EDIT: I guess this is a Pre-Script instead of a “Post-Script.” The book arrived after I typed this blog entry. I was holding off on posting it because I wanted to wait until the book was released, which it is on 11/12/13! Here goes:
I was really happy when I got a call from Jessica asking me to shoot a portrait for her book TELL ME SOMETHING. Actually, I think Gary might have emailed me … But whatever; I said yes right away … I think my actual reply was “FUCK YES, I’D LOVE TO!”
Self doubt, fear and anxiety set in as soon as I agreed to do it. I’d never shot a portrait before, especially not a portrait that was going to be used in a book. I’ve never shot in a studio. I barely know how to use my flash. Plus, I feel awkward around people that I don’t know, so how I am supposed to direct them into poses for the portraits? Yeah, I was nervous. I thought the best way to pull this off was to get the subjects outside, use natural light and use my street photography experience to my advantage.
My first shoot for TELL ME SOMETHING was acclaimed film director Michael Apted. Michael’s been directing since the 1960’s, he’s won several awards for TV and film and recently directed “Masters of Sex,” “Ray Donovan” and “Chasing Mavericks.” I went to Michael’s office, just off of Sawtell in LA, marched in with as much faux-confidence as I could muster up and got to work. After surveying the office and the grounds, I chose a few locations and we started shooting. Michael was cordial and willing to work with me. I hoped he couldn’t tell that this was my first time. I tried a few self-deprecating lines to get him to smile or loosen up when really, it was me who needed to loosen up. “My wife tells me that I look scared when I smile. Do you want to smile?” The end result was a slightly awkward shoot that produced a slightly awkward portrait. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this shot, but I know that I need to bring more confidence and enthusiasm to a shoot like this. My discomfort translated to the subject and into the images.
After submitting the chosen shots to Jessica, I honestly thought that she was trying to figure out the nicest way to tell me that they sucked and needed to be re-shot with a better photographer … Seriously. But, she not only picked one, she asked if I was available to shoot a second director … Again, I agreed right away, and though I was a little less anxious, I was still nervous to try it again.
The second shoot was much less intimidating for several reasons. First, Doug Pray had made movies that I was familiar with (Surfwise, Hype!, Art & Copy). Movies that I had sought out and watched. Doug was closer to my age and we decided to meet at a record store in Highland Park … So I felt like I was meeting with a peer and not an assignment. Something else that added to the ease of this shoot was that, through a little miscommunication, my friend showed up at the shoot. My first though was, holy crap I’m going to look like an unprofessional dick in front of Doug … But, what happened is, Doug and Scott hit it off and were talking the whole time … So I just shot at will, interrupted a little bit for some direction, but it ended up making the shoot smooth and painless … I think Doug even had fun. I knew right when I released the shutter, that I got the shot we were going to use. It needed a little more editing than I am capable of, so I called on my buddy Dee Snider (no, not the Twisted Sister guy) to help, and he nailed it. Thanks Dee! (Edit) I just got the book and they used a different picture than I thought – I’m still stoked and I like the picture …
Doug left with an armful of records … Thanks to Gimme Gimme Records for allowing us to shoot (after we simply barged in and started).
I was excited that, after submitting the Doug Pray photos, Jessica asked if I could shoot another one. Hell yes I can! The third and final portrait shoot I would do for Tell Me Something was with Marina Zenovich. She is an Emmy Award winning director and has created some amazing films on Roman Polanski (“Odd Man Out” and “Wanted and Desired”) and had just finished “Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic” when we shot her portraits. I was happy and as comfortable as I could be … which is still uncomfortable and awkward, but I felt confident in the fact that this was my third shoot and that I’d be able to hide it pretty well. Marina suggested we meet at French Market in Venice. The location was great. I seriously felt like we got a good shot after the first 2 minutes. We were outside, the light was great, the background of the ivy wall was awesome and Marina was great, smiling, happy, talkative and comfortable in front of the camera. While we were shooting, Marina’s husband and son showed up. This made things even better, I let her son shoot a few pictures, I shot a few of him … and the best part was being able to shoot Marina while she was looking at her son … It was perfect. Just before we called it a day, I said, let’s go in the market for a couple shots in front of these shelves that caught my eye. With her son just out of frame to her right, we got the shot … My fav of the lot … Marina just emailed me and asked if she could use it for her IMDB photo … So she must like it too … which makes me happy! At the time of typing this long-ass blog post, her IMDB photo has not been changed … We shall see if/when it happens.
I always “over-share” and I cannot resist the opportunity to do so again.
This shot of Doug will show you the fun we had while shooting … Yes, that’s Scott pretending to be peeing in public, in the background … The second shot of Doug is the one I thought was going in book, but I really do like the one they chose.