Tag Archives: Getty Images

Getting Directed by Kevin Costner and Modern West

When Kevin Costner and Modern West kicked off their latest tour, I got the call to photograph the concert at the Lakeland Center.

It’s pretty exciting stuff, truth be told.

It’s quick though.  You get in for the first three songs and you’re escorted out.  Most times, I don’t even remember what those songs were.  It’s a 10 minute blur of time when you’re looking for tack-sharp images.

It’s waiting for for a fracture of a second to make an image where the mic isn’t covering the performer’s mouth.   Where some fan’s hand or head isn’t featured prominently.  Where the stage lights and your camera’s metering system find common ground.  Where there is some kind of action, motion, or an element about the performance that makes it a moment worth photographing.

Those ten or so minutes quick and you check your LCD to get a quick idea of whether you got the shots you need and whether your client will be pleased.

They were.

Kevin Costner Blowing Kisses to the Crowd

Kevin and the band are great showmen and, based on the reaction of the crowd, excellent musicians too.

      I digress.

This isn’t really about the show itself, rather the show before the show and how I got directed by Kevin Costner.

It was the first night of their tour.  Opening night.  When I accepted the assignment, I had asked whether I might be able to get some pre-show access to the band.   Of course, I got no guarantees, but did get invited to go to the “meet and greet” where select guests were able to shake hands and pose with Kevin backstage.

Meet and Greet with Kevin Costner backstage

I didn’t hold out much hope that I’d be able to get anything more than these images, but I knew that since it was their first show in the tour, I might get lucky.

After the meet and greet, the band disappeared into a room and closed the door.  I knew my chances of getting any intimate images was waning, but I stayed backstage anyway.

“Come on in,” the manager said.

Success.

The thrill is kind of  immense when you are allowed to access very personal, intimate moments like that.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a  wedding shoot with a very cool couple or a real A-list Hollywood Star letting you make a few photos with them.  ( Robin Hood, JFK, The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, Waterworld, 3,000 Miles to Graceland, The Bodyguard, etc) .

I changed my camera lens to a 14-24,  adjusted my white balance for the color temp of the room and as discreetly and doe-like as I could adjust my 200-pound, way-over-40 frame, started shooting.

Backstage, under bad lighting, with Kevin Costner and Modern West

It was almost perfect.

The band acted like I wasn’t there.  I kept quiet, stayed out of their way and just shot.  NO motor drive back here.  One frame.  Discreet.  One frame.  Discreet.  One Frame.  Pause.  One frame.  Discreet.

They had an opening show to perform in minutes.  The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself or interrupt their focused moments.  Worse, get kicked out.

I knew I wouldn’t use my flash.  I knew it would do all the things that I didn’t want to do.   I also knew the light where they were standing was horrible.

There would mounted lights on the ceiling and pointed toward the walls, but there was very little light falling on the band in the center of the room.

Kevin Costner warms up with violinist Bobby Yang.

In a case like this, I’ll shoot with whatever light I can get.

I didn’t realize was that Kevin Costner was not only aware of my dilemma but he also had a solution.

“Would you like us to move to the other side of the room where the light is better?”, he asked.

“Yes,” I said out loud.

Inside, I screamed, “YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES”!

He was directing the shoot.  He’s not only an A-list Hollywood actor, he’s also a director with incredible knowledge of scenes and backdrops and moments  and film and, most importantly to me, light.

The band moved to the other side of the room.  Costner leaned against the red wall, almost directly under one of the overhead spotlights.

The  band formed a semi-circle around him as they warmed up their voices and their instruments.

I thanked God and KC under my breath, knelt down,  and pushed the shutter.

Kevin Costner directs the shoot.

I had about 3 minutes with the band under that light.  I thought the series of  images was pretty powerful.

So did Rolling Stone magazine.

They published it here:

http://www.rollingstone.com/random-notes-2012/kevin-costner-and-modern-west-0358177

Thank you for your direction.

I think the credited image should look like this:

True image credit line.

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A Patriarch’s Passing

  Bob Schindler never wanted to be in the public eye, but he was.

The media followed Bob Schindler's every move.

The media followed Bob Schindler's every move.

  He never wanted to have his family’s private life exposed to a world-wide audience, never wanted the noteriety of being involved in a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, but he was.

Jesse Jackson stands behind Bob Schindler.

Jesse Jackson stands behind Bob Schindler.

  But, more than that, he didn’t want his daughter to die, but she did.

 Bob’s daughter Terri Schiavo died in March, 2005 after years of legal and political wrangling.   She died after three separate court rulings that allowed her estranged husband to remove her feeding tube.

Bob Schindler comforts those who came to comfort him.

Bob Schindler comforts those who came to comfort him.

 

Bob Schindler comforts those who came to comfort him.

Bob Schindler comforts those who came to comfort him.

Bob Schindler Sr.  followed her August 29, 2009.

  I got to know Bob and his family while covering the Terri Schivao case for various media outlets.  I spent more than five years reporting and photographing the story as it made it’s way through the legislature, the courts, the media and the White House.    I learned a few things from Mr. Schindler along the way:

  1.  Family is always first.

  2.  Fight for what your heart tells you is right.

  3.  Never give up.

  Bob didn’t just teach these lessons.  He lived them every day.  He stayed by his daughter’s side.  He stood strong against immense opposition to those who felt that her right to breathe died when she had a cardiac arrest at a young age.

Bob Schindler, his wife Mary and daughter Suzanne.

Bob Schindler, his wife Mary and daughter Suzanne.

  As a news reporter and photographer, you’re not supposed to take sides and I didn’t.  I accurately portrayed what was happening during the case, but I never could lose the feeling that Terri’s mother, father, brother and sister should be able to hold her hand, brush her hair, talk to her, see her and love her regardless of her medical condition.

  Bob Schindler Sr. will never be forgotten.  His legacy will live on with everyone who knew him, but also to many who didn’t know him, only knew of him. 

  His memory to me won’t be as the father of Terri Schiavo.

  It will be as the father we should all be so lucky to have.   (I am)

  I will miss you, my friend.

 RIP Bob Schindler.

RIP Bob Schindler.

Hulk Hogan’s Divorce

  Hulk Hogan is a worldwide celebrity living through a very public and ugly divorce and it shows.

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  He’s got millions of fans around the globe, but he’s also got millions of people who are very critical of his lifestyle, his actions and of his very public family dramas and disasters.

   He’s what is known in the journalism world as an all-purpose public figure.     It’s a term used by the U.S . Supreme Court in defining and protecting the first amendment:  The right to a free press.   In short, it means that if you choose to live your life in the public eye, you also agree to endure public criticism as well.   

  It’s the reason why tabloid newspapers, web sites and magazines can make a fortune over the latest Jon and Kate escapade, Paris Hilton’s alleged sexual promiscuity and whether Florida Governor Charlie Crist is gay or not.    It’s the reason every television station in Tampa Bay, as well as TMZ and at least one freelance videographer can show up, shoot and broadcast every tawdry tidbit said in court or outside it.

  There are limits to what the press can print about all-purpose public figures and there are penalities for writing or broadcasting items that are libelous or harmful to their reputations.  But, to win a civil suit for libel, a public figure must prove “actual malice” or that the news outlet KNEW the item was false or used “reckless disregard” when publishing an item it thought MAY be false. 

     It’s very difficult to prove actual malice, yet a few celebrities have been successful in suing news outlets and many have also been successful in getting retractions and apologies without going to court.

    I’m not here to cast judgement in the case.  I’m merely an observer with an insight.  A man with a camera hired to document the hearing and put the images in the public domain.

  Hulk no longer looks like the wrestling superstar I grew up with.   I understand he was a character there.  He was a man playing a part, a role.  He was making a living.

  The reality of his life lately is much less glamorous and much more traumatic.  Hulk looked like a man who was losing this round.    He often appeared to be praying for relief.

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      Hulk’s estranged wife, Linda, currently gets $40,000 a month to maintain her lifestyle.   Her attorney said she had over $740,000 in her own bank account when she was given the monthly alimony.  This hearing was held because Hulk is trying to have that 40K figure reduced, claiming she spends it on drugs and her 19-year-old boyfriend.

  Linda denies using drugs and has produced a drug screening that says she’s clean.  Hulk brought two witnesses to court to say differently.

Hairdresser Tracy Morgan testifies

Hairdresser Tracy Morgan testifies

  Tracy Morgan used to style Linda’s hair.  She’s also done work for both Hulk and his current girlfriend Jennifer McDaniel.  Apparently, Morgan doesn’t style Linda’s hair anymore.  She testified that Linda used to ask her to cash checks for her, then have Linda’s drug dealer deliver drugs to Morgan’s business in an attempt to hide the purchases from Hulk’s attorneys.  Linda’s attorney called the testimony a “complete fabrication” and repeatedly asked Morgan why she kept looking into the jury box where the press was seated.    It was a dynamic battle during the cross examination.  Linda’s attorney was very aggressive during his questioning of Morgan.  Morgan was equally aggressive from the witness stand and was reprimanded several times by Judge George Greer to answer the question that was asked.  Ironically, Judge Greer at one time also was known world-wide.  He was the Judge that presided in the Terri Schiavo case and ruled that her feeding tube should be removed.  She died in 2004 as a result of his rulings.

Judge George Greer admonishes the witness

Judge George Greer admonishes the witness

   Divorce cases are notoriously ugly, more so when celebrity and large sums of money are at stake. 

Linda reacts to a witness's testimony

Linda reacts to a witness's testimony

  The hearing ended without any decisions.  Apparently, Hulk has more witnesses to testify regarding Linda’s spending habits.  The hearing will resume in July.  The divorce case itself has yet to begin.  Both Hulk and Linda are also facing a civil suit from John Graziano’s family regarding Nick’s careless driving and the devestating injuries that cost John a normal life.  Some people even say that this divorce is an effort to hide and divide the family’s wealth in preparation for the large amount of money that could be awarded to Graziano’s family.

  I don’t know.

  Both Linda and Hulk brought their current paramours to court for some reason.  It may be spite.  It may be companionship and support.  It may be for public relations.  It may be because the press was there.  I cannot speculate. 

Linda Bollea (Hogan) and Charlie Hill

Linda Bollea (Hogan) and Charlie Hill

Hulk Hogan and Jennifer McDaniel leave the hearing

Hulk Hogan and Jennifer McDaniel leave the hearing

  Am I a paparazzi?  Nope!  Getty Images does not endorse paparazzi behavior.  I do not hide in trees, stake out restaurants nor chase people down the street.  This was/is a legitimate news story.  Many people don’t care about it, nor wish to hear about it.  Many people do.   

  Do I like covering the case?  I must admit I do to an extent.  It’s a slice of life.  I’ve spent many days in courtrooms over the years and there are powerful emotions and decisions exhibited there.  This hearing was especially dramatic with accusations of drug use, fame-seeking witnesses, lying, cheating and alimony-money-hiding. 

  I like shooting stories with drama and emotion.  I like capturing them.  I like the challenges of shooting in a low-light courtroom with no flash.  I like bantering with the baliffs and court security people and other press that are there.    I like being an observer. 

  An intern from FOX 13 was sitting beside me during the hearing.  I asked her afterwards if this was her first time in a courtroom and she said it was.  I told her to savor it.   Few court hearings have this much drama in such a short period of time.

  For me, it’s also a dramatic change of pace from shooting weddings and models and actors and families and children and everything else I do.  I actually believe that it’s good to shoot a wide variety of  things.  It challenges me, it makes me step outside comfort zones. 

  I think it makes me a better photographer.

  And, it makes me happy that I’m on the viewfinder side of the camera and not the opposite one.

Golfing with Bill Murray

  When the Outback Pro-Am Golf Tournament was held last month in Tampa, Beam Global Spirits and Wine was a sponsor and needed a photographer to shoot images of the celebrities in attendance as well as people enjoying Beam products.

   Through my affiliation with Getty Images, they hired me for a three-day shoot. 

 

  The first night was the Aussie Bash, featuring Montgomery-Gentry as the entertainment.    The band is affiliated with Jim Beam products and even uses a guitar with the Jim Beam logos on it. 

 

Montgomery-Gentry performs during the Aussie Bash

Montgomery-Gentry performs during the Aussie Bash

Montgomery-Gentry does a promo for Jim Beam TV

Montgomery-Gentry does a promo for Jim Beam TV

    I spent some time backstage with the band, shooting meet and greet photographs, as well as anything that included Jim Beam branding (photographs including logos or products).

  That was a big part of what I was hired to shoot:  Photograph celebrities and guests enjoying Jim Beam products.    Beam public relations people wanted them to use in their marketing efforts, as well as for distribution through Getty Images.

 

  Day two of the shoot was the Hornitos Challenge, or the first day of practice on the golf course.  I knew there were a bunch of celebrities scheduled to attend, but the guidance I got from my Jim Beam contact was to follow Bill Murray.  It turned out to be a good choice.

Bill Murray pretends to drink a bottle of Hornitos Tequila

Bill Murray pretends to drink a bottle of Hornitos Tequila

    Murray caused an immediate stir among the fans and the media when he showed up for the practice round.  All eyes and cameras began following him.  He didn’t disappoint.  Jim Beam’s PR people were total pros at what they did.  They corralled Murray within the first 15 minutes of his arrival, shoved a bottle of Hornitos tequilla into his hand and moved him in front of their “step and repeat” (backdrop featuring sponsor logos used on red carpets, etc.)

  The consumate comedian, Murray pretended to drink from the un-opened bottle.  Shutter click.  I was off to a good start for the day.  I knew I had a good photo for my clients:  Superstar comedian Bill Murray fake-drinking from a bottle of my client’s tequilla, in front of a backdrop featuring the same.

  It was branding at its best.  Bill Murray was happy too.  He kept the bottle of Hornitos.

   The rest of the day wouldn’t be so easy.  I had never shot golf before, but I did study the Getty Images web site to see how their professionals shot golf before I left for the shoot.  (www.gettyimages.com)

Bill Murray chips away from a water trap

Bill Murray chips away from a water trap

Bill Murray chips for the hole.

Bill Murray chips for the hole.

    It was a learning experience on the golf course that day.  The first time i shot someone teeing off, I had yet to learn that you don’t click your shutter until after they’ve connected with the ball.    The first tee shot I photographed, I learned that the hard (easy) way when everybody within about 15 yards looked at me with contempt in their eyes.    No one said anything to me, but I got the message loud and clear.

  This was a Thursday and Murray kept fans and golfers alike on the edge of their seats with his antics.  He “performed” all day.

Murray hugs volunteers.

Murray hugs volunteers.

  We had started the day about 10am.  By about 2pm, Murray had run out of ice for his drink and stopped, un-announced, at one of the course-side homes to refill.

  Linda Petrovich was obviously suprised when she came to her sliding glass door and found Bill Murray, 2 videographers and two still photographers standing there.  The look on her face was priceless.

Linda Petrovich finds a famous guest on her doorstep.

Linda Petrovich finds a famous guest on her doorstep.

       These photographs were posted to Getty Images for distribution.  A few media outlets picked them up that day, but the story really took off the following day (I wasn’t working) when Murray struck a woman with an errant tee shot.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/04/13/GA2009041300819.html)

    Murray was extremely generous to fans, posing for photographs, trading quips, signing autographs, flirting with women and doing just about anything anybody asked him to do.  I’ve shot a lot of celebrities in the past five years and many times my opinion of them is formed, not by their latest film, but by the way they treat and interact with their fans.  Bill Murray now ranks high on my list of favorite celebrity subjects.

 

    Mark Wahlberg was there for the practice round too, but I didn’t expect to get the same cooperation, nor photo opportunites, with him.  From what I had heard, Wahlberg was notoriously unfriendly with the press.  That day, it wasn’t true.

Mark Wahlberg holds a bottle of Jim Beam.

Mark Wahlberg holds a bottle of Jim Beam.

  Wahlberg was very accomodating and gave me another great branding shot for Jim Beam.  He also talked with fans, gave us an interview for Jim Beam TV, signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans.  He was also a pretty good golfer.

Mark Wahlberg tees off.

Mark Wahlberg tees off.

    Shooting golf is not an easy shoot.  You have to carry lots of gear, you have to travel long distances (we did have a golf cart), you have to capture peak action, the days are long and you must be extremely cautious to not disrupt the golfers.

  I consider it a successful shoot though.  A lot of publications picked up my photographs, my client got lots of photographs that they had wanted and I got paid. 

  It’s what I hope for with all my shoots.