It all started with me being a computer geek. I used to write music in the late 80′s early 90′s (I actually wrote some music for my friend Rich Jeni’s 1992 comedy special Platypus Man). Back then I was using a program for the MAC called Southport Music Works. Sometime around 94 or 95, I was browsing through a computer store and I saw a big time photo scanner for sale. Back in the mid 90′s there weren’t any consumer digital cameras, so there wasn’t anyway to get a photo into your computer without a scanner.
Anyway, this scanner20 came with a free copy of Photoshop version 1.5. Yeah I know … Ridiculous. LOL So I bought it, but the problem was, I didn’t have a digital camera, so I just scanned pages out of magazines and then I worked on those images in Photoshop. My Mac was so slow back then that some of the PS effects would take like 10 minutes. Kodak came out with a digital camera so I bought it and started taking photos. This Camera was $700 and it was only 2 megapixels. Well after a while I started wanting better images with far more detail. Kodak had a camera that was $5000.00 and I was thinking of buying it. But then my buddy, photographer and fellow stand up Phil Nee (by the way he took the photos of me in the straw hat) laid some knowledge on me. He said there was no reason to buy a $5000.00 digital camera when you could buy a $300 film camera and get way better photos. So that’s what I did. I bought a Nikon 35 mm camera. I fell in love with B/W and infrared and used to bring my camera with me on gigs and shoot all over the country. I was shooting landscapes and seascapes, but for some reason I couldn’t shoot people. I used to feel self conscious whenever I put a lens in someone’s face.
Soon I was ready for even bigger and better quality images. Then one day one of the guys at Studio City Camera Exchange recommended that I look into Medium format. They had a complete camera Mamiya 645 camera kit. They said it belonged to Harry Anderson from ‘Night Court’. I wasn’t a 100% sure that I believed that it belonged to him, but I bought it anyway. I found that I was shooting everyday. I brought my camera everywhere. I went to Italy, to Death Valley, all over the Caribbean, etc. Eventually I got over my phobia of shooting people and began shooting fashion, Pregnancy images (my personal favorite), etc. My next door neighbor used to be Joe Hann (DJ from Linkin Park) and he invited me to ride on the tour bus once with him. That’s how I got the back stage shot of Snoop Dogg. I was one of only 3 photographers who shot the MTV Jay Z – Linkin Park Smash Up concert at the Roxy in LA thanks to Joe.
But here’s the best part of all. Many years later after I started shooting a 3 day comedy festival at the House of Blues in New Orleans, I asked a few comics if they would be interested in having me shoot them. I had left my portfolio at the hotel and told them I’d bring it with me the next night. Well the next night I walked into the club with the promoter and as we were outside the club when the bouncer told the owner that there was a guy who said he was on the guest list but his name wasn’t there. The owner asked who it was and the bouncer said “Harry Anderson.” I can’t tell you how geeked I was. I introduced myself and ask him if he ever had a camera for sale at the Studio City Camera Exchange. Before I can finish the name of the store he finished it for me. I told him I bought his camera and because I had my porfolio20with me, I was able to show him my work. He gave me the greatest compliment. He said he was glad he sold it because I was able to use it much better than he ever was.
Today I have moved on from my Mamiya 645 to my Cannon 1ds Mark2, but for film I still use my trusty Pentax 67. There is nothing better than actual film. NOTHING!!!!!