce a bankruptcy filing), the business of photography in Hawaii vs. the mainland, the fact that neither of us quite understand the current trend of "snapshot" editorial and fine art photography that is all the rage... at least in the photo blogosphere, finding a decent Apple computer repair guy/gal and a myriad of other topics best left off the blog.

After lunch, I took a drive into historic Iao Valley State Park just a couple of miles up the road from my studio. The rock formation pictured above is known as the "Iao Needle" and is listed in all the Maui guidebooks as a must stop. The air was cool and fresh as I walked down the path towards the streams edge. That it was late in the afternoon and the thick clouds had already begun rolling over the mountains allowed for long, slow exposures which turned the flowing water into misty swirls.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Catching Up...

OK... we're through the first major holiday of the season with two more to go in the coming weeks.  Around my house, the annual gobbler (organic & free-range, of course) was plucked, stuffed, roasted to golden perfection and quickly dispatched by a handful of hungry guests. In between hourly bastings, I managed to read a fabulous article by west coast photographer Doug Menuez posted at the Editorial Photographers website. The article is titled "On Chaos, Fear, Survival & Luck: Longevity Is The Answer". You can find it here. It's well worth the read.

In other news, Nikon has been slow to catch up with the competition in releasing a larger, full-frame sensor to it's Pro D-DSLR arsenal. It now appears that that's about to change. Over the long weekend, Nikon Europe announced the pending release of it's newest offering-to-be, the D3X.
Nikon D3x DSLR

Boasting a 35.9x24mm., 24.5 mexapixel sensor, a built-in optical low-pass filter (fear moire no more),  a new 51-point autofocus system with the same auto-focus tracking ability as the D3 and will write to dual CF slots at a mind-numbing 35mb./sec. Some of the reports I have read indicate that .tiff files created from Camera Raw/NEF files will be in the 75mb. range, plenty big enough to finally meet the requirements of major stock agencies and for making large prints without interpolation. Unfortunately, there are no firm reports of a price for this little beauty (rumours have it at around $5.5K) ... or a release date. You can find out more by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A Night On The Town... or Better Late Than Never...

Friday Night, November 14, the West Maui glitterati descended upon I'O Restaurant in Lahaina for an evening of food, fun and FASHION as Maui's own dresser of the stars (Paris Hilton, Terri Hatcher, Halle Berry), Maggie Coulombe, debuted her latest designs to an eager public. On hand were great wines, delicious hor' dourves, beautiful women and paparazzi aplenty.

Fortunately, yours truly had an ALL ACCESS PASS and a front row seat to the festivities. I now bring you some highlights from the event.

                                      Sweet Girls With Treats

                                   Beauties On The Runway

                                     Model In Motion

                                           And Again...

                                        Busty Brunettes...

The Designer with her Restauranteur Husband, Lois Coulombe Celebrate A Great Party!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The View From The Cheap Seats

Has it really been over a week since making an entry to this blog? 
Sadly, there has been little of an inspiring nature to write about. The economic realities of life in the most remote tourism destination on the planet, a destination overly reliant on disposable income and completely subject to the whims of the global markets, have hit the islands like a 500 ton bomb. In normal times, the last two months of the year more often than not bring a flurry of last minute advertising assignments as agencies and advertisers hurry to spend the last dollars of their allotted annual budgets before January 1. Not so this year and I hear the same sad tale from many colleagues scattered around the island. 
The silver lining within this dark cloud of doom is that magazine publishers around the state continue to publish their products and continue to have a need for photographic content. With any luck, editorial assignments will pull us through until the negative financial tides abate. 

The images above are from a day spent hiking down from high atop the razor-edged ridges of the West Maui Mountains, the heart of the West Maui Watershed and source of most of the drinking water for all of West Maui. I and several others were deposited by helicopter at the very top of the mountains. The first image shows the view as I walked from our landing site to the very peak of mountain. From this vantage point, I could look right down into Iao Valley on the other side of the peak and all the way across the Alenuihaha Channel which separates Maui from the Big Island. On this particular morning, the skies were amazingly clear and we were able to clearly see the peaks of Mauna Loa & Mauna Kea on the Big Island. From here we slowly descended the mountain on foot through thick rain-forest terrain where literally hundreds of rare species of prehistoric-looking trees, ferns and ground orchids... even green silverswords surrounded us. The ground was a wet, saturated and muddy bog which required that we all keep our feet on the narrow boardwalk installed in recent years by members of Kapalua Land Company's Watershed Management Team. Randy Bartlett heads up this team of dedicated forest managers and acted as our guide for the day. A Big Mahalo Randy!

The two images at the top of this entry have been included in the lovely coffee-table style book Kapalua Nui, with text by Jocelyn Fujii. Follow the link to order online. More images from that day are being added to the "Projects" section of my website. You can what's been uploaded so far by clicking here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meetings With Remarkable Men

 Yesterday, I was paid a visit by my friend David Lewiston (pictured above), once described in an article published in the New York Times as a "musical tourist of the world".

David is perhaps best known for his original, early audio recordings of ethnic world music, being the first person ever to make audio recordings of Balinese gamelan music in 1966. Those recordings were released as phonograph recordings (remember those?) as "Music From the Morning of the World" on the Nonesuch label. This was back in the day when Bali was still far off the beaten tourism track and still quite undeveloped.

Since then, David has travelled to many remote corners of the globe in search of recording opportunities, and has compiled an archive of over 400 hours of audio recordings which include Tibetan Monk Rituals, South & Central American tribal music from Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala & Mexico, Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh in India's West Himalya, Gilgit & Hunza in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, Darjeeling & Sikkim in the East Himalya, the Republic of Georgia and Morocco.

Besides being an authority of ethno-anthropological musical forms, David is also an outstanding photographer who, along with his recording equipment, always kept a camera close by. His photographs made during those travels are simply stunning and unique glimpses into cultures most of us will never have an opportunity to experience.

David called me a few days ago to ask if I would be willing to provide some assistance in editing a small portfolio of these images to be used in pursuit of a Guggenheim grant which would enable him to digitize and permanently archive his best images for all of posterity to enjoy and learn from. Of course, I jumped at the chance... for the opportunity to both view more of his work and to sit and listen, fascinated, by his wondrous tales of those travels to primitive places.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Autumn Colors

I returned home to Hawaii last night after a whirlwind two days on the ground in the northeast. Fall colors were still in full swing... something I haven't seen in twenty-six years. Driving around in the hill country surrounding Chadd's Ford & Mendenhall, Pennsylvania on my way to Wilmington, Delaware (home of the massive family estate of the industrialist DuPont family), I found myself pulling over almost every 100 meters to snap a photograph or two.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

It's 5:57 AM on Election Day. I'm drinking strong coffee in the home of a relative, a staunch republican no less, in the leafy-suburbs outside Philadelphia, the cradle of the American form of Democracy. The polls will open shortly and I have that kid-on-chistmas-eve feeling of excitement for the possibilities posed should my fellow citizens actually decide to send BO to the White House.

Please don't forget to vote!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all my friends & colleagues! Those of you planning to head to Lahaina for the festivities tonight, please remember to drive carefully, designate a sober driver. People will be drinking and traffic to and from the West Side is bound to be chaotic. The Maui Police Department promises roadblocks and sobriety tests at designated points along the way so be smart, have fun and please do not drive while or after drinking.

I'm off to Pennsylvania this weekend and will be back in the studio next friday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Digital Railroaded Update... Small Consolation

OK... I've been trying to delete my image files from my DRR archives with little or no success. Out of frustration, I called my credit card company to contest the auto-billing for an advance one-year membership renewal which was auto-billed by DRR to my card in august. The credit card company was able to issue an immediate and full credit for the membership fee. I suggest my fellow DRR members left holding the bag attempt to do the same and call your credit companies, especially if you have been auto-billed for membership renewal or new membership within the last six months.

Off the Tracks

I know there are several photographers here in Hawaii, myself included, that were members of Digital Railroad, a three-year old company featuring online storage capacity for photographers producing images... and an online stock agency, marketing photographer's images online by allowing art-buyers to perform highly targeted image searches, purchase use licenses and download those licensed images all from the convenience of their computer. While, in no way is this an original idea, DRR did take a smaller cut of those licensing fees than most traditional sources of stock photography. Membership to their service was a bit pricey ($550/year for a prepaid service subscription billed a year in advance) but advantages seemed many, 100gb  of online storage capacity on their servers, access to and the ability to add images from your archives to the DRR "Marketplace" stock library which was accessible to all potential stock photography and art-buyers... DRR even sent out a daily "want list" to member photographers, the list assembled from image requests from book & magazine publishers.

It was about a month ago when rumblings began being heard that all was not well with DRR. On Tuesday, the company sent out a notice to members that it was shutting down and members had 24 hours to download their image archives (and it appears that may photographers were storing their ONLY copies of their work at DRR). The bad news is that the company was only now operating a single server to handle those huge image file downloads, leading to shut downs, error codes and long-slow .ftp queues as members hoped and prayed that the system would stay up long enough to retrieve their content.

The Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) has apparently negotiated a deal on behalf of DRR members to keep the server up and running until 11:59pm tomorrow (Friday) night, giving members a little more time to retrieve their files. Not the best possible solution, but certainly a better alternative outcome for those with original content and no other form of back-up hosted at DRR. Kudos to Betsy Reid, Executive Director at SAA, and her staff for stepping in on behalf of all DRR members.

As a member, I find the actions of DRR reprehensible. I was just auto-billed for another year of membership in August. Fortunately, all of my images hosted at DRR are also backed up on on hard drives in a mirror RAID configuration. Still, I began calling DRR on monday to try and find out exactly what was going on. Already on monday, almost all of DRR's phone lines had been shut down. Email queries to DRR were returned as undeliverable. As I said, all of this had taken place by monday... at least a full-day prior to the company telling members it was shutting down. I could go on and on about how poorly treated I feel we members have been from the company that had no problem with taking our membership fees without advising us of the real problems within the company. In lieu of my rant, I direct you to one penned by photographer Vincent LaForet who states the case both eloquently and powerfully here.

So... those of you with images stored at DRR... get to it, if the servers stay up, you have until midnite tomorrow. As soon as I post this entry, I'm going to attempt to delete my DRR archives hoping to avoid them turning up somewhere if and when another party gets hold of the DRR hardware in the future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And More New Tear Sheets

Early yesterday morning I found myself flying to Honolulu to capture portraits for the December '08 issue of Modern Luxury Hawaii Magazine. After settling into seat on the plane, as usual, I reached into the pocket in front of me and pulled out the current issue Hawaiian Airlines in-flight magazine Hana Hou. I was surprised to find the image below running full page in the magazine's "Native Intelligence" section. I had almost forgotten all about this assignment to photograph Japan's master traditional kite maker, "Nobu" Yoshizumi. Yoshizumi-san was visiting the island for several days as he conducted workshops in kite-making & decorative painting in the traditional way.

Meeting him late one afternoon, Yoshizumi-san was a diminutive, gentle, kindly and most accommodating gentleman who agreed to every one of my requests, no matter how strange they may have sounded. The image below, for example, involved careful rigging of one of his delicate creations from a fully extended C-stand while I balanced high above him on a ladder in an attempt to simulate the appearance that he was actually flying the kite. I know he thought I was crazy at first, not really understanding what I was trying to explain I wanted him to do... he acquiesced nonetheless. Afterwards, I quickly showed him a few of the image previews on the tiny LCD monitor on the back of my camera and his eyes lit up in delight.

It's that time of year again, at least in the publishing world, when thoughts turn to the winter holiday season. Maui No Ka Oi magazine just put out the new Nov.-Dec. 2008 issue and inside is a holiday home feature I shot the day after New Year's last year. The home belongs to a close friend and member of the Art Hash Harriers Travelling Critique Clique. For publication purposes, she requested anonymity, a courtesy I will extend to this entry. Here's the tear sheets from the spread...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art Buying Fear Factor

To illustrate an editorial piece on the "fear factor" when purchasing gallery art for an upcoming issue of Art & Culture magazine, the image below was created by compositing two separate image files to compensate for the inability to optically (even at wide open apertures) throw the art & wall out of focus sufficiently in a single image. The designer plans on running this composite as a double page spread with graphic text running over the left side of the image.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Have We Become?

"In my own country I am in a far off land.
I am strong but have no power.
I win all but remain a loser.
At break of day I say goodnight.
When I lie down I have a great fear of falling."  Francois Villon

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

I found the above advertisement for Pakistan International Airways on Rachel Hulin's blog this morning under the heading "Ads Gone Bad". I'm guessing this ad ran prior to September 2001. Just the same... tres creepy.

New Tear Sheet

The latest issue of HMSA's Island Scene Magazine arrived in today's mailbag. Here's the double page spread I shot of the Artemis Biplane device, a cutting edge technology allowing neurosurgeons the tools to rapidly and relatively non-invasively operate on the tiny blood vessels of the brain in an effort to treat stroke victims. 

As always, the package of magazine copies also contained a warm and encouraging letter from Art Director Jonathan Tanji.

Surreal Kula

I was dropping off a friend at his home on Pulehuiki Rd. in Kula last thursday when I noticed this stand of amazingly symmetrical cypress trees lining another driveway. Standing almost 30 ft. high, the conical shape of these things reaching into the sky only accented the surreal nature of their orderly planting.  I squeezed off several photographs and varying angles. Of the resulting image files, I like this one the best. Some very basic color adjustments in my Camera Raw processor further accentuated the fairy-tale nature of the scene.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday's Bizness

As promised, on October 3rd, James Nachtwey unveiled his TED Award wish to change the world, displayed projections of his images of victims suffering from XDRTB, an extremely drug-resistant strain of Tuberculosis, on selected public building around the world, on the TED website and linked from a multitude of different blogs from around the world. You can find out more by clicking here.

Erika Scott is a former Maui girl who left the island several years ago to seek her fame & fortunes in Los Angeles & New York as an acclaimed wardrobe stylist. Erika's recently returned home, though  she still travels back & forth to the mainland to work on projects. Below, you can see samples of Erika's work. She is available as a wardrobe stylist in Hawaii also. Contact her at:

I return to a regular time slot on the the radio & internet airwaves tomorrow morning at Manao Radio. The Academy of Errors program will feature, as always, an eclectic mix of sounds spanning the genres of folk, pop, early progressive, jazz, experimental & ambient soundscapes each & every tuesday morning from 6 am to 10 am Central Pacific Time. You can listen via live streaming over the internet by going here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

James Nachtwey, TED Award & a Potential New Form of Media Distribution

Unless you have never read a news magazine and have had your head buried in a hole in the sand for the past twenty years, you have been exposed to the work of arguably one of the world's most talented & driven photojournalists, James Nachtwey. Since the early 1980's Nachtwey has covered war, conflict, famine, disease, social issues and political insurrection in all of the hotspots around the globe. His images speak volumes and touch us in ways that words will never be able to. From Palestine, Bosnia, Serbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Africa & the Middle East, his lens has focused on the human toll of political insanity. When there were stories that Nachtwey thought were important and he could find no interest within the major media outlets, he would fund these projects out of his own pocket in the interest of informing the world. Nachtwey has been the recipient of the Martin Luther King Award, Robert Capa Gold Medal (5X), the World Press Photo Award (2X), Magazine Photographer of the Year (7X) and numerous others.  Last year Nachtwey was also awarded 2007 TED Prize.

TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) was founded in 1984 as a conference bringing together some of the world's most fascinating thinkers & doers. Each year TED awards an outstanding individual from one of those three fields with a $100,000 cash award and the opportunity to have one wish to change the world granted. 

As part of his award, James Nachtwey requests the granting of this wish:

      "I'm working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age."

On October 3rd, Nachtwey will get his wish. In conjunction with TED, his story and project "which highlight a shocking and underreported global crisis" will be revealed to the world simultaneously as it is distributed throughout the world via the web, news media and projected on monuments and public buildings. As incredible as this all may sound at first glance one must keep in mind that Nachtwey has been and is an ultra-credible witness to and reporter of the major stories occurring around the globe for over 30 years.

In this age of media consolidation, news organizations moved under the corporate guidance of major media's entertainment divisions and the outright Noise that substitutes for news in major media outlets, it seems that those interested in getting out the real important stories of the day face increasingly insurmountable hurdles imposed by ratings driven television & radio news  broadcasts and the advertising driven news prints and periodicals. To that end, Nachtwey's approach to releasing his story (whatever it may be) may, in fact, override the traditional news & media outlets, forcing their hand in a way that has the potential to demand that this story grab the international headlines for at least a moment, regardless of sponsor, advertiser or ratings concerns. 

We'll see what it is all about on October 3rd and if the story is 1.) worthy of international news focus (Nachtwey's involvement seems to guarantee that it will) and 2.) can this new method of building hype for a breaking story and then simultaneously disseminating that story in a method such as this actually force the hand of the traditional media to cover it. It has already grabbed  my attention.

You can find out more about James Nachtwey, TED and the annual TED Prize and this year's winners by going here. The embeded badge at the top of this entry contains a link to the TED site that will redirect on Oct. 3rd to unveil the story. Stay tuned for more... and by all means,  watch the video below for Nachtwey's talk before the TED committee and a slideshow of some of his incredible imagery.
Thanks to Rob at APE for the heads-up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Treat Your Freelancer(s)

Adland has posted a new tutorial to their ongoing "Official Adland Tutorial Series" entitled:

I would have laughed out loud when I first read it if it wasn't so close to the truth as to be a little scary.  Maybe these things really are included in the orientation package given to new art buyers and creative on the first day on the new job at the new agency. They sure sound familiar...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday Night at the Maui Film Festival

All Photographs ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

Maui Film Festival, Wednesday,  September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now We're Talkin'...


Location Scouting Uncovers Hidden Gems

When you're in search of cool places to make photographs, you almost never know what you might encounter. The image above came from a scout during a shoot at the Ulupalakua Winery. After wrapping the meat & potatoes of the assignment, we began to wander around lesser travelled areas of the property. This particular area was once the home of the late renown artist Reems "Mitch" Mitchell. Reems was the man responsible of the life-size, resin-cast sculptures of old sea captains and cowboys that you find scattered around the tourist areas of the island. Hermit-like, Reems lived within the walls of the old, dilapidated Ulupalakua sugar mill in a home he constructed himself from mostly salvaged timbers of an sunken ship off the coast of Lahaina. The house still stands... the day I made this photograph it had been unoccupied for quite a long time & the grounds had overgrown. The image has been sitting on storage drives for a couple of years until a came across it again this morning and decided to play with it a little bit. I rather like the result.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Photography As A Weapon

Given the current political climate here in the US, it would be quite easy for me to allow this blog to sink to the level of an endless rant. I will even admit to times when I have indeed composed lengthy screeds on honesty, politicians, ineffectual government, obfuscation, the moronic & truth challenged nature of the 24 hr. cable news cycles... In the end, I opted to take the high road and keep our focus here firmly on the business of photography.

So imagine my surprise to find couple of really interesting  discussions taking place in the photo blogosphere as it relates to politics, propoganda, photoshop and photography.

Jim M. Goldstein's blog has a discussion/interview with a photoshop manipulator named Naomi who created the Sarah Palin in a bikini with a rifle image that has been circulating around the web for the past few days. Check it out here.

Once you've read the interview and comments, head over the Chase Jarvis' blog for more. You'll find it here.

As one comment left by a poster identified as Christopher at the Jarvis blog says:

"The cliche, it's worth a thousand words... since no one gets more than a sound bite these days, is there a new role for photography as a weapon, or as a platform?

Another comment from "pluevdh" says:

"Great article! Definitely an interesting question left hanging as far as ethics and artisitc liberty go."

I found the discussion surrounding not only the composited image fascinating, but the concept of photography as weapon and/or platform, image & video sharing platforms like YouTube, Flickr, etc. and their reach and influence as "new" citizen media to be worth chewing on for a moment or two... What are the ethics involved? Is all fair in love, war & political propaganda?

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blah Blah Blah...

A while back, the "team" and I were commissioned by Wolf-SubZero Appliances to photograph a kitchen designed and built here on the island for inclusion is the company's beautiful, glossy and well-designed magazine Great American Kitchens. I recently discovered that the story had, indeed, been published. Ever since that discovery, I have tried to contact the folks at SubZero for a couple of copies for my tearsheet archive. Several emails later, still no response from the company, but here's an image from the submitted photos for your listening and dancing pleasure... I'll keep trying.

Otherwise, it's been relatively quiet around here for the past few days, allowing time for the essential, if tedious, required tasks of book keeping, getting out new direct-mail & email promotional pieces, studio organization, etc...

There has been a small, steady trickle of new assignment work... photographing outlandish custom furniture pieces for master craftsman Ethan Fierro, a New-England prodigy & transplant to the island, designing incredible pieces of furniture and other very high quality wood-working designs.

There has also been a bunch of corporate portraits... physicians from one of the local medical groups and bankers for Bank of Hawaii. 

Tomorrow, I meet with a very adventurous group of architects from the Johnston+Cassel Design Group to finalize the needs for a shoot of another incredible interior design project recently completed. I've been working with these guys for about a year now on a few other projects. Their attention to detail and incredible craftsmanship have blown me away with every assignment and this one proves to be no exception... an spa-like bath and living quaters for a wheel-chair bound client. A couple of months ago we a did a pre-scout of the property before it was completed. Incredible is the only word I can find to describe it. It will be interesting to see the final completed details during out meeting/scout tomorrow.

Another assignment for  Hana Hou magazine came by email this morning... a brief story on outrigger sailing canoes. We'll be shooting that one very early in the morning on Friday.

And... word came down from above yesterday that we are still in the running for a big, luxury resort project on the Big Island, maybe to happen next month! All good news during this, what is usually the slowest part of the year in Hawaii... at least tourism-wise. 

I also have to make an unexpected but necessary trip back east to Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pa. the first week of November. I will fly in, take care of business and fly out all in a matter of only 4 days. Yesterday was spent making flight, car and room reservatins for the trip. Unfortunately, that kind of spoils plans for the usual escape to Bali I try to make in late November/early December each year. Looks like that's off unless a sudden windfall of really lucrative assignments happens between now & then. 

I was also contacted by a writer friend recently. She is interested in pitching stories about the road to Hana... that winding, incredibly beautiful 52 mile drive from Paia to the remote east side village of Hana, Maui. This story will have a different twist from the usual Hana driving story which has been done ad-nauseum in just about every travel related rag known to man. Sorry... I can't divulge the angle just yet. I have been scanning and printing images from my Hana files to aid the submission in the story pitch so let's just keep out fingers crossed...

Thursday, September 4, 2008


True to the word put out yesterday, Google has apparently modified the Terms of Service for users wishing to download and use their new browser software CHROME. The offensive section 11 of the ToS statements now reads:

"11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

12. Software updates ..."

You may now commence downloading and use...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google, Chrome, Rights Grabs & Other News

Many thanks to Rob at APE & Leslie at Burns Auto Parts for spreading the word about Google's new browser CHROME and the potentially devastating effect it could have on the control of your images should you choose to use the new browser to upload any intellectual property onto the web. From the CHROME Terms of Service in quotations below:

" 11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. 
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services. 

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services. 

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions. 

You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license."

You can read more about the Terms of Service here and comments by an IP Attorney here, which includes an update and response from Google's Senior Product Counsel, Rebecca Ward. Ms. Ward now claims that Google is acting quickly to "...remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome." This sudden  change in the terms of service appears to have been prompted, at least in part, by an outcry of "foul" around the blogsphere since Chrome was first made available.

When in doubt... it is always best to read the users Terms of Service whenever using software that involves the internet. 

Many thanks to Caitlin at An Art Producer's Perspective for her tireless efforts in compiling an exhaustive list of artists representatives and links to their respective websites. If you're thinking about seeking representation, this is as good a place to start as any... and probably better than most. You can find the list here.

And finally... I will be returning to the radio and internet airwaves on a regular basis beginning Oct. 7th. "The Academy of Errors" program will be dusted off, spit-shined and resurrected once again every Tuesday morning from 6-10 am at Manao Radio. For radio listeners on the island of Maui, that's 91.5 FM. For everyone else, you can tune in via the internet for live streaming from anywhere in the world by going here. There are even free downloads on this page for iTunes & WinAmp software should your current computer be lacking in some sort of media player device.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Magazine Makeover

Several issues ago, Bon Appetit, one of my favorite food 'zines, unwrapped it's total redesign to readers & subscribers. Ostensibly, the redesign will be more appealing to what I can only assume the advertising and art departments believe to be a changing demographic in readership. Gone is the inviting and sumptuous food photography we had become accustomed to by talents like Brian Leatart & Gary Moss... also gone is the warm, homey feel of the magazine.

In it's place, Bon Appetit has gone for a more decidedly urban feel, using modern typefaces and edgier graphic design. Photo Editor Elizabeth Mathews has also brought in some of the new stars of portraiture and conceptual still-life. The current issue features cover and feature story food photographs by Craig Cutler.  Also lending a hand to the new look is the immediately recognizable work of portrait photographer Jill Greenberg who created quite a stir in the art world earlier this year with her portraits of children in distress (you can find excerpts of this work by clicking on Jill's name above and going to the portfolio "End Times").

While the chef's portraiture by Greenberg I feel is quite successful, I am less sure of the food images by Cutler. Normaly, I'm a big fan of Craig's work, but this issue's images are stark, unstyled food on white plates in a large filed of reflective black plexiglass on the cover and equally deconstructed images in the feature story that just don't work for me.

Overall, the food photography in recent issues since the redesign first debuted is in the new style and vein of the stripped down, food in your face, unstyled variety... and I think much of it is very well done. Thumbing thru the current issue this long holiday weekend, I was left scratching my head...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Completely Off Topic...

... at least off the topic of photography, that is.

I am a music fan. My tastes have always run more in the medians and shoulders, of contemporary music than the middle of the road. Even today, I hold a special place in my heart for what is described as "progressive" or "prog" music... that genre of self-indugent, pompous, pretentious and overblown fusion of orchestral & rock. During my teens and early twenties, I lived in Washington, D.C. and was introduced to the music of european bands like Genesis, Gentle Giant, PFM, Henry Cow...

In 1977, I was introduced to D.C. area residents and legendary U.S. prog proponents Happy the Man. Many were the evenings that my friend Izzy & I would spend time at the band's Reston, Va. rehearsal & band home. During those years, I became friends with HTM Guitarist Stanley Whitaker. Though I haven't seen or spoken with Stan since I moved away from the area, I have followed his career with HTM, Ten Jinn, the HTM reunion, his solo career with wife LeeAnne and is latest projects with former HTM bandmate Frank Wyatt  "Pedal Giant Animals" which morphed into the most current project "Obivion Sun".

I just got word that Stan was diagnosed earlier this summer with a rare form of cancer and has undergone two surgeries so far to remove a large growth in his neck and the lymph nodes surrounding it. So far things are looking upbeat and Stan is now undergoing radiation 5 days a week to further improve his long-term prognosis.

Unfortunately, the disease and subsequent treatment have left Stan unable to work for the near-term. It has also left him with a huge pile of medical bills. Composing adventurous, critically acclaimed yet commercially unviable music has never been a road to riches by any stretch of the imagination. So... if you're feeling charitable and have a couple of extra dollars left at the end of this month or next, here's someone that could put it to use. Stan can be reached at:

Below is a live performance clip via YouTube of a recent Oblivion Sun performance in Northern Virginia.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Stuff-Some Old Stuff Too...

Could it be that thirty years have passed already since David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Brian Eno (Everybody) combined their talents to release the aural masterpiece "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts"? Yes indeed, this record... yes-record for all you youngsters reading this... I still have a vinyl copy... predated electronic sampling by using Eno's tape looping mechanisms back in the days of analog record making. Take heart music fans, they're at it again with a brand new release titled "Everything That Happens" and you can check it out here. There's samples of the release, one free song download and links to various versions of the record with and without video and links to the artists sites also.

New galleries added to my website here. I've added a gallery for still life images and one for black & white work. I'm still working on getting new images into these newly added galleries, buy there's quite a few new ones already uploaded and available for viewing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning's Musings...

I'm back after a lovely, restful weekend and ready to seize the day.
First of all, I want to finish up my review of contact list subscription services for creatives. In my last blog entry on the subject (here), I had just finished the test trial of the AdBase service.
Before I proceed, in the interest of full disclosure and even handedness in these reviews, I feel I must emphasize that my findings are purely subjective regarding the two list services reviewed here. Both reviews are based on very limited testing during a short, free-trial period offered by both services. In my attempt to gauge both services and their accuracy and inclusiveness, I conducted highly targeted searches of each data base. Each targeted search was aimed at well known companies and/or potential art buyers both locally & internationally. 
I will come back briefly to the AdBase service momentarily. Since I have already offered a subjective opinion of that service, let's move quickly on to Agency Access. This service is comparable, maybe just slightly more expensive than the AdBase service previously tested. Agency Access also provides contacts in their data base for both North America & Europe. Agency Access also offers a free trial period. I signed up for the trial last Wednesday, I was contacted by email by Dan Caruso, a promotional consultant for Agency Access and given a password to activate my trial period.
My first impressions (and again, I stress that these are subjective opinions based on very limited use of both systems) are that Agency Access was slightly less intuitive to navigate. My first targeted search was for Print Advertising Agencies in Hawaii. Most of the big players were listed in this database. Again, LCA, one of the largest agencies in the state, though listed, provided only one contact for a principal (name on the door) creative director.
As my target audience, promotionally speaking,  is to be large hotel & resort chains... I next conducted a search for two of the largest, best branded international chains. Both were completely absent from the data base. I attempted my search for these chains several ways, yielding no results for either. At this point, I called Dan Caruso by telephone to see if I had somehow erred in my search for these two large resort chains. Mr. Caruso conducted his own search and confirmed that, indeed, neither were included in the Agency Access data base. At this point. I concluded my trial use of Agency Access.
For each of these services I tested, both had significant omissions that I found troubling. Both times, I alerted my contact person at both services to these omissions. Only AdBase responded with any concern regarding their omissions. In fact, AdBase responded by saying that they had immediately set their research staff on to the task of correcting the mentioned omissions and updating the data base. Agency Access' only response was that the mentioned omissions were indeed missing from the data base.
While both services claim to be constantly verifying and updating their contact data base, it was only AdBase that has followed up with me numerous times regarding the omissions that I reported. So far, I have received no follow-up or additional contact from Agency Access.
Prior to the trial of AdBase, as I wrote before, I was contacted by a representative who gave me a free phone consult and online-demo via screen share to insure that I could quickly acclimate myself to their search, list-making and email promo services. Agency Access, in turn, simply provided a password via email and then turned me loose in their system.

Both services cover contacts in North America (US & Canada). Agency Access' data base also includes Europe. Neither service provides contacts in Asia, although the representative of AdBase did provide me information for a UK based list service that does provide contact lists in Asia. Both services, at full subscription rate, will run you around $1100usd/year (give or take) during the discounted promotional offer that expires at the end of August. Both services provide click-thru data for email promotions along with several template designs for creating those promos. Both services also offer a way to create & print mailing labels for direct mail promos.

After conducting my test of both services, I am leaning heavily towards AdBase. They have been the most insistent that my user experience be satisfactory, they have been the only service to initiate contact with me, to promise to correct obvious exclusions and provide follow-up. They have also been insistent that should I continue to find omissions, that I can contact the research department (at no additional fee) and have them report back with updates to those omissions which I have the option of either using privately in my own list creation or making available to all subscribers to the service. In addition, AdBase offers "points" to users for every company those users submit corrections for. One point/per correction. Once 10 points are collected, AdBase rewards the user with a $25 Amazon gift certificate as a token of their appreciation.

For those of you considering subscribing to a contact list service such as AdBase or Agency Access, I encourage you to sign up for their trial services yourself and arrive at your own conclusions. And... remember, both services offer a $200 discount of their annual subscriptions through the end of August.