Archive for the 'portraits' Category

Feb 06 2010

don rickles as the superbowl flower voice

Published by under diabetes,news,portraits

Update: Trailers for the Toy Story 3 movie have been released today. You can hear Don as Mr. Potato Head in the clips.

The battle for your attention has begun. It’s Superbowl ad season, and only one ad has caught my attention so far. It has a talking flower and more importantly the voice of Don Rickles.

Watch the behind the scenes video teaser that has too many flowers and not enough of Don. But it’s worth look for the quips from Don anyway.

Behind the scenes video

A nice touch is the playing of Don’s bull fight theme

Like many, I grew up knowing Don as wacky characters in the Annette & Frankie beach movies and his appearances on the Tonight Show. He fell off my radar until a couple of years ago when he became a patient of my wife and agreed to be involved in her Conquering Diabetes book.

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"Diabetes can be controlled, provided you don't pass out every-time you prick your finger."

This gave me the opportunity to meet him in person and visit his house for a portrait session. After his initial joke where he asked the guard at the gate to turn me away, I discovered the secret to how he gets away with all of his insults. Deep down he’s a warm and loving guy.

When he’s not voicing a flower or Mr. Potato Head, Don still actively performs on stage where he is aggressively engages with his audience. (He’s in Vegas on Feb. 20 & 21st). What’s fascinating is how much he can get away with while bringing up the hot button issues of race and religion. He can insult people and make both the audience and the individual laugh. Balancing on that fine line of insult and compassion is what I think is his real talent.

It’s still a treat to pick up the home office phone and unexpectedly have Don on the other end of the line. He’s not always joking, but he is always kind. I honor my collection of memorabilia from his 80th birthday party and I look forward to Don and Barbara’s 45th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.

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Memorabilia from Don Rickles' 80th birthday party

I hope that Teleflora will be sending plenty of flowers to their anniversary party. And with Valentine’s Day coming up: Get up order some flowers you Hockey Puck! Keep Don famous so that he can keep us laughing for another 80 years.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

6 responses so far

Dec 01 2009

how twitter led me to Lemonade

Update: The “Lemonade” movie premiered in Boston last night (Nov. 30th) and reports are coming in. The first is from the Boston Business Journal. The second from the Adrants blog. Edward Boches weighs in on “The sweetness of lemons”. Philip Johnson writes in Adweek about the ad industry rallying around one of their own.

New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth” interviews Erik

The Christian Science Monitor has a feature on how Erik Proulx job loss led him to make Lemonade.

The latest update (12/29/2009) is a segment on the CBS Evening News.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

I confess. I’m a Twitterer. I can blame it on this blog.

Once I started blogging I wondered if I was cultivating a tree that would one day simply fall in the woods without being heard. So I looked for ways to share my pictures and the behind the scenes stories. That prompted me to explore the world social marketing. Which led me to the Please Feed the Animals and the movie “Lemonade”.

The beginning is a bit mysterious. I started by following some writers for Ad Age which somehow led to following the Twitter stream of Erik Proulx. He’s a laid-off  advertising copywriter that created a support blog for the recently unemployed advertising professionals called Please Feed the Animals.

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Detail of make-up brushes (still from the video)

Erik’s Twitter stream mentioned that he was looking for good stories about life after being laid-off. He was collecting recollections about the initial trauma and the opportunities that were created by their new time and freedom. How ad people turned lemons into lemonade would become his documentary film.

When I discovered that Erik was filming in Los Angeles, I tweeted back, asking if I could help. My original thought was that I would shoot some stills that could be used to promote the film. But I had acquired a Canon 5D MKII camera – a hybrid still/high definition video camera and have been playing with the video capability. So shooting some video was also a possibility.

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Kurtis Glade became a documentary filmmaker (still from the video)

Erik had progressed from shooting with his own little video camera to enlisting a top director and production team. But there were some scenes that needed to be shot before the production crew arrived in Los Angeles. I was enlisted to shoot a story was about a surfing camp that teaches kids and teens with Cystic Fibrosis how to surf as a form of therapy. Next there was a manicure session in a salon with a writer “that lost his job and changed his gender.”

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David Cohen lost his job and changed his gender

I was on my own shooting the surf camp and did a 50/50mix of stills and video. When director, Marc Colucci arrived, he wanted more video than stills for the manicure session with David Cohen.

The video shooting continued the next day where I ended up shooting second video camera during the more formal studio interview shoot. My role was to look for details and go for second angle close-ups of hands and faces that could be used to add variety and editing options. These video snips were mixed in with the interviews captured with a Red camera.

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Jeanne Schad became a coach (still from the video)

The resulting Lemonade film has generated a great deal of internet buzz. Promoted through Twitter and Facebook, the trailer now has over a 100,000 viewers and the final edit is close to completion.

You can follow the Twitter streams of the people mentioned by using their Twitter ID.

Erik Proulx  @eproulx,  David Cohen @identityTBD, Kurtis Glade @kurtisglade, Jeanne Schad @jeanneschad

There is much more to share about the Cystic Fibrosis surf camp that I’ll save for another post.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com
@MarkHarmel

7 responses so far

Nov 18 2009

drive fast – stay healthy with type 1 diabetes

Update: AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport Signs Charlie Kimball to 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Lineup. This was the strongest team in the series in 2009 and should lead to a good 2010 for Charlie.

Parade Magazine talks about Charlie Kimball racing with diabetes and our shared “Charlie’s Angels”.

I’m excited to have my own driver racing at Indianapolis this weekend. Now Charlie Kimball wasn’t always my driver. He was a recent discovery – or more precisely he discovered my wife to become his diabetes doctor. The Camarillo resident was over in Europe racing in the Formula 3 Euro Series when he was hospitalized after becoming ill in England. He had developed Type 1 diabetes and consulted with my wife, Dr. Anne Peters. She has worked with other top athletes with diabetes including Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr.

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Intense focus before his qualifying run at the Long Beach Grand Prix

She worked with him first on managing his diabetes to stay healthy and then progressed to helping him manage his blood sugar while driving. In addition to gauges that monitor his car’s performance you can see his continuous glucose monitor mounted on his steering wheel. The condition that once threatened to end his racing career has now helped him to land major sponsors as he returns to racing in the Indy Lights Series. He even has a new green Levemir paint scheme on his #35 car.

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In the middle of his steering wheel is a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor

The second race of their season was on the streets of Long Beach and I was able to tag-a-long with his “race doctor” and visit with him back in the racing trailer and be in the pits as he prepared for his qualifying runs and the race. Sitting with his friends and family in the stands it was thrilling to watch him come down the long straightaway and picking off car after car in the 1st turn passing zone. It was very different than my normal NASCAR fan behavior of rooting for a good race, unlike the die-hard fans of Jr. Nation that cheer for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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Getting ready for the race

This Friday (May 22nd) Charlie will race at Indianapolis –  the most important track in America. As he quotes in his blog, “I have been to ‘big’ races all over the world- Monaco Grand Prix, Macau Grand Prix, Long Beach Grand Prix, a Moto GP race. I have even been to qualifying at the 500 before, but being a part of the whole ‘Month of May’ is a totally different experience.”

To learn more about Charlie you can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Charlie also has been the talk of the healthcare blog and Twittersphere after he sent out the first branded tweet under his @racewithinsulin moniker. There was a bit of an uproar at first that has died down to an official review of FDA guidelines on how pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can use social media.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

 drive fast   stay healthy with type 1 diabetes

4 responses so far

Nov 09 2009

the best iPhone photography app

Much of the talk about using the iPhone camera surrounds additional apps that you can use to tint, crop, zoom or selectively focus your photos. There are titles that bounce around the internet like Must-have apps for iPhone photographersThe Five Best iPhone Apps For Travel Photography and The Best Camera “ecosystem”.

I find some of the apps useful for making it easier to crop, adjust the exposure and upload to a photo sharing site; but I find that most of the tinting and special effects features to be cheap tricks. Most of the time the app will simply transform a bad photo into a bad photo with a blue tint.

To me, the most most important app is the person taking the photo.

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Surfer on the Venice Beach boardwalk

The beauty of the iPhone is that it’s always with you. The camera function is both very easy to use and at the same time very hard because it’s such a simple camera. The camera works great for basic snapshots of friends, but I wanted to see how it would perform in the stress test of the Venice Beach boardwalk.

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Beach visiter taking a cool drink by the iconic wooden umbrella clusters

The boardwalk is both a target rich environment with a collection of colorful characters, and a very challenging place to shoot. The light is harsh and the action is quick.

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The palm reader's sign blocked the sun creating a perfect north light studio

You have to look for the places that either have good light already or find a simple way to control the light. There isn’t an app made yet that will help you identify ways to control light by shooting your subject in front of a backdrop, or moving them in front of the sun.

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I moved the stilt-walker in front of the sun and palm trees

Since we use the iPhone’s screen to preview the photo, shooting into the sun is even harder. Unlike looking through a camera viewfinder, on the iPhone you have the confusion of the reflection on the screen and the glare behind the phone. Half the time it seems like I’m guessing at the composition. The shooting is similar to using the cheap plastic Diana camera where the joy come from the surprises created by the lack of control.

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Catching action is an advanced skill

The other issue with the camera is the shutter lag. Venice Beach is full of action and all good street shooters pride themselves at being able to capture the “decisive moment“, but with the time delay you have to press the shutter button a half second before you think something may happen. (You can control this a bit by being aware that the shutter is actually activated by releasing, instead of pressing the shutter button.)

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Quick movements often produce a warped effect

There is also a odd warping effect that’s created by the iPhone using a rolling shutter. Instead of the exposure being created all at once by the aperture effect you see on the screen, the scene is being quickly scanned. In the shot above, the head section was scanned first and the legs moved to the right by the time the scan made it down to the bottom.

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The light weight of the iPhone makes it easy to shoot down

One of my big shooting surprises is that now I’m often holding the camera straight out and shooting down. Instead of having my face up to the view-finder, the iPhone already starts away from my face and it’s a quick movement to point the iPhone down. Instead of the normal Hail Mary Shot that photojournalists use in a crowd to get the camera higher. I’m finding that I do the same thing shooting down. I simply guess at the framing and swing with the action.

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There's a whole new world down below

For most people, I suspect the hardest part about doing iPhonetography is using the moderate wide-angle lens. The view is similar to what you would get on a full frame 35mm camera using a 35mm lens. Our minds are very good at zooming into a scene to examine the front wheel pattern above, but we’re less well trained to see the wider view while being aware of all the action that’s shown below.

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Learning to see all the elements in the wide view is an acquired skill

I’m constantly working at striking the balance between simplifying and getting something interesting in the frame. When I first arrived at the beach I noticed a large sailboat on the horizon. But it was too small in the frame by itself, so I chased it down the beach while searching for something to place in the foreground. First there was a volleyball game, then a life-guard stand and finally I spotted a surfer balancing a board on his head to change his shirt.

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A balance between a simple background and a foreground surfer to fill the frame

Years of experience and learning to see like the iPhone camera is the real secret app in iPhonetography.

None of these photos required any special app filters or effects. I did use my normal workflow of opening the photos in Photoshop CS4 Camera Raw (even jpgs from the iPhone can be processed this way) and making some simple exposure adjustments and clean-up.

I took these shots in preparation of teaching an iPhonetograpy class at the Julia Dean Photo Workshops. The class is scheduled for December 6th. I hope to see you there.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

10 responses so far

Oct 23 2009

encounters with i. m. pei

Update: A belated congratulations to I. M. Pei for winning the 2010 Royal Gold Medal in Architecture. I recently discovered this by looking at my blog logs that showed that Pei’s name was one of the most searched and I found the announcement of the award while searching for the cause.

In my recent Washington D. C. post (4/16/09) I mentioned that I was fortunate enough to meet and make some portraits of I. M. Pei and his sons C. C. and Sandy. The location was the Pei Partnership office in Manhattan which was then a more modest operation than he had in his Pei, Cobb & Freed past. There was no grand architectural space that served a a showroom for the firm, but in the entrance was this reception area that I decided was the most representative of his building spaces.

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Portrait of I.M. Pei in his Manhattan office

He seemed to come into the office about once a week to review and oversee the next steps of their current projects. The purpose of my portrait was to help raise money to build the UCLA hospital that the Partnership designed, but the active project was a Bank of China headquarters in Bejing.

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I. M. Pei's glasses on a set of plans

I want to do a portrait of I. M. Pei’s glasses as well, but I had to wait because he needed them while he worked. So I was able to sit-in as team reviewed the details of the bank’s plans. Pei was very attuned to the details of how big the trees would grow at maturity, the type of stone that would be used, and great attention was given to the shape of the object that would grace the spire on the front of the building. There was first was talk about balls, but Pei thought a bit and decided on rings – because “rings are very Buddhist.”

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Tourist in front of the Louvre Pyramid

Years after my portrait session I had the opportunity to visit Paris and the  view his design of the Louvre entrance with the famed pyramid. All my grand plans to show the pyramid glowing at night, floating in pools of water were quickly extinguished after seeing the pools drained for maintenance and learning that the night-time lighting doesn’t happen in the summer.

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Couple kissing on the spiral stairway inside the Louvre Pyramid

So I concentrated on using the pyramid in the background and showing it from the inside and included the prismatic effect on the biggest secret revealed in the “Da Vinci Code“.

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Inverted pyramid that plays a role in the Da Vinci Code

Back in the US in Spring of 2009 I finally paid my first visit to the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art. This study in triangles was granted Architecture Week’s 25-Year Award. It was described at its opening in 1978 by Washington Post architecture critic Wolf Von Eckardt as “an architectonic symphony of light and marble, color and glass, painting and sculpture.”

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The lobby of the National Gallery of Art

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

One response so far

Oct 23 2009

wanna buy a camel?

Update: The Birqash camel market is running into hard times. The cost for the camels is rising and the selling price is falling. An LA Times feature today highlights the squeeze on the market I visited in 2006. It also confirms my suspicion that the camels were being sold for their meat instead as a working animal.

“It’s just like judging a beautiful girl,” said Fowzan al-Madr, a camel breeder from the Kharj region southeast of Riyadh. “You look for big eyes, long lashes and a long neck, maybe 39 or 40 inches.”

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A very cute young camel

Camels have been in the news lately and I understand why. I fell in love with camels on a recent trip to Egypt. Not in love enough as the Dubai prince that paid $2.7 million for a camel today. But as a tourist sight outside of Cairo I can highly recommend the Birquash Camel Market (Souq al-Gamaal) that is 35 KM Northwest of Cairo. I had the chance to travel to Egypt with my wife and equally brilliant doctors on an American Diabetes Association organized trip. On the days that the others were busy attending their serious conference I get to go out and do some serious photography.

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Spotting a brief mention in a travel guide about a camel market I decided that this was the place to visit. Since it was off the normal tourist beat neither my driver or guide knew exactly how to find the place. There are many mysteries to driving in Cairo, but one of the best parts is that is always acceptable to stop and ask any stranger at the side of the road for directions. That is what we did. Every two kilometers the guide would roll down the window and inquire “Souq al-Gamaal”, “Souq al-Gamaal” and arms would point in one direction or another.

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An experienced camel trainer

The market outside of Cairo is more of a working class market where buyers are looking for working animals or perhaps ones that will end up on a dinner table somewhere.This was not the beauty pageant style of market in Saudi Arabia that was featured in the New York Times recently. (The opening quote is from the story written by Katherine Zoefh.) But the next time you are in Cairo roll down your window and shout “Souq al-Gamaal” for a sight that rivals the Giza Pyramids with none of the tourists.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

One response so far

Oct 21 2009

zippora karz “the sugarless plum”

Published by under diabetes,healthcare,portraits

Update: There is a cover feature on Zippora in the February, 2010 issue of Diabetes Forecast.

Zippora Karz was living her dream of dancing in the New York City Ballet. She was a standout in the School of American Ballet founded by George Balanchine and had been anointed by Jerome Robbins to dance in leading roles in the New York City Ballet.

But something was wrong with her instrument – her body.  As she explains“…I didn’t feel right. I felt more fatigued than I should have and tried to ignore the symptoms that were affecting me daily, from hunger pangs and frequent urination, to a spaced- out feeling in my head. But it was the sores under my arms where the costumes rubbed that threatened my ability to perform. They got so infected I could not lift my arms and forced me to go to a doctor.”

Zippora tells her story as a dancer with diabetes in her new book “The Sugarless Plum”. In it she shares her passion for dance and her struggles to find a doctor that could properly diagnose her condition and balance her treatment with the demands of being a world class athlete.

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Zippora Karz posing on sandstone rock formation near her Malibu home

The diabetes doctor she eventually discovered is my wife, Dr. Anne Peters and Zippora shared some of her story in Anne’s book Conquering Diabetes.

“Next I found a doctor who was very balanced in her approach to diabetes. I went back to frequent blood sugar monitoring and taking injections of insulin, but never right before I went on stage. I always kept my meter right offstage in my dance bag and always kept something to reverse a low blood sugar in it. I was finally learning how to adapt to having diabetes.

As I learned the delicate play of dancing with diabetes I also had to look reality in the face. Dancing was my passion, but was this lifestyle realistic for a person with type 1 diabetes? Part of me felt relieved at the idea of quitting. I was tired. But more than that I had lost confidence in my body and in my dancing. Using diabetes as an excuse felt like an easy way out. I thought long and hard about this and eventually decided if I quit then I would never know the truth. So I stayed with the company and hung in there. I eventually found a way to balance my diet, exercise, and performances. Ultimately, I was promoted to the rank of soloist ballerina of the New York City Ballet where I performed until August of 1999.”

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Zippora preparing one of her daily doses of insulin

Zippora was living and dancing in New York City when she was diagnosed with diabetes.  She had access to many endocrinologists and was very persistent in changing doctors until she found one she could work with to help her manage her diabetes and continue dancing.  Because of her persistence, Zippora has done amazingly well.  She had a successful career in the ballet and is now working as a teacher in Los Angeles.  She has no complications from her diabetes and serves as a role model to lots of young people who have diabetes.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness Zippora in action a number of times at diabetes camps sharing her story and joy of movement with youngsters learning to live with diabetes. There is a great video of Zippora telling her story at her booksite where you can read some excepts as well.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

No responses yet

Oct 09 2009

breathe. surf. repeat. the cystic fibrosis surf camp experience

The amazingly rich story of Kurtis Glade and his family landing in my lap with a few quick Twitter and email messages from Erik Proulx, ”Any chance you can be in Santa Monica at Sunrise tomorrow? Kurtis Glade (our subject) is going to be there with the film DP to get some great light. Weather calls for Fog, so that could be stunning as well.” (See previous post on how Twitter led me to Lemonade.)

The moody morning light was the perfect palette to paint the story of Kurtis Glade. After a long run as a leading advertising copywriter and creative director, Kurtis was laid-off from his big-agency job. The changing ad-world and slowing economy left him searching for other outlets for his creativity.

The short preparation allowed me to exercise my skills at finding a story instead of illustrating one that that others have shaped already. The “June Gloom” fog set the scene of quiet contemplation that was the perfect opening.

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Kurtis Glade faces the hope and the challenges of a new dawn

In the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Monica there is also hope for his youngest daughter Malin and others with cystic fibrosis. Medical researchers have established that surfing is a natural therapy. The saline in the air and water acts as a lubricant to help to break down the congestion in the lungs of people with CF.

Kurtis decided to use his story-telling skills and extra time to make a movie about the Surf Experience Days sponsored by the Mauli Ola Foundation. He explains, “I can’t invent drug to cure cystic fibrosis, but I can make a movie.”

He’s made a PSA for the foundation that gives you a pretty good flavor for the film he plans to produce. He is currently looking for help in obtaining funding for the ongoing project.

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The joy of Malin Glade learning how to surf

Many of you may recognized Kurtis from the opening shot in the trailer of the Lemonade movie. The quick email message from Erik Proulx was my background brief on the project outside of a few messages about the possibility of shooting both stills and video for his movie.

I knew that Kurtis had multiple cameras working on the surfing angle of the day’s event and that allowed me to concentrate on the story of Kurtis and his family. I felt that I could also go for the high art shots. Whatever I captured wold be woven into the tapestry of the larger movie and intercut with Kurtis’ interview.

When this was shot, I still thought of myself as a still guy that happened to own this new camera that has this odd button that activated a video capture. But I had studied cinematography with renowned DP, Allen Daviau and at UCLA and learned that the most important skills were always composition, use of light and knowing how to tell a story. I played with the camera’s unique shallow depth of field look that you can see in the opening scene of the video below.

A wider selection of the stills from the day tells the fuller story about both the joy and the challenges that Kurtis and his family face. We see older daughter Ellie (who is CF free) enjoy surfing for the simple pleasure of riding the waves. While her mother, Britta one moment serves as cheerleader and then as comforter and pill dispenser to the chilled Malin .

Mauli Ola surf camp for people with cystic fibrosis slideshow from Mark Harmel on Vimeo.

I’m honored that my work will be featured in the Please Feed the Animals documentary Lemonade as well as supporting the Mauli Ola Foundation. I hope it plays a part in  inspiring ad people to either find a life back in advertising, or succeed in new ventures – like documentary filmaking. And may many people with CF learn to surf and breathe a good and long life.

Many thanks to editor Connor McDonald at Beast/SF, (with color adjustments by John Jenkins-Stark), for their work on the video segment.

Erik Proulx @eproulx, , Kurtis Glade @kurtisglade, Connor McDonald @connortmcdonald

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

3 responses so far

Sep 14 2009

don’t bet against jay leno

Published by under news,portraits

There is plenty of speculation how the Jay Leno Show will change the late, prime-time TV landscape. The little nugget I can add to that debate comes from witnessing to an interview with Jay Leno conducted by Sharon Osbourne before the launch of her daytime talk show.

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Jay Leno advising Sharon Osbourne

I heard one of the smartest dissertations on the recipe for success for a talk show you will ever hear. Somewhere that tape is sitting in a vault. It should be pulled out and played for every TV executive and perhaps even business school students. Jay understands what it takes to please an audience and make a TV show work. He mixes his talent with hard work with being a genuine nice guy. During the break in the taping Jay grabbed food and ate with the crew happily trading tales about his car collection.

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Sharon Osbourne happy to receive Jay's advice

I will be watching to see how Jay will do in his show opener tonight and my bet is that Jay will find a way to make the show work.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

One response so far

Sep 01 2009

dual portrait 2 – a transition

Another example of an environmental portrait that can also serve as a headshot. This time a simple hallway serves as our background and a blend of natural daylight and warm tungsten light on our subject provides the color variation. Similar to the HHMI fellows, this portrait can be cropped as a headshot as well as serve as a consistent portrait  location for the Cancer Care Associates team.

Our subject is Dr. David Chan, an excellent oncologist in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and a family friend (he and my wife trained together at Stanford).

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Oncologist David Chan, M.D.

I recently spent a couple of days in his busy office creating images of patient care and research for his website and stock use. Look for those photos in my next post.

Mark Harmel
harmelphoto.com

2 responses so far

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