NY1 News anchor and correspondent Mara Montalbano ended an era today. Today is her very last day at the station. After nearly nine years reporting the news of New York Mara is moving on! Mara is a client and a friend, and I’m honored that she’s hired me to make images of her in the past, and even more so that she told me the images I made of her depict her personality. It’s a great compliment coming from someone who spends their life in front of a lens.. and whose had many people make point cameras at her!
When Mara reached out to me for photos, her schedule at NY1 was rather hectic, and we decided the simplest way to afford us more than a handful of minutes together was for me to bring some gear over to NY1’s office in Chelsea Piers. (Which is an amazing hub for so many productions in NY from television to still photography production. You have Milk Studios under the same roof as The Food Network, and NY1 News…as well as sports activities, and shopping. The place is like a city within a city!) I was able to set up in a lounge-cafeteria area a few short steps from Mara’s desk. This would allow for her to pop in soon as we were ready, and get right back to work as soon as we had what we needed. I worked with a mixture of daylight coming from a wonderful east facing window that was filtering in some soft overcast late day sunlight, and a 6′ parabolic umbrella that we fed some strobe photons to act as a frontal fill. ( Basically the sun was coming from Mara’s left (Camera right) and the strobe was firing over my shoulders and into Mara’s moneymaker( aka…her face! I kid…I kid.. her charm, wit and excellent command of the English language are easily on par with her camera ready good looks! And equally responsible for bringing home z’ bacon! Hashtag #bacon ! Mmmm bacon!) it made for a very simple setup!)
Mara did her own hair and makeup, I kept an eye out for her.. essentially acting as a stylist… keeping on the lookout for anything that would come out-of-place during the shoot and stopping so Mara could make adjustments. If I recall correctly, we did this maybe twice. And that was pretty much it. I tested the light with an assistant in place before we brought Mara to her mark to light it up with her smile…and when I tell you, as beautiful as the light is in this scene.. soft and forgiving and well balanced….and as nice as it looked on my assistant, there was something magical that happened when Mara took her mark. It made it very clear why she has made a career out of being on camera in front of millions of viewers every single day!
Miss. Montalbano, thanks for making my job easy, for all the years of great reportage.. and I wish you a wonderful future filled with as much adventure and as many stories as the last 9 years have brought!! Cheers!
My latest photoshoot was a conceptualized image of Guns n Roses guitarist Ron Thal aka Bumblefoot, and while leafing through the tons of GoPro camera footage and processing the amazing amount of images Ron was awesome enough to give a killer performance for, ( He delivered frame after frame…_and there were LOTS of frames!)…I found this really awesome lil section that shows just how on point my assistants were. Without their support I could never pull off such a shoot. My First Assistant Brian McDonald (who is a photographer in his own right),strapped one of the 5 cameras we had rolling throughout the day to his chest, for a “in the action point” of view.
At one point.. Id worked up a massive thirst.. and I asked.. can I please have something to drink..Brian not only grabbed me a soda.. but when I was completely engrossed in a conversation about how the shoot was developing in Phase One Capture One, with Digital Tech/2nd Assistant David Teng (Also a great photographer!) Brian…knowing how thirsty I was simply opened the soda for me and handed it to me in a manner that let me keep on discussing the images with David. Ron is an incredibly busy and in demand musician, (It literally took 3 years to just to coordinate a day where we could make this shoot happen, and it wasn’t for lack of trying or wanting to on either of our parts!)…so literally every single moment in studio with him needed to be utilized to the fullest potential and by allowing me to remain completely in the moment and focused on what I’m doing helps. The pace of the shoot was laid back for the most part, A very comfortable set.. .to say the least. But when it came time to orchestrating lighting, rigging and technical aspects.. focus was at a premium. And being able to stay focused on the tasks at hand while someone handled lesser tasks…even ones as simple as opening a soda so my eyes could remain focused on solving a technical question, made for a very smooth productive day.
It made me laugh.. because in the hustle of it all… I had no idea this was really even happening. We all just sort of moved like one machine with the same goal.. burn pixels!….
And in this case … a guitar too! But you’ll have to stay tuned to know what the hell I’m talking about….
Massive thanks to everyone who was on set. You all make it possible for me to do what I do!
And a very big thank you to the fine folks at Parlay Studios, in Jersey City, New Jersey, for providing what is hands down THE most accommodating professional bunch of people combined under one magnificently large ( and high ) ceiling…making for a studio experience unlike any other. You guys rock!
More to come! Stay tuned.
P.S. At home no one opens my sodas for me…no matter how busy I pretend to be! Ha!
Hope you enjoy the video.
NOTE: Please click the gear and select 720HD to get the most detail, and be sure to watch full-screen.
I wanted to show what goes into even the simplest of edits… This is a five-hour portion, of what turned out to be a 20 hour editing session. After the first 6 hours straight passed I decided to take some of you along for the ride, and I began to film what does down…. when I’m not around. I let the cameras roll… cranked up some music ( which is post production protocol! )…I think it was Japanese Drum and Flute music….and I got back to work!
The result was 5 plus, hours of video! Not wanting to drag you into such a long-term relationship.. I spared you and I sped the footage up over 3,000%!
At this speed the art of retouching becomes an art unto itself. It truly took on a new life. But something was missing… it needed a score. The greatest movies ever would be nothing without the music they are accompanied by. So I went back to work!
Wanting to ensure I conveyed the proper energy, I decided to write a song that would grind along. It needed to be high energy and funky. I wanted it to convey how fast I wish some of the more tedious work I do would move if it were a more perfect world! Something that felt progressive… and empowering… with a backbone of cool. A few hours with the Korg iMS-20 app on my iPad, and after many failed attempts…. I was finally able to piece together some tunage that I felt would marry well with the pace of the piece. When I paired them up, it was clear that they liked one another. What do you think!? I have to say I was fairly pleased with myself. Though I can chalk it up to luck… it all sort of just fell together. I was very pleasantly surprised after posting the song to Soundcloud, to get a message from Motley Crue’s very own Tommy Lee, giving me props on the song. Not bad for a first effort! Perhaps I should sell my cameras!? Start a new career?
It was meant to be fun, and to show the detail of behind the scenes. I’m always amazed at people’s jobs, and the details that we don’t often get to see.. no matter how trivial. I find it interesting to get a glimpse. I love TV shows like the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs for just that reason! I hope you get a laugh out of it… and if you wiggle a bit in your seat while watching.. or find yourself turning up the volume… then mission accomplished!