Rest, Relaxation & Celebration (and some hiking)

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of our wedding, I surprised my wife with a trip out West to Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon. We just snuck a stop at the Canyon when the Governor of Arizona decided the fund the park with state money instead of federal money. We are feeling very fortunate for the opportunity to see and hike some some of the natural beauty in the world. 

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WWE/Total Divas Group PR Photo Shoot

I spent a couple of weeks working with the creative services team at WWE and E! Television/NBC Universal on the PR group shot photo shoot for the Total Divas reality TV show which debuts at the end of July.

All the pre-production and planning went a long way to creating a beautiful image that will be used to promote the show. Kudos to the creative teams at WWE and E! for all their vision and collaboration.

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Connecticut Art Directors Club Awards

Last night I was honored to attend the 2013 Connecticut Art Directors Club Awards Dinner in New Haven. I received a Silver Award for my New American Voters Project personal project that  was published in Connecticut Magazine.

It was truly inspirational seeing all the great work being created in Connecticut design firms, agencies and magazines.

Kudos to the CADC for a great event and supporting the creative community.

Oh yeah…and I received this neat award and a foam robot and who doesn’t like robots?

 

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The Rainbow Prom

Social change is constant and inevitable. Just yesterday the first current NBA player Jason Collins announced that he is gay. Yes, this is a big deal for society as a whole, but should hardly be a surprise. since Billy Crystal portrayed a gay character on the network TV show Soap in the 1970′s and  Public support for gay marriage is at an all time high. But it takes time for perceptions like this to sort themselves out within the masses. It wasn’t that long ago in our country’s history that women couldn’t vote and slavery was an accepted practice. Thankfully those prejudices were cast aside and we continue to move towards equality for everyone. There is still work to be done, but things are getting better.

Many years from now, hopefully we’ll look at the gay/gay marriage issue as a non-issue and just treat people like people, giving them the equal rights they deserve.

This brings me to a project I have been working on recently. Still in progress and not yet completed, it’s about acceptance. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and how you fit into society. In Stamford, CT where I live, one of the local high schools saw the need for some organized acceptance of the teen LGBT community and their supporters. The Rainbow Prom was created to give these kids an opportunity to be themselves and have a prom celebration that made them feel accepted.

I thought there was an opportunity to create a new body of work and help these kids out at the same time. After talking to the organizers of the event I got permission to photograph any of the kids that were interested standing in for a portrait.The images were given to the kids free to charge to share and personally use. Hopefully these images will present more like a people study than a bunch of prom photos, but here is some of the work. Let me know your thoughts and enjoy!

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Harvey Pollack’s T-Shirt

Photographing celebrities, athletes, politicians, heads of state and business executives will get you lots of oooh’s and aaah’s from your friends, family and clients, but it’s the undiscovered characters of the world that I’m drawn to. They are everywhere we look, yet somehow overlook these folks as we go about our day.

One of these chance encounters happened near the end of December while on assignment in Philadelphia. I was working with longtime client WWE and we had just completed setting up our backstage photo studio when an affable older gentleman walked by and boldly asked “can you guys give me a t-shirt”?

We get those requests all the time, but this guy was a little outside the demographic for a wrestling t-shirt, so I asked, “what do you need a wrestling t-shirt for?” Without missing a beat, this gentleman pulls his oversized gray sweater up from the waist, shows off a rock concert tour t-shirt underneath and says “I’m trying to set a world record for the most t-shirts worn on consecutive days”. He introduced himself as Harvey Pollack and he is a long-time statistician for the Philadelphia 76′ers basketball team.

We all laughed as he explained that he was donating all the once used t-shirts to a local charity, but that he was always on the lookout for more t-shirts for him to wear to set the record. As someone was digging through our cases I casually asked Harvey what number t-shirt he was up to. His response” three thousand, four hundred and fifty eight”. We all stopped dead in our tracks. We starting doing the math in our heads. Hmm 3458 divided by 365…this guy has been wearing a different t-shirt every day for nearly 10 years! All I could think was how funny, cool and interesting this was. Some people run races, some climb mountains, this guy wears t-shirts.

Harvey Pollack with his Bon Jovi t-shirt.

 

I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to take a photo of him slip away so I asked Harvey to step onto our background for a portrait. He started to take his sweater off and I stopped him. I asked him, “Harvey, pull you sweater up just like you did when you showed me the shirt the first time.” He tugged at his sweater and smiled wide seemingly very proud of his t-shirt prowess. We all laughed once more as this senior senior citizen displayed a Bon Jovi concert t-shirt from a 2010 tour

I only shot 3 frames on him, knowing I had what I needed after the first or second shot. He walked off the background and continued the conversation explaining that he was 90 years-old, has worked in professional basketball PR for nearly 50 years and he has a claim to fame related to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game. Harvey explained he was the PR guy at the  historic 1962 Philadelphia Warriors game and when the game was over he know they needed a photo to mark the historic accomplishment. He explained that he quickly took a marker, wrote the number 100 on a piece of paper and asked Wilt if he would hold it for a photo for one of the photographers still there. Wilt happily obliged and the photo Harvey arranged still sits in the Basketball Hall of fame. Harvey joked that for a guy that writes professionally, the most famous thing he ever wrote was the numbers 1-0-0 on a simple piece of white paper.

It turns out the Harvey is a bit of a legend in Philadelphia and in basketball world too. Harvey could not been nicer and it just goes to show you that you never know what you are going to find out about someone when they ask you for a t-shirt .

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