Archive for the 'news' Category

Jun 25 2009

my brief close encounter with michael jackson

Published by under news

Back in 1987 I was asked to help out as an additional camera for a photographer that was double booked to shoot the Grammy Awards and a Michael Jackson video. Through a series of events I suddenly was promoted to Jackson photographer for the day during the filming of the Smooth Criminal video, the 7th single released from the classic Bad album.

It was my first time on a big Hollywood movie set and this was a major production. There were three cameras rolling and my job was to find the 4th best spot to shoot the production while not getting into the frame of the other cameras.

In preparation for the shoot I was asked to sign a long form that swore me to secrecy (don’t ask me about the coin flip) and made me agree that I would not take any photos as the official set production photographers. I didn’t quite know how I could agree to not take photos AND get photos for the production, but I was a guest and closed my eyes and signed.

As you can see from the video there was a great deal of talent on the set with an equal amount of crew members. Even with this big of a group I was personally introduced to MJ. I mumbled something about growing up in Detroit and we shook hands.

They were filming the opening dance scene the day I was on the set and I remember that the music was very loud (Michael level) and the set was very dark. Jackson was very well prepared and clearly in charge of how he wanted the video to look.

It was fun being a very small part in the history of the creation of big production music videos. RIP Michael Jackson.

There is a wonderful NPR interview of Jackson choreographer Jeffery Daniels on how he worked with Michael on the sterps danced in Smooth Criminal and Bad.

Mark Harmel

5 responses so far

May 17 2009

portfolio featured on

Photo rep/consultant Tony Luna recently wrote about my portfolio in his column on titled “The Six Elements of an Effective Presentation“. In the feature Tony focuses on the specific topic of a photography portfolio, but his general thesis can apply to any type of artist – as well as any marketing presentation.

In my case (used to illustrate element #4) he focuses on the challenge of presenting my diverse body of work. These could have be broken down in multiple portfolios, but instead I decided with my consultant/designer Deanne Delbridge to blend in a number of different styles that all speak to the message of a healthy lifestyle.

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Portfolio designed as a doctor's black bag

By creating the overall theme we can present portraits or a senior couple in front of their house and a portrait of a surgeon conducting a liver transplant. A travel photo of women practicing Qigong in downtown Hanoi fits in with a Chinese researcher in an islet cell lab. The biggest stretch was blending in a series of my fine-art oriented photos into the book. They present the message that I’m an artist as well a visual story-teller and introduce the idea of using these photos to illustrate conceptual messages. (A separate Visual Concepts portfolio now expands on this message.)

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Neuro-oncologist Dr. Daniela Bota - UC Irvine Medical Center

The healthcare portfolio allows me to have a book that targets a specific segment of the market that highlights the expertise I developed over the years. This also allows me to have a body of work that speaks directly to a client’s market. I have a healthcare book that I present to a healthcare client.

Looking to rejuvenate your career? Consider signing up for one of Tony Luna’s classes.

Mark Harmel

One response so far

May 03 2009

the softer side of healthcare

Published by under healthcare,news,portraits,worklife

Most of my healthcare photography involves shooting for major academic and research institutes. It is normal to shoot researchers doing ground breaking science in labs, surgeons conducting brain surgery, and patients that were saved by some clinical trial.  Years ago during the last major healthcare debate in the Clinton years, I was asked by Postgraduate Medicine Magazine to show the life of doctors in differing medical practices that ranged from a Kaiser HMO setting to a small town private practice. And recently I had the opportunity to show how healthcare is practiced in a community hospital. It is good to be reminded that most of medical care takes place in individual doctor offices and smaller hospitals.

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A dad amazed by his new baby

In this project we focused on some of the more common ways patients interact with the hospital, such as having a baby and dealing with an accident. Like many community hospitals Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital promotes their maternity services. Having a baby is a happy encounter with a hospital and it is a great way to establish a lifelong relationship. This allowed me to shoot multiple moms and dads bonding with their new babies.

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An adorable girl modeling an arm injury

Another common way to come into the hospital is through normal everyday accidents. We showed both a childhood injury and a sports accident. For this we staged some procedures in the emergency department including this mock arm injury to a adorable girl’s arm.

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A volunteer that was honored as a Healthcare Hero

In academic settings the focus is much more on doctors, but here there was also a way to celebrate the other healthcare providers. These are their Healthcare Heros. They are any individual that made a difference in a hospital visit or stay. This can be any staff member from a volunteer…

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A smiling Hero nurse

to a nurse, medical tech and even a few doctors. These staff member were honored with a pin and many ended up on posters displayed throughout the hospital.

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A pair of OR nurses at the end of their shift

There is much to be celebrated about cutting edge medicine, but too often we forget that the majority of care – and often the most important treatment comes from the human interaction between a healthcare worker and a patient. It was great getting out of the lab and back on the frontline of medicine.

To view my other medicine posts, please visit these links: Heart Valve, Hallway Test, and Early Birds Keep Their Health.

Mark Harmel

2 responses so far

Apr 16 2009

most photographed places-washington d.c.

I recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. to visit colleges and in-laws. I go there often enough, but I’m normally not in either a tourist or shooting mode and I end up squeezing in some shots in-between other activities. Even with those restrictions the freshness of the city allows me to see the Capitol in ways that haven’t been recorded before. As an example the mystery to me is why no one else has taken this photo already? All the way over from the Jefferson Memorial I spotted the flags surrounding the Washington Monument and I knew that I want a wide angle shot from the ground. To me that was the shot.

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Flags surrounding the Washington Monument

I had two reasons to visit the National Gallery of Art. One was to see the Robert Frank’s Americans exhibit. and the other was to see the East Wing designed by I.M. Pei. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet both artists and do a formal portrait of I. M. Pei when he was working with his sons on the new UCLA hospital.

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Lobby of the National Gallery of Art designed by I. M. Pei

Sometimes the surprise seeing a familiar landmark from a view that you have never seen before – and wondering why this view hasn’t shown up in a movie or TV show yet. On a Christmas visit years ago I was shocked to see a greenhouse so close to the Capitol Building. It is a great visual and could be used to talk about government transparency.

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Capital dome behind the greenhouse windows of United States Botanical Garden Conservatory

Much of the time I’m simply a tourist as well viewing the sights. I just have a bigger camera and a trained eye and and see to shoot above the crowd for a classic view of Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln Monument with classic window lighting

Washington D. C. is full of statute and domes, yet I had never seen this configuration until I took the shot.

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What every Capitol needs domes and statutes

One more time looking into the sun at the Washington Monument experimenting with the video capabilities of my new camera.

Click here for other examples of photos from other “most photographed places” – Moulin Rouge, Joshua Tree National Park, Angkor Wat, New York’s Central Park, Monument Valley,Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower.

Mark Harmel

One response so far

Apr 01 2009

this town ain’t big enough for the two of us

The old town has a showdown between the reenactor clan and the thespian clan in a shoot-out for the tourist dollar.

tombstone this town aint big enough for the two of us

Sunrise on historic Allen Street in Tombstone, Arizona

However the battle turns out it is a fun historic silver town to visit in South East Arizona. Be sure to visit the neighboring Bisbee,  an old copper mining town that has been taken over by hippie artists. And consider staying in the Shady Dell Trailer Park where you can stay in vintage travel trailers.

Mark Harmel

2 responses so far

Mar 29 2009

the westons at big sur

There is a wonderful feature in the New York Times today on Edward Weston where Kim Weston serves as a tour guide for some of his Grandfathers’ great photos of Point Lobos.

In the narration Kim retells Edwards advice on seeing and being in control of your equipment. ”You should be able to point your camera down to the ground and see a photograph”

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Sea kelp on a multi-colored sand beach

What I learned most from Edward Weston’s photos and writings was that there was an aesthetic of nature photography that went beyond the beautiful scenery and grand vistas that was practiced by the Ansel Adams school. He influenced my to see in a more respectful way. I didn’t always have to get into the photo to show my point of view. Sometimes it was more about getting out of the way to transmit the essence of the object in front of the camera.

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Rock and trees in the fog

There is a link from the multi-media section in the Times to a more traditional travel feature. What isn’t mentioned is that you can participate in various nude figure or lanscape workshops with Kim and even stay in a house on Wildcat Hill.

Mark Harmel

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