A photograph is worth a hell of a lot more than a thousand words…


I’m not a sellout, dammit.

No photograph with this post, just me running my soup cooler. I was thinking about my post a few days ago when I was lamenting not being able to photograph my own vision, and the more I think about it, the more I think that simply isn’t true. My vision goes into every photograph I create. It doesn’t matter is someone else asked me to create the photograph for them. People come to me to create their photographs because of my vision.

I remember my college professor once saying that professional photographers, those who create photographs as a means of putting food on the table have to be willing to compromise from time to time and be willing to “sell their soul just a little.” I suppose there is some truth in that, but as in everything, black and white are not critical absolutes in life. A certainty in one situation is not a guarantee of a direct translation or application to another situation no matter how similar.

My studio has been open for six months now, and if I honestly believed I was a sell out, I would close shop, get a job at a gas station and take pictures on the weekends for free. But, I just spent the last four hours sorting through the photographs that I have taken since I opened up in January (because my website is in dire need of an update), and I am finding myself having a good measure of trouble picking which photographs to include in the update.

Between January 4th and June 6th, I have taken over thirteen thousand photographs with my digital camera alone.  Granted, not all of them are winners, and about half of them are culled from the herd before I even show them to the client. But, after my sort this afternoon, I still have close to 300 of what I would call “winners,” photographs that I am happy to show to anyone. Perhaps 100 or more of them I would cheerfully enter into an exhibition…5 of them I already have plans to do exactly that.

So, I may very well be a portrait photographer for hire, squeezing friends and strangers for their hard earned dollars, but I am still quite satisfied that I am just as much an artist as when I was in college. My vision is in every photograph I create because it takes my vision to create it. My subject matter may have changed between then and now, but I still treat every subject with the same eye.

I still like photographing women sans clothes, but weddings, children, and puppies present the same opportunities for the exploration of light, line, and beauty.


Under the gun…

_MG_6590loresMy friend Steve ownes and oprates a firearms training school (Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute) I’ve taken a few of his classes and found them to be worth while. The link provided is worth a click.

Steve is a retired Sheriff’s Deputy from Wayne County Michigan, and generally knows his poop. He is a large individual with all of the graces and subtlety of a 400 pound ballerina, and has about as much tact as a 3 year old, but there are few people on the face of the planet that can out shoot him.

He is pictured here bird dogging one of his students.

Remnant of a past life

m9uniformIn my heart of hearts, I am and always will be a United States Marine.  The Eagle, Globe & Anchor will forever be permenantly branded on my heart and soul. 

I enjoy being a photographer, and I find photography to be fulfulling and rewarding, but I was never happier than when I put this uniform on every day. Being a Marine isn’t a job or a career. It is a way of life. It is a frame of mind.

I look back on my ten years of service with fond nostalgia.

Because those damned zombies just aren’t going to kill themselves.

Sometimes I like to photograph inanimate objects. Still life and product photography are often a welcome break from portraits, weddings, and the like. With shoots like this, you don’t have to worry about people because well, frankly, people get on my nerves. I can smile and be polite, nod my head and keep my cool, but sometimes you just gotta get away from the rat race and just race rats.

The lighting set up for this shot was so stupid simple, you probably won’t believe me when I tell you how to do it. I don’t have my own lighting equipment. As a student at KCC, I don’t really need it. There is a professional lighting studio with both hot lights and high end stobres at my disposal. There are two portable lighting kits available for check out (one hot light kit and one strobe).

The downside is that it is generally only available during the semester. Sometimes the professor or parapro will let me keep an item over the break, but when I was shooting this photo, all I had was my own gear and that did not include any professional lights.

I lit this image using a 6 cell Maglite and a white pillow case. After I white balanced the DSLR for the maglite’s light, I set up the shot, and placed the camera on the tripod. I used the camera’s self timer to allow myself to get into position to act as a human boom. I placed the flashlight inside the white pillow case (the pillow case acted as a diffuser to reduce hard shadows and increase the size of the light source), turned off the living room light before the shutter opened, and waved the flashlight over the scene.  The shutter was left open for 30 seconds.

After the shutter closed, I examined the image and made adjustments in exposure and light direction. The shutter remained open for 30 seconds for all of the shots, I simply closed  the aperature down to get the correct exposure. I wanted to get a good bit of depth, so with a long exposure, the aperture would have to be closed down a bit to make a good exposure.

This one ended up being f/8 at 30 seconds 100ISO.

King of the Hill


"The tree of Liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of Patriots & Tyrants. It is it's natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of Liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of Patriots & Tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson

When I took this photo, I was thinking about all of the encroachments by the federal (and state) government into every aspect of our lives, and the whittling away of our civil liberties and Consitutional Rights. Now don’t go branding me a conservative (even if I resemble one). I blame both Republicans and Democrats for the erosion of Freedom in America.

I believe that there will come a day when the American people will find that they have been pushed enough, and will push back…hard. The trouble with government is that through its natural course of actions, it garners more and more power unto itself. The civil servant has forgotten what a servant is.

…I had also watched Red Dawn the day before I took this photograph (I nearly shouted, “Wolverines!” whilst atop the hill). 😉

I really should take more photos like this one…I might shed some of this spare tire I seem to have procured over the last couple of years. The “hill” isn’t much of a hill at all. It is the side impact berm on the pistol range at the gun club to which I belong. It is only about 8-10ft tall, if that.

The camera was set low on a tripod with a wide angle. Using the self timer, I had 10 seconds to scramble to the top of the berm and get into position.

It took me somewhere on the order of 30-40 attempts to get this shot. There are around 29-39 images of me halfway up the berm, or falling backward off of it.

The Things I Carried…

25aPretty self explanatory. These are the things I had in Iraq.

The firearms aren’t the actual firearms I had (they don’t let you take those home), but ones like them.  As for the bible; I’m not an overly religious person. The night before I left, my gear was all packed up in the garage waiting to be loaded into my truck for the drive to the bus that would take me to the plan that would take me to Kuwait to wait for war to break out.

My (ex)wife put the bible into my ruck without my knowledge. She isn’t overly religious, either. I suppose she was buying insurance….