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Branding is important to most companies around the world, large or small. Sports teams, news organizations, artists,
car dealerships,
lawyers, cell phone companies, airlines, resorts, writers et cetera all want and need branding.
Part of what I do for my clients is branding through my vision & my photography.

Late last year I was asked to photograph an American writer, Jack Ketchum. He is based in NYC close to Central Park and I had shot with him 2 years before. My challenge is to shoot this person & make him "Look the part". Jack is a writer of horror but in person is real pleasant & fun to be around, so some work was in order to make him look evil. Another issue was the constraint of time. Jack could not meet before 1:30 pm & I had to leave for the airport at 3:30 pm. By the time the cab found the address & I was knocking on his door it was close to 2 pm. So I had 75 minutes to shoot & that included walking back from Central Park to the writers apartment to have him change clothes & walk back to a bar to shoot the last few images. In real time, I shot for 59 minutes & I shot 327 photos, or an average of 5½ shots per minute.

The first thing I did was look at his wardrobe, and like most of America, it was very limited. He had, like most of us, a few great items and the rest was what I call "just clothes". Not real exciting. So I picked the items I thought would work and we set off to the park. Having been in NYC and in the same neighborhood 2 years before I had a clue of the locations near his home. So in walking to Central park I found several locations I liked on the way, see below. In fact we never set foot inside the park but were literally standing by the fence. I got what I wanted, packed up & walked back to the apartment & left again for a local restaurant & bar where he had made arraignments to shoot.

In this image I have Jack smoking and walking.

Jack Ketchum

When shooting "Non Talent" (Talent would be a professional model or actor, all others are Non Talent) I find it to be a good idea to have them do something they are comfortable with. Most of us are comfortable walking and it requires a bit of the brain to walk, we have to look where we are walking & we have to process the information. All of this will help them to almost forget someone is shooting photographs of them. This brief time when they are distracted is all the window I need to shoot something wonderful, because they are being themselves. When I get a shot like this I show it to them and they then get the idea that I know what I am doing, and start to trust me as an image maker. This was not the first or the second shot we did but was #44.

This image was image #29 and Jack is already getting comfortable. The timing of this photo shoot was perfect. The weather was great and it was 1 day from Halloween, the ghouls & goblins were out, wonderful for a horror writer.

Jack Ketchum in NYC

This shot, where I used a technique to make his skin look rough, was still on the way to the park but I saw the solid black door & stopped and shot a few images.

Jack Ketchum in NYC

I don't like to shoot in one spot too long because it gives the subject time to stop moving and start to think about the process of what they are doing. At this point they may be starting to get stiff and mechanical in their attempts to "Model", bad idea.

So we keep moving onto this image. We have finally reached the outer wall of Central Park, & I see this bench. (Question: does the bench need to be in a park to be a "Park Bench"? I don't really know.) I asked Jack to sit, relax and be himself... this of course means more cigarettes.

Jack Ketchum in NYC

I shoot 15 images of him on the bench & I have him change into a leather jacket where I shoot 33 more. I then ask him to stand & I shoot 18 shots. We then move across the sidewalk to a tree & I shoot 9 shots, this image was #8 out of the 9. I wanted this to be a bit dark because of his work being so very dark & his next "Victim" might be the person walking away in the background.
Jack Ketchum in NYC

At this point I know I have something good so we walk back to the apartment so he could change & I could get the rest of my gear I had left there & we then walked to the restaurant to shoot.

This image was shot in light that reflected off of the white table cloth and gives this unflattering light. Normally I would avoid this type of light but for Jack it was perfect. Plus the attitude, the position of his body and face shows that he is a real "tough guy". One of Jack's fans calls this image "Disturbing", so I hit the mark.

Jack Ketchum in NYC
In the last image I am sitting on the floor shooting up as he drinks his adult beverage of choice while leaning towards the camera.
Jack Ketchum in NYC

A lot of busy people and celebrities do not like spending a lot of time shooting with photographers, so I had to be really fast, which I am anyway, and focused on what I wanted to do. Only because of my many years shooting allowed me to do this in the time I had. In fact I had a cab waiting for me so once I packed up I was driven to JFK to fly home. I was dropped off at the airport, went though security, grabbed a sandwich, walked up to the gate to the agent & walked onto the plane because my zone had already been called. Some could say perfect timing. Too close for me. I left the job 3 hours & 45 minutes before my flight left and without traffic it is a 35-40 minute drive. It took 1 hour & 45 minutes to get there. Security was backed up and it was a really long walk to the gate, JFK is one of the worst airports on the face of the planet. If I had decided to use the other gear I had with me I would not have gotten the shots I did shoot or I would have missed that last plane home that day.

Too often we get caught up with our "Stuff" to shoot what the client really needs. I brought strobes, softboxes & reflectors... but those were only there "Just in case" the weather did not cooperate. Sometimes you only need a camera and your eye to make wonderful images.


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