In early May of 2011 I was asked by Tru Statement Entertainment, TSE, if I was interested in photographing one of their main artists, Mariella, for the cover of her upcoming album, Lovesick. I had seen some of her performances and shot two interviews with her, but I had never photographed her. I was working early mornings at the time, having to be at work by 4:30am which meant leaving my house at 2:30 am which meant being up by at least 1:30am, clocking out at 2pm, getting home at around 3pm, working on just a few things and then heading to bed at 7pm to get up at 1:30am to do it all over again. So, because of my schedule a weekend shoot was ideal, but Mariella was flying out to California before the weekend. The shoot had to happen within that week or they would find another photographer. While still on the phone with them I quickly thought of my schedule, calculated how long it would take me to get home, grab my equipment, head back into the city, set up, shoot for a while, break down, head home and be in bed by 8pm the latest. I knew this would be impossible, but I said yes.
We started work immediately, going back and forth with different concepts and ideas over the phone and every time I had a second at work. She decided that she wanted to go with a close up shot herself. I pulled photographs of album covers from the web of all types artists ranging from Rhianna to Madonna and we settled on a look.
May 16th of 2011 was a rainy day. Work was crazy and I didn't clock out till 4pm. Mariella was at the hair salon, but having complications with her look because of the humidity and rain and stayed there later than expected. I didn't get home until 6pm, scooped up my equipment ( I packed it the night before), the TSE CEO, Casey, picked me up at 7 and we hit traffic getting back into the city in the Midtown Tunnel. The set up was easy, by the time I finished Mariella arrived with her makeup artist, Jacob Hyzer, and they got to work.
I took the first photograph at 10pm. We shot continuously until midnight, packed up and headed home. During the car ride I felt uneasy about what I had shot. I felt that I had done a rush job and was pretty sure that no one would like anything I shot and they'd quickly find another photographer to do it all again making that day a complete waste of everyone's time.
I got dropped off at 1am, brewed a strong cup of coffee, started importing the images and hopped in the shower. After getting ready I had 20 minutes to spare before I had to leave. So, I sat down to go through the photographs. I had literally taken thousands of them, but didn't like a single one so far. I had embarrassed myself. I felt sick and disgusted ... until I saw the last set of the night.
I had found them. A small series of them, maybe only 10 photographs, but I had captured it. They had all the elements we had researched and incorporated with enough room for logos and text. I was suddenly excited and eager to work on them. I took my laptop to work and edited them when I could throughout the day and after work. I sent everyone a contact sheet of the shoot and they all agreed on using the last set. I sent over what I had already edited and they loved it.
It was printed on flyers, posters, business cards and showcased in editorial spreads. It's still used today and whenever I come across it I stop and look at it. I think of how crazy that day was, how I felt that I had failed everyone on the shoot, but most of all how a photograph that I took is now a visual representation of an amazing woman and her work.
Since then Mariella has been the subject many times in both my photography and cinematic portfolio. I've shot three of her music videos, filmed and photographed her performances, more photo shoots and even shot a television show with her. We have a great working relationship and continue to wow our audiences with our work. Many more projects are underway and I'm sure we'll be working with each other long into the future.