Thursday, June 28, 2012

Client Awesomeness

I have had the recent luck to work with a couple of
completely awesome clients. All clients have their 
individual awesomeness... after all, they make life
as a photographer possible. There are, however, a 
handful of very notable stand outs... those that 
take the time and effort to acknowledge receipt of
work delivered, take the time to offer comments 
(especially when the comments are glowing feedback 
on said work delivered), clients that you don't have
 to chase for payment 60-90-120 days or more after the 
fact and those that commission you for what you do
in the first place and then actually let you do it.

So.. in the vein of reciprocal acknowledgement, I
add two very recent clients to the Honor Role:

Guillaume Briere 

Art Director of Luxury Brands for the 
SPAFAX Publishing Group based in Montreal. 
G commissioned me to produce a story for one of 
his groups publications recently. He is ACES in the 
exceptional client book. G provides clear direction 
from afar, takes the time to provide feedback when work
is delivered and best of all, makes sure that payment is 
processed and sent in record time. G... if 
you're reading this... I LOVE you! Call anytime! 
I will fill your computer screen with eye-candy
from banal subject matter any day of the week!

Skyline Eco-Adveture Tours

A very new client for me, Skyline operates the
very first zipline course in the USA 
(and maybe the world?). Though the Marketing 
Director is an old friend, I had never 
worked with them until the call came last week
offering me the first opportunity to produce
new advertising images for the company. Lovely 
folks to work with... extremely professional
staff/guides with the overriding
emphasis on safety & fun, they escorted 
us through dense forests of fragrant 
eucalyptus trees, hiking 4000 ft. above
sea level on the slopes of the world's
largest dormant volcano. This company
doesn't just specialize in activities for
thrill-seeking visitors & residents, but 
are also committed to educating their guests
on the ecology of the area, involved in
reforestation projects where they have planted
thousands of indigenous species in an effort
to restore watersheds in the area.

A brilliant day of exceptional weather 
and an eager crew of action talent spent
the entire day Tuesday in the cool upcountry
air, zipping through the tree canopy
from platform to platform. Great fun was had by 
all. Preview sample images were delivered mid-morning,
immediately followed by a call reporting that principals
gathered around the office computer were emanating "oohs"
& "aaahs" as they scrolled through the first edit.
That was followed by an email from the company 
bookeeper, reporting that the invoice was received
& was already being processed for immediate payment.

For the record... I am NOT a fan of heights, 
carnival rides, or other such activities. The staff at 
Skyline instantly made me feel comfortable
& safe as I strapped into harness & helmet
and received their careful instructions. 
And... my sense of pride would not allow me to 
be upstaged by hired 8 year olds flying thru treetops 
at 40mph with a relaxed look of glee plastered 
across their faces. I was eventually persuaded
to "zip" on a couple of lines and really enjoyed it!
If you are looking for a very cool
activity a bit different that the usual sun
& surf or biking down a volcano tours, this 
is well worth a try! Find out more about 
Skyline Eco-Adventure Tours HERE.

Assistant Frankel-san At The Ready
Art Director Gwen Eyes The Treetop Action From Below
Preserving the Moment While Operations Manager, Eric, Looks On
Pony Express Horseback Tours Are Right Next Door
Bees Make Lavender Honey In Adjacent Gardens

Thank you to all great clients near & far! 
Know that your trust, efforts and respect 
are returned ten-fold!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


" I go for form more than for light. Form comes first. Light is like perfume to me..."
          - Henri Cartier-Bresson 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Telling Stories

©2012 Tony Novak-Clifford

Of all the photographs I returned home
with from the east cost trip, I keep
coming back to this one. Members of the
6th Grade Class from a school in Troy,
Ohio. Bussed into the heart of DC
for a field trip and preparing
for some sort of presentation during
weekend Memorial Day celebrations on
the Mall.

Is it the awkward, almost apprehensive
expressions on their faces? The odd
wave from one of the members? The patriotic
t-shirts & laminates? Do their expressions
speak to my own feelings about the current
State of the Union & jingoistic rhetorical assaults
by right-leaning media? Maybe they are
simply exhausted & hot from the
long bus ride from Ohio and waning in enthusiasm
for whatever event they
are assembled at this moment. Maybe
they are mildly annoyed by another
guy aiming another a giant lens
in their direction?

All I can say for certain is that
there is a photograph in there
somewhere... and a story.

I find myself drawn more &
more into a journalistic, reportage
style photography and it's directness,
it's honesty... a major change
from the carefully crafted, staged & lit
advertising work I have been so accustomed
to. Rather than working to build an image
from scratch, this new challenge
forces me to find the photograph hiding among
the visual chaos of my environment...
to find the patterns, symbolism and universal
reverberations that make for good visual
story telling. 

This simple phrase has become my mantra: 

"There is a photograph in there

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Guardian

For several years now, this noble Agave plant has guarded the entrance to my home. Construction of the new studio space has required that it be dug up and temporarily relocated until building and exterior painting are completed. It's doing fine in a quiet corner of the yard, waiting patiently for it's roots to again be covered in soil...

Add caption
If you blinked, you probably missed it. The Kihei gallery formerly formerly known The Maui Art Hale has come and gone in a matter of less than 60 days. A noble effort put forth by curator/operator Kenneth Norris, an attempt to create a different type of art space... unclutterd, contemporary, no whale art...
Alas, the money-guys suddenly pulled the plug just as a buzz was starting. In the battle of art vs. commerce, commerce wins another round. 

Framed limited edition prints from the series "Journeys in the Indonesian Archipelago" & other recent work are back in my possession and available for sale sans gallery mark-up.

In other news... wrapped up an assignment for Quebec based Fairmont Magazine, delivering the edit just before boarding the plane to the East Coast. Received a lovely note from the PE, an excerpt below:

"Thanks for everything. You have no idea how much i love them. I was scared that this story will visually look like a boring hotel article, but this is stunning. Thanks so much."

Note to self: Now press heavily upon them to send me to Jakarta for coverage of property there!

This one took place while I was away. The reunion of gypsy jazz artists Gypsy Pacific proved to be a couple of evenings of stellar musical entertainment. Nice to have the chance to dust off old press images shot long ago, with a 4x5 View Camera and film no less, and get it out in front of eyes again. Great work on graphics, as always, by Scott @ Dogtowne Design.

The Maui Arts & Cultural Center will be screening parts of the PBS Documentary Series Art In The 21ST Century beginning Thursday, June 28th in the McCoy Studio Theater. Admission is free. The series is pretty cool.

Found a link to this blog on a German based photography forum this morning, linking to my entry back in January lamenting the final shutting down of my E6 film processing line and the retiring of my trusty Jobo ATL-Plus film processor. Funny. The forum is all in German and I don't understand a word of what's being said. Any german speakers reading this blog... translation, please? You can find the forum HERE.

Adobe announces the launch of Creative Suite6 & Creative Cloud.
Great... just as I was getting competent and comfortable with CS5, a new upgrade to spend money on & learn. Damn you! Find out more about CS6 & Creative Cloud here.

And that concludes today's entry... have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reflections From The Capitol & Beyond, Updates, News And Of Course, More Pics...

Now fully back into the swing of things here at home. Travel to the east was refreshing and a reminder of how much I love the city of Washington, DC. The city & surrounds were my home for nearly 10 years back in the mid-70's... a place I remember as exciting & filled with fun. During my tenure in DC we bore witness to the resignation of Nixon, the end of the Vietnam War, the death of disco & the rise of punk. 

DC back in those days played host to an amazing group of music venues, most of them now long gone... On any given night, a young man with a thirst for adventure could wander in off the streets to catch fret wizard Danny Gatton burning down the house to a standing room only crowd, while other stellar guitarists like Roy Buchanan & Jeff Beck lurked with envy in the back shadows. Emmy Lou Harris crooned behind the mic at Childe Harold over in DuPont Circle while skinheads thrashed to The Stanglers at The Bayou over on K Street in G-Town, a street now synonymous with corporate greed and Capitol lobbyists.

Over in the 'burbs, The Muffins were collaborating with British experimental composer Fred Frith, fresh out of Henry Cow and crossing the Atlantic to check out the truly weird shit that was going down musically in our nation's Capitol. Progressive band Happy The Man had just inked a two-record deal with Clive Davis & Arista Records, while rehearsing with Peter Gabriel, immediately post-departure from Genesis. Punk/New Wave impresarios, Urban Verbs, (front man, Roddy Franz, had a brother who drummed for New York based Talking Heads) were rehearsing in a loft downtown on F Street in the old Atlantis Building, original site of what was to become the world famous 9:30 Club. The "Verbs" were also on the brink of signing their landmark two-record deal with Warner Bros. Records.

The scene in those days was as active as it was diverse, a launching pad for many acts that would go on to gain national acclaim. With the end of a war and the ouster of a corrupt president, the youth, music & arts activities were in overdrive and there was a sense of collective possibility all held together by a couple of radio stations (WGTB & WHFS) and one alternative newspaper (The Unicorn Times).

Things have changed since then, mostly for the better from what I could tell from my brief visits to the city last month. While most of the aforementioned music venues are now long gone but not forgotten, there is an obvious effort being made to gentrify areas of the city once considered too dangerous to venture at night (though I always did and never experienced any problems). Within walking distance of the the Washington Monument are a host of fabulous eateries and watering holes now. We sampled a couple and came away really wowed by one called Jaleo, operated by a chef of some reknown, we later learned. Jose Andres' Jaleoon 7th Street, is a smart Spanish Tapas place, clean & modern on the inside, a limited number of outdoor tables along the sidewalk for dining al frecco and perhaps the most extensive menu I have ever encountered. The staff were extremely knowledgeable, helpful & professional while the food was out of this world! Highly recommended!

My timing for patriotic color could not have been better for the jaunts into the city. Memorial Day Weekend preparations were underway and the Mall monuments were swathed in red, white & blue bunting as far as the eye could see. A second evening down in the city found us dining, at the invitation of a friend, in a quaint neighborhood restaurant called Saint-Ex located in a re-gentrified section of 14th Street.

Then, it was across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into the heart of the tidewater region of Maryland's Eastern Shore, my childhood home, for the primary mission of the 6ooo mile journey. My father was celebrating his 80th circle 'round the sun. Siblings & old family friends were arriving from all over for the surprise party that had been planned for months in advance. The surprise was a success and I had the opportunity to re-connect, if only briefly, with some people that I hadn't seen in 40 years or more. 

A couple of trips to the Atlantic beach resort town of Ocean City, Maryland were also on the itinerary... to feast of fresh crab & crabcakes, morning bike rides on the boardwalk where I first met my better-half well over 30 years ago and fill-up on boardwalk caramel popcorn & the best french fries to ever be cut from a potato.

But now I'm back in the islands, vacation has come to an end... Happy Birthday, Dad! It was a great two-week hang! 


The Blogroll found on the left side of this page has been recently updated and features some of what I consider to be the best in current editorial, commercial & fine-art photography blogging. Look around... you're bound to find some inspiration & information.

New studio construction continued unabated during my absence. I returned to find that exterior windows, doors, siding and battens had been installed... the roof went on a couple of days after my return. Electrical has now been roughed-in along with the big storage closet. Yesterday we had electrical & final framing inspections all approved, though we still wait for a permit for the new screen porch that will front the new construction. I'm told by the bureaucracy that we should have that permit in hand any day now. Today they are removing what was once an exterior window and breaking thru a wall that will be the connecting walk-thru from a new library into the new studio space. Life will be noisy & dusty for a few more weeks as drywall is scheduled to begin early next week. By the beginning of August, however, I should be able to start clearing out the current studio and moving into the new.