Mj Wilson Photography - Internationally published, female photographer for Fashion, Lifestyle Portraits, Events, Luxury Goods, Weddings, Music, Models, Actor Headshots, Corporate

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New York City Photo Sessions – 02/13

I will be back in New York this week from Wednesday (2/27/13) thru Monday (3/4/13), for client meetings, and have several openings for photo shoots.

If you are interested in setting up a Photo Session, contact me ASAP to schedule a shoot date and time.

View the Contact Page for my NY or FL phone numbers or use the Contact Form there to send me an email.

Randy Gun: The Missing Music (Live from CBGB)

Randy Gun – Live from CBGB (Part 1)

It’s fun having a website and blog because people just contact you out of nowhere for different reasons. Some people contact me because they like what I am showcasing or writing about, or they write because they recognize someone from one of my blog posts, or they write to tell me that they are also a friend, of one of my friends, etc.

Because I am a Photographer, people sometimes email me, to tell me that someone is using one of my photos without permission.

Such was the case with the photo shown above.

Someone told me that they had seen this image I took of Randy Gun, in a blog post, and at first I thought it was Randy Gun himself, stealing from me again, like he did last year (there are dozens of Randy Gun stories/dramas, here on my blog, if you want to read them and see what a jerk he really is.)

When I went to investigate, I found that this blogger had taken my photo of Randy Gun (from 32 years ago), distressed it up, put a song list over it, and made it look like it was the actual back side of a released CD. (The front side of the CD was some ridiculous Daniel Boone cartoon, that I didn’t really get.)

I posted a reply, to this blog post, stating that they were infringing on my copyright, and that this CD didn’t exist, because Randy didn’t know about or have access to these photos of mine until we came back in contact with each other last year. So, he wouldn’t have had that image of mine, to use on a CD cover, that had been recorded in the past. (Plus, they hadn’t even invented CD’s yet back when Randy would have recorded this!)

When I started to pay attention to what was written on this “pretend” CD, I noticed that it had an actual set list, from a live gig, that Randy supposedly played at CBGB, in New York City, back on June 30th of 1982!

WHAT THE F***?!

As I started clicking around, I actually found this recording of Randy, from CBGB’s (in FLAC format) on a peer to peer website. I also found other information that stated something like: “this recording had been the last date of the band’s tour.”

Ok. Seriously?!

I could be totally wrong (but I don’t think I am), but Randy didn’t have a “band” to speak of, much less a concert “tour” for this band. After he was fired from The Necessaries in late 1979, he started playing with Peter Gordon and Love of Life Orchestra (still does to this day, in fact.) In July of 1982, (only a couple of weeks after this supposed big gig of his at CBGB), Randy was in Chicago with Love of Life Orchestra, to play a Summer Festival, because that’s where I last saw Randy (a previous blog post covers all this stuff.) I’m sure I would have heard of/been invited to any upcoming “show dates” he would have been playing at, had they existed back then.

Jesse Chamberlain and Ernie Brooks had both played with Randy in The Necessaries and Peter Gordon heads up Love of Life Orchestra. Jon Klages had played Guitar on Randy’s one and only 7″ single that had been released, so that was probably why these guys all ended up playing together for this gig at CBGB. It was just some friends helping another friend out.

Last year, when Randy was still thankful for all the photos I had unearthed of him, he made a statement to me, to the effect of: “It was unfathomable to him, that he didn’t become a Monster of Rock, based on how great all my photos were of him!”

Ahh…if it was only that easy, to become a Monster of Rock, all of my ex-boyfriends would have become Superstars!

Problem is, to become a Monster of Rock, you actually have to have good material, and be good at performing that material.

Once you hear these long-lost recordings, you will hear for yourself, why Randy never achieved Monster of Rock Stardom.

Please don’t think that I actually like this music – I am only posting these songs for the sake of the history of it all. For that, and that alone, it is interesting that someone took the time to record a full set, of an unknown band, back on June 30, 1982 at CBGB, and it’s amazing that they still had that tape, and posted it online 30 years later.

This set of Randy’s, from CBGB, was about half an hour long, so it is broken into two parts below, for your listening enjoyment.

Hey! I just read that CBGB is planning a huge reunion shindig for July of 2012. There isn’t a better time then, for this music to be unearthed! Perhaps Randy Gun will receive yet another chance to become that “Monster of Rock” he apparently wanted to be.

Randy Gun – Live from CBGB (Part 2)

Click Here to read more of my Randy Gun Stories.

New York City Photo Sessions – 02/12

New York City Urban Lifestyle Photo Session - Image by Mj Wilson Photography

I’ll be back in New York City next week from February 1st through February 6th and although it will be cold, that’s no reason not to schedule a photo shoot!

Are you ready to update your Facebook Avatar yet? If you are using a photo on your Facebook page, from more than five years ago, then yes, it is time to update your photo.

If you are in the market for new Headshots, Family Portraits, or if you want to book one of our Urban Lifestyle Photo Shoots (like the above photo), call 813.661.8331 to schedule your Shoot or use the Contact Page to send me an email.

Capturing the Moment or How I make your Photo say something about you

As professional Photographers we are always being challenged by our photo shoots. We have to take an inanimate and unemotional object (like a camera and a lens) and use those to try and create a photo that will stir emotion into the subject or make those that view the photo feel an emotion.

Over the years I’ve had to take that unemotional equipment and make Brides & Grooms appear loving to each other, when they were really very uncomfortable next to each other. I’ve had to take awkward musicians and help them to look cool in front of my camera and I’ve had to take beginning models and actors and teach them how to project their personality into their photos. I feel that it’s my job to find that one thing, that makes someone different, and to capture it on film for them.

Randy Gun - The Necessaries - Photo by Mj Wilson PhotographyI’ve had several people ask me this year (this means you Laura!) what was it (or who was it) that inspired me to become a Photographer. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the Internet and we didn’t have access to the depth of information that people have today. Back then, there really wasn’t any one person who influenced me. My father took up Photography as a hobby and he literally owned everything that Nikon made. He was excellent at shooting inanimate objects and took wonderful photos of all the countries he and my Mom visited, in their travels around the world. I found, that when I picked up that same camera, and directed it towards my friends, I caught something in them – a fleeting moment, a captured glimmer in their eye, and the end result was an awesome photograph. My father noticed this skill of mine right away and he asked me to teach him “how” to shoot people. It frustrated him that he couldn’t capture the same things that I did, when he photographed people, but back then I really didn’t know how to explain it to him, because I didn’t understand it myself. I just somehow “knew” how to do it. My inspiration was really pretty simple…I liked taking photos of beautiful people.

There are two things that I remember from back then…I remember seeing the movie The Eyes of Laura Mars and I was blown away by the visuals. Faye Dunaway played Laura Mars, who was a photographer, and she shot high fashion models on sets that had burning cars in the background. I was transfixed by it all. That was what I wanted to do! To be around that kind of energy and excitement and capture the kind of images that no one else was.

Then I read a statement somewhere that seemed to explain what it was that I was actually already capturing in my photos. I think I read this in a Photography Magazine or a book, and I wish I knew who said it, so I could give them proper credit. What I read was something to the effect that: “You almost have to want to make love to your subject in order to take a good photo of them.”

Randy Gun - The Necessaries - Photo by Mj Wilson PhotographyObviously you can’t take that statement literally, since I have photographed hundreds of women and men, over the years, and I have felt no compulsion to take any of them on as my lovers!

But that feeling is there subconsciously, each and every time I pick up a camera. I’m watching through my viewfinder for that one glance, that one glimmer in their eyes and if I click the shutter fast enough, I have caught it – a moment frozen in time. Back when I shot film I would always know, the moment I clicked that shutter, that the one image I had just captured would be the “best” image out of the bunch. It was just a feeling that hit me in that 60th of a second it took for the camera shutter to open and close. I just “saw” that photo the moment it was captured. I was so dead on with my feelings that nine times out of ten I was correct in knowing which image would be the best.

I want to point out how hard my job is now, when I have to go back and reshoot people who I had already taken awesome photos of, in the past.

For example – Last year I found six rolls of film that I had shot of my ex-boyfriend, Randy Gun. Randy was astounded when I showed them to him because he didn’t remember seeing the images back then (he did see them, but he just doesn’t remember.) He was happy when I sent him scans of the first three images that I found. He then became speechless the weekend I put all of the images online in a Gallery for him to see. After he had looked through all of them, he told me that he had never looked as good as he did in my photos (yes he did, he was just showing some humility.) He said I must have “beheld him” and he thanked me for taking those photos that made him look so good. I told him that I hadn’t done anything special…I had just taken photos of him and his band while they were playing a dive bar in Boston. I just happened to get a lot of good shots out of that one night because I was interested in my subject.

Randy Gun - The Necessaries - Photo by Mj Wilson PhotographySeeing dozens or hundreds of images at a time, is nothing new to me. I sort through hundreds of photos just to choose one good one. I really can’t imagine what it must be like, to be the person on the receiving end of my photos! It must be overwhelming to see so many good photos of yourself, from one source, taken at one time.

When I look back on these old photos that I took of Randy Gun, I can see how the statement I referred to above, was true in a sense. When I shot the photos, I had only just met Randy, so I certainly wasn’t consciously thinking about wanting to make love to him. Yet, the images that I took of him that night were powerful and emotional ones that still hold their own today. When I managed to catch a shot of Randy looking at me, through my camera lens, there was an emotion captured there from him, that was being directed at me. It makes me think that those images somehow told the story of what was to transpire between us later. It was almost like the camera knew our story before we even did.

Which brings me back to present day. How do you take photos of someone now, who you had already taken great photos of 32 years ago? That is a big challenge since the times have changed, the people have changed, the emotions have changed, etc. When I started helping Randy build a website last year, my images from 32 years ago were the foundation that his website was built on. We really didn’t need any other photos…except for the fact that it was 32 years later and he didn’t look anything like those images anymore. We needed new photos of him, ones that told a different “story” than those that I had taken of that 25-year-old guitar player, 32 years ago.

Randy Gun - The Necessaries - Photo by Mj Wilson PhotographyTherein lied my challenge. How do I trump myself? This was not just an “easy to do” photo shoot with a cute young subject. On top of being older and heavier and looking nothing like he did in the past, Randy also added the burden of trying to limit the time and place I would be “allowed” to take this updated photo of him.

For a couple of months we argued over the fact that we needed to do this updated photo shoot. At first Randy refused to do the shoot, then he made up a million different excuses on why he couldn’t come meet up with me, for a free photo session, while I was in New York. I begged him to listen to me and let me do what I needed to do, because this was all about him anyway. I needed time to shoot, and I needed different environmental backgrounds to choose from. We had the whole city of New York to work with and a week to do it in.

The end result? Randy limited my time by “allowing” me one half hour to do the shoot and we were going to have to do this half hour shoot late at night, in a darkened bar, where I would also be struggling with lighting. Did I happen to mention the fact that up to this point we hadn’t even seen each other in person for at least 30 years? All of this work and planning had been going on through phone calls, email, and texting. I even suggested meeting up for 15 minutes, the day before the shoot, so we could get over the weirdness of just seeing each other in person again, after so many years. He didn’t have that 15 minutes to spare me either.

So, Randy showed up for the shoot, it was dark, he was uncomfortable, and then he told me about how he wanted to be photographed, in a particular pose that had worked for him in the past, but it was a pose which looked utterly ridiculous to do now, at his current age.

I had less than 10 minutes to shoot an uncooperative subject in a hotel that was trying to prevent me from shooting in the first place. Because I know what I am doing, I managed to pull this shot out of that 10 minute time frame.

Randy Gun / Randy Burns - May 2011 - Photo by Mj Wilson Photography

Photo of Randy Gun / Randy Burns – May 2011 – Empire Hotel Mezzanine, New York City

I am very happy with the result and proud of the work that I did in that limited amount of time.

Are you wondering what Randy’s reaction was to the photo? He didn’t like it. He actually liked an image that I grudgingly took of him in that old favorite pose of his, just to get him to shut up about it.

This photo makes Randy look better than he actually does in person. The photo had to be touched up a lot, to make it look this way, which was another thing that Randy didn’t appreciate being done for him, (for free).

So there you have it. I certainly didn’t want to make love to Randy now (figuratively or literally) in order to get a good photo of him. With my background and skills I was able to produce an excellent photo from an unfortunate circumstance.

Another hazard of our trade is ending up with unappreciative clients. No matter how good of an image we have captured of them, there are those, like Randy, who don’t appreciate what you have done for them, be it from 32 years ago or this past year.

I guess I could pass on a quote to Randy, that my photo friend Clay Blackmore uses: “You might hate your photos now but I guarantee that you will love them 30 years from now!”

In the end I feel confident in my abilities and I know for sure that no one took better photos of Randy, than I did, 32 years ago.

As far as the image above, that I took of him last year – I did manage to capture the moment and the photo does tell a “new story” about Randy Gun. Also, it is probably the last good image that anyone will ever take of him.

Sad, but true.


Read more of my stories about Randy Gun

Nate Briggs: Kidnapped in Yemen

I took this Actor Headshot of Nate Briggs years ago, just for the hell of it, when he happened to be at our house one day.

Little did I know that Nate would go on to become a featured Actor, on The Travel Channel’s Got Home Alive series!

I have helped a lot of people get into modeling and acting, with my photos and with my connections with local Talent Agents and Production Companies. I’ve helped friends get on Disney commercials, Home Shopping Network Shows, National Product ads, etc.

We’ve always had a good laugh watching my friends navigate through their TV debut, where they always exhibit nervousness and bad acting, at first.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Nate did a really great job in this Kidnapped in Yemen episode. Nate was totally believable in his role and looked very comfortable playing the part.

Click here to watch a preview of the Kidnapped in Yemen episode, from the Travel Channel’s Got Home Alive series.

PS – My great photo of Nate earns him a spot in my Random Hotness category!


A Related Story:

Kevin and Nate have been friends for years and have always wanted to work on a creative project together. They are terrorizing me now, because they have decided to create a “Horror App” for the iPad.

Both Nate and Kevin are in the video for the app…Nate plays the part of a normal person while Kevin turns into a demon.

Kevin and Nate filmed most of the footage in LA last month and then Kevin green-screened his video footage here. The first time he put on his monster makeup, I couldn’t even look at him, because I didn’t want to remember something like that, being in my house. By the second time, I was helping him put the makeup on.

Their iPad App should be done soon, and I’ll be sure to provide a link to it, so everyone else can get scared!

Video Still from iPad Horror App

Jeff Thomas Photo Gallery

A full Gallery of our Urban Lifestyle Photo Shoot in New York City.

Urban Photo Shoot in New York City

Jeff Thomas - Rock Shots - by Kevin Shawn Wilson and Mj WilsonMy Musician friend, Jeff Thomas, drove down from Boston, and met us in New York City, so we could shoot some creative photos for his new website.

Photos can make or break a website and if you are using photos to sell yourself, or your product, then they shouldn’t be taken by amateurs, who basically only know how to press a button.

I am always encouraging clients to use a Pro Photographer and work hard to create the strongest images they can, in order to make their websites (and themselves) more interesting.

I had wanted to take Jeff down to Soho, to do some Lifestyle City Photos and Jeff wanted to shoot in Central Park. Kevin doesn’t like shooting against “greenery” and he had already scouted the neighborhood around our hotel, so we ended up doing this shoot on just two different streets.

Of course, I have to show Kevin in action…which means Kevin laying on the sidewalk or in the street to get a shot. (We got a lot of strange looks when he was doing that.)

I have to give a big “Thank You” to all the New York people who were walking on the streets we were shooting on. Most every person who came upon us, walked into the street, so they didn’t come into our shooting area. That was so amazing to us because in Florida, when we are setting up our couples on the beach, for Wedding or Engagement photos, no one seems to think that walking into our frame might somehow ruin our shots (or our Client’s shots.) We couldn’t believe how gracious New Yorkers were while we were shooting.

We even had a lady ask Jeff if we were shooting for his album cover. (Who does albums anymore?!) Another lady even went into her house and came out with her camera, so she could “chimp” shots over Kevin’s shoulder. Since we were done with the shoot by that time, she missed out on that.

Click below to preview a few of the images that we took that day or Click here to view a whole Gallery of photos from this Urban Photo Session.

Affinia Dumont Hotel

Stayed up all night last night packing and getting ready for our New York trip. We had to drive to Orlando this morning to catch our flight to JFK. We’re staying in a one bedroom Suite at the Affinia Dumont which got rave reviews online. This photo is exactly how our living room looks!

Got in about 3pm, ate lunch and crashed until 8:30 pm. Got out and walked up Lexington to Grand Central. Was going to buy subway passes but I left my purse in the room and Kevin only had $20 cash on him. That doesn’t get you very far in this city.

The weather is gorgeous…so much better than the 80-90 degree weather I had during my trip here back in August.

Found this photo with a great view of the city, which was supposedly taken from the Affinia Dumont (although not from our room!)

View of New York City from Affinia Dumont