Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Behind the scenes: Playing with Cheese

The rain seems to be done for the season here in Northern California (I hope)... It had me a bit on edge with an outdoor shoot scheduled last week for one of my favorite clients - Laura Chenel's Chevre. And no, they're not a favorite client just because they share their delicious cheese with me!

The morning was crisp and almost still in the Carneros vineyard where we chose to set up shop. Tiny frogs hopped across our muddy feet as we unloaded gear and positioned the set. The intent of the shot was to showcase the Laura Chenel's Chevre product line in a way that illustrates that they're produced in Sonoma's wine country. Hmm... what would say wine country???

Uh, duh... vineyard - lush green vines, blue sky and a giant oak tree! But this wasn't just any vineyard; it's a cheese wheel's roll and the future view from Laura Chenel's new Sonoma cheese making headquarters. Lucky stiffs will get to look out their windows at this site - without the table and photo gear, of course.

Our next order of business was finding the right angle to position the table. How do you show a table full of short, round products while capturing the vineyard and tree but a minimal amount of grass in one frame? Answer: tilt the table.

Assistant Hailey plays peek-a-boo behind the table to help adjust the angle. Tilt too little and we don't see all the products. Tilt too high and the cheese falls off the table. Twice. Plus a jar of olive oil. Oops!

Once it's just right Marie and Chef Jacquelyn start adding cheese and plates and props of all sorts.

More cheese and plates are added and subtracted until it's just right. Except then we decided to abandon the "voyeur" perspective. That required some more adjusting. Actually, we decided to forego props and just show the cheese. Delicious, mouth-watering cheese.
The right-hand photo shows a myriad of abandoned props peeking from under the table including but not limited to: plates, extra cheese, platters, jars, more cheese, baguette, wine, cheese, cheese knives, linens, clamps and cheese. There was definitely cheese under there!

And our nearly final vineyard photo...

Next on our shoot list was a more detailed group photo of all the cheeses. Many of the items were already in place but we wanted a bird's-eye perspective. That required more massaging of cheese to create a balanced composition.

We added a few more slabs of travertine tile to complete the background, and add more cheese until the photo fills out.

Nearly there... We move things around to create a composition we like. This is me teetering atop a ladder in the muddy vineyard. Unlike some unfortunate cheese logs, I managed to not fall.

Everything seems arranged as we want it but from this perspective it seems too flat and one-dimensional.

So we tilt the camera angle a smidge (right side photo) and get better profiles from the cheese wedges, slices and rounds. Just a few more compositional changes and tilted even more and... voila! Our final photo... well, almost...


Here's the final final photo with some post-production edits to achieve the desired look and feel.

Hope you liked this cheesey little journey. Now go out and EAT SOME CHEESE!

~ Jason

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Man, the Myth & the Comb

Here's a favorite tale I wrote after a shoot with Clint Eastwood a couple of years ago...

About the shoot: A couple of years ago I received a call from now defunct, Private Air Magazine. Ever hear of it? Probably not since you were not likely to be in their subscriber demographic - white, male, 40-65, annual household income of millions, oh, and you flew your own jet. They asked if I was available to do a shoot in Carmel, CA with Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood for their next cover.

Of course, I told them I'd have to check my calendar. So after shuffling some papers to simulate that act of checking said calendar whilst performing a frenetic, happy dance quietly around my desk, I replied,
"Uh, yeah I have some free time to photograph Clint." (Duh!)

So fast forward through the emails negotiating cost and logistics... The shoot was scheduled to take place in the middle of a golf course Eastwood owned. And I had 20 minutes to get the shot they needed. No pressure, right?

With a car filled with camera gear, I headed down to Carmel. I remember nothing of the drive down except that I was sketching pictures of what the shot could look like. Then, as if I wasn’t worried enough, Clint’s publicist calls to warn me...

“Clint might show up looking like he just woke from a nap. Wrinkled clothes, sheet lines across his face, messy hair… but you make him look nice.” Click.

I become completely unhinged. We’re going to be in the middle of a golf course. What the heck am I supposed to do to make a disheveled Clint Eastwood look nice for a magazine cover photo?!

I did the only sensible thing I could think of – I bought a black plastic hair comb.

And without further adeiu, the tale...

The Man, the Myth & the Comb

It’s far from mythical, yet too voluminous a story for this piece of parchment. Suffice it to say that a simple warning from a publicist, “He may show up looking like he just got up from a nap,” incited a search of biblical proportion for a tool that would save us all.
And save it did… sort of.

Combing the hair of a Legend takes great audacity and cunning. You don’t, after all, want to make said Legend feel badly, that they cannot be trusted to drag a simple instrument of hair positioning across their cranium before leaving the house – especially before a national magazine photo shoot for which they are the cover item. You just don’t want to do that.
Instead, you summon the gods of wind to gust their mightiest so you’ll have a good reason to approach with comb in hand and ask permission to rearrange the Legend’s bristly coiffure. You also resist the urge to moisten one’s thumb by licking or other such method with the intent to then smooth it across those hairs or entire sections of the scalp which are not swayed by the comb’s influence. Instead you pass the buck to your assistant to play stylist and hope for the best.

When all else fails, you simply take the photo anyway, and chalk it up to experience that in the future you’re smart enough to carry some Aqua Net hairspray too.

Next time, Legend… Next time.

The shoot resulted in these published photos:

Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci. Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci.

And a couple of outtakes:

Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci. Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci.
Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci. Actor Clint Eastwood photographed by Jason Tinacci.

The experience also resulted in the following frame hanging in my office that includes a photo of Clint Eastwood, my little tale and the actual comb that was dragged across his head. It's a great reminder to always be prepared for whatever combs your way. ;-)

Clint Eastwood's framed photo and hair comb by Jason Tinacci.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Favorite Auction Napa Valley Photos

Over the last several years, I've had the great fortune of photographing Auction Napa Valley festivities - hopping from party to party, mingling with folks from all over the world, tasting tidbits and the occaissional sip of vino. This post is about some of my favorite photos that may not have made it to the primetime galleries online or grace the pages of editorial spreads of Auction coverage.

What's Auction Napa Valley?
Since 1981, members of the Napa Valley Vintners and the Napa Valley community have rallied together to offer, each June, an experience unlike any other - Auction Napa Valley. What started as a small event has grown into one of the world's most renowned wine auctions—with more than 350 wineries and 550 community volunteers now taking part—yet remains true to its goal of raising funds for healthcare, housing and youth services non-profits: Auction Napa Valley has given $90 million in proceeds to date.

Oh, and one amazing aspect some folks forget is that all money raised during the event is donated to the non-profits in Napa County. What's raised here, stays here. Learn more about Auction Napa Valley at http://www.napavintners.com/.

Without further delay - the photos divided into three galleries....

Private winery parties

Delectible nibbles and wine photos

Live Auction Bidding Action

Enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New client work: Mumm Napa

Set along the Silverado Trail in Rutherford Napa Valley lies Mumm Napa - one of my favorite wineries to visit. Aside from making some scrumptious sparkling wines (no, it's not Champagne, unless it comes from Champagne, France!), they have a great tasting room/patio that boasts one of the best views of the valley floor and they're dog friendly - woof! As if that wasn't enough for ya, they also have an amazing collection of original Ansel Adams photographs.

I can't tell you how many times I've wandered through their gallery admiring the photos of the late master, sipping bubbly and feeling inspired. Currently, Adams' work is on display in China having been replaced with other amazing photos and sculpture, but I'm sure it'll return soon. Actually, I have no idea when it returns. You'll have to give them a ring... :)

About the shoot:
As they seem to do every year, Mumm donates their award winning wine to Auction Napa Valley. This year, they've donated a 10 year vertical of their DVX sparkling wine to the e-auction of Auction Napa Valley, an online EBay style auction that draws bidders from around the globe.

The photo of the wine bottles will be used as a piece of eye-candy to promote their lot online and through other marketing collateral.

While they'll only use one, I thought it'd be interesting to also demonstrate how a photo evolves when shooting. Often times, I'll start out with one concept and after working to refine it, the final photo presents itself. In this case, I think the cropped-in image of the wine glasses with the oldest vintage bottle works the best.

Take a look...

Mumm Napa wine bottle photography by Jason Tinacci

Mumm Napa wine bottle photography by Jason Tinacci

And my favorite of the bunch...
Mumm Napa wine bottle photography by Jason Tinacci


ps - Interested in bidding in the Auction Napa Valley e-Auction? Visit the Napa Valley Vintners' website to check out the other fabulous lots and register. The auction opens on May 9, 2010... Don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New client work: Napa Valley Vintner Portraits

I recently completed several portraits of Napa Valley's winery owners, winemakers, and who's-who of the wine world. The kind folks at CADE Winery on Howell Mountain were so gracious to lend their amazing space for us to shoot. Breath-taking views of St. Helena and the Napa Valley floor below, along with the elegant interiors provided the perfect backdrop for our portrait sessions.

Napa Valley Vintner portraits

Take a look at my favorites from the shoots:

About the shoot:
In a marathon two short days of shooting, I managed to photograph about 35 individuals representing 27 wine brands from all over Napa Valley. All the wineries have generously donated not only wine, extravagant gifts, trips, and celebrity chef meals, but much time and dedication to the one-of-a-kind Auction Napa Valley. These photos are going to grace the pages of the Auction Napa Valley catalog and other collateral for the 30th anniversary of the Auction.

Over the last three years, I've been extremely fortunate to be the official photographer of Auction Napa Valley, and I look forward to it once again this year!

About the client:
The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premier winegrowing region. From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents nearly 400 Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry.

30 Years of Giving
Since 1981, members of the Napa Valley Vintners and the Napa Valley community have rallied together to offer, each June, an experience unlike any other. What started as a small event has grown into one of the world's most renowned wine auctions—with more than 350 wineries and 550 community volunteers now taking par—yet remains true to its goal of raising funds for healthcare, housing and youth services non-profits: Auction Napa Valley has given $90 million in proceeds to date.

Learn more about Auction Napa Valley and the Napa Valley Vintners at http://www.napavintners.com/.

Enjoy the photos!

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Client Work: Swirl. Sniff. Taste. Spit. Repeat.

I'm proud and pleased to share some photos I made for Cornerstone Communications, a New York-based PR and marketing firm. They recently hosted a seminar and tasting of several wine producers from the Alto Adige wine region.

About the Client: Cornerstone offers a full range of public relations, marketing, and special events services primarily for the wine, food and spirits industries. The event held at the San Francisco Four Seasons sought to provide an introduction (or refresher to those already in the know) to the Alto Adige wine region in Italy. A panel of 5 speakers (3 of whom were named Wolfgang) walked tasters through a flight of 8 wines from the various areas within Alto Adige. Did you know that although it's located in northern Italy bordering Germany, more German is spoken than Italian? Fascinating!!!

About the Shoot: Swirl. Sniff. Taste. Spit. Repeat.

Here are a few of my faves from the shoot...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My New Photography Website Has Launched

bio · stock photography · clients · blog · contact · home       View Jason Tinacci's updated portfolio
Hello friends,

I’m excited to introduce my updated online photography portfolio – www.tinacciphoto.com.

This incarnation of my portfolio represents months of creating, refining and editing these photographic stories with an energized hope of obtaining fresh, challenging photo projects. I invite you to view, reflect, and enjoy them with me.

As a lifestyle photographer, people are at the center of my work. I love to explore who they are, what they do, where they live, work and play, what’s important to them, and how they get along in this great big world of ours. Basically, documenting LIFE. Shooting portraits, food, travel, landscapes, events, and the subtle details in our surroundings all combine to complete the stories I try to tell through pictures.

Thanks for taking the time to explore my website, and feel free to share it with others - www.tinacciphoto.com. If you or someone you know is looking for a photographer, I can be reached at jason@tinacciphoto.com or 707-287-5397.



View picture stories:
Año Nuevo
Laura Chenel's Chevre
Peru's Sacred Valley
Soil to Lips
Taylor's Refresher
Tosca Cafè