My new friend August Bradley just led me on to this amazing and inspiring stop motion/2D animation. It's a short love story by Carlos Lascano, and music by Sigur Ros. It's a 3 minute movie. Give it a watch. I'm definitely inspired.
I've had a few re-occurring conversations with people, and I've touched on this before lightly in my "Assisting" and my "testing" post a while back. It goes beyond assistants, and into the attitude of the rest of the team. It's an overall attitude of the person. I was having dinner with some fellow photographer friends last night and we were talking about the attitude of a certain makeup artist. I bring this up not to talk trash, but to illustrate a my point on attitude(hence why no one will be named). This makeup artist has been negative in dealing with this friend of mine on one of their tests, and come to find out a few other people in the industry had the same thing to say about her. Negative attitude, unhappy, grumpy, etc. Who wants to work with that? Paid or unpaid.
In my crew, I look for people that are down to create and have a great attitude about it. I look for people who will build a relationship with me and collaborate on personal projects and are excited about it. This is a testing ground for me to hire them for a real job and it's very likely(unless they just do a terrible job). A: are they talented at what they do? B: do they have a positive attitude? C: do they like to create projects when they're not working? I like to create a team of people that bring a positive vibe to the set. People who think their work is fun. I love creating on going relationships with positive talented people. It's all about creating a crew blackbook that will provide a great service and product to your clients.
That is the catch though, everyone's work has to be up to par including and especially the photographer's. The photographer's work has to be at a quality and level that will inspire a talented crew to sign on to a project if it's a personal project or test.
In addition, and I thought I might add this to my Assistants post, but it goes with anyone from the team as it came from a conversation with a friend of mine that brought it to my attention. If you're part of a crew and something comes up and you can't make it, you should always find a replacement for yourself. Regardless the type of job.
Who likes working with Downers anyways? Maybe some people do, but not me.
Another recent shoot from Brazil last week was a DJ friend of mine Kore. I met Kore on a couple Nike shoots in Brazil. He was our translator and local guide on the NikeCorre jobs. His full time job is being a superstar DJ down in Latin America where they fly him everywhere spin parties. We hired him because well, it's always fun to have your friends working with you.
That said, we threw down a quick little promo shoot in a graphiti centric cobblestone street. Ninja Style!
It's not very often I've found that I get impressed by restaurants in LA. My friend Tahira, who owns a little botique in Hollywood called Krisol, has introduced me to yet another fantastic restaurant in LA. She's definitely earned my trust in the food department. (Check out her store if you're in Hollywood BTW.) We're talking about having a little nickonken photoshow/fiesta in the next couple months.
Terroni is one of the best Italian restos I've been to thus far. (Competing with Bar Bambino in SF). It has risen to one of the tops of my LA list. The food has such delicate flavors and spices. The meatball appetizer is a definite must, as well as the Panna Cotta dessert.
Check it out! http://www.terroni.ca/
I have to write this as it's fresh in my mind and I'm still decompressing. I have to say shooting in the City of God will be an unforgettable and emotional experience. It's personal projects like this that remind me over and over how fortunate I am. The stories that have come from there are crazy. If you haven't seen the movie, City of God, you should as it is a true story of the drug trafficking that goes on there and is a great depiction of the reality of a this place. Almost every day there is hostile gunfire in these Favela. For those of you who don't know what "Favela" means, it means "slum" and there are around 513 of them in Rio De Janiero. The drug trafficking is a huge problem, as the favelas are so poor that most young kids fall into it as a way to make money to provide for their families. The sad reality is that boys as young as 11 are on the streets with guns. Guns and selling drugs are power and run the favala. The police are always arresting the traffickers, and the traffickers fight back, is always gunfire going on. People die every day from this.
So now imagine what it takes to get into this place and how dangerous it is. My Brazilian friend Mari is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She also knows everyone, and was able to lead us to a touching story of one of her best friend's husband, MV Bill. MV Bill is a legend and a hero. He grew up in the City of God, and became a well known rapper who's lyrics are all about inspiring youth to stay out of trafficking. He created a non-profit organization called CUFA to provide classes and recreation for kids to keep them out of the trafficking. He is active every day in the lives of so many people helping them, and most of all mentoring kids. Bill is a big guy with an even bigger heart.
Little did we realize how much work was involved for us to come. On Saturday, the day before we came, there was a gun fight in the morning between the traffickers and the police. It was what they say in portuguese "Chapa Quente" which means "Hot Grill". To make it safe for us to come the next day, Bill had to walk around all day to every drug dealer and ask them not to sell while we were there. Even when we called a taxi to take us there, they called us back to ask us if we were actually going "IN" to the City of God. The locals know how dangerous it can be. When I'm in the zone or the moment of shooting things like this, I tend to be oblivious to the things going on around me which is why I like to travel with a small entourage of key people. A translator and someone who knows the area. I always like to have at least one person from the area walking with me. As we were walking and shooting, Bill had to say ok, this area you can't shoot because there are dealers here. The risk of getting killed if I happen to get a dealer in on of my shots is a likely one.
For me the impact and emotion comes from the stories of the people in these images. Most of the time when people come to shoot in a favela, they show the dark side. They focus on the bad things that happen inside, and not the other side. This is a huge deal. To see a Bill get emotional when seeing the joy captured in the souls of the people in the images is hugely impactful. People who's stories he knows first hand of children without parents, and parents with kids who've gone into trafficking, and that have been in prison. This was the first time in two years that the has brought anyone into the City Of God.
It was a great feeling to be able to show the joyful side of the people in the favela. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to make an impact with my work. We are working on ideas to help Bill and Cufa and get and involved.
See the rest of the story here:
Right before I bounced out to NYC and Brazil, I shot another cover for the Improper Bostonian. It's a well designed magazine. We shot Ari Graynor, a wonderful actress from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. She was lovely.
Here's the story:
I was in New York for a week a couple week ago, and decided to shoot with a different camera. My iPhone camera. It was an interesting challenge, especially since you can't adjust the exposure. Definitely nice not hefting a beasty 1Ds MKIII all around the city. None the less with a little post, the results were not too shabby.
It's always good to challenge yourself with a different camera than you usually shoot with. I need to do it more often myself.