Editorial

Miss Piggy Goes to Washington

Miss Piggy Goes to Washington

The Jim Henson Legacy Foundation donated 21 Muppets to the Smithsonian. Smithsonian Magazine hired me to photograph Miss Piggy visiting a couple of the most storied objects housed there.

Pairing Miss Piggy with the Hope Diamond involved a secret, predawn escort to the Natural History Museum and an armed guard at the museum’s Gems Hall. I got to photograph the Muppet Diva wearing the necklace holding the 45.53 –carat stone.

It wasn’t your typical fashion shoot.

Miss Piggy wanted to try on Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. I scouted the slippers which were on display, and visited with the curator who was nice but told me that the Slippers couldn’t come out of the display case – don’t even THINK about taking the slippers out of the case – and to figure it out. So we moved in the day of the shoot and well, we figured it out, photographing thru the display case – careful to not have any reflections.

You’ve got to make the Muppet, and the curator, happy.

Check out the full article here

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Tucker ’48

TUCKER '48
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

Preston Tucker and his car of the future have quite a story.

The short of it, he was a legendary innovator, and a legendarily bad businessman. But the car? It’s beautiful.

Read the full article here.

Thanks to Smithsonian Photo Editor, and frequent collaborator, Jeff Campagna.

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Smithsonian Magazine: Bigfoot

Yes, he’s real!

Legends like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Bermuda Triangle were as much of an influence to me growing up as the Lone Ranger, Zorro and the Two-Gun Kid.

Smithsonian Magazine Associate photo editor Donny Bajohr reached out to see if I was interested in taking on an assignment photographing Bigfoot.

THE Bigfoot?! Count me in.

I always love working with the Smithsonian, and they thought it would be cool to create a miniature set in the vein of the famous grainy “video footage” from the Patterson–Gimlin film.

Bigfoot will be September’s “American Icon” featured in the Prologue section of Smithsonian Magazine.

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Robot Love

Robot Love

I am honored to have my C-3PO images for Smithsonian Magazine selected in the Editorial category for the juried Communication Arts 2018 Photo Annual issue. It won’t ever not be exciting to be included in those pages. 

Each project I do hits home for different audiences in different ways, but these C-3PO images have been some of my most widely resonate. This droid has a firm grip on our national (and beyond) cultural memory. It was a unique challenge to photograph this icon as a piece of machinery, a sum of metal luster and wires – apart from but as a compliment to everyone’s knowledge of and affection for this American character.

I photographed C3PO for the National Treasures feature of Smithsonian Magazine (as apt a place for him as you could come up with) where it was selected the Most Powerful Image for that publication for 2017.

Thanks to Smithsonian Photo Editor, and frequent collaborator, Jeff Campagna. And to Communication Arts

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Geeking Out On the Job: Face to Face with C-3PO

Geeking Out On the Job: Face to Face with C-3PO

Working once again with Smithsonian Magazine, I was charged with photographing C-3PO for a section of the magazine called “National Treasure” at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

While we couldn’t touch him, I could see and feel the craft that went into bringing his character to life on the screen. Focusing in on the droid’s hinges, lines and luster – the physical realness of this character – I did my best to channel the cinematic origin, to capture a movie still not a product shot. Thank you, as always, to Jeff Campagna for the opportunities to photograph these pieces of history, to Smithsonian Magazine for being a true giant in chronicling the objects of our collective history and culture, and to LucasFilm and Disney for your imaginations.

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Mexico

Mexico

I have a strong affinity for Mexico, the place and its people. I have been traveling there since I was a little boy and have returned numerous times for personal and professional photography projects.

On a recent trip to Mexico, I visited the state of Tamaulipas for a couple of days and created this series of photographs on farm workers.

On a ranch just north of Tampico, I came across migrant workers harvesting onions from the fields. This part of Mexico, just south of the Tropic of Cancer and a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico, is ideal for growing onions, hot chili peppers, and soybeans – its rich, tropical soil yielding multiple crops year-round. The onion harvest is a hectic operation that involves picking the onions by hand. Once cut, they are left in the fields to dry before being trucked to a shed to be sorted, packed and ultimately shipped to market. To work the fields, a nomadic group of Tamalín Indians make a yearly journey here from the tropical state of Veracruz.  Their weather beaten faces tell a story of many years of hard work in the fields under the relentless sun. I made these images in a shed and in the fields where they worked – in the middle of their day.

As a “commercial” photographer, I really enjoy what I do. Of course, there are great characters and stories to capture in any shoot – but I continue to be intrigued by real, every-day people.  I try to seek them out whenever possible, like I did the migrant workers on this ranch.  You can’t make any of it up – the authenticity of their faces, their culture, how they carry themselves or what they face in the reality of their day is endlessly rewarding for me.  

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Barney Smith for Clorox’s Ode to the Commode

Barney Smith for Clorox’s Ode to the Commode

Toilet Seats. Toilet seats in Texas. A Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio. Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum. Count me in!

One of the things I love about what I do is getting access to a place or a person that I didn’t know even existed before they contacted me.  A big part of what keeps me going is the love of an adventure and to have – and share – these experiences with people and their stories.

Ketchum contacted me in regards to working a project for The Clorox Company. Working with creative director, Ken Buraker, we headed to San Antonio and Barney’s museum. In addition to creating a series of images as well as a short video of Barney for a national campaign, we set up an outdoor available-light studio in the 100 degree Texas heat and photographed the objects that inspired us – Clean, minimalistic and graphically interesting.  

The images were created both for use on OdeToTheCommode.com and Clorox’s Facebook and Instagram channels. For Clorox this was more about digital storytelling and celebrating someone, who shares a unique passion for toilets, than a traditional campaign.

The idea came about after Clorox saw a news story about Barney Smith. Barney is an artist who uses toilet seat lids as his canvas. Over five decades, he created more than 1,300 ornately-decorated toilet lids, some of which feature artifacts with national and international historical significance. He displays them in his Toilet Seat Art Museum, which also happens to be the garage of his San Antonio home. With Barney’s 100th birthday a few short years away, he is looking to take a step back and is searching for a buyer for his entire collection who will keep available to the public, free of charge, for years to come.

It’s not often someone sees the potential for finer elements of the bathroom like Clorox does, so they had the idea to release a digital gallery featuring Barney’s favorite and most unique lids – an Ode to the Commode – to find a new home for the collection and share Barney’s passion for toilets with everyone to enjoy like thousands of visitors to his San Antonio museum have over the years.

The project was about creating different visuals that can live on many different platforms but telling the same brand story, and I think it’s a perfect example of where brand marketing and storytelling is going.  As marketing continues to drift onto digital platforms, creating “assets” and “content” is what we are seeing more and more of in regards to needs from agencies.

I loved this project so much. It’s bananas!!  

What do you do after toilet seats? What’s next? Honestly, I want to go where I don’t know I want to go yet.

*If you are in San Antonio, Barney’s Toilet Seat Museum should really be on your must visit list.  Barney himself is an American treasure. And he has a ton of stories to tell. The museum is located in his garage, so it’s small but it’s overflowing with stuff to see.

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Trend & Tradition

Trend & Tradition

Growing up in Richmond, VA, trips just an hour or so southeast to Colonial Williamsburg were common weekend fare. I have really fond memories of my time there so when I was approached by Trend & Tradition: The Magazine of Colonial Williamsburg, to shoot a cover, it felt a bit like going home. 

More than just a school field trip destination, Colonial Williamsburg is a true link between the present and a past that speaks to the very origins of the European settlement of the United States. Trend & Tradition is dedicated to telling the stories of 18th century America through a modern point of view.

  
For this Summer edition cover, I was asked to photograph the Fifes & Drums, a group dedicated to the tradition of military music dating back to the Revolutionary War. Boys and girls ages 10-18 apply to join and practice for 8 years through high school graduation, educating the public about the role of music in the 18th century military. Beyond the music, the Fifes & Drums are a group that speaks to the ideal of working hard and earning your place. Through their hard work and dedication to both the musical and historical disciplines, members move through the ranks in pursuit of a few highly coveted leadership spots in the corps. While the original fifers and drummers of the 1700s were exclusively boys, this cover represents the changing face of the group and the bridge to the present with a Junior Corps that is now over 50% female. The girl on the cover represents that shift. Working with these kids was so cool – they worked so hard and showcased incredible discipline to get this iconic image. It was clear that they treat their place in history and their role in shaping the future with real reverence and respect. 

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Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins. 

Yes, that Tom Robbins, iconic American author.

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and went to VCU. Tom Robbins grew up in Virginia, south of Richmond and went to VCU. One of us is an iconic American author, one of us is me. I get wind that he is visiting VCU for a book signing. He has created some of the most memorable and eccentric characters in recent literature, and I’m a sucker for a great character.

What if I could photograph the character behind these characters? I jumped on the chance and went to work on getting a few moments of his time.

A few connections, a little luck, someway, somehow it worked out.

Our visit was short – but Tom was an enthusiastic subject and was more than happy to try a few things out. I stayed on task, not wanting to burn his time and also very careful to not get into a verbal ping-pong match, which I would be sure to lose. Tom Robbins is one of a kind, sincerely nice and generous, and whiplash quick and verbally creative, even in our brief one-on-one interaction.

I wanted to shoot film for some reason, it just seemed right. Though we didn’t have one of those modern monitors to review the images, looking later he seemed to really like the image and he pushed to use it on the book jacket of “Wild Ducks Flying Backwards.”

Flash forward a year or so and I was on a project in Washington state, I called Tom and stopped by for a quick visit – good things happen when you operate fueled by “why not?” I was traveling with a friend, but I didn’t tell him whom we were visiting. Tom was a gracious host, and as we visited, he casually mentioned something about being a writer to my friend. The friend politely asked what type of books he wrote – still oblivious as to whom he was talking to. Tom said, ” I write funny stories about serious things, sort of like Tom Robbins.“

Maybe my friend should pay attention to those photographs on book jackets.

Addendum: In addition to the Wild Ducks Flying Backward jacket, this impromptu portrait session produced an image that will now be featured on the cover of the German edition of Tibetan Peach Pie, (Tibetischer Pfirsichstrudel – rolls off the tongue) It’s no small honor and I’m grateful all over to have had the chance to meet and photograph that Tom Robbins

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Down in Mississippi…

Down in Mississippi...

I’ve always had a fondness for the Mississippi-Louisiana corridor, the Delta in particular, where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads – rich in food, textures, characters and of course, the blues, this region lives in me. It was a place I traveled to during summers as a child with my family and am so fortunate to have made numerous return trips to the Delta to make photographs both personally and for work. The Mississippi Delta has produced more blues musicians than any other region, and it’s really not even close. On one visit to Clarksdale, MS, a local told me about the Riverside Hotel, which I visited and made a portrait of “Rat”, the owner at the time. The unique story of the Riverside and its historic place in the fabric of the Delta are tangible to me in the image.

The Riverside Hotel has been in operation since 1944. The hotel is one of many historical blues sites in Clarksdale and is famed for providing lodging for such blues artists as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ike Turner and Robert Nighthawk.  At some point in the mid-1940s, Ike Turner moved into the Hotel and wrote and rehearsed his song “Rocket 88.” Turner’s bedroom is said to have been in what is now room #7.

Before being born as the Riverside Hotel, the site was the G. T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital, Clarksdale’s hospital for African American patients. In September of 1937, famed singer Bessie Smith was taken there for treatment after being involved in a car accident, which later proved fatal, outside Clarksdale.

The original structure had eight rooms. In 1943, Mrs. Z.L. Ratliff rented the property from G.T. Thomas for use as a hotel. Ratliff drew up plans that expanded the building to include 21 guest rooms over two floors. Thomas assisted her in this renovation and it opened as a hotel in 1944. Ratliff purchased the building outright from Thomas’s widow in 1957 and it has remained in the hands of the Ratliff family ever since. For much of that time it was run by Frank “Rat” Ratliff.

The portrait of “Rat” itself was very simple. He gave me a tour of the hotel and I asked if I could make his portrait sitting on the edge of the bed in one of the rooms.  He was game and we had nice window light.  The camera was hand held with transparency film and after couple of quick snaps we were on our way.  It was just a quick moment, nothing fancy but I enjoy the image, of a character of the Delta in his element. I was lucky to have had the experience and interaction with him.

“Rat” passed away in 2013, but the Riverside Hotel is still in business,  currently run by his daughter Zelena Ratliff.

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The University Of Richmond

The University Of Richmond

The University of Richmond is an inexorable part of the cultural fabric of Richmond.  And it’s always a treat when the university in my childhood backyard turns into a client.

I partnered with Samantha Tannich from the UR in-house creative team for this project showcasing a mash-up of disciplines using real students as subjects.

I probably photograph real people more than I do models, and there is always that bit of the unknown that I enjoy – the challenge of making someone comfortable in a short amount of time.

The University of Richmond student subjects were assigned to us and other than the concept, I had no idea who was going to show up on set or what they would look like.

Surprise! It’s a swimmer/fine arts major!

Surprise! It’s a music major/equipment manager for the football team!

Real people, old friends, cool project.

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All Dolled Up

All Dolled Up

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Ms Whittington

Ms Whittington

Many of my personal images happen as the result of a habit I have of seizing on an opportunity to capture a something or a someone that I’ve heard about or want to know more about.  Case in point, I was in Harlem on a project with David Calderley of Graphic Therapy. We went late into the night, and decided to grab a beer. While chatting he asked if I’d like to see pictures of the town he grew up in, then on his phone he pulled up and showed me photos of Whitby, England. I wasn’t prepared for how absolutely amazing it was, and just like that I wanted to go.

So a great group of amazingly talented friends, whom I’ve met and worked with over the years, got together and we made the journey to Whitby with David, to create images in his hometown for a personal project. We played around for a couple days, acting the tourists as we went and had a wonderful time.

My inspiration going in to the Whitby project was one of Jane Eyre meets Appalachia and it evolved, as it always does, once we saw the lay of the land. Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire, northern England. On the East Cliff, overlooking the North Sea, the ruined Gothic Whitby Abbey was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula. So in all honesty – the majority of the visual work was done simply by my showing up.

I hoped to keep everything as simple as possible and worked with only available light. The landscape itself is breathtakingly beautiful, the stuff of imagination, and I wanted to the images to be about the environment as much as anything else. I liked having the model as a human element to help provide a narrative as well as to give scale and context to the environments.

While I am proud of the images we created – timeless and slightly haunting, it is always the case that for me the journey is paramount, the adventure reward enough – and the images – no matter how great – are a bonus.

Thank you Pascale Lemaire, Dean Krapf, Doug Retzler and Kate Potter. Special thanks to David Calderley for a spark, all of your help and your hospitality.  

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GENLUX Magazine

GENLUX Magazine

Creative Director: Stephen Kamifuji
Photographer: Cade Martin 
Stylist: Pascale Lemaire 
Model: Tanya / Fenton Moon, New York 
Art Direction: David Calderley 
Hair and Makeup: Patti Nelson 

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Smithsonian Magazine: 101 Objects

Smithsonian Magazine: 101 Objects

With so much going on in the world today, and news cycles measured in hours and even minutes, it’s hard to keep up. Things can feel frantic and somewhat impermanent. It’s easy to speculate about the future and get tied up in what’s next. And as I did just that recently, I paused to look back, to recall a prior project that I did with Jeff Campagna from Smithsonian Magazine.  To capture the 101 most influential objects in America history, they would hire 7 photographers from around the world and divide up the objects between them. The extent of the direction from Jeff was simply to photograph them. I could do whatever I wanted, and was I interested? Yes, count me in.

These preserved symbols of our collective history have weight and permanence and a lasting legacy. I relished the opportunity to challenge myself to make unique images of these objects that have been photographed so many times. For my part I saw each one of them being very cinematic, creating a look and feel that would add drama and interest to these still – but iconic -objects, honoring their tales to tell. 

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Katie O’Malley

First things first, Katie O’Malley is amazing. Smart. Patient. Kind. Beautiful. Second things well, second, sometimes no matter intentions and planning, things go sideways. Third things – you know the drill, you still get the shot.

When I was asked by a client to photograph Mrs. O’Malley, the first lady of Maryland at the time, I was excited and expected it to be a relatively straightforward project.

Ahead of the shoot, I scout, I create scouting photos and send them to the client. People are busy. People work in different ways. Radio silence. We get closer to the shoot, still no word and I’m a little uneasy.

On the day before the shoot, I call my client contact and ask if she has had a chance to look at the scout photos. She says no, she does not like to work that way and prefers to figure it out on set. I ask if we can decide on a place to start. She puts that ball in my court.

People work in different ways.

The next morning is the day of the shoot and we arrive at the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis, at 7:30am as we agreed. We wait. A little more. A lot more. The client is 2 hrs behind schedule, 2 hrs late to the Governor’s Mansion.

As we wait, we have set everything up hoping to get straight to work when we’re all in the same room. But the client walks in and says she’s not feeling the setup and she’d like to try something in another room. We break down, move, re-setup and shoot a test. The client decides what we had originally set up in the other room was pretty good. Break down, move, re-re-set up.

People work in different ways.

The same page was hard to bookmark that entire day (and night.) However, throughout, at every miscommunication and diversion in vision, Mrs. O’Malley was a dream. And you know what? It’s not always creative peaches and cream on set. But we got the shot. And I absolutely love it.

Lone Ranger

Clayton Moore wore this black mask at the star of The Lone Ranger (ABC, 1949-57 but I’m sure you knew that,) a Western TV series about a Texas Ranger who disguises his identity to fight crime on the frontier.  

What I love about this particular project is everything.

It’s not hyperbole to say photographing the Lone Ranger’s mask for The Smithsonian was one of the best days of my life. I talk about how legends, characters, superheroes and comic book characters shaped me, shaped my perspective. But something about this mask reminded me of that foundation so viscerally. I felt just as I would have felt if 10-year old me was behind that camera.

Hi-yo Silver, away!

Design Bureau Magazine

Stickworks

People have amazing talents.

On a bookstore stop one night during a shoot in Miami, I came across the book Stickwork by artist Patrick Dougherty. I absolutely loved the stickwork structures and wrote Patrick a letter asking if I could possibly do a project at one of his structures. Got a yes. So I asked Design Army if they wanted to collaborate and they said yes too. Then we got these images.

Using minimal tools and a simple technique of bending, interweaving, and fastening together sticks, artist Patrick Dougherty creates works of art inseparable with nature and the landscape.

Design Bureau Magazine
Photography: Cade Martin
Creative/Art Direction: Design Army

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