performer

I'm Not Really a Magician

At one point, Princess said "You're a magician!". I was flattered at first, but then I realized that the soft box grid that I was pulling out of my kit was velcroed to everything else in the bag and I was pulling the entire contents out. So not so magical after all.

My subject for today, Princess, performs magic with words though. She is really quite a talented poet. I sometimes will ask performers who I am photographing to do what they do in front of the camera. It often creates some very special moments. I was blown away by Princess. A college student, her verse is mature, intense and compact. Her recitation was really quite moving. Her photos speak for themselves. Thank you Princess!

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All in the Family Indeed

I know that Boston is a small market, and everyone in the Merrimack Valley seems to have far less than 6 degrees of separation, but this assignment was different. I was sent to photograph a musical family with roots in Newburyport, MA, but as I found out more I realized that that the grandfather in this three-generation musical family, was a teacher of mine at Berklee College of Music 35 years ago! Les Harris Sr. was one of my favorite teachers at Berklee. He was always approachable, a very real person, no pretense or aura. Just a very talented and accomplished musician who was very ready and willing to help his students. His son, Les Jr., an excellent percussionist in his own right, lives in Exeter, NH, where I grew up, and teaches at Philips Exeter. Les Jr.'s daughter, Aubrey, is an incredibly talented bass player and singer, whom I had the pleasure of hearing as they rehearsed during our photoshoot.

As Les Jr. and I got to know each other that day, I realized that he works with a couple of guys who I knew growing up. One who was in a band with me in high school and the other who used to live a mile from my childhood home and who my mother would babysit. If these coincidences weren't enough, on the way to Portsmouth, I heard Sergio Mendes' cover of "Fool on the Hill" on the radio. As I listened I remembered that Les Sr. had used that recording in class for what we used to call doing a "record copy", an ear training exercise where you literally transcribe exactly what you hear, note for note. We used to wear out a lot of cassette players that way! 

Check out the Harris family in this month's Merrimack Valley Magazine as well as Les Jr.'s and Aubrey's web sites. Also take a listen to Aubrey and some other amazing high school musicians perform with Keith Urban here!

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Classic

Patty calls her work-self an Excel jockey. But those who know her also know that she is an excellent musician. Patty plays clarinet and is the secretary for the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, in Lowell, Massachusetts. She helped create the orchestra's annual summertime concert series at the Shedd Park Pavilion in Lowell. Patty came in to the studio to work with me on my "Big Door" and "Basic" series. Last year though, she was part of a collaborative project that Lowell Film Collaborator co-founder Suzzanne Cromwell and I had embarked on. Although it is on somewhat of a hiatis, I still have hopes of continuing that work with Suzzanne. Here are some of the shots from both photo shoots with Patty. Check out the Philharmonic! Click here.

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The Scott Grimes Cover that Almost Didn't Happen

Back in August, Masschusetts native, actor and musician Scott Grimes, of ER and Band of Brothers fame, came home to do a benefit concert at Lowell's Memorial Auditorium. Merrimack Valley Magazine loves a hometown success story, so Scott was a perfect fit for the cover. It was all arranged. We were to meet Scott back stage before his concert and do the cover shoot. Nothing highly produced, just a series of portraits of him sitting, singing, enacting a voiceover session in a theatrical setting. Dramatic lighting, minimalist background... you get the idea.

I had the lights all set up. Everything was ready to go. I did some test shots with the publisher sitting in for the star. He loves that (ha!). In walked someone in charge. 'Scott won't be able to come down. It's too close to showtime.' I looked at the publisher and the creative director as they went completely pale. I blurted out: 'can he just give us five minutes?' The guy paused and said, ok, I'll check. He walked away and the aforementioned magazine honchos shot me a look. A glare really... I said, 'I am all set up. If he comes down here for 5 he will be here for 15.' I may have even said 'trust me'... I really need a manager; someone to stop me before I say 'yes' again!

Scott came down to the set and was incredibly personable, helpful, ready for a photo shoot, and seemed to be in no rush to leave. Happy to accommodate. We shot the cover in a little less than 10 minutes and followed that up with several relaxed, informal posed shots of him, his band and our writer, Beth Daigle. It had turned out to be a good night all around. But someone really needs to stop me next time.

And please don't miss this issue to check out Creative Director Steve Pennimpede's great vision and Photoshop work on the cover concept!

Merrimack Valley Magazine - November/December 2012

Merrimack Valley Magazine - November/December 2012

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A Happy Team - Merrimack Valley Magazine's owner, editor & publisher, Glenn Prezzano, writer for the Scott Grimes story, Beth Daigle, and creative director Stephen Pennimpede

A Happy Team - Merrimack Valley Magazine's owner, editor & publisher, Glenn Prezzano, writer for the Scott Grimes story, Beth Daigle, and creative director Stephen Pennimpede

A New Beginning

I love summer. But summer can be a challenge if you are trying to keep the ball rolling on your business. Clients go on vacation. Projects are sometimes put on the slow track until autumn. So even though I love the long, warm days of summer, I do look forward to the fall when things start rolling again.

This fall I decided to take my online presence and branding up a notch. Beginning today, with this blog, I am featuring my newly designed web site and logo. For the techies out there, it utilizes HTML5 to customize itself to whatever browser it happens to be running on. It also features really large images that scale to the size of the browser window. So make sure you maximize the window!

Because I have been working on this project for a while I have quite a bit of photography work in the can to show you. I will be doing that over the next several months along with a couple of surprises, including one personal project that I will be rolling out in November. Please watch for that!

To get things started I thought I would share some shots from a photo session that I had with the excellent guitarist, Alex Prezzano. He rented the world-famous Methuen Memorial Music Hall for the shoot, which features an amazing pipe organ that occupies the entire front of the hall. I hope you enjoy the shots and check Alex out! Please feel free to leave a comment too!

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