Ellis Island: 1979

© Joe DiMaggio

It seems like I’m spending more and more time looking at my archives. It may have something to do with the fact that we are finishing up our next book, and the working title is “Visual Literacy.” Time Magazine sent me to Ellis Island in 1979 before the beginning of renovations. There was no service there so I went over on a police boat. This was before the days of cell phones, and for whatever reason I did not have an assistant. The original photograph was made with a Nikon F, a 35mm F2 lens, Ektachrome ASA 100. “I can say ASA, not ISO.” I scanned the original slide, recently for the book and decided to pull a little bit more out of it. More photos of Ellis Island to come.

Fish On Friday

© Joe DiMaggio

I just received an email by a wild life photographer from Australia wanting some private lessons. We are in the process of arranging three days on both wild life photography and sports photography. All indications are that this is going to be a lot of fun for both student and mentor. He motivated me to look at some of my Great Barrier Reef photographs. Cannon camera, 24mm lens, Fuji Velvia, 1/80 of a second, f/5.6, Ikelite housing, and two Ikelite strobes. Have a great weekend- Joe D

Mary Travers

© Joe DiMaggio

If you have been following my blog you would know that when Mary Travers past away, I used a photograph from my first assignment a few years ago. In that blog I said that I would find the original Mary Travers photos. When looking for some vintage black and whites I stumbled across this photo of Mary. It was done with Tri-X pushed to 1200 in acufine with a Nikon F, 180 mm 2.8 lens, at 2.8, 1/500 of a second. I would love to go back in time with a high end digital camera, but as we all know you can not go home again. Mary was my first love and I still love her today.

A Pleasant Surprise

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

My schedule for Friday was an hour and a half at the gym, a post office run, a trip to the florist, and then to the garden center.When I went back home for a shower and a third cup of coffee,  much to my surprise I found the CEO of Dynalite, Peter Poremba having coffee with my partner JoAnne. Peter was in the neighborhood, so he thought he would surprise us and show us a few new exciting photographic tools. Peter is not only a great businessman, but also a design engineer, an avid photo educator, and a forward thinking “out-of-the- box” entrepreneur. He has a beautiful wife Connie and lovely daughter Olivia. Peter has come up with a new Dynalite power pack with a 650 watt modeling light, specifically designed for film making. After his demonstration I had an opportunity to use it and  to be brutal and to the point, it could replace an Arri light which is about two and a half times the cost. Peter’s new system is a  lite, dynamic multi-purpose package incorporating the new Rhyme light modifiers. Damn impressive! The first photo is of a Marine and was done with 2 Dynalites, a soft box, and a reflector.

To Shop or Not to Shop

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

I’ve had an opportunity to spend ten years at the University of Arizona doing workshops and lectures, and in the day shooting some assignments and stock work. Funny how it all seemed to come around in January and February hmm…, first thing  when I got to Tucson, would be I’d hire one or two assistants and interns. One of the best was Lee Ann Fox, extremely bright, creative and a lot of fun. As the sun was setting, I came up with a photo of Lee Ann her (nickname was the Fox) on her motorcycle. If you look closely at the bottom photograph you will see a hell of a lot of industrial stuff. In the day before Photoshop I would attempt to do a multiple exposure, shoot the background separate, another at speed, and then I’d have an assistant photoshop it. Camera 35mm, lens 35mm f/1.4, the platform was a moving rent-a-car,1/60 of a second, at f/5.6, ISO 50. If you look close, you will see me in Fox’s mirror. Photo tip of the day,is to make sure you have a great driver and a model that can take direction by hand motions. Do not try this while driving the car, it could be dangerous.

Sistine Chapel: The Rules

Photo © Joe DiMaggio

Back in the day a trip to Rome would be incomplete without a once-in-a life-time experience of seeing one the greatest and most popular works of art known today.  I have been back at least a dozen times, and I always discover something new in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It was commissioned by Pope Julius the II and was painted between 1508 and 1512. Back then, with the proper credentials I was able to photograph the Chapel for fifteen minutes before it opened. Today photography is no longer allowed, and when I ask why, security explained, that they sell photos, so there is no need to take one.  Rules are rules, and we all must adhere to them. I found it very interesting that photographers with 35mm cameras are stopped but people with I phones and such were not. It seemed a bit unfair to me. I normally try to spend more then an hour trying to study the color, balance, and composition. I always leave the Chapel with my jaw on the ground, and when someone says that my photos are a piece of art I am humbly appreciative, but we all know better. Tip for today, as always pre-select shutter speed aperture, focus, over-expose by three quarters to 1.5 stops, camera on silent mode, lay the camera flat on a bench, accidentally hit the self timer button and hopefully you will have a precious image of one of the greatest pieces of art of all time. The rules are the the rules, don’t break them.

The Right Exposure

To All the Ships at Sea.

I had the opportunity to do an ad campaign for the Cleveland Indians. As part of the contract, I did several billboard,. one of which, Shaun Casey was the star. The key to this photograph is Casey’s eyes and his intensity. The ball was not on the bat yet, but very close. If you were to utilize the correct daylight exposure his eyes would have been shaded by the cap.  By opening up a half to three quarters of a stop, you will have the correct exposure for under his cap and his eyes. The same is true for a football player or race car driver with his helmet on. If looking for the eyes, you have to make the right adjustments.


That’s my tip for today. Finish reading the blog then go out and make some photos. Joe D

Controlling the Environment

I was blessed to live on the sea for about 20 years. Sailing, swimming, scuba diving all became part of daily life. I remember vividly being on a conference call with Saatchi and Saatchi, I looked out the window to see a large multi-colored sail from a Hobie cat fly by. I let out with a scream, the creative director and the vice-president of Xerox thought it was pretty funny. When I explained, they still thought it was funny. A week later I spoke to the sailor on the Hobie Cat and arranged to make a series of photographs with the boat. I called my accountant and asked him, if I bought a sail boat and used it as a prop, was it a write off? Thus became my love affair with Hobie. The $3,000 dollar investment yielded six figures over the years. The photo above: 35mm camera, 16mm lens, Kodachrome 25, 1/250sec at f/8. Camera mounted on mast with infrared firing device. Remember in those days there were 36 exposures. I may revisit it again one day with digital. It’s all good.

Mother Nature Get with the Program

When I started my career, I never tried to control the photographic situation. When my work moved from hard core editorial, to corporate and advertising I to had to control almost every aspect of the photograph. Effectively I became  director, art director, creative director, and the photographer. Eighty percent of the time there were several pre-production meetings with the creative director and at least one meeting with the client. I’ve worked with great art directors that controlled the shot, and other great art directors that let me have a free hand.  They say “what comes around goes around,” for my personal work I try not to control mother nature. Have fun, go with the flow, and have a  heavy hand on the delete button. The photo of the sea bird: 80-200mm lens, ISO 100, 1/100 f/4, single shot. Mother nature is absolutely awesome, have some fun you can’t make a mistake.

Peak Action

©Joe DiMaggio

I had an opportunity to teach at the University of Arizona. It afforded me time in the desert, in the dead of winter to photograph some interesting characters. Here’s a young man taking a short cut. I had no idea he was going to do this. The lesson of the day is to make sure your camera is ready to go. Pre-select shutter speed, aperture, color balance, ISO, type of metering, and exposure compensation. The next part of the equation would be experience and some would say luck, I believe you make your own luck. This photo was taken with a 35 mm camera, a 100mm Macro lens, ISO 50, shutter speed 1/500 f/4, single exposure.