Kevin Steele

Chris Meloni and his Jet



Out in the current issue of AOPA magazine is actor Chris Meloni, photographed for the magazine back in late November.  I have to admit that not owning a TV means I missed a lot of TV shows, Law & Order being one of them.  I don’t think Chris holds that against me -he’s a really nice guy and we talked quite a bit about his time in NYC with his family and now his time here in LA.  Beyond his jump to fame with Law & Order he’s been busy with lots of film projects – from Man of Steel (!) to White Bird in a Blizzard. 

An avid aviator, he earned his full page in the pilots’ go-to magazine.

Here are some additional unpublished outtakes and behind the scenes:

Chris Meloni and his JetChris Meloni and his JetChris Meloni and his JetChris Meloni and his Jet

My Valentine’s date with Melvin Sokolsky

Melvin Sokolsky is an inspiration:  creative, dedicated and a man of strong convictions.  Along with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon he defined fashion photography in the sixties. But beyond Penn and Avedon he pushed the creative envelope with his surreal and original ideas.  The Bubble series created in 1963 for Harper’s Bazaar with model Simone Daillencourt is legendary.

I had the pleasure of visiting him in his Beverly Hills home on Valentine’s day. Melvin is curating an exhibition for a professional photography organization that I’m involved in (I’m the chairman of the LA chapter).  APA = American Photographic Artists and was formerly known as Advertising Photographers of America before the name change 2 years ago.  Each year APA solicits personal work for an exhibit: 100 images are selected from the thousand plus entries.  Called “Off the Clock” it’s work that is done for purely personal reasons, not commissioned or created for a client – truly personal work.  Previous curators have been from LACMA or the Getty, this is the first time  a photographer will select the 100 images.  After a one night show that draws close to a  thousand guests the exhibit travels to the lobbies of top advertising agencies in LA over the coming year.

After Melvin brewed coffee for Heidi, Lisette and myself we went downstairs to his office where books by Dali and Rene Magritte shared shelf space with Einstein and Gunter Grass.  Melvin has strong opinions and a unique point of view – he was given free reign at Harper’s at the age of 21 and never looked back, moving from fashion to advertising work to film and commercials. We talked about gesture, about people, about the changes he’s seen. Melvin will dive deep into a conversation and just as you feel you’ve moved into a different thread he will bring it back to the original thought with fresh insight: always exploring, always thinking, always looking, ever curious.  He and his wife Button were gracious.  Melvin definitely charged the creative batteries for me.

My Valentine’s date with Melvin SokolskyMy Valentine’s date with Melvin SokolskyMy Valentine’s date with Melvin SokolskyMy Valentine’s date with Melvin Sokolsky

Andy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for Backpacker

Terminal Cancer: what would you do if your doctor delivered those scariest two words? Andy Lyon went for a hike: 2655 miles from Mexico to Canada.

I was fortunate to be a part of Andy’s world in a small way:  I never knew Andy but felt his spirit powerfully from Casey’s story –  from the backpacking forums and cancer communities – from connecting tearfully with his family at home in the hills of northern California. A home where I photographed, from boxes brought out from tender storage, that which was such a core part of his life on the Pacific Crest Trail from border to border.  Emotional portraits of objects. Objects with meaning.

It just came out this week in Backpacker magazine and I’m standing in the airport terminal’s magazine stand, waiting for my flight tonight, looking at the glossy green cover and realizing the power of the story that’s inside.  There are a lot of powerful stories in those magazine racks I’m sure, but this one’s close to me – it touched me as I’ve dealt with death and loss this year and it touched me as I’ve followed the forums and conversations that are alight in the wake of this being published.

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 19, he was optimistic: 90% of those treated survive. But in time Andy learned his fate was different and a few years later with  a looming terminal date he believed he would rather “thrust himself into the heart of hardship and beauty to seize control of his fate and challenge his disease in fight to the death.”

Please read Andy’s story in Backpacker.  Word is it’s the best story they’ve ever published.  It will stay with you.

Andy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for BackpackerAndy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for BackpackerAndy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for BackpackerAndy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for BackpackerAndy Lyon went for a hike – a really big hike – an incredibly inspirational story for Backpacker

Iphone shot: storm waves combine and explode

The best camera is the one you have with you.  Yesterday after sailing and some chowder at Brophy Brothers, Aidan and I took a walk down the breakwater that protects the harbor.  The storm swell was still pretty high and the waves would hit the breakwater wall and then ricochet back out to sea.  Occasionally the timing would be just right that they would intersect an approaching wave and combine into this explosion. Very cool.  And shot with an iPhone.

Portrait spread in Sports Illustrated

Out of nowhere, Alan Williams has become arguably the best big man in college basketball.   I photographed Alan last week for the December 1st issue of Sports Illustrated. A UCSB senior and rising star he’s a gentle giant, power below the calm surface.  Like on ocean swell that rolls calmly until the shore demands action he’s an athlete gaining momentum: 2014 Big West Player of the Year and the top NCAA Division 1 rebounder while bringing over 21 points per game.

Usually it’s the middle lands or East Coast of the USA that bring thebasketball stars, to contrast Alan’s pacific place we set up on the beautiful beach bluffs of the UCSB campus.  I asked Alan the night before what he loved to listen to and so we had Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” album on the portable speakers as our soundtrack.

Scouting the bluffs the day before I knew there were a few great options: up on the top of the bluffs looking out to sea and down below on the sand. The tide was a full high tide and there was a big swell with overhead set of waves.  More than once we got wet as an eager wave washed into us down on the sand – wet shoes, wet beach blanket, my clothes soaked from laying in the sand….

Here is the published spread in Sports Illustrated along with a scouting shot, a behind-the-scenes shot up on the bluffs and one of the outtakes:


Portrait spread in Sports Illustrated
Portrait spread in Sports IllustratedPortrait spread in Sports Illustrated

Summer Road Trips – vintage Airstream

I picked up a vintage 1965 Airstream this spring and it’s been used both as a production trailer for location shoots and as a prop on a national non-profit health campaign. For a clothing brand shoot in Colorado in mid-summer we took it from California to Denver and then took the slow roads back through the mountains, deserts and canyons, pulling back into California on Route 66.

I’ve nicknamed the ’65 Airstream Safari “Lucy” for the spanish  “lucia” for “shiny”.  I was also thinking a 007 inspired theme as homage to the previous owners (produce the Bond films).  But Lucy fits.

I can’t show the resulting client work from these shoots (or even much of the behind-the-scenes) till the campaigns launch but here are a few I can share:

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