When John Early, one of our automotive photographers, prepares for a shoot, it now could mean one of many things. Wonderful Machine’s Los Angeles-based shooter has more than embraced the various technologies that his field has seen: he was an early pioneer of the “VR” imagery that every auto manufacturer has used on their websites. This enhancement to traditional still photography allows web users to view their potential dream purchase from all angles, even as if they were sitting inside the car.
John says that he “got into VR in the late 1990s when I saw that the only people doing VRs (panoramas or objects) of cars were computer-geek companies that had the technology down, but not the aesthetic eye and lighting skills to make the car look good.”
His early adoption even caught the attention of Apple computers, who features him on their website (apparently his first Apple computer was an Apple IIe with dual 360K floppy drives). They profile one example where John used 30 cameras to create a VR video.
Recently, with the popularity of of CGI (3D imagery), advertising agencies have even hired John as a director of photography and lighting. He doesn’t pick up a camera for these projects, but instead guides computer artists to make the images look realistic and well-lit. John says that this process is still very expensive, so traditional photography still has a place in the automotive industry, at least for a while.
Speaking of which, John also has an involved process when he’s shooting on location. He displays a behind the scenes video on his website which documents several shoots. In some instances you’ll see his use of a carbon fiber “boom arm” which extends to fifty feet, and is rigged to both the car and the camera. The result gives a more natural appearance of motion than Photoshop can provide for him, while maintaining a crisp image of the car:
John Early’s work appears on many automotive websites and in print, and you can see more of his photography and motion photography on his own website. You’ll also notice the same attention to detail displayed in his still life photography.
At first glance, Barbara Green creates solid children’s lifestyle photography for clothing companies and portraits of the famous and not-as-famous. But dig a little deeper, and this Wonderful Machine photographer shows a wilder side that has helped capture the imagination of magazines, newspapers, and national radio.
The Los Angeles photographer recently shot all of the portraits for the Virgin book, A La Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers, by Hillary Carlip, which whimsically profiles 26 people and their oddball shopping habits. The difference is, all twenty-six fictional characters are portrayed by one real-life performance artist, Ms. Carlip.
Indeed, all of the following photographs are actually of the same woman. Hillary wrote the book as an offshoot of her hobby of collecting grocery store shopping lists that she finds on the floor. She created the characters based on who she imagined would have dropped those shopping lists. The book’s website has an entertaining video which quickly explains the concept.
A La Cart has caught the attention of Entertainment Weekly, National Public Radio, The Wall St. Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and many others, including the actress/author/performance artist Amy Sedaris, who proclaimed, “I wish I had thought of this idea — I’m so jealous.”
From Publisher’s Weekly: “The 26 vivid photographic portraits and accompanying narratives display the author’s humor, grace and a brilliantly creative eye. Carlip’s alter egos are larger than life and twice as entertaining… A hilarious, delightful, unique achievement.”
You can check out more of Barbara Green’s photographs on her portfolio website. And to see a sample of her comfort with working with children, take a look at this behind-the-scenes video of a recent skate shoot. Barbara says of her approach: “I have a “young” attitude” which helps the kids relate to me, and put them at ease. At one point in the street/skate photo shoot, I handed my assistant the camera, got on a skateboard, and blew the kids away with some of my “old school skate skills”. They never really expect the photographer to have as much fun as they do…“
Noah Kalina, New York photographer, has recently joined Wonderful Machine. Aside from his ad and editorial work, Noah is best known for the following YouTube video which catapulted him to immediate web fame and ultimately producing self-portraits with Paris Hilton and many other celebrities:
The concept was relatively simple, but required dedication: he photographed himself every day for 6 years, editing the images to original music composed by his then-girlfriend. Then he posted the video to YouTube.
Noah’s video captured the imagination of millions of web viewers: 11,898,840 to date, in fact. Within four days of posting the video, he was listed as a Yahoo Pick. Five days later, Good Morning America features his post on a live television broadcast. Then Katie Couric mentions him on CBS Evening News. And on and on (detailed on Noah’s website about the video).
Then the unlikely happens: about three months later, VH1 calls Noah to have him produce more self-portraits, this time to air on live television, and he’s to be accompanied by celebrities who’ve just won their “Big in ‘06″ award.
In a Washington Post interview, Kalina detailed how it all went down:
“I got a call from one of the producers of the show and they invited me to come out to Los Angeles and do this project backstage. A little hesitant, I asked if any of the celebrities would even know who I was. They assured me that my video was so big and such a huge part of popular culture everyone would know who I was. Of course that was not the case…
I just sat there while the producers wrangled all of the celebrities once they got off stage. It was funny hearing the producers trying to explain the project to the different celebrities…”
But the majority of the celebrities went along with it, and their portrait with Kalina ran during the commercial breaks and at the end of the show. Noah photographed himself alongside Paris Hilton, Fergie, Will.i.am, Hulk Hogan, Weird Al Yancovic, David Hasselhof, and others. Dominic Monaghan and Megan Mullally were the only stars who turned down the photo op.
Since the awards, the YouTube song accompanying the video went on sale at iTunes by popular demand, and eventually The Simpsons parodied the video. In addition, Noah has shot a variety of editorial and advertising assignments, some of which are featured on his commercial photography website (such as the following spread from Seed).
“It is rare in contemporary photography to encounter a series of pictures this beautiful, compelling, innocent, and intriguing.”
Thus begins the essay by Andy Grundberg, known internationally for his articles in The New York Times and photography books, introducing Boston Photographer Blake Fitch’s monograph, Expectations of Adolescence.
The Wonderful Machine photographer has received a generous amount of attention for her 10-year body of work, which focuses exclusively on her sister and cousin as they grow through adolescence into early adulthood. Grundberg’s essay, and others, often compare Fitch’s work to the likes of Sally Mann and Rineke Dijkstra.
In the past year alone, Blake’s work was acquired by both The George Eastman House and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This, in addition to other works having been exhibited internationally.
You can see more of her fine art and commercial work at www.blakefitchphotos.com.