Saturday, November 28, 2009

Remembering Lenore Kandel

Lenore Kandel at home, May 2007. Photo: ©

Back in 2005, I had the pleasure to meet Ramón Sender Barayón, son of famed Spanish writer, Ramon J. Sender, during an assignment for El Mundo, Spain's second largest newspaper. He introduced me to Dennis Peron, father of the medical marijuana bill. Both Peron and Sender had lived in San Francisco in the sixties, a time and place where I'd have loved to live in. There was something special about them and I decided to find other sixties activists. I found them still being activists and very involved with their community. It took only two years to convince El Mundo that a story about old hippies was worth doing. By then, 2007, it was the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Ramón put me in touch with many others, including Judy Goldhaft and Peter Berg, directors of Planet Drum, and founding members of the Diggers (website here). They introduced me to another founding Digger, Vicki Pollack, who later would found the Children’s Book Project, donating thousands of books to poor children who otherwise don´t have books at home.

Vicki´s best friend was Lenore Kandel, an amazing poet known mostly for The Love Book, which was banned for being too sexually explicit. Lenore kindly received Carlos Fresneda, my editor, and me in her humble San Francisco apartment and recited some of her poetry. I had the most magical time of my life, listening to Lenore. She had the presence of God.

Lenore passed on October 18. My love goes to all who are missing her, especially to Vicki, who took such good care of her, after Lenore´s back was hurt in a motorbike accident. You can read the obituary Carlos wrote in Spanish for El Mundo here. Or you can read one written by Julian Guthrie, in English, for the San Francisco Chronicle here.

To honor Lenore and to relive our brief time together, I'm preparing a multimedia presentation to project at her memorial. I will include the audio I recorded in May of 2007, and photos from her life. If you have photos, film or audio of Lenore, please do contact me to be part of this project.

Thank you Lenore for being who you are.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Of Cars and Men

I grew up surrounded by cars. I evolved to be a car photographer and writer, very respected (so they say) around the world. My stories, which I write in Spanish and/or English, have been translated to Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish... For the last nine months the car magazine industry has been very thrifty. I've focused my efforts on photographing people, mostly leaders in the environmental movement, and some weddings. You can see a great wedding multimedia show here. I have also started writing a column on cars and the environment for China Auto Pictorial. You can read some of my columns in my car blog,

I've really enjoyed this time of new exploration. My perspective on the auto industry has shifted completely. I drove the Nissan Leaf for Quatro Rodas magazine in Brazil (gallery here). And I photographed the Nissan 370Z Convertible (gallery here) and the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (gallery here) for Auto Bild Sportscars in Germany. The electric Leaf represents the future of the automobile, when people will have solar panels on the roof of their homes to power their car. Getting solar panels is easier thanks to Pace. You can read about it in my Chinese column in

I foresee a day in which sports cars will become what Harley-Davidson motorbikes are to most Americans, toys to go out on the weekend, or to dream about while you look at pictures in magazines. Our daily drivers will be fuel efficient cars, like the Leaf. Having said this, enjoy the pictures.

Nissan 370Z Convertible

Nissan 370Z Roadster

Nissan Leaf

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Sound of Pictures

I just discovered PhotoSound, see the demo below. I can think of some fun art projects with this idea! Have you ever tried playing The Beatles' Abbey Road record backwards? Is it "I buried Paul" or "Cranberry Sauce" that you hear? Being Thanksgiving Day today, maybe it's the second one. I'm dying to find the answer by photosounding the cover image.

Incidentally, the famous crosswalk photograph was taken by Iain Macmillan, with only 10 minutes for the session. It´s usually the quick photo shoots that turn out most remarkable. Macmillan died in 2006 of lung cancer at the age of 67 (read obituary at The Guardian here).

My friend and great photographer Coco Van Oppens, told me that the man in the background of Iain´s image was her math teacher. Coco, who has an imdb page (here) is doing great work in South Africa. Check out her page here, where she features a beautiful photo essay of an EcoTherapy program for victims of war.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Farmer John

Another produce, excuse me, product of my visit to New York is a photo essay of the Famers' Market at Union Square, including a profile on John Gorzynski, who has been selling produce here for the last thirty years. Carlos Fresneda wrote a magnificent piece, in Spanish, here, illustrated with two of my photos. More information about John Gorzynski and Sue Onery's farm here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

El Museo del Barrio

While in New York, I photographed Julián Zugazagoitia, Director and CEO of El Museo del Barrio. If you have a chance to visit, you will enjoy the thoughtful exhibits. The story by Julio Valdeón with two of my photos was published in El Mundo (here).

I was very moved by a painting that Frida Kahlo made for the mother of Dorothy Hale, for the anniversary of the suicide of her daughter: El Suicidio de Dorothy Hale, 1939. Dorothy jumped off her apartment building in New York after throwing a party for all her friends, in which she announced she was leaving town for a while. Her husband had passed away not long before. Dorothy's mom didn't accept the present, understandably so, and the oil painting (on masonite with frame) is now part of the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, who loaned it to New York temporarily.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sylvia Earle and Google's Ed Lu

Thank you Sylvia for who you are and for your work in defense of Planet Water. I took a picture of your likeness, by Viktor, at Google last month. I hope to meet you in person and capture your personality in a photograph.

Sylvia Earle by Viktor. Photo ©Isaac Hernandez

I also photographed Ed Lu, who is working on a smart grid monitoring system at Google, for a story on Google's commitment to renewable energy, published in El Mundo in print, and digitally (here). 

Ed Lu, former astronaut, Director of Advanced Projects at Google. When I asked him what it felt like to be "on the top" of the most powerful company in the world, Ed raised his arms. Photo: ©Isaac Hernandez

If you haven't watched Sylvia, you must see one of these two videos, with Stephen Colbert (search for her on ColbertNation), or speaking at TED (search for her at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reverend Billy for Mayor

It's been already more than two weeks since my trip to New York, and yet I've been so busy with assignments that I've left you hanging with no news. Here's one more portrait from my time there, which was published in El Mundo (here) on the eve of the election for New York City Mayor.

Reverend Billy invited us to watch a rehearsal for the choir of the Church of Life After Shopping the next day (website here). I would have liked to see the performance a few days later, but I was already back in Santa Barbara.

Since the last time I wrote, Yo Dona in Spain published my portrait of Annie Leonard, author of the story of stuff, and Integral (also from Spain, well Catalunya) published the portrait I took of Lester Brown during my visit to Washington, DC.

I will post some of these photos here, shortly, and others in the next version of the online portfolio here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Photographed H1N1!

What do you know? The swine flu has gotten to the kids at Open Alternative School (OAS) and I have a picture to prove it... I may even have it. And the doctor recommended for me not to eat any ham! What a swine!

Seriously, this picture is just a teaser for the play I'm writing in collaboration with 6-8th grade children at OAS. I had the tremendous pleasure of working on my first play, The Bridge to Nowhere, when my older son was in second grade. Now I get to "play" with my younger son, who is in sixth grade. More to come.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Photographing Mr. Brown

When I was first invited to photograph Dan Brown, courtesy of Editorial Planeta, the Spanish publisher of The Lost Symbol, I was told that he wouldn't pose for any pictures; photographs were to be taken exclusively during his interview time.

As soon as Mr. Brown arrived at the Philips Exeter Academy library (New Hampshire), where we were to interview and photograph him, he cordially allowed photographs and video taken of him, by the Spanish and Argentinian media there. I went down on my knees to take a photo, and when Dan looked my way, I couldn't help but lower my head in submission.

He must have liked my demeanor, then and during the interview with Carlos Fresneda, of El Mundo, which you can read here (in Spanish), for he agreed to pose for me, if only for an instant, on his way out for the lunch break. We were to meet at the entrance of the library, but when I saw him taking the stairs, I followed (after all, I'm fond of stairs, and I had taken them on the way up to the sixth floor). There I saw the opportunity for THE photo. "Could you please hold it and look up my way?" That was it! The result was published in the printed edition of El Mundo, alongside a profile photo taken during the interview, both of which you can see here.

Dan was so kind that I had to run and buy The Lost Symbol, his latest novel. When I later asked him to sign it for a friend, I was sure to point out that I bought it at a small Exeter bookshop, thus supporting not only him, but his local economy. "Thanks, I can put gas in my car now," was his answer.

Thank you, Dan, you're a true sport.

Anti-billionaire Mayor Candidate

The photos I took in New York are going to be published in the coming weeks. Here's another installment: Frances Villar, Socialist candidate for New York Mayor. You can read the story in Spanish in El Mundo here.