Yao Ming for Monster Cable

Yao MIng on Set with Noel Lee

Yao Ming on Set with Noel Lee

Just back from temperate Houston Texas where my fellow Monsters and I did a photo and video shoot with the towering Houston Rocket Yao Ming. Monster has launched a massive line of Yao Monster products being sold throughout China, and we were there to get video of him speaking Chinese directly to Chinese retailers and consumers for his headphones, power, HDMI, and other products.

Yao Ming with iSport Headphones
Yao Ming with iSport Headphones
Yao arrived on the dot at 2pm at the studio we’d rented, which is Houston’s best- Ralph Smith Studios. He’s a real pro when it comes to this kind of stuff, and he was soon correcting our Chinese script in what was apparently a slightly awkward translation we’d brought. He was calm and friendly throughout, and he and head Monster Noel Lee have a good relationship, it seems, as they were frequently cracking each other up.
Yao Ming with Head Monster Noel Lee

Yao Ming with Head Monster Noel Lee

Yao Ming Correcting our Chinese Script

Yao Ming Correcting our Chinese Script

Video guys got their retail shout-outs, and I got some nice portraits of a legendary athlete. That night Noel got to sit courtside to watch the Rockets stomp our hometown Warriors, while the crew, hungry from a long production, got to strap on the ‘ol feed bag for some Texas steaks.
Yao Ming rocking Beats Headphones

Yao Ming rocking Beats Headphones

Yao Ming on Set With Monster Cable

Yao Ming on Set With Monster Cable

Yao Ming Between Takes With Monster Cable

Yao Ming Between Takes

Yao Ming and Noel Lee with Beats Headphones

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Read more.. Friday, March 25th, 2011

Comedy Festival Season 2010

Comedy festival season 2010 has come and gone, and here are some of my favorite portraits I made this year in Montreal, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

Bo Burnham at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival

Steve Martin at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival
Kevin Smith at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival
Tim Minchin at the Just for Laughs Festival
Ngaio Bealum at SF Comedy Day
Mae Martin at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
Jon Dore at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
Matt Kirshen at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
Dave Foley at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
Maria Bamford at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
James Smith at the Global ComedyFest
Tom Green at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest
A. Whitney Brown at the Other Cafe Reunion
Barry Sobel and Robin Williams at the Other Cafe Reunion
Paula Poundstone at the Other Cafe Reunion
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Read more.. Monday, October 25th, 2010

In Praise of Les Paul

In Praise of Les Paul

Les Paul at The Iridium near Lincoln Center in 1998

Les Paul died a year ago today. I wanted to share these two images of him. His passing was the loss of one of the greatest innovators in music, as he created the first solid-body electric guitar, which as I understand it is an instrument that is really starting to catch on.

This first time I saw him was at the original Iridium nightclub in New York in 1998. He was so amazing and spry, busting out licks and dropping Monica Lewinsky jokes between songs. Every once in a while his arthritic hands would seize up on him and he’d have to pull his left hand over the guitar neck and slap his picking hand to get it to release. But he did it so fluidly and in rhythm that it seemed to be part of the song.

I went back to the new Iridium on Times Square almost ten years later and he didn’t seem to be a day older. After each of his weekly performances, he sat at a table to meet every fan that stood in line. What an epic human.

Les Paul at The Iridium in Times Square circa 2007
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Read more.. Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain by photographer Dan Dion
Anthony Bourdain in San Francisco photographed by Dan Dion

A demi-god to the foodie set, Anthony Bourdain is the Hunter S. Thompson of culinary writing. His book Kitchen Confidential is a seminal and groundbreaking work in the genre of smart-ass chef lit. He’s also the most hilarious guest judge on Top Chef. My favorite line: “It tastes like home cooking- just not a home I want to eat in.” And this from his book A Cook’s Tour: “In short they want you to feel that same level of discomfort approaching a plate of food that so many of us used to feel about sex…Do I overstate the case? Go to Wisconsin. Spend an hour in an airport or food court in the Midwest; watch the pale, doughy masses of pale faced, Pringle fattened, morbidly obese teenagers. Then tell me I’m worried about nothing. These are the end products of the Masterminds of Safety and Ethics, bulked up on cheese that contains no cheese, chips fried in oil that really isn’t oil, overcooked gray disks of what might have once upon a time been meat, a steady diet of ho-hos and muffins, butterless popcorn, sugarless soda, flavorless light beer. A docile, uncomprehending herd, led slowly to dumb, lingering, and joyless slaughter.”

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I have to admit that this shoot was a bit of an ambush, which I don’t like to do. But I had no connection to him, so I went the direct route. After his signing at Book Passage I approached him and gave him a copy of ¡SATIRISTAS!, explaining what it was and that I wanted to photograph him because of his humor. Well- he humored me with a very quick shoot.

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Read more.. Thursday, July 15th, 2010