Wednesday, June 25, 2008

That Magic Hour

Last evening's assignment was to photograph newly installed exterior lighting at a large resort on Maui's upper west side. The client, an electrical contractor based in San Diego commissioned these photos. The original plan was to shoot from a sixth floor room lanai. The resort blocked out a couple of rooms last evening for me to shoot from. Unfortunately, the necessary view was completely obscured from these vantage points by swaying coconut palms. Fortunately, I arrived early enough on property that I had plenty of time to regroup, rescout and find a new, suitable position for camera placement, giving me a much better and unobscured view of the hotel and lighting installations. As the sun set below the horizon and dusk began to creep over the landscape, I began a series of bracketed exposures, experimenting with different shutter speed and aperture combinations until the optimal balance of interior, exterior and ambient lighting was achieved. It was really quite dark when this (one of the last) exposure was captured. Shutter speed, if I remember correctly, was 30 seconds at f8 iso100. The slow film speed helped to minimize the accumulation of digital "noise" common when making long exposure with digital cameras.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Behind the Scenes

Yesterday's 17th Annual Ki Ho'Alu Slack Key Guitar Festival held outdoor in the expansive A&B Amphitheater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center just could not have been any better. A stellar line-up of Hawaii's top slack key talent entertained a near capacity audience who settled comfortably in for the day on blankets & low-rise beach chairs for a day of music under mostly cool and cloudy skies. 

Here's a few shots from the afternoon:

               Barry Flannagan & Eric Gilliom of Hapa

           John Cruz & Donald Kaulia backstage

       Makana with Dennis Kamakahi backstage

              Makana turns in a solid performance

                  John Cruz closes the show

                            Charles Ku'upu of Hapa 

                John Cruz watches Hapa backstage

A big tip of the Chase the Light hat to Milton Lau for annually bringing this great afternoon of free live music and great talent together each summer. Lucky we live Hawaii, eh?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


A short list of those that first inspired me to pick up a camera and who continue to inspire me to keep plugging along:

Jan Saudek (warning: nudity & strong content)

Steven Minkowski (no longer with us, no website to link to)

It's Your Choice...

Monday, June 16, 2008

News of the Day

Check out the latest posting at Rob Haggart's A Photo Editor Blog. PhotoShelter, an online stock agency, has announced a new stock photography event to take place on July 20, 2008 called "Shoot the Day". Sounds like a fun project and I think I will sign up and get involved. You will find all the details here.  It looks like sign-up space is limited, so get crackin' to be involved.

If you are a fan of Hawaiian Music, you won't want to miss the the 17th annual Ki Ho'Alu Slack Key Music Festival at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center's outdoor A&B Amphitheater.  The show is this Sunday, June 22 and starts at 2pm and runs until... well, you know how hawaiians hate to break up a party. Bring a blanket, bring a low beach chair, bring the kids and bring a smile as you join lots of other slack key fans under the hawaiian sun and listen to some of the island's best entertainers doing their thing. This years line-up includes Hapa, Makana, Led Kaapana, Dennis Kamakahi, John Cruz, Brother Noland Conjugacion and lots of other really talented musicians. For more info, go here. There will be lots of ono food and drink available (no coolers please!) for sale. It's a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon in Hawaii. Did I mention that admission is FREE?

The images above are taken from previous Ki Ho'Alu events. The top is the cover of the MACC's magazine Centerpiece and features a shot of Makana performing that I took at the festival a couple of years ago. The second pic is a crowd scene from last years event. I'll see you there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday Blues

The first email I receive this morning is a notice from a client that a 2-3 day shoot scheduled to begin next weekend is cancelled or at the very least, postponed. Not good news to start the week and the first sign here at the studio of the effects of the rapidly declining economy here in Hawaii. The client reasoned that the cancellation was necessary because, so far, the month of June as turned out to be absolutely terrible for business. I'm hearing this a lot from many of my friends with retail businesses in the resort areas. Hotel occupancies are way down, travel costs to and from the islands have increased obscenely with the downfall of competitive Aloha and ATA Airlines and the steadily rising cost of fuel. Fortunately, United Airlines announced yesterday that will will be adding as many as 7-10 new flights to Hawaii daily beginning very soon.

I'm grateful to still have enough work coming in for the foreseeable future. I'm up for a campaign for a large resort on the Big Island thanks to Laird Christianson Advertising in Honolulu, now perhaps the biggest agency player in the state since buying out and absorbing the staff and clientele of Starr Seigle McCombs Advertising. I've also just submitted a proposal by request to Millici Valenti Ng Pak for a new campaign for Whalers Village Shopping Center.
Hopefully a couple of those irons in the fire will eventually pay off with the landing of both of those assignments.

Below are a couple of outtakes from a shoot for a surf wear boutique in Wailea from last weeks various outings. This one came up at the last minute with a need for teen girls ages 14-16 but no budget for talent, styling, etc. . A desperate call to a friend's daughter proved gold. Not only was she perfect for the shoot, but she was able to wrangle a friend in also. Both were great and the resulting images made it to the art director for placement in the layout and off to the printers with only minutes to spare before the ads went to press. A Big Mahalo to Serena Arena. You really saved the day. And an equally big mahalo to your friend, Alexis Aguera for coming to the rescue and looking great in the process! Your pictures are on the way, girls.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thank God It's Friday

Listen up Photographers... this is important. The proposed "Orphan Works" legislation continues to be considered in the U.S. Senate. There is a great deal of very good information put forth by the Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) here on why this bill is bad for you, bad for me, bad for all creators of intellectual property, especially those of us working in the visual arts arena. For more information on the history of the Orphan Works Bill & commentary of how it will affect all producers of copyrighted material, SAA released it's position paper on the matter yesterday which you can read here. Please follow the links I have provided here, read the material and then contact your legislators and urge them to kill this bill, or to at the very least, consider some of the options and amendments to to the proposed bill as put forth by organizations like Editorial Photographers (EP),  and the SAA. When calling or writing your senators, I urge you to be prepared, be professional, be polite. If you are writing to voice your objection to the bill, please be polite, literate and please use a spell checker. The American Society of Advertising Photographers (APA) has a sample letter that can be downloaded and  sent here. For contact information on how to reach your legislators in Congress, go here.

Time is of the essence and future control of your work and income hangs in the balance.

Otherwise... I'm grateful that the week has come to an end. Lot's of assignment work this week with advertising projects for more retail shops at the Grand Wailea Resort, an editorial shoot for Spago restaurant at the Four Seasons Wailea Resort and fulfilling a stock request for the image posted at the top of this entry, which will run full page in the next issue of Hawaiian Airline's in-flight magazine Hana Hou to illustrate a story on the Orchid Exhibition during this year's Maui County Fair.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New Pics

Since returning from last month's travels, I have been inundated with assignment work. Finally, I'm getting around to editing and processing some of the images I made during my time away.

          Jalan Raya Ubud, Bali   ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

              Makeshift Shrine, Ubud, Bali    ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

          Sita & Roy, Kedewatan, Bali   ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

 Warning: Narcotics Use=Death, Krambitan, Bali   ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

            Driveway Pattern, Ubud, Bali   ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

                   Ayu, Kedewatan, Bali    ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Tear Sheets


Ceci Fernandez is the very talented art director at Maui No Ka Oi magazine. Ceci is another of those ADs on my honor roll for her use of great page design and love of editorial photography, not to mention her kindness to photographers. All the above tear sheets were pulled from the magazine's last two issues.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Artfullness Redux

Heather Morton is a freelance art-buyer based in Toronto. Her blog, Heather Morton Art Buyer is always informative and part of my weekly reading. Last week, Heather posted an entry called "Artfullness Redux" in response to an anonymous comment (not me, I assure you) addressing an issue that has puzzled me for some time now. The posting revolves aroundthe  growing trend in editorial photography for images that appear to be more like "snapshots" than images executed by skilled and talented masters of composition and light. The commenter makes the statement that this trend seems to be a "generational thing", something I agree with. There is a whole new generation of not only photographers hitting the scene these days, but younger art directors, photo editors and art department staffers also.

Heather attempts to explain/justify this trend in her responses... it's definitely worth a read. The argument seems to revolve around the issue of  the value of technique vs. the value of concept. The commenter, "Ben Dover" makes the following statement:

"While I strive to admire the ‘artfulness’ of the images, I’m more than a little shocked how practically all the images are essentially snap shots. Sure, fairly good at capturing a little emotion. But man, shooting hand held with a point and shoot and on-camera flash!? Imagine if Leonardo da Vinci just sketched the Sistine Chapel and left it at that. Or just slapped together David as a charcoal sketch!

I’m convinced it’s a generational thing. I meet very few creatives under 30 who appreciate truly great work. By that I mean work that evokes emotion but is also so well executed and lit it gives you goose bumps. David gave me goose bumps. No offense, but some of the stuff you reference as artful is, well… simply snap shots that happen to be well exposed. Is that all it takes nowadays?"

Heather makes a couple of good points in rebuttal, as do others on this blog... still I remain unconvinced and hold on the the belief that it is, indeed, a "generational thing" and a trend (although this trend seems to have lasted for at least the past 6 or 7 years at least).

The argument also forces me to consider the geographical factor when it comes to making editorial images. Much of this "new" work is created on the mainland, much of it for the New York publishing markets. By nature of sheer geography, urban environment lifestyles are far different from what we experience here as tropical island dwellers. In New York, Chicago, LA... there is a sense of personal isolation, muted/desaturated color, drab/grey skies where we in Hawaii live what might be described at times as a fantasy lifestyle in an incredibly beautiful environment with bright, very saturated color, closely knit communities... an altogether different experience from living on the mainland. Here, our editorial and commercial imagery is used to portray and/or sell that fantasy lifestyle.