Category Archives: Stories

Fishing Trumps Photography … oops!

Nate … sweet cast

So here is the scene … two old (92 and 84) friends … a pristene river … beautiful, rambunctious trout … spring hatches … it was a movie aching to be made … perhaps “A River RanThrough it”. What did I do? You got it. I fished … and enjoyed the camaradie of fine men. There aren’t a lot of things that get between me and the picture. Family is one, without apology. Fishing, I found, was the other. It was a fine time that I couldn’t bring myself to intrude upon with a myopic artistic energy. Oh,  but the ones that got away … really.

Fishing with Friends

Dave & Bryant … Fish on


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The Eyes have it … Opthalmology

I have spent almost two months photographing the myriad of doctors and researchers at the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmolgy. It is rare to be engaged in a project for this long and it has been a challenge to create distinctive photographs in a world of labs, conference rooms, and clinical exam rooms. In a word; ya seen one … . The upside is observing this army of very big brains addressing the problem of congenital and therapeutic ophthalmic defects.

Watching and photographing while a surgeon makes an incision on an eyeball strikes very close to home.

Fritz Klaetke (Visual Dialogue) and I decided to maximize the authenticity of the photos, and my process has been quick,simple, and available light(with a lightweight, over the shoulder portable strobe backup system for emergencies). Emphasizing the idea of in focus/out of focus seemed appropriate for the venue. so I am doing mostly long lense and tight; yet another challenge in these low light environments.

Occasionally I will go my own way with the work; just to keep things interesting.

To be in such close proximity to science and medicine for so long, on the one hand, creates a great argument for the potential of the human mind (a perspective that often escapes me these days) and the wonder of the human body: on the other, serves as a stark and humble reminder of how little we really know.

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See my Stories Portfolio

My first digital shoot was in 1998. It was portraits for Fidelity to be used in a completely illustrated environment. We’ve come a long way since then. I still shoot film for personal projects; never commercially. The digital environment has brought us immediacy, spontaneity, flexibility, and the ability to take risks with a buffer of certainty. It has also afforded us  the potential for a new level of authenticity and, paradoxically, the possibility of  infinite manipulation … strange bedfellows indeed. Where I used to need lots of gear, I can now go into an environment quietly and in the background to tell a story. This method takes me back to my roots as a photographer (think Tri-X  .. the iconic high speed black & white film). It is nice to be back. To fill the gaping maw of websites, I often go into an environment with a couple of cameras to observe and record. This is pure visual storytelling and an effective way to build an authentic library of images for an organization.

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The Brearley School

Brearley is a girls prep school on East End Avenue in Manhattan. The assignment was to build their photo library and illustrate a soon to be designed web site and collateral materials. I found a surprising diversity in the student body; a lack of pretense; and a wonderfully intimate and somewhat retro academic environment. It gets a little intense on the high end; but other than some extraordinary cheekbones; all pretense seems to be left at the front doors.

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Tall Ships … What Goes Around

Tall Ships … a dream … at last

I got a call from a producer in Los Angeles to shoot print ads concurrent with the TV spots for a bank in Russia (VTb24). The subject, in this case, was the captain of the Kreuzenstern, a 3 masted barque, used for maritime training, and the second largest tall ship in the world. A week later I was on deck off Cape Cod, under a full moon and full sail. A long time ago I blew a chance to get up close and personal with tall ships. Different time, different John. I called my son and his comment was “Dad, you finally got your tall ship”. Yep.

More Shots

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Anatomy of an Annual Report Cover

Alnylam Pharmaceutical is a biotech firm in Cambridge, MA. I have photographed their annual report for the last five years. There are usually two components to the assignment; the first centered around an idea or theme and tied into a fairly demanding graphic; the second a very free form visual record of the company at that time. This year the theme was focus. The graphic solution entailed having eyes and action in the center of a vertical, with room at the top a bottom for type and text.

There were chosen players and it all had to be setup. The cover was supposed to adhere to the same criteria, but incorporate warmth and accessibility as well. That is all about casting (in this case finding). I try to avoid faking nice. Tatiana is a natural. I brought a lab mate in for entertainment and occasionally interjected some bon mots to keep things lively.

… and we ended up here:

Designer: Michael Persons … Gill Fishman Design.

(See More Photos From this Shoot)

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