Posted on June 27, 2018
Say hello to Giovanna.
Or Gio for short.
Gio’s a mom and a marketer to boot.
She’s into healthy eating, weight training, and silly humor.
Emphasis on all three parts in equal measure.
I’ve known Gio a long time, before the Age of Children.
And now our girls are classmates and friends.
They’re good buds.
And Gio and I are good buds, too.
Luckily for me, she’s up for photo shoots at the end of a long week.
We practice lighting and posing for candid profile pictures,
Like this one minus the sepia treatment.
Recently, we pushed ourselves beyond our customary limits.
And we explored shadow and light, hair and eyes.
We explored clavicles, lips, and the spine.
We explored strength and toughness…
…and the assurance that comes from being the boss lady of one’s own life.
We shot for over an hour,
Using a 50mm f/1.8 at ISO 200,
With only a reflector and a white backdrop.
My favorite image from the session is this one, hands down.
It’s not an original concept.
Not by any means.
But it is the first time I’ve ever executed on the idea.
And I’m pleased with how it turned out—
A frame within a frame, capturing almost every feature we sought to explore.
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Posted on June 24, 2018
Outside of Healdsburg, CA, deep in a maze of unimproved dirt roads, there’s a country vineyard called TEN Springs Ranch.
It’s a steep, wild, and beautiful place.
I was there with family and friends for an annual celebration.
When I had my fill of conversation, I struck out alone to capture details that often go unnoticed. Tendrils and spears of grass, grain and mortar, trellis and wire tighteners, and other small things just waiting to be discovered.
Details are huge. When you add them up—poor, humble, and unknown as they are—you get amazing places. Like vineyards or churchyards or schoolyards or even backyards.
As I pondered a square bolt, one of my favorite Details in the world startled me.
Dad, she said, brightly. Look what I caught.
Turning round, I looked very carefully. There they were, five little fingers holding one bigger finger, an iridescent blue throat gulping air, and a smile as broad as the Russian River.
Now that’s a scene worth capturing.
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Posted on June 19, 2018
Photography is influenced by psychology in a big way.
Take a look at these images,
Which I created over the last four years.
From image to image, the similarities are striking, right?
One person, not two—or more.
Face and eyes are largely hidden from view.
Shoulders or backsides get a lot of play.
Ratio of subject to negative space is fairly consistent,
With negative space predominating in the scene.
And of course, we’re outside, where wilderness abounds:
Sky, mountains, ocean, lakes, fields, trails, vistas, trees, and so on.
If photographs are inkblots, and they are—always!—
What do these images reveal about my beliefs and preoccupations?
And what do they reveal about your worldview, as you engage and react to them?
Posted on June 15, 2018
When I pack my camera, Gavin says, Leave it behind.
But I don’t.
When I pull it out like a rabbit from a hat, Gavin says, Put it away.
But I ignore him.
I don’t photograph him because that would be annoying.
But once in a while, Gavin will say, Hey, dad, take a picture of me,
As he did here, having climbed to the top of a large rock formation,
Between Lovers and Divorce beaches in Cabo.
I said, Smile.
And I said it again and then once more because all good things comes in threes.
Wisely, he decided to look indifferent and accomplished.
And I didn’t throw away my shot.
Posted on June 4, 2018
“What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound than a portrait.” That’s Charles Baudelaire, a French poet and an art critic, on the mysteries of portraiture. And I think he’s right.
There are a million ways to botch a portrait, even in the best conditions. In my experience, admittedly limited, a good portrait is a minor miracle. You’re not really responsible for it, neither you nor the subject. It just sort of happens, unplanned, unbidden. At best, you hope it happens. And you practice and prepare to help the moment along when it does.
Take this young lady, for instance. She was sitting near a fire in a room surrounded by windows, overlooking Donner Lake. The light in the room was perfect. And the light on her face and shoulders was even better.
Can I photograph you, I asked.
Yeah, sure, she said, a little surprised.
So I went to work with an 85mm shooting wide open, gathering as much light as possible for a high-key portrait with a studio feel, even though we were in a public space.
Most of the time, she looked off lens, this way and that, musing on snow, wind and mountains.
Then it happened.
She bore down on the lens in a way to make a cyclops freeze. She held her gaze fast, serene and confident.
A little brain in my finger said, Shoot. And my finger obliged, thankfully, because Something ageless was born in that moment.
Posted on May 29, 2018
I call him Salty.
But his name is Anthony.
And when you’re trying capture something right and true,
It’s good to use proper names.
So this is Anthony.
One of the great gifts of photography is that, every now and then,
You witness something deep and abiding.
When that happens, it’s an incredible privilege.
The mask slips and, for a brief moment,
You catch a man reckoning with some great internal joy or pain—or both.
Posted on May 15, 2018
Meet V for Vinita.
She leads marketing for a startup in the City.
Yep, that City, the city by the Bay.
Often my favorite images don’t make the cut.
They’re not polished.
And they’re not worth sharing with the client.
Still, these outcast photographs mean a lot to me.
They capture fleeting moments of joy, surprise, laughter, happiness.
Which are they very things that result in photographs that do make the final cut.
Like this one.