Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Beauty Beyond Death

When we think of death it conjures up all kinds of emotions and feelings.  The loss of a friend or family member even a beloved pet are the most common recollections obviously.  Death is usually not associated with Beauty is it?

Dead Pigeon - ©Spencer Gordon

I was inspired to start this "Death " series after completing a job for Barefoot Wines in Asbury Park, NJ.  You may be thinking what could have possibly happened on the job that was so morbid.  In fact it was quite the opposite.  The short story is I was documenting Barefoot Wine's beach clean up  event.  They organize a bunch of volunteers to help clean up the beaches and then afterwards Barefoot Wines puts on a concert for the volunteers.  This concert had Gavin DeGraw, Joss Stone, The Cold War Kids and Mason Jennings….. shoot I said I'd kept this short.  Anyway the night before the beach clean up was an intense hurricane.  When the morning came I went out into the gray cold day to document the 'before' situation of the beach.  Over by a jetty in the flat wet sand I noticed and unusual object. Obviously not a man made piece of trash as I'm hovering taking in this out of place creature. A lone pelican was partially embedded in the cold smooth salt soaked sand with it's wings spread out creating the shape of a "W".  At first I was repulsed due to just thought of death. Then a saddened emotion came over me for the pelican because it must have struggled so hard to try to reach safety before exhaustion got the best of him finally succumbing to the hurricane's winds. I stood in silence just staring almost frozen in time until a gentle bit a of a wave washed over the Pelican snapping me out of my mesmerized state. Finally I noticed how beautiful the Pelican looked against the rich brown sand. The feathers of the bird were multiple hues of brown that complimented the Pelican's final resting spot in the saturated earth tone sand.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3335,3333,3338,3332,3336,3337,3334"]

Once back in NY I kept stumbling upon dead rats, pigeons and mice.  When photographing each scene I generally do one shot directly above the subject.  Sometimes the elements in the street adds to the graphic nature of the image.  I do take photographs from various angles as well never manipulating the arrangement of the dead animal. Although others there before me may have laid a flower next to the deceased.  One time walking down a busy street in New York I noticed someone had laid their parakeet on the step in front of their shop.   The shop person even maid a little tomb stone with R.I.P. Larry.  As if to let the neighborhood know of Larry's wake.

In addition I even take video.  Why?  Because there are usually flies and ants working diligently on the decomposing carcass.  Or the wind is blowing the feathers ever so gently and that does not translate in still photographs.

I regretfully did not photograph two animals this year.  One was a cat by the side of the road. I realized that as the animal gets closer to a familiarity it is harder to document the death.  I can't imagine what I'll do when I find a dog.  I'm such a huge dog lover.  Saying that though my artist friend Ruben Marroquin and I were talking about the cat situation and I told him I felt horrible.  Ruben says to me… "Yes it is a sad situation. But taking the photo immortalizes the animal giving them an extended existence in the art."  Which made me feel better and gave me a new purpose to photograph the dead animals.  The second animal that I missed photographing was while I was in Denver, Co.  We were traveling down the highway and traffic slowed to about 40 mph.  In between two lanes almost as if he was taking a nap was a young black bear.  He obviously had been struck by a vehicle which gashed his side and literally removed a vital organ as if it had been surgically removed.  This pink bear part laid just a few feet away.  I did not photograph the bear due to the dangerous situation.  There was no place to pull off on the mountain road and if I had tried I may have ended up just like that bear.  I just remember so well how shiny and luxurious the black bear's fur looked in the full sunlight.  The hair shifted softly side to side with each passing car swerving to miss hitting the bear yet another time.

As I shoot the Death series the beauty stands out more and more.  The detail in the feathers, the graphic contrast of the fresh meat against the dark pavement, the colors of the fur working with the elements of city street markings.  The beauty is there in every photograph I see it now, I just had to look past the death.


Spencer Gordon has built quite a collection of the "Beauty Beyond Death" and is currently working on a gallery show to present this body of work.

Contact Spencer today if your gallery may be interested in exhibiting this artwork.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Desks For Rent In A Creative Loft | DUMBO NY

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 Click on an image to enlarge.

We're a group of creatives sharing a great 2500 sq. ft. loft in the heart of DUMBO.
We have desks to rent.

 Please contact

Friko at 917-373-4908 or email
Spencer at 212-369-7154 or email
for more information.

$450 per desk per month includes:
- hi-speed business class internet
- electricity
- heat / ac
- weekly cleaning service
- Poland Springs water service
- shared conference room
- use of client lounge area
- 24 hr access

$950 for the private office.
Available starting Dec 1st
- all the above plus
- hard wire internet
- private phone line available. *Phone service is not included
- unfurnished
- 1 to 3 persons in the private office
- perfect edit suite / programers / designers ( no windows )

Contact us today!


Panoramic of loft area.

[caption id="attachment_2566" align="aligncenter" width="570"]Desks to rent in DUMBO Panoramic of office space with desks to rent.[/caption]

This loft is located at 68 Jay Street, Brooklyn NY. 11201

DUMBO is an ultra-hip neighborhood rooted in a historic past. DUMBO’s converted industrial warehouses and vintage loft spaces redefine the meaning of chic, and its inspiring Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline views remain unmatched. This neighborhood tempers its trendy shops and bars with manicured waterfront green spaces and historic enclaves—Vinegar Hill’s cobblestone streets return visitors to Brooklyn's days of yore.

The area has emerged as one of New York City's premier arts districts, with a cluster of for-profit art galleries such as the Klompching Gallery and such not-for-profit institutions as the St. Ann's Warehouse and the A.I.R. Gallery. Chef Jacques Torres opened a chocolate factory in Dumbo in December 2000.[5] Other culinary businesses in the area include Grimaldi's, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and the The River Café. All of these businesses cluster in Fulton Landing, which is also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music. The first public space in the neighborhood was Fulton Ferry, followed by Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture presently under development, was launched in 2006.

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 PDN The Look Photo Contest

Still Life | Modern Anthology | Spencer Gordon
I've entered a photo contest in PDN ( Photo District News ) called The Look.  Looking to collect votes for the People's Choice Awards

VOTE here for my shot in the People's Choice Awards.

This still life was a collaboration with Modern Anthology.  One night after the shop closed John and I cracked open a couple of beers and played with all the visual goodies to create this image. I love this store.  I could move in.  John and Becca do such a great job with the treatment of the store's branding.  When you walk into the shop it's not an obvious mens lifestyle retail store.  You feel like you've walked into someone's home.

The premise of the still life was to create a shot with a warm and inviting feeling.  Showing off the merchandise of the store without it being blatantly in your face this is what we sell.

Modern Anthology's original DUMBO outpost offers a unique and curated selection of vintage furniture, home and personal accessories, and well-crafted clothing geared towards a masculine lifestyle. We like to view the shop as a retail experiment in progress. It's a space where we can showcase our particular brand of design aesthetics and ultimately use as a launching-pad for our ideas and the many products that we discover along the way.

Our flagship shop also serves as a home-base for the architects, filmmakers, interior designers, graphic and product designers with a common passion for story-telling through experiential design that we collaborate with through Modern Anthology's creative studio.

For more information about the photo contest click on the link below.

2013 PDN The Look Photo Contest.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Governor Christie Breaks Guinness World Record

[photoshelter-img i_id="I0000bEVyWQY_NvY" buy="1" caption=" (Governor Christie holds the Guinness World Record Certificate)" width="600" height="418"]As the Guinness World Record official starts his GPS unit to measure the longest ribbon for a ceremonial ribbon cutting the weather is looming with threat of a down pour of rain. It's Memorial Day and despite the ominous weather outlook the holiday beach goers are out in full support of the opening of the New Jersey shore. Governor Chris Christie cut the Guinness World Record breaking 5.3 mile longest ribbon cutting signifying the start of a renewed summer season. [photoshelter-img i_id="I0000gI5ssVwgD34" buy="1" caption=" (Governor Christie cutting the worlds longest ribbon)" width="600" height="418"]

Seaside Heights was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the community is working feverishly to reopen for the vitality of the New Jersey economy. The Jersey Shore generates approximately $40 billion dollars worth of revenue for the state. [photoshelter-img i_id="I0000tuWzPkoAb30" buy="1" caption=" (Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights washed away by Hurricane Sandy)" width="600" height="418"]

The Memorial Day festivities, despite the cold damp weather, drew 800 volunteers to hold the ribbon for the Today Show where Governor Christie cut the official Guinness World Record breaking longest ribbon.  Follow up by a live performance from the band FUN. [photoshelter-img i_id="I0000IIJ1H8pbAlM" buy="1" caption=" (FUN performs on the Today Show. Nate Ruess & Jack Antonoff )" width="600" height="418"]

The slideshow below shows all 412 images from the event plus the Guinness World Records official inspecting the ribbon to verify it's integrity.  Or go directly to the proof site by clicking on  

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Emulsion Transfer Process - A Special Artist's Portfolio

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Once upon a time in a land before digital photography there was this material called polaroid. The perfect media to create emulsion transfers.

Just the other week I saw a post on Facebook by, Hannah Rosenberg, an artist I had worked with in the mid the 90's. She had found in storage a metal portfolio using emulsion transfers we had created. I photographed the wire metal sculpture chairs with a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic, which I still have and use. I shot using Type 59 polaroid, if my memory serves me correct. Then we took the 4 x 5 polaroids and transferred the polaroid emulsion onto metal sheets which then Hannah bound together to make a metal portfolio. The transfer process worked beautifully to highlight and emphasize these unique miniature chair sculptures. I'm amazed at how well the transfers have held up over the years.

Hannah Rosenberg is a highly multi talented artist. Hannah has always had a love of creating “something from nothing” and working with her hands. Her first love was creating artwork from a variety of media.

Click here for more info about sculptures by Hannah Rosenberg.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial video showing the emulsion transfer process. Quite easy to do. This video was created also in the mid 90's. It would have been cool if they placed a sound track from A-Ha in the background. Hope you enjoy and get inspired to create your own works of art.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mom & Pop Shop Series - Albanese Butcher

If only I had written down the darn address of the butcher's store, I said to myself, instead I spent 30 minutes walking around in the cold, with my camera pack on my back, zig zagging the streets looking for the joint. I was starting to think, "Maybe the guy finally went out of business", and was almost ready to give up when I spotted the store front. Notice the patriotic banner over the front door, looks like it's been there since the Grand Opening!
Albanese Butcher 001

Walking into the store is like being time warped back to the 50's. Except for the meat... I hope! Everything in the place is original. On the right side of the store are the scales to weigh the meat. There is a single refrigerator with no light when you open the door, probably because the bulb burned out 40 years ago, so you have no idea what anything is as it's so dark.
Albanese Butcher 004Albanese Butcher 002

The guys' mother ran the place until she was 97 years old. The shot to the left is a homemade poster of her when she was younger, it was used for decoration for her 90th birthday. Wonder if they had steaks for her birthday dinner?

The left side of the store is an office and what appears to be storage for the years of memorabilia. When I enter the store the owner is sitting with his feet up on some boxes in his makeshift office, which consists of a chair, a few boxes, and mountainous stacks of papers. He doesn't even look up, engrossed in how many pork chops he's sold that week perhaps. Anyway I break the ice by saying "I love your store, how long have you been in business?". He says, "Over 50 years", without looking up from his carcass stat sheet.
Albanese Butcher 003
Part of me senses this guy just doesn't want to be bothered, but I press on by telling him about the project, and all the while he is flipping through his stack of papers. At the end of my pitch I asked if it would be alright if I take some pictures.
Finally he looks over at me, his face is lifeless, I mean, no expression at all, and says "Sure."
Then he goes right back to his paperwork.
Albanese Butcher 006
The place has an eerie charm. The nostalgia of the old equipment... strange though to see on the wall a saw you could cut down a good size tree with or amputate a leg in hurry.
Albanese Butcher 007

 As I'm unpacking my camera I notice some pictures of an actor I knew, named Vinny Vella, taped to a cabinet. When I was an assistant photographer working on fashion jobs, Vinny drove the location van we hired. Vinny, is your typical New York maffioso type character. He told these great stories that always had me laughing. Anyway, as I wanted the butcher to warm up to me so he'd let me take his picture, I say to him, "Wow you know Vinny!" After a second or two the butcher just says "Yep." So I go on and say, "I used to work with him when he drove location vans for Star Truckers", trying to let him know that we have a mutual friend and get some interest from him. No response from the butcher.

So, I finish shooting. I'm all packed up and just about to get my back pack strapped on, when the butcher asks me in his deadpan expressionless voice "So is this going to be in a movie?".
Albanese Butcher 008

This Mom & Pop Shop photography / writing series is a project I've been working on for some time. My guidelines for the series is the shop must not be a franchise, in business for 25 plus years, family owned and operated.

Stay tuned I have several more to share from the series.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How To Create A Simple Music Video.

There are times when even simplicity can be stripped down to a simpler form. Is that too simple?

I work with many independent musicians to create music videos. Some want to create a linear storyline while others want an abstract visual. I enjoy both challenges however to create a music video down to it's most basic form, well let's just say this there is one question I always ask myself. "What can be taken out?" See most people want to keep adding on and adding on to try to make something better. In fact it works just the opposite. We've all heard the expression "Less is more.". The hardest thing is to create a simple yet strong visual solution.

Steve Messina of Blow Up Hollywood and I have been working together since the inception of his band close to 10 years now. Over that time I've learned about the kind of visuals he prefers. When Steve contacted me about creating a video of just him performing in his apartment my mind started solving all the obstacles. The apartment environment how to stage it so it is visually appealing, lighting, am I gonna need multiple cameras and sound quality. These are concerns to tackle and the best solution is to simplify.

Here's how I created the music video of Steve covering The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony".

A single Lowell Pro-light 250 watt
Placed up high to the right of the subject. The key is to feather the light off the of the subject's face towards the floor. Reason, I did not want to see the couch and to make the video have a darker vibe.

The Nikon P7000. That's right a point and shoot digital camera. Why did I use this camera when I could have used my broadcast quality Nikon D800 instead? The first thing the Nikon P7000 is light making it highly mobile. Two I like the subtle exposure adjustments that automatically are created by the camera itself.
J Rig - Nikon P7000 - Hero HD - Bogen Magic Arm - Adorama Flash Bracket

J Rig
This is an articulated arm to use as a steadicam. When you hold the camera directly you get more shake. The J Rig actually helps to reduce shake by steadying the camera because your hands are not holding the camera directly. This example shows a Go Pro on the J Rig with Nikon P7000. I did not use the Go Pro for this video. However if you want to see what a music video looks like with the full J Rig in action go to this video I made for Risa Binder.

Of course having quality sound for a musician is super important. The microphone in the shot was just not there for visual purposes but fully functional. Gordon Davies is an excellent audio engineer. Davies mixed the track after the session and provided me with the audio that I synced to the video using Final Cut Pro X Synchronizing Clip feature.


Want to do a music video?
Let's create.
Contact me.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Invictus Wordpress Template - How to Add a Photo

This is a quick tutorial for Invictus Wordpress template to show how to add a photo.

Spencer Gordon provides not only photography and video services he also creates websites using Wordpress. Part of the website service is also training the user to manage and maintain their own website. Spencer gives clear and easy to follow tutorials. Contact Spencer for more details about creating your website today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creating Stop Motion Animation Video with Aperture

Creating stop motion animation video with Aperture is fun and easy. "But Aperture is a digital asset management program not a video editing program." you might say. Well you're right however the slideshow feature in Aperture is a simple yet powerful tool that I used to create a stop motion animation music video. How do like them apples?
"The slideshow feature is key."

See… the slideshow feature of Aperture allows you to adjust individual images for almost any specific time you set to show a frame or group of frames. This is perfect for timing the frames of the video so the stop motion animation will move with the beat of the music. Transitions can also be used between frames which will give a different feel and effect to your video.
"Make some popcorn and check out the presentation."

Wanna learn the details...? Watch the Keynote presentation below.

Stop Motion Animation Music Video Using Aperture Presentation from Spencer Gordon on Vimeo.

Or watch the actual presentation from the New York Apple SOHO Theatre it's in two parts. Yea YouTube only let's me upload 15mins at a time.

Part 1

Part 2

Contact Spencer for any of your photography or video needs.

He's a visual solutions specialist.