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Behind the Scenes: Philadelphia Weekly Cover Photo - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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Behind the Scenes: Philadelphia Weekly Cover Photo [Feb. 27th, 2013|08:07 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |molly robison]

This week I did another cover photo for the Philadelphia Weekly.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

The story is about prominent Philadelphia Black Republicans Thermon Spence, Lewis Harris Jr, and Robert Allen Mansfield and the assignment was for a basic power portrait, which is typically the treatment that CEO's & head honcho's get, usually taken from a low angle, lots of folded arms -- probably the most famous example is Alberto Korda's photo of Che Guevara -- although it wasn't set up (I think it was actually a snapshot taken at a rally) it's got all the elements of making the Cuban guerrilla look like a total badass.

One of my favorites is of Gerald Hines by photographer Helmut Newton:

Clickenzee to see Newton's awesomeness larger

This is kind of the absolute top end of the power portrait.

Anyway, Stephen had talked about walking to Rittenhouse square and shooting outside which was fine with me. I figured I could back light them against the sun and if it was windy, just use two bare flashes which I could set up without needing assistants to hold them (having two flashes with umbrellas in the wind means you need either two people or two 25 pound bags of lead shot (they actually sell these at places like B&H Photo but you still need two assistants to carry them, so it ends up being pointless I think.) I figured outside would be good because they'd probably have fancy topcoats and fancy topcoats add to the fancy.

I was delighted to arrive and meet them. Thermon Spence is an ex Marine and Robert Allen Mansfield is a decorated war veteran from Iraq, and Lewis Harris looks like a movie star, they looked great.

We walked out to Rittenhouse and I talked to Robert Mansfield about Iraq an the IED that injured him and about fashion (all three of them were wearing cufflinks which is a particular joy of mine).

The setup was really quick, I knew I wanted the sun directly behind them so location was largely dictated by that, two flashes on stands left and right -- I tried shooting this cover again with the Panasonic GX1 and the 20mm lens as part of the "can I use this instead of my DSLR" experiment and was less enthused about it this time. The flash sync on the GX1 is 1/160th of a second instead of the d800's 250th which made it difficult to balance the flash with the sun. Going into a situation like this you basically have a camera with one setting: fastest shutter speed, lowest iso, smallest f-stop and you get what you get. We created quite a ruckus in the park -- lights, cameras, and crowds create a lot of interest and everybody was sure they knew who these guys were but couldn't quite remember (they've all run for political office, so you've seen them on TV) and I was continually peppered with "Yo! Yo! Who are those guys???" which is made all the more exciting when you say "It's top sekret. Check out the cover of the Philadelphia Weekly next Wednesday." The pose was relatively simple too, Lewis Harris Jr is a little bit shorter than Robert Mansfield and Thermon spence, so I put him in the front and leaned down until all their heads lined up.

Philly Weekly features writer Randy LoBasso, who did the article, shot some behind the scenes video for which I'm very grateful, you can watch it here on the Youtubes.

We went back to the Weekly offices and I did some quick portraits as a backup or in case they wanted anything in the interior and shot a couple photos of them just having a discussion and went on my merry way. You can read Randy's article here.

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[User Picture]From: redmorlock
2013-02-27 03:27 pm (UTC)
I love that pic!
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[User Picture]From: blackwell
2013-02-27 03:45 pm (UTC)
This cover is so striking! I adore it.
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[User Picture]From: briansiano
2013-02-27 03:52 pm (UTC)
You used the Panasonic on this shoot, and that reminded me to ask you something I forgot to ask you on Sunday. Namely, why are you using micro-four-thirds cameras these days?

I mean, you have cameras and lenses in bigger formats, and they have particular advantages. And while you talked about the problems of moving to new formats, it didn't occur to me to ask: _why_ migrate from Canons or Nikons? Seems to me that those cameras are much better for stills work.

(To anyone else reading this: I use a Micro Four Thirds camera, a Panasonic GH2, and I love it. But I got it because it was an amazingly powerful video camera at a very low price. And I didn't have a pile of lenses and batteries for previous cameras.)
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-02-27 04:58 pm (UTC)
I'm interested in the Micro 4 3 experiment because the GF1 and three lenses together weight less than my 28-70 lens for my DSLR. If I can consolidate my equipment into a small package it makes me more mobile and means I can bring more of other stuff, like more lights, more light modifiers, or just be quicker on my feet -- like I can bring everything in my carryon bag -- fill it with clothes, toss in two micro 4:3 bodies, three lenses and a charger and be ready to go. Years ago I was able to do this with a pair of Leica's. If I could squeeze pro-performance out of small bodies, I'd be tickled pink. Last month's cover of Beth Bethany was great, this experience was a little less rewarding. One thing that I really don't like is having to take the eye-level finder off in order to attach a flash trigger.
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[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-02-27 04:01 pm (UTC)
probably the most famous example is Guerrillero Heroico's photo of Che Guevara

That's Alberto Korda's photo of Che; "Guerrrillero Heroico" is the title of the picture ("Heroic Guerrilla Fighter" in English).
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-02-27 04:10 pm (UTC)
derp derp derp. it's all that Che vodka. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: J. Matthew Wolfe
2013-02-27 04:20 pm (UTC)


Gee, I thought I was the only Republican you photographed!

-Matt Wolfe
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-02-27 04:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Cover

Dude, not even close.

Edited at 2013-02-27 04:43 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: silveringridd
2013-02-27 05:00 pm (UTC)
this picture is awesome. you are awesome. helmut newton is awesome. i love helmut newton. lots of awesome. i have a very limited vocabulary. forgive me.
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[User Picture]From: mcmatz
2013-02-27 05:28 pm (UTC)
what she said. awesome cubed - no a googleplex of awesome.
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2013-02-27 06:49 pm (UTC)
This is fun. Now I want someone to take a power photo of me, but I think my friends would all laugh and laugh.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-02-27 07:08 pm (UTC)
not if they did it right.
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2013-02-27 08:05 pm (UTC)
I think it would be like taking a power photo of a fluffy kitten.
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[User Picture]From: sheilagh
2013-02-28 02:22 am (UTC)
It's been done with puppies. Kittens can't be too far behind: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12235091@N00/91436625/
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2013-02-28 05:53 pm (UTC)
Well, if I do ever have a power photo taken of me, I'll make sure to have Kyle do it in order to look super imposing and threatening. Because if anyone can make me look that way, Kyle can.
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[User Picture]From: lawbabeak
2013-02-27 08:28 pm (UTC)
Wonderful - both the final product and seeing the process. And now, I need to buy some Molly Robinson music...
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[User Picture]From: livejournal
2013-02-27 08:48 pm (UTC)

Behind the Scenes: Philadelphia Weekly Cover Photo

User pigshitpoet referenced to your post from Behind the Scenes: Philadelphia Weekly Cover Photo saying: [...] Originally posted by at Behind the Scenes: Philadelphia Weekly Cover Photo [...]
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