Vacations are all about down time and relaxing but in Maui it’s hard to put away your camera. One evening I went to pick up some food in the town of Haiku and ran across this unusual fence made entirely of surfboards. The fence looks like a cross between Stonehendge and the Cadillac Ranch. It was a row of colorful surfboards pointing straight into the air for as long as the eye can see.
Surprising discoveries are what makes vacations fun. When you travel to Maui you should expect a few magic moments. This was one. It was late in the day and the boards were glowing amber in the Hawaiian sunset.
I hopped out of the car and started taking some pictures. Eventually, I walked down the driveway and towards the main house to get some information about the fence. Because the location was a little farm in an isolated section of Maui I wasn’t sure if I was going to be greeted with a shotgun or handshake.
That’s when I met Brian. He was house sitting for the owner and greeted me with a big smile. He said lots of people stop by for a visit. He told me the fence was made by Donald Dettloff about 20 years ago. He had a couple of old boards he wanted to get rid of but didn’t want to put them in the landfill. Other surfers saw the small fence and started leaving their boards on his driveway so the fence grew. It now contains over 800 surfboards. It’s the largest surfboard fence in the world.
To my surprise very few stories have ever been published about this fence. On my return to California I sent a set of my pictures to some friends at USA Today. They loved the pictures. They agreed to post them in their travel section on-line. Here is the link to the USA Today gallery, http://www.usatoday.com/media/cinematic/gallery/1605591 Also, there are pictures posted on my website, www.stevelabadessa.com
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.
I was commissioned to shoot a series of portraits of runner Michelle Jenay. My objective was to make several living breathing portraits. Portraits are too often interpreted as static photos. If you’re gong to shoot a runner, she ought to be moving. I wanted to keep it simple, colorful and believable.
I was in New York City for a series of meetings with art directors and photo editors. I took an hour off and shot some photos along The High Line in Lower Manhattan.
The city felt refreshingly colorful. It glowed in shades of orange and blue. New architecture popped up on every corner. The old city seemed alive with new energy.
Recently, I was shooting a travel story on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. My assignment was to make some unique images of the Frank Gehry designed building. It’s a popular stop for tourist and professional photographers a like. This building is typically photographed against the skyline of Los Angeles. You see huge panels of folded steel contrasting the straight and narrow city buildings. To make my pictures I had to find a different approach.
Rather than shoot the usual grand vista I decide to get in close. I wanted to get an intimate view. As I looked around I got the impression this structure wasn’t designed so much as a building but as a sculpture. It was meant to be viewed from many different angles. As you walk around the building you make these little visual discoveries. There are stairways hidden behind steels facades and walkway wedged between massive silhouettes. It looks as though the structure itself was pealed away to make room for the exit doors. And when you look up, you see light bounce from panel to panel projecting brilliant patterns on the structure.
I’ve always enjoyed architecture as an art form. The artist, the architect, has something to show you. It’s a visual art like photography. With architecture and photography you need to take your time and experience the art in front of you.
Photographing in a television studio is like working in a war zone. Your results will be determined by the situation on the ground at the time of the operation.
Recently, I was on the set of the Food Network photographing Cat Cora and Johnny Iuzzini. I was told I would have 30 minutes to set up and shoot. That’s a tight schedule for a soup to nuts (pardon the pun) photo shoot. My client requested 2 variations of the duo cooking together on set, and hoped for a few more situations if time permitted.
At the studio I was greeted with the words, “we’re running late today”. That’s a Hollywood producer’s way of saying hello. She did have some good news though. I would have an extra half hour on set. I can shoot just about anything given an hour.
Racing your way through a shot list doesn’t always make the best pictures. In situations like this thinking on your feet is critical. When I asked Johnny to hold a rolling pin for one of my “must have” shots, his response was, “What am I a 50’s housewife?” So, you have to adapt. I brought a case full of props anticipating this type of problem. He found something he liked.
Letting people be themselves ultimately makes the best shots. Johnny pouring dry ice on the set and Cat fixing her hair weren’t concepts on my shot list but they were honest moments. When you have a crowd of stage hands constantly asking, “When are you going to be done?” honest moments are a gift you gladly take.