•on May 17th, 2010
In the summer of 2009 we began work on a new website for Ubuntu Restaurant in Napa, California. After collaborating with the chef, Jeremy Fox, for several months, we launched the site, which was received with high marks. The site integrates a Content Management System (CMS) which allows for easy updates to many of the pages. A blog and events page keep fans up to date and help to draw in new customers, and the menu page is easily updated by the staff.
As one of the original ideas for the site, I had the thought of using x-rayed vegetables and other objects for the site icons.
In the end, this proved not capture the rustic feeling that Ubuntu was hoping for, though we did get as far as shooting the x-rayed vegetables, which I hope to use for other projects down the road.
Travel & Location
•on May 16th, 2010
I used to shoot weddings a fair amount (the money was good, but dealing with bridezillas got old quickly). In 2007, I shot a wedding in Kent, outside of London (this particular bride was lovely, no bridezilla-ing whatsoever).
Bride getting ready, Kent, England
Groom & groomsmen after the ceremony.
After the wedding we traveled along with some friends to France & Spain; the town of St. Émilion was especially photogenic.
View of St. Émilion town; alleyway.
Dilapidated cathedral & garden, St. Émilion.
Travel & Location
•on May 16th, 2010
In December of 2006, I shot a friend’s wedding in Troncones, Mexico. It is an amazing spot: the beautiful water of Manzanillo Bay, great surf nearby, and fantastic food & drink.
Fishing offshore of Ixtapa
The ceremony location at Manzanillo Bay
The bride & revelers after the ceremony
Egret at dusk, Manzanillo Bay, Troncones
In October of 2009, I went back to the same location to shoot some images for a local resort. It was low season, but still amazing.
Manzanillo bay at dusk
The resort pool at night
•on May 16th, 2010
In Summer 2009 we were commissioned by Whetstone Winery, a great boutique winery in the Napa Valley, to create a series of images for their website and collateral marketing materials. I went up to Napa on a warm but cloudy day, and was able to get some images that the client really loved, shooting near the end of the day with good ol’ “magic hour” light.
Whetstone Viognier and tasting picnic
Jamey Whetstone pours
Michelle Whetstone showing the Syrah the love it deserves
Whetstone vines bask in the evening light
We recently did a project for a boutique winery in the Napa Valley called Lion’s Run, who wanted their wine label re-designed, along with some collateral marketing material. It was our first wine label project, and we learned a lot in the process (including the arcane requirements of the TTB, the bureaucracy governing what must and must not be on alcohol labels.)
Lion’s Run produces a high-end cabernet from grapes grown on the slopes of Mt. George, a 2000 foot mountain on the east side of the Napa Valley. Early mockups of the label played with the idea of the mountain’s silhouette.
The version below would take advantage of the digital printing process, where each label in the series could be unique. Here, 3 of the twelve bottles in each case have 1 segment of the ridge-line; when placed next to each other they would form the entire silhouette. This idea didn’t make it, but we hope take advantage of this variable facet of digital printing in a future project.
The final version ended up being the most simple and direct: a large logoscript L, with foil embossed “Lion’s Run.” This helped to convey the brand’s high-end, slightly masculine image, and incorporate the winery’s traditional background within a clean, modern design.
This past march I did a shoot for Lotus Yoga in Montclair, New Jersey. Early that morning, before my friend and business partner Rylan Peery came to pick me up, I woke up with a horrible sore throat. We then drove an hour through torrential rains from where I was staying in Brooklyn to the yoga studio (heroic driving on the part of Rylan). Despite these obstacles, we were able to get images that the client was very happy with, and which will be going up on their site shortly (we also helped consult on the initial design, more on that later).
•on May 15th, 2010
One of my favorite projects has been working as the Creative Director for Wetpixel Quarterly, an underwater photography magazine I founded in 2006 along with my partner Eric Cheng. What is Wetpixel Quarterly? Our press release sums it up nicely:
Wetpixel Quarterly brings fans of the underwater realm spectacular imagery in a landscape-oriented, high-resolution format. As well as celebrating the beauty of the deep, Wetpixel Quarterly provides a forum for a necessary dialog on marine conservation among photographers, researchers, conservationists, and the general public. To help foster this community, the magazine accepts and encourages contributions from professional and amateur photographers alike. Wetpixel.com is the most respected online destination for all things related to underwater imaging; Wetpixel Quarterly presents an exciting new venue for showcasing the work of this community in print.
The magazine’s founders, Eric Cheng and Elijah Woolery—both avid divers and underwater photographers—hope to foster environmental stewardship by highlighting conservation concerns in Wetpixel Quarterly‘s theme-based issues. “By drawing attention to the links between the beauty of the underwater world and the action required to sustain these environments,” says Woolery, “we’re hoping to increase interest in preserving threatened areas around the globe—and to help protect those areas that are still pristine.” Through interviews, articles, open contests, and, most importantly, the lenses of its contributors, Wetpixel Quarterly brings to the page a new sense of the fragility and splendor of underwater life.
Here are a few of my favorite covers:
WPQ#3: Cover image by Alex Kirkbride
WPQ#5: Cover image by Clark Little
WPQ#6: Cover image by Takako Uno
WPQ#7: Cover image by Douglas Seifert
We also did the website design for the Wetpixel Quarterly site; go on over and check it out, and pick up a subscription or t-shirt!
(note: this article is excerpted from an article I wrote for Light & Motion in 2008).
Diving with manta rays is very hard to describe: you can get a rather good idea of the size and grace of these animals from the Discovery Channel, but if you have never dived or snorkeled with them, there is no easy way to convey the very alien and yet somehow calming presence of these giant elasmobranchs as they glide past you, eyeing you as if they were some kind of living UFO. It’s hard not to believe that they are curious about our awkward, bubbly intrusion into their blue realm, and perhaps they are: mantas are thought to have the largest brain-to-body ratio of any of the hundreds of species of sharks and rays.
It was in pursuit of this interaction that our boat, the Solmar V, left Cabo San Lucas at the beginning of February 2008, sent off by an enthusiastic if sometimes out-of-tune Mariachi band, on a 24-hour steam to our destination, the Revillagigedos Islands. In addition to the mantas, the possible encounters included schools of hammerhead sharks, dolphins, humpback whales, and potentially whale sharks.
Jacks schooling at Roca Partida
The manta gods smiled upon us, and we had great encounters with the winged giants, along with massive schools of jacks, friendly dolphins, and sharks: white-tips, silky & Galapagos, and several schools of hammerheads. We didn’t get to dive with any humpbacks, but saw plenty of breaching from the surface, and on several dives, heard their haunting calls. And on the rare occasions when the big animals didn’t come to play, it was refreshing to pull out the macro gear and shoot some of the smaller denizens of the rocky reefs: pufferfish, octopus, flounder, and other reef fishes.
Memories, film and hard drives filled with undersea imagery, we steamed back to the mainland at the end of a wonderful week of diving. But no matter how we strived to capture the spirit of the manta with the best that modern technology has to offer, when we showed the images to our friends and loved ones back home, there was something we couldn’t quite convey: the calm, alien curiosity of Manta birostris.
Manta at El Boiler
On a cold, foggy early summer morning in 2009, I organized five brave models for a photoshoot in Ubuntu Restaurant’s biodynamic garden, in the hills above Napa Valley. Despite the frigidity (and ill protection from the cold afforded by thin yoga clothes), the models were very good sports and we got some fun shots out of the endeavor.
Several of these images hang as large posters in front of Ubuntu’s Annex on Main Street in downtown Napa, and draw in customers interested in the unique combination of yoga clothing & fine wines (who doesn’t feel like a tall glass of biodynamically grown vin after their afternoon vinyasa?
For this image, we attempted to recreate the statue inside Ubuntu’s main dining area. The gentleman in the picture is over 80, and can do this pose without his hands (on even ground).
This is the image that made it into the poster.
•on May 14th, 2010
This was one of the first shoots I did together with Chef Jeremy Fox at Ubuntu Restaurant in Napa. We were tasked with putting together some images for tasting cards for Lion’s Run Winery (for which I’ve also done some print & web design work). The image is of olives with pesto, with some nasturtiums and some of Jeremy’s famous “edible dirt” scattered around.
A wide angle shot from this series also became a large poster hanging in the window of Ubuntu Annex: