Keeping it real in Miami by photographer Jeffery Salter part 1.
I love photographing people. Good natured, modest, down to earth, just like your next door neighbor who always has a cup of milk you can borrow. That’s why photography assignments to hang out and shoot portraits of reality television stars in Miami puts a smile on my face. Its always nice to see how “real” people live.
I thought I knew what a diva was however, the icing on the cake was when Siempre Mujer magazine commissioned me to photograph Laura Candeau and Iliana Lombardero, a mother-daughter team who are cake makers to the stars. They are the “sugar divas.” They have made cakes for Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, Lil Wayne and Pit bull to name a few at their bakery called Divine Delicacies. Watch them on Las Divas del Azúcar airs on MTV Tr3s every Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Speaking of icing on a cake….I had another slice when I received a call from the Tatler magazine in UK. The picture editor asked, “Would you like to photograph handyman and Rapper, Vanilla Ice, who has a reality show called “The Vanilla Ice project” with his kangaroo named “Bucky.” I said, “What? Ice Ice with his Kanga?” I asked the editor if I could have the Kanga on a leash held by Mr. Ice looking all gangsta and flexing his tattoos standing in front of his West Palm Beach mansion like blooming royalty. She said, “Bucky wears a collar so that may work”
When I arrived to Mr. Ice’s estate. I told him my idea and he said, “You don’t get it”. You can’t photograph the Kanga in the in front. I replied, “Okay do you have a pool in the back? We can do a shot by the pool with you and the Kanga.” Then Mr. Ice says, to me “You don’t get it?”
So I pulled back a bit and followed Ice to the backyard, where I saw Bucky in a Kangaroo mansion…. A very big pen. Mr. Ice explained that if I wanted to photograph him and Bucky it would have to be in the cage. I said, “Cool.” It wasn’t going to be this regal statement, but I still was going to get the best shot of Ice and Bucky cage be damned.
I had my assistants set-up a couple of profoto strobes with magnum reflectors for a bit of edge light, and I put a profoto ring light on my IQ260 digital back and Phase one DF+ camera.
Then Mr. Ice gave me the ground rules, this is not a trained kangaroo:
When you go into the cage avoid eye contact.
Never stand up, or be taller then Bucky the kangaroo (who at 13 year old was five feet tall), otherwise he will box you. I have been on my hands and knees before, but never out of fear of getting punched out by a kangaroo. I crawled in. Mr. Ice came in carrying a bunch of bananas. Bucky the kangaroo hopped towards the bananas. Vanilla started to feed Bucky and I made a few nice frames. Then I asked Ice to give me a serious rapper pose, flex his muscles, display his tattoos and give me a “Straight out of Compton” kinda look. He replied, “If I stop feeding Bucky bananas you might not make it out of the cage” Noticing that he only had two bananas left, I dispatched my assistant to go to a store and bring back another bunch of bananas.
After all the drama….Ice didn’t make the final cut….it was all about the “Bucky’. Reality Note to self. Never be taller than a kangaroo, avoid eye contact and they love bananas.
Luckily my next assignment didn’t involved kangaroo boxing.
When I was little we had a few gold fish in a simple round glass tank. They were always jumping out. No worries, “Squeaky” my pet Chihuahua was always around to “rescue’’ any “Free Willy” minded gold fish. This most definitely isn’t the case with fish who live in the luxurious aquariums made by the “The Fish Tank Kings” a Nat Geo WILD’s reality TV series . Fish don’t ever want to escape these elaborate sized aquariums, some are large enough to drive a car or two into. The first part of the assignment was to shoot an opening portrait of the Living Color Aquariums President & COO, Mat Roy. On the show he does the big reveal to clients whose custom aquariums have been finished. The second part of the assignment was environmental portraits and reportage photographs of the designers and craftsmen at the factory.
Although the picture editor wanted me to concentrate on the cast or on air talent of the show. What really touched my heart were these two beautiful ladies who labor away off camera making the most colorful, vibrant and super saturated reefs. They are the true stars.
The portrait of Mat Roy was a bit of a challenge. The editor wanted him to be inside a living aquarium. Luckily they had designed and installed an cylindrical aquarium at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium in which you could step inside a hole in the middle. This shot took for ever, in order to light it without reflections I had to put the camera on a tripod and do multiple frames each with the strobe at different angles then layer the images together in photoshop.
After doing a star turn working with fish tanks. I was ready for the big league. Next up Real house wives of Miami star Joanna Krupa who has appeared on over 100 covers world-wide including Cosmo and Shape has been named the sexiest swimsuit model in the world by magazines GQ, Maxim, who listed her as part of their “Hot 100” ranking of the world’s hottest women several years in a row and Playboy.
The location was a beautiful Miami Beach home that had a wonderful wooden dock with views of Miami’s city in the background. We had a full production team, hair, make-up, stylist, two photo assistants and one digital tech. The magazine needed five set-ups with different outfit on Joanna at each spot. In order to accomplish this in the four hour time allotted for the shoot, my team set up lights at all five of the scenes. Working with a super model like Joanna was great. She relaxed very quickly and knew how to work the light.