PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
When I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2019, I wanted to take all that I had learned from my decades of shooting photographs all over the world and share it with my hometown. My cousin, Jodi Weisfeld, was working for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and we talked about how great it would be to photograph for them, to tell their story with the intimacy of a local on an international stage.
My wish came true! The PSO’s wonderful Director of Communication, Julie Goetz, hired me to photograph the maestro, Manfred Hanneck, and off we went. We took the required shots, kind of like compulsories for figure skaters, then we had some fun. I had Manfred lay across a velvet sofa and I asked him what color he specifically associated with Bruckner’s symphony #9. He told me about a shade of green which I dialed into my light. We then went onto other music he had recorded, changing colors by completely personalizing the light in the photos.
Sean Juhl is a 22-year-old violist just out of Juilliard and the youngest member of the PSO. For his portrait, I was asked to use the symphony’s official model backdrop and a classic lighting style. Sean stepped onto the set, played his viola for a minute, and my strobe started popping. The rich, deep, solo viola Sean played was mind-blowing. Then it was time to make it my own.
I asked Sean to stab my lens with his bow. “I can’t do that!”, he said. When I asked why? He told me, “You have an expensive camera and I have an expensive bow!” The safety of our tools was worth the risk for a great photograph. I insisted, “STAB MY LENS!” In that moment, we created a photo together that established the look and spirit of my work with the symphony.