George Mark Children's House is a place that offers life-affirming care and comfort for children and families during the most difficult times in a family's life. I have been involved with them for many years helping them visually tell their story. Recently GMCH updated their website and wanted to have new portraits taken of many of its staff members. It was important to photograph these wonderful people in a manner that was honest and straight forward. The spirit of the house had to shine through that was devoid of contrivance.
Family food insecurity has become a more appropriate term than just saying hunger. Families can live in the heart of downtown Oakland yet still be in a food desert. With no fixed address and finding shelter in an abandoned store front, this Russian immigrant family needs to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. There is no electricity in the store front so they run an extension cord to a neighboring live hook up. With this limited supply of power there is no refrigeration. They have to make a choice to have either a single light source switched on or run the microwave oven. Most of the light comes in through the store front window that has a white sheet that is half way pulled down. For privacy reasons they do not expose themselves to the street traffic right out their front door. With no way to keep food in their home they need to eat meals that are prepared and served hot from the community dinning rooms. As for showers, they are able to take advantage of the community swimming pool program for their daughter. When she swims, the whole family will attend and take care of their personal hygiene.
Offering the opportunity to shoot with black and white film for a major branding campaign launch and why I suggest an old school method.
Shooting with Black and White Film.
The comp was a black and white photograph of woman gazing into the camera. The attention was geared toward her face with her shoulders out of focus. The client wanted the truth to come thorough the subject’s eyes. They wanted honest and authentic photos. I have been called upon many times to create such an image. During the whole process of estimating and creative calls I kept hearing the same mission statement. “The client was looking for that honest connection.” The supplied visual was that classic portrait with a large single light source. This was an important product launch for the brand. I asked myself, “What was going to be the little twist to make the viewer pause and take notice? What would make the viewer stop flipping through the pages of the magazine and take notice?”
Making a Commitment
Making a Connection
Working within known Boundaries
Flexing Old Muscle Memories with Lab Work.
The story behind the photo. - George Mark Children’s House offers Life-affirming care and comfort for children and their families. It’s where the hospital meets home. One of the nice community events they do is hold a Prom where these families can come and participate. This photo is part of an ongoing series of portraits of children with severe disabilities being able to participate in traditional events that most other people are able to do.
“To the uninitiated may not understand the full meaning of these photographs, but the parents and children themselves understand that they live in a different world – a world with limits and physical boundaries, but not a world without love and compassion.” Here are just a few of the shots I captured that evening. I feel there is a nice collection of photos that should serve as a poignant reminder of the grace and beauty that is possessed in everybody.”
My book "The Artists of Becoming Independent" has been published on Blurb. It would make a wonderful addition to anyone's collection of inspiration and art.
My friend Meredith Nevard is an extraordinary person. She is one of the best connectors that I know. She has this gift of matching up people to create a new synergy with that pairing. Earlier this year she invited me to take a tour of Becoming Independent and it’s arts program.
"Becoming Independent is a community based service organization established over 40 years ago to help people with disabilities live meaningful and productive lives in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. “
These are mostly cognitive disabilities also known as intellectual disabilities. Meredith is such a strong advocate for this arts program. She was hoping that something would spark inside my head when introducing Becoming Independent Arts to me. Once a year I’ll shoot a personal project that has a purpose. Using my creative skills as a photographer to help give back. BI Art became this year’s project.
It was very interesting on the day of the shoot that I shot everyone first plus have them sign their autograph in my journal. Then afterwards I did all the copy work on the artwork. I did not know whose art was who’s when shooting the artwork. It was only until afterwards during the editing process that I matched up the art, signatures and portraits that I discovered a running thread throughout the three elements. I would notice similar poses, expressions, unique brush stokes in the art work that match the artist’s personality. Sometimes their signature would be a very strong element to the final piece acting as a ribbon tying it all together.
BI Art will be using this photography project to help promote the artists and program. Hopefully this will help shine a light on some very talented and deserving people.
Some recent work that is on display at the SFMOMA Artist Gallery.
A personal photo with my inspiration coming from my trip to Italy.
Forbes magazine asked me and two other photographers to photograph ex-NSA & Unit 8200 employees who have jumped to the private sector. Incorporating a Hollywood espionage style to tell the story I was able to transform “civilians” into iconic spy movie characters. The Man from Tel Aviv, The Operative, The Lifer at Langley, The Ivy League Influencer, The Cleaner and The Puppet Master.
Here I had to recreate this image in post production as so I can display only my subjects. Luckily I had in my files a current background plate that matched the mood and setting of a black bag drop. Fortunately “The Ivy League Influencer” came along with the deal. As with any spy game you don’t always know who is telling the truth.
Dr. Rand is the director of Perinatal Services at UCSF Medical Center. His passion and busy schedule are evident when you meet him. Yet he understands the importance of advocacy and research. He let me follow him around for a day allowing me access to his world. He is the truest sense of the word Mensch. "A person of integrity and honor." That is why the Jweekly.com ran a story on him, using some of my photographs.
To learn more about this remarkable person please read the Jweekly.com link.
Sometimes Amara and I will just go out with a camera and a armful of wardrobe and see what comes of it.
I was asked by Forbes magazine to photograph Del Harvey of Twitter. She is in charged of protecting it's users from the predators that are out there. There are 500,000,000 tweets a day. She needs to watch over these tweets for any speciousness activity. She say's just the vast numbers can be over whelming. To deal with odds such as 1 in a 1,000,000 is not good enough. That's still 500 potential abuses a day. We are lucky to have her as our mother bear looking out for us.
My first assignment for Forbes magazine was a cover shoot of Kevin Systrom. They asked me to make sure he looked powerful and in control, plus I got to play around with Instagram. Kevin is a photography enthusiast so we both had a very creative day shooting with multiple cameras and applying different filters. I would shoot some photos of him, then he would app the image. It's not often that a photographer gives the subject that much creative control over the image, but what the heck, he invented the darn thing.
I was introduced to Gregory while shooting for DaVita. He has been on dialysis for ten years. Imagine having treatment every third day for that long of a time. It’s a routine that becomes his life. Yet he still carries on with an uplifting spirit. All of the patients I met have come to terms with their treatment. Most of them are waiting for a proper match from a kidney donor. To have such patience while in treatment takes a personal fortitude that must be admired.
Golnaz Shahmirzadi, Margo Moritz and Silvia Bagnacani are all close friends. Real woman, who are career minded and have great dark hair. I always see one of them with at least another near by or other close friends with them. Friendship like this will last a lifetime. I asked my friend Sarah Hyde to do hair and makeup on these three women and to let their natural beauty shine through. They all complement each other yet still stand on their own. We all had a wonderful time, performing the ritual of a fun photo shoot. The best part is to have wonderful photographs to remember the day. Three separate images yet still connected in spirit and style.
My mother had moved to southern California to an assisted living facility and be nearer my sister. I remember having a gut feeling that I should go down and visit her. There were no apparent health concerns that prompted my visit, just a deep gut feeling that I should spend some time with her.
Her room was adorned with my photography. From personal family photos to my fine art prints. These photographs have always made up the fabric of a Peacock family household. My mother was suffering from dementia. She was in good spirit and disposition but her memory was rapidly fading away. During my visit we had a lovely time together, but she was having difficulty remembering which son I was, but in her heart she knew I was someone who meant very much to her. Her mind may not recall but she can feel, for it’s in her heart and that muscle of love and acceptance that still beats and works.
During my visit I pulled out my camera and started taking some photos of my mother. There were no words exchanged, just that special communication between mother and son - artist and subject. She then spoke up and mentioned how she loved all the pretty photos on the wall. How they gave her pleasure.
I said “Thank you and it has been my pleasure to take them and share them with you.”
Then my mom replied. “Oh? Did you take these photos?
I was stunned. It was at this moment that I realize how far lost she had come with her dementia. She could not remember that I was her son who she witnessed take his first photo when he was five years old or watch his life unfold with photography being the only constant through his years. After I got over the shock of realizing my mother’s advanced condition, I discovered I did what I was meant to do. I gave her joy and happiness though my photography. It didn’t matter that she remembers who I was. All that matter is that she had a warm feeling of love and appreciation.
This photo of her was the last time I saw her conscious. Her health declined rapidly after my visit. She was happy, content and very appreciative of the chocolate brownie I brought along at the insistence of my sister.
Marylou Peacock - Birthday is April 12th.
The current UCSF Medical Center ad campaign is up and running all around the Bay Area. Again I was called upon by The Hive Advertising agency to capture the pioneering spirit of its top doctors and patients who have benefited from their care. I always feel very honored to participate in these types of projects where I get to meet so many fascinating people.
I don't post to many behind the scene photos, but this project produced some fun opportunities.
Last year I was in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. I braved the storm and took some shots below 39th Street on Madison and Park Avenue South. All the power was out except for those that had generators. I was almost knocked over a couple of times during the big gusts of wind. The sound it made as it whipped around the empty streets was harrowing. This image was selected by the judges for this year's APA SF Something Personal exhibition. I'm glad to see some of my personal experiences be shared with others.
I was directed today to National Geographic's website that sells folk art from around the world. Last year they asked if they could use my photography to help set up a page to help sell Ehadji Koumama's Tuareg silver jewelry. I liked how they took the words and images from my video to incorporate it into a simple three page slide show. Please on the link and see the nice job they did.