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

Journalism/Documentary

Bennett

A friend of mine from high school is visiting Northern Michigan during the Independence Day holiday. She lives in Atlanta and doesn’t find her way up here very often, and this was to be her two year old son’s first venture this far north. Ami (my high school friend) hired me to more or less document the trip. I’m not quite done shooting yet, but this photograph is the creme of crop thus far…at least to my mind.

Ami & her husband Eric asked me to join them in Harbor Springs and shoot some photographs along the waterfront. This one was taken on one of the piers directly behind the Pointer Room (hoighty toighty fine dinning. Well worth the bucks, just make sure you bring enough of them). They walked up and down the pier enjoying the scenery whilst I created photographs. Bennett, being just two years of age, has yet to grasp the notion of private property, and was pretty insistent that he be permitted to board each vessel moored. Much to his chagrin, no acts of piracy took place.


A couple more wedding shots…

I spent three days straight getting the proofs ready. My eyes nearly went crossed from staring at my monitor for such a long time. Here are a couple more images from the Dobias/Myhren wedding. I tend to have a pretty dim view on marriage, but I wish these kids the best of luck, they really are the nicest people you could meet.


Non Traditional Family Portrait

A couple months before I moved back to Northern Michigan (during my last semester of college) I began making regular trips up north. It was during these trips that I decided that “I missed it up here,” and began looking for a place to make a nest. I had been beckoned back up by a former high school classmate that wanted me to come up and shoot a set of family portraits. Word spread and soon I was making a trip north every other week and was dragging my entire studio set up from home to home creating portraits for friends, and then it spread to the friends of friends, then to strangers.

This photograph was created during that first trip last October. This brood is the Cleven Family. Kenda & Brian did not want traditional family portraits. I thought about it a bit and remembered an assignment given my photography professor (Ryan Flathau).

In class had previously discussed Henri Bresson’s idea of the Decisive Moment, that exact moment where everything within the camera’s frame was perfect. It was a fleeting moment that, if not captured in that instant, was gone forever.  Being a studio photographer (and an infinite control freak) Bresson’s notion garnered little interest with me. But, I’ve learned that even in the studio, there are those moments that slip away and cannot be recreated, especially with children. The assignment Flathau gave to his students was called the Indecisive Moment, or a greater collection of several decisive moments.

As soon as the idea popped into my head, the refinements and changes flowed like a river and I had every shot planned well prior to my arrival. The set up was pretty simple. I placed the camera on a tripod, set up my lights as desired and took an overall photograph of the empty room. Then I proceeded to take another sixty three photographs of that room with the occupants doing various things. The idea was to combine the best images to tell a story and show the passage of time with a single frame. Brian & Kenda appear only once in the image, but each of their two children appear five times each for a total of ten children doing nothing that they are supposed to be doing.

The photograph is still an untitled piece, but I still enjoy it. Kenda has a print of this image that gets paraded about whenever someone new comes around that has not seen it. That is really all a photographer can ask for.


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.



Skipping Stones

This is my 15 year old son, Scott skipping stones into Lake Michigan on North Manitou Island.  We were losing light, and trying to get back to camp before dark. I was doing my best to keep the group moving as we were still about a mile south of the camp site, but I couldn’t resist letting them skip stones while I took advantage of the late afternoon light.


Nuke Plant.

nukeHere is a better shot of the nuke plant. I stopped on the side of the road to get this one. This is in Ohio on the way to Port Clinton from Battle Creek.  I wish the house on the right side of the frame came out a little brighter, it gets lost in the trees and fouls up the juxtaposition….the whole point of phootographing a nuke plant in a residential/agricultural area.


Not in my backyard…

I shot this one from a moving car so the quality isn’t what I would prefer, but I thought it was pretty interesting.

I can’t imagine that real estate prices in this neighborhood would be terribly high…what with a nuke plant literally in the backyard.