Blog #201   4/11/17


Acrobats in the cast of Pippin: Viktoria Grimmy, Yannick Thomas, Lolita Costet, Orion Griffiths

For the revival of the great Broadway musical, ”Pippin,” by producers Barry & Fran Weissler, we were commissioned to make advertising photographs and the poster for the marquee.

My good luck was that in this revival, acrobats would perform throughout the play.  Working with these marvelous talents proved to be one of the richest experiences I’ve ever had.  Even more than the dancers I’ve so often photographed, the acrobats could do things with their almost superhuman bodies that are nothing short of astonishing.  Besides being brilliantly trained, they are utterly fearless. There was nothing I asked for that they wouldn’t or couldn’t do, with joyful abandon.

I directed, “Throw her to the ceiling and at the same time spin her around.”
Performers Lolita Costet and Yannick Thomas

A director’s delight: For this photograph of Viktoria Grimmy, I said “At the top of your leap, bend backwards and laugh at the camera.”

There was no direction I gave that was greeted by the slightest hesitation.

Orion Griffiths “stood” on his hands, legs in the air: I said, “Let your legs down very slowly; do not let them drop!“

To say “Thank you” after the joyous day of working with the four awesome acrobats, I made portraits of each.

Orion Griffiths

Lolita Costet

Yannick Thomas

Viktoria Grimmy

The set-up for this image.

My main idea – and challenge – was to make an image where the star of the show appeared to be bursting out of the photograph.

“Pippin” played by Matthew James Thomas

The “star” of this high energy picture was a great young fellow completely at home on the trampoline I used to help him soar into the air. He could do anything; the bigger challenge for me was the “exploding” factor:

Here’s how we did it.

We built a contained space to throw “bursts” of powder so not one molecule of it would get onto any piece of very expensive cameras, strobe packs, lenses, and other studio equipment.

With the “powder throwers” inside the enclosure, wearing hazmat gear, I’m set to make photographs.  And, Beverly is at the ready to help solve problems.

With each burst of powder, I make another picture.

We did NOT use talc which is a dangerous substance.  It is inert and if inhaled can cause a variety of problems, in addition to remaining in the lungs indefinitely.  Talcum powder should never be used by human beings in my opinion. We used corn starch which is bio-degradable.

With each image recorded on the screen, my assistant Bart Babinski watches for details.

From inside of the enclosure, the camera looks in through a special protective port.

Outside, I’m poised to catch each “explosion.”

Protection from inhaling the fine powder.

Vroom! Pop!

Of the hundreds of bursts we recorded, no two were exactly alike, giving me hard choices from an embarrassment of visual riches.

The Pippin poster

Glitterati Incorporated, the publisher of the Retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years is now offering the two- book boxed set at a discount from the original price. The set comes with an 11″x14” print of the buyer’s choice.