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My favorite photographer: Irving Penn

The Metropolitan Museum of the Art, in New York, has a fabulous new retrospective of the work of one of my idols, photographer Irving Penn.



For 50 years, Mr. Penn was one of the foremost fashion photographers in the world. But, that was just the most well known part of his work.



His work documenting indigenous tribes and tradesmen and still lifes resonates strongly with me. I love his portrait series called Small Trades, simple portraits of butchers, fishmongers, and plumbers. His work is elegant, classic and timeless.



One of his trademarks was the use of a beautiful, beat-up, old backdrop that looked, to me, like an old, scarred concrete wall. In fact, his backdrops were remnants of old theatrical stage curtains he would picked up somewhere, probably Paris. Remarkably, they had one one of his actual “sweeps” in the exhibit.  I loved seeing the real deal, so I made a portrait of myself.


His work has always been an inspiration for a generation of photographers. In January, I asked a backdrop artist to paint me an “Irving Penn” sweep, with its splotches, “mistakes”, and scratches intact. I am using it to make new portraits and I love the way it creates an incredible environment for my subjects.

©Phil Cantor 2017

Portrait of an Escape Artist

I recently had the exciting commission to photograph an actual, real-life, escape artist. Thomas Solomon is an internationally-know magician and escape artist. A friend and contemporary of David Blaine, he designs his own tricks and escapes. He owns thousands of historic handcuffs, including one used on one of the gang that assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Lucky for me, he wanted to be photographed in an old-school, Hollywood style. This meant I got to play and experiment in my studio during his photo session. Using Fresnel lights that can focus into a tiny spot of light, I created that Hollywood look of the 1930s.

dramatic poses from another century…


I was inspired by the work of photographer George Hurrell, the quote-unquote “Master of Hollywood Glamour Photography”. His work contributed to the definition of cinematic glamour in the 1930s and 1940s. Below are a couple examples of his work…Do you recognize these faces?


Photographing New York’s Newest Architectural Landmark

A few weeks ago, I was given a photo assignment at New York’s newest architectural landmark…the otherworldly Oculus at the World Trade Center. My client, Post Road Iron Works, manufactured the miles and miles of railings throughout the complex.

Completed in 2016, this architectural wonder is the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub. It is the most integrated underground pedestrian network in New York City.  The controversial building, designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, has been described as a “bird taking flight”  and as the “inside of a whale.”

Serving over 250,000 commuters each day, the Oculus connects 11 New York City MTA subway lines and the PATH  train system.

Photographically, the place is a dream. Everywhere you look is a great shot. The repeating “ribs” made for dramatic compositions. The strong contrast between the ceiling skylights and the structural elements created ethereal opposites.




The freestanding staircases and balconies undulate sensuously over the main floor, which is filled with high-end retailers and eateries.



At each end of the giant hall is a stair structure, nicknamed the “diving board,” that connects the second and third levels seemingly floating in the void without cables or other support.






UPDATED w/ Photos – Ladies Night Out, April 7 6-9 pm


I was a special Event Stop for Ladies Night Out, brought to you by Montclair Center BID.  Ladies Night Out is part of Women’s Empowerment Week, which benefits SAVE of Essex. Start at 5 pm for special drinks at Pig & Prince Restaurant, then come across the street to visit my studio for my ever-popular STRIKE A POSE event:

Strike a Pose! Do you HATE posing for pictures? Phil Cantor, of Phil Cantor Photography, will let you in on the secrets of standing and smiling for photographs that bring out the best in you. He’ll photograph you using YOUR OWN smart phone – then you can send it to your friends or use as your new avatar!



For those who got their portrait taken by yours truly last Friday, please find yourself on the Facebook posting below!


Headshot Mini Marathon: Extra Day Added – April 22!

Social media and your online presence play a huge role in the success of your business or career. Be prepared with a great first impression… a professional headshot that will help promote your message. [See examples here.]

Saturday, April 1 & 22: Headshot Mini Marathon

rofessional Makeup
Usually $75-$100…FREE!!!


  • – FREE professional makeup
  • – Studio portrait session
  • – Multiple wardrobe changes

Space is limited…only 6 spots left!

Call the studio to learn more!


Read what people say about their headshots