Archive for the 'portraits' Category

May 09 2012

I’m Feeling More Glamourous Already

Update: A new session of my favorite Finding and Creating Great Portrait Lighting class was just announced for the weekend of August 11th & 12th. Disney Hall is my all-time favorite urban location that is a perfect laboratory for learning how to see light and make compelling compositions. You will come out as a changed photographer with some great photos.

It’s all because I now have Virginia Postrel as a new Twitter follower and Facebook friend. The glamour rubs off from from Virginia being the Editor-in-Cheif of DeepGlamour.net. We met back in 2004 when I was asked to create a portrait of her for a Research Magazine article where she was stressing the economic importance of design on a city. The new Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall had just opened and it seemed like the perfect place to highlight the style of Los Angeles.

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Opening night lighting on the Walt Disney Concert Hall

It was scouting for the portrait session that I learned that much of the grounds and building are considered public property and are open for public use. I now use it as a location to a teach a portrait lighting class through the Julia Dean Photo Workshop. The next meeting of my Finding and Creating Great Portrait Lighting class is coming up soon on the weekend of August 11th & 12th.

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My portrait of the glamourous Virginia Postrel

Unlike basic square buildings that simply have a sunny and shady side, the Gehry building is full of curves and reflections. This makes the background and the lighting formula change every time you walk around the corner. There are also some great views of the city from some of the balconies.

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Actor/model Michael Pierce surveying his city empire

The last time we held the class it actually rained in LA and just like a real photo shoot we improvised by jumping in and out of the building as the weather changed. This allowed us to explore the building interior more and the students ended up shooting some of their best photos of our models in the underground parking garage.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

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May 17 2011

Mysterious Skin Condition Spreads on Internet

Published by under healthcare,news,portraits,worklife

For all the good support that empowered patient groups can provide to each others, it now looks as though concerns about a mysterious skin infestation were also spread on the internet. What was called Morgellons disease on websites with reports of rashes, eruptions and skin ulcerations has turned out to have no know cause according to a report in the LA Times about a Mayo Clinic study that reviewed samples provided by 108 patients.

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Dermatologist Dr. Noah Craft praised Mayo study

The Mayo study was praised by Harbor-UCLA Medical Center dermatologist Dr. Noah Craft, who was quoted as saying that it was ”the best study done to date” on the condition. The photo above was take of Craft back in 2003 at the old UCLA Medical Center.

Two other studies that are being performed by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, are slated for release in the next few months.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

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@HarmelPhoto

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Mar 16 2011

“You RT me and I’ll RT you” & other marketing lessons from Twitter

Update: My guest blog post for the Digital Pharma Blog on Better Meetings Through the Use of Twitter was published today. There are tips on attending meetings and admiring them from afar. Start here and then click over the the DigPharm Blog.

RT”, for readers not engaged in the Twitter world is short hand for re-tweeting, or sending the post of someone else to your followers. It’s a way for you to agree with the original observation and spread the message while giving credit to original author.

This brings the mesage to your followers and introduces them to someone they may wish to follow. It’s an act of support and friendship that creates relationship all around, and serves as a form of currency in the network.

The new marketing haiku, “You RT me and I’ll RT you” came from Bryan Vartabedian, M.D. @Doctor_V who I recently met at the Digital Pharma West conference in San Francisco.

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@Doctor_V - Bryan Vartabedian, M.D. speaking at Digital Pharma West

He was on a panel discussing ways that pharmaceutical companies can reach doctors now that golf junkets are out and drug reps have a hard time getting face time. Bryan gave a more intelligent sounding answer while on stage. But his private conversation RT quote was more profound and representative of the shift that’s going on in marketing. (You can read more profound thoughts on his 33 Charts blog.)

The drug companies can look to Twitter to find some of their marketing answers. They can move to creating a relationship, where there is an exchange with their audience instead of selling.

The traditional one way marketing message doesn’t work well on Twitter. Beverly Macy, the co-author of the upcoming book “The Power of Real-Time Marketing” @PowerRTM likes “the 80/20 rule of Twitter – give 80 percent of the time + ‘get’ or talk about yourself 20 percent of the time”.

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TweetDeck is the new black bag for @Doctor_V

This could mean a paradigm shift from moving product to focusing on helping the patient become healthier. From selling to the doctor to helping them do their job.

We heard great examples at the conference of companies creating patient support communities. Could we see a similar support to doctors that would offer practice management tips, assistance in moving to electronic medical records, or working to connect attendees at dinner meeting talks to expand referral networks?

What would be other examples of RT a customer that would work to reach physicians? What else can we learn about marketing from Twitter?

Don’t forget the Better Meetings Through the Use of Twitter post.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

8 responses so far

Feb 10 2011

Is a graphic a photo better? Time vs. Smile Train

Published by under healthcare,news,portraits,press

Update: 2/10/11 – This photo of Bibi Aishia by Jodi Bieber just won the World Press Photo of the Year 2010. Congratulations Jodi, is there a lesson to be learned here?

This week’s cover of TIME has a very graphic photo of Aishia, an 18-year old Afghan woman who had her ears and nose cut off by members of the Taliban for fleeing her abusive in-laws.

At first glance it’s a photo of a beautiful woman. Then there’s the second take of shock after seeing her missing nose.

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A beautiful woman or a shocking portrait?

In a video, photographer Jodi Bieber talks about her personal reaction to the Aisha and how she wanted to portray her as a beautiful woman and not a victim.

Richard Stengel, Managing Editor expressed concern about running the photo. Her was worried about the safety of Aisha (she is in a safe location and is headed to the US for reconstructive surgery) and about the disturbing effect it could have on children viewing the cover.

I admire the balanced treatment of the photo. It would have been easy to make the photo even more shocking, but I think that causes people to turn away instead of stopping to engage the issue.

Foundations that surgically repair cleft lips and cleft palates take the opposite approach. Both Operation Smile and the Smile Train take the approach of showing very graphic photos of children with deformed faces.

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A graphic approach to fund-raising used by Smile Train

When I had the assignment of working on a cleft palate story for the UCLA School of Medicine Magazine I needed to decide on which patient to feature and how graphic of a deformity to show. As I flipped through a photo book of patient photos in the office of Dr. Henry Kawamoto there were many examples of major deformity. I selected a boy with a mild defect that I showed playing on a tire swing with his family. The cleft palate could be seen, but a happy childhood was the over-riding message.

My low-key portrayal was a conscious reaction to the Smile Train approach and supported by the editor. Their use of photography may be the right method for soliciting donations though. The co-founder, Brian Mullaney comes from an advertising background and they may have tested an entire range of fund-raising approaches and learned that the graphic photos work.

For me, the TIME approach of attraction and shock works better. The Smile Train photos just move me to quickly turn the page.

What do you think? Which engages you more? Can both approaches be right for different reasons?

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

2 responses so far

Jan 18 2011

Happy 80th Birthday Jay

In the photography world the name Jay is synonymous the legendary photographer Jay Maisel.

He’s influenced generations of photographers and my turn came in 2003 right at the time that serious digital cameras entered the market. He was in Los Angeles to give one of his inspiring presentations and his photos of course impressed me, yet at the same time I was confused.

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Jay Maisel making a gesture about color and light

Many of the shots were taken for clients, but some of the best had no reason to be shot – except for the simple fact that they were great pictures. It was at that moment that I realized that I had witness similar scenes before, but I was self-censoring myself into only taking pictures that I thought could sell.

I lamented all the photos I’d been missing and at the same time recognized the economic equation had just changed.  Instead of buying what is now a relatively cheap camera and spending thousands of dollars a year in film. I had just purchased a $7,000 digital camera where the film was “free”.

I was inspired to catch up for years of lost images and discovered that Jay was teaching a class at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops the following week. I packed my bags and was on my way.

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I couldn't make out of the driveway without being stopped in my tracks

The class was inspiring for the extended viewing of Jay’s work and to witness how his critiques of student’s work were all teaching moments instead an opportunity to pass judgment. I began to see differently. There were days that I couldn’t get out of the driveway without being stopped in my tracks by amazing light hitting the purple flowers of a sage plant.

The week went by in a blur. We shot, edited, talked and shot some more – and somehow the universe bent light differently so that interesting photos were all around. Even the weather cooperated to make great photos, as I was lucky enough to get caught in a dust storm on my drive home.

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Even the weather changed to inspire me to shoot

You can find evidence of Jay’s influence by exploring my Visual Concepts category. That is really just a fancy way of saying these are photos that are a cheap imitation of anything that Jay Maisel could shoot on his 80th birthday or any day and a tribute to his influence.  May you have another 80 years of producing great work.

I found a wonderful video made by The Big Picture in 2008 on Ed Broberg’s blog tribute. It’s a great introduction or reminder of the genius of the man.

Be sure to visit Jay’s blog to read more tributes to Jay’s birthday.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

On Twitter:

@HarmelPhoto

@MarkHarmel

Now on Facebook

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Oct 08 2010

The New Look of FedEx Office

Update: FedEx Office continue to evolve and is adding free Wi-Fi to many of their locations. This gives road warriors another location option to Starbucks to conduct business. Even before the free Wi-Fi I would use the FedEx locations on my portfolio trips as places to charge up and and park before my next appointment.

I made a trip to my local FedEx/Kinko’s shop back in the summer and found a new sign on the door. Shortly after I received a call from a client asking for an estimate to do a series of photos at that same shop! It turned out that this was one of the first FedEx/Kinko’s outlets that would be transformed into a FedEx Office location.

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Delivery driver at one of the first FedEx Office locations

After landing the job it was so convenient to have one of the first locations converted down the street from me in Manhattan Beach. This made it easy to check the construction progress and to send back update snapshots to the art director back in Minnesota. I could also combine early morning airport runs to LAX with my morning coffee to precisely plot the timing and effect of the sunrise.

The client remembered me from a shoot I did for her way back in the film days, but we had never met. One month earlier, I did get to meet with the producer, who ventured out early to check out the progress of the transition. This helped to build rapport when I met the rest of the production team the day before the shoot.

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Scouting confirmed that there would be great Northern light mid-day

I knew that we had a busy shoot day planned and proposed doing a quick walk-though of the long shot list. This was designed to get a feel for the style of photo that the art director wanted and to get the simple blocking down. This way we could have a starting point that I could refine and light the next day. We used the basic back of the camera digital preview method. I would do option A, B and C and the art director would pick one, or suggest something else. I saved the favorites and printed out a reference contact sheet for the team.

I originally thought of these as simple starting sketches that would be improved the next day, but they created more of an expectation then I planned. Many times I ended up copying the scouting shot from the previous day. Perhaps it’s a sign to trust my first instincts more when I’m free from the technical constraints of lighting and worrying about the background.

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The store was open for business the day of the shoot

We had cast models and had our crew of stylists, make-up artists and photo assistants moving around lights – but we were shooting this big production in a working store. If a customer had a lifetime of photos to copy (which happened) at the duplicating machine we changed our shot or location instead of asking her to move. Some of the employees were also available to serve as models and we often used them as they served their customers.

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Our footprint needed to be small

With the shop open for business we needed to have a light footprint. Instead of overpowering the store with strobes, I opted for using continuous light sources that I blended with the existing lights. We even had one of our packs on battery power to remove the risk of tripping on a power cord.

The clients were very happy with the results and the photos seeded a new photo library. Keep an eye out for these shots. They will be making their way into the FedEx Office print and web marketing materials. I know that I will never see my local FedEx Office shop in the same way ever again.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

3 responses so far

Sep 11 2010

pepperdine waves to a 9/11 memorial

Update 11/13/10: Some people have commented on shooting with an iPhone. I have a longer post on that subject that I wrote last Summer.

On an early morning drive up the coast this morning I ran into a sea of flags on the lawn of Pepperdine University in Malibu. It turned out to be a yearly tribute that the campus College Republicans present to honor those that lost their lives.

A sign on the site explains that the “exhibit displays one flag for each victim..including the flags from other nations died on that fateful day.”

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The Pepperdine Waves this morning was a sea of flags

For a camera I only had my iPhone 4 that now shoots high dynamic range or HDR photos. It works by the camera taking multiple exposures quickly and combining the light and dark frames into one photo. This can work well if the subject matter and camera remains still, or it can create this interesting effect when you have a sea of moving flags.

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A natural special effect created by the HDR feature

The display attracted a number of people stopping with their still and video cameras, and a roadside supporter.

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A Malibu postman shows his supoort for the memorial

Early morning bike riders are also a staple of the beach highway scene and a walk through the flag provided a training break for this rider.

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A rider walks through the flag display

After so much hype in the news about extremists yelling about the location of a community center and threats of burning a Koran, it was good to see a quiet reflection of a tragic day that truly honors the victims.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

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Aug 24 2010

Deliverance turns 40, a look back at an evening with James Dickey

Published by under news,portraits

James Dickey’s break-out novel Deliverance celebrates its 40 publishing anniversary this year. The photo below was taken nine years later when he was visiting Sanibel Island. He’s best known for the novel about the ill-fated canoe trip that was turned into hit movie. Dwight Garner has a wonderful remembrance of the book and his life in today’s New York Times.

I was the resident photo editor at the local Sanibel-Captiva Islander and friends with Fleur Weymouth, a wonderful photographer that taught me the beauty of minimalism in nature photography. Dickey was in town giving a poetry reading and was invited the the after-party at Fleur’s house. (The wood-pecker painting was created by George Weymouth.)

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Poet and author James Dickey in the home of Fleur Weymouth on Sanibel Island

Dickey clearly was the center of attention for the evening whether it was on the stage reading or playing guitar – including a bit of the famous dueling banjo theme from the movie.

The biggest treat for me though was his poetry reading. I was never a big poetry fan then or now, but Dickiy’s readings were always a treat. The poems he read that evening were very accessible, entertaining and he was a wonderful story teller. Here’s a short sample of him speaking.

The remainder of the Summer would be a great time to catch-up, or re-read the novel or see the movie. For me the anniversary is a great reminder of a memorable evening. Do you have memories of the movie, the book or a personal connection to share?

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

2 responses so far

Mar 30 2010

I’ll take an emergency any day

I’ll even stage one if needed.

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A racing gurney and looks of concern make me happy

I’ve been fortunate to have done most of my healthcare photography at major medical institutions. Mostly at University of California, Los Angeles and recently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. These are major trauma and research centers. The places you want to go when you have a major health issue like a heart attack.

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An EKG and exam in the emergency room

This series was shot to illustrate an integrated team approach to handling a heart attack from the arrival and evaluation in the ER and the examination and potential intervention in the angiogram suite.

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Opening a blocked blood vessel in the angiogram suite

Even though this case was a simulated heart attack I always enjoy the challenge of making the cases look realistic. They need to pass “the hallway test” of colleagues who will see the photos when this “Report to the Community 2010″ is printed.

As fun as it is for me to shoot these emergent situations. An often overlooked part of healthcare is preventing problems in the first place. This could be teaching healthy eating practices in an elementary school.

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Eating fruit and yogurt at a nutrition lesson

Or having a trusted relationship with your primary care doctor.

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Personal interaction builds a bond of trust between patient and doctor

In real life, patient areas don’t have that refined TV look that you find on “House“, nor are research labs as stylish as they are on “Bones” and the “CSI” shows.

The first challenge is always to understand what’s going on in the lab and determine how to communicate that unique story. In this case the researcher is doing an advanced DNA screening of an individual patient to calculate the respond to an expensive chemotherapy medication. This is an early stage of personalized medicine.

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DNA screening to match effective treatment for a chemotherapy drug

Having cancer is about more than how your DNA reacts to treatment, it’s also about how you deal with the emotional aspect of the disease.

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A cancer survivor volunteers to hear patient's concerns

Prevention, bonding, research and emotional health are important part of care. I love showing it all.

But that still doesn’t beat sending a trauma team racing down the hall.

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Trauma team racing down a hallway

All these photos were taken for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and were published in their “Report to the Community 2010“. A great interactive version of the report was created by the Doyle/Logan Company as well.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

Long on Twitter:

@HarmelPhoto

@MarkHarmel

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Feb 16 2010

something went up today

Published by under news,portraits,press,technique,worklife

Update: From today’s New York Times – “Should the United States hire Elon Musk, at a cost of a few billion dollars, to run a taxi service for American astronauts?”

A real version of the SpaceX rocket pictured below successfully launched today (9/29/2008) from the Kwajalein Atol – which you all know is 2,500 southwest of Hawaii.

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Elon Musk with a model of his SpaceX Rocket

There was liquid fuel in the rocket and the project was powered by space, electric sports car and solar power entrepreneur Elon Musk. I took his photo is the El Segundo headquarters for the Wharton Business School alumni magazine back in 2004 when we were all still using color gels in our science photos.

Would you bet your (or our) money on his rocket?

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

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