Blake Little, Preservation

One of my favorite clients is Blake Little. I've known Blake for twenty years. He's the first call I make when I need a remarkable photographer for a project. Blake is also able to make me look halfway decent in photographs. The upside of this is that I look good in a headshot, the downside is that someone meets me in person and says, "oh, hmm."

A few years ago, Blake asked me to design his book, Dichotomy, followed by The Company of Men, and Manifest. I'd love to say they are incredibly challenging, but this is proof that it's hard to go wrong with great content.

Blake's most recent book, Preservation, is about to be released and there will be an exhibition of the work at the Kopeikin Gallery in February. Blake's work has an inherent sense of energy. Whether it's a piercing gaze, or coiled strength, or kinetic motion, the subjects share an intensity of power. The Preservation images have the same quality, but in this case, the energy and motion is frozen. The subjects appear to be unexpectedly trapped in amber. The result is a cross between a Rodin sculpture and frozen figures from Pompeii.

I thought I was being radically alternative to create an ultra-rigid grid and system for the typography as a counterpoint to the fluid imagery. But I have a feeling it's an instance of a designer getting caught up in the tiny details and saying, "But don't you see, the missing cross-bar on the 'A' changes the meaning entirely."

Oh, To Be 80 Again

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Blake Little photographer, 1997

It’s Wednesday, and I’m on the road to the AIGA Make Think Conference in Memphis. I’ll do my best to post about the conference (and not the standard press release stuff) over the next several days. Yesterday, I needed to find some images for a Japanese magazine including a portrait of Noreen and me. Now we have the official AdamsMorioka headshots that have been forced down everyone’s throats, but I came across all of the old images as well. So for a walk down memory lane, we will prove that we’re not so vain that we won’t remind people what we looked like 15 years ago (thinner and darker hair).

Noreen named the image above, "The War Bride" photo. We were trying to be serious in the hopes that people would believe we weren't just happy and clueless nitwits.

This photo was made for a Strathmore case study promotion. They asked us to look "professional". I think we look more like extras on LA Law.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Penny Wolin photographer, 1995

We were working on a book for David Hockney. On our first visit to his studio on Mulholland, Noreen asked for Gin and Tonics and for him to take Polaroids of us and make art. He gave us the Gin and Tonics, and kindly took Polaroids and made cool printouts.

David Hockney, Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, 1998

When we spoke at the Aspen Design Conference, we brought matching sweater without any planning. Being from LA, we aren't sweater rich, and these were the ones we bought at the Norway pavilion at EPCOT. In the middle of this bike ride, Noreen passed out in front of the Jerome Hotel. She begged for us to leave her, but it seemed wrong to leave a half-conscious woman lying on the sidewalk.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Aspen, 1996

A large French design company had expressed interest in merging with us. We thought this was a good excuse to go to Paris for a few days. The highlight of the trip involved Noreen, the Louvre, off-limits areas, security guards, and a chase. After meeting us, the French company owners politely said good-bye with a terrified look on their faces.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Michael Boshnaick photographer, 1999.

Jump forward to last year and our trip to South Africa for the Design Indaba conference. We spent several days on safari which was truly life-changing. I was concerned that Marian had been given the rifle, but was reassured that it only had 2 bullets, so she couldn't take us all out.

Donald, our ranger, Marian Bantjes, Michael Boshnaick, Sean Adams, Noreen Morioka, Rattrays South Africa, 2008

Surprisingly, the media in Capetown was deeply involved with the Design Indaba conference. It was great to see mainstream media cover all of the design arts and designers so passionately. The Design Indaba staff were incredible at organizing the interviews. As you can see, we have graduated to looking very mature and professional. Or we look like morticians.

Noreen Morioka, Sean Adams, TV crew, Capetown South Africa 2008.

Little things mean the most

Samuel Jackson, Blake Little Photographer

This is how it usually goes down: I’m asked to speak somewhere. I send my bio and headshot. I am greeted at the conference by the organizer who has a look of horror on his or her face. Why does this happen, you ask? It’s because there is a huge disconnect between my headshot and the reality. This is the problem when you ask one of the best photographers in the industry to shoot you. Blake Little has made a long and successful career photographing entertainment and sports celebrities. He makes everyone look amazing and unique. Last week, I had a new headshot made. Primarily because that look of terror on people’s faces was increasing, as I was five years younger in the last headshot. And for those of you who still ask how I get my hair this color, I don’t. It happens by itself. Without the help of Gill Hodgson (Mick Hodgson of Ph.D’s wife) at Taboo Hair Care, it would be a wacky, crazy, wavy mess. So here’s the secret: get a haircut by one of the best people in town, have your photograph made by a famous celebrity photographer, and retouch the hell out of it.

Mischa Barton, Blake Little Photographer

Aaron Eckhart, Blake Little Photographer

Vince Vaughn, Blake Little Photographer

Sean Adams with major retouching, Blake Little Photographer

Sean Adams, no retouching, no good lighting, no celebrity photographer