Improvisor Portraits – New York City

The past six months have been unexpectedly busy for me, and one to-do list item that got massively delayed was reviewing the huge batch of portraits I did in December 2012 for my Improvisors series. (If you haven’t seen this project, check out my website or my earlier blog posts about it.)

By the end of 2012 I had been working on this portrait series for a while, but all my portraits were made in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I was dying to explore other improv communities. So, when an opportunity came up to tag along with my fiance on a short-notice work trip to New York, I didn’t hesitate.

New York is one of the improv meccas. Aside from being the world headquarters for all types of theater, and a major overall talent market, there several improv training centers, including Upright Citizens Brigade, Peoples Improv Theater and Magnet Theater. Unfortunately, none of my personal connections were in the NYC improv scene, so when I suddenly had to find a venue and spread the word in less than two weeks, I was in a jam.

I reached out to two improv veterans who have performed in taught in New York, and who had already participated in my Improvisors project–Rachel Hamilton & David Razowsky. (If you enjoy improv, but don’t know who these people are, stop reading this blog post and look them up immediately!!) They saved the day. With their help, I was quickly connected to the folks at Magnet, who graciously invited me to shoot at their theater. I ended up getting great promotional help from Magnet, UCB and PIT, all of which spread the word about my project to their members. I love the improv community!

My bulky lighting, backdrop, camera equipment, and computer got packed into 5-6 large cases and put on a plane. There was a lot of production involved with taking this project on the road. More than I had expected. But it all worked out in the end. I got great help once I arrived in New York, particularly from Magnet’s Quinton Loder.

When all was said and done, the trip was an incredible success. I got a phenomenal turnout—62 people over two days! I shot for about 3.5 hours each day, so for those keeping track—that’s one portrait about every six and a half minutes, with no breaks!! Many people took time off from work and braved cross-town traffic in Manhattan just to participate. I am so grateful.

And the results?

Well, you be the judge. Here are just a few of my favorite images from those two days in New York City, which I just now had time to process after much delay.