Tag Archives: stephen stokols

Forbes portraits

Boring title, I know.

I love coming up with creative titles for my blog posts, but I also love shooting for Forbes. In this case, every clever title seemed to suggest:
A) that the business world is boring;
B) that the people I’ve been shooting are boring;
or
C) that I don’t value my Forbes assignments.

None of which is true. Yes, the business world can be dry, but so can artists and actors, and that unpredictability is what forces you to step up your game. Find the life-sized hot rod at Mattel. Wallpaper Shonda Rhimes’s office in purple. Get the tech-startup CEO to yell at the camera. Not surrounded by jaded celebrity publicists, these are all real people often open to trying something different.

Take this guy, FreedomPop mobile co-founder and CEO Stephen Stokols. When your company has a populist message of defiantly bringing free Internet to the people, you’re going to get asked to do this. Well, buddy, let’s see it.

Then there’s the impossible-to-schedule Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Scandal.” We loved her desk but not the wall behind it. The desk, however, was completely tethered to the floor with cables and electronics. So we simply covered the wall in purple and did some redecorating. When you get 30 minutes with her at the end of the day, the busiest woman in show business is pretty fun.

At Mattel, once we made it through security, signed confidentiality agreements and registered every piece of camera and lighting with their photo department, they let us have the run of the place. And once we found the life-sized Hot Wheels car, I knew we had to stick the big guy in there.

On shoots like these, there’s always a risk that you’ll spend two hours setting something up, only to have the subject shoot it down in about two minutes. Fortunately, Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton is both very busy and very nice. He showed up, took a look at what we were doing, climbed in and went to work.

And Tim Kilpin, who’s been there forever and is their brand king, is just one of the nicest people I’ve met on a shoot. This is a long wall featuring decades of their catalog covers. I chose a section whose aesthetic roughly matched my 1970s childhood, and we had a great time reminiscing about the toys of long ago.

There are more Forbes shoots to come, but we’ll have to wait until they’re out in print.

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