Field notes and late night rambling

Sometimes you get lucky

This was a pretty straightforward assignment: get a photo for a profile of a guy who runs a local chain of vintage/resale clothing stores. Now as with all assignments, you never know what you will have to deal with in terms of location conditions and most importantly the mood and personality of the subject. See my prior posting about photographing a certain coach for how bad it can get. Anyhoo I got there and found that the subject Todd was […]

Visual literacy gets the Guillotine

As I have mentioned before I try to find things in the visual world that are as interesting and I perceive them to be – both from an intellectual and emotional level. This is often hard to do as sometimes things are just as boring as you fear. But not always. The problem with trying to see the world in a manner that is not as most passers by would see them is that they may not be able to […]

Both mind and heart peering through the lens

One of the things that fascinates me about how photographers doing news/documentary, is our ability to work under emotionally charged conditions. The guys who shoot war zones, famines, conflicts of any kind, spot news, championships and the like have a whole different set of internal tools than those who shoot subjects that aren’t likely to take a swing at you either physically or in an emotional sence. No offense intended but it’s true. When everyone around you is freaking out […]

Jonathans rules of disorder

Over on today Jim Merithew made a posting in his column about, among other things, the need to accept that our photos are not perfect. Imperfection in my work was a big hurdle for me to overcome a while back. I started out as a landscape/nature photographer and really gravitated to classical composition. I wanted my photographs to have a painterly studiousness about them. What I got was a whole lot of images that frustrated me. They weren’t good […]

Doing the unthinkable

I’m a pretty decisive guy. When I make up my mind I’m pretty much done thinking about it, much to the dismay of some people who know me (Hi honey!), but that does pose a problem when I do a reversal on a prior position. It doesn’t happen often so I wanted to be a good guy and go public about this. Ya see a while ago I made a statement that included the word "never" and when never actually […]

On life and death

One of the amazing things about this job is the range of subject matter that you cover as a journalist. Personally I prefer the ones that are positive and show the strength of our species but not in a saccharine way. I don’t like "tear jerker" stories as they always seem contrived and pandering. Give me the ones where there is hope but still struggle because life is like that: a journey where there is happiness with an undercurrent of […]

Drawing with darkness

When I was just entering high school I briefly played with the idea of becoming a writer. No that’s not right. I wanted to be a novelist or screenwriter. I wanted to try and tell interesting and hopefully evocative stories that took you on a kind of internal journey.  I found that the characters weren’t as important to me as was the struggle and the overcoming of some kind of uncertainty. I usually didn’t like "good guys" in stories as […]

Now I’ve gone and done it

Well folks I’ve been waiting to get my skill set together, since I’m a practical kinda guy, and am about to take the next step in my storytelling abilities. No, not that whole "learning to spell" thing it’s still visual for me. It’s video. I’ve been doing audio/visual presentations for over a year now and that followed a number of years where I was waiting for technology and the culture to be ready for such things and have realized that […]

A kind of graduation

"An amateur does it over and over until they get right while a pro does it until they can’t get it wrong" Chef Mario Battali A while ago I  met a gal who was looking for some photographic insight.  I told  her that she could buy me lunch and show me her folio. So over some very nice French fare I saw a book of very rough photos from a very green photographer who never the less seemed to have […]

Oh! You’re are photographer. Do you shoot weddings?

Man I hear that all the time. It's funny but so many people, even when I'm on assignment, tend to think that if I make photographs professionally I must therefor shoot weddings. Well the answer is: "Uh yeah but only if I like you and think that it's going to be fun". That totally takes people by surprise. I love to document events like weddings. They are wonderful times that are very emotional and are designed to be pretty. They […]

… to a screeching halt

Galen Rowel wrote that the process of traveling heightens the senses in ways that we often don’t think about. The act of packing bags and putting thing in order at home so that you can be away is a different state of awareness than we normally experience. I totally agree. Sometimes I feel that way even if I am  just packing my bag to do a shoot on the other side of town but then I’m silly. The Omaha trip […]

Getting my junk there

I have traveled more for business in the last two years than all the years prior. This is a strange paradigm shift for me as I always thought of myself as a local shooter but hey if they want to ship me doG knows where – I’m cool with it. Traveling as a tourist is totally different than business travel and doing it on deadline makes a bad situation worse. If you have to fly into a city for the […]

If I die today …

Happy intro huh? I was reading that photographers are considered to be the second most unhappy professionals between bartenders at the bottom and welders being next best. I think that’s crap. I love my job and it has given me experiences and insight that are invaluable. I have patrons from my art that enable me to essentially wander about and learn of the world. This is a pretty cool gig if you can get it. So I was thinking that […]

Something different

I often get people asking me if I will photograph them/their band for their upcoming CD.  It rarely turns into a job for the following reasons in order: 1) They don’t have any money but want to give me a few copies of their crappy CD plus "think about all the publicity you will get from all our fans seeing your work". Talk usually ends here. 2) They want photos but have no idea what they want style wise and […]

Watch yer back(up)!

It’s silly how much we rely on technology these days. There was a time where a pager seemed like something that only surgeons and generals needed and having one made me feel like my clients had me on a leash. Yet now with my primary phone being my mobile I am not only reachable anywhere and anytime but I can send immediate e-mails to the client with contracts, search the web and have a tiny portfolio all on my phone. […]

How bad can it get? Let’s see …

One of the things that I’ve always heard and believe is: the difference between a pro and an amateur is that the pro will bring back the goods under any circumstance. I’ve had some assignments where things just go horribly – terribly wrong but it’s my job to make something out of it. Bad light, awful location, limited time, grumpy subject … NO subject, been there – shot that. I had one the other day that I knew was going […]

She said “How did you ever do it before digital?”

The other day I had to photograph the head of a local cancer center with their new hulking nuclear linear accelerator for deep tissue cancer treatments. Any of you who do annual reports, corporate work or business news do these kind of shots often: you put the camera on a tripod, light the room and subject in an interesting way with strobes while burning in the pretty lights and displays of the machine with the room lights out. Not a […]

Open mind (I’m back!)

I’m not one to worry about things. Oh I do think a lot, too much some will say, but I’m not the kind that has to often "clear the cobwebs of the mind". That said I like to travel just to look at things. I’m so often going places to specifically find and photograph something that it was great to spend 4 days just driving about some of the most beautiful landscape in the world without having to make a […]

Down time

Well a strange thing is about to happen starting tomorrow: I’m taking time off. Not for the most usual reason which seems to be "I gotta get out of here!". Or even the often popular reason "I need to get a way from work". No the fact is that I love what I do day in a day out. I frankly have more fun doing what I do than I should be allowed to. (Hmm I should check into local […]

The night time … is the right time …

That or "The freaks come out at night …" That all applies. Something happens when the light gets low and the music gets loud that makes "normal people" (whoever that is) transform into something far interesting. So I had to do photos of a local hotspot because they have a reputation for being a big singles scene on Tuesdays of all things. However they don’t really get going until near midnight but man did people come out of the woodwork […]

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