Joey Cocozzello-Master of laughter

My session with comedian Joey Cocozzello was by far one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a long time.  Joey’s a razor sharp whit, wild personality and ability to know the perfect punch-line leave you hurting from laughter and dying to hear more. Joey is originally from MN but spent the past few years out in NYC in the Bushwhick neighborhood working the clubs of the east coast and perfecting his game. He has recently moved back to MN to work on his new material and recalibrate. You can catch him headlining on stage May 19th at the Royal Comedy 2017 comedy festival in Hopkins, MN. He’ll be supporting national comedian Todd Glass as well as a host of other great local talents. Go support great local talent=)

Leon Frankel- A FlyBoy’s story

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It’s not often in life you meet people like Leon Frankel. Simply put, he was an amazing human being. A man that we should all strive to reflect in our own potential. He was also incredibly humble, but behind that was the heart of a lion. Leon was a young man from St. Paul, Minnesota when “The War to End all Wars” called him to action. He joined the US Navy and became a hero in the Pacific theater during the battle of Okinawa. The letter from his award tells the story of his bravery.

-The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Leon Frankel, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron NINE (VT-9), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-10), in action against major units of the Japanese Fleet off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Flying by instruments through a heavy overcast in a daring attack against an enemy light cruiser and a screening destroyer, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Frankel broke through the clouds and pressed home his attack to point-blank range in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire to score a direct hit and contribute materially to the sinking of the hostile cruiser a minute later. Subjected to a cross-fire of intense anti-aircraft fire from the cruiser and destroyer during his retirement from the strike, he brought his plane and crew through unscathed. By his superior airmanship and gallant fighting spirit, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Frankel upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander 1st Carrier Task Force Pacific: Serial 0308 (June 28, 1945)

Action Date: April 7, 1945

Leon not only distinguished himself in WW2, He went on to help form the Israeli Air Force. The was featured in the Netflix film “Above and Beyond”

In 1948, with the Jewish state about to declare its independence, Frankel traveled clandestinely to Israel. He joined the country’s first fighter squadron and flew 25 missions, ironically in the Czech version of Nazi Germany’s famed Messerschmidt-109.

He explained his motivation to fight for Israel in a letter last year to the Minneapolis StarTribune, responding to an Op-Ed column that labeled Frankel and his fellow volunteers as “American jihadists.”

“I could not stand idly by, with my experience, while a second Holocaust loomed, with the Arab nations telling the world they were going to destroy the Jewish state,” Frankel wrote.

In a 2012 article in the Minnesota Legionnaire, Frankel looked back at his time serving in Israel and its importance:

“One day during the war, I was in Tel Aviv, and planes were coming in from Europe, transport planes. I went over and the planes were full of refugees from the death camps. They were so happy to be in Israel. They were bewildered and bedraggled, and all they had were the clothes on their back when they got out of that plane. And you know what they did, they got down on their knees and kissed the ground.

“But at that moment, I knew why I had come to Israel. The Talmud teaches that if you save one life, it’s the same as if you had saved the entire world. That has always stood with me,” he told the Legionnaire.

Leon lived 92 amazing years. 92 years that he spent making life better for others.

UW Madison shoot for GX Magazine

Our latest shoot was reminiscent of my early mornings chasing surfers across the beaches of SoCal creating portraits for the Dawn Patrol series. Our client GX magazine commisioned us to shoot a series of environmental and stylized portraits of ROTC student and Womens Rowing powerhouse Brianna Dahm. Brianna is a bad ass and one great subject to work with. She allowed us to follow her to the Gym, to practice, out on the water, in the class room and anywhere in-between to create some stunning images. She will be featured in an upcoming fitness section in the magazine as well as online. A Huge thanks to The UW Women’s Rowing Teams, Robert Benson, Aaron Ansarov, Marc Acton, Alex Butterfield and Dustin Black.  Stay tuned-more adventures coming soon.

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SALESFORCE Corporate shoot for Optima Heath

We recently had the pleasure of working with San Francisco, California based Salesforce creating a set of corporate portraits for their marketing department. These are always a ton of fun as the shoots are rather fast paced and require quick reactions to catch just the right expressions. The clients were also coming from extended video interviews, so getting them thru without taking a lot of their time was key. Jayson, our creative director was excellent at directing the subjects and added a lot of good energy to the set. 2016 is of to a great start!

A HUGE special thanks goes out to J.Michael Tucker for recommending us. Check out his KILLER work=)

Salvation Mountain adventure

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I’ve spent a lot of my career as a photographer traveling across the United States. By far, some of my favorite destinations are in the south west of our great nation. In 2012 I visited Salvation Mountain about 2 hours east of San Diego. Built By Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain is his tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.” Leonard’s passion has lovingly created this brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture such as the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16, and the Sinner’s Prayer, but also including flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects. It’s truly worth the drive and is even more interesting at night. The location has been featured in many movies, most recently the Sean Penn film “Into The Wild” starring Emil Hirsch which tells the story of “Alexander Supertramp” aka Chris McCandles. Fortunately, a visit there doesn’t require that you give up all your worldly possessions and live off the grid. It’s open 24/7/365 and is located close to the Salton Sea and Slab City.SouthernCalifornia__303SouthernCalifornia__305SouthernCalifornia__310SouthernCalifornia__320SouthernCalifornia__323SouthernCalifornia__330

Characters for Padilla CRT

Our recent work for Padilla CRT featured in PR Weekly. Padilla CRT wanted to capture the unique spirit behind their employee-owners and how that synergy helps to create unique brands. The creative director looked to us for a series of images that were light hearted, dynamic and told a story in one frame. I believe we delivered well. We set up on location in small town Carver, MN to capture this classic gas station at dusk. One challenge here was shooting with traffic still flowing on the street between the camera and the subjects. Just a little patience and we had a set of great captures. The second day we had two set ups. The Highland Dancing/VR shot was done on location at the MN Renaissance Festival where a humid, but beautiful day greeted us. The final shot was a little slippery, but tons of fun to capture. We had to get a shot of the fly fisherman and the business man in a dark spot during sunset. My crew put a lot of work into getting this lit up and I ended up shooting it from the creek upstream while shoulder deep in rushing water.

Miles Between #5-Horseshoe Bend & Monument Valley

JT_HorseshoeBendAZ_galleryThe rugged and rocky landscape of Arizona, Utah and Nevada hold many awesome treasures that can be found easily off the roads. Out near the north rim of the Grand Canyon on the Utah/Arizona border there’s this cool Horseshoe bend in the Colorado river on an Indian reservation. It’s about a 20 minute hike from the parking area to the rim of the canyon, and not an easy hike if you’re out of shape, but well worth the pay off. There are no guard rails to keep you from falling so you’ve got to be cautious where you decide to shoot from as the rocks are slippery and covered with sand. The day I shot this there must have been a hundred other cameras going, and I knew I wasn’t shooting anything that unique, but I love the results and felt it worked well in the overall series of images. The whole area is just Heaven for landscape shooters with St. George, Lake Powell, Monument Valley and Ship Rock all within a few hours drive. This trip for me was more of a scouting expedition as I’d like to spend a week or so out here shooting day and night. Long night exposure especially.

Monument Highway Captured 3November2014 8:45am Exp- 1/2000 F/4 ISO400

Monument Highway Captured 3November2014 8:45am
Exp- 1/2000 F/4 ISO400

The day before I shot a scene of the road after a rain storm while heading to a BLM campsite. The light is just awesome out west.

Miles Between #4-Ogallala Prairie Fire

JT_DakotaPrarieFire2010_galleryOctober in the Dakotas is a particularly dry time of year, and it’s not uncommon to see smoke from the many controlled burns used to keep the grass lands of the Ogallala region in check from natural or man made fire starters.This fire was a mixture of both smoke and dust from the eroded prairies that was being carried by a strong wind storm. I was out in the Dakotas-Nebraska area checking out some off beat locations with my recently acquired D700 when I spotted this while leaving Crazy Horse. As I was heading south towards Alliance, NE. I saw this cloud of smoke and went up a hill to check it out. The road I had come up was smoggy as heck from the smoke/dust being blow all over and there was a grit that you could taste in the air. I found a forrest service truck with a Ranger monitoring the fire and inquired what was going on. He mentioned that they had a controlled burn that ran wild on them from the wind that morning, but it was under control now. I notice how the smoke and wind together made a eye shape that was kinda cool. who could resist shooting this? and even better, the only people seeing this perspective were myself and the Ranger.

I got busy snapping a few test shots and realized that the best way to get this would be to shoot a series of verticals and stitch them together since I lacked a real wide angle lens. Being that it was 5pm, and I was looking S-SE, the natural light was on my side. I set up a tripod and did two passes with about 7-9 images per series. In all, I was on the scene for maybe 10-15 minutes then on the road again looking for the next shot. Photo road trips are an inexpensive & awesome way to spend your time off. They allow you see things that put life in perspective, because were all small in the eyes of the universe.