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.
South Florida is unique. It has a mix of US and Latin cultures. It has warm light and cosmopolitan people. Walking around you see 50’s Art Deco styling everywhere and yet it embraces all that is modern. I love it.
I was in South Florida last week on assignment. On my down time I captured these images in the Naples area.
Warm evening light covers a woman on the beach in South Florida
Showering off at Naples Pier
Storm clouds building in the afternoon heat
Playing paddle games on Naples Beach
Palm trees, cars and architecture
A good photograph like a good book contains conflict. However, the conflict in a photo is visual, your eyes bounce off the conflicting elements as they explore the image. To communicate the idea of an IPO, Silicon Valley meeting Wall Street, I found using conflicting elements would be my best approach.
While planning the shoot, I decided that for each high tech item I added to the image I’d put in a corresponding Wall Street element. A cigar is offset with high tech Google Glass, a conservative suit is made new with a pixelation filter, and the model’s youthful face is framed with slicked back hair.
This photograph was turned into a visual soup of props and styling that tell the story.
Wall Street meets Silicon Valley
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.