Bombs & Bottles
One fine day in Brooklyn. Where did summer go?
One the more interesting shoots I’ve done in the past few months was for a new hip-rock-soul group called Guitars N Bandanaz. Their brand-spankin-new website is here. What is hip-rock-soul? Exactly what it sounds like. Their music is a unique fusion of rock, hip-hop, and soul music, all mashed up into some cutting edge beats.
Our photoshoot was an all-day affair that started off in the Chelsea photo studio, moved to a Brooklyn recording studio, and ended up in a Long Island parking lot. Their goal was to get a variety of images they could use for their website, print collateral, electronic press-kit, etc, so they scheduled a whirlwind day that involved three different shoot locations. For a shoot of this complexity and sheer number of people involved (including a video team and biker crew), I’d say we managed to pull it off quite nicely, in no small part due to the band & manager Burt Arthur’s professionalism.
Check out their intro video, which features some behind the scenes footage from the shoot:
Here are some selections from the day:
Michael “DJ Fadelf” Jackson – Writing + Vocals
Kagun “Big K” Marx – Lead Guitarist
Howard “Hunter HT” Toomer – Drummer
David “Sincere Gubano” McRae – Lead vocalist, writer and producer
Michael “Mike Street” Arthur – Producer, rhythm guitar, writer, and vocals
It’s been a crazy few weeks and I promise there will be new pictures soon. But in the meantime, I’d like to feature two former clients that have been nominated for this year’s Underground Music Awards, in the Best Male / Female Rapper of the Year categories. Considering the sheer number of rappers out there, this is one hell of a feat. Congratulations to both of you.
First off is Bronx native JUMZ, up for the Best Male Rapper of the year, who was one of my very first clients in the heady days of early 2009. I had a newly acquired Canon 5D, an Alien Bee strobe, a bit of studio space in Long Island City, and almost zero experience. JUMZ paid me with a cigar. Whether it be luck or divine providence, we produced a few images that day I’m still proud of to this day. Vote for JUMZ at the UMA website. His official page at www.jumz.com.
More recently I had the opportunity to photograph another Bronx native, R.E.A.L (see here), nominated for Best Female Rapper of the year. R.E.A.L. came to me via her PR agent, I AM PR. She’s an amazing talent but as I likely mentioned before, one of the more professional artists I’ve ever worked with. Vote for R.E.A.L! You can find more about her here.
Also, while I’m highlighting the two above here, I have to note that client David E Beats was nominated for two UMA awards last year.
…of New York pizza.
For those of you who are NYC pizza fans, this man needs no introduction. He makes a legendary pizza on an otherwise unremarkable street corner in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. His name is Domenico De Marco, of Di Fara’s Pizza. His pizza is certainly good. Was it worth $5 / slice, unparalleled hype, and the trek to Midwood you ask? Perhaps not. But at least I got to take his picture.
It’s not always about what’s in your frame.
It’s safe to say that the world of hip hop & rap is quickly becoming increasingly melanin-challenged and the artists walking through my studio have certainly been reflective of this trend. Kids like Asher Roth, Mac Miller and the new breed of “Frat Rap” artists are on the rise and there’s no avoiding them. But what the hell is Frat Rap you ask?
Allow me to introduce Pat “Solo” Jamieson. Yes, he’s whiter than Slim Shady and the relative comfort of Long Island is a far cry from 8 mile. But don’t let his lack of street-cred equate a lack of talent. This kid is good. Don’t expect to find guys like SoLo and Miller rapping about street life either; they rap about life as they know it and without apology: in this case, ditching class, getting high, getting drunk, and generally, doing what 20-year old white kids in college do. See Roth’s I Love College and SoLo’s homage to Every Morning. Substantive? No. But entertaining, damn catchy and well, honest? Hell yes.
What initially caught my eye was the gull-wing door on the limo. Then I saw the driver headed in to chat up his passengers. Shot with the Fuji x100.
New York City is an amazing place to photograph. I pass dozens of opportunities each week to take street portraits or other amazing shots without ever clicking a shutter. Why? Because for whatever reason, I didn’t have a camera on me or was too slow to take out my phone. And as as much as Chase Jarvis may like to say, “The Best Camera is the One That’s With You”, sometimes (but not always!) your iPhone’s camera just isn’t good enough.
However, a new breed of small cameras with large dSLR-sized sensors is making the compromise between size and quality a much smaller one. Fujifilm’s x100 fill this gap quite nicely. I’ve been shooting with it for about a week and while it’s certainly got its quirks and the controls are a bit finicky (seriously Fuji? what’s with that scroll wheel?), I’m loving the output.
The above image was taken with the X100, almost as an afterthought after I had turned the corner and caught the subject walking across the street.
Introducing Momposonica, a NYC-based Latin rock band. Fronted by El Salvadorian-native Carolina (vocals) and anchored by two Columbian imports David & Felipe (percussion, keys & guitar, respectively from left to right). Photographed on-location on a East Village rooftop using one Alien Bee 800 powered by a battery pack. On-camera axis, about 7 feet up, reflector only.
Though a lot of my work has been studio based I’ve been shooting outside quite a bit recently, thanks to my new Paul C Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium, aka the “VML”. I gotta tell you, the VML rocks. Period. About the size of a couple of speedlights or a chunky hardcover book, it weighs 3.5 lbs and packs a LOT of power. Don’t ask me about the technical stuff, but it’s kept an AB800 monolight going for several hundred flashes, and is what I was used to take the above shot. For the uninitiated, the VML is a portable battery pack designed to power Alien Bee monolights. I haven’t tried it with anything other than my old AB800. The best part about the VML is that it packs two standard 3-prong plugs, so if need be, you can plug in a monolight into one and your laptop into the other while charging your phone via the USB port (yes, it’s got USB ports!). Okay, enough gushing. No, I’m not a PCB shill, but Paul, if you read this, I’m happy to be one.