Field notes and late night rambling

Assignment insight part 1 – Getting your mind around it

Anyone who is a professional photographer will often get a potential client say something like "Why are you charging me so much? All you have to do is go out and snap the picture!" Uh, no. It's far more complex than that. Let me explain from example. I get a call from a guy who is interested in having me make some location portraits of Wendy Booker a "climber lady in the Boulder area". Ok, can do. How did he […]

Book ’em Dano!, or “I want you to want me …”

Well I'm getting set to head to Washington D.C. in a few weeks to do a shoot and while I'm there take the opportunity to meet some editors and NGO's that I want to make contact with. One of the great things about our web based world is that if you are looking for me, or just about anyone else, you can find me with a few key strokes into your favorite search engine and "Ta-DA!" there's my web folio. […]

Oops! Hey … that’s kinda cool

I gotta say that there’s a lot of planning and thinking that goes into making photographs that are worth a darn. You think about the light, composition, location, subject, what the heck the client wants, what the heck you want, all the gear you think you need, all the gear you might want to bring in case you are totally fooled by everything you think you know … blah-blah-blah. But for me what is the best part is everything that […]

A strand in the web

I was listening to NPR today and they were talking about the classic story by E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. I love that story and upon reflection what now really seems to be the moral is not that Charlotte put all the animals to work to save Wilbur the pig from becoming bacon nor was it Charlotte's loving selflessness. The animated version, as book adaptations tend to do, changed and added a few things. One of which was the ending. It […]

At our Italian restaurant …

Just a little moment I saw while at a local Italian restaurant. I have no idea what it all means but then does every image have to “mean something”???

What the art?

As I’ve said before I’m a “news-ie” at heart because I love to tell stories. But there are real stories that I try to tell visually and ones that are only in my head that I try to illustrate with my camera. Portraits are almost always stories in my head. More and more with portraits I want to take on a different approach to the story than a straight “just the facts mam” news-ie would. Mostly because I can and […]

… and yet it’s still uh, me!

David Hobby the creator of the great Strobist blog has created a worldwide, or so it seems, sensation by letting people know how to use small battery powered strobes on location where you would normally think that you had to drag out big studio strobe units. Well that's something that I've been doing for years and it's great to see so many people embracing an approach that gets around our gear head preconceived notions of how to light things. One […]

The beautiful people

Ok I have to admit that since I'm a news/documentary shooter at heart the first thing that goes through my mind when I'm looking for a subject for my photographs is not "Is it pretty?". It's more like "Is it interesting?" Pretty things are to me rarely as interesting as non-pretty things. Smooth marble or rough hewn granite? Baby or old man? I'll take the craggy stuff thanks. I remember reading an interview maybe 15 years ago with now legendary […]

Names on a hat

I just had a thought. Yeah, it does happen from time to time so bear with me. There is a scene from a Monty Python movie, The Meaning Of Life, where a marketing guy says that they have figured out that people would be happier if they wore more hats. Ok, that's not too funny but in the context of the whole scene and movie – it's a riot. Still I was thinking about the hats that I would wear […]

No place for sissies

Well the Derby project has been running along rather nicely. It's a butt numbingly long process but I'm just as enthused as then the idea hit me. The video thing is going to take a long while to edit and make it all flow nicely. The stills are total cake. No, make that "total pie" as I like pie much more than cake. Since I'm going stills and video at the same time, I'm dragging WAY too much gear around […]

Inside a long morning

Well as promised here is an inside look at my coverage of the John McCain town hall meeting yesterday. Things technically begin when the alarm clock went off at 4:15am. Not my favorite time to open my eyes, ya know? So I get on the road and head to the location where I need to be by 6am to get a spot on the press riser. It’s lovely at that time of the day although I’m rarely up at this […]

Pre-flight checklist

Ok, let run this down: Both bodies set, one with my trusty 17-35 and one with my workhorse 80-200? Check.Strobe on a rope (SB-800 with SC-17 TTL sync cord)? Check.400mm and 1.4 converter with monopod? Check.14mm incase I want to get stupidly wide? Check.Batteries fresh? Check.Gore-Tex top and bottom? Yep.Do I have that XLR to 1/8th inch cable for the Medusa feed? Oh yeah, almost forgot that. Check.Microphones and recorder setup together? Check. Dang it but before a "serious" gig […]

A long gaze into the darkness

Just a random snap from the bus on the way back from a Derby bout. It doesn’t mean anything. Really. But then all photographs are Rorschach blots as we peer into our own souls for meaning. Wow. That’s way too deep for this. Oh well.

Taking note

"It’s getting late, for scribbling and scratching on the paperSomethings going to give under this pressureAnd the cracks are already beginning to show." from Marillion "Bitter Suite" It’s amazing how much information you jot down in this biz. And yet I’m not a serious note taker. Never have been. I have a great memory for things that interest me. So much so that even in school I didn’t take a lot of notes. However there are loads of things that […]

Dominance and submission

For some reason the term “dance” comes up alot when I talk about the process of making photographs. There has to be a leader, a follower and some kind of pulse that you are flowing with. Who is leading is not often obvious on the outside of that delicate and sometimes brief relationship. But it goes deeper than that. There has to be some kind of control established by the photographer at some time or the photos don’t happen. For […]

Making chicken salad out of chicken … stuff

Ok let me say that this was not the photo that I intended to make. Nope. Not at all. I had something very very different floating around in my scull as I was driving to the assignment. I was to photograph a trio of executives who relax by playing Lacrosse on a local team. I liked the idea of three guys in suits with their Lacrosse sticks and helmets with the sunset behind them and dramatic light in front. Yeah, […]

Heaven … I’m in heaven …

It’s been nearly 5 hours and I’m still sucking on my fingertips. Generally business travel, especially with this job, means: get there, get it done and get on to the next assignment. No time to hang out and fool around. No sight seeing and lolly gaging. Which is usually a shame as there is often interesting things at or near my destination that is not related to my subject. This time I got lucky.  Few business travelers  want to hear […]

Joan and Johnnie

I appreciate that I have editors that feel that I’m a sensitive guy and will assign me to photograph people in emotionally difficult/delicate situations. I’ve been shipped to Kansas City to photograph a woman who lost her 16 year old daughter in a plane crash a little over a year ago. Joan Winters with her daughter Paige and their riding coach went to look at buying Paige a new horse in Kentucky. But on the return flight there weren’t enough […]

200 pounds of gear and a pair of socks

When packing your bags to go on an assignment you are always thinking, or at least I do, "ok what do I need for this job?" I’ve corroborated this with some other shooters and we seem to have the same thought process: "Cameras? Check. Lenses? Check. That cool lens/thing that I rarely use but could be super cool if I get a chance to use it? Check. (blah-blah-blah)" We think of the esoteric stuff, headlamps for after dark shooting, special […]

All the world is my stage

They say about photography that "the lens points both ways" and that the photograph is as much about the photographer as the subject. All the decisions made prior the the exact moment capture says volumes about the photographer as a person and artist. That said is photography, since despite all the prior work that leads up to being on location with the subject, essentially a mutual performance by the subject and photographer both working in some kind of harmony?  Given […]

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