Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to WIN a Photography Contest

[caption id="attachment_3531" align="alignleft" width="400"]Blow Up Hollywood Blow Up Hollywood[/caption]

How many times have you entered a photography contest and wondered why you did not win? Many… right.

Of course you worked hard on the image you created. From concept to pre-production from shoot day to post-production. Your friends and colleagues agree even complimented you on a successfully striking image. Perhaps even encouraged you to submit the photograph into a contest.

Photography contests let me just say there are many contests out there to enter. BE selective in the photography contests you submit your prize image to. "How do I know which contest is right for me?"

Here are some photography contest tips:
1. Look at the judges for the contest. Are they professional and currently in the creative world.
2. The company hosting the photography contest is a reputable one.
3. Quality sponsors are affiliated with the contest.
4. Obviously submit your image to it's appropriate category.
5. Be aware of the contest's usage rights of your image.

Photography contests can be a great way to be recognized & acknowledged in the photography community.

The last thing I'd like to leave you with about photography contests.  Once you submit an image let go of all expectations.  Art is subjective BUT never let that stop you from creating and image you are proud to show the world.

Thank you DUGGAL for selecting my image for 1st place in the 2014 Portrait Photography Contest.  This shot is of the lead singer Steve Messina of Blow Up Hollywood.

Finally I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate the five runner ups:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Secret Celebrity

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Ha!!! You may have thought this was a ploy to get you to click on this post about a celebrity.  Nope.  We just finished a clean sophisticated website for a Licensing / Trading company called Secret Celebrity.  Take a look at Secret Celebrity's website

Secret Celebrity Licensing develops, manufactures and sells home décor products in various categories such as lighting, scented candles, home accents as in decorative pillows, throws and storage, holiday decoration as in tree skirts, ornaments and stockings, and tabletop essentials that include runners, napkins, napkin rings and placemats.  These categories are designed by leading design professionals bringing stylish, sophisticated and elegant collections to market via licensing agreements.  Our existing portfolio includes the brands KIM SEYBERT Living and CELERIE by Celerie Kemble.

"Our products are created with a unique point of view.  It is branded to offer value and sophistication that are tuned to the consumer mood.  We aim to follow the behavior… lead the thinking with our designers… and ultimately capture the heart." - Secret Celebrity

Listening to Secret Celebrities needs... a clean, sophisticated website focused on the products they manufacture is what we delivered.  Yes, tooting our own website creating horn they love their new website!  In addition because they were under a tight deadline we had the site up an running in 3 days.  Fast right!  Now that Secret Celebrity has worked with our team they are hiring us to do the professional photography for the next group of home goods.

Oh you didn't know my team creates websites too?  We are visual solution specialists providing photography, video and website solutions.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

4 Minutes To Get The Shot

When I got the call from Alon Nechushtan I knew it was gonna be another "gorilla style" photography challenge.  Alon is a jazz pianist and this particular shoot he needed himself photographed with his quartet.  However here's the parameters of the shoot.
1. Has to be done close to the Harmonie Club

See Alon wanted the photo to done outside. Why? Because the Harmonie Club was not going to allow him to take the photograph in the event space. Google Maps street view is great for location scouting. Alon suggested we could go to Central Park but we quickly ruled that out because of the time constraint. In Google Maps I look directly across the street from the Harmonie Club to notice this beautiful iron gate for the Metropolitan Club. Perfect it's not just some plain wall. The gate is ornate. Behind the gate is a large courtyard and the classic building architecture that will assist with the depth of the shot.
2. We only have 15 mins to take the picture.

The time was 5:15pm of course at the height of rush hour. The sidewalk is a river of pedestrians and the street is congested with cars and buses. All of which are honking their horn at some point, typical in New York. Most of the band had arrived early and were ready. We had congregated off to the side and not on the property of the Metropolitan Club. That still raised the suspicions of the guard / doorman who kept poking his head out of the other gated entrance to see what this collective of guys dressed in black were up to. Still waiting on the drummer who apparently was stuck in traffic just a couple of blocks away. He can't just get out of the cab and walk either he has his entire drum kit with him for the gig. So we wait.

The musicians reminisced about their busking days on the streets of New York. They laughed as they swapped their stories. It was intriguing listening to the saxophonist state that that's how he literally earned his rent money.

At 5:45 the musicians need to be inside the venue to set up for the event. Finally at 5:35 the drummer arrives. I quickly go over again with the quartet their positions. 5:36 places everybody!!!!

It's GO time. I begin to shoot between the commuters as they walk by I was actually impressed that some NY'ers actually walked around or even stopped to not interrupt our shoot. In addition the buses / traffic were almost grazing my back I could feel the intensity of rush hour. The width of the sidewalk was as far as I can get back from the jazz musicians. Even with my 24mm ƒ2.8 it felt tight to compose the shot to incorporate the detail of the iron gate.  Using a Nikon SB900 flash a on light stand fired remotely with Pocket Wizards I banged out only 26 shots of the band members in various situations.  There is no time to test lighting while the subjects are in place. The key is getting the correct lighting ratio between ambient and strobe. So just before I begin to shoot I take one ambient shot of the scene then adjust my strobe to be 1.3 stops less than my camera's ƒ stop.  I want the shot to have a natural blend between artificial and daylight. After 4 minutes I knew I had the shot.  The musicians pack up cross the street, they are on time to set up for the gig.  Mission accomplished!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Official Music Video for Blow Up Hollywood - "Five"

Official music video for Blow Up Hollywood - "Five"

Film & Edit by Spencer Gordon

This music video was 2 years in the making. Why so long? Blow Up Hollywood was in no rush and Steve Messina the lead singer was determined to have a video he loved. "Five" is part of their album called Blue Sky Blond which is officially releasing in the next couple of weeks in 2014.

The imagery concept originated with a sweet little 5 yr old girl. We filmed a day and a life of this playful girl letting her be… her. As Steve and I worked through the editing process I asked him about the meaning of the lyrics. The song is about the reflections of an adult looking back at their life and remembering what it was like when they were 5 years old. That's when I pitched the idea of filmming Milana Naumenko as the adult version of the young child.

Using this new footage in the edit I overlapped these two lives to co-exist in a past and present concept. The great thing about working with Steve is he really let's you develop the imagery. I've always liked working in an abstract way. There are no restrictions. Many of times when shooting for corporate clients there is a script to follow and of course there is a purpose for that type of video. Working in a non-linear way pushes the creative side of my filmmaking process.

In need of a promotional video for your company or a music video for your band?

Contact Spencer Gordon. Let's create.

Friday, April 18, 2014

FREE Friday Photography | Video

FREE Friday Photography | Video!!!!! You've read that right you don't need your eyes checked.

What is it? Free Friday is once a month "give back day" by Spencer Gordon where he is waiving his photography or video fee to help out a creative project that needs professional quality imagery.

Why are you doing this offer? Ultimately it's to help out those who need professional visual solutions but can't afford it. As a photographer - filmmaker Gordon hears disappointed stories all the time when someone uses a 'friend' or an 'aspiring photographer' to create their imagery. "Ugh it pains me!  You have one chance to grab someone's attention and make an impression. Your imagery is that opportunity." says Spencer.  In addition this is Spencer's way of giving back to the community.

Where does the shoot take place? At Spencer's studio in the heart of DUMBO in Brooklyn, NY. Or on location depending on the production and concept of the shoot.

How do I get my project selected?* Are you a small business, musician or creative? Here are the various categories that will be considered:  conceptual, music video, promotional video, still-life, product shot, lifestyle portrait, food… and more. Contact Spencer via email
 briefly outlining your creative project / idea.

Samples of past projects:

Conceptual Photography:  This was shot for a scientist who was submitting a research study about "corn gas" as a source of fuel.

Spencer Gordon - Corn Gas
Promotional video:  A specialty store dealing in French vintage furniture wanted to create something fun to catch potential client's attention.

Fashion Photography:  Unique and one of kind tops created by a new designer's for their website.

Spencer Gordon - Milana - Lucy Frend


Still-life Photography:  A menswear accessory and home retail shop creating a Father's Day promo.

Spencer Gordon - Modern Anthology Still Life

Contact Spencer today. Come on let's create something!

*Projects are subject to limitations.  Full details are available as per creative project that is presented.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mom & Pop Shop Series – Atomic Passion

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Don't be scared of the squirrels guarding the entrance to this "Atomic" vintage store.  Originally opening their doors selling furniture over 16 years ago then transforming into an eclectic vintage store filled with clothes, shoes, fashion accessories and unique chachkas.

Immediately upon walking down the few steps past the furry tailed sentries you step back in time.  I defy you to look around and not come across something there that will spark a memory from your own life.  From toys I played with as a kid to the style of clothes I wore in the 70's & 80's. There was familiarity with the objects and oddly I felt at home in the space.

Justin, one of the owners,  who sits behind a centrally located desk in the store has a knack for discovering these pieces from your time capsule.  Whether it's at a garage sale or vacationing, his eye is on the constant prowl for a new or old addition to his store.

"Vintage stores have come and gone here in the lower eastside over the years." Justin tells me.  What makes this one special...... maybe it's the 8 horseshoes hung over the door.  Well sadly apparently not... Atomic Passion is no longer in business. I photographed this store in March of 2008, not long ago I happened to be walking down the street and noticed the squirrel figurines. I hope that Justin has moved on to bigger and better things.

The purpose of this Mom & Pop series is to document these unique businesses and the owners. We are on a completely different business model path with online retailers. The brick and mortar franchises who are able to afford the exorbitant commercial rents, that's great for the landlord. However the overhead of commercial rent is financially strangling the individual business owner. As these Mom & Pop shops get pushed out of existence we become blind to the fact that we live and homogenized business model. The next time you go to a mall or a shopping area take a good look around. I think you'll notice the same shops over and over and over no matter where you are in America.

"Support your local businesses."

Stay tuned I have more of these Mom & Pop Shop stories on the way.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Studio LIghting Tutorial

The above video is a studio photography lighting tutorial using 3 strobe heads.

This tutorial will demonstrate a lighting technique using a soft bank to light a model. 2 bare heads to light the seamless paper to obtain a clean white background.

A solid yet simple lighting set up that can be used to shoot portraits, corporate portraits, catalog style fashion shots and even product shots.

Quick tip: Lighting power outputs - the bare heads pointing to the background where splitting 1/2 power. The soft bank was at full power.

Sample shot from the shoot below.