Halloween at The Phipps

Pittsburgh is a special Halloween town. Halloween was always special here but after the Night of The Living Dead it all changed. The Phipps conservatory has made Halloween a big part of their Fall Flower Show. We enjoyed it last week and wanted to share some images from the show.

To see other images and buy apparel or prints, please visit my commercial gallery.

Halloween at the Phipps

Halloween at the Phipps

Halloween at the Phipps

Halloween at the Phipps

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Zombie Week Day 3— David Emge and Mike Gornick

This was one of the two images used by Pittsburgh Magazine in their story about Dawn of The Dead, the other being a shot of George Romero, I believe they chose this image because it had one of the stars of the movie and the camera in the same shot. The technical part of film making was not as well understood back then and this 16mm Arriflex looked pathetically small compared to the 35mm cameras we were used to seeing.

You can purchase prints and cards of this image and others like it at Red Bubble.

Mike Gornick

Zombie Nights for just 99 Cents

This week beginning June 8 Zombies will once again invade Pittsburgh and Monroeville. This year they come to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of George Romero’s cult classic Dawn of The Dead at The Living Dead Weekend.</a

To honor this milestone starting today June 6 you can order a kindle version of Zombie Nights: My Two Nights With Living Dead for just $.99 by. To get your digital Kindle book click here.

The book features over 50 behind the scenes image plates and a stunning cover design by UK illustrator Peter Johnson. You can also purchase the trade paperback at Amazon link above.

Hope all my Zombie pals have a great convention and enjoy their time in Pittsburgh!

Zombie Nights

Zombie Week Day 2—Jeannie Jefferies

Jeannie was hard to miss on the set at Monroeville Mall A beautiful woman with big hair and a dazzling smile. I was not supposed to talk to the cast or crew but she was too dazzling to not acknowledge. I always wished I had the opportunity to photograph her in my studio.

You can purchase prints and cards of this image and others like it at Red Bubble.

Time to Make the Zombies

Zombie Touch Up

Zombie Week Day 1—George Romero

I often wondered how many more pictures I would have taken if I had a digital cameras in 1978. I was on location two nights and took a roll of transparency film and two rolls of Tri-X pan film. I only needed 2 pictures for Pittsburgh Magazine and took a total of 78 images. I bought and developed my own film and I was pretty poor back then so I just took my time and got what I needed. Today on such an assignment I would take thousands of images.

These two images were taken seconds apart and captured the anguish and joy of directing a movie. I like these the best but they weren’t used in the Magazine.

You can purchase prints and cards of this image and other like it at Red Bubble.

The Joy and Anguish of Directing George Romero 1978

Dawn of The Dead 40th Anniversary

Next weekend beginning June 8 Zombies will once again invade Pittsburgh and Monroeville. This year they come to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of George Romero’s cult classic Dawn of The Dead at The Living Dead Weekend.

Since I can not attend the event I have decided to make this week Zombie Week on my blog. All week I will feature behind the scene images from my book Zombie Nights: My Two Nights with the Loving Dead

Starting June 6 can also order a kindle version of Zombie Nights: My Two Nights With Living Dead for just $.99 by. To get your digital Kindle book click here.

The book features over 50 behind the scenes image plates and a stunning cover design by UK illustrator Peter Johnson. You can also purchase the trade paperback at Amazon link above.

Hope all my Zombie pals have a great convention and enjoy their time in Pittsburgh!

Zombie Nights

My interview with Peter Schöfböck

Reposting this morning’s blog post from Peter Schöfböck featuring an interview I gave him a couple of months ago.

Reposted from the DAWN OF THE DEAD & HORROR UK CONVENTION GROUP
Commemorating the occasion of this group just having reached 200 members, here’s a little “exclusive” I hope you’ll all enjoy. A couple of months ago, I got in touch with Pittsburgh-based photographer Richard Burke who – as I’m sure most of you know – was on the Monroeville Mall set of “Dawn of the Dead” in January 1978 to document the filming for a local monthly lifestyle publication. After re-discovering the original negatives that had been stored away for decades (and partially deteriorated), Mr. Burke first made prints of his photos from that shoot available to the public in 2010 before collecting them into a book titled “Zombie Nights” (the amazing cover artwork for which was done by none other than our own Peter Johnson) earlier this year. Richard was kind enough to answer a few of my nosy fan questions in a little e-mail “interview” conducted this past January, which is published here for the first time (with full permission) in slightly edited/adjusted form.

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PS: Can you give me a little background info on how you came to photograph the shoot for “Pittsburgh Magazine” in the first place?

RB: This is explained in some detail in “Zombie Nights”. I did a lot of assignments for “Pittsburgh Magazine”. I photographed District Attorney Richard Thornburgh, political rallies, Board of Education meetings, and architectural house tours. In some ways DOTD was just another underpaid assignment. I would only get paid for each photo that was actually published.

PS: In what issue of “Pittsburgh Magazine” did your photos ultimately appear? Both Pete Johnson and I would be very interested to know, because that would be a vintage DOTD collectible worth tracking down somehow.

RB: I believe it must have been the February 1978 edition but am not sure. I believe that I was on the set sometime in January 1978 right after the holiday shopping season.

PS: I understand that you spent two nights at the mall, is that correct?

RB: Correct. I was there for two nights. The second night I shot mostly colour slides and left early. The first night was mostly the scene at the fountain [involving “sombrero biker” Tony Buba and a store mannequin] that didn’t appear in the movie and action shots on the steps with David [Emge]. The shot with David on the steps was one of the ones used in the magazine.

PS: Apart from not being allowed to use a flash on your shots (which you mentioned in one of the DOTD Facebook groups not too long ago), were there any other restrictions for you?

RB: I was not to engage with the crew or actors. Romero and Gornick made this clear to me during my meeting with them at Laurel. I was not to shoot during a take. I was to stay out of the way of the crew and not to engage with the actors. This was all OK with me. I was the photographer, not the writer.

PS: In spite of those “directions” given to you by Laurel, you apparently still were able to meet some of the crew members and actors. What were they like?

RB: I met all the principal actors and Romero, Gornick, Savini, and Jeanie. Jeanie was bubbly and very friendly. Tom Savini was also friendly and chatty. Romero and Gornick were focused (pardon the pun), and as I said in my book I was told not to engage. I was a fly on the wall. I was able to talk to Tom and Jeanie while they were making up a zombie, and Savini explained his concept of goop and making ligaments.

PS: It has often been said that the general vibe on the film’s set was pretty relaxed overall. Can you confirm that? What were your own impressions of the shoot, in terms of how the crew worked?

RB: It was very loose and relaxed. The majority of the time in making a movie is spent waiting around. The crew is always working, setting up lights, taping down cords, changing film, reviewing the script, discussing the next scene. However, the cast and extras are mostly waiting around for direction. Keep in mind most of the extras did not have lines to memorize, although some required makeup retouching. So between takes they were sitting and waiting. It has to be quiet on a movie set, so there wasn’t a lot of chatting. No cell phones, no iPads; some had cameras, but people were cautious about shooting…film and processing cost money. So mostly they waited. The giddiness and excitement of 9 PM in the make-up area had largely vanished by 1 AM, and the extras began to look more and more like zombies.

PS: What were your own feelings about the film itself while working on the set, and/or in general? Did you go to see it when it first was released in 1979?

RB: It was fun. I met some interesting if not glamorous people. Growing up in Pittsburgh meant you were a fan of Bill Cardille and “Chiller Theatre”, and we all loved “Night of the Living Dead”. Was it as much fun as photographing Jane Fonda at a political rally? At the time no; it was exhausting, she was not. Was it more fun than riding a 100-foot crane in a steel mill taking pictures of blast furnaces? Hell yes! At the time it was just another assignment. Six months later I was no longer a photo journalist. I didn’t see the movie when it was first released. It was all about “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” for me back then. In retrospect though I feel it was a great experience. I was allowed to be involved in a small way in one of the biggest cult movies of all times. It was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” of zombie movies. I am grateful I was allowed to be there, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken much better care of the negatives.

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You can purchase Zombie Nights as a trade paperback or kindle book by clicking here.

You can purchase prints and cards of the images in the book by clicking here.

Zombie Nights

Zombie Nights


Artwork (c) 2015 by Peter Johnson.