Randy Newman Wins Oscar for Best Original Song

Congratulations Randy - we could not be any happier for you! Two out of twenty is not the greatest percentage of Oscar wins, but an extraordinary investment in creative energies, culminating in yet another well-deserved win, nonetheless.

Some of you may recall I (Mark Jordan Photography) was fortunate to have been commissioned to photograph Randy Newman for his musical project, The Education of Randy Newman. The musical debuted at South Coast Repertory, where I had been photographing the plays and actors since 1984.
Publicity Photo for The Education of Randy Newman ©Mark Jordan Photography 
My portrait of Randy was created in a cramped, cluttered changing room. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring a couple large muslin backdrops, which Kari and I adhered to the walls with...yes, you guessed, gaffer's tape. What else!

The lighting was comprised of three lights: a four foot soft box for the main (perfect for positioning just above the piano, horizontally), a six foot soft box fill (which I normally use for main, but was too large for the space/grand piano), and a small Norman strobe of the floor, just behind the piano.

Randy, though a wonderful, humble celeb, was not the easiest to photograph. One, he never stopped talking, telling us one fascinating story after another. Secondly, he sang songs while he talked. He even banged out Lonely At the Top (I told him it was one of my faves). Lastly, as he talked and sang, he made the most unusual, contorted expressions - AND he blinked continuously. Needless to say, the rejection pile was mounting in my mind...
Newman tied in knots - ©Mark Jordan Photography

Just as I did some friendly kidding about his fingers getting tangled while attempting to play an intricate solo from I Love L.A., he stopped abruptly, then struggled to tie his arms in a knot. Seeing that his limbs were not going to cooperate, Randy relaxed, turned back to his keys and began to play Sail Away. Unexpectedly, he looked at me as if to say, "Now that's something I can handle." Suffice it to say, the moment happened - standing alongside my RZ67 with cable release in hand, I felt lucky to capture the expression in the publicity portrait above.

When Kari and I completed our session, there was a large press corps waiting to snap a series of quick candids for their respective papers. Much to everyone's surprise, as well as Randy's, I offered the press photographers the sync-cord to my lights. I then heard the affable banter about the notorious dog-eat-dog world among the press photographers - it was a rare day when another photographer pitched in to help any one of them obtain the images they were sent to capture. Each photographer gladly lined up and took turns plugging in. It was a cool sight, and probably the first time they employed studio lighting to cover a press junket.

When the round of press snaps were done and everyone was packing up, Randy's manager motioned to him that it was a wrap. Suddenly Randy turned around and said, "Wait a minute, I didn't get any photos with Kari and Mark!" He then kindly demanded that the press pickup their cameras, turn on their strobes, and photograph Kari and me with him.
Mark & Kari - Randy Newman

Amidst the popping flashes and somewhat reluctant photographers being gently strong-armed by Randy into wasting their film (yes, this was just before digital), Kari was also able to coax someone to take a couple of exposures from our own camera, which was positioned center, sitting atop our tripod. As you can see, Randy is a gem of a man and was genuinely appreciative of the service we provided him. It was his way of honoring us. What a guy.

To our surprise, once all the hoopla was over, Randy sat with Kari and I to simply talk a spell. He shared with us about his life, the ups and downs, being clean, about being a terrible dad but trying to make up for it, and his new love. He was also interested about our family and when he discovered we had children, he asked his manager to retrieve a few of his CDs, whereupon he wrote to each one of our kids, "You've Got A Friend in Me - Randy Newman." It was a special touch that touched us. He then thanked us profusely, gave us both big hugs, and that was that.

Understandably, Kari and I were pulling for Randy tonight. Randy has also shared with us his disappointment of going away empty handed so many times over the years. I appreciated how candid and genuine he was with his frustration - we could tell he had a good attitude about it all, but was nevertheless a bit mystified. When they announced his name this evening at the
83rd Academy Awards, we are elated he got to take home yet another Oscar. I trust you were just as thrilled with the results! 

Thanks for the fond memories Randy, you've got a friend in us, as well.

©Photosical - the photographic and personal observations of Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photography

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Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photography, an Rancho Santa Margarita Photographer, specializes in crafting stunning contemporary, traditional, classic, and storytelling family portraits (high school seniors, children portraits, babies, maternity, pregnancy), headshots and pets. Mark Jordan, a Photography Hall of Fame photographer (with a Rancho Santa Margarita portrait studio), and provides portrait photography throughout Orange County and Southern California. Mark Jordan's Orange County portrait studio also serves San Diego County and Inland Empire. Studio Photography Services are also provided in Riverside County and Los Angeles County. Local Cites where Mark Jordan photography studio services are offered are as an Aliso Viejo Photographer, Anaheim Photographer, Costa Mesa Photographer, Coto de Caza Photographer, Dana Point Photographer, Dove Canyon Photographer, Huntington Beach Photographer, Irvine Photographer, Ladera Ranch Photographer, Laguna Beach Photographer, Laguna Hills Photographer, Laguna Niguel Photographer, Lake Forest Photographer, Mission Viejo Photographer, Newport Beach Photographer, Northwood Photographer, Orange Photographer, Orange Park Acres Photographer, San Clemente Photographer, San Juan Capistrano Photographer, Santa Ana Photographer, Tustin Photographer, Villa Park Photographer, Westminster Photographer, Yorba Linda Photographer, Corona del Mar Photographer, Riverside Photographer, Temecula Photographer, Chino Hills Photographer, Loma Linda Photographer, Rancho Bernardo Photographer, Carlsbad Photographer, Coronado Photographer, Del Mar Photographer, Escondido Photographer, San Diego Photographer, San Marcos Photographer, Solana Beach Photographer, Carmel Mountain Ranch Photographer, Rancho San Diego Photographer, Rancho Santa Fe Photographer, and San Diego Country Estates Photographer, Turtle Rock Photographer, Shady Canyon Photographer. Portrait Photographers everywhere (photographers in O.C. as well) are welcome to contact our portrait studio for mentoring/guidance.


  1. Thanks for sharing - I enjoyed the story.

  2. He sounds like a humble, down-to-earth guy!

  3. I didn't like the song, but was happy to see Randy win.

  4. Yes, I wasn't too particular to the song either - none wowed me. At least is wasn't as forgettable as Etheridge's ignoble "I Need to Wake Up."


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