Cookin’ With Clover

Clover make those point-of-purchase terminals we’ve all used at coffee shops, but they also do much more for restaurants and other small businesses. They and their creative partners, Closed Loop, were filming another digital spot in Denver, and were nice enough to ask me to do the stills. Here’s Chef Porter cooking up a storm. 

Shot by Joe Baran, the 100+ shot day featured the interior of Greenwich Restaurant on Larimer Street. In fact, they made the artisanal pizza lunches! Goodness. Get one. The lighting was by Chris Gerding and Glen Yoshida, makeup by Beth Ryan, and art direction by Savannah Johnson. For more production stills, click here.

Photo-Centric TV Spots

What a cool concept. Inspired by modern social media photographers’ love of high-speed sync flash techniques, my friends at Network Affiliates made a couple ultra-hip TV spots showcasing the style.

We got a big studio, filled it with a killer crew (2 assistants!) and got to work. Our Art Department really had the hard part: Making fake auto glass, tools, cut-out letters, and tools appear to be flying through the air! Some of them actually were.

But the best part is the behind-the-scenes video featuring me! Ha!

See more production stills here.

Photo assistants: Matthew DeFeo, Andrew Cope; Makeup: Marnie Brooks; Art Dept: Pam Chavez, Brendan Horan; Studio: PhotoSpace Denver; BTS: Scott Tuke

Lifestyle for Uplight

Production stills are generally a great experience, especially when you know the crew well, and the product is just gorgeous. This month’s shoot for Uplight was no exception.

The DP was Brook Aitken, directed by Waypoint films’ Jed Mortenson. Our location was this beautiful modern home in Boulder.

Production stills are often more efficient than booking two separate shoots: Stills and motion, but they do take a little time although you can shoot some during filming. Questions about doing stills during your video shoot? Just ask! See more production stills here.

Do You See What I See?

Why, why, WHY do we sometimes see different things on our monitors? Occasionally I hear about image brightness or color. Surprisingly though, not too often. When I edit an image, do you see it the same way I did? Depends.

Computer monitors, like almost anything else in the world of tech (thermostats, tire inflators, your Subaru’s speedometer), need to be calibrated to be consistent. What does that mean? Calibration means setting up a device to a specific set of standards. If both our monitors are calibrated, they should match in brightness, color, and contrast.

Note: Out of the box, and adjusted to your visual preference, your monitor is NOT calibrated. Calibration makes it accurate, but not necessarily pretty. How I calibrate my monitors:

Using a specific hardware device and software package (this requires specialized external hardware), I plug this little puck in and stick it to the face of the monitor. I then allow the software to access color settings, and let it rip.

The next few minutes are interesting: The screen goes black, bright white, a hundred shades of gray, and cycles through multiple colors both bright and pastel. The process takes a few minutes. The result? They call it: White Point to 6500K (D65), White level to 120 cd/m2 and Gamma to 2.2 – recommended settings for editing photographs.

If you’re in marketing or communications, or are in the business of reviewing graphics and photography, you need to calibrate your monitors! Ask a photo or graphics vendor what to buy to do it yourself, or ask your IT department to do it for you. Happy editing!

Is Your Photographer Insured?

You make sure the gardener, cable guy, plumber, and roofer are insured, right? Often trade licensing carries a liability insurance requirement, but photography does not. You should still require it.

Liability means that if the photographer, or any other contractor working on your property, breaks something or hurts someone, they will be responsible for it, not you or your company. Altitude Arts carries $2 million in liability, plus other additional coverage.

Here’s a standard “Acord” certificate. Once you confirm that your photographer is insured, it’s your option to request an insurance certificate, or proof that you (your company is mentioned specifically) are covered. There may be small fee.

Not sure? Ask HR. The answer will be an unequivocal yes! Read a short column by Gordon Rudd, CISSP (a risk expert) here. And call me with questions!

Gotcha Covered: How Altitude Arts Backs Up Our Work

Stop worrying.

That’s my gig. Nobody thinks more about lost files more than me. And that should give you peace of mind! That and the fact that Altitude Arts’s backup system is battle-tested.

Here’s why your files are safe: Every shoot, as it’s put onto my editing computer, immediately starts backing itself up both locally and in the cloud. Just copying the files onto my machine puts them in five—FIVE—places:

  • Two cards in the camera
  • My editing machine
  • My local backup drive
  • My cloud backup (Backblaze)

And after that, they get manually dragged, when editing is complete, to another cloud backup, Amazon Web Services. So, six copies total. If something terrible happens, we can probably get our hands on at least one.

Just last month, I was asked by a client for a shoot from 2001. That’s right, twenty years ago. I had it. I unarchived it (sometimes unarchiving carries a small fee, just FYI), reprocessed it, and delivered it the next day. Boom!

And guess what? This complimentary redundancy is included in the price of every single shoot. However, if you want guaranteed backup, covered by an actual insurance policy, that’s extra. Please inquire .

Sled Dogs for Goodyear

Every so often, you end up on a really wild shoot. This one was for Goodyear Tires, and it entailed making production stills during a digital shoot for online ads and social media.

A simple concept: Goodyear snow tires are like having your own team of huskies! Just combine actual sled dogs, a lovely Mercedes, and a ton of fresh powder in beautiful Winter Park, Colorado.

Our day started pre-dawn, with grips and riggers affixing heavy video cameras with stabilizers to snowmobiles, in around zero degrees. This work requires small tools, but most of the guys went without gloves!

Cinematographer Will Stone goes in for a closeup.

Client: Goodyear

Agency: The Marketing Arm

Production Company: Natural Selection Productions

See more film/video shoots here!

Von’s Vision

The great Bronco Von Miller stopped by 34 Left studios the other day, to tape a PSA about Glaucoma. Sponsored by Allergan, who make powerful Glaucoma medication, the future Hall-of-Famer hit his marks, nailed his lines, and spent the last half hour with me shooting stills.

The video is about knowing the risks of Glaucoma, and seeking treatment if you think you or someone in your family may be affected. The New York production company, MultiVu, built a beautiful bright white set, propped with everything from ophthalmologist’s equipment to football equipment.

Director Jillian Breslin and cinematographer Adam Kolodny ride the dolly.

Take the quiz! It’s an important topic, and you may save somebody’s vision! Makeup and wardrobe by Cory Bryant and Mary Ann Hogan.

Comedy Special

Last month, I was asked to shoot stills for a stand-up comedy special featuring Chad Daniels. Chad’s been all over Sirius XM Comedy lately, and his people felt the time was right to shoot another hour-long show for TV. All they needed was some stills to promote it, design into the DVD box, and pepper his social media with. DSC_4310

Great show. Hilarious guy. Impossibly talented huge, easygoing TV crew. And what a beautiful venue! A designer had rebuilt the Comedy Works South stage into a simple geometric background with modern lighting accents. And the forest of vintage Edison bulbs by the wings made for some interesting shots.


Follow Chad on Twitter and Instagram, and watch for the new special!

Case Studies: Matching Another Style

One of the interesting things about our business is that often we’re asked not to create a style from scratch, but to match new photography with an existing style. Here are a couple examples of the challenges of joining a project partway through.HS1

On the left, a style rendered impossible by a client’s change of locale. They had previously made portraits adjacent to a window. Locations like this can be problematic, as the lighting varies wildly day-to-day (and isn’t necessarily flattering). We established a new look to go with their new office.


In this case, a national client was given a new photography standard that all their local photographers were asked to follow. The image on the left is the supplied demo lighting style, and on the right is how we lit it in their Denver office. Matching other people’s lighting is both challenging and fun.


Finally Top Chef. Left, the images made before filming started by rock star network photographer Tommy Garcia ( After, my mid-season images of Last Chance Kitchen finalist Marcel Vigneron (and others) that Tommy wasn’t there for!