Rinat Halon

Photography ideas and information you need to give you results you desire.

Posts Tagged 'photograph'

Like any other young girl growing up, I looked up to Marilyn Monroe as the idol of beauty. Her perfect hair, her perfect smile, her soft voice, that sense of mystery her eyes reflected. She was the essence of what being a woman meant, all bottled up into one perfect looking model of femininity.

I never thought much about the influence Marilyn Monroe had on my definition of femininity until I had a photography job at a Marilyn Monroe spa. I was there to photograph the opening of this new spa location, and between the guests, the food, the drinks and the music just like in Susan Vega’s song, Marilyn’s face watched us from the walls. I was drawn into her photographs, all beautiful, perfectly depicting this ideal symbol of femininity. As oppose to my childhood when I only saw her outer beauty, now the mystery in her eyes pulled me in. It was almost like she was asking me to come in behind the perfect façade and meet the real Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe Spa Oviedo

Click here for the Marilyn Monroe Spa web site

Just as I was thinking that, Marilyn in the flesh came walking out into the spa, working the crowds, her presence so strong everyone stopped what they were doing to follow her outside and watch her perform “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” to the delight of the audience.

Singing Diamonds are a girl's best friends

Kelley Thomas Singing Diamonds are a girl’s best friends as Marilyn, click on the photo to see Kelley’s FB artis page

I have seen a few Marilyn impersonators over my career, but nothing like the quality Kelley, this Marilyn, brought to the most famous sex symbol in the world. It was as if she was channeling the real Marilyn. Right then and there I knew I wanted to get her into my photography studio for a photo shoot.

Having no idea of what I was going to do or what I wanted to photograph, when Kelley agreed to come to the studio I started researching Marilyn Monroe.

Knowing that before she was Marilyn Monroe she was Norma Jean. I searched to see what Norma Jean looked like. Coming across one of her earlier photographs, there she was: young, happy – and with a head full of brown curls, a cute smile revealing teeth that are not so perfect and playfully holding a camera. She looked nothing like Marilyn Monroe. She looked like, well, many cute Jewish girls next door, and could easily be mistaken for one of them. In fact, she reminded me of someone. Me. She reminded me of myself when I was 15. Before my TV show at 16. Before I became known. It was unbelievable, and made me even more curious about the mystery behind those eyes of the iconic Marilyn – how did she go from Norma Jean to being the world’s most known sex symbol?

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Norma Jean as photographed by her friend and photographer Andre de Dienes

First thing I learned is that the name Marilyn Monroe was given to her by the studios. In fact, when she first took on the name she had to ask how to spell it when she had to sign autographs. That tidbit of knowledge made me smile. Amusing enough as it is, it’s even funnier as I cannot seem to be able to spell the name Marilyn Monroe either. Every time I type it into this blog article the red spell check lines appear. On the other hand the name Norma Jean comes out naturally.

While researching online I came across a series of black and white photographs that stood out from the rest of the glamorized Marilyn Monroe photos. It was a black and white series shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt – the legendary life magazine photographers. Captured in 1953 at Marilyn’s back yard. As only good photographers can do in these photographs Alfred created portraits of her soul. Marilyn, wearing a black turtle neck, seems comfortable in her own skin. These are the only photos I ever seen of her looking real. Vulnerable. And a little sad. These are the only photos I ever seen of Marilyn where I could see Norma Jean’s soul reflected through her eyes.

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Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

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Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

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Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

I knew that is what I wanted to capture in my studio. I called Kelley and asked her to bring nothing but a black turtle neck.

When Kelley sat in front of my camera, Marilyn wig on and the black turtle neck, we started talking about Marilyn.

It was incredible to watch how our conversation was bringing Marilyn to life through Kelley right in front of my camera. Being the committed professional that she is, and such a sensitive soul, Kelley was able to follow my directions and at one point of the shoot I felt like it was Marilyn herself sitting in front of me, reminiscing on her days as Norma Jean.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

She told me that despite her world fame she was always very lonely. She told me about people she trusted manipulating and using her to their benefit. She told me how she had no idea she was going to become so famous, as no other actress before her ever got to be sp famous, and she felt she was not truly prepared for the pressures that came with the fame.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

That venerability, that sadness in her eyes that Alfred caught so many years ago – there it was in her eyes reflecting through my lens. We did it Kelley and me – we brought Norma Jean back to life.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I was a little embarrassed, but share with Kelley that the night before the shoot I dreamed about Marilyn. I don’t remember my dreams often, but this one was clear and concise. Marilyn said to me: “You and I have more In common than you think”. In my dream I looked at her puzzled, “Really?” I asked. She just smiled her mysterious smile and shook her head yes. “You’ll find out” she said.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Kelley and I looked at each other shaking our heads; we didn’t know what it could be. We laughed it off and kept photographing. Only later, when we were almost done with the shoot Kelley said: “You know, she really just wanted to be a mother. She had to get abortions 6 times. All the other actresses did as well back then, because they were considered to be owned by the studios. When she was finally ready to get pregnant her body couldn’t hold the pregnancy.” I was tearing up behind the camera. There it was. The answer to my dream, Marilyn was right, I did find out what we had in common. I never imagined her wanting to be mother, as many people who meet me can’t imagine I never became a mother because I could not, not because I didn’t want to.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

As we were wrapping up Kelley told me how when Marilyn died she still owed money on her house. It seemed everyone was making money on the iconic Marilyn – except her. “But she was just starting to take control of her own life” said Kelley “right before she died she started making changes, she started planning her future and deciding what to do next that would benefit her first. And then she was found dead.”

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I named this blog post “I Am Norma Jean” in honor of this strong, uncompromising woman. This woman who until recently, like the rest of the world, I could only see her outer beauty. Thinking forward, my wish is that every young woman who finds out about the iconic Marilyn Monroe – is also taught about Norma Jean. Norma Jean, the face behind the façade. The lonely soul that just wanted to be loved. The woman who came from nothing, took her destiny in her own hands and despite her fears – kept bettering herself. Learning from her mistakes and making changes as she was walking life’s path. Because without Norma Jean – who she was, her personality, and the actions she took – Marilyn Monroe would not exist.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

  • We are currently looking for a space to exhibit these portraits seen here and more from the photo project “I Am Norma Jean. If you are interested in sponsoring the exhibit please contact Rinat at rinat@rinathalon.com.

I lead photo tours around Orlando teaching anyone ages 8-80 how to take batter photos. It doesn’t matter if participants bring a camera or a Smartphone – they have fun learning through exercises that combine photography techniques and the history of the location how to take better photos.

I love seeing the participant’s faces at the beginning of the tour – “deer in the headlight look”, and half an hour later I can’t get their attention because they are so excited about taking photos now that they learned how to.

One of my favorite students is Jesse. Jesse is a bright, curious, open minded 8 year old. Often he is the only child in a group of adults, and yet he shines. Thinking out of the box, photographing from a different perspective, daring to be wrong – he does all the things that we used to do as children until we were told we shouldn’t. And thanks to that he gets great photos every single time.

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

As my students find out, I believe photography is a form of sport. We talk about how to get away from photographing like tourists, and soon enough I see Krista, who is a quite sweet woman, lying on the ground capturing photos from a great angle.  Scott who has been the unofficial photographer for years at all his Toast Masters events is now holding the camera in the eye level of a dog walking by, getting a great point of view. Understanding and being able to control the camera technically frees them to start enjoying themselves – which leads to great photos.

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

It warms my heart when my past and present clients come to a photo tour. Iva, who I photographed her wedding many years ago, caught the photography bug recently, and is now completing all 3 photo tours I offer – since  I designed the tours to complete each other, and taking all three gives a basic set of photography skills.

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

But my favorite thing of all is when my students start “talking the lingo” it’s like we have our own secret language: “Hey, that was a tourist shot”, or:”There is cheetos in your frame”, and technical talk like: “so 3.5 is a shallow depth of field, I get it!”

Pam, who publishes a newspaper, told me last time she saw me that her readers are commenting her paper looks better, and they cannot figure out why. “It’s the pictures” says Pam “my pictures look so much better since I took your photo tours!”

I have been leading photo tours worldwide for the past 5 years, and it is always a joy to receive years later photos from my past students, sharing with me with pride their great photos, and thanking me for helping them see the light – literally.

Since I love photography so much – it is such a pleasure to share it with the world.

The next photo tour is Saturday February 7th 9 to noon at the beautiful Park Ave. for more info and to sign up click here

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

photo tour, rinat halon, orlando, photography, learn, study,

photo tour

At the end of every consultation with an engaged couple who is considering hiring me to photograph their wedding day, I say: “You may not realize it, but the one person you will spend most time with on your wedding day – more time than you will spend with each other – is your photographer. Whoever you choose to photograph your wedding – you better like them, and feel comfortable with them”.

When I shoot weddings my job is not just to capture great photos, but so much more. From explaining to the bride where the bouquet needs to be (right in front of her belly button), to walking the couple through the cake cutting process. And in between I am an advisor, consultant, and a human Goggle (“does the boutonniere on the groom go on the left or the right?). Yes, the couple has to feel comfortable with me. After all, this is a very emotional day, and they want it to go smoothly. As I tell the couple – this is your first wedding (or second, ok) – but I have done many, oh many weddings in my 17 years as a professional photographer –I know what to do, and I am happy to do what I can to ensure your special day goes smoothly.

One of my favorite books of all times “Other People’s Weddings” by Noah Hawley is about a wedding photographer. There are many scenarios the lead character- Laurie – runs into that I can relate. Scenarios similar to the ones I described in this blog post. Two things that happen to Laurie that never happened to me, though. In the book, in one wedding Laurie gets beaten by the groom, and in another wedding she meets the love of her life. One I am very thankful never happened to me and the other could be very nice if it happened – you can guess which is which…anyway, I always think about this book when I work with a couple on the wedding day, and how it depicts so accurately the special relationship that develops between a couple and their trusted wedding photographer.הורד

At the end of the day, when I edit the photos, and see how the bride’s bouquet sits effortlessly in the right spot, and I go through the fun, natural looking cake cutting photos – I know I did my job well. The part of my job that hides so well behind the beautiful wedding day pictures.

Johnston wedding Stengl277 Stengl460

When I worked as an Imagineer at Disney my favorite ride was at Epcot – “Spaceship Earth”. I loved seeing the development of civilization. But to me, the ride was always about the development of communication. First through men carving symbols on their cave walls, to Greeks communicating through the written letters printed on papyrus, to communicating through the invention of Morse code – to now days communicating through computers. And then, at the end of the ride – there was the future – two kids living on opposite sides of the world communicating live through the computer.

Well, as I was working at Disney that future fast became a reality in the present – and we needed to update the ride accordingly.

We tend to forget there was a time before the World Wide Web. It has been nothing short of a miracles event in our lives. Being able to connect and communicate globally changed everything – from how we shop, to how we learn – to how we travel.

There is, though, one thing we lost in this transformation in communication – and that is the personal connection.

When I was a child shopping meant having to walk down the streets of the busy city I grew up in, and deciding which store to go into and spend my money. My decision was based on the window displays – visual form of communication. But there was also another secret factor that made me decide to shop in one store and not in another – that very secret factor that could sway my decision was – who was the store owner. There were people behind that window display. Real people. The nice man at that corner vegetable stand who always made sure I chose the best tomatoes. The elegant woman at the clothing store who I trusted to help me decide which skirt makes me look skinny.  The sweet grandmother who always gifted me a cool light up pen something or another when I bought school supplies from her, while telling  me stories about the old neighborhood.

These people all had a personality I connected with. They all made me feel comfortable, and made me want to keep coming back . Even though at the time I didn’t know what it was called – they made me want to do business with them.

childwithpaintedhands

The first time I realized that personal connection was lost through all the greatness of the World Wide Web was when I moved 5 years ago. I now lived in a new area, and had to find new places to do business with. I needed a new doctor, new dentist, new accountant – new everything! So I went looking online. Quickly I realized I am looking at the same photos over and over. At the time, the popular image bank photo used by small and medium size companies was the child with the painted hands. One version or another of it – but the dentists, the doctors, the accountants – they all had the same image! I could not find a photo of the business owner, or if I did it was a terrible photo, sometimes wearing dark sunglasses and/or a baseball cap. If there was a good photo I could tell it was about 20 years old by the style of the photograph. Is this who I will meet when I go in?

Being a professional photographer, it got me thinking about photography as a means of communication. I Googled photography communication and found very little, if anything at all, about the subject. And that is when I realized I am entering an uncharted territory.

I pulled out my college thesis “The Influence of Photography on Visual Merchandising”, and after dusting it off (who actually reads it after they write it?) I referred back to my research. The research did support the thesis that said relevant photographs implimited into marketing and sales materials raise the interest in the product sold more than if just using graphics.  Not being able to find a definition for Photography Communication I decided to invent one. It took a few weeks, and the definition became a reality: My definition of Photography Communication is: “The sweet spot where the viewer meets the photograph, and that meeting creates a call to action.”

The photo of the child with the painted hands I kept coming across was supposed to create a call to action for me – cute child, beautiful colors. It was a perfect photograph. That was also its problem – it was a perfect photograph. Too perfect. The child was too perfect, and so when the viewer met that photograph – as I did – it was not in the sweet spot – and thus no call to action was created – I did not contact the business that used that photograph wanting to know more about their services.

That child was not the dentist. He was not the lawyer’s son. He was not the child that came to get his finances straightened out with the accountant (better start early, right?). He had nothing to do with the business he was advertising.

For the big brand names that does not matter as much – For one, we buy and use their products for other reasons. Secondly – they have the advertising budget to find a kid that for the right price will swear the lawyer, dentist and account are all his fathers (think of McDonald’s photo ads – we like the smiley happy kids portrayed in them).

But for the small business owner that approach doesn’t work. Their personal story gets lost – and with that the emotional connection (the “sweet spot”) that communicates to us we want to use their services and not the competition’s.

A photograph is a very powerful communication tool. The Personalized Image Bank came to life when I realized that is the solution to this visual communication breakdown. It is very simple concept actually – telling the small business’s story through professional photographs. Losing the unrealistic perfect photograph – finding the true story behind the people who created the business. People do business with other people they respect and like –not with a sterile image.

The Personalized Image Bank is my own innovative concept, and I provide these services exclusively to small and medium size companies, with understanding they have a small advertising and marketing budget.  Especially companies who have a lot of competition (ok last time I swear) like lawyers, doctors and dentist, for example. I streamlined the creation of the Personalized Image Bank through a creative process which was based on what I learned as an Imagineer – that’s why I always say Walt taught me how to do this.

So far I had the opportunity to create a Personalized Image Bank for restaurants, spiritual teachers, law firms high tech companies and non profits – among others. I love figuring out how to translate that companies’ story into a photograph. One photograph. A capture in time. The photograph that makes a potential client browsing the World Wide Web STOP (the viewer meets the photo) – and say “I want to know more about this company (the sweet spot) – and call, or fill out the information request online form (the call to action). It is by far the most rewarding way I could utilize my 17 years photographic education, knowledge and experience. Hearing the positive feedback from my satisfied customers, the proud owners of a Personalized Image Bank – is the icing on the cake.

Last but not least – if you read this far I know you are asking yourself “What’s up with the dog?” Yes, I am referring to my logo. Anyone I ever spoke with about the Personalized Image Bank wanted to know at one point (and waited till the end of the presentation if they were polite enough) “What is up with the dog?”

I will be happy to tell you what is up with the dog. And yes, there is personal story behind it. My only stipulation for telling the story of my logo is – you have to meet with me to hear it.

 

To learn more about the Personalized I mage bank service and product, and how it can benefit your business, contact me for a complimentary no obligation consultation.

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