CICADA SUMMER

The strange subterranean world around us has opened to release the Cicada after 17 years and our yard is abuzz. My wife Tereza adores these creatures that terrify me.

To me they are red-eyed monsters. She gathers them up and lets them climb her arms, gets them out of the driveway to safety while telling me stories about playing with them as a child in Brazil. YIKES! But I have to admit, they are definitely cool looking. Scary but cool.

Monday
27
May 2013

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The Cause of the Global Financial Meltdown?

©2013 Doug Menuez
Apparently a new trend among tourists visiting the mighty Wall St. bull sculpture has been added to the previous fad to rub the bull’s balls. Now they do a head thrust. Go figure! This image is from a previous post about my recent shoot for Nikon’s new Coolpix A camera: SANDY, MEET NIKON; NIKON, MEET SANDY | DOUG MENUEZ 2.0: GO FAST, DON’T CRASH
Thursday
14
March 2013

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IN GANGNAM EVERYDAY IS GANGNAM STYLE

It took a billion hits on “Gangnam Style” before I finally got around to checking out the video. So I’m watching this crazy guy and catch some quick cuts of Seoul and wondering what the hell Gangnam Style means and something tugs a memory. This area where we were shooting in Seoul a few years back really struck me then as unusually hyper-stylish, expensive and fashionable. It was like Roppongi Hills meets Beverly Hills on crack. I was jet-lagged and flew in for two quick days shoot at Chaum, a futuristic longevity medical center. So I looked on google and yup, we shot in the Gangnam District it turns out. It’s real, forms a neighborhood on the South side of the river in Seoul, and the basis for the style driving Psy’s video. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangnam_District)

For those as easily amused by coincidence as I am, here’s a quick look at the actual Gangnam of everyday in the streets around the Hyatt and at Chaum in 2 galleries below.

©Photographs by Doug Menuez/Stockland Martel

Tuesday
08
January 2013

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NEW PARADE MAG COVER SHOOT: BUSH 41

On shooting President Bush for the second time for the cover of Parade Magazine.

There are celebrity shoots, and then there are celebrity shoots. Most involve tense publicists and tense famous people not thrilled to be photographed, as well as very tense crews full of stylists, assistants, etc., not to mention the very tense photographer upon whose shoulders the final result will rest. When the celebrity in question is the former President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his wife, Barbara Bush, for the cover of Parade magazine with a circulation of approximately, oh, 1 billion or so, one might expect a double dose of all of the above.

But with Bush 41, it was nothing but relaxing ocean breezes, Kennebunkport casual hospitality, and zero tense anything. The Bushes are very much a down-to-earth semi-retired power couple—what you see is literally what you get. (read more below)

This is not to say I wasn’t terrified anyway and working at a fever pitch despite the calm setting. And I had been warned by the incredibly kind Bush family publicist, Jean Becker, that President Bush would be in a wheelchair and had great difficulty walking. And I had only one assistant—just like on a news assignment—and no stylists, and we did have a very tight time frame to work within given the state of President Bush’s health, which is stable but certainly declining with his advancing age and a form of Parkinson’s that limits his ability to walk.

Everyone at Parade—photo director Miriam White-Lorentzen, editor-in-chief Maggie Murphy, creative director Richard Baker, and writer, reporter and LBJ Library Director Mark K. Updegrove—was extremely supportive and counting on me to not only nail a candid portrait for the cover but also somehow make something happen that might yield inside images, as well. I expected I would have 10 minutes. In the end, I had that and maybe 5 minutes more after the interview.

I shot what I could during the interview over Mark’s shoulder, and when my time came I got the cover shot quickly, with the Bushes on the couch where they had been sitting. Listening to them talk, I was taken back to a different political era, when despite the passions of the left and right, laws were passed, compromises were made. A lifelong Democrat, I leave my politics at the door when I’m shooting journalism. But I love history and the people who make it, so I bring an open mind and a level of respect even to those I might disagree with.

Knowing that movement would be a huge challenge, Jean encouraged me to simply ask President Bush for whatever I needed. And from my past cover shoot with him, I knew that he loved getting outdoors and to the sea in particular. I thought somehow getting him over to the window would make sense and would give me some opportunity to make a more lasting image of an American President toward the end of his life. I decided to take the risk and made my pitch.

While I was suggesting that he and Barbara come over to the French doors overlooking the sea, I quickly moved a wingback chair and lamp. I came close to the President and looked him in the eye and said I’d like to shoot him looking out at the sea that he loves so much. “Getting all arts and crafty, aren’t you, Doug?” said the President. “Exactly,” I admitted. “But I think it’s worth a try.” “Great. Let’s do it,” he said and began to rise.

Immediately, it was obvious he couldn’t really walk at all. He made a half step and held position while Barbara had one elbow and I grabbed the other. At one point, I let Jean and others help him move while I moved the chair to the best angle for him to slide in. It was excruciating to watch this man struggle step by step. At one point, someone loudly said, “Mr. President, you don’t have to do this!” He smiled, turned, and forcefully said, “I’m gonna make it!” and “We’re gonna do this picture!”

He was determined and slowly but surely made it into the chair, which I rotated back to the sea. There, I made a quick shot of him looking out the windows and then jumped outside and closed the door behind me. My quick-thinking assistant, Josh Dick, who specializes in mind-reading photographers, was ready to help as he realized the reflections would be cool on the glass but would also obscure their faces due to the lighting conditions. He held up his jacket to flag their faces, and I gestured for them to come close together.

I made a couple of portraits that worked, both of them fairly radiant and looking in tremendous health despite all their earlier talk about being old and their imminent demise. I called a wrap. Then in an instant, Barbara leaned over and kissed the President on the head. I barely fired one shot. This is my favorite image from the shoot and the picture I will take away as an authentic reflection of their relationship but also kind of interesting as it was shot through the glass. It’s intimate and real, and I’m proud of it. A bit of directing on my part, but even with something conceptual there happen to be real moments that are gifts, and I was lucky enough to press the shutter just in time. Within the context of a celebrity shoot where there is a lot of pressure, I think these little moments are the greatest gifts. This is what I always strive to bring back—something more than expected.

I did push beyond what I might normally do given his high station and health, but nothing great ever happens without risk. I  also sensed in him a desire to make it happen and the grit to get to that window.

http://stocklandmartelblog.com/2012/07/17/doug-menuez-on-photographing-former-president-george-h-w-bush-and-barbara-bush-for-parade-magazine-cover-story/

Wednesday
18
July 2012

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Farewell, Dick Clark (from Stockland Martel Blog)

Back in 2000, veteran creative director Jeff Griffith asked me to do Dick Clark’s portrait for his Atomic magazine interview. We showed up with my longtime stylist extraordinaire, Juliette Smith, at Mr. Clark’s Santa Monica Boulevard headquarters early one morning and were put in a waiting room so stuffed full of rock & roll  history and memorabilia that we couldn’t speak. Our eyes were bugging out of our heads as we tweaked on one sacred relic after another, the iconography of the religion of rock: an early Chuck Berry guitar; Little Richard’s first 45 rpm of “Long Tall Sally”; signed kit from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, you name it. Plus, original jukeboxes stuffed with old records, posters, letters, clothing—just about everything that Dick Clark could gather to tell the story of American music and his own role in helping launch rock & roll through his seminal show American Bandstand. The collection continued down all the halls and throughout the bunker-like offices…

Read full post here >>  http://stocklandmartelblog.com/2012/04/18/farewell-dick-clark/

 

Sunday
22
April 2012

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O SABEDORIA DO BRASIL: A work in progress

I’m just back from Brazil where I’m continuing work on a project that seeks to find the roots of a vast culture at a time of massive change. Check out some of the images below. These are just a few from a small segment of the project about the Jangadeiros of the Northeast, traditional fisherman who risk their lives everyday in simple boats. I expect this to track over a few years and will post new material as time allows.

A Sabedoria do Brasil project traces a visitor’s journey (me) through a vast country with a singular mission: to gather the favorite proverbs, idiomatic sayings and stories of diverse people from all walks of life in every region. These sayings and proverbs, while sometimes trite, often provide real comfort and meaning while revealing the hidden roots and collective wisdom of the Brazilian psyche. It’s a simple idea that yields a fresh way to look at the culture.

Brazil is on fire with change. Beaches, Samba, Carnival and fútbol, although still fundamentally part of the culture, are moving into a supporting role as business is booming. Just as the country declared energy independence they found one of the world’s largest reserves of oil. The Olympics and World Cup are coming and real estate is off the hook expensive. The economy grew at something like 7.5% last year and although down closer to 5% this year is still smoking the US and Europe. The world is watching as the previously tagged “country of tomorrow” is fast becoming the country of today. Although the infrastructure remains challenging, crime and poverty are still massive problems, there is a new expanding middle class and lots of manufacturing, technology, financial and business jobs.  Brazil’s first female president recently took office and is continuing the trade practices of her predecessor.

Yet traditions remain, as you can see in these images of the fisherman of Flecheiras, Ceará. Orson Welles began a film about them in the early 1940′s that was never finished. The cinematography was stunning, and I took that as a good enough inspiration to make the trek up there to meet and visit. One older man told us a story about his grandfather out to sea and trying to drown a cat they discovered on board eating their bait. They pulled up the line later and were shocked to discover the cat tangled in their line, but amazingly grasping dozens of fish in its claws and teeth. Shocked but happy, they kept the cat going at this and came back with double their usual catch. As I listened at first I completely accepted this story as I’ve seen a lot of mysterious stuff in Brazil at this point. But then as I questioned the fisherman he then said that he heard this from his grandfather as the god’s truth.

And then his grandfather told him: “O pescador  não mente; ele aumenta, mas não inventa.”   “The fisherman doesn’t lie–he might embellish, but doesn’t invent.”

Thursday
06
October 2011

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RON DAWSON SHOOTS ME

Ron Dawson is on fire, with so many projects and ideas he makes me look like a stoned tortoise, sitting on a rock in the blazing sun. He has so much energy and talent that I find him enormously inspiring. I met over the phone with Ron first when he had me on his fantastic interview program F Stop Beyond. Later he and his equally talented and energetic wife Tasra came to NYC to help me with a project I’m working on, and then they filmed me for this piece which you can see on his site below. I did not realize until I saw this he’d borrowed a lens from my lovely neighbor in the studio next to mine-  Jason Groupp -small world. The best part for me was getting out my old harps- an early passion from my days in the blues band. It was the height of disco in NYC and that’s a long other story. I’m practicing again now, who knows, maybe getting the band back together :)

Menuez on Manhattan – Act 1: The City on Vimeo

Read Ron’s blog about it here:

Menuez on Manhattan – Adventures in Filming with an 85mm Lens « Blade Ronner: The Personal Blog of Ron Dawson

Filmaker, marketing consultant, author, interviewer, teacher, social media expert: Here’s some of Ron’s many world’s he inhabits in cyberspace, check it all out:

Ron Dawson « F-Stop Beyond: THE EXPERIENCE

Dare Dreamer Media | Atlanta and Silicon Valley Video Production | Specializing in non-profit, inspirational and cause-driven films.

Wednesday
23
February 2011

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DAVID BLAINE: THE MAN IS INCREDIBLE

TRAVEL CHANNEL TO AIR  BLAINE’S “BEST YET” ON SUNDAY, DEC. 12th AT 9:00 p.m.

Please check out David’s new special and watch for re-runs, it’s well worth it. Click producer Shelly Ross’s blog link to read more. David Blaine: “A Beautiful Struggle,” an Amazing 1-Hour Special «  shelley ross daily Xpress I’ve seen his work in person and although I spent years as a cynical journalist, I truly cannot believe the amazing things he does. There is no way to describe it other than seeing it and the show does a great job of getting the reality across. Besides the magic, there is his performance art– no other word for the combination of science, daredevil risk-taking and beauty.

Here’s David at the grave of his hero and childhood inspiration, Houdini, deep in Queens, which we shot for the Sundance Channel’s Iconoclasts show:

Magician David Blaine at Houdini's grave. ©2010 Doug Menuez


Sunday
12
December 2010

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BIG FUN, GOOD CAUSE

Charlize Theron auctions Doug Menuez photo to benefit her Africa Outreach Project « Stockland Martel

Charlize Theron + Jane Goodall in the Congo for Iconoclasts ©2010 Doug Menuez

Charlize chose this image for her auction last night for her South African AIDS foundation Africa Outreach Project. If you are interested in owning a signed version of this image we have 2 more 20×24 pigment prints left. Please email Molly in our studio: molly@menuez.com

Tuesday
07
December 2010

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NEW WORK: ICONOCLASTS FOR SUNDANCE

Photograph ©2010 Doug Menuez
Every once in a while one of those really special assignments come along, this year there have been a few but now I can share one that has been personally very important to me: ICONOCLASTS. Recently we wrapped this project which we’ve been working on all year with Radical Media for the Sundance Channel to document the Iconoclasts series. The show is running now on the Sundance Channel and it is definitely worth checking out. You can see three galleries of edits of my work on my main site here: Doug Menuez

You can also read more about it here on the Stockland Martel blog: Interview: What does it take to photograph “Iconoclasts”? « Stockland Martel

This really was a once in a lifetime chance for me to do what I love to do, which is document everyday life, but in this case with leading cultural figures, some of whom like Dr. Jane Goodall, with whom we spent a week in the Congo along with the marvelous Charlize Theron, have dramatically impacted the world and how we think. I was essentially embedded with the documentary film crew in order to shoot a photo essay of the creation of each show, which features an interplay and dialog between two fascinating cultural figures. I shot stills while they shot cinema verite and also was asked to shoot portraits for the Sundance ad campaign (now in Vanity Fair), busides, web promotion, etc.

My killer first assistant Demetri Fordham (and when shooting locally also with my insanely good digital tech Quinton Jones)  travelled to Australia to shoot Cate Blanchett with environmentalist Tim Flannery at Cate’s theater company and with a Komodo dragon, to the Congo to shoot Jane Goodall with Charlize Theron at Jane’s chimpanzee research station, in New York we shot Hugh Jackman with restauranteur Jean-Georges boxing and cooking together, to the Bahamas to shoot Lenny Kravitz with director Lee Daniels where Lenny was recording his upcoming new album, and to Chicago to shoot director Ron Howard with Phoenix Suns basketball star Steve Nash where Ron was shooting a new movie. The last show was shot most recently in NY with painter Chuck Close and magician David Blaine where we visited Chuck’s Soho studio and David’s inspiration Houdini, at Houdini’s grave in Queens.

What was so cool for me was having shot many, many artists, actors, musicians over the years, but particularly in my early photojournalist days in the 1980′s, there was a wonderful, easy atmosphere and complete access. Back in the day, you rarely had publicists controlling the shoots, unlike now where there is intense control. You also usually had much more time to spend with people in the early 80′s. Of course there were publicists but rarely did one ask what lens you were planning to use or approve your idea before you shot, and it was very rare that anyone asked to approve the work before publication. You could sometimes get days or a week with someone and document their daily life, building a rapport and from which would come candid moments as well as a meaningful portrait. The magazine might only want and need that portrait but you were given time to get it in an organic way that involved a lot of trust on both sides. Now with the relentless onslaught of paparazzi and general nasty coverage of personalities there has come a natural desire by the artists to control their image.

This makes sense but it leads to an impossible situation in terms of getting natural, documentary images. There has been a breakdown of trust. The publicists are just doing their jobs, even if with someone they trust their efforts actually can work against the best interests of their clients in terms of getting images that really stand out and show their clients in ways that resonate with their public. But I can’t blame them. And for Iconoclasts, a rare truce is invoked, honest interplay between the personalities on the show ensues and the results are fascinating. Anyway, this shoot was a rare breathing space for me to photograph some really innovative, creative people doing amazing work in a truly intimate way. Just a sheer joy for me and I thank Radical and Sundance and the Iconoclasts themselves of course for the stunning opportunity.

Thursday
04
November 2010

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