I first met Alexis Arquette, then known as Robert, when she was a 14 year old boy. I was in my fourth term at Art Center and always on the lookout for interesting subjects. I was immediately struck by his beauty and punk-gender bending style. So I arranged a photo shoot and his Mom dropped him off at my school. I lit him with just one old style tungsten light (we were not yet allowed to use strobe) and let the background go black. I remember this as a magical shoot, one of those where all the stars aligned and I felt it was the best work I had done at that point. It was not until I drove him home that I learned of his famous family.
This shoot inspired me to shoot more portraits of rebellious teens for a class "book" project, an assignment due at the end of the semester. We had to design, then print them, then have them bound. It was a big deal at the time. It was also truly a grueling process, just to get the tryptic above (which is a page from the actual book) aligned onto one print took hours. I remember breaking down in tears from frustration at one point. Which is why I think the ability to print a book easily online today is an amazing gift of technology.
Later I met with Robert's Dad, the actor Lewis Arquette, to give him prints and showed him the book. He asked if he could pay me to print another copy for them and I politely told him, "There is not enough money in the world to get me back in the darkroom to do that."
Sadly, it was announced last week that Alexis had died and I cried as remembered the sweet little kid I knew. I only saw him one more time, a few years later, still a he but not long before he would transition into a she. When we recognized each other, he gave me a big hug and we chatted about where we were and where we were going.
A lovely, old soul who's quote for my book seems aptly prophetic of a life bent on pushing boundaries...
"I guess in a way I mess with what society thinks is right and that freaks people out. I like freaking people out. "
I heart pomegranate seeds. Trader Joe's makes it easy by doing all the work, removing them from the fruit and selling them all packaged and ready to go. I love them sprinkled over ice cream, in salads and as shown here on an English muffin over chia peanut butter (also from TJs) and honey. They have a wonderful tangy flavor and are also high in fiber, vitamins B & K and potassium, some also believe they can even aid in weight loss. A quick search on Amazon yields lots of juices, oils and supplements available but nothing beats the real thing.
I recently printed a test portfolio, through Issuu, an online magazine hub. I was very impressed with the print quality and think I might have landed on a unique and affordable option for a group of multiple books I am working on. There are some limitations with this, it is really meant to print magazines. However, they do offer a soft cover book option at a very affordable price. I also like that it is a lot less labor intensive than Blurb, which I have been using for years. With that I have to convert all my files to jpegs, upload them to their software then layout the book page by page. Also they only offer large photo books with a horizontal landscape layout option which I don't want. If they offered a large vertical option, they would be my first choice. I am considering using Pikto which does an 11x14 portrait book.
Over the years my portfolios have taken on many incarnations a shown above, from a box of prints to fully printed books. Despite websites becoming the primary selling tool for most photographers, the printed portfolio is still an important tool. I think there is something special about the tactile experience and seeing images beautifully printed. It also gives you a reason to meet with potential clients face to face, a good away to stand out in their minds from the crowd.
Issuu is an online magazine platform that allows anyone to create their own publications and provides a dynamic page turning interface as shown above. It is also free to create an account, though you need a paid account to remove ads when displaying on the web. I have been using it for a while now but only just thought to actually try printing one of my uploads.
The good; excellent (above expectation) print quality, great price, just under $25 with international shipping and easy to use, just upload a PDF.
The bad; limited size options, the largest is 8.5 x 11, soft cover only and back cover has a bar code stamp with no way to remove it so I'm planning to leave that blank, as a kind of work around.
I love working with Karen Landon, an incredibly talented designer who creates truly unique artisan pieces that always have me in awe. I helped her launch her line, Veronica Rock three years ago and it has slowly gained a loyal following. It is both edgy and feminine and all are beautifully made. Probably because she designs and makes every piece herself, including the one of kind hand knit sweaters.
We photographed her newest collection with my favorite muse Izzy while she was visiting a few weeks ago. No, she's not a little girl anymore! With Deborah Harry as our inspiration we think we found the perfect combo of originality and rockstar. You can view the entire collection here and use this exclusive promo code: FRESHPIE2016 for 20% off entire site, even sale items, through September 17th.
As promised, another stop on our Donut Tour 2016. After much yelp research by Izzy we hit Donut Friend located in Highland Park. With their own unique take on specialty donuts, rave reviews and a loyal following, how could we not? They offer tons of unique options and they even have a DIY option so you can create your own favorite combos! Prices are pretty reasonable ranging from $2 to $5 dollars. They even include a gluten free-ish option and vegan ice cream.
Back in the day when for about 10 years pool took over my life, I played on a team out of an odd little bar on the lower east side called Parkside Lounge. I have played on a lot of teams over the years but this was one of the most memorable. We grew incredibly close incredibly fast, practicing at a pool hall every weekend and then playing even more pool at local bars into the wee hours.
I took this photo with Tri-x film pushed to probably 1600 and at a slow shutter speed using just the ambient light of the bar. It was a match against Barfly, a bar known for two things; good pool teams and occasional Bill Murray sightings. Here my teammate Ben is playing that blurry shadow known as Jimbo, considered then one of the league's best players. In his mid 60s at the time, he also paid me one of my favorite compliments ever when he once asked me if my Mother was single.
There was a lot of talent on our team and we easily won the division only to lose in the play-offs. Ironically to another team I was on (did I mention I was obsessed?) which only made it into the finals by nabbing the wild card slot. I had to sit out entirely to remain eligible in case either team advanced. Unable to fain neutrality, I watched with tears in my eyes as my Parkside team went down in flames, despite the odds being clearly in our favor. Even more upsetting my captain was moving to the west coast for graduate school and there would be no second season.
I would go on to Captain my own amazing team, Octopussy, the only all woman team out of NYC to make it to the Nationals in Vegas. I also had many successes on my own, finishing 5th in the APA 8-Ball Classic and 5th again in the WPBA Amateur Nationals and later in Atlanta, winning a qualifier into a WPBA Pro event. Still, those three months playing at Parkside remain some of my fondest memories of those early, eyes wide open, fiercely besotted, living the dream days.
Being close to the hills, we sometimes get a visit from a hungry bear or two when the weather warms up. Though cute from a distance, few of us want to stumble upon them in on our own back yard. However, The Baked Bear a new "ice cream sandwich" shop that just opened in my hood, is bound to be an exception to that rule. This places allows you to build your own ice cream sammies! Pick from a variety of cookies or choose a brownie or yeah that's right, a DONUT! Then choose your ice cream and toppings and tada... heaven!
Though not a traditional donut shop, this inspired me and my visiting partner in crime, Izzy to find some other great donut happiness while she was here. Stay tuned for a report on the rest of our discoveries in the coming weeks.
Sometimes you have to improvise. Back in the early 90s, while living in New York City, I was assigned by British Elle to photograph actor of the moment, William Baldwin. He had a big movie coming out and had limited time for photo shoots. So his PR people insisted I do the shoot at their mid-town offices. Not an idea situation to say the least. So I asked them if they had roof access, which luckily they did and so I made that our "studio" for the shoot.
I brought a portable backdrop set up which is seriously one of the best investments you can make, with it I can create a studio just about anywhere. I brought a few different back drop options and shot with natural light. The only real challenge was the strong wind and our limited time with this busy Baldwin. Still, we got some really great images and it ran as a multi page feature. William loved the shoot so much he even requested a print and sent me a very nice thank you card which I think I still have somewhere.
As a funny side note, I'd actually photographed him before when he was a model for my first shoot for Mademoiselle Magazine. It was to illustrate an article on why your partner is not satisfying you sexually and I did mention it to him during this shoot. "Oh, that was you!" he said laughing. I'm not really sure he really remembered it, he was actually quite a big model at the time and always working.
I don't know a girl who grew up in the 70s or 80s who did not want to be Deborah Harry, if only for a day. A beautiful rebel who broke all the rules and did it with her own unique style. All these things also describe one of my favorite clients, Veronica Rock. A truly original line of amazing hand made jewelry and knitwear by my friend Karen Landon. We are gearing up to shoot her newest collection this weekend and what better inspiration than the iconic Debbie!
photos via pinterest & content © Lara Rossignol
I love a good yard sale, especially my own. I find it's a great way to purge and clean house. Something we all need to do periodically. Just over a week ago I had my most recent sale, joining forces with my downstairs neighbor. We are on a narrow, private road with no street parking. This forces people to park on a nearby street and walk up a steep hill. Even with those challenges, due to a lot of pre-sale advertising we still got a good amount of traffic. I think I have had about 10 different sales over the years and have learned a thing or two. Below are some of my suggestions for having a successful sale.
- I recommend posting on Craig's List several times including the morning of and with good photos. Also place good signage through out your neighborhood. There may also be a neighborhood Yard Sale group on Facebook where you can also post your sale.
- Organize your items as far in advance as possible and clean them. You just get more interest and more money that way.
- Don't let people in your house for any reason and keep your door(s) locked. Better safe than sorry.
- Set up nice displays and group like items together.
- Price as many as you can and know what your bottom price is. People will always try to haggle.
- If you have high ticket items you can get a swiper from Paypal or Stripe at no cost, so you can take credit cards with your smart phone. They do take a percentage (around 3% depending on your account type) so keep that in mind.
- Be sure to go by the bank and get about $50 in ones and $50 in fives, so you can make change.
- Set up a "check out" table in a shady spot that allows you to keep a close eye on your cash box, phone etc... but close enough to your goods to answer any questions.
It had been over 4 years since my last sale and I felt this one was a bit overdue. I would say every 2-3 years or any time you move is about right. If I have a large pricy item I want to sell, I will just post it on Craig's List, I have had good success with that. After the sale my neighbor loaded a lot of her leftover stuff up and headed straight to our local Goodwill drop off. Another great option for purging and they will always give you a receipt so you can write off your donation.
Jean Shrimpton was one of the first true "Super Models" and an icon of 60s fashion. Muse and paramour of photographer David Bailey their relationship was dramatized in the BBC film We'll Take Manhattan. She also wrote a well reviewed biography and is in featured in the documentary, The Real Blow Up.
photos by David Bailey, John French and Bert Stern ~ written content © Lara Rossignol
It's no secret that I'm a collector of many things vintage. I frequent estate sales and also search online. Some of my finds I sell in my own online shop and some I keep. This helps to both finance my own collecting while also freeing up space and keeping my hoarding habits in check. The key is to only buy stuff you love so you don't mind being stuck with something that doesn't sell. I recently discovered the above Hanova of Pasadena enamelware casserole while searching for another new obsession, Cathrineholm. It was love at first click!
Some other recent finds; A Cathrineholm lotus chop plate I nabbed at an estate sale and a teapot found on eBay. I treasure a Trumpfreflex camera that belonged to director Walter Lang bought at his family's estate sale and I love this Hayley Mills record I got for I think $1. A long time fan, I even named one of my cats "Hayley Mills" so this little gem isn't going anywhere. This extra rare Sylvia Hood Owl was a very lucky eBay find while this unusual $12 purse always gets compliments. Probably one of my best finds ever was this rare Margaret Keane print, which I really wanted to keep. However, after posting a photo on instagram I got an offer I couldn't pass up and had to say sayonara.
Hanova of Pasadena was created by Erwin Prust and Bob Hill in the early 60s. This design known as the "Scandinavian Bird" design was first launched around 1967 and was very popular. Not a lot of info online about them but I learned that much via this blog post. Most I found were priced at $125 and up, however this chartreuse colored casserole I found on a newish site called Chairish had a few cosmetic flaws. This is probably why the seller had it priced quite a bit lower. Since I planned to use it only for display and could easily turn those defects to a wall, I did't really mind and was able to get it at a great price. A good tip, if you are open to less than mint condition you can often find better deals. Just consider how you will be using it to access what is important.
I first photographed Maggie when she was a fast moving 3 year old toddler. She looked like an illustration from a Dickens novel. Perfect curls and cherub cheeks she pranced and danced in front of my camera, seemingly unaware of it. On a recent visit to South Carolina, I got to photograph her again. Now, almost 8 and very much aware, she took my direction like a seasoned pro.
Photographing babies and toddlers is often about good timing and patience. I recommend you keep yourself mobile, free of a tripod. This way you can move with your subject and jump in quick for detail shots. When shooting children under 5 for jobs we usually book two kids just in case one isn't cooperative.
Nancy Johnson was a popular fashion designer in the 80s & 90s with a signature high end vintage style. She ran distinctive black & white ad campaigns shot by photographers like Matthew Rolston and Herb Ritts. My friend, Creative Director Brian O'Reilly began working with her in the mid 90s and wanted to bring and even more authentic period look to the images. He asked me to do a test shoot he could present to them to better illustrate his concept which also might lead to me landing the next campaign.
We shot on a hazy afternoon on the upper east side of Manhattan near Central Park. He had gotten the model, who had a waif-ish Audrey Hepburn look I loved. I feel we really captured the period beautifully, perfectly styled from head to toe by Meg Goldman. I think most people would believe they'd been taken 40 years earlier if they did not know otherwise. When I saw the excellent and perfectly stylized period movie Carol I was reminded of these images and pulled them from files.
Though I didn't get the campaign, I did get some great images and testing for a specific client is a great way to get your foot in the door. In 2000 Nancy Johnson turned her designer's eye from clothing to jewelry and Brian went on to work for an array of amazing clients including Clinique. He is now the Global Creative Director of Beauty@Gotham.
A mix of summery favorites starting with this 80s flashback of a baby Milla Jovovich wearing Ungaro I shot for Tatler Magazine. Peonies are my favorite flowers, these beauties from Trader Joe's will run you just $7 a bunch. Rainier cherries, yum! Love this funny lady Janet Varney look for her in the summer flick: Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse. You can always count on Lesley Evers to bring on the color with her bold prints. Love these groovy cushions for my glider from Home Goods.
Shot with Polapan and carefully taped down in order to make a dupe, this is from a test I did with then model now sought after accessory designer Kendall Conrad. Beautiful but also possessing a sharp wit made her one of my favorite models to work with back in the day. This is a hispstamatic photo of the original, photographed on a light box.
Barnaby Conrad, Kendall's father, was an artist, writer and bullfighter and her mother, Mary an interior designer. So it is not really surprising she would choose a creative career in fashion. She started with handbags and has expanded that into a full luxury line that includes jewelry, shoes, home decor and luggage. All are available online or at any of her three boutiques.
Pie 'n Burger is a very old school (since 1963) eatery in Pasadena that does simple food really well. Named one of the top burgers in the country by the Food Network, I was excited to give it a try. I was not disappointed. A classic burger, very juicy with a yummy toasted bun and served a perfect medium well as requested. I skipped a side to have pie instead. I chose my personal favorite, custard, served with fresh whipped cream. Excellent flaky crust and nice traditional custard flavor. They also serve breakfast, traditional hand scooped shakes and have a food truck. Cash or checks only, they open at 7 am daily & close at 9pm, 10pm Friday & Saturday.