As a photographer and filmmaker, of course I wanted to have my first child’s birth visually documented. However, I struggled with the decision of shooting his birth myself.. and if I shot, would I shoot stills or video? I had 9 months to decide and I changed my mind a number of times. (“Yes, of course I have to shoot the birth of my child…” “No, I want to be 100% present and not be distracted by f-stops, shutter speeds and aesthetic decisions.”) The week my son was to be born, I decided I wanted to be present and I’d have someone else take pictures… and the day before my son was born, I disinfected my camera and got my go-bag ready.
I figured, some of the most interesting moments of my life had been lived behind a camera and it hadn’t diminished my memory or the impact the events had on me.. and, obviously, I wanted to ensure we had some good pictures from this amazing moment. I knew this was going to be an extraordinary experience.
I thought I knew just how extraordinary this moment was going to be.. but I was nowhere near prepared for the rush of emotion I felt when I saw Lucas for the first time. I was overwhelmed with the purest of feelings and I felt my body convulse in a familiar way.. I literally don’t know if I was laughing or crying. This baby, this brand new human being in front of me made me feel more in a single moment than I thought I could feel in an entire year.
Staring into my child’s eyes was an unexplainable, almost primal feeling of joy. I felt a visceral connection to past and future ancestors. Only minutes old, Lucas seemed to stare back at me. His emotionless face, his eyes (certainly struggling to focus) looking back at me seemed to be filled with the same unexplainable amazement I was feeling.
I also felt an even deeper connection to my wife, who I didn’t think I could love any more than I did already. Lucas is clearly a mix of Louise and me and I can’t explain how his birth multiplied my already eternal love for his mother. I was also taken by surprise at the emotion I felt looking at her after Lucas was born. As cliche as it sounds, it was like looking at an angel. She suddenly seemed to be something more enlightened than a mere human being.
I realize how cheesy all this must sound (especially to anyone who has not experienced this.. I would’ve certainly rolled my eyes just a few days ago). But I am writing this as a record of my own experience. People often say photographs don’t do justice to the person/place/event photographed.. on the contrary, I think good photographers (and NYC real estate agents) can make things seem better than actuality. However, as much as photographs and films can evoke emotion, they can’t reproduce the feeling of a particular moment. I’ve never believed that more that I do right now. I felt compelled to write down my experience of this particular moment partially to share with family, friends (and anyone else who is interested).. but much more than that, I wrote it for myself to have a more comprehensive record of this unparallelled moment in my life.
[Edit: You can buy tickets to Stewarts Show (on June 6) at Hotel Polana and at select Mcel stores.. including the store on Julius Nerere. For more information, you can visit Stewarts Facebook page to see the official banner with all the needed info.]
Stewart Sukuma has a big show coming up on June 6. It will take place at Hotel Polana in Maputo, Mozambique. He has invited friends (read: well-known musicians) from all over the world to join him in this mega performance. Stewart approached me about making a few spots for the show.. and, as usual, the creative juices flowed and we had an idea in no time for the design and roll out of a three-phase ad campaign.
Stewart mentioned that he remembered being impressed with the super clean look of American advertising during the years he lived in Boston, so that’s the direction I tried to take the overall aesthetic. It was also a good idea since we needed to request footage from musicians scattered all over the world. (I figured the simpler it is, the more likely they will be able to emulate the look.)
The first phase, which was broadcast 4 weeks before the show, simply revealed that Stewart had something happening on June 6, 2014. Nothing more.
Part of the plan for getting information out was to utilize large LED billboards throughout the city. So for each phase of the campaign we made 10-second spots with no sound for these LED screens.
Phase two, released just one week after phase one, revealed that 7 other artists would be involved in whatever Stewart was planning and maintained the date. (The artists we mention: Cuca Roseta, Luis Represas, Isabel Novela, Noumoucounda Cissoko, Maria Berasarte, Gabriele Mirabassi, Oliver Mtukudzi and Jimmy Dludlu.)
(The accompanying LED spot for phase two:)
The third and final phase was released one week after phase two and two weeks before the big concert. At this stage, we revealed everything about the event. We not only mentioned who would be coming but we also made spots that featured as many artists as we could film or manage to have send us footage from abroad. We tried to maintain the same aesthetic but also wanted to incorporate the graphic of Stewart’s face used for his new CD which would be released the day of the concert.
(And the accompanying LED spots for phase three:)
As always, it was a lot of fun working with Stewart. We have a lot of similar ideas and the few times we don’t see eye to eye provides more of an opportunity for growth and development than any source of frustration.
If you are reading this before June 6, 2014 (and you will be in Maputo on that day), do yourself a favor and come to this concert. It will no doubt be an outstanding show and I certainly won’t miss it.
Here’s one last spot, just in case you didn’t see enough already! (And if you don’t speak Portuguese, you’ll like this one because you’ll understand everything being said.)
I just finished editing Stewart Sukuma’s newest music video for the song “Male.” The title, “Male,” means “money” in Xangana (and it sounds like “molly,” not “mail.”) It’s a catchy song with a kind of retro funky sound to it. As always, I let the song speak to me about what the video should look like and here it is. It’s a fun video about a day in the life of a musician. The story is simple enough.. the band goes from one show to another. Just trying to make that male.
The story really takes place between the first and second shows. As the song says (in Xangana), everything costs money.. which we see as Stewart makes his way to the second show. Stewart also makes a few cameo appearances.. inspired by the likes of Eddie Murphy in Coming to America.
I think it’s a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.
Like most media makers I know, I love getting feedback on my work. The problem is I always doubt if I can trust the feedback I get. My wife or my mother, for example, invariably love my work (my mom also thinks I look like Brad Pitt, so she might be just slightly biased in my favor). On the other hand, you have people who feel as though they have to be negative, just to feel part of the process. It’s a rare person who will give me feedback that I am 100% certain I can trust. Feedback that I know is not clouded by emotional feeling toward me personally or by feeling the need to “contribute” to the creative process by saying something just for the sake of saying something.
I had to work on a few videos while visiting my family over the holidays.. At one point, my 5-year-old nephew pulled a chair up next to me to see what I was working on. I played a rough cut of the newest Stewart Sukuma music video for him. The little guy was so mesmerized by the video that I was afraid he was going to fall forward out of his seat. As if that wasn’t enough of an honest reaction, I asked him if he liked it.. to which he replied, “YEAH!” almost screaming. Mind you, this is the same kid who, just a day or two before, would open a Christmas present and throw it down, saying, “I don’t like that,” before moving on to the next present. The kid tells it like it is.
Thanks for the feedback Cameron!
Stay tuned for the newest Stewart Sukuma video. Hopefully you will like it as much as Cameron did.
I just started production on a new music video for Stewart Sukuma. The song is amazing and the video promises to be pretty great as well (if I may say so myself). Because of some upcoming travel in Stewart’s agenda, pre-production was a bit rushed, but I feel comfortable saying we have a very solid base for this video. Stewart and I collaborated closely in the writing and planning of the video. A few brainstorming sessions and a couple debates about possible interpretations of imagery later and here we are shooting the video.
Here are a few iPhone pictures I snapped during the first day of shooting:
I know myself well enough to know that I probably won’t keep up with a blog. I might, from time to time, be inspired enough (and coincidentally also have enough time) to make a blog entry. However, I obviously love taking pictures with anything that will capture an image.. so I’ve integrated my Instagram feed to this page and that will be my most frequent contribution to this blog.
(Note: These photographs are taken with an iPhone.)
While looking for a set of images on my way too many hard drives, I came across some scanned images from the first year I ran an inclusive after-school photo club at the the High School of Telecommunication Arts in Brooklyn. We started out with absolutely NO funding. The first few students and I made pinhole cameras from just about anything we could, used some old expired film and photographic paper I had and used old left over chemicals that had been baking in the school’s darkroom (which was mainly being used for storage).
Soon enough I was able to secure donations for plastic toy cameras (Holgas and Lomo Fisheys) and the school was gracious enough to buy needed darkroom supplies (the school was very supportive of the club and only became more supportive during the years the club existed). The club served as an amazing learning experience for everyone.
Students stayed after school on Friday afternoons to hang out, talk about photography and develop and print in the darkroom. A couple of students from this first year are currently in college studying photography. (I tried to talk them out of it.)
These amazing individuals created some beautiful images that can easily stand up on their own; however, looking at them together at our monthly ‘critiques’ was always something I looked forward to. As you can see from this small selection here, they work together to document life in Brooklyn, New York. They would often capture friends, family members and elements of their homes. They would sometimes photograph interesting sights and scenes around their neighborhoods or during their daily commutes. They always made beautiful and meaningful images that uniquely captured the way they saw and explored the world around them.
Here is a very small selection of the few images I happened to have on this hard drive. I have moved twice since running this club, so I don’t exactly know where my collections of images from each year are.. just in case a student from a more recent year is reading this, don’t worry these are not necessarily my favorites (and if you shot any of these photos.. yes they are ;)).