Jake LaMotta The Boxer that Inspired “Raging Bull”

Jake LaMotta © Joe DiMaggio

To All the Ships at Sea –

After the last half a century I’ve spent several days with Jake LaMotta.  He was kind enough to give me an exclusive interview for my documentary film “In This Corner.”  Before agreeing to this interview, he turned me down many times. My dear friend Bert Sugar, suggested that I offer him a bottle of wine, a $25 cigar, an autographed photo, and dedicate the film to his two sons that passed, that might work. Well Bert, was right and Jake agreed to the interview.  JoAnne and I met Jake at nearby P.J. Clarke’s where we spent the entire afternoon.  During the interview Jake was extremely intense and honest. Honest to a point, that I was not comfortable using the whole interview!

I would like to give you a short excerpt from my recent book FILL THE FRAME.  Jake and I happened to be sitting together in first class and in front of us was Boxing Promoter Bob Arum and his beautiful wife. As we sat down Jake looked at me and said,  “you have a lot of nerve sitting here.  You #$@&%* my wife!”  He went on to a point where I was getting genuinely concerned.  He was deep into his 70’s but probably still could take my head off.  I’m a lover not a fighter!  Uh oh, I think Jake, would have taken this the wrong way!  Luckily Bob Arum turned around in his seat and said, “Jake, Joe D did not screw your wife, he was not old enough to screw your wife and didn’t even know her!”  We all laughed and proceed to have our martinis and champagne. That was when first class was first class!  Now you’re lucky if you get a warm coke and some dry roasted peanuts. When things finally calmed down I asked him who the greatest fighter was of all time?  He looked at me like I had no brain in my head and said, “You have to be kidding, what planet do you live on? There was only one and it was Sugar Ray Robinson.”

Jake had over 100 fights.  His career spanned over 13 years.  He fought the greatest boxer of all times Sugar Ray Robinson, six times and beat him once.  I strongly recommend if anyone in heaven, runs into Jake you treat him with the utmost respect. Stay far enough away so that he can’t hit you with a combination because if he hits you,  you will wind up in hell!

Jake LaMotta © Joe DiMaggio “In This Corner”

Jake LaMotta © Joe DiMaggio “In This Corner”

Photographer Joe DiMaggio and Heavyweight Boxer Jake LaMotta

IN THIS CORNER!

To All the Ships at Sea,

All Photos © Joe DiMaggio

Many of you know that I set out to do a 10 minute video on boxing at Gleason’s Gym about 10-12 years ago. The concept was JoAnne ringside talking about her experiences photographing boxing as a woman, in a man’s sport with a woman’s viewpoint, in at the time a male photographic oriented business.

Well that day turned into the beginning of a long film called In This Corner and it’s been an on-going project ever since. It’s out of pure passion and love for the sport (you also have to know, that I have a love hate relationship with boxing as there are many bad sides of boxing.) Every once in a while you’ll come across a few boxers who make it but the majority of these boxers never actually get from point A to point B.  I had an opportunity to photograph the Terrance Crawford vs. Felix Diaz fight two weeks ago. I made a decision to give up my credentials for the the fight after driving thirteen hours to North Carolina to photograph one of the brightest young boxers by the name of Khalid, one of the protagonists in my film. We worked a 14 hour day and the last fight was supposed to go off at 10 PM but actually started at 12:30AM. We started at 10 in the morning, so by that time, we were seriously dragging ass and one of the corner workers – in  Mr. so-and-so’s corner took objections to our photography position after shooting what 17 fights?  I made a decision that if you have nothing else to do but give us a hard time after just trying to do our job, we’re leaving so we left.  You know what happened?  They got no national exposure because when the digital images were turned into Zuma Press there were no photos of their number one fighter so no publicity. Oh well… I guess that’s the way it goes….

In The Beginning, God Made Film

Coverphoto

Our first partnership name was “Images.” That only lasted about a year before we changed it to “Lumière.” That lasted about a decade until the senior vice president of Faberge told us that she was not impressed with a French name for an American company. So, it went into hiatus until last year. Now I’ve decided, what the hell- let’s revive it. Brut! What kind of name is that for an aftershave? To all the ships at sea, read a little bit about the Lumière brothers It’s a quick read.

“The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, were sons of well known Lyon’s based portrait painter Antoine Lumière. They were both technically minded and excelled in science subjects and were sent to Technical School.

Antoine, noting the financial rewards of new photographic processes, abandoned his art and set up a business manufacturing and supplying photographic equipment. Joining him in this venture was Louis who began experimenting with the photographic equipment his father was manufacturing.

During his experimentation, Louis discovered a process which assisted the development of photography. Louis developed a new ‘dry plate’ process in 1881 at the age of seventeen, it became known as the ‘Etiquette Bleue’ process and gave his father’s business a welcome boost, and a factory was built soon after to manufacture the plates in the Monplaisir quarter of the Lyons Suburbs.

By 1894 the Lumière’s were producing around 15,000,000 plates a year. Antoine, by now a successful and well known businessman, was invited to a demonstration of Edison’s Peephole Kinetoscope in Paris. He was excited by what he saw and returned to Lyons. He presented his son Louis with a piece of Kinetoscope film, given to him by one of Edison’s concessionaires and said, “This is what you have to make, because Edison sells this at crazy prices and the concessionaires are trying to make films here in France to have them cheaper”.

The brothers worked through the Winter of 1894, Auguste making the first experiments. Their aim was to overcome the limitations and problems, as they saw them, of Edison’s peephole Kinetoscope. They identified two main problems with Edison’s device: firstly its bulk – the Kinetograph – the camera, was a colossal piece of machinery and its weight and size resigned it to the studio. Secondly – the nature of the kinetoscope – the viewer, meant that only one person could experience the films at a time.

By early 1895, the brothers had invented their own device combining camera with printer and projector and called it the Cinématographe. Patenting it on February 13th 1895, the Cinématographe was much smaller than Edison’s Kinetograph, was lightweight (around five kilograms), and was hand cranked. The Lumières used a film speed of 16 frames per second, much slower compared with Edison’s 48 fps – this meant that less film was used an also the clatter and grinding associated with Edison’s device was reduced.

Perhaps most important was Louis’s decision to incorporate the principle of intermittent movement using a device similar to that found in sewing machines. This was something Edison had rejected as he struggled to perfect projection using continuous movement. The brothers kept their new invention a closely guarded secret with Auguste organising private screenings to invited guest only.

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The first of such screenings occurred on 22nd March 1895 at 44 Rue de Rennes in Paris at an industrial meeting where a film especially for the occasion, Workers leaving the Lumière factory, was shown. Unlike Edison, the Lumière Brothers were quick to patent the Cinématographe outside of their native France, applying for an English Patent on April 18th 1895. The brothers continued to show their invention privately, again on June 10th to photographers in Lyon.

Such screenings generated much discussion and widespread excitement surrounding this new technology – in preparation for their first public screening on 28th December at the Grand Cafe on Paris’s Boulevard de Capuchines. The programme of films on show that day was as follows:

La Sortie de usines Lumière (1894)
La Voltige (1895)
La Peche aux poissons rouges (1895)
La Debarquement du congres de photographie a Lyons (1895)
Les Forgerons (1895)
L’ Arroseur arrose (1895) Repas de bebe (1895)
Place des Cordeliers a Lyon (1895)
La Mer (1895)

Louis photographed the world around him and some of his first films were ‘actuality’ films, like the workers leaving the factory. The brothers began to open theatres to show their films (which became known as cinemas). In the first four months of 1896 they had opened Cinématographe theatres in London, Brussels, Belgium and New York.

Their catalogues grew from 358 titles in 1897 to 1000 in 1898 to 2113 in 1903; although out of the 2113 titles in the 1903 catalogue, less than 50 were the brothers. The rest were taken by other operators like Promio, Doublier and Mesguich. In 1900 the brothers projected a film on a huge 99 x 79 foot screen at the Paris Exposition, after which they decided to curtail their film exhibitions and devote their time to the manufacture and sale of their inventions.

In 1907 they produced the first practical colour photography process, the Autochrome Plate.

Antoine, after the initial cinematic explosion, returned to his art and continued to paint until his death in 1895.”

Joe D.

 

 

Tri-X, Who Cares? I Do.

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© JoAnne Kalish (alias JFK) All Rights Reserved

Long ago and far away, there was something called “film.” Film was invented in Europe by a young man Eadweard Muybridge. The still image evolved from motion picture film, on or about the 1890’s. I remember it vividly because I was shooting Nikon at the time. Okay before you run to Google, I’m only 29 years old. One of my favorite films was “Tri-X”, which was introduced in 1954. I personally shot at ASA 800 and loved to process it at  D76, one to one at 400, which would yield a #2 negative which would print on #2 paper. One of my favorite photographers was JoAnne Francis Kalish, JFK for short. Here’s a photo she did at Jones Beach with a gorgeous model- my god, he had hair. I’m pretty sure she used a Nikon camera with a 20mm lens. You won’t find it on Facebook, you won’t find it on Instagram… but maybe we’ll tweet it. Life was simple. Three trays and hang on. JFK went on to be the first woman to be hired by Sports Illustrated, the first woman at the Indy 500, the first woman at the National Hockey League, the first woman to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame (not as a forward). One hell of a great photographer (P.S. She still is.) To all the ships at sea, there’s an awful lot of color in black and white. See you on the road, Joe D.

Embrace

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Why would anybody put up this genre of photograph in June when obviously the photograph as taken in the dead of winter? That’s funny, I asked myself the same question. There are two basic reasons: the first is I just found this photo I had been trying to find for the last few years for my book, so I scanned it and now you have an opportunity to see it, and the second is I just liked the feeling. It makes me feel warm. Two lovers outside a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. Very cold and snowy night. One grabbed shot, EOS camera, 85 1.2, ISO 200, 1/60th at f2. No rhyme or reason, I just like it.

It’s All Good

Hi to All the Ships at Sea,

Let’s see if I got this right-I don’t like Photoshop, right? Right. I don’t like software where you can manipulate images…right? Right. I believe everything should be done in the camera…right? Right. Never crop, right? Right. Less is more, right? Right. Digital will be just like 8-tracks, it’ll never last. So let’s check out the reality, I guess it’s impossible to be right all the time.

The photograph of this young lady catching a cod-fish off the coast of Prince Edward Island, up until today, was flat, muddy, indistinguishable and almost two stops under. There’s a technical  term in photography for a photo like this…it’s blank blank blank blank. Well through a little bit of work in Photoshop and NIK software it came alive.  The young lady’s name  is JoAnne Kalish.

All the Best,

Joe D

You can now follow me on Twitter @dimaggio_photo
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99.9% Keep Shooting

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

To All The Ships at Sea

Today is Tuesday. I’ve had three back to back days – 14 hours, 15 hours, 12 hours and today I’m doing a short segment on Ricky Boscorino for our Photo Retreat in July.  Late last night or early this morning (I genuinely forget) I stumbled across an essay I did on Mountain Biking.  One frame got my attention. When we pick up a camera, we all strive to make a new photo but 99% of the time it’s been made before.  So we try to put a new spin on it. Guess what?  99% of the time someone’s already done that.  It’s up to us though, to keep trying. That’s what we do.  It’s all Good.  Canon film camera 14mm lens 1/250 f/5.6 film Velvia 50

Controlling the Environment

I was blessed to live on the sea for about 20 years. Sailing, swimming, scuba diving all became part of daily life. I remember vividly being on a conference call with Saatchi and Saatchi, I looked out the window to see a large multi-colored sail from a Hobie cat fly by. I let out with a scream, the creative director and the vice-president of Xerox thought it was pretty funny. When I explained, they still thought it was funny. A week later I spoke to the sailor on the Hobie Cat and arranged to make a series of photographs with the boat. I called my accountant and asked him, if I bought a sail boat and used it as a prop, was it a write off? Thus became my love affair with Hobie. The $3,000 dollar investment yielded six figures over the years. The photo above: 35mm camera, 16mm lens, Kodachrome 25, 1/250sec at f/8. Camera mounted on mast with infrared firing device. Remember in those days there were 36 exposures. I may revisit it again one day with digital. It’s all good.

Hugh Brodie Early in the Morning

Photo ©Joe DiMaggio

Many of my friends know I have had a love affair with film for the last thirty plus years. Twenty years ago, I walked into a cocktail party with approximately 150 people. Out of the 150 people I could only see one; just one. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.  I worked my way through the crowd of martinis, and white wine to get to a gentleman who was drinking a cup of coffee; two creams, two sugars. His name is Hugh Brodie. If you don’t know the name you may know the music. His cousin was Ella Fitzgerald. He was brought up in the south with a saxophone in one hand a painter’s brush in the other. Half Cherokee and half African American; he’s got to be cool. Approximately six or seven years ago, my son Dylan did a short film on Brodie which came in first place in the Black Bear Film Festival. It actually opened the Black Bear Film Festival. Subsequently, Dylan and I have been collaborating on a feature film. The working title is “The Life and Times of Hugh Brodie.” Another possible title is “The Black Cowboy.” Many people have complimented me on some of my photographs of Brodie and I try to explain to them that I have very little to do with the particular photograph. Brodie is so magnificent, so beautiful, so honest, straightforward and sincere. It’s F8 and show up. Okay maybe it’s F2.8 and show up. We are now in the process of cutting and scoring the film. The great editor Victor Goretsky will be doing the editing and the scoring will obviously be Hugh Brodie. We’re looking forward to having it wrap somewhere in the fall of 2011 maybe earlier.

Hugh Brodie and the Cosmic Ensemble will be playing at The Falcon on July 2nd.

Dinner Begins at 5 pm, Opening Act 7pm, Headliner 8pm.

The Falcon

1348 9W Marlboro NY

Phone: 845-236-7970

Filmmaker Albert Maysles

 I guess there’s an old adage that the teacher becomes the student. Our son Dylan had a great opportunity 4 years ago. He worked as an intern for Al Maysels. Al is recognized as the father of modern documentary cinematography. His awards are absolutely amazing. When Grey Gardens closed on Broadway, the feature film was a Blockbuster. His original film on Grey Gardens and Salesmen are classic studies made in the way documentaries should be made. I had the pleasure to meet Al a few years ago at a cocktail party and reception.

Being in Al’s presence is being in the presence of greatness. He’s soft spoken, has a very small ego, and is a great talent. He was kind enough to invite me to his home along with my partner JoAnne Kalish and son Dylan to do a one-hour interview on his life and career.

I have very few heroes. One was Gene Smith, who I had the pleasure of assisting back in the day. Al is also a hero of mine. He has been kind enough to help me with my film In This Corner. Just came across a few photos of Al and thought all the Ships at Sea would like to take a look at a photograph of a great filmmaker.

 

 

 

 

Photos © Joe DiMaggio