OUR PATH veterans documentary and panel discussion at Ossining High School

 

 

January 19, 2017 Yesterday we showed the film “Our Path” that I created, along with Joanne Morrison, with an Arts Alive Grant from ArtsWestchester and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts. We gave 2 separate presentations; the first to a general audience of students and faculty who were interested in hearing more about the veteran’s experiences after their service to our country. The second presentation was primarily for students interested in the arts, who wanted to inquire about the process of making the film, and to hear about the grant writing process from Susan Abbott, Director of Programs at ArtsWestchester. Ron Whitehead, a US Army veteran featured in the film and who is also an art teacher at the school, was responsible for organizing the event. In an effort to continue to expose young minds about what it means to serve and to highlight the difficulties that many veterans face upon returning home, we are continuing to look for other opportunities to showcase this in the community.  I am also interested in speaking with any veteran who would like to be included in my 2017 book project on veterans. Many thanks go out to everyone who was a part of the project, especially Teddy Ottman, Ron Whitehead, MarieAnn Raguso, Laura Spinelli, Joanne Morrison, ArtsWestchester and the New York State Council on the Arts.

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Amboseli National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

December 11, 2016 I arrived on Emirates Airlines, which I use frequently. There were 28 different nationalities represented from the on-board staff. After a night in Nairobi, we headed to Amboseli National Park, about a 4 hour drive and a great place to see the big 3, especially elephants. On day 2 we were surrounded by +200 elephants, all mothers and their offspring, and all blood related. We stayed with them for several hours, as they meandered in front of and around our Land Cruiser. The top of the vehicle opened up, which made it easy to shoot from but also just to hang out while crossing the vast National Park. The Land Cruiser has three rows of seats, one row per person, allowing for ample room for equipment cases and long lenses, with a window on each side. The lodges and camps were all special, each one unique in style and comfort while providing a consistent, first class experience. The vegetables we ate were grown on the grounds. One of my favorite culinary moments was when a monkey made the swift move to grab a doughnut off the breakfast table, but took the time to dip it into yogurt first before scurrying away. Next we departed for the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Here we saw buffaloes, elephants, lions, wildebeest, topi, Thomson’s gazelles, zebras, black rhinos, impalas, hippos, and crocodiles. In the early morning hours on our last day, we came upon a lioness and her four cubs, making their way to higher ground while looking for a food source. At dusk that same day, we spotted two cheetahs in the tall grasses, watching a group of impalas. We stayed with them for a few hours and watched them work together. Cheetahs are the only cats that cannot protect their food source, and are wary of lions and hyenas stealing from them. Every 15 seconds, one of the cheetahs glanced to survey their surroundings.

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Gerewol Festival Travel Article in WAG Magazine December 2016

Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

November 21, 2016 Mark Teixeira was an integral part of the Yankees’ 27th World Series championship in 2009, leading the American League in home runs and RBIs while finishing second in the MVP balloting. Teixeira was a three-time All Star, won five Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards, and also holds the all-time major league record for most games with a home run from both sides of the plate, with 14. He was the fifth switch hitter in MLB history to reach 400 home runs.

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Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers quarterback

 

November 14, 2016 Steve Young was in his hometown of Greenwich, CT giving a speech at Greenwich High School and then doing a book signing at the Cos Cob Library. I was given a short window of about 5 minutes to work with him for a feature story in WAG magazine. Amid the excitement and enthusiasm from old friends to say hello, my window got even shorter. Several hundred people were already in line outside my door as I made the decision that I just had to go and get him away from the crowds and bring him to my studio setup. With pressure to begin and very little time left, I was unlucky in that at the very moment when I raised my camera to begin, an old friend of Steve’s leaned into my frame and handed him a book to sign. Being the patient and thoughtful person that he is, Steve took a long 4 minutes to write a personal message. I then went into my 2 minute offense, and got the shot I was hoping for. Steve’s last words to me…”thanks, you’re fast!”

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Gerewol Festival in Niger

October 7, 2016 The Gerewol Festival is an annual courtship contest of the nomadic Wodaabe people. Each evening in the late afternoon, the men stood shoulder to shoulder to form a large circle. None shorter than six feet and many taller, these thin, healthy beings began a series of songs and chants that continued until almost dawn. Directly behind the men and leaning against them were the women, shorter in stature, dressed in black shawls with necks craning to see. The Gerewol was being performed for them, to give them a chance to select the best men from the competition whom they hoped to spend the next year with, and possibly a lifetime. When a woman saw a man that attracted her, she gently tapped his shoulder. Gerewol affairs carry no social stigma or moral restriction, meaning that a married man can get picked and end up with a second wife. Creative facial expressions, including bulging white eyeballs and brilliant white teeth were normal as the dance, called the Yaake, was performed.

The FIA Asia 2016 conference in Singapore featured Kay Swinburne

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The FIA Asia 2016 conference in Singapore featured Kay Swinburne, a member of the European Parliament, along with other industry leaders. The popular and fast growing conference was well-attended by an international cast who participated in and listened to the wealth of information provided by the panel discussions on all aspects of the industry. The event was hosted at the St. Regis Hotel, which provided first rate accommodations and services.

This year’s conference was unique in that a panel called “Market Solutions to Manage Climate Change” was included, the first time that the issue of climate change was included.

Our PATH

Join us for the opening reception in the Mercy College Main Hall Cafe for a documentary film, photo exhibition and panel discussion of 3 veteran’s stories of coming back after their service to our country. Funded by a grant received from ArtsWestchester and the New York State Council on the Arts, OUR PATH gives insight into what our local veterans experience on a daily basis. The exhibition will run until December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 2
at 6 PM – 8 PM
Mercy College
555 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522

Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld

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August 9, 2016: MarketVoice is the Futures Industry Association’s magazine which profiles leaders in the industry with in-depth coverage and analysis of the markets. Getting access to some of these leaders takes time, as their schedules are hectic and they are often abroad. Joanne Morrison, the Managing Editor, contacted me in June about shooting video and stills for their September issue. We went through the normal amount of scheduling and rescheduling, and finally we had our August date. Without the ability to scout the location at Nasdaq’s offices downtown, I brought every possible grip item I could think of in case we had to shoot this on a backdrop. As usual, we ran into a myriad of snags just trying to get into the building. We lost half an hour of set up time just waiting for clearance. Since we only had one hour to set up,
with the schedule calling for one 45 minute
video interview and 15 minutes of stills, that lost half hour was precious.

It makes no sense to blow your cool at the security people as the minutes tick away. They don’t know why you are there, they don’t know the CEO, and if you are late, it’s on you. But honestly, with a huge amount of equipment to set up and audio and video concerns, this is not for the faint of heart. To make things even more complex, Nasdaq held a town hall style meeting with all employees smack in the middle of where we were setting everything up. You couldn’t pull the roll of gaffer’s tape and tear it with the usual SWACK sound with everyone right on top of us. The meeting went on for an hour, and then Mr. Greifeld would join us. Joanne set up the video in a conference room while I set up three different still sets in two locations. With only 15 minutes to shoot stills, I needed to be able to move seamlessly between the locations without moving the lighting. The camera settings for each set were written down on a piece of paper and taped to each set. This way, all I had to do was change my camera settings,
raise it and go.

The video went smoothly, no issues, with Joanne keeping the conversation rolling and interesting. We walked to still set #1, and got the money shot first, which featured the Nasdaq logo in the background. This wasn’t my favorite image, but I knew we needed to have it, so we knocked that one out first. Next we moved into a giant conference room containing a minimum of 50 black leather chairs, the kind you could sleep in. Huge windows surrounded the space on two sides, and although the sun was too high for me to use for natural light, they provided me with 2 different backgrounds. I decided to use this enormous walnut conference room table as part of the composition, using the murky reflections and the forced perspective to add interest to my shot. Ten minutes are gone now, and with five left, we move to the long expanse of windows. My first attempts at using a long lens were not working. Couldn’t find a shot, so I went wide, to 15mm, placed my camera on the table and got the skyline and table framing my subject on the top and bottom. We finished exactly on time, at 12:00 noon. A special thank you to Allan Schoenberg for this opportunity to work with Mr. Greifeld.

Andrea Mitchell and Anne Thompson

September 7, 2016:  I didn’t have a good feeling after looking at the weather report last week. The assignment was to do a cover shoot of Andrea Mitchell and Anne Thompson, journalists from NBC, on the same day that Andrea was hosting some Clinton and Trump match ups on the Intrepid. Time was a problem and we were basically being told that we would have to shoot it outside. Now, if you have ever done this in New York, you know you are asking for trouble. Wind, security guards telling you that you have to move while you are in the middle of shooting, and people walking either in or behind your set can spell disaster. The weather forecast was for rain midday. Andrea’s assistant Maggie was a gem, and through many back and forth exchanges over the next 24 hours, including a complete change of location one hour before we were to arrive, it was finally decided that they were going to make way at NBC and give us a studio for one hour. That was close, but in the end our persistence paid off in that we got away from all of the things we couldn’t control. It is a luxury to have a subject for 20 minutes, and important to make use of the time wisely.

Anne arrived first and was her usual happy and engaged self, being accommodating while giving me the time  to capture the solo images of her that I needed for the story. Then Andrea arrived, wearing a business skirt, sneakers and a black ankle brace support from a recent sprain. Not exactly what I had in mind for my full length shots. But who is going to say anything? I didn’t have time for sartorial things. In 20 minutes I needed to make a great cover of the both of them and capture Andrea solo. I  kept the sneakers and brace and starting shooting. One thing I have learned is not to focus on little details and instead go for the real shot. I was always inspired by the work of Avedon, and seeing what he did to get his images says a great deal about what it means to be a photographer. As a teacher, I always tell my students that when your subject arrives, they are going to look at you and just stand there. Now how are you going to make a picture out of that???

It is what comes out in the next moments that will decide what kind of images you will walk away with. And this is completely on the photographer’s shoulders and has absolutely nothing to do with equipment or technology. The key is how you feel when they walk in, because they will read you, and if you are cool, then they will feel cool. Next, you can’t be afraid to inject your personality into the show and take over, no matter who it is. They will feel your control and go with it, and that is how you will capture those off moments that are the best pictures. When I asked them to stand back-to back, then pushed them to lean on each other more, they burst out laughing and that was my picture. But it was real, and I guided them into my web. These people need a good laugh too, every day, and I was there to get it. Thanks to Andrea, Anne, Maggie and Olivia for the opportunity to work with them and for giving us what we needed to make them shine.

Niccolini, The Man for All Seasons

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In early June, I had less than 24 hours to prepare for a photo shoot with Julian Niccolini, the managing partner the the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York for WAG Magazine.  When you meet him, he makes you feel like you have known him since birth.  He moves smoothly between rooms, and just as easily switches between business matters and entertaining his customers.  You can see why he has his reputation.  He is everyone’s man, as people of all ages consider him a close friend and confidante.  He had different varieties of wine with him during the entire shoot, and generously offered me and my assistant a very expensive bottle to try, the kind of bottle that you would either purchase or pay your mortgage with.  At first I refused, my typical professional reply, but then reconsidered….I mean, it was the Four Seasons.  The place itselfis a cavernous hall of Philip Johnson design, with a super high ceiling and very tall windows.  It is a regal space.  You feel regal in there…you can’t help it.  On top of the fact that as you enter, you are met by the maestro, who will scoop you up and take care of your needs in ways you didn’t know could be done.  When you call to him, he prefers Julian.  When you ask him to get into the pool, he finds a way to engage a few ladies who are dining nearby.  He doesn’t know them.  He doesn’t have to.  They willingly, yet shyly oblige, and before long, there is an entourage of people shooting photos with their phones, so many that we had to part them like the Red Sea to get my angle.  Julian Niccolini is the Four Seasons, a one man play running at full throttle on a continuous loop.