Had a marvelous time photographing the new Tesla Mk III for Automobile Magazines March/April Issue. We only had a few hours to find a location and shoot the nippy electric jet. We ended up finding a aggregates quarry tucked away off the i580 just north of the Fremont Factory. The smoke was created using a military grade smoker. The devices can be a little hit and miss but after two releases we found this frame showed the vehicle just enough for Automobile Magazines 'Design Of The Year' award cover.
Supporting friends with their Independent projects has always been a great pleasure of mine. Sometimes it's the most time we get to hang out. I'll take those clips of time between takes or while we're setting up the Gallery portrait set over a week rather than trying to sort a coffee across LA.
Maybe TMI- For epic reasons this production holds a place and time in our hearts for my lady and myself. We were planning on making a baby having checked out our window we were revving up with smiles for the fun ahead. I'd already been away for a week, off the Grid with Overland Bound in the mountains, thinking I had time at home before the production we discover things moved around for my departure leaving us an hour before I had to depart again. Long story short, the swimmers locked on and we now have a gorgeous little daughter made in the days this poster was shot.
In what can sometimes be a wholly compromising situation which over the years I've learn't to roll with. Given the whole picture of what's needed on any day helps me reply with solution rather than problems.
Monday morning I wake up to a notice that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has tweeted my shot for the show his company is producing. Up until now I was instructed to stay dark with the images from our shoot for Fuse Television. Now I can share a fun shoot we captured at Quixote studio's last month while the promo was being filmed. I have to say I didn't know much of anything about drum corp. I learn't there's a stark difference between Drum Corp and Marching bands. The team at hand gave me a quick lessons in the differences.
I've noticed in a few social streams, Drum corp isn't all drumsticks and gloves. Well, we have more images to come and like most show's key art, it's an illustrative image which captures a small amount of the energy needed to be part of the hard work Drum Corp grooving musicians have to work on. More images to be released soon.
Over the years people who have more interest than in just iPhone photography ask me how I started out. There are the obvious moments where I took the first step by buying a camera. Then there’s the less obvious. I’d bought the camera to photograph my graffiti on local tunnels and the general hip-hop scene in the 80’s. I can’t remember any of those images being ‘cool’ or ground breaking. Maybe if I can find them in the depths of my old darkroom back in the UK, I might find something. The pursuit of spray was discontinued by the influence of the boys in blue. Naturally, I grasped to the photography and at some time later when I was seventeen years old, I walked into Insight Photographers. It was a small group of well accomplished, award winning reportage photographers who worked out of their office on Coronet Street in Hoxton London. Check out the hair... Yikes.
There’s a part to my story that precedes those big steps into the world of photography. I’d like to go further back; back to recognizing my grandfather Nicholas McConville born 10th Dec. 1913. He grew up in Kilkeel, Co Down, a small town which once boasted the largest fishing fleet in Ireland. Grandad was a barber, just like his father. To boost his income he was also the local town photographer. He had a wife and four kids to support. It’s said he was one of the first news photographers in County Down and surely the first person to influence my path to being a photographer.
The rest of the story is a little cloudy. I’ve asked family about the finer details of Grandad being a photographer. When he started, the equipment he used? No one’s quite sure. I know he shot passport images in his little studio at the back of the barbershop. The rest of what I know is from what I witnessed while I was growing up, hanging out with him. As a family, we visited my grandparents once or twice a year during the school holidays. When Grandad wasn’t snipping away at the heads of the town’s gents, he would take me on his assignments for the Belfast Telegraph and the Mourne Observer. These commissions were to photograph the usual activities of a small town such as weddings, Golf tournament winners, the town show, a large catch of fish at the harbor. However, most of what I find interesting seemed to have happened before I was born. I say that because I found these glass plates in his loft shortly before he died. Grandad made his own plates, mixing up the orthochromatic material, painting the mixture onto little 3x4 glass plates. Apparently there were hundreds. Unfortunately, many had been damaged by damp or just thrown out not realizing the historic value, even if was just for this small towns records.
Once I began showing an interest in photography Grandad advised me that I should only do it as a hobby. I guess It’s been a full time hobby ever since.
The lovely Andy Puddicombe in the weekends copy of The Times UK. Shot on Venice Beach, Andy was well up for a bit of Cardio, jumping into a lotus position. His five years in Tibet as a Buddhist monk went a long way here. Whether you're a cynical old fart or not. It's worth checking his Headspace App out. There's a 10 day free introduction here.
Last year I had the pleasure of including my mate Daniel K Nelson (The Dandy) in a three part piece on Los Angeles and a few of it's Gas (Petrol) junkies. These are only two of his collection.
More often than not, my editorial shoots have very little lead time from the clients phone call to the arrival time at a location we've chosen to secure the portrait. With less than 24 hours to put our Sunday Times portrait shoot together with Navy Seal Team Six member James O'Neill, we had to get our skates on. James was staying at a nice hotel in Laguna Beach, CA. A nice hotel wasn't what I had in mind if we were to secure an interesting image of the guy who shot Osama Bin Laden. After a bunch of phone calls with his very helpful PR team and a few hours researching locations in Laguna Beach, I decided we'd be better off getting down to Laguna early before the shoot to seek out a location.
I had a poured concrete wall in mind for the background to give a bunker vibe to the shot. Upon arriving in the beach town, all we could find was fancy house walls and cinder brick built structures. As we were returning to the hotel to discuss options, we happened upon a walkway under Pacific Coast Highway. For the time we had to set up and shoot, the location was perfectly placed, edgy, cold and low key so we didn't have any onlookers.
I couldn't have wished for an easier person to shoot, or in this instance I should say photograph :-) It is interesting, during my career I have In fact met and photographed a selection of top chaps trained to the Navy Seal level and they're all very engaging, humble and unassuming. Without wanting to sound cliched, they tend to blend into the shadows. There was so many questions I wanted to ask during the shoot, but I've learnt to stay off subject, keeping it more personal to life and loves. I can tell you that James's favorite comedian in the whole world, his words, is Jim Jefferies.
It's interesting to have seen the positive reaction the citizens of the US had when the news came through that Bin Laden had been killed. The country for the most part was proud and thankful for all the men and women who have lost and risked their lives to secure this result. Now it seems James is under some scrutiny and judgement from the media and the military for breaking his silence about the mission. I'm learning more each day from both sides of the fence in this dialogue. My opinion isn't important. I had a great session with a great guy have to say, I'm thankful I never had to go through BUD's Hell Week to follow my career as a photographer.
If you're more interested in joining the Seals more than following a career in photography ;-) you can apply here
More Below :
Feature written by Toby Harnden for the Sunday Times News Review
I fired twice and bin Laden crumpled: The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a daring night raid on his hideout. The former Navy SEAL who pulled the trigger tells Toby Harnden how he did it and why he is glad to have avenged 9/11, even though his own life is now at risk
It was a fraction of a second, but the moment he saw Osama bin Laden is seared in Rob O’Neill’s mind. “Every time I close my eyes I can see it,” he says. “I remember looking at how tall he was, skinnier than I thought. His beard was shorter. He’d a crew cut almost and a white cap on.”
Through his night-vision goggles O’Neill could see the al-Qaeda leader’s hands on the shoulders of his youngest wife, Amal, pushing her forward. He wasn’t surrendering.
O’Neill shot him twice in the forehead, the second round hitting him as he crumpled. As bin Laden lay on the floor, the US Navy SEAL put a third bullet into his head for good measure.
The former SEAL and I are sitting at a breakfast table on the patio of a hotel overlooking Laguna Beach, California, for his first British interview. The 38-year-old, who grew up in Butte, Montana, and whose ancestors were miners from Co Cork, leans towards me. “It was this close,” he says. “Two feet, if that.”
He continues: “You want the bullet to go through the back of the brain so you cut off the spinal cord. If someone might be wearing a suicide vest, you shoot him in the face. People don’t die as fast for real as they do in the movies. Shoot someone in the chest and he’s going to have time to explode the vest.”
O’Neill pauses to apologise. “Forgive my eating habits. Every single day it’s a bacon sandwich,” he says, picking up the bacon with his hands. Having retired from the navy in 2012, O’Neill has founded a charity, Your Grateful Nation, to help veterans move from the military to civilian life and travels constantly to give motivational speeches.
In November he went public about his role in the bin Laden raid, drawing condemnation from senior officers and complaints from some SEALs that he had broken a code of silence honoured mainly in the breach in recent times.
O’Neill’s skin is so pale that it is almost translucent. His thinning red hair is tucked beneath a flat cap and his blue eyes are topped by white eyebrows. There is, moreover, an intensity that marks him out. Like other American special forces operators he carries himself in a way that few men can.
His arms are covered in elaborate tattoos, the left decorated with the words of President George W Bush on the evening after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended.”
O’Neill got the tattoo to mark the demise of bin Laden, the man who ordered those attacks. His right arm bears scars from a recent medical operation: “The tendon had been tearing over the years — fast roping or parachuting, grabbing lines — and one day it just popped.”
For the whole article go to http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/newsreview/
Some of you may know I love working with stunt professionals. One of these professionals is Luci Romberg. A champion gymnast and US representative in the American Ninja Warrior competition. Luci allowed us to photograph her on fire for #RedBulls #RedBulletin Magazine. The very accomplished gang from Action Factory provided the fire along with their brilliant safety team. All fire in this image is real. The only retouching was to remove the harness crease and suspension cables. Outside of the time it took setting up our lighting and fire tests, this has to be one of the shortest photo shoots I've completed. About 8 seconds. To show good will and that I'm no chicken, Action Factory gave me a little dose of flame so I could feel what it's like to be set on fire. See snappy video below.
Do know, these are award winning professional stunt practitioners. They have the best safety equipment and products on the market. Even if you're a seasoned Burner, you'd do well having Action Factory at your side.
Here's Luci's submission to this years Red Bull's Art of Motion competition. Six Free Runners, three men and three women will compete in Greece this coming October. If you like her brilliance, please go ahead and vote for her in the three categories of Creativity, Execution and Technical difficulty. The six athletes chosen from the online qualifier will join the eight finalists from last years event.
Let's get Luci to Greece so we can see her amazing moves kick up the dust in this ancient land. By voting, you're entered into the hat to win a trip to watch the competition on Greece.
While I prepare a blog about my late Grandfather Nicky McConville who was a Photographer and Barber, I thought I'd share an image from one of my trips to Africa. The image takes pride of place on my wall in a frame made by a local Kenyan carpenter.
This image is from a friends wedding in Ol ari Nyiro, Laikipia, Kenya. This beautiful land is positioned at the edge of the Great Rift Valley and is the home of the Gallmann Memorial Foundation whose outstanding work is prolific in preserving the local environment and wildlife.
The 200 something guests honored the celebration in true British wedding attire, appropriate to their house and heritage. I might have considered wearing something a little more practical other than my traditional black frock coat with it's bells and whistles. Running around with my Nikon D1 and a Mamiya RZ67 in the African heat, was a little taxing to say the least.
This image is of the local Pokot tribe leader attending the wedding with the women of his village. During the ceremony they sang their beautiful songs, danced their dances, then embracing the newly weds, escorted the happy couple to the reception. The sun was going down, we had just the right amount of scattered clouds to balance the outline of the tribe against the African sky. There wasn't much time to adjust the RZ that I always used on manual. Click, 500th at F5.6
If you’d like to visit and help support the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, click on the link to find out more. Trust me, if you can get there, it's like being back in a whole other time. You can find more information here at http://www.gallmannkenya.org/visitors.html
The new site is finally up. My web guy has left the house for the week and I wanted to post an image to see how it plays on my new blog. Here's an unpublished shot from our photo shoot with Crime author Rachel Howzell Hall. I don't like using 'My' in any sentence regarding a shoot especially when the talent are 'well ard.' Luis and Daniel Moncado our 'model gangsters,' from the popular TV show Breaking Bad, joined us for OUR photo session with Rachel in her old neighborhood of Crenshaw South Los Angeles. The neighborhood has lost some of it's old charm but it's certainly not as dangerous as it used to be, especially when you have two gents who know the streets and they're either side of you. It's late. I'm tired. More later. This is a test, this is a test ;-)