Collaborating to Create Real-Time Photo-Painting Portraits of Iconoclasts

NOTE: This post is an abbreviated version of the full article about a collaboration with international photographer Asa Mathat, originally published on Medium.com read full article

At the 2016 EG Conference in Carmel, California, I was a member of a volunteer creative team tasked with documenting the conference presenters; people described as “among the most industrious and iconoclastic talents of our time.”

This goal required a fast-paced artistic collaboration between photographers, artists, and students.

Together, we created portraits of this gifted mix of people, ranging from rising tech innovators to living national treasures, from the godfather of design thinking to wildlife photographers and winner of the international beatbox championship.

We were confronted with a unique challenge, the brainchild of photographer Asa Mathat, and none of us had done anything quite like it before.

Each portrait session required a four step process…

STEP 1: Interview

Briefly interview the subject of the portrait and try to pull out a visual theme, key word, symbol, or scene that sums up who they are and what is important to them and their work.

STEP 2: Ideate

As a team, quickly brainstorm, plan out, design, and paint a unique, multi-layered photo booth set to illustrate the person’s story. Super tricky because we needed to work with the photographer on what was possible.

STEP 3: Photoshoot

To see the wet and wild photo session for Sandeep Das (pictured above), check out this video.

To see the wet and wild photo session for Sandeep Das (pictured above), check out this video.

Photograph the person, often with some other challenge such as jumping off chairs, flinging water or paint, rolling plexiglass stands, hanging black drapery, swinging lights, or some other perilous piece of gear ready to reek havoc!

STEP 4: Reset

And then? Wash. Rinse. Wipe. And repeat. This had to happen 30+ times in three days.

The resulting portraits have an emotional range as diverse as the people at the center of the photograph. Topics ranged from deadly serious (police brutality, surviving war and disability) to the magnificent (eagles in flight, blue whales) to pure joy (performers, families, survivors).

Some of the 30+ Portraits

David Kelly | design thinking guru

One of my heroes, David Kelley, along with his brother Tom Kelley, is the founder and chairman of the global design and innovation company, IDEO. He also founded Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the d.school. They co- authored the New York Times best-selling book, “Creative Confidence” (Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All).

One of my heroes, David Kelley, along with his brother Tom Kelley, is the founder and chairman of the global design and innovation company, IDEO. He also founded Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the d.school. They co- authored the New York Times best-selling book, “Creative Confidence” (Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All).


Giles Duley | photojournalist & humanitarian

In 2011, Giles Duly lost both legs and an arm after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan whilst photographing those caught up in the conflict. Duley was told he’d probably never walk again. However, characteristically stubborn, he told his doctors “I’m still a photographer”, and returned to work in Afghanistan less than 18 months later. A mere 24 hours before this photoshoot, Giles was with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) working with Syrian refugees at a camp in Northern Iraq.

In 2011, Giles Duly lost both legs and an arm after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan whilst photographing those caught up in the conflict. Duley was told he’d probably never walk again. However, characteristically stubborn, he told his doctors “I’m still a photographer”, and returned to work in Afghanistan less than 18 months later. A mere 24 hours before this photoshoot, Giles was with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) working with Syrian refugees at a camp in Northern Iraq.


Butterscotch | singer, musician & beatbox champion

A one-woman symphony and the world’s first female beatboxing champion, Butterscotch sings, plays guitar and keyboards, and writes her own music as well as playing everything from Chopin to Stevie Wonder. She has performed alongside music legends including Earth, Wind & Fire, Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, and many others.

A one-woman symphony and the world’s first female beatboxing champion, Butterscotch sings, plays guitar and keyboards, and writes her own music as well as playing everything from Chopin to Stevie Wonder. She has performed alongside music legends including Earth, Wind & Fire, Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, and many others.


Mark Pollock | adventurer, athlete & activist

Unbroken by blindness in 1998, Mark Pollock went on to compete in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He was left paralyzed after a 2010 fall from a second story window. He is now exploring the frontiers of spinal cord injury recovery combining an innovative electrical stimulator over his spinal cord and a drug super-charging his nervous system, whilst walking hundreds of thousands of steps as the world’s leading test pilot of Ekso Bionics robotic legs.

Unbroken by blindness in 1998, Mark Pollock went on to compete in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He was left paralyzed after a 2010 fall from a second story window. He is now exploring the frontiers of spinal cord injury recovery combining an innovative electrical stimulator over his spinal cord and a drug super-charging his nervous system, whilst walking hundreds of thousands of steps as the world’s leading test pilot of Ekso Bionics robotic legs.


The Halabiskys | a loving life of sailing & dreaming

In 2004 Tiffany Loney and Bruce Halabisky left Victoria, Canada for Hawaii aboard their sailboat. This was to be the first leg of an 11-year voyage around the world including crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans and three trans- Atlantics. Along the way Tiffany and Bruce added two children to their crew -- Solianna and Seffa Jane. The entire family will be at the EG Conference to talk about the challenges and rewards of ocean voyaging on a small wooden boat.

In 2004 Tiffany Loney and Bruce Halabisky left Victoria, Canada for Hawaii aboard their sailboat. This was to be the first leg of an 11-year voyage around the world including crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans and three trans- Atlantics. Along the way Tiffany and Bruce added two children to their crew -- Solianna and Seffa Jane. The entire family will be at the EG Conference to talk about the challenges and rewards of ocean voyaging on a small wooden boat.


John Quinn | conductor & composer

Quinn has spent a lifetime working with the most talented musicians on the planet, the NY Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte, and many more. He told us, “Wow. I have never done anything like that before!”

Quinn has spent a lifetime working with the most talented musicians on the planet, the NY Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte, and many more. He told us, “Wow. I have never done anything like that before!”


OUR VOLUNTEERS

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Dusan, Warren Yu, Marian, Peter Durand, Lucy, Alison Kerr, Amara. NOT PICTURED: Casi, Tennyson, Thomas & Frank, Skyler Stanley, Gordon Garb, Richard Kerri

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Dusan, Warren Yu, Marian, Peter Durand, Lucy, Alison Kerr, Amara.
NOT PICTURED: Casi, Tennyson, Thomas & Frank, Skyler Stanley, Gordon Garb, Richard Kerri

For More...

To see all of the photo-painting portraits created by photographer Asa Mathat and our team, go to: http://bit.ly/EG-10-Portraits

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