A Down Under Shooting In The City of Brotherly Love
Late last month, you may remember that I was on a panel at NoirCon 2014 in Philadelphia.
Well, not just on a panel. I ended up being the moderator of it. This after a long day of work, getting stuck in Philly traffic, and a couple of Yuenglings.
No telling how that could have ended up.
Actually, it all came off swimmingly well. The panel was fun, my TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND colleagues did great, Paul Charles was a cool addition, and we all had a lot of fun.
But the other cool – nay, REALLY cool – part was that I got to finally meet Andrew Nette. Andrew hails from Melbourne, Australia, and as per his website, he’s “a writer, reviewer, film lover, pulp scholar and lover of all things noir.”
My kinda guy.
I can’t remember when, exactly, I started reading his Pulp Curry blog and following @PulpCurry on Twitter. But I knew there was a connection. We dug the same movies, the same books. And he opened me up to a lot of new fiction and writers. In fact, I’m reading one of his recommendations now. Thanks to him, my “To Be Read” book list is bigger than it’s ever been.
Oh, and he’s a huge Springsteen fan as well.
Anyway, when I found out he was coming to NoirCon, I dropped him an email. I told him I’d love to do some portraits of him when he was in town. His response was enthusiastic, as he said he needed some new author shots. He has some new work coming out so he knew it was time for some cool new shots.
This is one busy guy. His first novel, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-nineties was published in 2012 by Snubnose Press. Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980, a non-fiction book he is jointly editing, will be published by Verse Chorus Press in late 2015.
He is one of the founders of Crime Factory Publications, a small Melbourne-based press specializing in crime fiction. He co-editors its magazine Crime Factory, and co-edited its publication Hard Labour, an anthology of Australian short crime fiction, and LEE, an anthology of fiction inspired by American cinema icon Lee Marvin.
His short fiction has appeared in a number of print and on-line publications, including Beat to a Pulp Hardboiled 3, Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels, Blood and Tacos, The One That Got Away, Phnom Penh Noir and Crime Factory Hard Labour.
His reviews and non-fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Age, Guardian Australia, Kill Your Darlings, King’s Tribune, The Wheeler Centre Dailies, Criminal Element, Crime Fiction Lover, Overland, ManAnarchy, Contraprasso Magazine, Crikey, Metro Magazine, Time Out Melbourne, Australian Author and Noir City, the magazine of the U.S. Film Noir Foundation.
He is one of the recipients of the 2015 Australian Film Institute Research Centre Fellowship, examining the impact of Crawford Production’s TV shows, Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police on popular conceptions of crime and policing in sixties/early seventies Melbourne.
Oh, and Andrew is on the committee of management for the Australian Crime Writers Association.
Apparently, he sleeps too. I just don’t know when.
So, I was thrilled he had some time for us to make some pixel magic. I had grand plans for the portrait session: Get down to The City of Brotherly Love with enough late-day light left to do some natural light portraits. I’d scout first, find some cool spots to put a crime fiction author and noir lover in, and make some cool portraits.
The getting down there I did. The scouting I did. The locations I wanted, I found. Except when I called Andrew’s U.S. cell phone, I couldn’t reach him.
As my natural light died, and the day turned to evening, I had to go into the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art and get ready for my panel.
It was there, across the crowded room, that I finally found him. I knew it was Andrew from pictures, he knew it was me because I had my camera in my hand. After emails and tweets to each other from a long ways off, we finally shook hands.
And hour or so later, after my panel, Andrew and I shook hands again. He still wanted his portrait done – could I do it?
Well sure! You don’t come all the way from Australia to Philly and not get your portrait done… JerseyStyle!
I said just give me a minute, I wanted to scout. I left him talking to Jen Conley, editor of Shotgun Honey and fellow TROUBLEmaker, and Erik Arneson, another writer dude, as my mind raced for solutions.
I got lucky. In very short order, I found three different backgrounds that could give me some cool ambient light that I could then supplement with a little square LED light (about the size of a deck of cards) I had in my bag (one similar to this one). I had wanted to try this little LED light rather than a Speedlight for a while, and this would give me the chance.
I went back, got Andrew and the shoot was on.
Camera in my right hand, LED light in my left, Andrew and I moved fast and loose. I was taking advantage of roll-down security gates, stucco, porch lamps and anything else that gave me good, gritty mood.
As you can tell, I was shooting at high ISO without a tripod so I pulled in some grain. But for this type of portrait session, I’m OK with that. It gives it a unique grittiness that a crime fiction writer should have. Not every portrait has to be super clean to be good.
The shoot was short, maybe about 10 minutes of actual time. I worked the scene to get a couple of different looks. We moved around. I did like using the handheld LED light as an accent light. Looking forward to trying it again.
Even though it was short, I snuck in another portrait too. It was Thursday, the day before Halloween (Halloween Eve?), so of course the parties had started. When this gal pulled out her key to get into a row house we were shooting next to, I just has to ask if I could nip a portrait….
It was great to meet Andrew in person, a true adventure in noirland. For all his hard-boiled writing, he’s a sweet guy and I would have loved to have spent more time with him (preferably with a Yuengling in front of us.) Hopefully, the next shoot I do with him will be on his home turf.
Check out his books and blog, especially his About page to find out all he’s up too.
Plus, it’s got a pretty snazzy author photo, too.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014