My Life As A Production Still Photographer

What do House of Cards, Whale Wars, Michael Jackson’s Beat It, the Walking Dead, Parks and Recreation, Wedding Crashers, and Sex in the City 2 all have in common?

I’ve photographed members of their casts and crews!

Being a photographer is reason enough to be somewhere special and meet interesting people.  If you shoot production stills long enough, you’re bound to get a shot of someone who makes it big, right?

Below are some of the most famous/ interesting/ accomplished/ noteworthy people I’ve ever met while shooting production stills!

JoshJamesJohnnyMartyrRachelPearl4117812518_4820e984e0_b
© 2002 Johnny Martyr | Pentax ME Super | Pentax SMC-M 50mm 1.7 | I don’t recall the film but it was inadvertently cross processed!

I took this photo circa 2002 during a short student film called Anathema.  And while the movie didn’t get too far, much of the cast/crew later found awesome jobs in media.  I’m in the middle, taking this cross-processed photo in a mirror, getting suited up as a masked extra.

Josh James on frame left was the film’s writer/director.  Today he’s a master projection artist, covering historic architecture, people, and anything else he can find with art video.

On the right is the ever spunky, ever alluring Rachel Pearl who has had a hand in just about every form of media imaginable but I’ll always admire her most for her seductive photo essay in SL Magazine; A Love Affair with a Slick City.

JasonLevyJohnnyMartyr4117813626_3c034d4681_b
© 2002 Johnny Martyr | Pentax K1000 or ME Super | Pentax SMC-M 50mm 1.7 | Kodak BW400CN | Processing by Coopers Camera Mart

Jason Levy is the man who is about to take this actress’s nose off with the clapboard. Today he’s a quiet graphics technician with television empire Discovery Communications.

PatrickKeeganJohnnyMartyr4117038639_96d467e5df_b
© 2002 Johnny Martyr | Pentax K1000 or ME Super | Pentax SMC-M 50mm 1.7 | Kodak BW400CN | Processing by Coopers Camera Mart

The guy with the Aaton Minima Super 16 camera is none other than Patrick Keegan, a veteran producer for Animal Planet, responsible for hit shows like River MonstersWhale Wars and so many more.

Patrick and I became close pals during filming and his wife Becky is a local theatre starlet who even introduced me to my wife!  But more on that in a moment!

craiggroup
© 2004 Johnny Martyr | Pentax K1000 or ME Super | Pentax SMC-M 50mm 1.7 | Kodak BW400CN | Processing by Coopers Camera Mart

Craig Pearlman was a cast member in another student production that I photographed, Trench De Vie.  Trenche won a few local awards and Craig went on to act in several episodes of Parks and Recreation aswell as Homeland.  Massive Claire Danes fan here, wow!

AmyBarnesJohnnyMartyr311386420_0d37b0bc77_b
© 2004 Johnny Martyr | Pentax K1000 or ME Super | Pentax SMC-M 50mm 1.7 | Kodak BW400CN | Processing by Coopers Camera Mart

Amy Barnes was the cinematographer for Trenche.  She recently left her position producing AMC’s hit zombie drama, The Walking Dead.  Onto even cooler things, I’m sure!

BobGiraldiJohnnyMartyr4170469474_61a82c8f1c_b
© 2008 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikon 28mm 2.8 Series E | Fuji Superia 100 | Processing by Penn Camera

Bob Giraldi directed Erickson Living’s 2008 Open for Optimists TV ad campaign.  Giraldi’s career is extensive.  He even won NYF’s Living Legend award in 2011, but he is best known for directing Michael Jackson’s music video, Beat It.  On set, Bob was friendly and talkative yet very focused and detail oriented.

IanAxlirodJohnnyMartyr4118032148_e68b07631c_b
© 2008 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’D | Fuji Pro 160S | Processing by Penn Camera

Then there’s Ian Axilrod, all around good guy and another film enthusiast.  Ian wrapped  the final season of House of Cards last year but has worked all over the Baltimore Washington metropolitan area.  He spent some time in NYC to work on Netflix’s Daredevil.  Awesome series!

IanAxilrodJohnnyMartyr4698840108_f0ca56b16b_b
© 2011 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM2n | Nikkor 105mm 1.8 AIS | Kodak Ektar 100

Baltimore’s most prolific production still photographer, Bill Gray was unavailable when Ian got married in 2010 so I was fortunate enough to snag up that gig!  Thanks for giving a little guy a big break Bill!

NickHuynhJohnnyMartyr3546432011_7885cbe2f2_b
© 2008 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’D | Fuji Pro 400H | Processing by Penn Camera

This is Nick Huynh looking uncharacteristically serious on the Open for Optimists shoot.  He was the film loader, keeping the Super 16 mags ready to burn!  Nick shoots on vintage film cameras too.  He immediately spotted my gear and we started talking.  Nick left Good Ole B-More for NYC where he loaded film for Sex in the City 2 (I’m a bit of a closet SITC fan!) among numerous other movies!

JohnnyMartyrIanAxilrod
Photograph by Nicholas Huynh

Before Nick split town, he took this fun double exposure of Ian and I at dinner in Silver Spring, MD.

MarkWarpoleJohnnyMartyr4169671747_2801b299a3_b
© 2008 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikkor 50mm 1.6 AIS | Fuji Superia 100 | Processing by Penn Camera

Here’s Mark Warpole pulling focus on a massive Angenieux 24-290mm Optimo lens. He was also assistant Camera Op for Wedding Crashers and a ton of other great TV shows and movies!  I’m really digging The Eighties!

JimKrutJohnnyMartyr4129130015_283c13f214_b
© 2009 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’D | Kodak TMax P3200 | Processing by Penn Camera

Jim Krut not only played the infamous Helicopter Zombie in George Romero’s 1978 horror classic Dawn of the Dead, he also starred in the Christopher Durang play, Sister Mary, that my friend Becky directed in 2009.  Being a huge Romero fan, I was thrilled to do their production stills.

StephanieLeeJimKrutJohnnyMartyr4129129333_fdce93c9fe_b
© 2009 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM or FE | Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’D |Kodak TMax P3200 | Processing by Penn Camera

Then there was this exceptionally talented and cute young local actress on stage with Jim.

Before rehearsal got started, this cute actress looked down at my Nikon’s and rolls of Kodak TMax P3200, and said “nice cameras!”

StephanieLeeJohnnyMartyr4091043697_273d619d05_b.jpg
© 2010 Johnny Martyr |Nikkormat FTn | Nikkor 50mm 1.4 SC | Agfa Vista 400

This girl turned out to be a lot of fun and I followed her around on other sets where she was acting.

JohnnyMartyrStephanieClaton4437816452_0def016822_b
© 2010 Johnny Martyr |Nikkormat FTn | Nikkor 50mm 1.4 SC | Agfa Vista 400

She co-starred with Clayton Stocker Meyers in a Josh Schmidt movie, Vacillator.

StephanieLeeJohnnyMartyr4435007452_d8b5489b14_b
© 2010 Johnny Martyr |Kodak Retina IIIc | Schneider Kreuznach Retina-Xenar 50mm f2 | Agfa Vista 400
46303_437103688977_2918378_n
© 2010 Johnny Martyr | Agfa Optima Parat | Agfa Color Solinar 30mm 2.8 | Fuji Superia 100

We went out to eat often and the conversation was always lively.  She was a beautiful subject too!

33440_446138328977_8224371_n
© 2010 Johnny Martyr | Leica M6 TTL | Voigtlander 75mm 2.5 Heliar | Fuji Pro 400 H
JohnnyMartyrStephanie35
© 2015 Johnny Martyr |Nikon FM2n | Nikkor 35mm 1.4 AIS | Ilford Delta 3200 @ 6400 | Kodak HC110b
StephEktarEyesJohnnyMartyr
© 2010 Johnny Martyr | Leica M6 TTL | Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 Nokton | Kodak Ektar 100

That cute young actress said “yes” to me some years later and we didn’t become movie or TV stars but we did become Martyr & Lee Photography!

As I look back at all these images and think about the times they were taken and their new context today, it helps me remember how every gig can lead to so much more than one could imagine! Where will your next shoot take you?

Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “My Life As A Production Still Photographer

  1. What a wonderful adventure to write about, in your usual crafty, clever style! Soo thrilled that Steph recognized the way to your heart was noticing your love of photography and your unique camera tools!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s