Seattle Photographer Daniel Berman | Seattle editorial photographer | (206) 387-3767 daniel@bermanphotos.com

Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier for Cityvision

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At the firehouse, I’m on a shift rotation, 24 hours on, 48 hours off.

When I’m not doing that, I’m mayoring around the clock.

Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier for Cityvision Magazine

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Everett helping homeless for Cityvision | Seattle editorial photographer

Got approached to do a cool shoot for my longtime client, Cityvision, last month, focusing on the innovative efforts of Everett to combat the issue of homelessness.

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By opening new shelters and affordable housing, and stopping the revolving doors of the criminal justice system, Everett is finally doing something productive on the matter.

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The magazine’s art director had coordinated access to do the shoot on top of the Wall Street Building in downtown Everett. In my naivety I thought, ok, we’ll get to the highest floor, pop out a roof hatch, and be shooting in no time.

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But when we got to the 10th floor, the PR person let us know we went on foot from there. We emerged on a sub level of the roof, surrounded by a 6-foot-tall parapet. I couldn’t understand why we would do the shoot there — you couldn’t see anything. Then he pointed to the ladder. Did I mention I hate heights?

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My assistant, Matt Mills McKnight, and I worked out a plan to get the lighting gear up to the actual roof. We packed two heads into the beauty dish case, which I put onto my back. Matt carried my camera bag. Then we held on for dear life. The most impressive part though is that all three of our subjects were game to participate and climb too. What troupers! If nothing else, this job makes for some very interesting bar stories. Many thanks to City of Everett Lead Prosecutor Hil Kaman, Deputy City Attorney David Hall, and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson.

 

Stanwood Mayor Dianne White for Cityvision Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer

The new issue of Cityvision Magazine is out and features a few portraits from my shoot with Stanwood Mayor Dianne White last month. The mayor has been instrumental in bringing Amtrak back to the small Snohomish County town about an hour’s drive north of Seattle. More than thirty years ago, Amtrak decided they would be bypassing the area, and with it, the ability of many in the community to travel to Seattle. Mayor White was generous with her time and the shoot could not have gone more smoothly.

Props as always to Cityvision, and writer Ted Tautaskas for another fine job on an underreported story! Props too to fellow NW photographer Mike Kane for his striking portraits in the same story on mayor’s changing their towns.

Stanwood Mayor Dianne White poses for a portrait at the Amtrak station in Stanwood. White was instrumental in bringing train service back to the area for the first time since the mid-1960s. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine.

Stanwood Mayor Dianne White poses for a portrait at the Amtrak station in Stanwood. White was instrumental in bringing train service back to the area for the first time since the mid-1960s. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine.

Stanwood Mayor Dianne White poses for a portrait at the Amtrak station in Stanwood. White was instrumental in bringing train service back to the area for the first time since the mid-1960s. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine.

Stanwood Mayor Dianne White poses for a portrait at the Amtrak station in Stanwood. White was instrumental in bringing train service back to the area for the first time since the mid-1960s. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine.

 

Thanks for looking,

Daniel

Medical marijuana for Cityvision Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer

Lydia George and husband Jake George founded Greenlink Collective in Issaquah in 2010. They worked with the city to create a medical marijuana ordinance after an initial dispute that resulted a citywide moratorium on access points. The Georges hold containers of medical marijuana inside Greenlink. Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Lydia George and husband Jake George founded Greenlink Collective in Issaquah in 2010. They worked with the city to create a medical marijuana ordinance after an initial dispute that resulted a citywide moratorium on access points. The Georges hold containers of medical marijuana inside Greenlink. Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

A lot of amazing coincidences all had to line up for the scheduling that enabled these shoots for Cityvision Magazine to happen. They landed in my lap right in the middle of a bunch of other gigs right before New Year’s Eve — and, as you can imagine, getting ahold of people around this time can be a challenge. In the end though, Lydia and Jake George, founders of the Greenlink Collective in Issaquah, and State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, made time for me from their busy schedules. 

One important lesson I got out of my shoot with the Georges is that sometimes, you go set up all your lighting and then realize the best shot could happen if you turn them back off. That’s what lead to the huge lead image on the first spread! I liked the fluorescent lighting fixture above the small marijuana plants, and with my lighting, they weren’t coming out the way I wanted. So I turned off my umbrella and softbox, and shot natural light — exposing for the highlights near the bottom of the fixture. The result is very dramatic and a more interesting approach I think. 

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2011 Portraits of the Year — Seattle editorial photographer

Hello folks,

I know it is a few days into 2012 but I wanted to share some of my favorite portraits from the past 12 months. Portraiture is something I really enjoy because it can be such an intimate experience — or, in contrast, something very fleeting. It’s a total dance photographers do with their subjects. We are trying to elucidate a story visually, and make a connection with people. We want that glimpse at soul. Sometimes it is a delicate thing to do — but I love it.
It’s always a thrill to set up my lights (or recognize great natural light and rock that instead!). You’re trying to turn an unknown environment into something storytelling.

I have been fortunate enough this year to work with some fantastic new clients, such as DataSphere, the New York Post, Cityvision Magazine, Financial Advisor Magazine, The U.S. Department of Energy and Northwest Leaf and Seattleite. My assignments represent a huge gamut of subject matter, but I love thinking on my feet and bringing my own photography style to whatever I shoot — that’s part of the wonderful challenge of working with clients.

And to that end, I wanted to share a little bit of the back story behind my favorite portraits this year:


DataSphere

DataSphere, a Bellevue-based internet advertising firm, hired me to make portraits for their website. The client wanted to showcase their fun, unique corporate culture, for recruiting and marketing purposes. Along with my faithful assistant Mark Malijan, I photographed more than a dozen setups in a day all across their expansive three-floor office. It was a rush but a lot of fun to take my style and apply it to the client’s needs. I don’t think I will ever get the chance to set up an employee shot like the guys at the arcade one again. It was such a blast and definitely stands out as a very memorable assignment, this year and in my career as well.


the New York Post

One of my most high-profile shoots of the year came completely out of nowhere: photographing Gennette Cordova for the cover of the New York Post, back in June.

The cover image – I guess I am okay with all the text all over it 🙂

My friend Stephen Brashear referred the job to me and over the course of a week, I managed to make contact with Gennette and make her picture. This was my first shoot for the Post and I was totally blown away to see it on the cover. I got an email from the picture editor at midnight the day it was to come out. “Berman cover” was the subject line, and I just about screamed. It was my first national cover.

Cordova, you’ll recall, was sent a lewd photo by former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), in a scandal that became known as Weinergate. Ugh. Name aside, this was a really exciting shoot and to see the cover floating around national media sites like Gawker was another experience altogether. The Post hired me a few months later to cover Amanda Knox’s arrival in the U.S. — but more on that in my news photo of the year post coming up.


Cityvision Magazine

I have completed eight or nine assignments for Cityvision and it is just so rewarding to be working with them regularly. They run really interesting, informative pieces, that shine line on complicated issues in a relevant way. They do a great job, and my assignments have involved photographing politicians, mayors, and state senators, for stories discussing their governance work. It’s neat to meet people with power and try and make the same kind of connection I would with anyone else, to make a compelling portrait.

This was an interesting shoot because it all hinged on access to water — visually it would be tough to photograph a water story without it — but when I arrived, the fountain was turned off! A quick call from the Mayor’s PR staff to the control room staff for the arena helped get it turned on just in time. Remaining calm was key, and the mayor was a good sport about waiting for a bit to begin the shoot.

I also photographed more stories on water and on cities being inundated with public record’s requests.


Financial Advisor Magazine

My assignment was to photograph Saturna Capital’s Nick Kaiser for Financial Advisor Magazine. Saturna Capital has become renowned for their Amana Mutual Funds, which invests according to Islamamic law — and has done very well from their unassuming offices.

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Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital poses for a portrait at their downtown Bellingham offices October 24, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com for Financial Advisor Magazine

I worked with two Alien Bee 800s firing into a simple 40 inch umbrella and a bare 7″ reflector, plus some nice afternoon sunlight fill, to make most of the pictures.

Nick was really generous with his time and worked with me to make some pictures the client and I were happy with. More from this shoot in my recent post: Nick Kaiser for Financial Advisor Magazine.


Seattleite

I also did a shoot this year for Seattleite, an online cultura and lifestyle magazine that started in 2011. The assignment came courtesy a friend of mine, Erik Simkins, working as their photo editor at the time. My task was to photograph Jay Friedman for a story about his food lecture series, Sexy Food. He uses humor to make the connection between the things we eat and the stuff we enjoy. I wanted to make a portrait that captured that same fun quality. We shot inside of a beautiful old classroom on the University of Washington campus. No assistant for this one, like on most of my shoots, but atleast I got a workout dragging my lighting cases up three flights of stairs. No elevator. The new client was happy and I made some pictures I am happy with too, and that’s all you can ask for right?

I had an SB-800 firing into Photek Softlighter II up high and above him, with a bare sb800 firing for the rim-light in rear.

This is the one the mag ran online.

Personal Work

Sometimes the best assignments are the ones we take on for ourselves. It’s important to try out new ideas, test new techniques, and cover the events we want to cover — even if no one is footing the bill. Sometimes we are fortunate for a client to license personal work after the fact; but that’s not the goal. I do self-assignments to keep me sharp for when the phone rings. It keeps my portfolio current and lets me push new work out more than waiting for assignment work. It’s fulfilling and a big part of my personal goals for 2012.

The Emerald City Comicon was a self-assignment that ended up being licensed for SeattlePI.com. But before that happened, I bought my own ticket, rolled all my lighting gear through the concourses and hoped to heck nobody was going to ask me to leave. I set up in an empty corner of a well-trafficked area of the main room, and looked around for interesting people to photograph. There was no shortage. In contrast to most portrait shoots where I have between 5 and 50 minutes to photograph someone, I spent only a minute or two with most of these Comiconners. I think it kept them authentic. The hours I put into the shoot paid off because it was a great day.

I also went down to Occupy Seattle and made some simple portraits of some of the protestors. I wish I would have been able to go back down, but other assignments and work kept me away. Even so, the windy, blustery evening I spent down there was informative and useful. I made some pictures I am happy with and can at least say I photographed a little bit of a very important movement, in my own backyard.


Northwest Leaf

I also did a lot of assignments for a Seattle-based publication called Northwest Leaf that deals with medical marijuana patients and the industry. It has been so eye-opening to have the access I do on these shoots, and it pays off, because I am making images that are not being made anywhere else. I am getting a grounds-eye view of this burgeoning movement, and I am excited to see where it takes me next year.

This was such a simple lighting setup. Just a single 45″ Photek Softlighter II off to my left, in close to the subject, on about 1/4 power. No fuss, no muss, just nice soft light that let more attention go to the stuff in his hands…


2011 has been a great learning experience. I really pushed myself, fell some times and grew stronger from those mistakes. It’s only a mistake if you can’t learn from it, I feel. I just want to keep driving towards my goals and keep learning and growing with my photo family, as my buddy Pittsburgh photographer Jared Wickerham said so aptly. 2011 has been a great year, a fulfilling year and probably one of my strongest years. You have to really want it in this business, and I think about that everyday. I am so blessed to be doing what I love and know the amazing people I do these days in Seattle and across the country. The kinship and community in photography is like none other!

Thanks for looking, and if you made it this far, thanks for joining me on this journey.

Daniel

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke for Cityvision Magazine

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke has used past experiences as a recreational mountaineer to guide her decision making after two terms at the city's helm. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine.

I am happy to share this recently published shoot!

Back in late October, I photographed Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke for one of my favorite clients, Cityvision Magazine. It’s a beautiful, smartly designed publication covering local governance and the decisionmakers in our community.

I was assigned to photograph Mayor Cooke, a former recreational mountaineer, for a story connecting her past experiences with recent success guiding the city. She was a great sport, and anytime I can make a business portrait either outside or in a unique environment, is a success in my book. I photographed her in the courtyard outside of Kent City Hall. The mayor’s boots, crampons and hiking axe were an interesting contrast to her purple suit — and made for some neat pictures.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke has used past experiences as a recreational mountaineer to guide her decision making after two terms at the city's helm. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine. http://www.bermanphotos.com

Here is another tearsheet from the December issue.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke has used past experiences as a recreational mountaineer to guide her decision making after two terms at the city's helm. Photo by Daniel Berman for Cityvision Magazine. http://www.bermanphotos.com

Thanks for looking!

Daniel

Water conservation for CITYVISION Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer

Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, Karla Fowler of LOTT, Erin Keith of Lacey Water Conservation and Tumwater city manager John Doan at LOTT's Regional Services Center in Olympia, WA. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, Karla Fowler of LOTT, Erin Keith of Lacey Water Conservation and Tumwater city manager John Doan at LOTT's Regional Services Center in Olympia, WA. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

The business of governance and politics in Washington State is the domain of one of my favorite clients, CITYVISION Magazine. They investigate issues that sound like they could be boring on their face and make them approachable and relevant and a great read. Plus they run awesome illustrated covers. Lucky for me, when they call I usually get to photograph someone with a stake in something pretty cool. And shoot it my way.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

During what became a very busy week, I got the opportunity in August to photograph Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Olympia Mayor Doug Mah. Their cities and regional partners have been doing great things with water conservation and the article tells it a lot better than I could. It’s a great read. And I am really happy to be able to show these now that the story has ran!

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Click more for the behind-the-scenes details on this interesting shoot! (more…)

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