Monday, November 30, 2009

Evolution Of A Poster: Cow Egg

A few weeks ago, I was sitting around having a chin-wag session with music feak, amazing graphic designer and owner of Dogtowne Design, Scott Johnson. During our chat, Scott & I began brainstorming ideas for iconic, surreal images to be used to promote the return of West Virginia bluegrass artists, Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band. Since the band had derived their name from a joke (bow-chika-bow-bow)and their frontman & fiddler, Zander, is given over to cornpone patter between tunes, Scott & I decided that the image needed to be a visual joke, surreal in nature, and... most of all, eye-catching.
After several minutes of idea tossing and head-scratching, the concept of the "COW EGG" was hatched. Last thursday, in anticipation of the bands first public Maui performance since their return from touring the mainland, Scott & I shifted into high-gear to "git 'er done" as the BCBCSB guys might say. Off to the local hardware/garden store I went in search of flats of fine-leafed grass sod and some white spray paint to make clouds. Then off to the supermarket for a dozen eggs to complete the items necessary for the shoot.

Below, you will find my studio shot (L) prior to Scott getting his grubby little fingers on it. Once in his hands, Scott masterfully managed to strip real enough looking cow fur onto the egg, add striking text graphics and, VIOLA!, a cow egg was born.

Don't miss Brown Chicken Brown Brown Cow String band's return to Maui this friday night at Stella Blues in Kihei. The show starts at 9:00pm.

Friday, November 13, 2009

ASMP Launches dpBestflow

The American Society of Media Photographers has launched a new website outlining & defining standards & best practices for all aspects of the digital photography workflow, from color management to file delivery, for the working photographer. Long in the forefront (and often mired in internal politics), ASMP's newest innovation towards education and standardization of business practices is the result of a two year effort by members Richard Anderson & Peter Krogh and debuted earlier this week during the FotoweekDC events. dpBestflow, in addition to the most informative website, will also include a book/manual as well as a travelling seminar series.

As we are all digital photographers in some form or another these days, spend some time at the website... learn the best practices and guidelines and apply them to the way you handle your d-workflow. You can find here:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

End Of An Era

Maui Land & Pineapple Company, one of the state's last & largest pineapple producers is the latest casualty of Hawaii's strapped economy. In an announcement made earlier this week, MLP said they would cease all pineapple operations by the end of this year. The plantation shutdown will further increase the growing number of unemployed workers here on the Valley Isle with layoffs numbering 285 employees. These unemployed will not only include the field workers, but also workers in the company's Kahului cannery and fresh fruit distribution operations, conservation and critical watershed management teams and office administrators. 

Earlier today, further information was released about the company's dire financial condition, claiming losses of $92.9 million this year alone. You can read the full story here.

During the past several years, plantation operations had already undergone severe cutbacks, especially in the West Maui/Honolua Plantations, where agricultural lands have been taken out of production and developed as luxury home sites. Further taxing the company's viability was the demolition of the old Kapalua Bay Hotel and the construction on that site of a luxury condominium project and spa, the condominium development a joint venture with Ritz Carlton Hotels.

Both Maui Land & Pineapple Company, and it's resort arm, Kapalua Land Company have been long-term, steady & loyal clients for the past 20 years. This week's news brings further cause for an increasing feeling of fear & loathing for the immediate future. 

Pineapple has long been identified with Hawaii and the Kapalua Resort has long been, in my opinion, the most beautiful of all of Maui's destination resort areas. Let's hope and pray they continue to exist.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Endangered Hawksbill Turtle Hatchlings Released To The Wild

On Saturday, I received an unexpected invite from ocean resource specialist and endangered turtle species protector Cheryl King. The invite was to witness & document the aided release of some 70-80 newly hatched Hawksbill Turtle hatchlings in the South Maui area. The nest, buried in approximately 20 inches of dry sand above the dune line, was originally laid in the Kealia/Mudflats area. According to Miz King, eggs from nests in that area have had a very low viability rate. So... in order to attempt to increase the numbers of surviving infant turtles, this nest was dug up and the eggs relocated to a new, man-made nest further south down the coastline. After the proper gestation period, watched very closely by Cheryl and a team of dedicated volunteers, the nest is gently dug up by hand over the course of several days to see exactly what was cooking beneath the sand. A few days prior to Saturday, Cheryl reports that approximately 40 newly hatched turtle infants were removed from the nest and deposited near the waters edge to ensure their safe passage from nest to sea. 

Late saturday evening, Miz King again dug her able hands deep into the warm sand and viola! Turtle hatchlings, some still trying to make it out of their soft, leathery shells. This time, I thing it was approximately 70 live hatchlings, a few rotten eggs and a few potentially still viable unhatched eggs were retrieved. These little critters were very lively and anxious to begin their new lives in the sea. The turtle were carefully extracted and then placed into a small plastic tub until the sun was below the horizon. At that point, all hatchlings were carefully deposited a few feet from water's edge. All made a rapid beeline for the brine. Let's hope a few of them survive to adulthood and return to lay their own nests in pursuit of replenishing their numbers.

Great job Cheryl, Skippy and all the volunteers on hand to aid in turtle midwifery.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Tear Sheets

We almost lost her... the Maui Prince. Now renamed, re-branded, new ownership. The old Maui Prince Resort is now the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bird's Eye View

Things have been quite a bit busier around here for the past week or so. A two day architectural shoot now completed & in the can, a potential holiday issue magazine cover shot today & yesterday and then best of all, a two hour helicopter flight to shoot images around Maui's south shore. The day could not have been better! The image above is Pu'u O Lai, an extinct volcanic cinder cone surrounded by two of Maui's nicest beaches... Big Beach/Makena State Park and the smaller "Little Beach", Maui's notorious clothing optional (unofficially) beach.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Irving Penn RIP 1917-2009

The photographic world lost one of it's most brilliant masters today. Irving Penn, 92, died today in his Manhattan home. 

He worked relentlessly right up to the end. His work was iconic. His work was some of the earliest that I stumbled upon and drew inspiration from. He will be greatly missed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Victim Joins The Magazine Death Pool

Conde' Nast Publications announced this morning that Gourmet Magazine will cease to exist in the very near future.

Bad news all around for food photographers.

County Fair

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Real World Pricing Redux... A Retort

In response to the information regarding real world pricing provided by Rob Haggart at the A Photo Editor blog and that I point you to in my previous blog entry (see below), a rapid retort from photographer's consultant cum law-student Leslie Burns Dell'Acqua appeared at her Burns Auto Parts blog.

Not so much as a retort as it is a clarification and a plea for the development of some sort of rational system for pricing usage in advertising and client-direct areas of assignment bidding.

Leslie argues that some of the fees quoted in the estimates provided by Rob are far too low. I am in full agreement with her on this point. For example, one estimate provides a license for National USA only, unlimited use in all media, in perpetuity of 32 images for a total production & licensing fee of only $25k or roughly $782.25 per image, production expenses & creative fees included.

Leslie goes on to offer some suggestions on how to tackle this complicated issue and it's well worth a read. Find her post here

It's important to remember that the more information you arm yourself with before you put that pencil to paper, the better you will end up serving both yourself and your client(s). At the end of the assignment, you will feel compensated in a way that you are motivated to give your all during the production end of the process and won't walk away afterwards feeling undervalued. Even in this economy, savy art buyers are well aware of issues, legalities and costs of image production & licensing. Coming in far below reasonable expectations with your estimates might win you an assignment here & there, but in the long run it's also going to brand you as inexperienced & unable to rise to the challenge when the real rubber hits the road.

Real World Pricing

I have been quite remiss in updating entries of late. In an effort to bring you, dear reader, up to date, I call your attention to Rob Haggart's blog A Photo Editor.

Over the past couple of weeks, Rob has posted entries and examples of actual estimates & invoices for advertising & editorial photography assignments. For those of us working in Hawaii, whether seasoned pro or a newbie, these samples should be a real eye-openers.

The first samples Rob posted were estimates for a non-specific advertising assignment seeking world-wide rights of use for a two-year period, a second estimate for a pharmaceutical company (he goes on to elaborate that this estimate ended up being the middle bid price-wise and this photographer was not awarded the assignment for strictly creative reasons). Also posted in this entry were three editorial assignment invoices for what he describes as "glossy, celebrity-lovin' checkout mags...". The first of these invoice examples were intended for syndication, the second for a weekly publication and the third for a monthly publication. You will find Rob's entry here.

Again, a a little more than a week later Rob again tackled the subject by posting four more advertising estimates... one for a corporation's national, internal use only, one for national retail client's advertising, another for national use, one-time insertion, another for a national advertising client licensing web use only. Find these estimates here. Note that these estimates were all submitted in August of this year and that they were the winning bids. At the bottom of the estimate there is also a losing bid for the licensing of two assigned images, one year use unlimited, worldwide. In this estimate, Rob reports that the photographer was underbid and not awarded the assignment.

Now, onto a scenario a little more applicable to those of us working in the islands. The following day, Rob again posts three more estimates for REGIONAL advertising photography. The first estimate is an assignment to photograph 7 surgeons in two different locations locations, providing for a one-year exclusive license of those images in one city only. The second estimate in this entry is for production & usage of 4 photographs captured on location. This estimate includes a three-year, unlimited regional ("regional" not specified in this case) media use & in conjunction with TV use/broadcast license. The third estimate supplied in this entry is for a regional advertising client. The estimate provides for the capture & delivery of 32 portraits, allows for ten days of production/shooting time and grants unlimited use of 24 images in all media in the USA only. Note that these were also all winning bids as described by Rob. You'll find these estimates here.

One further note... when looking at these individual estimates, be sure to use the slider bar on the right side of each estimate to scroll down through all the itemized creative and production expense fees, arriving finally at the final bid amount.

My New Favorite Band of the Moment

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Festival Festivities

The First Annual Maui Photo Festival Conference & Workshops officially opened yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa. Located on the balmy shores of Kaanapali Beach in West Maui, the Hyatt has given over it's huge and beautiful complex to play host to approximately 300 photographers, lecturers & presenters. I don't think I've seen quite so many cameras in one place before... you would have thought, if you weren't clued in, that Paris Hilton was walking the grounds.

All reports of the days activities were enthusiastic. An early morning boat trip, scuba dive and underwater photo workshop led by internationally acclaimed water photographer and Maui resident David Fleetham, produced up-close encounters with a pod of false killer whales & yielded some great photo-ops, projected later in the evening on the Big Screen during the commencement reception. Those that opted to stay on land during the day were treated to a wild & wacky presentation of green-screen compositing technology by none other than Adobe® Senior Creative Director Russell Brown. Think Photoshop on steroids.

Later that evening, we all gathered on the beachfront lawn for a pupu & drink heavy ceremony, some serious chin-wagging and an overall wonderful time. I got a chance to meet some heros & heavyweights, share some delightful conversation, chat with some of my local colleagues and friends I haven't seen in some time. The weather was perfect, lovely hawaiian music drifting through the palms and the ingestibles very tasty. On a scale of grand times, I rank it an 11. And things have just begun... there's so much more in store for participants for the next three days. Check the schedule here for what's in store for the next 72 hours or so.

It was a personal thrill to get to sit and talk with length hero, portrait & illustration photography genius Jack Reznicki, Magnum Agency member Eli Reed, fine-art & travel photographer Andy Katz and North Shore water photographer Clark Little... all lovely guys.

There is still space available for some of the upcoming offerings so go to one of the links above and sign up now if you haven't already. You'll be glad you did.

Here's a few pics from the evening... sorry, I was so star-struck& intimidated that once things got rolling, I forgot to pull out my camera.

Festival founder & director, all around cool guy and old friend Zane Mathias. With all those photographers around, don't you think I could have asked one to snap a pic rather than hold that heavy D2X outstreched in one hand? Nooooo!
Sunset just outside the venue lawn pre-festivities
Delicate balancing act... sculpture just outside the venue entrance
The venue on the grounds of the lovely Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
Fine art photographer and Maui gallery operator Randy J. Braun. Again with the camera and funny face!
Randy J. Braun and his new BFF
Jeffery Oltman, my overworked & underpaid assistant and fine photographer in his own right, with underwater master David Fleetham
Kumu Hula & Master chanter Charles Ka'upu offer a chant and opening pule

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Pentagram's Michael Bierut:

"Speaking as someone who has enthusiastically sold out, every time I've done something just for the money, no matter how much they paid, it was never enough."

It's A Maui Thing

When the immensely talented Saedene Ota calls, it's always with some tasty potential assignment and always a great opportunity to flex creative muscles. Sae, besides being the Creative Director of SaeDesign, one of the state's most sought after graphic design firms, is also the force behind Maui Thinga new activewear/youthwear clothing line based on Maui. Launched, presumably in response to the popular Ainokea (translation: "I No Care" for our pidgin challenged readers) line of T-Shirts & stickers/decals, Maui Thing is a company making a difference for our island youth by transmitting the positive messages of community, conservation & environmentalism. Maui Thing's logo, an illustration of an octopus... and their motto, "Stuck On Good..." says it all.

Needless to say, when Sae called a couple of weeks ago asking if I was interested in shooting a new marketing campaign for the line, I was down for the task. Sae assembled a great crew of young, fresh and very cooperative talent for the production... most of them having never modeled professionally before. Add the very talented make-up artist Ryan and hairstylist Michelle to the mix and the day of shooting became almost effortless, very fun and extremely productive. The Market Street area of Wailuku, just steps outside my studio door & Kepaniwai Park on the way into Iao Valley served as location backdrops and lent a real island flavor to the production. Hat's off to all the young people involved. You did absolutely great & I had a blast working with all of you!

You can find Maui Thing clothing and accessories at their retail boutique located at 7 North Market Street in Wailuku. Telephone: 808.249.0215. You can also shop online at the Maui Thing website here. Get your kids "stuck on good" today.

Here are a few outakes from the day of shooting:
Models Cierra & Jaren take shelter under a leaf of haleconia

Tiare strikes a glamorous pose

Jaren strums a uke

Cierra basks in the Market Street sun

Kaui in front of Iao Theater, Wailuku

Cierra & Kaui by the Kepaniwai waterfall

The talented talent: (l-r)Kaui, Jaren, Cierra & Tiare

Monday, August 24, 2009

Be There!

Behind the Scenes/ Food Photography

I recently received an assignment for HMSA's Island Scene Magazine to capture still life images of gourmet and healthy burgers... the usual beef along with a burger made of ground ahi and one of ground chicken. The recipes were the tasty concoctions of Maui Meadows resident Kristine Snyder, an amateur chef who has won several national recipe contests over the years, some of them with prizes in the six-figure range. (wow!) Kristine has appeared on the Food Network and is always coming up with new and tasty (not always reports her hubby and human guinea pig, Dan) recipes for future competitions.

On a recent sunday afternoon, the Snyder's welcomed myself, art director extraordinaire Jonathan Tanjii, and a writer from Island Scene (her name escapes me at the moment... sorry) into their lovely home where we proceeded to convert a shaded lanai into a food studio. Kristine cooked her fabulous recipes... I styled, propped and captured images of each of the three delicious burgers, Jonathan pitched in as defunct assistant as well as art directing each shot.  The shots... or at least one of them, is being considered for the cover image of the issue containing the story (fingers crossed!).

Afterwards, Kristine & hubby Dan invited all of us inside, where mass quantities of each recipe were freshly prepared and quickly devoured by the hungry crew, yours truly included.

So... a belated mahalo goes out to Kristine & Dan for making the day so enjoyable, productive & succesful. I wish I could post the completed burger images here & now. Unfortunately, the "first right of use" embargo granted to Island Scene prevents me from doing so until after print publication. Look for tear-sheets to be posted once the 'zine is out. Another big mahalo to Dan for the behind-the-scenes pics posted below.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More On the Financial Predicament of Annie Leibovitz

We've been hearing a lot this past year about Annie Leibovitz and her financial fiasco. 

Arguably one of the greatest portrait artists of our time, Miz Leibovitz has had a super-sized career spanning four decades, creating many of the most iconic portraits of celebrities and pop-culture personalities ever snapped. Until very recently, most of us assumed that Annie must be wallowing in fat wads of cash given the rumours about her reported fees, editorial deals & contracts with the likes of Vogue, Conde Nast, Rolling Stone, American Express and others. Last year it was disclosed that exactly the opposite was true when a stylist, lighting and rental houses and other vendors began suing Annie for non-payment of tabs racking up to $700,000 plus. Then, the reports began surfacing that Mizz Leibovitz was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and had pawned her complete works both past & future to survive economically. 

For the past year, we've been provided tantalizing glimpses into some of the causes of her financial problems but never much of a complete picture as to how this could possibly happen to, ostensibly, the most recognized photographer of the day.

This weekend, New York Magazine, published a rather detailed accounting of Annie's woes, painting the most complete picture of the her impending financial ruin to date. I also note that the article quotes the sister of Leibovitz's long time love, writer/intellectual Susan Sontag's sister, Maui resident Judith Cohen. You can find the complete article here.

Thanks go out to photographer/blogger Andrew Hetherington of the famed What's the Jackanory blog for posting the link, along with an interesting portrait of Mizz Leibovitz by John Keatley, in this morning's entry.

Another Trip To Hana

Family have once again invaded the island. My cousin Allen and his lovely wife Janice, along with their two daughters (I suppose they would be considered my nieces?)Jenelle(20)& Brittany(16)have been staying at my place for much of the last week and have been making the rounds of the island. 

On Saturday, we took advantage of the splendid weather conditions to drive out to the remote east-side of Maui, the Hana District. Driving a feisty, candy apple red Mustang convertible around the myriad hairpin curves, sometimes barely avoiding oncoming traffic, and over the 50 plus one lane bridges, we were treated to beautiful vista of the rugged Hana coastline, abundant waterfalls full after the rains of last weeks storm, lush tropical jungles and incredibly picturesque beaches. Thank God for Hana, as we island residents often proclaim. Though only 52 miles or so from the airport, the trip to Hana is an adventure in defensive driving and takes a bare minimum of two hours each way to enjoy the drive at a leisurely pace and enjoy frequent stops to swim in the waterfall pools and scenic stops along the way. f you plan to go... give yourself at least a full day and leave early in the morning to make it back before dark.

It's a trip I seldom make these days but having family & friends visit the island always produces an opportunity to go troppo and act as tour guide. Here are a couple of pics from out outing....

  Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, Keanae Arboretum
Jenelle (l) & Brittany (r) enjoying Hamoa Beach

Friday, August 14, 2009

Creative Advertising Solutions

Thanks to fellow photographer/blogger Bruce DeBoer at the Permission to Suck blog for posting this YouTube video offering of some pretty ingenious ideas for using advertising to really grab your attention. Even better is that almost all of the advertising is photography driven. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Maui Photo Festival Workshop Schedule

This just in... the Maui Photo Festival, being held over a four day period September 16th through the 20th and the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa on beautiful Kaanapali Beach has just released the schedule of workshops, photo safaris, and other lectures-activities and more. There are some really top notch presenters coming to share their knowledge with us, including Russell Brown from Adobe Systems, Portrait & Advertising Photographer Jack Resnicki, noted Travel Photographer Rick Sammon and a whole slew of other masters of the craft. Just click on the schedules below for a larger view.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Congratulations Are In Order

Fellow photographer, artist, inspirator and friend Gwen Arkin was has had one of her photogravure prints accepted into Women In Photography International's Summer '09 juried exhibition. Her submission to the "Trees" category, Ohia, Lost not only made it through the jury process, but also received and Honorable Mention. You can find it here. Congratulations, Gwen!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roundtable Anyone?

I have been giving this idea some thought for several years now... Here on Maui, we don't have a local chapter of any of the trade organizations for commercial & editorial photographers. No ASMP... no APA... no EP. Now that we no longer shoot film and gather at the local commercial lab every afternoon to collect our daily processing runs, we rarely even have opportunities for any sort of face to face meetings. 

This is a sad thing to me, especially given the ever increasing demands for rights from clients without the formerly customary compensation for those rights. I feel we can all collectively benefit from a regular opportunity to gather on some sort of regular basis, whether it be monthly, every two months... whatever, and discuss what's good about our respective businesses, what's happening within our industry, within the statewide editorial & advertising marketplace, problems we are facing in conducting sound & time-honored business practices, strategize on ways to face head on the coming issues surrounding use & the new digital media, occasionally present our recent work to friends & colleague & shoot the shit in general...

I propose some form of regular gathering of those of us who call ourselves freelance creatives... my main interest of course would be a gathering of photographers working primarily in the editorial & commercial realms of our industry (sorry wedding/portrait folks... you do have a local group). That said, there is a community of freelance writers, graphic designers, illustrators, etc. out there whom I'm certain find themselves without any sort of loosely organized support network. I would suggest that our meetings, should they eventually come to fruition, be open to these artists as well. After all, we do share many of the same industry concerns and business practices. In addition to working freelancers, I would also suggest that aspiring and seasoned assistants also be welcomed into the fold as they, too, are an essential part of our businesses and will all eventually go on to be photographic freelancers.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Anyone willing to chime in on the matter? I would even offer my Wailuku studio as a place for these meetings to be held, though perhaps some sort of neutral ground like a restaurant or cafe might be a more appropriate venue. I'll leave that topic open for suggestion & discussion.

Anyone interested in seeing a regular or semi-regular gathering of this sort get established, feel free to either leave a comment here at the blog entry or contact me by email at:

Be sure to include some means for me to contact you. And by all means, be sure to pass along this idea for a regular gathering to those industry colleagues that you know. There IS strength in numbers.


Things Are Getting Exciting

Things are starting to get exciting around here these days. Not that the economic outlook as improved greatly, but there has been a fair supply of decent assignment work over the last couple of weeks. For the better part of the last two weeks, in addition to performing serial photo-magic, I have been a little off my feet with a raging fever that lasted for over a week. It's only been the last few days or so that I've been feeling my normal self and, let me tell you... it feels good to be back. 

In between the assignments, I've been brainstorming story ideas for a few of the local editorial publications... quirky little ideas for photographic essays on off the beaten tourist track subjects. One idea in particular is just different enough to gather the interest of a high-visibility publication that has tentatively agreed to devote multiple pages and a hefty space in it's pages, along with a decent budget to produce the thing. The story and publication will have to remain a secret for now but the interest from the publisher has really begun to get the creative juices flowing. Furthermore, the senior editor has decided that I should team up with wordsmith, musicologist and all-around interesting guy Paul Wood to scribe little "poems", as he called them during our initial conversations on the "project", to further add descriptives to the images and weave a thread of consistency to the overall work. I'm excited... have always wanted an opportunity to collaborate with Paul and now here a chance. Already we are seeing broader applications for the scope and publishing opportunities for this project. All we've got to do now is stay focused and get the thing done. The magazine has given us almost a year to work out this limited portion of the overall project idea. Stay tuned for details... 

Another thing that has me really excited these days is to find some new music that has kept me mesmerized for much of the week. Formerly one half of as duo calling themselves Eastmountainsouth, Peter Bradley Adams has been recording and releasing solo recordings for the last few of years. Still a guy way under the radar, his music is some of the most beautiful, sensitive folk flavored work I've stumbled across in quite a long time. You can check out samples of his latest release, Leavetaking, HERE.