Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Oscars 2018 - Capturing the set-up...

I had the opportunity once again, to be behind the scenes at the 90th Oscars in Hollywood;  I was able to spend 3 days capturing the many dedicated workers scrambling around the large set-up for the Red Carpet. 

This was my 5th visit to the event since 2011, as a Production Assistant (with a camera...and growing carpet photo experience) to the well known LA based News Reporter, Steve Gregory of KFI Radio / iHeart Media as I again was granted access to production areas and an assigned seat in Press Room during the 3 (plus...) hour event. With such access - I began exploring and capturing the beehive of activity - creating a personal archive of Black+White memories that I am hoping to eventually capture the attention of AMPAS and the future Academy museum. 

So - 7 years in, I can now also claim to notice both consistency and also a few changes in the set-up, production and Academy procedures as the event grows, changes and facing new challenges - especially this year when the rain poured down on Friday morning...

Years ago, with my initial limited access, I chose to focus upon specific specialized workers who raced around the site. This included the Set Builders, Painters, and even the very dedicated Carpet Cleaners. Some of these people go completely unnoticed as they complete their specific tasks during the light of day or in the middle of the night, other times they are the center of attention - just before the carpet goes "live" they are either cleaning, repairing or modifying the set as "enthusiastically" instructed by the Directors of various ABC Television networks - as it truly becomes the center of the earth for a few hours. 

I certainly have seen my share of glitz, glam and countless selfies being embellished by the Carpet setting, since 2011, but I am always drawn back to the quiet confidence these hard working crews present as they create the set; all rolling together in a symphony of power tools, brushes and tape measures; as I follow them quietly with my camera. 

There were a few challenges this year, and I certainly was always cordially engaged by the Press/Media Guides supplied by the Academy to answer my questions...or rapidly inform me of which areas I was "not" to tread.  It was great to run into fellow Photographers like Al (LA Times), Chris and a new Photographer for the Academy - Chris. I listened to their stories and their insights on the changes, and how social media "needs and intentions" are challenging the way emotions and actions of nominees or winners...are captured by the Professionals - carpet or backstage. 

During the show - I have again had the opportunity to hear the commotion backstage of the Press "Shooting Gallery" shouting at the winners to give them eye contact as they hold their prize, or had the exclusive opportunity to witness the interviews of the winners and their candid explanations to the Press about their surprise, thankfulness or insights on their journey to become a winner, either with 1 nomination at the start of their career...or 15+ previous ones. 

I encourage you to take a look online which does show both the nominees and winners and the ocean of talent that the Academy highlights each year. Summations of all the deserving Nominees are illustrated. I guess I should have put money where my mouth was - pre-show I was telling everybody the "Silent Child" was going to win best Live Action Short...

Sunday mid day - just prior to the expiry of my security access to the Carpet (as the whole Carpet is cleared + Accredited Press is asked to take their positions at 1:30pm sharp) I was quietly approached at the start of the Carpet by a well dressed vision impaired guest holding her cane, who needed to get to her meeting "on the third floor". Thus - I had the privilege of escorting an Academy Member down the inner carpet area, the lane reserved for the Big Wigs. We slowly walked, taking in the moment. She held my arm close - we spoke to each other, I noted we were gaining some attention, as well as I cautioned her of the obstacles of the velvet ropes, the TV camera tripods and the hazard of dropped breath mints along our way. As I have been pointed out before at Burning Man...you're such a damn Boyscout. Yup - I agree...

Enjoy! Thank you for your thoughts and comments!  MM  

Sunday 1:29pm - All are in position - Carpet ready to go "live".
1:21pm- un-phased by the crowd - last minute repairs on the carpet. 
1:11pm- Sunday - fine tuning the carpet on the steps while actors pose for promo shots.

12:51pm - Selfies central...
12:41pm - plastic covering removed - and fingerprints polished away.
12:21pm- preparing for a live spot on a local station. (Wendy of KTLA) 

8:31am - Sunday Morning- carpet on the intersection, and finally the sun clears the building in behind me so I can get a better lit shot...

7:31am - Sunday Morning - the sun starts indirectly illuminating the street carpet off of reflections from other buildings - car reception area.

1:11am Sunday am -  Joe of Mobile Joes, Carpet Cleaning - the First Official Oscars Sunday portrait from the Carpet

12:51am - a persistent and focused carpet cleaner in action. 

12:11am - Sunday am - First official photo from the Red Carpet on Oscars Sunday. I get these every time....

7:31pm - Saturday - Set Painters - quick and fun group shot.

6:31pm - Saturday - the covering is removed - and so is the public from this area. 

5:31pm - darkness decends upon the carpet saturday night - Reporters practice - Riggers rig! 

3:31pm - Fine tuning - and my new best friend - and future character reference for the Academy... "Ralph" photo bombing...

2:21pm - Ralph - Proud Electrician-Stagehand - He has a million (and a half) stories. Stones, Metalica and other big tours... 

2:21pm - Saturday - adding gold leaf and fixing all small details. 

1:11pm Saturday -  adding more gold leaf

11:31am Saturday - adding more red carpet - this guy is a very, very busy person.

10:31am Saturday - the stand ins- arrive - a quick group shot of half of them. (thank You Steve for allowing me to capture the shot!) 

9:31am Saturday - more carpet added - by the very, very busy aforementioned guy. 

8:21am Saturday - fine tuning the set - and trying to keep it dry.

7:51am Saturday - more lighting added to Dolby theatre hallway. 

7:41am Saturday - Ralph arrives - early for his shift. Great stories + insights ensue! 

7:21am Saturday - adding safety wires to the decor...as per code I assume.

7:31pm - Friday - the rain continues; and fans linger to get a shot.

11:30 am Friday - raindrops and Oscar logo. Make art when you can...

10:30am Friday - Statues are set out for photo ops. 

Oscars arrive - Photographers scramble....Oscars photo op - except they are dry - we wanted rain drops on them

Friday Morning - Rain on the set - Mobile Joe is not going to like this...  :( 

Friday Afternoon as it rains even more - additional protection to protect the carpet from the rain and pedestrian traffic.

6:01 am - Saturday morning - all quiet on the carpet - before the craziness begins....

6:42am - structures rapidly going up as the Carpenters scramble.

7:22am - building continues - just inside the entrance of the Dolby Theatre. 

8:12am - buliding continues - the biggest guy on the crew- lifts the most. 

8:49am - details are always important to the building crew. 

9:49 am Saturday - Oscars dried and are shed of there photo covering. Selfies will be prevalent around these areas...
1:25pm - Sunday - me + my tux - and a personal story as well.  :) 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Dear Friends - Yes - it has been eons since I added to this blog. 

Life, my amazing partner Sandra, work, rapid travel, personal time out efforts with my aforementioned Girl, a reconfiguration of photo efforts, and demands for free photography continue to prevail (don't get me started...$#@! - I'd advise ducking for that next blog post) ...in a world that is getting more corrosive with egos and sad events every day... have kept me away from this medium for a long time. 

Again - thank you again for taking time to catch up with me.

I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Dr. Mineo Kawasaki. 

Dr. Kawasaki was both the smallest and quietest attendees to the Air Medical Transport Conference and the reason many years ago I reached out to him at the event, coordinating introductions and party invites...as my style is to always look out for the little guy, and thus an amazing international friendship grew. Perhaps his English may have been strained; but his communication and love to our US community was evident in every visit to this annual event, and as I have recently learned, other unique US communities as well. 

When a gap in communication occurred after the major Earthquake in Japan in 2011, I was worried...but a brief email reply re-assured me he was ok. Public speaking in English was prohibitive for him, so I decided to take matters into my own hands - I asked him to write a small report about the tsunami, with a few photos that I could print out. I took the initiative at the 2011 AMTC in St. Louis, by commandeering a bulletin board actually reserved for scientific posters, and I proceeded to thumbtack his post tsunami story and his medical care initiatives for his community, all with his accompanying photos. (again, my appologies to the Scientific Committee) This continued to build our friendship, annually re-affirmed at the AMTC, which also lead to cookies and a unique gift arriving every Christmas to Canada.

The last time I saw Mineo, was at the Ft Worth AMTC. Looking a bit frail, but still radiating friendship and positivity, we managed to sit down one morning in the lobby of his hotel prior to taking a day trip with some Ft. Worth friends - who also like a few other Americans - have their own stories about Mineo as well. We spoke about many nice things, and my wish that I could some how visit him in Japan and take a few photos of him at work. Sadly, as I learned news of his passing earlier this month, this will not happen, nor will the AMTC be graced with his quiet yet loving presence.

Rest in Peace Mineo. Big Sigh. I miss You my Dear Friend.  :(  M

Friday, September 15, 2017

My top 10 list - Part 2 - The Final 5.

As 2016 is now rolling, I spent alot of time considering the past year and also recovering from an exhausting fall season of travel and work. It has been a long time since I posted on my blog, not because I had nothing to report, but because I became very busy with travel related to my work and the constant blur of life... So, as a way to get caught up, here is part two of my list with an explanation, of my final top 5 images for 2015. 

5) CALSTAR - Sunset, Santa Maria, CA. What's a MM top 10 list without a sunset set-up of a crew with their brand new aircraft...eh? (just add water, and get the shot before the fog rolls in...). 

4) CareFlight - Sunset rotors with flash, Sydney, Australia It seems simple enough...place strobes to illuminate the rotors, however, this is the first time I worked with a crew to safely do this when the rotors were turning. I have chosen for years, not to be going around and "sticking something" under the moving rotor disk or near the tail rotor to add any hazards during engine start-up. After testing earlier, I worked with my crew to get about 5 frames before we removed the strobes and they headed out on a NVG training flight. The crew member that helped me just didn't understand my big smile as they departed. I'm not a fan of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems...drones) either, as they do not mix with helicopters or airports.

3) Outriders & Drill Crew 2016 Calendars and More. No better clients than the Calgary Stampeders' Outriders Dance Team, and the Calgary Roughnecks'Drill Crew Dance Team. It is an absolute pleasure to work with these amazing, dedicated group of young women, who sometimes belong to both teams; lead by their Coaches/Choreographers, Kyla, Megan and Dana. It is a nice break from the stressors of my Helicopter EMS work with all the damn travel. I view it as a chance to enjoy my home city of Calgary. It starts with the Outrider Tryouts in March, capture at practice, a calendar shoot, sideline photography, another calendar shoot for the Drill Crew, (which my best buddy Waldy and I create together - they sometimes call us the Odd Couple...as we ended up shooting at our old Art School where we started our friendship 31 years earlier) and the final dance late on a busy Saturday night in some Grey Cup hospitality event (and a few tears) at the Grey Cup Championship in November. Thank You Teams - MM+WM

2) Dog Beach - Del Mar,CA. Again, when I am not traveling the world with my Helicopter EMS work, or photographing Cheerleaders, I am sometimes housesitting for friends near the beach...and capturing some images with my iPhone. I have hundreds, and perhaps I will have another show someday, but in the interim...

1) Care and Dedication. FN Neen and her patient. Somewhere over the vast Northern Territory, near Darwin, Australia. This just about sums it up my mission with my helicopter/fixed wing work, as I try to assist my clients in telling their story. Two missions in one day, resulted in great images for CareFlight Top End. I am looking forward to returning soon and capturing more of these moments...

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I hope to post more images and stories in 2016. MM

Monday, February 22, 2016

My top 10 images and thoughts from 2015

As 2016 is now rolling, I spent alot of time considering the past year and also recovering from an exhausting fall season of travel and work. It has been a long time since I posted on my blog, not because I had nothing to report, but because I became very busy with travel related to my work and the constant blur of life. So, as a way to get caught up, here part one of a list of my best, with an explanation, of my top 10 images (ok - eleven; I admit...) for 2015. 

11) Linda Blumfield - Safety First. Meet Linda, the most safety expressive FN that I have met in a very long time. Her years with the LA County Fire Department, have formed her into a very respected voice with her program and the hospitals they serve. Captured in action at another Helipad Safety demo on top of a Los Angeles hospital last April, her one person outreach performance is worthy of an Oscar. It was an honor to meet you and capture you passionately in action. 

10) Women in Power - Love her or despise her. I generally steer away from political arena, but I was given the unique surprise opportunity in 2015 to photograph the Honorable Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, as a last minute guest speaker at the Advancing Womens' Conference in Toronto, where I was the Official Photographer. I shot, edited, and posted a series of these back to the conference in my style in Black and White, but I wanted to share this again with you. She is a force to be reckoned with as the Canadian Political landscape has yet again changed...

Please note - as an important sidebar to an interesting mainstream media story in Alberta, I am "not" a Photo Journalist as I respect many friends who are, but I appreciate the opportunity to capture the Ontario Premier in "my visual style" in the setting she requested to speak at, and her PR office's later appreciation of my imagery. What happened to a smaller "new media" outlet who reports in "their style" in Alberta this past month - and fortunately was rectified; was a wake-up call to all of us regarding free speech. (and that is my only political rant over the past 5 years of blogging - that is all...)

9) CALSTAR 7 - Scene Call, Lompoc, CA. After befriending my FN, I was able to crouch underneath the roar of the engine blast and rotor disk as my FN awaited the EMS Ground team to approach the aircraft. Her concentration and confidence seems to just glow from this capture...

8) REACH - Back to Base. After a day of three missions, and some extraordinary images captured for the AAMS Host Program photography project, this image of FP Mark, glancing out the window as we flew above the clouds, is a memorable image on a very busy day...

7) Burning Man 2015. This was my 9th Burn, and I struggled with the weather and some first timer obtuse neighbors (Birgins, as we have all been, but some years bring new fools...). The event this past year was hit with three windstorms, one typical, but two that were extreme. I found myself caught behind a sign for an hour and a half in the predicted "Saturday morning before the gates opened storm". Then, Burning Man Friday afternoon saw a rare and cold NW wind storm that blew everything the other way, as most shelters were set up for SE winds. However, in the end the very next day, a good time was had by all during the Man Burn, and ironically the best weather I have ever experienced (not too hot - no wind - no dust). I again aimed to shoot the mornings "out there" as it is an amazing environment when the sun rises and the citizens of Black Rock City are starting or finishing their playa adventures...

6) Mercy Air - A Real Mission to the Border. I have been fortunate enough to travel all four corners of the US with my Air Medical work. The below imagery is from an unique mission with Mercy Air, right to the US - Mexico border, which allowed me two great images of a FN in action as we met an ambulance from Tecate, MX with their young patient as I stood in "no mans' land" capturing images...

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, part two will be posted soon!  MM