Bikes, Booze, and crazies.

A few weeks ago (ok maybe 2 months) I had pleasure of shooting the single speed Cyclo-cross World Championships here in Philly. What started out as a super chilly, grey skied day turned into the most epic of conditions. Snow started to gently fall during the first qualifying race and kept coming down harder and harder as the day progressed. You really couldn't imagine a better setting both as a competitor or photographer. 

Special thanks to my buddy Bryan from Bicycle Revolutions for the beers and Charlie for the cookie. ;) 

Here are a few shots from that day:



Urban Surfers Update

By now most of you reading this post have been picked up and swallowed by the Polar Vortex. With temperatures hitting ZERO in areas around Philadelphia, NY and even as far as Baltimore, many of us couldn't imagine stepping near a beach. Well that's what separates us from these special folks I've been busy shooting lately.

Urban Surfers went on a bit of a hiatus during the last week of September  through the first week of November. I purposely didn't shoot any during that time since I had a backlog that I wanted to hold off until the weather started to really change. I wanted to get a diversity of seasons and the only way to see it would be to wait until the trees shed their leaves, and snow hit the ground. 

When I started this project back in June of last year, I started to a Google doc to keep notes on everyone I shot. The details I would keep were locations of the shoot and exact times in which we started shooting. I also kept mental notes. Mental notes on who surfed year round and had all the gear necessary to stand up to freezing temperatures. Lately I started calling on those brave souls to meet after snowfalls, and near zero degree conditions. Here are a few from the past month that I've shot: 

(please pass this this link along to anyone you may know who lives in the Phila., NY, Baltimore, or any East Coast city. I'm keeping my journal stocked so when I'm on the road, I can keep this going in cities across the US) 



To Canada or Bust!

Another one of those posts that I waited too long to finally share! These are some shots from our Canadian adventure during what, even the locals were saying, was a severely cold January. We were met with summit temperatures hitting minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There were winter hats that became part of the pavement, howling huskies, snow, giant snow blowers on wheels, snow, ice skating, and more snow. 



All I want for Christmas - an intern!

In August I got an email from some SCAD student saying they were "a hard working photo student looking to secure an internship." Naturally I never ignore these types of emails. A couple days after her first email, Sarah Rocco and I met for the first time. She was a bright eyed, eager to meet and talk about photography photo student. She was seeking an internship where she can help with daily doings of my business, all while learning along the way. 

An Intern I've never had and the idea always scared me. The part that freaked me out the most was that I had a duty to help them learn. Wether it was lending a hand on set, or working closely with how I handle marketing, Sarah was on board. 

To commemorate this crowning achievement in my career, I turned the camera figuratively onto my intern and asked her a few questions I'm sure all young shooters think about:

- What made you land on photography as a major and what was your parent’s reaction to your decision

I have always been intrigued by cameras. My grandfather bought be an old Polaroid when I was young and I loved bringing it around. When I applied to SCAD, my major just kind of fell into my lap. Most of my portfolio consisted of photos, and on accepted students day, when I got my name tag, it read, Sarah Rocco. Intended Major: Photography. That was when I knew that I was going after the right profession. 


Thinking about my parent’s reaction to my major choice only brings to mind one, word: Supportive. If anything, they were more worried about the distance of my school, then what my major was going to be. However, as my work got better and better, they saw what I saw on that accepted students day; I chose the right profession. I am lucky that I have parents that support me in whatever I choose. 


- Current / past photographers that you admire or are inspired by

I adore Sally Mann. Especially her Immediate Family series, and how she got absolutely shit on for it. People told her that she was exploiting her kids instead of looking at how stunning her large format photos were. I respect when photographers go through hell to get the world to see their photos, it makes them more meaningful. 


- If you could photograph anyone/anything, who or what would it be?

If I could photograph anyone it would be my great grandmother because she was gorgeous and always super serious. 


- What is your goal for the first year out of school?

My goal is to graduate with a job. Who wouldn't want that? But my first year out of school, I want to travel, in and out of the US. No idea where I would get the money for it, but I want to go to Alaska, California, Colorado, India, Bali, Greece, Italy, Africa, London, etc. (Just to name a few). I want to be able to see different parts of the world. Because I have explored my own backyard already. 


- As a young photographer still in school, what would you like to learn more of while in school? 

Honestly, my school is amazing. We are SCAD: The University for Creative Careers. Everyday, our professors are helping us towards our future jobs. 

As a junior, I still have many classes to go, however I know that those classes will teach me so much. 


If anything, I would like to focus a lot on what I am learning right now, with Chris Sembrot. We are focusing a lot on the client, rather then the photographer. It is nice to see how I could possibly land jobs. 


- Besides being super successful, what are your top 5 bucket list items, as a young working photographer, would you like to hit by the time you're 30? 

Travel to India 

Photograph at least one famous person 

Take a picture everyday for a year 

Buy an amazing camera with MY OWN money (thanks dad) 



photo by: Sarah Rocco

Bikes, Buddha, Design, and Philly

September and October were busy months for editorial projects. During that time, I shot for two new clients; Surface and Tricycle, and two returning ones;  Bicycling, and Philly magazines.  The subjects varied greatly from shooting environmental portraits, interiors, studio still lifes, to street portraits.  


Surface magazine had me shooting in the Frankford section of Philly at the industrial design company, Amuneal. They specialize in retail display solutions and industrial designed furniture. 


Bicycling Mag: Featuring my friend and avid bicyclist, Carl deBeauclair.  



Philly Mag: featuring another friend of mine Jason Ganski who's co-owner of local design shop, Sedso



Karmically in Tune

The thing that inspires me most and what gets those creative juices flowing is uncertainty. There's nothing quite like being dropped into an environment and asked to make something beautiful out of any given situation - no matter what! I think that's what makes my job so damn fun. 

Finally I get to share this campaign that I shot with my good friends over at Karma AgencyThese images were shot over five days and in tandem with the TV production crew (Neighborhood Film Co.) As with most jobs that have stills and TV shooting together, time with limited. At times my team and I had only a few minutes to shoot with the talent, but I think we made the best of it. 

Thanks to everyone who helped make this collaboration come to life including: Tracy Thompson, Mike Park and Ford Haegele. 

(The campaign is currently dominating Amtrak's 30th St. Station here in Philadelphia) 


Riding the Promo Wave

Once upon a time I was an art buyer. And with that title came emails and post cards - from photographers sharing new work .This part of my job was actually fun. Seeing what projects people are working on and constantly being showered visually with new and inspiring work (kind of like Instagram but not). But unlike Instagram, I had no choice who would share with me. That's when it got annoying. Photogs sharing work not relevant to the types of accounts the agency had started to become spam. That's when I took mental notes.

There were always 1 or 2 mailed promos that would stand out each year and as a young aspiring photographer, these promos blew my mind. The one I always remember was from a photographer that shot a major campaign for Frito Lay. It was so beautifully designed but it also helped that inside was a small bag of Fritos! Genius! That's the kind of impression I could only dream of with this promo for Urban Surfers. 

With the help of a couple  talent friends, (Adam Garcia and Dustin Kemper) I finally put together my promo. I designed a 26 page 7"x7" book and acting as my business card, a puck of surfboard wax with my own custom label. (Adam designed the Urban Surfers logo and Dustin designed the surfboard was label)

There are always a couple goals with these things: keep costs low, be visually interesting and make it so great that it would be difficult to throw out. 

I'll end with one email I got recently from an art buyer who was on the receiving end of this mailer: "... just got your promo (the wax will come in very handy for me!  8' longboard owner!)  

Goal achieved! 




Bottling up Summer.

Happy Friday! 

Although the weather is beautiful, the birds are still chirping, and the sky is a perfect blue, I'm sad. Summer as we know it has come and is leaving the building.

In my blog I talk about waking up at 5am every available morning to shoot Urban Surfers and how the smell of marshy New Jersey reminds me of childhood. It's been a season of shooting what inspires me and sharing those experiences. Here's my attempt at capturing my Summer experiences in just a few images. 

Hope you had months worth of warm sun and late night cookouts with family. Here's to a healthy and productive Fall. 


BTS with Karma

Last week was fun, and long... like 12-14 hour days long. But judging from the smiles and the bts photos, no one seemed to care.

Last week Karma Agency hired me to shoot their upcoming print campaign for Main Line Health which had us on location in Jamison, PA and along the banks of Lake Nockamixon (near Doylestown). My team and I were shooting in tandem alongside Neighborhood Film Co. who were shooting the TV campaign. The images will dominate 30th Street Station here in Philly starting in September along with bus backs and commuter rail posters. 

Once the campaign hits the public, I'll be sharing some of the images via Instagram (@csembrot

Thanks again Tracy, Mike, Ford and Heather. Can't wait to see that huge banner!! 


Born to Tri

Run, bike, swim. Or is it swim, bike, run? Either way, it's a lot to do, and starting early is usually the way to do it. Last weekend, I woke up at 4:30 am to accompany my brother-in-law to Asbury Park, NJ. We headed to this revitalizing New Jersey beach town, made famous by "The Boss." This was my BIL's second sprint triathalon in the last two years.  For me, the question "run or shoot" always plays in my mind. This time, I sat out. I'm pretty happy I did. Conditions: 6 am air temp: 75 degrees, water temp: hovering around 70. Perfect. 

Next year, maybe "run" wins over "shoot." Just hope the photo conditions aren't as perfect! 



Childhood Memories Revisited.

Every year around early June I start to get that itch. The one that surfaces after a string of hot and humid days that reminds me of childhood.  Where driving through parts of Jersey that somehow time has seemingly stopped a generation ago. Roadside mini farmers markets and bait shops every other 1/4 mile and dreams of this vibe never changing.

I remember being woken up at 4am to help pack up the Bronco.  Coleman coolers and rusted metal traps that usually required last minute rigging since never did all four sides open properly. Crabbing, as a kid, was my escape. This past Friday, after weeks of negotiating schedules and juggling dates, three friends and I finally made this long overdue trip happen. The day was hot and if not for the Budweisers and gallons of water, we all would have become crab jerky. 

Friends as mentioned: Kiley (of Shophouse Design , Carl and Drew  (fellow Fishtowner and local artist).   Keep in mind Kiley's vegetarian and jumped way outside her comfort zone for this one. Big ups for not complaining about being covered in chicken juice at 8am! 




Urban Surfers

There's nothing quite like the motivation of a beautiful woman to get you to try a sport that you've always wished you could do but never thought you could pick it up past your 10th birthday. This is the motivation that I felt three years ago when I met the woman of my dreams that would become my best friend and wife. 

I always knew some of my friends surfed but I never REALLY knew what that meant. Being from Philly I knew people surfed at the Jersey Shore, which is pretty obvious if you hit the beach each summer.  But not knowing the culture and the passion that drives some individuals to wake up at 4-5am and drive 1+ hours each way just to get a couple hours in during a swell (which the best surfing in the Northeast is from Fall - Spring), I was basically clueless what surfing really meant to them. 

This project is directly inspired by three friends of mine: Adrian Castillo, Chris "Cakes" Savaiano, and Jim "Hammer" Hammell who took me under their wings and suffered with the humiliation (that I still bring when I go out with them) of helping a newbie. Their dedication to teaching and insisting I go out with them whenever they go, helped me confidently say to that beautiful girl I met for coffee three years ago that, "I surf". 


(Stay tuned for more info regarding this project as I have big plans for next Spring/early Summer)



Metal, Tattoos and New England Fishermen.

Recently I was approached by Jamie Leary, art director extraordinaire at Decibel Magazine to shoot the band, Doomriders for a collaboration between the magazine and Converse. The idea was simple - interview the band, shoot an ad and get at least a 3 minute video of the guys - and that we did.  

Doomrider's front man, Nate Newton and his wife recently had their first child so I wanted to capture some elements of him with his family at home.  We spent a part of a Saturday shooting at his home in Ipswich, MA and the following day at Congress St. Tattoo in Portsmouth, NH where each band member decided to all get tattoos by bassist/vocals, Jebb Riley.

For this trip I decided to stay once again at a home I found on And just like my last few stays, this one was once again special. My gracious host was an older ad guy who was the 9th employee at Boston's famed Mullen agency. He offered to wake up with me at 5am (with coffee already brewing) and show me spots only a local would know. Stories like this is why I just love staying with AirBnB hosts! 


Stay tuned for the final ad and video which should release by end of June.  


Last Friday, May 17th was a pretty special day as it marked the conclusion to a two year courtship. With our initial introduction tooking place at NYCFotoworks in June of 2011, the hard work and persistantce finally paid off. I'm happy to finally announce that I'll be joining the roster of photographers over at The Gren Group!  Paula and Mark represent some of the best location, lifestyle, and portrait photographers out there and I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this group. 

The Gren Group will be undergoing a website redesign over the next month or two (to reflect the roster addition and added features), so please take a look at the list of shooters over at Workbook or, on their site


Farm Shoot

I'm finally able to share a short motion piece that I captured in March during an editorial still shoot. We had about two hours to shoot on a beautiful 50 degree day at the 7TH Heaven Farm  in Tabernacle, NJ. Farm owner, Carla Growney was gracious enough to allow us to shoot with full access to the farm and animals. 

Models:  Nicolette and J Lynne ( Reinhard agency)

Editing: Bruce Pinchbeck 

Music: The Bees "I Love You"  

All footage was captured with a canon 5D Mark ii and edited in FCP with Lightroom and VSCO color grading


Howard and Spike Eskin for Philly Mag

Recently I had the opportunity to shoot Philly’s famously controversial sports reporter, Mr. Howard Eskin and his son Spike. The shoot was for Philadelphia Mag and took place on the home turf of the Philadelphia Eagles, LIncoln Financial Field. 

It was one of those rare warm days in March where everything just came together perfectly.  Thanks to photo director Jessica Hawkes over at Philly Mag for calling on me. 

Howard Eskin and Spike Eskin

Howard Eskin and Spike Eskin

Phoenix for British Guardian Guide

Recently I had the opportunity to photograph the band, Phoenix for the British magazine, Guardian Guide. The project had us shooting in NYC at the East Village Standard Hotel. With overcast skies, the penthouse location offered 365 degree panoramic views of the city and soft diffused light. The large floor to ceiling windows did most of the work lighting the guys, while some fill was provided to open up shadows. 

I gave each a veto for the playlist I had going and they only executed one song: "I Can Make You Famous" by Spank Rock. Needless to say I was a little mad at them for the rest of the shoot, kind of.. :) 


AP29 - American Photography 29

I had to sit on this news for a while now but I am finally able to share - I had two images chosen to be included in the AP29 this year! The link to see all images chosen hasn’t been released yet (end of May) so stay tuned. 

These images were shot for the cover of the September 22nd edition of the UK’s Guardian Guide. Thanks so much to photo director Nikki Hatchet for calling on me from across the pond. Also thanks to Wonderful Machine (where Nikki says she found me) :) 

Stay tuned for more work that I recently shot for The Guide and some new motion work.