One For the Wall

Don’t you wish more of your photographs were hanging on your walls? Or rather, don’t you wish more of your photographs were worthy of hanging on your walls?

Oftentimes I find myself aimlessly scrolling through travel or landscape photography albums, whether they be on 500px, instagram, facebook, etc. There are always a few photos that make me stop and really study the image; these photographs are comprised of a captivating subject, a great amount of post-processing, and are scenes one would rarely ever stumble upon. I look at these images daily, trying to figure out the secret. plane_031116_1

But then I have to remind myself; it’s not all about the places you travel, or the gear you shoot with, but rather the memory you are trying to preserve, when it comes to hanging photos on your walls. In the case of this photograph – I want to remember the adventurous spirit, in both my father and I, that drove us to veer of the road and trek miles and miles off of Route 1 in Iceland to find this plane. I want to remember the fun we had, congregating around this aeronautical monolith, each trying to photograph it in a unique way. And I want to remember the fun the two of us shared on that trip.

Don’t you wish more of your photographs were hanging on your walls? Then make more memories, share more experiences, adventure to new lands, and then return home and hang the reminders on your walls.

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Landscape Photography: Trying a Radically Different Style

I’ve been blessed.  I’ve hiked in deserts, snowmobiled on glaciers and pulled a camera’s viewfinder up to my eye in numerous enchanted locations.  I’ve enjoyed capturing scenes, isolated onto two dimensional fragments reflected back up off of paper or liquid crystal display panels, many of which I have treasured.  Less so for their artistic value.  More so for the memories of the experiences they evoke.

This pursuit, decades old now, has helped foster a photographic shooting style that is hard to separate from the actual experiences.  I take in a beautiful spot.  I capture it photographically.  They are the same thing.  But for better or worse, this has taken place with a capture approach that involves lots of shooting.  It is not uncommon that I will finish a day of shooting with 250-300 new images on my card and then Lightroom library.  As I hike, I capture everything I see.  As I stand before a scene, I zoom in, I zoom out, I snap away.  I have completely distinguished the capture from culling processes.

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But Thomas Heaton does it differently – see video above.  He is a photographer/vlogger from the UK who heads out into nature and captures its beauty… one or two photos at a time.  His style is deliberate.  He searches for a composition, which sometimes never materializes.  If he steps away from a day of shooting with just a few shots, he’s happy.

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Picture of His First Prayer

pregnancy_03042017_1I don’t know why I photograph anymore. I don’t remember what it feels like to make something artistic. I don’t see the world like I use to. I don’t feel like my feet are on the right path anymore.

And then she asked me to take this image, and I think I may have glimpsed what I’ve been looking for out of the corner of my eye. Photographs should elicit emotions from us; they should help us remember, help us feel something. Lately, my photos have been lifeless, commercial, or athletic in nature. I miss photographing my friends, I miss photographing my travels, I miss photographing my perceptions of those around me.

This photograph is of rosary beads on my pregnant sister’s belly. The beads are for the baby, the photograph is for the parents.

I think I know why I photograph again…

You Must Always Shoot RAW. Or Maybe Not…

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Among photographers, it’s almost universally considered conventional wisdom.  Among this Father and this Son, it’s an ongoing debate.  Son says you have to shoot RAW whenever quality is job 1.  Whenever you hope to preserve the latitude to continue the creative process after the shoot and onto the computer where a larger screen and capable software allow you to truly fulfill your artistic vision.  Whenever the stakes are highest and you have to deliver the very best.  Father says… eh.  I’m not so sure.

First, it’s worth pointing out that I fondly recall the days of film shooting, when you chose your film style and ISO and then everything else you did happened in the field and at the moment of capture.  Sure, I went into the darkroom and could brighten, darken, dodge, burn, and crop the finished print… but more often than not, I was working against a pressing deadline and needed to produce… and fast.  So, other than making sure the exposure was nailed, I did not labor all that much on the final version.  I knew when I was out shooting that getting everything right then and there was vital.

In the digital era, we have way more flexibility.  We can spray and pray with the camera firing like a jackhammer, we can nudge ISO up and down to our heart’s delight, we can even use film simulations to get the look we want.  Wasted clicks can be deleted in a heartbeat and so the cost associated with mistakes is low.  Very low. Continue reading

An Abstract Way to Fill the Time

The world doesn’t revolve around me. Frankly, it doesn’t revolve around you either, but I’m sure you knew that. As an event photographer, you aren’t a guest, an entertainer, or even the DJ – you don’t add value to the present situation. Rather, you are tasked with capturing the energy of the room and helping people remember what transpired long after the lights go out and everyone drives home. However, not every moment at an event is worthy of remembrance, and thus, event photographers can find themselves waiting around a fair bit. Instead of taking pictures of the same groups of people for a fourth time, I decided to take a few abstract photographs of the beautiful venue. This is what I captured.

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Sandpipers and the Beach Stroll

IOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘m no wildlife photographer… though I will confess that I happily fashioned myself one when I trekked to the Inside Passage in Alaska and shot feeding bald eagles and lumbering black bears.  And in South Africa, I captured hungry cheetahs devouring a freshly killed baby nyala.  Don’t let those particular shots in my portfolio fool you (despite the prominence of their display)– most of my typical wildlife shooting includes squirrels and pigeons.

Nevertheless, every opportunity I get to pop a longer lens on a camera body and point it at something that flies, swims or crawls on all fours, I leap.  Such was the case during a recent trip to Amelia Island in Florida.  Though this time, it was the lowly sandpiper that captured my attention.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve walked along countless beaches in my life, frequently with a camera in tow, and hardly noticed the sandpiper.  These small birds dart about in my path, chasing meals that lie just below the surface of the sand and surf.  They are timid, prone to keeping out of my way just as I steer clear of theirs.

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Peppermint Tea for Two

js-6291-2.jpgHave you ever had peppermint tea? It is one of my most favorite beverages, and one that I truly came to love while enjoying the company of the lovely woman in this photograph. We become friendly while I studied in St. Andrews, and often we found ourselves sitting amongst friends, drinking this seasonal concoction. A year after I had returned to The States to finish my degree, those special memories had faded, and I found myself drinking peppermint tea alone. One year after my departure from Scotland, I decided to return to the birth place of golf to see my friends.

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