Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Todd Palin. Alaska. Esquire. Words I heard through the phone from Michael Norseng over at Esquire. He wanted to know if I wanted to go to Alaska to hang out with Todd Palin for a feature for Esquire’s “American male “ issue (out now). Ridiculous. Like I or anyone else could possibly say no to an assignment like that. He laid it out like this: you and your assistant will fly to Alaska and hang out with Todd for a few days and show the world what it’s like to be him. This kind of assignment is why I take pictures for a living, hanging out with Todd Palin in Alaska. If there is one name that was as dividing as it was uniting last year, it was Palin. Michael wanted a slice of life look at Todd. Get intimate. The story was this; here’s this guy, a mans man, hunter, fisher, snowmobile racer, oil field worker. But also a father and a stay at home dad. Truly a renaissance man for the 21st century. Oh yea, his wife is pretty interesting too. This is the new American male. I really wanted to look at not so much what it’s like to be him, but look at what it means to be him. We spent a few days there in Wasilla, just checking into his world every day and seeing what its like. Snowmobile stuff, hanging out at home with the kids (Sarah was off in Juneau for the week), doing some snowmobiling. Just cool stuff. One connection I did have with him was fishing. We both are pretty serious fisherman and our families have both relied on commercial fishing for a living. My brother is a commercial fisherman in Florida and I fished with him commercially way back when and still do on occasion now when I’m home in Florida and time permits. Todd and I are pretty passionate about our finned friends. He showed me pics of his fishing exploits and we talked about the common bond all fisherman have. I showed him a few pics I keep on my iphone of big fish I’ve caught, he dug it. I never get bored talking fish. We talked fish conservation. We both really want our kids to be able to go out and catch and eat wild caught fish. (sidebar: don’t eat farmed fish. very bad for the environment, you, and most importantly wild fish. go here: http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/salfarprob.html) It was a really cool week hanging with and getting to know him. After a few days of taking pictures I talked to Michael and basically told him “getting great stuff, lots of cool pictures, but he looks like a single dad as Sarah hasn’t been home all week.” She was getting home Sunday, but I was supposed to leave Sunday morning, so we scheduled one more day so we could get a shot of the fam at home. Unfortunately she’s has been lying kinda low after the whole VP thing, and it was touchy getting that scheduled and shot. She did it grudgingly but we got a shot, kinda. They thought the story was going to be focused on her, they even hinted at that. Todd even said to me “the only reason you guys are doing this on me is because of her.” Yea, that true, I agreed with him. She is the draw initially, but the story really was about him. It’s funny because all my friends want to know about her. My liberal and conservative friends all want to know what she’s like. It’s a strange phenom, she’s really a polarizing figure. From the most die-hard conservative to my totally left liberal friends, they all want to know about her. Is she nice? Is she dumb? Did you like her? Is she pretty? Yes, no, yes, yes. I did like them. I like all Alaskans though. Something about that place. I get it. Been there several times and I understand why they try and keep it a secret. Flew home on Monday morning and had a nice look at the cold white snowscape while listening to mick and the boys on exile on main street…tumbling dice will always remind me of this gig now… My favorite picture by far is the last one in this post, the shot of "i love you daddy" on the toolbox. Todd told me Piper wrote that one day. Just hanging in the garage one day with him, saw it and new it was a great shot, summed up the whole story. The one thing I will never forget is watching Todd and Trigg. Besides fishing, the thing we talked about a lot was our babies. My little Henry and his Trigg. Our universes are parallel on those two things, fishing and our babies. He adored that baby so much, and Trigg really lit up for him. It was the only time Todd was totally calm and not uncomfortable or antsy, when he was holding Trigg.
Posted by nathaniel at 9:43 PM
I finally got a copy of this story I did for Mens Health last fall. Always hard it seems to get copies of stories I've shot. Mostly I just forget about it as too busy to remember. The story was called "the worst food for kids", and it was about all the crap that people feed their kids. We decided to take it a little over the top and do photo illustrations really, with the kids interacting with the food to make the point. Shot in the studio, good times, good kids, and I must admit, I did eat some of the food that we were shooting and it was tasty. Besides, I'm not a kid, so it's not as bad for me. Here's the tear sheets from the story, and a couple of my favorite out takes that didnt get used....
Posted by nathaniel at 4:18 PM
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I actually shot this 2 years ago, but came across the tear sheets last week and wanted to post them. It's kinda the perfect metaphor for the US auto industry....dead....I shot it for Allyson Torrisi at Popular Mechanics, I think she knew I would get it and bring home the bacon. The story was a story about what happens to all the cars when they die, as all cars do die eventually. The short answer is they get recycled. Very cool too the way its done. The cars are first crushed flat like a pancake in a big press, then they are picked up by a crane, dropped onto a conveyer belt. The belt slowly brings them up and into the shredder. This machine literally takes a whole car, and rips it into quarter sized pieces. No shit, so cool. When the machine was off, they let me look inside its guts, but i couldn't photograph it because it's proprietary. Basically its a bunch of huge hammers that tear the car apart. Very loud and Edward Scissorhands-ish. They also have some pretty ingenious ways to separate all the different materials that make up a car. Think about it, rubber, plastic, glass, steel, aluminum, copper. Pretty much every kind of material you can think of, a real pain to separate for recycling. They do it pretty well though. It goes through a magnet which picks up magnetic metals, then through water where all the rubber and plastic that floats gets pulled off, until everything is sorted and sent to the recycle place. It's actually pretty big biz. I went to an alimunum smelter and got to hang with the guys there making aluminum ingots out of old cars, that was pretty cool too. Have a look. When i saw these I wanted to post them because of the dying car biz, and also because I was a bit nostalgic, as I shot 4x5 film for this one and havent shot film in over a year now. I miss it, but when i really thought about it, it wasnt really the film shooting that i missed, but just the time and the story that I missed. Whenever I look at a picture I've taken, whether it was Dustin Hoffman in LA in 1999, or this car crushing story 1n 2007, I remember the time perfectly and I just miss the time. I still get to do great stories, do cool things, and take great pictures though, it's just done without film now.....
Posted by nathaniel at 5:01 PM
Just got some new layouts of the Western Star campaign I’ve been working on this past year. Shot in Maine last fall in a logging camp and then we shot in Little Rock this winter some over the road truckin’. For those of you that don’t know, Western Star is the Mercedes of trucks. They’re owned by Freightliner, the biggest semi truck manufacturer, but it’s their flagship brand, Western Star, that they’re most proud of. More expensive, better built. Ask any trucker and he will tell you about them. Because they have such a stellar reputation as the best built and toughest trucks, the logging industry uses them because logging trucks are beat to hell pulling 100,000 pounds of logs out of the woods over dirt, mud, and gravel roads. Over the road truckers use them too, but it’s in the woods that these trucks really excel and stand out. When I talked to the creative director, Jeff Nichols, he was very passionate about how these trucks should be portrayed. Emotional. Rugged. Not scared of anything. We wanted to show them in a non-traditional way for the trucking industry. Not the standard 3/4 beautiful sunset shots of the trucks, but down and dirty and ready to do anything. No washing or detailing them, just honest. He sold the concept to the client by showing them my hummer stuff from Alaska, my monster truck and NASCAR work, and the Jesse James book. They loved it and loved the concept. We decided to head to the northwest woods of Maine where lots of logging takes place. Beautiful country indeed. Usually there’s some sort of shot list on a job like this, but we didn’t have one. Just ideas of how the shots should look. Dirty. Rugged. The hero of the woods. Its great to work like this, but very hard too. It takes a lot of trust from the client and creative director to just turn you loose as they cross their fingers and hope you produce and all the stars align without a clear shot list….our base camp in Maine was Pelletier brothers logging company in a little town called Herman. The Pelletier brothers own about 15 Western Stars, so our idea was to hang around the lumber yard as guys came in to offload, meet them, shoot them and the truck as they worked, and hop into the cab with them as they drove back out into the woods so we could shoot out there too. Sounds like a pretty sketchy plan, but it worked out believe it or not. Truckers are a pretty crusty bunch, but so are photographers, so we all got along pretty well as my jeans are just as dirty as theirs. Saw a moose calf one day as we were cruising along through the woods, I think we scared the hell out of him. The logging road is gravel and goes about 70 miles through the woods. We went about 40 miles in to various logging camps where we would just kind of watch as trees were cut down, hauled out of the woods, and loaded onto the trucks. Take pictures of the trucks in action. Pretty cool stuff. A forestry officer is there and goes through ahead of the loggers and marks trees to cut. That way there’s no clear cutting and he knows which trees to take for the lowest impact on the forest and the critters that live there, as we all love critters and want to take care of their home. I know I keep saying it over and over, but the best part of this job is the education I get about the world. I get these intense little vignettes about a part of the world and a way of life that I would never get as just a casual traveler. Taking pictures on a job like this is really just exploring my curiosity. The camera is just the vehicle to satisfy my hunger for knowledge, and hungry I am..…. here’s a few of the layouts he finally sent me last week, and a few of my favorite images as well. Enjoy
Posted by nathaniel at 7:45 AM