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

Product Photography

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.


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Oh God, what have I done?

jimmychooI recently helped a friend in the studio.

She bought a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Apparently, these shoes do something that ordinary shoes do not. I’m assuming that something is provide oral sex because every time the hens talk about them, they smile and look whistful as though remembering some Earth shattering orgasm.

She wanted some photographs of her shoes. I thought it odd, but hey, I photograph my guns, so who am I to judge, right? We set these up on the light table with the bottle of champange. Pretty straight forward set up. It is actually the same light set up I used for my Teddy Bears.

Now, the rest of the hen house is lining up and asking me to photograph their shoes.


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.


My teddy bear can kick your teddy bear’s ass.

bearsI took a studio lighting class last fall, and this is from one of the lighting assignments.

The assignment was ‘product photography lighting.’ We were tasked with lighting a small object or figurine on a light table. Those of us who were shooting with digital cameras were not permited to use photoshop to retouch the photos at all. The only edits allowed were minor croping and resizing.

The lighting set up was pretty easy. I used one boom light with a soft box overhead and slightly behind, with the boom angled toward the bears. The angle of the boom caused a light fall off on the infinity table providing the gradation from the bottom of the image to the top.

Getting the bears to stay put was another task altogether. They kept falling over, or slumping. I ended up bending a pair of metal coat hanger and stuffing it up the back of the uniform jacket of the left bear. The right bear is proped up against another hanger.


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.


Sometimes I photograph my food…

onion_soupYeah, weird, I know. But that was the best damned Pub Onion Soup I’ve ever had.

Elephant Bar, Chicago…just off of Michigan Ave.