Editorial assignments are my sketchbook. I never know what opportunity will come my way, but often, editorial shoots are my playground for new ideas. Of course I take them seriously. There’s a “real” client: an art director who answers to his readership and her publisher and needs a solid set of images. There’s an honest challenge: the need to illustrate a specific message with a good deal less control than with an advertising shoot. Unlike an ad shoot, I need to work with subjects, locations and timing as given — no casting sessions, stylists or location scouts. No excuses! I need to create something eye-catching and true.
Recent magazine assignments illustrate my point about illustrating a point. The images above were created for Minneapolis/St.Paul’s exclusive story about urban artist Peyton Russell who creates under the moniker “Sprayfinger.” Peyton took matters into his own hand by secretly applying 24-carat gold-leaf to the star honoring Minnesota’s famous son, Prince, on the exterior of First Avenue nightclub. Peyton grew up in the same neighborhood as Prince and had known Prince. To see First Avenue delegate a plain white star to Prince, the same as all other musicians, was simply too much for Peyton to tolerate. See the Mpls St. Paul Story online.
My portraits of Peyton capture both the clandestine nature of his homage to Prince as well as the larger-than-life, explosive color of Peyton’s spray paintings. I took one of my favorite off-center environmental portraits of Peyton with his Prince mural, lighting with strobes as usual — but this time, adding subtle hints of purple in the shadows in post.
Another assignment of a Minnesotan-gone-famous featured local designer Jeff Johnson who gained a following on a Norwegian reality cable show. Here my challenge was to set Johnson off from the natural enviornment with a strobe — without spooking his furry antlered friends. Here’s how it ran in Minnesota Monthly:
I finish with one more story: the Minnesota Monthly “Best Docs” cover. We converted a hospital conference into a studio (not an easy task), and I played around with saturated color by adding a magenta spotlight to the blue seamless the AD had requested. In post, he kindly gave me a little room to highlight the highlights with an extra boost of sharpness. Now honestly, isn’t the baby cute? You’d never realize how HARD my trusty assistant and I worked to get him to look, to smile, to laugh . . . anything but cry (true confession: we ended up switching heads in post)!