The Captain of My Soul

Twenty days into the year and already I want to recap a couple of victories:  National news breaks and while a touch rusty, my work is very competitive with those on the scene.  I contemplated the purchase of exotic lenses.  My mind is now made up.  The answer is, “Yes.”

The next week, International news broke.  My goal is to be more of a commercial photographer, but I work with an agency in New York — and they keep calling.  So, without a reporter or news desk to feed me information I headed down to Tucson to cover the news.  With little exception, I was getting images that all of the “big” news agencies were getting.  Easy.  I know how to work a story and figure out where to go.

When President Obama came to town, I had no credential (denied), but managed to get in the door with a 400mm f/2.8 lens.  You need to know this lens is as big as the transmission on a sports car.  With no pre-issued credential, I got in with the rest of the media — and then decided that there were other places that would be more advantageous.  I kicked the collective asses of more than 300 photographers — who all got the same picture.

As the dust begins to settle and I’m not traveling back and forth to Tucson, I found myself at the home of Fred Langhammer, the Chairman Estée Lauder’s Global Affairs.  We were shooting for a German publication.  Fred was a truly smart, warm and wonderful man.  He seemed to be someone that many could learn from.

Fred Langhammer, Chairman, Global Affairs, of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of cosmetics products loves living in the Arizona desert. He says it's the best place in the world.

I think one of the things that sets me apart from many is my ability to walk into a situation and come up with an interesting plan within a matter of minutes.  One of my colleagues said last week:  “I didn’t know we could leave the media platform.”  Neither did I.  To get the job done, I have a personal set of rules:  Do what needs to be done until someone says that I can’t do it that way.  Be polite and make it look like you’ve stopped.  Attack from a different angle and keep going until they make it so you can no longer do what you need to do.  Don’t get arrested.

Back at Fred’s house, it would have been wonderful to have two or three assistants, makeup people, a stylist and others, but those luxuries weren’t available.  Regardless of who isn’t there, the job still needs to be done and done creatively.  My vision will always carry me through.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

Read more.. Friday, January 21st, 2011

Porn Again, "Americans"

I want to tell you a story before I tell you the story that I’m writing about.

I was a photojournalist who, like other PJ’s, always, always, ALWAYS had to rely on on yourself and your resources.  It was a sometimes solitary existence.  I had heard of commercial photographers having assistants to help out.  Heck, I was once an assistant for Eddie Adams as he photographed Sammy Davis Jr.  (Yet I couldn’t (at that time) figure out why people needed an assistant.)

Oddly, I had photographed Sammy a couple of times before but when Eddie did it, holy cow.  I got paid a LOT more than working at the newspaper.  Eddie was cool.  When the gig was over, he invited me to go have a drink.  I was young and well, it was my bowling night.  I didn’t want to get in trouble with the Mrs.  I skipped the drink, but kept the lesson:  Be nice to people.

I have worked with a group of assistants.  I adore all of them.  I try to pay as well as I can.  And I also try to take them to dinner at a sit-down restaurant.

I want people to enjoy working with and for me.  I want them to feel appreciated.


I got a call from someone who said that a former assistant recommended me for a job.  He went into detail about his event and what he needed.  It was for a chain of stores that sold adult videos and “toys.”

I know.  You’re thinking: “Tony, why are you blabbing this all over the place?!!!  We know times are difficult, but is this what you want to be known for?!!”  The answer to that is:  yes.


I have a project that I call, “Americans.”  I want to photograph people of various subcultures.  I don’t want to just shoot the guy across the street, or the homeless guy on the corner.  I want obvious people who may not really be too obvious.  I think pornstars fit perfectly.

On the night of the shoot, five of us were on hand to make sure everything went without a hitch.  It was a lot of fun.  I also brought a really sexy leopard-skin couch, a background, 5 lights, grids, and a beauty dish.  I shot tethered to a computer so everyone could immediately see their images.

I’ve never seen a movie with Nina Hartley, Alektra Blue, Kirsten Price or Kaylani Lei.  But I’ve photographed them.  They were very nice.

When Nina Hartley posed for me, she stayed and chatted for a little while.  And then she helped style and pose the next three people that I photographed.  It was a great experience.

For the Americans project

I wanted fun moments while photographing people for the "Americans" project. Nina Hartley and I had a great time during our brief time together.

Pornstars Kaylani Lei and Kirsten Price photographed for the "Americans" project.

Three crazy dudes on The Pimp Couch for the "Americans" project.

My big take-away lesson… Be nice to people.  You never know when you’ll be led to a pornstar.

Read more.. Monday, December 27th, 2010

Soup or Tuesday?

America was feeling Blue, but now it’s seeing Red.  Last night at the Republican Headquarters, Gov. Jan Brewer said that the Republicans had taken back Arizona.  My friend pointed out that Arizona was already a Red state.  The Buzz Feed Web site has a different perspective.

This wasn’t Super Tuesday and I’m not here to talk politics.  I’m here to show you some pictures!

It was all fun and smiles for the Republican Party but for the Pot Party (Prop 203: Medical Marijuana), the defeat was a looming specter and supporters patiently waited and hoped their issue would pass.

Note to Self: Buy more gear before these guys get it all!

Some days I feel it’s me against the world.

Read more.. Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

Some really good things have started happening since I started the “Working Hard To Save Others” campaign. People as far away as Maryland, Chicago, and Texas have written to encourage me. Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua featured me on her blog.

Right now I’m prepping for a shoot that I have from an agency in Canada. My client says she’s “freaked out by the slowdown” and is glad to be helping. You probably don’t realize that for 1 in 7 Americans, hunger is a reality. This means that millions of hard-working adults, children and Seniors are struggling with hunger. In a land of plenty, this is unacceptable.

312,966 Arizona children under age 18 live in poverty,
representing 1 in 5 of Arizona’s children.

Bev Damore at the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance says they need: peanut butter, tuna, canned soups and stews, cereals and juices, rice, beans. I’m thinking that because of our neighbor to the north, we can buy a lot of soup, rice and beans.

In case you are wondering why I’m doing this, you need to know that for two decades I was a photojournalist and I realized that my photography had the power to change people’s lives. The days of the newspaper are behind me, but my power has never waned. Even if you aren’t in a position to hire me, you can go shopping and make your own donation.

You and my photography can make the World a better place. Now let’s get busy!
Read more.. Friday, March 6th, 2009