Monday, December 23, 2013

Pictures of my Year, Business/Healthcare edition

It has been an interesting ind photographically dynamic year. I simple want to thank all of my friends, family colleagues, clients and collaborators for what, in many ways was my most productive year in a long time. please enjoy part one of my collection of favorite images for business and healthcare assignments from the past year.

Click here for a larger version:

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

(Stay tuned for part II)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Photographs for Refugees in Phoenix

      Buy a photograph and keep a great cause on track!

      Okay, as I know you are all crazy busy, and here I am demanding some of that time, so let me cut to the chase about how you may help make a difference. Only after that I'll explain my thinking, so you may act right away or, you're curious, read on for more details.

Cutting to the Chase: 

Photographs for charity,  
Cyber Monday (long weekend) special:
      Buy one fine art photograph through my brand new store on Scott's Marketplace, through Tuesday, Dec 3, and I will donate 15% of the sale to the Welcome to America Project, one of the local charities that I volunteer my photographic services to, bringing my international aid experience to an import local organization.
      Buy two and that goes up to 20%.
      Buy three or more and I'll make it 30%!
      (percentage will be figured before shipping and handling is added to the total).

      GO to D'Elia Photographic Photoscapes store! 


The Details
A new helmet to go with a new bike for a Liberian refugee to get to work.
      The Welcome to America Project is sorta like a "welcome wagon" for newly arrived refugees.

      They help folks who have been through trauma that have only read about, much less imagine, in escaping persecution based in politics and conflict, often under the threat to their lives. Those who are resettled in Phoenix, often arrive, and this is no exaggeration, with little more than the clothes on their back.

      WTAP helps get them settled by providing basic furniture and household items and even some clothing, helping ease the transition as they begin their new lives in a new country and culture. I've voluntarily done the culture adjustment before and it is no easy thing in the best circumstances.

      I volunteer for WTAP by providing my professional photojournalistic services to tell their story and history as a local, grassroots organization that makes a difference in people's lives.

A chance to put my bike knowledge to work assembling a new
machine for a refugee, with the help of "Bike Lady"
Jackie, a fellow journalist. 
      On occasion I get my hands dirty in other ways, turning a wrench or helping to lift a couch. During the holidays, my whole family gets into the act, "adopting" refugee family. I do this not because I look for appreciation, but rather because I feel compelled, and I am able to do so.

      I believe in what WTAP does.

      By raising funds through the sale of work, it's an amazing opportunity to lighten their load in another way, to keep the truck running, the storage units full, deliveries on track.

One of the images in question, Oak Creek.
The Store,
 D'Elia Photographic Photoscapes:
      I recently partnered with Scott's Marketplace to set up an online store for fine art photography. While my primary job is commercial and journalistic photography, I am a photographer inspired by anything that speaks to my visual muse.

      I enjoy photographing landscapes and cityscapes just as much I enjoy my other specialties and so I create according to what grabs me. This store provides another opportunity to share that inspiration.

     With all that is going on here at D'Elia Photographic Central, this store offers a chance to do several things at once, help out a causes that is near and dear to my heart, promote the buy-local cause, by working with another local business (Artisan Color is our large print photo lab), a local marketplace, (Scott's and Local First Arizona) and, yes, help my business grow just a little bit (maybe a lot?).

     Could we cover the cost of delivery to one household?

      Could we fuel the delivery truck or provide hardware and tools like nails, hooks and other supplies used to repair furniture and hang photos in refugee homes?

      As a community that appreciates photographic art, you and I could pay for a month's rent on WTAP's office and storage facility or fuel the delivery truck?     

     The more pieces of artwork that fly out the door, the more gets raised for WTAP.

      Is it conceivable that we could raise enough to cover all of the above?

               Go to D'Elia Photographic Photoscapes store!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Easy as Trash!

Our model for the morning, with no special lighting technique.
     "It's a pile of trash," she began.


     "No, really, I mean it is a pile of trash collected from the landfill from the 1970's arranged as a sort of sculpture," the client continued.

     They needed a picture for the center spread of an annual report for a trash management organization in the Valley.

     I can hear it now, its a pile of trash, how hard can that be? Some might even call it a snapshot.

     But this is for an annual report, she wanted it done right, photographed beautifully. 

Bottles show when light is pushed through them.
     You're thinking, "ick, a pile of trash," I'm thinking, this will be fun.

     It really is a fairly straightforward approach.

     Very simple, anyone could do it.

     It's only four lights and two umbrellas.

     And a gobo.

     And a foam core background.

Testing the rim light
     My plan, create a dramatic rim light to make it pop, to add that sense of something special to the objects while showing the bottles' color and transparency.

     The only way to really light glass is from above and or behind.

     Two lights with grid spots, done.

Every client needs options, so vertical
as well as horizontal with room for type.
     Next, with so many facets to the object I need to use two lights in front, to my left and right so that the viewer may see details. This light also needs to be soft and creamy to contrast with the rim light and create that sort of soft, inviting quality, so, that front lighting is fired into umbrellas.

     That said, I also don't want flat, no-texture lighting, so I set one umbrella dimmer than the other, allowing shadows to remain while still allowing visibility.

     That done, I need to reevaluate the difference between the rim lighting which should give some sense of crispness and sparkle, so I have to be sure that it's a little bit brighter than the umbrellas. 

     One more thing.

     Lens choice. 

     We're shooting in the middle of an office, so I'm looking for the narrow view of a longer lens to be sure I don't see extra stuff. Also, my background of foam core may show subtle texture, I want it completely blurred out. So I have to adjust the stobe power settings so that I can use a low enough aperture, be sure that only the trash focused.
Two backround/rim lights, two umbrellas and a gobo, right,  to keep out lens flare from the light on the right. O yeah and a couple of traffic cops to secure the location at the intersection of two hallways. 

     Once I start shooting I realize I have one more problem to solve. One of the rim lights, is spilling onto my lens, causing flare. No problem, clip a piece of foam core to another stand and position it close to the camera. This blocks the path of light from the strobe itself to my lens, while still allowing me to see my subject just fine.

     What I knew a long time ago, but what I discover with each shoot, is that the simplest thing, requires a great deal of effort and technique to create a great photograph.

      My client expressed surpise at all that went into the image. She was also very pleased that she chose a pro rather than making the image herself.

     Piece of cake. Anyone could do it.

The final image with room for design, as requested.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Faces of a campaign

Child-friendly docs at Goodnight Pediatrics.
Louis Basile, creator, owner of Wildflower Bread Company.
      Since May, I've been working with The National Bank of Arizona and Custom Publications at the Arizona Republic to create a series of images highlighting many Arizona businesses in an ongoing campaign with the paper and Channel 12.

In the Prisma Graphic printing facility the hardest part was picking just one or
two spots to photograph Bob Anderson, center, owner.
      It has been among the most diverse projects I've been involved in as a photographer. I love feeling a part of the team that is communicating a comprehensive message.

      I love working with this variety of businesses and people, showing off their workspace, their products, their faces of the business in their company settings, showing off who they are, and what they do.

Photographing a talented colleague in Dan Vermillion, a little like photographing old friends.
      Most of all, I love recording and working with their enthusiasm. The enthusiasm is contagious and feeds the photography. 

Beau Lane and crew, working on new campaigns,
some having SOMETHING to do with pro football.
      This time it is comprehensive:
One specific project; business owners, who they are, and what they do while allowing me to bring all of my skills to bear, lighting, study of personality, interaction, emotion and even sports photography.

       Yup, even sports photography.

      The essence of sports photography is reflex and timing, making an image at the peak moment, getting the timing of your shutter release just right. This crosses over to just about anything that requires a bit of timing to get just the right look......
......Like effortlessly floating a football in an office setting.

      I love it because it is something I have always enjoyed doing in journalism, the Environmental Portrait.  The EP is simply photographing the featured person in their company environment and including elements that give us insight into the story we're telling about that person. Having the tools and the time to do it well, puts a, um, whole new face on the project.
...and for all of their hard work? Lots of hardware,
including, for Beau, an Ad2 Ad Person of the Year in 2013.

Notice a more complete sense of place, photographing owner, Jo Gemmill through a
frame of patrons, with the Queen "presiding" from the corner.
English Rose Tea Room, an oasis of a proper English Tea.
Kerry Dunne of R-Entertainment, loves a good show.
 Inspired? Love something? Have a question? Be sure to leave a comment below.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weddings and water balloons

Groom reaches for a textbook grab on the run for big yards.
Bride shows her mad skills....

          It was their wedding day.

          The tiny Broadview apartment hummed with activity.

          Breakfast dishes dried, air mattresses stowed, coffee drinkers back from new favorite place (Broadview Coffee), the last few place cards were folded, after a final late-night inspiration someone's (not saying who) vows were printing, camera lenses cleaned, water balloons were filled......

          Wait, what? 
...until someone makes her pay for her, um, reception.
unphased by triple coverage
          Some years ago, as you may recall, I spent a year living in Uganda, sharing the house with seven other people engaged in various good works for a variety of entities. Calvin, a high school teacher in Toronto, wrote new educational materials for the ministry of education and ran a weekly after school program for kids in the slums.  Creative, passionate, dynamic, intelligent, fun.

so.... does that count as a catch?
          When he announced he was getting married, it was a no-brainer, I wanted to be there and not just to make photographs.

          Calvin's family.

          Fast forward ten years to the day, two of us arrived in person, although the rest were truly there in spirit. Calvin had found the perfect match and the day of "I do" was upon him. I often prefer to participate and not shoot so much when people who are important to me tie the knot. But we were helping each other out on this, and it was my honor to be documenting this day for them. Stuff like this is when the work is that food for the soul kind of thing. Documenting an important thing for important friends.

           Little did I know.

           First, to start the celebration among friends and family from across town and across the continent off right. Calvin and Anh-Thi style.
With water balloons and Hawaiian leis, of course.

           Water-balloon football in the rain.

           I'd explain further but especially in this case, I think the photographs speak for themselves, don't you?
Brother of the groom reacts to the rain-soaked turf, but maintains balloon control

Star receiver.
ANOTHER touchdown?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Karen and Shane Mustoe take care of all of their client's vintage and exotic car needs at Brighton Motorsports 
Bob Bové grew his business from two to 54
service facilities that changes oil and maintains
other vital fluids and filters through his Jiffy Lube
franchise in the Valley.

          It's been a very busy summer, perhaps the busiest in ten years, and it is creating a renaissance of sorts for my portfolio and the look of my commercial work.

          One client has my work all fired up, sending me all over the Valley featuring their many business clients who talk about their positive experiences with National Bank of Arizona.

          By now we have all found "Shark Week" to be a part of mainstream vernacular. In July it seems I was in the midst of "Auto Week",  photographing local businesses who sell, fix and restore and maintain everyday, vintage and exotic cars, keeping the gas fires burning, the rubber on the road and vital fluids flowing.

          It has been a great ride so far, working with incredible and successful business owners in the valley and elsewhere in Arizona as they welcome my gear and I, doing their level best to give as much time and space as possible to make some images that showcase their companies.

         It is my belief that you should always be trying to improve. Every shoot, every frame.
Howard and Pat Fleischmann operate five Community Tire auto repair
shops in the valley. Although tires are a part of their name, the Fleischmanns'
shops are primarily auto repair centers.
How many lights do you think this one took? (not including sunlight!)
          Sometimes improvements are subtle. Sometimes they're more noticable and take the image to a new level. Sometimes from my perspective it will take some time before I appreciate the result that was great although perhaps not what I was thinking about when I began.

Tom Higginbothom continues to grow the Sun Devil Auto repair shop his
father started in 1978 with new shops in Las Vegas and Austin.
          In any case with each shoot I keep trying to change it up, do something different. Sometimes it's subtle, like making sure there is enough light in the mechanic in the background. Sometimes it makes the image, like the hidden light that washes along the side of the truck (below) to make the paint and the chrome really pop.

Shane Mustoe and crew install a
rebuilt engine in a classic muscle car.
How DOES one wrap light around the firewall of the car to get into the faces of the mechanics?
Making the business pictures is about being a little different. I'm grateful to Pat Fleischmann who had not problem risking the white pants to make a fun picture.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Playing Chess with Helicopters

John Stonecipher, CEO of Guidance Aviation in Prescott

Framing up the image as one of the flight school managers, left, prepares to radio
instructions to a helicopter that will hover in my background for the final image.
What is your passion?

Why do you do what you do?

Days like this recent one at Prescott airport, demonstrate the answer for me.

Cool temperatures, while working with accommodating subjects who help to manage positioning of helicopters on the tarmac that was my stage and background.

In another chapter of the National Bank of Arizona's advertising campaign, Guidance Aviation, a helicopter flight training school in Prescott, Ariz., presented some unusual moving parts to the CEO portrait shoot last July.
With intermittent sun causing some squinting by our subject,
Guidance Aviation's photographer, Bryan Matuskey graciously
volunteers to cast some shade.

As we composed the photograph to figure out what was possible we used helicopters that sat on the various pads at the Guidance Aviation hangar in Prescott.

The plan, a helicopter directly behind the CEO while another, emblazoned with the new company logo, hovered in the background. As all of this went on, the plan was to also react every time a third helicopter flew through the background as a student and instructor departed for a lesson.
Meanwhile the bright red helicopter directly behind, departed for another lesson.

Okay, hold the helicopter right there and smile....
The solution, well, lets just grab another.

As a ground crewman began rolling a black aircraft toward us, I asked CEO John Stonecifer, "umm, could we swap that one for a red one so it stands out more?"

It looked like he was about to say that it wouldn't be possible, until it appeared that the thought "wait, I'm the CEO, of course I can make that happen,"  went through his mind.

"Sure, we can make that happen."

He stopped the crewman and had him retrieve a more photogenic bird and face it according to my instructions.

I felt like I was playing chess with helicopters.

By the time we began making pictures for the record, the bird was placed, the company photographer was assisting me with light modification, and the flight manager was passing on my instructions to the hovering helicopter to get it positioned just right, "could he move backwards about three feet?"

Keys radio "{cssshkkt} move back about three feet." 

"a little more"


Thanks to John, Bryan and crew for a great day!
Secondary shot, getting light inside the bubble, and getting
the camera positioned for the picture. Unfortunately there was
no room for the photographer.
The secondary image, CEO and flight instructor in the bubble of one of the school's birds.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Craning for a view, brewing up new images

Gary Haydon and crew were happy to reposition a
crane to fill the background of this quick portrait.
The Four Peaks crew is adding a brewing
space to the roster to keep the Kilt 

Lifter, Eighth Street Ale, Hop Not and 
other favorites flowing not just into the
restaurants but into stores around
the Valley.
    The last couple months have been gloriously busy, presenting many opportunities to make local businesses, their founders and leaders look good.

     From the man whose people at Haydon Construction build bridges to get us around more efficiently to the guys at Four Peaks Brewery who make that wonderful local brew that lifts your Kilt, the three-generation folks who have given you a place to rest your head  at Arroyo Roble Best Western, Sedona,  and who keep you cool in the heat Chas Roberts Air Conditioning and Plumbing, and numerous others, it's been an incredible way to pump some life into my latest work.

     In many cases these gracious folks have been able to allow the time to light up environments with multiple strobe sets and provide enough time to work in multiple settings to give us a variety of looks for the final ads that would result.

     Notable in the technique department is the Four Peaks shoot where, once again I made use of available "equipment" to accomplish my lighting goals.

How to light large stainless steel tanks
without taking over the brewery? Use
hidden surfaces of the tanks as giant
reflector panels, of course!
   When shooting stainless steel, ideally you want to have a highlight or two that runs top to bottom on the shiny object. Usually the only way to do that is to use a lighting or reflective panel that is as tall as the object. This works great with a wine bottle where it is easy to use a panel or a softbox that fits the dimensional need. Not so much when the object is 20 feet tall!

     Okay it was early, so it took me a few minutes to realize that the solution was the tanks themselves. The solution was to bounce a large strobe off of the tanks out of frame in a couple of locations to produce tall strips of light that would reflected onto the sides of the tanks in the photograph. In the final image you can see the effect of one light reflected in the near tank, at left. Further back, another strobe is causing a reflection on the three tanks on the right.

     What lighting problem?

Phil and Christy and their General Manager
Lonnie keep you comfortable in Sedona.
     Each of these shoots would ultimately come together as a cog in the machine of a print and electronic campaign for the National Bank of Arizona, talking about their partnerships with their clients, leading the businesses to greater success. Each of these is yet another opportunity to meet some great people, solve another, possibly new, lighting problem and produce some images that remind me what I like so much about this job.
Baseball, softball and volleyball venue,
Mike and Kim's Victory Lane.

Heating up the Z-Tejas menu
Steven, keeping the energy high at Z'Tejas
Keeping you cool, Sissy Shank keeps the tradition going at Chas Roberts.