A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of working with LPGA Tour Pro Lizette Salas for Golf Digest. The editors there are so great to work with, always encouraging to go beyond the obvious ‘golfy’ shot, gives you so much more freedom and confidence to play around and have fun. And one thing i learned, if you’re ever short of a wind machine, a leaf-blower works pretty darn well as a stand-in! Especially when subject’s Dad is groundskeeper of said club.A fun day was had by all, and i think it shows in the pictures! Thanks Lizette and best of luck, we’ll be rooting for ya.
Stanford University’s Technology Ventures Program is Silicon Valley’s incubator for the next big thing. A business program where playtime is problem- solving. The brainchild of innovation gurus Tina Seelig, Ph.D and Tom Byers, Ph.D, the program is dedicated to accelerating high-tech entrepreneurship. It’s a high value prize for all at Stanford, and enrollment is limited to a dozen outstanding students each year. Plus you get to wear paper cones on your head all day and call it work!
We spent a couple of days with the professors and students of the STVP, poking around the creative hub on campus that is the d.school and generally soaking up the chilled out yet intense vibe that is Stanford for The Times magazine, and let me tell you, these kids know they’re at the center of the business world.
With the release of Cesar Chavez , i thought i’d re-visit a personal project i’ve been working on about immigrant farmworkers in California. Maybe it’s because i’m not from here, but this hidden, yet essential workforce has always fascinated me. They may be in America, but it’s certainly not a dream…..
California has long been the land of the migrant farm worker. From the dust bowl migration of the great depression, as depicted by John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath, to todays countless undocumented border jumpers. With an endless supply of an increasingly desperate labor-force, California’s central valley economy continues to reap the benefit, becoming the main agricultural center in the US and propelling the State to the level of a global economic power.
For many who cross America’s borders illegally however, life can be harsh; some have no option but live in shanty town- like labor camps; some of the women are subjected to rape. Even embezzlement by fellow Mexicans immigrants is a problem, as well as the pure physical exhaustion of the un- regulated manual work, not to mention the constant fear of deportation. All to earn just $6 an hour.
Huron, a small town of 5,900, is a virtual Grand Central terminal for the immigrant workforce. Twice a year, lettuce is harvested in the area, and the population at least doubles in size. Known as the “Heart of the Valley,” Huron, in western Fresno county, lies about 50 miles southwest of Fresno. This is the heartland for what inspired Steinbeck, and where he ultimately set his literary classic.
It’s like a time- warp to a frontier town of the Old West, except the cowboys are all Latino’s and instead of carrying six- shooters, they’re packing lettuce knives! It has been described as ‘knife-fight city’ by some, due to the evening activities of some migrants who descend on the town. There’s a handful of bars, five gangs and a famous drug alley. In 1992, the mayor was shot in a dispute between bar owners and resigned. With it’s undocumented and transient workforce, cash is the preferred form of payment, and robberies are common. Gang members know most workers don’t have bank accounts.In 1998, Huron averaged 15% unemployment, and it’s per capita income was fifth lowest in the state, with 39% of it’s residents living below the poverty line. Many of the migrant workers either live in the labor camps in town for about $6 a night, or in converted garages and back-yard sheds, paying $300 a month or more. There is limited housing available for farm workers, and many live in trailer parks that have sprung up over town, that don’t have permits for even basic utilities. Not much seems to have changed for the impoverished and desperate working man since the 1930’s. As Steinbeck described in Grapes of Wrath; “They ain’t human. A human being wouldn’t live like they do. A human being couldn’t stand it to be so dirty and miserable.”Enrique is a 35 year old undocumented farmworker from San Luis, Mexico. He began his journey north on Valentine’s Day 2006, leaving behind a mother, sister and niece. In his quest to reach California, he paid a coyote $1200 and endured three straight days and nights walking in the Arizona desert. He makes his home for now, which was donated, in an overcrowded and moldy trailer in the backyard of a sympathetic Huron resident’s house. He is lucky, although damp and cramped, he manages to find privacy and safety over the choice living in a shared room at the labor camps.This photo- essay examines the daily life of the undocumented immigrant, picking food for our tables at minimum wage, whilst we debate whether we even want them here.
Here’s a fun shoot with renaissance- woman Sasha Grey. This girl’s a good laugh and so easy to work with, hope we get to do it all again sometime soon.
A girl who’s resume includes actress, model, author, musician, and former pornographic actress, and all by the age of 24! That’s not messing around! She played the lead role in Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience ( and was excellent in my opinion) and is currently in the middle of promoting ‘The Juliette Society’, a fictional erotic novel, released earlier this year. A. O. Scott of The New York Times described her pornographic career as having “an unusual degree of intellectual seriousness about it.” In the words of Andy Samberg doing a Nicholas Cage impression…. “That’s high praise!” She’s an interesting girl, and quite clearly more than just a pretty face. Oh, and her instagram feed…. Sasha gone done got herself a good eye!
and of course, suitably inspired, she insisted on getting in on the photo- taking business herself….. my, what a fine looking couple of photogs right there! 😉
It’s always nice to get even a little bit of recognition from your peers, so it was great to hear i’d received an Honorable Mention in the International Photography Awards for ‘the sex therapist’, a cover story i shot about Dr. Brandy Engler, author of ‘The Men on my Couch’ for The Times Magazine. You can also read an in-depth behind the scenes post on how the shoot went down over at Wonderful Machine’s blog. Many thanks to Brandy for being such a wonderful and malleable subject, a true collaboration.
Here’s a shoot we did a while ago for Corriere della Sera‘s Style Magazine with Anna Anisimova, otherwise known as ‘The Russian-American Paris Hilton”. Unfortunately, sometimes just getting hold of published tearsheets can be just as challenging as producing a ‘Vanity Fair’ style shoot on pretty much no budget (both apply here). But hey, were photographers…. problem solving comes with the territory, right?
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that she is resigning and will be nominated to become president of the University of California system. We worked with Janet twice on assignment for TIME magazine (with thanks to Martha Bardach) on both occasions in Phoenix where she was serving as Governor of Arizona. Both shoots couldn’t have been more different though. One relating to border security and it’s intense militarization, and the other working with an adorable group of young hispanic schoolchildren for a story on education. I have to say the border security story was much more fun. How often do you get to be in control of a military helicopter and instruct it on how close you need it to skim the head of the future Homeland Security Secretary? Just awesome!
When Dr. Eric Topol, one of the world’s foremost cardiologists, heard an alarmed flight attendant ask “Is there a doctor on board?” he instantly knew he could display the potential for wireless medicine. So he snapped an AliveCor device onto his iPhone and performed a cardiogram at 30,000 feet. “These days, I’m prescribing a lot more apps than I am medications.” he declares. For Dr. Topol, it’s no question that the future of medicine lies within your smartphone, and most notably the AlivCor technology.
We photographed Dr. Topol at Scrips Institute in San Diego for Der Speigel last year, and David E. Albert (below), the inventor of AlivCor, for the USC Body Computing Conference. As soon as i saw the little ECG displayed in real time on an iPhone, it was clear it was going to be a game- changer, and i’m not a Doctor, i just play one in my dreams.
Dr. Topol talks more about this revolution, which he clearly embraces, in his controversial new book ‘The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care’ and in a fascinating interview on NBC’s Rock Center. These two gents are true mavericks in my opinion, challenging the status quo in an industry so reluctant to change, and as so, hopefully help usher in a new era of affordable healthcare for all.
Bret Easton Ellis made his mark as a novelist and screenwriter who spotlights the darker, more twisted side of the City of Angels. With his latest movie ‘The Canyons’ he continues in that vain; the film stars a toxic mix of Lindsay Lohan and male porn star James Deen. Should be interesting!
We recently shot Bret for Der Spiegel, second time in fact for the same client. The first time, he challenged me, somewhat exasperatedly “Please shoot me in some different way in this apartment, we’ve done so may shoots here and shot every possible angle!” So for some reason i had him lay on the back of his couch. Not really sure where the idea came from, and how it was going to turn out, but i thought what the hell, at least it will mix things up! Turned out, Der Spiegel loved it! Haha, just shows, you never know. Portrait photography is all about pushing things for the heck of it. It has to be said, Bret was’nt too crazy about the idea, and got into position just enough for me to grab one frame, then he thought better of it, but by then, the shot was made.
For this, our current shoot, honestly, i don’t think he connected the dots that i’m the same guy who made him do that, but no matter, he’s actually a really chill guy, and pretty much game for anything once he fells your pretty cool too i guess. Anyway, we scouted his place, and i just loved the shafty window light hitting his bedroom. So we just made the shoot happen from there. Kinda works for a writer with a darker view of LA….i really should read one of his books one day, i think i’d like it.
Here’s a fun little shoot for The Times Magazine (UK) with Dr. Brandy Engler, noted sex therapist and author of ‘The Men on My Couch’. And for some details of the trials and tribulations that often go into location shooting like this, read here on my agency Wonderful Machine’s blog post. You can see the original article in The Times here.
We recently took a trip down to Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, California for a shoot with one of the hottest novelists around; Don Winslow. Don’s a private detective turned crime writer, and although originally from the New York area, his ‘thing’ centers on the US/ Mexican drug underworld, and the subcultures of the surf lifestyle. Hence his novel ‘Savages’, which Oliver Stone made into a movie this year. In fact we did a awesome with Oliver Stone just a couple of months ago for same movie’s release. More of that shoot to come in a later post.
Don’s an interesting guy, with a great story, and i highly recommend any of his work for reading materials. Thanks to Nick Hall at The Independent Magazine for such a great use of my images in the print version, but the entire article can be found online here
I decided to make a trip to Democratic Party Headquarters in Inglewood, South Central Los Angeles, a notoriously tough, yet deeply- rooted African American neighborhood, where i knew the Obama fervour would be high on the eve of such a historic day; the possible election of the first black US President. What a day it promised to be.
At the barbershop across the street, a popular local hangout, while still open for business everyone kept one eye on the TV with the other on the buzzcut, until the word finally came and the drinks began to flow.
But when the official results came through, and it finally seemed safe to allow oneself to truly believe what you’d previously dared not to, the emotions back at Democratic HQ were truly palpable. It was indeed a day in history. I’d like to thank everyone at Inglewood Democratic Party HQ for letting me witness it with them.