The 3 Second Session

Mitch Jackson photographed by John Ricard


I was photographing friend (and author) Mitchell S. Jackson in Langston Hughes’ home in Harlem. We did quite a few setups in a couple of different rooms. I used the natural light from the large windows in the brownstone, and I also used a few portable strobes.  At one point I was using the natural light to create a dramatic author portrait when I noticed Mitch’s son standing nearby.  I asked him to step into the frame and, according to the EXIF data, I spent exactly 03 seconds photographing them together.  I used my Leica T -a camera that I have set to B&W jpeg mode with no color back up file.

Back in the day, I never used to take different or extra shots. I was so focused on the “real” shoot that it didn’t even occur to me that I might create something special by photographing a scene that was not going to be featured in the magazine that I was photographing for. My mindset was that if the image wasn’t going to be published then what’s the point of creating it? These days I always take the opportunity to create or capture a special moment even if there’s only one person who will care about that image. Right now, the photographs that matter the most to Mitch will be the images that he will use as branding images.  Those are the images you will see in his author profile on a website or in a magazine. Those are the images we spent hours creating.  But 15 years from now, the image that Mitch will value most, is this one right here. The unplanned photograph that I decided to create on the spot.  The image that I would not have taken 10 years ago.  The image I look for every time I pick up a camera today…

By | 2018-10-21T19:32:54+00:00 October 21st, 2018|Photography|0 Comments

Finding Your Outer Voice with Helen Little

Helen Little is a broadcaster.  Not just any broadcaster, but in fact, the most heard non syndicated broadcaster in the United States.  She’s heard on 106.7, Lite FM, here in NYC.  She came to me for some branding portraits and our intention was to show the both her fun side and her professional side.  Since we were shooting in the studio it was important that we use wardrobe and emotion to communicate these different aspects of her persona.  Hala Moroc, who hosts montly, “Bad Ass Bootcamp” workshop/networking events, assisted with the styling.  Things go much smoother when you allow the shoot to be a collaboration between people who all understand the intention of the shoot.  I actually met Helen through Hala, so I knew Hala would be great to have on set.

After the shoot was completed Helen, we filmed a quick clip of Helen speaking about Finding Your Outer Voice.   She offers some nice insight about important it is to listen to your inner voice first before you can find your outer voice.

After Helen finished speaking about Finding Your Outer Voice, we started speaking casually about the photo session we had just completed.  Since the camera was still running, that conversation is available for you to hear.  As you can see, this branding session was a new experience for her despite her having been in front of the camera many, many times over her fabulous broadcasting career.

By | 2018-08-20T19:09:06+00:00 August 20th, 2018|Photography|0 Comments

Whitney Tucker, Yoga Instructor

From a recent session with Whitney Tucker. I try to make her class every Thursday morning at 10:30am at the Marcelo Garcia Academy. The class is a bit challenging. I’m always joking that it should be called Submission Yoga (after Submission Grappling). But the class is has a more pleasant tone than other Yoga classes I’ve attended. She seldom uses the long “official” names for the poses. No, ShavaPradaAsuana or whatever. Instead, there’s a playful back and forth between student and teacher and there’s a lot of instruction from Whitney about who is doing the pose “correctly” and what various students need to strive for in perfecting the poses. It’s a lot of fun.

She never let’s us meditate, but I guess nobody’s perfect 😉

Whitney also teaches a free yoga class on Saturday mornings at Athleta in NYC.

By | 2017-04-25T18:57:52+00:00 April 25th, 2017|Photography|0 Comments

Sparkman Clark, Actress

Sparkman Clark on Instagram

Sparkman came to my studio to update her images.    This was an easy shoot because she’s so comfortable in front of the camera and she has an ability to bring out different aspects of her personality visually.

She says, “There are so many actors I’ve admired over the years but its the obscure ones like Stanley Tucci that I really love.  I loved Johnny Depp because I loved how in every movie was a completely different person to the point that you didn’t even know what he looked like.  I wanted to do totally different characters and completely change my look each time.”

According to Sparkman, what brought her to me was her desire for, “Photos that you knew were by a professional photographer in a real studio.  Photos taken by someone who has been doing this a long time.  I wanted to be photographed din great clothing and have a real, authentic smile.  I wanted people to be able to see these images and envision me in a storefront window, selling their clothes or their product.  And that is what we accomplished.  We got so many great photos.”

By | 2017-04-20T01:32:55+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Glamour, Photography|0 Comments


Makeup artist Teddy Williams breaks his approach to creating this sultry look for Jordan

“The look I was going for was stark, but I also wanted to give definition to her eye,” said Teddy.  “I applied a burgundy, shimmery shadow from Mac into her crease to create definition.”  Product: Mac Cosmetics, Amorous Alloy.

Creating more definition with a smokey effect by using a pencil brush below her lash line.

Setting the makeup with a translucent powder.  “That keeps the look matte, and prevents shine on camera.  I wanted shine, just not all over.  I wanted the shine to be strategic,” says Teddy.

Applying a neutral color lipstick completes the look.

Carving out her brows to give definition and shape to them.  “Basically, I am perfecting them,” says Teddy.

Going under her eyes to clean up the under eye shadow.  “I want to make sure it is smooth and not messy,” says Teddy.

By | 2017-02-14T15:34:48+00:00 February 14th, 2017|Photography|0 Comments


At NYFW everything centers around the models walking on the runway, but oddly, that’s the most boring part of the event.  The designer is showing a collection that is based around one thematic look and once you’ve seen the first 10 looks,  you pretty much get the idea.  There’s a much more diverse display of fashion outside the tents.  There’s a silent but colorful fight for attention out there.  Its common to see one attendee being photographed by a dozen photographers.  But photographing those moments doesn’t really appeal to me.  Backstage is another place where you’ll find endless photographs waiting to be created.  It’s crowded and hectic  and if I get an opportunity to make photographs there, I jump at it every time.

By | 2018-08-08T16:56:41+00:00 February 13th, 2017|Fashion, Leica|0 Comments

Becoming More Social (with a little help from Beyonce!)

My mother is one of the most sociable people you will ever meet.  She makes the people around her laugh, at any event she attends.  People remember her.  They remember things she told them in conversations, like where she’s traveling to next, or details about an item she was thinking of purchasing.  Growing up, I was very introverted.  Maybe it was because I just couldn’t compete her outgoing nature.  But as an adult, I’ve taught myself to be personable and yes, even memorable in my social interactions.  But truth be told, despite my weekly podcast and periodic You Tube videos and Instagram postings…I’m still very content to keep to myself.

I’ve come to realize however, that pretty much everyone considers themselves an introvert.  Just about anyone you ask, will tell you that are not comfortable in social situations…despite them appearing to enjoy themselves in social settings.  It is likely that they, like me, understand the importance of networking and connecting to actual living human beings, and they are willing to put in the work necessary to build connections that may be profitable in some way down the line.

Realize that the people you are talking to may not be any more comfortable than you are socially. They just know how to mask it a bit better.  Or maybe they allow themselves to get lost in the moment when the conversation gets interesting.  Like you, they’d rather be home reading a good book, but for this moment, their focus is 100% on the conversation they are in right now.

Understand that you don’t have to make more than 2 or 3 connections at any given social event.  You don’t need to work the room.  One deep conversation tonight, may lead to a dozen future gigs from that person in the coming year.  So be content if you only talk to just a few people in the course of the evening.

Create an opportunity for someone to start a conversation with you by being interesting in your mannerisms or your appearance.  When this is done in a deliberate manner, it is sometimes referred to as Peacocking.  The philosophy there is that you want to have the biggest, most colorful feathers in the room and people will naturally be drawn to your uniqueness and your confidence to stand  out.  I have a Beyonce t-shirt that I love.  She’s hardly wearing anything and she’s posed v-e-r-y provocatively.  If she were a random model, the shirt would be obscene. But it’s Beyonce, so anything goes.  When people first see the shirt their expression screams, “Is he actually wearing a half naked woman on his shirt?”  I will look down at the shirt my shirt, and then back at that person and say, “Don’t you just love Beyonce?”  And all is good from that point on and best of all, we are now in a conversation about Beyonce.  We’ve skipped all awkward, “Who are you” and “What do you do” chit chat and we’ve moved into a discussion about something interesting.

And that brings us to another point -if you get an opportunity to start a conversation, just jump right in.  Let’s say you’re on line to get a drink at a networking event and you make eye contact and see an opportunity to start talking to someone.  Instead of starting with an interrogation of that person, consider just staring right in the middle of a real conversation.  Make eye contact, then say, “Am I the only one hoping they have those little cheeseburgers as part of the hors d’oeuvres?”  You might think the person will respond, “Um, do I know you?”  But they won’t.  They’ll answer the question you asked and you’ll be in a conversation with them.  After a bit of back and forth, you can gradually get to the the “Who are  you” and “What do you do” small talk.

If you try out any of these techniques, let me know how it goes!

By | 2017-01-25T02:56:45+00:00 January 25th, 2017|Marketing|0 Comments

Capturing Family Memories

Admittedly, I don’t take enough family images but I am proud to have a strong vision in the images I do create.  I’ll go deeper into vision in a future post.   Although I am the only professional photographer in my family, I am cognizant that I am not necessarily the person best suited to persevere the family’s legacy in photographs.  Everyone in the family is equal in their ability to persevere the family’s legacy and memories.

To that end, I have encouraged my daughter to capture the events in her life from her own perspective using a Fuji Instax Wide camera.  It creates an instant print -what most of us refer to as a “Polaroid”.  These images are inherently special because only one copy exists of each image.  Each shot costs around 80 cents but it well worth it.  On a recent episode of my podcast (linked above), my daughter and I discuss how she uses this camera and we even show a few sample prints.

By | 2017-01-25T02:45:42+00:00 January 11th, 2017|Family, Podcast|0 Comments

Soft But Dark

Hairstylist Honey B

Model Anastasiya (before image)

I recently worked with Honey B to create a Dark but Soft look for Anastasiya.

Says Honey B, “I wanted a darker look, but not just the black and grey smokey look.  I wanted it to be soft but dark  I started with blacks and browns but I added some maroon and burgundy to really give it a more striking color.”

“Sometimes you get a little fallout from the glitter and it shows on her cheeks.  You can use a fan brush or powder brush to clean it up,” says Honey B.  Here, she uses a blush brush to wipe it away.

“When you’er applying eyelashes you want to apply the glue for the strip and then count about 30 seconds before you apply the lashes to her face,” says Honey B.

“I had had Anastasiya apply the base color herself to get a lot of pigment on her lips. She can apply a lot more pressure than I can.  After she did the base, I relined the lips and cleaned them up a bit, with a bit of concealer,” says Honey B.  Here, she lines the lip with black liner from LA Girl.

Photographer: John Ricard
Model: Anastasia / Makeup: Honey B.

By | 2017-01-25T02:45:18+00:00 January 8th, 2017|Beauty|0 Comments

Erica Mena, Prom Queen

My wife loves Reality TV.  I’m indifferent at best, but I must confess my love for Love and Hip Hip NY.  It’s dramatic, funny and much more real than people usually give reality shows credit for.  We’ve seen drug abuse, jail time, abortions and assaults on this series.  It doesn’t get more real than that.   They’ve actually filmed segments of 2 episodes of the show in my studio.  Pretty much everyone on the program comes across as “difficult” on TV, so I both excited and cautious when I was assigned to photograph Erica Mena.  And, truth be told, there was just a tad of drama on set for a few minutes, but I won’t go into that here…  Suffice it to say, knowing that we’d have a hairstylist, makeup artist, fashion stylist and nail tech on set, I knew this was going to be a long day.  I also knew we’d produce some great imagery when we were done.

By | 2017-01-25T02:44:21+00:00 November 19th, 2011|Glamour|0 Comments