July, 2013

christiane anctil of the richards group on hiring rj muna

Fiat_ESPNadBy now, you have probably seen RJ’s amazing Fiat Body Car ad, created by The Richards Group. And hopefully you have read RJ’s witty and funny blog post about the making of the ad and watched the remarkable behind the scenes video expertly edited by Sam Chase. When Christiane Anctil called me just before the holidays inquiring into RJ’s availability, it was one of the best photographer inquiries I’ve ever gotten. Christiane had introduced RJ to the Fiat team earlier in the year, but did not get to produce their first print job. (For RJ’s equally humorous blog post about that job, read here.) So when this project came across her desk, she was beyond excited not only about the prospect of finally working with RJ, but specifically about working with him on this job. Her call went something like this; “oh my god, do I have the perfect job for RJ — it has cars, dancers, supermodels, body painters…it couldn’t be more perfect!” 

Christiane was right, so I thought it would be fun to share a little Q&A with her about how RJ came to shoot the now famous ad.

How long have you been an art producer and for how long have you been wanting to work with RJ?

I have been an art producer for 14 years. Before that I was a photo retoucher. I have always admired RJ’s work since I started in this business! I had inquired about his availability several times through the years but it never worked out.

What aspects of the Fiat job made you think RJ was the perfect photographer?

I was very excited about the project when I first saw the layouts, and apprehensive too!! This was such a challenge and there was not much time to get it done – on top of everything else it came upon us just before the Holiday season.

As I said, I have long been an admirer of RJ’s work, not only his automotive work but his studies on the human bodies/dancers, they are really works of art and that’s what we were looking for. I thought, how perfect for him since he has the expertise for both and he could combine them easily. Another enormous plus was that he knew how to get the perfect Talent we needed for the project.

How did the concept for the Fiat body car ad come about?

Our very talented and capable Art Directors here at TRG came up with the concept.  We had already done some research a year or so before for a project with an AD for RAM Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue but it never came about and the layout/concept was very different.  So I already knew about Body Painting Artists since I did the research and naturally Craig Tracy became our first choice. 

 What was your role in suggesting RJ to the creative team?

When we got the Fiat account’s first print project, I submitted RJ’s name to the creatives because I thought he would be the best photographer for the job and I had always wanted to work with him.

He became the favorite and that job was awarded to him while I was on vacation so, sadly, I still did not get the chance to work with him. When the Body Paint car concept came about, Dean Oram our AD and I discussed the possible bidders. There was no question in my mind that RJ, due to his experience with dancers/athletes/circus performers plus his enormous background with automotive work, was the strongest contender.  In the end, I wonder if we could have pulled it off with anyone else because of the difficulty of the project and the time we had to get it done. It was the result of a great collaboration between all involved:  Richards Group, Photographer, Body Painter and the Talent of course! 

“This is one of my biggest and best accomplishments during my career as an Art Buyer. So proud and so blessed to have finally worked with RJ Muna!”

Thank you Christiane, for the amazing opportunity and for being such a wonderful collaborator.

on the road with michael lamotte’s from the source

This year Michael Lamotte’s From the Source turns two. Launched in 2011, From the Source has gained considerable acclaim and has been given a very warm welcome from the local food community with a a solo exhibit at 18 Reasons, inclusion in Barndiva’s Salon des Sens and honored with a place in their permanent collection.

With gorgeously photographed images of local food from small producers, From the Source has featured more than 70 local products, all shot in Michael’s signature style— rich black and white, overhead, and closely cropped to focus on the textures and details. This summer he expanded his definition of local by taking From the Source on the road for a six-week edible journey to Ireland, England and Germany. Staying at local inns and B&Bs, Michael came back with tales from the road and some beautiful images. I convinced him to celebrate his anniversary a bit early and to give us a sneak peek from his travels.

Leccino Olives from Bevagna, Unbria, Italy

Leccino Olives from Bevagna, Umbria, Italy

What initially inspired you to start From the Source?

It was a convergence of a few things. I’ve always loved classic black and white photography. In the past few years there have been advances in digital photography that have exceeded the capabilities of traditional darkroom photography and I was interested in exploring this.

I’ve been shooting commercial food photography for many years. There’s a lot of inspiring editorial food photography and I shoot for high-end commercial clients where there are highly specific needs. I wanted to do a personal project that gave me creative freedom. I am passionate about food and local, small-batch producers. And I was inspired to create a project that would be creatively satisfying and at the same time help to promote the products made by people who are equally passionate about their work.

How do you define local?

Local is really wherever you happen to live or be at the moment. Here in the US we think local is anything within 100 miles. In Italy, local is zero miles. You don’t have to go too far to buy local food. The local butcher gets his sheep and beef from the farmer down the road.

People from all over the world look at From the Source. The long-term goal of From the Source is to support local producers from all over the world and to do my part to help preserve traditional and regional food. So for me to go to Europe to shoot local products was a natural next step.

I’m not sure it’s widely known, but the SLOW Food movement and organization started in Italy in 1986 to protest the opening of a McDonald’s on the Spanish Steps in Rome.

You’ve featured a few of your finds from Europe on the From the Source blog. How many did you photograph? 

I shot about a dozen products from small-producers. I’ve already published several including Italian olives from Susan McKenna Grant’s farm La Petraia, located in the Chianti Classico zone, Sagrantino wine grapes from Relais Genius Loci Country Inn in Bevagna, Umbria, Finocchiona sbriciolona from Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop in Panzano in Chianti, and most recently Gigas oysters from Kelly Oysters, North Galway Bay, Ireland.

Gigas Oysters (Crassostrea Gigas)

Gigas Oysters (Crassostrea Gigas)

Next up, I’ll be featuring Smoked Trout from Ireland’s Burren Smokehouse which takes its name from the Burren region of Ireland.

It was a very special trip and I’m planning another visit to England and France in October. The next time I go to Burgundy I hope to visit Ray Walker, the author of The Road to Burgundy: An Unlikely Story of an American Winemaker. He is a small wine producer from Richmond in the Bay Area who was introduced to wine by his wife’s family and decided to move to France to open a small winery.

Smoked rainbow fresh water trout of Irish Aquaculture (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Smoked rainbow fresh water trout of Irish Aquaculture (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Carrigaline Natural Beech smoked Farmhouse Cheese

Carrigaline Natural Beech smoked Farmhouse Cheese

A lot of these producers don’t market or advertise at all. How did you find them?

It’s all word-of-mouth. We stay in smaller inns or apartments and talk with the people we stay with and locals about their local producers. In Ireland, one of the people we stayed with on the West Coast had worked at Burren Smokehouse (Dean & Deluca in New York carries their salmon) and he connected us with the owners.

How do you take your studio on the road?

I shoot all natural light and mostly freehand to keep it simple. I can usually find nice light in our room or terrace. I bring a couple backgrounds, linen napkins and a fill card but always look for interesting surfaces or ask the host for an old cutting board. This time I also brought a monopod but only used it once.

When I pick up a new item to shoot, I look at it from several different angles to see the best way to express its shape and form. I decide the best lighting angles and the proper background and then start exploring.

This is the beauty of staying with a host. You can find out what is happening locally and interesting objects and backgrounds from them.

What has been the most personally rewarding aspect of the From the Source project?

From the Source has enabled me to build relationships with the local food community and to have access to their process and how they work.

I’m genuinely interested in the producers and the process and am developing this side of the project. I spend a lot of time with the local producers and recently spent the better part of a day with Olivier of Olivier’s Butchery in Potrero while he was cutting up a side of beef. People are more than welcoming and open their doors to me.

But it’s nearly always done anonymously. Initially, I buy the product myself. I see something interesting and shoot it. Sometimes I contact them afterwards and show them the images. I might go up to them if I see them at the Farmer’s Market and talk with them about their product and tell them about the project.

I’m interested in helping the local producers promote their products and will give them images if they ask. Sub Rosa Salumi recently called to ask if he could use my image to promote the company. People are starting to realize the potential of using black and white images. They are unique and stand out from the traditional color food photography used in advertising.

Any favorite products from the project, both to eat and to photograph?

I think my favorite thing about this project is that it enables me to try many new flavors that I might not have tried before. I also get to meet very interesting foodies, people who are passionate about what they do and committed every waking hour to this – it’s their love. We all know that if you love your job, it’s not work.

With FTS I’m not trying to sell anyone anything, I’m trying to give something to the small producers and the community.

jim salzano for eleven inc.

Eleven Inc. in San Francisco reached out on June 3rd inquiring into Jim Salzano’s availability to fly out to California the next week to shoot a portrait for a healthcare company. The subject was Mary Ellen Leciejewski, a woman who runs the company’s green initiatives.  We estimated the project on June 4th, job was awarded on June 5th and by June 6th veteran producer Mark Hofmann who was en route to Mexico for vacation, turned around just shy of the border to come back in order to help us scout locations. The brief called for a field of green with a wispy cloud-filled bue sky within an hour of Santa Cruz, so Mark (who grew up in Half Moon Bay) was the choice to find our ideal location.

Jim was excited from the start about the direction and especially to photograph someone who was not as practiced at having their portrait taken. “Shooting a portrait of someone who hasn’t been in front of a camera much is always great fun for me and this opportunity was just that. After choosing a location we were lucky to have the cooperation of the elements and had a fun time on top of the Santa Cruz mountain.”

The shoot happened on June 11th, the whole production pulled together within 5 days of the job being awarded. This would not have been possible without our great crew, and the equally great and responsive decision-makers from the agency.

“A special thanks to Mary Ellen for her patience and great spirit. The Eleven Inc. team; Robert Kastigar, Megan Penmann, Pauline Aguilar, and Krista Olson for their help and guidance and their intern Ryan Kitchens. Thanks to Mark Hofmann Productions for finding this spot and the wonderful SF based crew he put together: 1st Assistant  Julio Duffoo, Digi-tech Antonio De Lucci from G10 Capture, stylist Tietjen Fischer, and hair/makeup artist Tamara Brown. And Alicia Addis for feeding us all so well on top of that mountain!!!”

Ryan, Antonio, Marianne, Megan, Krista, Pauline, Tamara, Tietjen, Jim, Mary Ellen, Julio

Ryan, Antonio, Marianne, Megan, Krista, Pauline, Tamara, Tietjen, Jim, Mary Ellen, Julio


welcome vanessa mcgarry

I am very pleased to announce that Vanessa McGarry will be joining the MCA family as our NYC liaison in the Madison Avenue office. We have been so lucky with our previous NYC associates so when Henrietta said she was moving on, we knew we had big shoes to fill. We had already begun interviewing candidates when Jim Salzano happened to be having lunch with his friend and former studio manager Vanessa and mentioned that we were looking. As usually happens when something is meant to be, Vanessa was the perfect candidate. Since we had worked together when she was with Jim, we knew it was a slam dunk, and lucky for us Vanessa agreed!

We thought the best way to introduce Vanessa would be to give her an MCA welcome: a blog post in which I asked her to tell us 5 Things about herself so you could get to know her as well. I suspect she will be with us for a long time and am excited to have you all meet her when she stops by with delicious treats from Balthazar Bakery. Read on.


Vanessa with son John and daughter Camilla


5 Things about Vanessa McGarry


I’m a native New Yorker — born and raised. I grew up in the 70s on the Upper East Side and then Tribeca in the mid-80s. My mother was an amateur photographer and also worked in the education department at the ICP. My interest in photography started when my mom turned my bathroom into a darkroom and I started shooting myself, including staging shoots in the dining room using my mom’s seamless. We were surrounded by photo books and magazines and were always looking at and talking about photography.

I went to a progressive school in New York and starting in 6th grade we took photography classes and had a full darkroom. I eventually attended the University of Colorado, Boulder and graduated in ’91 with a BA in Art History.  This was the perfect major for me. I’m a very visual person and I would sit in the classroom in the dark for hours looking at slides. My favorite photographers are Gordon Parks, Cindy Sherman and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

First photo job?

Post college I backpacked around Europe and waitressed in Amsterdam for a year before returning to NYC to find a ‘real’ job.

At the suggestion of a friend, I interviewed with the portrait photographer Jim Salzano and became his studio manager. This is where I learned the nuts and bolts of the commercial photography world.  In my five years working for Jim we produced over 300 shoots and worked with every major ad agency in NYC and around the country and as his studio manager I helped to run the marketing side of his business. I also met my husband during this time who has built a successful career in digital marketing communications.

Then what?

I left the photography world to start a family in 2001 but always still worked for Jim. I also worked for photographers Ron Levine, Beth Galton, Peter Zander, and David Lawrence and would fill in at the studio as needed. 12 years later I have two sweet kids (daughter Camilla 12, son John 8) who are the joy of my life. But I’ve always kept my days at Salzano Studio close to my heart and was thrilled to recently hear that Jim’s wonderful agent Marianne Campbell was looking for some help with her New York office. Without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m really excited that it came up. When I made the big decision to stop working to have kids, I always had in the back of my mind that the next step would have been being a rep. It’s what I would have done a few years ago had I not taken a break.

In the interim I have kept my relationships and made new ones. I’m excited to work with Marianne and her group and get out and start working with the NY agency community again. I really like all the art buyers I’ve worked with and have great respect for the whole industry.

Favorite recent art exhibit?

New York is such a vibrant city and I’ve always been such a visual person and love creative people, so I read as much as I can about art and see as much as I can. I just finished a class with ARTimeNY and toured every gallery in Chelsea. The founder worked for Art in America and does this class on the side.

We went to an unbelievably beautiful Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety (!) show at Matthew Marks Gallery.  Plus we had a viewing of the architectural drawings and photographs of James Turrell’s Rodin’s Crater in Arizona at Pace Gallery, which has now moved to the Guggenheim.  Truly amazing.

Other creative outlets?

Another life-long interest of mine has been jewelry design.  About five years ago I began taking classes at FIT and Pratt and now have my own line with about 30 distinct pieces that I sell at trunk shows and to friends and family.