Skip to content

Posts from the ‘celebrities’ Category

Who Will Save Your Soul

Jewel in her Volkswagen Van.

Entertainment Weekly, February 2015, photo by Steve LaBadessa

In 1996 Jewel wrote a song, “Who Will Save Your Soul,” a thoughtful poem about the struggle of life and redemption.  The song later brought her national attention as well as a Grammy nomination.  On assignment for People magazine I was asked to make a portrait that illustrated her story.

Jewel’s home was located in an urban section of San Diego. On my arrival Nedra, Jewel’s mother, directed me inside. Jewel, raised in Alaska, shared a home with her mom.

I photographed Jewel in three different settings; surfing, painting on a canvas and sitting in her ’67 Volkswagen van. The van seemed the most comfortable location for her. She used the van to travel to gigs and it served as a place for her to sleep for out-of-town performances.

In the Volkswagen Jewel started to sing, “Who Will Save Your Soul”. Her voice was passionate yet soft. I was awestruck by the private concert that transpired. Passersby didn’t seem to notice the chart-topping singer songwriter was performing on this narrow street.

Jewel was unpretentious in every way. There was no hair and make-up stylist. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. She didn’t even wear shoes. Photographing Jewel was one of my favorite celebrity shoots of all time.

The van photo has achieved iconic status. Every few months I get a request to use the photo on-line or in a publication. Several months ago I got a call from a photo editor at Entertainment Weekly. She remembered the photo. She wanted to use it as the opening spread for a dedicated issue about Jewel. She said it was a beautiful picture that symbolized Jewel’s humble beginnings. That’s how I remember it too.


Long Tall Sally

Photograph of a 50's model

50's photograph

I was putting together a short series of 1950’s fashion shots and struggled with the idea of a storyline for the shoot. Typically the 1950’s are idealized. It was seen as an era of happy homemakers baking apple pies and wearing poodle skirts. If there was a point in time when all was right with America it was the 1950s.

Photographically, I didn’t feel a happy housewife was the way to present these fashions. The shoot needed a modern spin. I decided to applied my 21st century sensibility to the 1950’s fashion spread. I thought a sexier look at 1950’s would relate to today’s readers. The client loved the concept and all the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

50's model50's fashionSally 2

I’ll Take a Hug Please

Michael Clarke Duncan

I  photographed Michael Clarke Duncan after he appeared in the Green Mile, his oscar nominated role.  He was happy and excited to be on the shoot. He said, “Whatever you want to do let me know, you’re the boss”.  He was accommodating throughout the day and with his help I got lots of great images.”

Michael never intended to be an actor. He explained that he got his start in Hollywood working as a bodyguard for Bruce Willis.  Bruce recommend him for numerous film roles. With his huge muscles and deep voice Michael was a larger than life character. He had no problem getting work.

Everyone liked Michael, it was his sweet and gentle nature. I heard that when fans met him they asked for hugs not autographs.

He died last week at the age of 54.  He wasn’t one of those actors you know by their first names but he might have been. I was sad to hear of his death.

Michael Clarke Duncan photo by Steve LaBadessa