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Portrait: Jazz Legend Wayne Shorter

I was commissioned by DPA microphones to shoot a portrait of jazz legend Wayne Shorter.

My assistants and I drove to his home in West Hollywood, set up a small portable studio in his garage, did a few lighting tests then let him know we were ready.

He came out with three different types of saxophones. For each we attached the DPA mic, and he played while I shot. What a cool way to get into a rhythm and riff off of another artist while in one’s own creative process.

To me portraits are the opposite of the big conceptual or fashion shoots. Simple, quick, intimate. Small crew, minimal gear. All about a conversation with the subject in which we are both giving and taking.

I have committed to doing a lot more of these in 2012.

Images below.

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New Work: Academy of the Lethal Arts

This is a collection of images we did with fashion designer Anthony Franco.

It follows the story of a special training facility for the “lethal arts & sciences”. It’s not every day you get to depict assassins and gun-play in a commercial shoot, so when the chance arises one needs to make the most of it. This is what we did with the opportunity.

It was a large team working on this from wardrobe, to casting and talent, to set design, production, and the assisting team. And that’s just for the still photography part of the shoot.

We shot in several locations — most of which was in the building where my studio is. But we transformed several of these spots, even people who know the building well would not recognize them. It always helps when the environment is physically built rather than doing it digitally in post. I think it leads to better images, and is certainly a more engaging experience on set.

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Recent Press: Le Grand Magazine

Coming soon in the blog we will have some new work and a behind-the-scenes series, but now a couple new press pieces.

First, an article in the latest Hasselblad Bulletin on the OWS Portrait Series.

Hasselblad Bulletin, “Faces of Protest” Portraits by August Bradley

And recently the luxury art and culture magazine Le Grand did a retrospective story in their printed edition.

In addition to the interview, some of the info for the story they pulled from old articles (nice to see they did a lot of research, but should have checked the dates on the articles — particularly when they said I’ve only been shooting for “a few years”. That was from my first article). It’s a beautiful magazine, you can flip through it here or see the story pages below.

Le Grand Magazine digital rendition of Print Issue (p. 61+ for August Bradley Story)

And here are the pages from the print mag, click on thumbnail for larger view…

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Color Grading TV Commercials

With our switch to the RED Epic camera, we’re now working with RAW files on the tv commercial shoots. This gives us an extraordinary amount of color control and range. Below are a few snapshots from my day in the color grading suite optimizing the color on the files from our last shoot.

With film (as opposed to digital), color was an obvious part of the Director of Photography’s job since color was a result of film selection, development technique, and the choice of lighting, lenses and filters. The DP would recommend and come to a decision with the Director before the shoot on what the final look would be, then execute that look.

Now that digital is taking over, the color tones are largely determined in post-production on computers (setting aside set and wardrobe choices). The tools range from simple sliders in the editing software, to separate software packages just for color grading, to full hardware/software integrated bay’s at the higher end like we have in the images here. This particular system is the Nucoda Film Master at the post-production house Keep Me Posted.

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NY Times, Washington Post & Viral Spread of the OWS Series

The rapid viral momentum of the “99 Faces of Occupy Wall St.” portrait series has been fascinating to watch.

It was propelled by being run with background articles in the The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Lens Blog (one of the most respected photography presentations), and many others driving tens of thousands of daily unique visitors to the website. It all happened in less than two weeks, here’s a summary:

The site went live late on a Wednesday and posted I to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter account (@augustbradley). That Thursday and Friday most of the Occupy movement blogs, twitter accounts, and digital publications were posting it including a home page post on AdBusters, the media publication that inspired the occupy movement in the first place. That sent a big spike in traffic and hundreds of Twittter tweets and Facebook posts.

The following Monday The Washington Post and New York Times both expressed interest in working it into their online publication schedules. Then the next morning the police raided and evicted the OWS camp and the story hit a new level of urgency and interest.

The Washington Post ran it on their Arts & Culture blog immediately, pulling comments from my project description and from my blog post into their article (The Washington Post “Arts” Story). The New York Times Lens Blog, one of the most influential and widely followed photography blogs, called asking for images re-sized to their specs within three hours, and they did a twenty minute interview for their article which ran the next morning (NY Times “Lens” Gallery Story).

This led to discussions about the series on Slate, The New Yorker, and many others.

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RED Epic In Our Latest Productions

The new RED Epic Camera and Arri 18-80mm 2.6 lens that we were testing in my earlier post has now been rolled into production on our latest tv commercials. It’s a beautiful setup — detailed photos below.

The lens is not only quicker for transitions (no lens changes), but also sharper than the Zeiss CP2 primes we had been using. The raw files are beautiful, with an extensive range to manipulate in post. I also love the well thought-out touch screen field monitor from which you control most functions in the camera. Fast, intuitive with exceptional image quality.

It’s not light, but compared with cinema cameras of even a year ago in the same category it’s far more versatile in terms of movement and rigging. The extra weight is actually nice on the larger fluid head, making moves on the slider (shown below) even smoother.

We had a curve-ball thrown at us in one shoot which required shooting portions at very dim lighting levels, and we had no problem matching the brighter shots with the more dimly lit ones.

Very happy with this new setup, this will be the standard in the immediate future for our broadcast tv commercials.

Photos from the recent productions below show how we configured the rig.

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“99 Faces of Occupy Wall St.” Portrait Series

While in NY for my presentation at Shoot NYC, I also did a portrait series of the Occupy Wall St. protesters.

It turned into a more elaborate project than initially anticipated — my team and I ended up bringing a portable studio powered by Broncolor A2L packs with Lithium batteries and the MobilLED heads (a pretty sweet setup and super portable). Every image I had seen of the Wall St. protests had a snapshot or photo-journalistic feel. I wanted to bring a more distinctive look and sensibility, while still capturing the grit of camping for months in a concrete park and the intensity behind their efforts.

This series also takes advantage of the Hasselblad medium format super hi-res captures, showing a great deal of detail and crispness. There were a ton of other photographers shooting that day (and every day), virtually all with Canon or Nikon. I wanted to create something different.

Since the movement is non-hierarchical and is not represented by leaders or clearly defined personalities, any glimpse requires a broad sample. 99 people selected as arbitrarily as possible seemed like an appropriate, as well as symbolic, number to get a sense of what’s happening here.

This portrait series focuses on faces — no environment, no signs; each person with an honest look into the lens without any trappings other than what they were wearing at the time. We wanted it to be personal, these portraits are a look into the eyes.

You can see the collection at the link below. The series was shot with this type of grid-like presentation in mind, with the ability to click deeper onto any of the images.

Full Presentation:
www.99facesOfOccupyWallSt.org

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Testing RED Epic + Arri 18-80mm Zoom

Before any major gear change is implemented in a production shoot, I test extensively to understand the strengths and limitations of new pieces of equipment. One of my long running tv commercial projects has outgrown the 5D, and we are rolling the new RED Epic into the production. I’ve used the Epic many times, but it is new in this context (set/lighting arrangement). So today we tested for this use in particular.

We are also looking at changing from the Zeiss CP2 cinema lenses to an Arri/Fujinon 18-80mm 2.6 zoom to be able to do transitions faster without lens changes. I LOVE this lens, it’s my new favorite for cinema work and will increasingly be rolled into my productions. The trade-of for the convenience of a zoom with such sharp glass is size. The weight of the rig just tripled. But happy to make that trade in most situations.

With the ability to jump between 5k and 4k in the Epic (and the equivalent shift in sensor crop), I can get an equivalent range to the 5D of 28mm-100mm. Perfect for my kind of shooting.

Photos after the break…

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New Work: Aviator Series

I recently did a WWII aviator concept shoot for a film in development.

The images feature actress Ina Kopp who is a prominent name in film and tv in parts of Europe, and is now making a move to the American scene. Wardrobe by Louis Verdad.

It was fun shooting at the air field with the classic planes and all the wind and smoke. We shot in an airplane hanger and out on the runway, but space was tight as both were crowded with other planes and equipment.

These are actual planes from the WWII era. The distressed one was underwater for 40 years — set designers couldn’t build that very easily.

Had to keep our footprint small, and be in and out quickly so used one power pack (Verso) with two or three heads off of it. Played with colored gels to create subtle mixed colors in the light. Wind machine, smoke machine, and two great assistants. All shot on Hasselblad 39 megapixel.

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Photography Workshop with August Bradley

Among the most fun things I have done in my career as a photographer is the live demo shoots and presentations for Hassselblad, Broncolor, Livebooks, and others. After each one I’m always asked about workshops, but it has been hard to work them into the schedule.

No more. I’m clearing the schedule and creating the workshops I have always envisioned.

First up is a two-day workshop on June 25 & 26 all about Photography Production — how to plan the shoot, casting and working with model agencies, props and sets, and then all the elements around the shoot itself (working with the creative team, directing models, lighting, vibe, client presentation on-set, etc…).

I’m throwing a lot of resources into this elite workshop — including the sponsorship support of the premier camera company, Hasselblad, and the most advanced photo lighting, Broncolor. They’re going to give us an arsenal of gear to work with. My studio will become a giant sandbox to play in.

We have discussions planned on key parts of the business, and demo shoots, and hands-on instruction (your camera and/or the Hasselblad H4D cameras provided). We’ll explore both simple and complex lighting, concept development, and execution.

It’s my goal to make this a once in a lifetime experience that will rapidly take each participant’s photography to higher level. And I anticipate the dialogue started in the workshop to continue through the online platforms we’re building.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. Early-bird discount for those signing up by May 23.

Details here: Photography Immersion Workshop

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Spielberg vs. Kubrick

I like what Terry Gilliam is saying in the video clip below.

In public interviews you normally get the filtered comments that are afraid to do real comparisons for fear of offending. Not Terry. Not in his interviews, and not in his films.

And I think he makes a legitimate point in differentiating the work of a commercial success like Spielberg and an artistic success like Kubrick. My taste runs along the lines of Terry’s — good art raises questions and makes you work. No spoon feeding.

Terry himself has a body of work that is wildly inventive, takes huge risks, and raises more questions than it answers. Examples include The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, and Time Bandits as a writer/director, and all the Monty Python classics as a writer.

Sadly, writer/directors like Terry and others in that vein (David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Alejandro González Iñárritu , etc…) have an absurdly difficult time raising funds for their films despite a track record of masterpieces.

Video interview after the break…..!

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Behind-the-Scenes Video (Photo Shoot)

Here is the behind-the-scenes video from the recent Louis Verdad Fall 2011 shoot, showing more of the team in action and more clearly revealing the production process.

Lighting was explained a bit more in the previous post with the time-lapse video, but you can see the tools in action more clearly in this one. The final images were included in the first post on this project. This is the third of the three part series on this shoot.

In the comments section of the time-lapse post, Greg asked some detailed questions which I answered there.

What comes through most clearly in this video is the range of people and talents involved in a shoot. What is not shown is all the preparation by the fashion team getting the clothes finished, and then selecting the looks and finding the right accessories. Nor does it reveal the concept development by the hair and makeup team, or the set design and construction. But seeing the results of those efforts here is a hint at the process that went into getting to this point.

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Speaking at Palm Springs Festival “Convergence Symposium”

I’ll be doing a symposium with some prominent people in the industry at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, one of the leading photo festivals in the country. The panel will be on moving into film and motion work from still photography. Please join us. Here’s the official description…

HD Video PRO & Digital PhotoPro Magazines Present:

The CONVERGENCE CONFERENCE

Vincent LaForet, August Bradley and other photographers who have expanded their markets by learning how to add impressive audio/visual content to their list of client services will discuss this important new issue. Alex Tasch, Art Producer at EuroRSCG Agency in New York, Zana Woods, Senior Photo Editor at Wired Magazine and Howard Bernstein President of Bernstein Andriulli Representatives will join the discussion.  Details Here

Tuesday 3/29
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
The Blurb Stage at Korakia Pensione

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Photo Shoot Behind-the-Scenes (Time Lapse Video)

This is the first of a couple views behind the scenes of the Louver shoot that I recently posted images from. The time-lapse covers most of the shoot with a frame taken every 10 seconds. It was a half day shoot with just a few looks, which is relatively short.  It gives a sense of the process on the shooting stage in my studio.

Lighting was very simple in this shoot, we wanted to clearly light the models to show the details of the clothing, though also wanted some drama with deep shadows to create mood and give the images some geometric shape.  I used a grid on the soft box and feathered it to limit the spill of the light and create some quick fall-offs into shadow on the wall. Lighting was a Broncolor Unilite and Verso pack.

A second light was used to create a pattern of light/shadow at an extreme angle on the back wall adding to the geometry and the dramatic effect. This was done with a Broncolor Pulsospot4 strobe (you put metal patterned slides inside between the lens and the flashtube, then focus to the desired degree of sharpness with the lens on the light).

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Louver Fall 2011 Campaign

We recently shot campaign images for the LOUVER label by fashion designer Louis Verdad.  Louis and I have been working together on campaign images for years, as well as on creative projects beyond the seasonal lines. It’s always great to get in the studio when he has a new collection.

My team and I painted the set a blueish-green and splattered a deeper, bluer shade of paint over top to give it some texture and a worn, messy look while maintaining a vibrant graphic quality.  The color went beautifully with the Fall 2011 LOUVER designs — thin stripes of the same color were woven into some of the plaids.

Then we brought in some furniture with a rich golden yellow tone to liven-up the palette and give it a regal spin. The vibe felt reminiscent to me of the Hermitage museum and the city around it (St. Petersberg) where you see a place with an ornate decor and a grand history, but in a state of decay.

The floor is a painted hardwood, originally created for the previous shoot that I will elaborate on when that one is ready for release. The gold flourishes came from an elaborate wrought-iron mirror, an equally grand picture frame, and a chair with rich yellow upholstery and clear signs of wear.

Within this context, I wanted the models to portray a pride and nobility that the once newly decorative environment surely possessed in its prime, oblivious to the erosion of time.

Photos below. “Behind the scenes” media will be posted soon.

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