Take Me To Church

Iceland, summer, 2019—I love churches, mainly as symbols of quiet and stillness. I’m intrigued by “religious” or “spiritual” values: charity, kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness, transcendence, and so on. I’m especially fascinated when religious values conflict with profane ones. Like efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line. I salivated when this alarm-red truck rocked the scene in Reykjavík.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church coca cola

Such a great juxtaposition! It reminds me of Thoreau who despises rampant commercialism.

“I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.”

The next image is angelic and demonic all at once. It’s OK to gasp in terror before a church. After all, it’s stitched together from bits and pieces of cracked humanity.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church moody

But it’s also OK to be awed by its beauty and hopefulness…

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church sunset

…and its quest for simplicity and good manners.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church on a hill

Gavin and I had to earn this next church. We were at camp when I noticed the sun setting just so. Camera in hand, I walked west without a word. Gavin followed. We hustled up a steep hillside, then bowed before lupine. Graced by sun flare.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church sun flare

Sometimes when I compose a scene, it triggers a verbal experience. As this one did when I squared up to photograph it:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all the wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

That’s Thomas Gray, by the way.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church cross cemetery

This last image also composed itself to a verbal tune, and from no less an authority than the Bible.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. —Exodus 3:2

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church grass mountains

Except in this case it’s grass and not a bush that burns and isn’t consumed. A fine pastoral scene, elemental, with basic physical realities—spears of grass, game trails, a sharp ridgeline, and a small red and white church, eeking out a living in the immensity of it all.

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed!

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

The Color of Water

Glaciers are mesmerizing.
All that gray, swirling ceaselessly,
Above in the clouds and below in the water.
Then suddenly—almost prophetically—a splash of blue.

neilson travel photography bay area photographer iceland glaciers three one small

Onlookers are drawn to prophetic blue.
A patch of yellow signals the arrival of someone else.
A comrade-photographer angling low for a shot.

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Before long, the scene shifts.
The colors intensify as if by magic.
Bright and moody all at once.
Forlorn and revelatory.

neilson travel photography bay area photographer iceland glaciers three one bright

Gavin walks to the water’s edge, irresistibly.
A California kid—hanging loose—misplaced in this vast glacial lagoon.

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Strong Young Women

neilson teen photography bay area photographer black white strong young ladies

Labor Day weekend.
Salmon Lake.
Cloudless.
I’m with friends.
Lots of them.
I’ve known them a long time.
We’ve seen our kids start small and go big.
Smiles are great.
But eyes are better.
They’re tough as hell to fake.
Eyes scream reality:
We take no shit from nobody.
Not in high school.
Not in college.
Never.

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Adobe: Picture Perfect

Overwhelming gratitude.
That’s how I feel when I photograph at Adobe.
Oh, happy, too, of the bursting variety.
So much to say about this set.
But the images themselves will have to do the talking.
I’m at a loss for words…Neilson_Corporate_Photography_Portrait_Sales5-BrighterDSC_4477-2neilson corporate photography portrait bay area photographer headshot adobe sales blue glassesneilson corporate photography portrait bay area photographer headshot adobe brown hairneilson corporate photography portrait bay area photographer headshot adobe sales dreadlocks

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Out Shooting Horses

July, 2019.
Iceland, dusk.
In the summer, twilight lasts a long time.
The sun never never fully disappears.
It flirts with the horizon.
Skirting, touching, and dipping beneath it, briefly.
Then it pops right back up again.
I made these images at 11:30 at night.
My family was asleep.
I was not.
I crossed the road, empty.
I sauntered into an open field.
Potatoes, cotton bolls, lush green grass.
Oh, and horses, lots of them.
Corralled by trenches and thin wire fences.

neilson travel photography iceland horses landscape cotton bolls

They skittered a bit, on edge.
One bolted, then stopped on a ridge.
He looked at me, miffed.
As I walked, he parallelled me with precision till I was gone.
A wild, long-maned Icelandic geometer of sorts.

neilson travel photography landscape horse solitary

Another horse.
Not skittish, friendly.
Soft nose, curious eyes.
Closer, closer.
I touched the forehead,
Then the muzzle.

neilson travel landscape photography iceland horses mono e mono

I approached a small band of horses.
On hands and knees, I crawled up to them.
Totally unnecessary.
They greeted me, flicking their tails.
I sat down before them, at the feet of muscle and bone.
Rocking quietly before their strength and beauty.
Listening, observing, and shooting.
Always shooting.

neilson travel photography landscape iceland horses cinematic group

Now that’s a damn fine image.
Big print here I come!

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Pensive Is Joy

 

Faces without expression interest me.
I like the ambiguity, the pensiveness.
But clients don’t like Pensive.
Not as a general rule.
They like unvarnished Joy.
Always have.
So.
Lately I’m doing something different.
During family photo shoots,
I run participants through a series of prompts.
Together we travel from Pensive to Joy
With many waystations in between.
I’m happy with the results.
I get what I want.
And clients get what they want.
Thoughts and reactions are welcome!

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Him to Her

WINTER, SUMMER—I traveled up and down the San Francisco peninsula photographing corporate business professionals. I’d like to share a few of them.

Adobe

The only thing better than a corporate shoot at Adobe is a corporate shoot at Adobe on a balcony overlooking the City. With a cityscape like that, your eyes would pop, too.

neilson corporate photography photography bay area san francisco silicon valley adobe staff headshot executive portrait will allen

CyCognito

Members of the CyCognito leadership team needed new headshots to match an existing look and feel. Although it departs from my customary style and aesthetic, I thoroughly enjoyed working with a white background and two off-camera strobes.

Procurant

When you provide solutions for the global food supply chain, it’s smart branding to photograph your leaders outdoors where trees and hedgerows provide a splash of color.

Fenwick & West marketing pro

This aspiring marketing leader at a legendary law firm wanted to blend the venerability of law with the approachability of marketing. Done and done. 

Oh, did I say Adobe?

If so, no harm in repetition 🙂

neilson corporate photography photography bay area san francisco silicon valley adobe staff headshot executive portrait will allen

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.