Monday, January 18, 2010

My First Major Advertising Film Shoot

Approximately 20 years ago I was contracted by Saatchi and Saatchi to do a 20 minute short film on a multi-billion dollar corporation in California.

I had a relatively small budget of $350,000. My first job was to hire a production company. I also hired a co-director. My responsibility was producer and co-director. Everything was in order and three days before the shoot, the director was called out of town on another project. He was replaced by Charles Rudnick. Even though I had no relationship with Charles, but he was the consummate professional. There wasn't anything he couldn't do hands on himself. You couldn't get a better film maker in that particular situation. When the crew was scheduled to go from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the first director wanted to come back and I said "no way Charles is going to complete the film with me" and that's exactly what we did. Thus a long, prosperous relationship started. Charles and I have a mutual respect for each other and we've worked on several projects over the years. Effectively we've become interchangeable. Okay, maybe I'm stretching it a little bit. In many ways, he's drop dead fabulous.

Charles' wife, Carmen, is the owner/chef of Tommaso's, one of the finest & well-known Italian restaurants in San Francisco. On any given day, you can walk into Tommaso's and see John Waters, Nicholas Cage, Francis Ford Coppola, or even my dear friend, Bill Shatner and his lovely wife Liz. I just received a phone call from Charles to tell me that his mother passed away. She was a very special lady. Forgot to mention...Charles' father was a physicist at UCLA.

Charles sent me the above photo of his parents.

Isadore Rudnick (his dad)

Great Photographer, Great Friend, and Survivor

Photo Copyright Don Nelson

To All the ships at Sea

If you know me, you know I tend to repeat myself. It's what I do. I've told you before I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I've got the best friends anyone could ask for. My friendship and respect for Don Nelson goes back a long way. He is truly a hero to me. He is bright, tough and never gives up. Great photographer; and a great friend. We all could learn by his courage.
Joe D.

About Don -

"My 23 years as a Nikon rep represent my times of most accomplishments. Calling on the large camera stores, the White House, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, AP, UPI, USA TODAY and being a staff photographer for the Redskins for six years brought me closer to understanding the needs of photojournalists. Washington, DC, the photojournalists' headquarters taught and tested me. It was a good time. In 1987 I resigned to buy a business in Nashville. My sons were in high school at the time and after several years my business in Nashville failed. It was time to be back in the photo (equipment) business. I went to work for Pentax and moved from Nashville area down to the Atlanta area of Georgia. I worked for them for fourteen years until my cancer (Hodgkins) was discovered in 2005. After chemo,
radiation, and stem cell transplant I'm quietly getting ready to move back to the Nashville area. Our sons (2), Scott and Jeffrey still live there. It'll be good to be convenient to them. My favorite photography is scenic in nature. Slow shutter speeds at dawn; in the attached photo the shutter speed was at 123 seconds."
This is a photo of my friend Don Nelson Copyright Bob Dew

A Lovely Note from AJ

Thank you Joe! Very sweet. Of course you could use a couple of photos. :) I've been enjoying playing with a little 50mm lens-easier to run around with. Lots of love and prayers that your boxing show goes- I know you've put a lot into it. We will be thinking of you on the 28th. I haven't been to NYC in ages!! When we do get there we will definitely be in touch. It would be fun to catch up! International workshops sound awesome- you're Superhero Joe xxx.

Lots of Love,
AJ x.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Add-ons to your System - Rosco Litepads

I've been using electronic flash from the beginning of my career. In the 70's I standardized by using Dynalite strobes. There is no doubt, in my mind, that Dynalite, pound for pound, penny for penny, is the best electronic flash system you can get. Broncolor is really cool, but it's very expensive. I had an opportunity to experiment with a new product: Rosco lightpads. Rosco is a LED continuous light source that comes in many different flavors - 20x24, 12x12, and even circles.
You name it, they have it. It has a very simple
mounting system as well. The light the pads produce is sweet. When I take all the knowledge that I learned over the years, with the electronic flash and the bending of available light, I can do some really cool things. The greatest advantage of these lights, is that they last forever, the color is consistent, they're relatively small & easy to maneuver. This makes them easy to use on location with batteries rather than with AC. Now, they may not replace all electronic flash, but they're a great addition to your photographic repertoire. For the photographer who doesn't want to go to electronic flash for whatever reason, this is a natural progression. Also see my partner photographer JoAnne Kalish's blog and another example of what she did using these litepads.

Photo © MMIX Joe Maggio


The interesting thing about having two photographers in the family is people ask, do we compete? What a silly question. Oops, I forgot, there are no silly questions. Of course we compete. We're constantly competing, and we all know who is going to win. In the final analysis, and it certainly won't be me. JoAnne is not only a great photographer, but she has a very small ego.

Photo Long Beach Grand Prix © JoAnne Kalish
I'll tell you a little story. On the inaugural Formula One auto race in Long Beach, California
there were approximately 1500 photographers, each one of them looking for the best position for the start of the race to get the definitive Formula One start shot. Photographers like Neil Leifer who is considered one of the finest sports photographers in our time. Neil has a zillion SPORTS ILLUSTRATED covers. Along with Neil, there was Gary Nicherman, Louis Franck, Kevin Fitzgerald, Mike Phillips, myself, and a small, 101 pound JoAnne Kalish. Everybody marked their positions and waited for the cars to let loose with a burst of 36 exposures. There was a loud noise and the screeching of brakes and smoke all over the place. I followed a car moving to my left along with, I don't know how many other photographers. At the end JoAnne said "Wow, did you see that?" and I said yes, and everybody else said yes. Late that evening we went to pick up our film at the lab and while there, everybody checked their film out on the light boxes provided. JoAnne opens up her first box of slides, and there is the entire motor series of the shunt at the start of the race, with James Hunt's car literally on one wheel flipping up in the air, which, by the way, Mario Andretti ran double truck in his coffee table book. JoAnne said, "did you guys get this?" We're all looking around wondering what she's talking about and sure enough, she has the whole motor series of this shunt. We didn't get it, we never even saw it. But she nailed it! That's JoAnne, small ego, great talent. That was the first photo she had published in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and they ran it again in SI's YEAR IN PICTURES.

There wasn't another photographer at the race that captured the shots she got!

Best Damn Non-Slip Camera Straps

I'm always amazed by how live takes strange turns and bends. Life seems to have a mind of it's own. The day JoAnne and I got married on the beach in Centerport, NY when one of my crazy neighbors crashed the wedding. Actually, it was two brothers, Doug Stegmeyer and Al Stegmeyer. Doug was the bass guitar player for Billy Joel, and Al was a worold class music engineer, and their mother Peggy was and still is a piano teacher - who buys Rainbows.

I photographed Doug many times over the years and Al and I became friends. Then, one day, Al moved away and I didn't see him for a long, long time. You know how life is. It takes those strange turns. One day I ran into him and he was making camera straps, which I thought was kind of crazy. Al was nice enough to send me one. It's called the UPstrap best damn strap I've ever had on a camera. Subsequently, I bought a few more. If you need a great camera strap, check out Al's strap.

Al's still making straps, Peggy's teaching music, and Doug's playing bass in heaven.

Photos ©JoAnne Kalish

Al Stegmeyer's non-slip straps -

I just received a New Years greeting from my dear friend AJ Langer. AJ is an extremely talented actress and beautiful young lady. AJ and her husband Charlie are the parents of two gorgeous children, Jos (almost 3) and Jack (4 months). AJ and I had an opportunity to do several tv shows together in Yellowstone and in Belize. I instructed AJ in the art of still photography. Little did I know, that she knew a whole lot more than she was letting on. When you grow up in front of the camera, you have the opportunity to learn what it's like to be behind the camera. She taught me a few a things. I will fondly remember during our travels together. She paid me a lovely compliment one time and said "You're a great teacher, and I'd go anywhere in the world with you." I'm going to steal a few of AJ's photos from her email and put them on my blog. Anyone who knows me knows, that I give credit where credit is due. The photograph that AJ did is a world class photograph, not a snapshot. She has become quite, the accomplished photographer.

all photos©AJ Langer

January 1st, Chinese New Year/Valentine's Day

January 1st of any particular year doesn't really do it for me. I normally celebrate the Chinese New Year. The reason for that is, Chinese New Year was my first date with JoAnne. It is more meaningful to me. When I hear Auld Lang Syne, I well up and think of the past, and then with any luck at all, think of the future. I was moving my office to another building, and I stumbled across this photograph of the Gorilla. It has an interesting little side note to it. It was a photograph originally done for the Image Bank (now called Getty Images.) I received a call from Sally Lloyd, the greatest editor any person could have and one of the founders of the Stock Market that is now Corbis. She told me that the gorilla was sold to Avanti Greeting Cards. No big whoop, until we found out that it out-sold every other greeting card that year! As a matter of fact, they asked permission to run it again for a second and then a third year! Once a year, I'd walk down to the local book store, stand in the corner, and watch people buy cards. I'd watch them pick up the gorilla card. It came in two flavors, one Happy Birthday and one blank version. I just watched their faces and their smiles. One time I walked over to a woman and I asked, "Why did you buy that card?" and she said, "Because I just love it!" You can't make this stuff up. Hey, here's some interesting news, that I totally forgot to mention. Chinese New Year, this year, falls on February 14th and that's Valentines Day too. JoAnne and I will be teaching a workshop for Adorama in Chinatown in NYC on Chinese New Year/Valentine's Day & celebrating our anniversary. Photos © Joe DiMaggio


I was out fishing one day in the Huntington Triangle and I ran into a wise fisherman. He was quite a character. We talked about lures, trolling, and then we talked about advertising photography. Little did I know, I was in the presence of the president of one of the finest, most avant garde ad agencies in the United States. Here we are 25 years later, and we're very dear friends. I call him my Rabbi, my brother, my mentor, and my dear friend. Like all relationships it is predicated on the most important thing, respect. His name is Paul Laddin. On top of all of his accomplishments, first accomplishment is, of course, he is married to a beautiful and brilliant woman named Jennie. Second to that, he is quite the accomplished artist. He works in oil and his work is wonderful. If you look closely at the artwork I've included, you may recognize a younger photographer, I'm not sure I know his name.

Thank you Paul for being such a great friend. Love you.
Joe D

Painting by Paul Laddin
Photograph©Joe DiMaggio