Tag Archives: location photography

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 Venerable Headshot

The head shot has been around for a very long time … they just took a little longer back then. Bear with me here … I was an art history major. I am occasionally asked to produce these portraits for my clients, usually for their website “about” pages. (used to be for the back pages of annual reports). These are fairly simple endeavors with well prescribed parameters: head and shoulders, nice light, eyes to the camera, visual consistency, and not a lot of time .

What is interesting to me is that these relatively straightforward assignments demand, during the interaction, the same attention as a more highly produced work (See my post The Essential Portrait). As long as I am being pretentious it  is a short leap to the idea of the headshot as the  haiku of portraiture … a simple vehicle to a simple truth.  One usually manages to get a lot of nice shots, but I find there are only a few that sing. Below are some examples of recent work. See more of my executive portraits at my website … here.

 

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Winners and Losers

Along with all the amazing possibilities in the digital realm  have come the wires and constant “checking”. What is lost is the need for a certain kind of concentration; of previsualization; a certain way of being in a given photographic moment. I am not sure one takes better pictures one way or the other; but I don’t get the same feeling of immersion shooting digitally. I said to a friend recently that when I shoot pixels my pictures go to the computer and when I shoot film they go straight to my heart. There is a certain analogy here with an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar; or perhaps my Honda Pilot and my old (and long gone) ’46 Willys. There is something tactile and accessible about the latter. Put your ear to the soundbox of an acoustic and play a full chord; open up the hood of the Willy’s and pull the carburetor; listen to the sound of a Hasselblad going about its business …

John Earle, photographer, milton glaser, selling outsomething lost … something gained.

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Past and Present

Sustainable building

Dimetrodon Warren, Vermont

Bill Maclay was a “Green” architect before anyone else cared … a true pioneer in the universe of “net zero building“. Bill’s first adventure  out of grad school was a cluster housing project in the Sugarbush Valley of Vermont,  aptly named “Dimetrodon” for its cutting edge renewable energy platform. This structure has become a classic example of the Vermont DesignBuild movement.   Bill has never wavered in his quest for innovative ways to incorporate environmentally pragmatic solutions into his designs and, today,  Maclay Architects of Warren, VT is considered the leading sustainable architectural firm in New England.

Bill and I go back a long way … in fact to his very first structures … in the sandbox in our back yard. He called a couple of weeks ago, to ask if I might take his portrait for a new book.  Mixing the personal and the professional is always tricky, and I have learned over the years, that during a session; the personal aspect informs the choices and but never the process. Ultimately you have to just hunker down and do the work of directing and seeing … I call it the being in the zone.

You might note an unapologetic redundancy in the use of the background (See Stephanie) … but I am working in my own “Point Lobos”  here and will return to certain places when appropriate.

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Terry Goodkind Doesn’t Shoot John Earle


I love photographing authors. I have never met one that wasn’t incredibly intense. A number of my subjects have had a serious preoccupation with firearms. (Clancy, Parker) but they don’t usually wear them. When Terry Goodkind answered his front door, he sported a 45mm Glock on his belt. Now I am not a gun guy, and that lack of familiarity breeds a certain diffidence when they are around, so I asked if I was in peril. His look implied that the jury was out until we got to know each other. Sometimes getting along is not a choice. We talked about it later, and I couldn’t really argue with the idea that, like a cell phone, if you decide to own a gun, it doesn’t do you a lot of good sitting at home under your pillow. Terry is very smart, very focussed, and, yes, strongly opinionated … and man, he’s got some wheels.

Terry, Jeri his wife, Ivan Held (publisher) and Susan Allison(editor)

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Stories

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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Nice Lawyers … Really

One fascinating aspect of my job is to experience the cultures of different organizations. Sometimes the vibe I get is palpable. Sensitivity to this  culture is  critical in order to work well. My interaction is often broad and deep, and I need to play by their rules or my clients and their contacts can pay a steep price.  An organization with a good vibe is a pleasure to work in. The law firm, Goulston & Storrs, is just that (at least for me). This is a place where people seem to like and respect each other, find a place to do well and do good in the world, and they get my jokes. I just finished shooting some ads for their litigation department. It was a good day.

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Portrait of a DC Troublemaker

I have done a lot of work for a very large law firm in Boston. A few years ago I had a chance to photograph many of their first year associates for a recruiting brochure. In the course of the interactions, I asked a lot of them if they loved the law. Not one answered affirmatively.

I have shot 4 of the last 6 covers for The Law School … an annual publication for NYU, usually featuring their most distinguished graduates or professors. These guys love the law. This year was no exception.

Neil Barofsky is a born troublemaker. A relentless investigator, a creative and fearless prosecutor, he has made trouble for Columbian druglords and powerful financiers. Most recently, he has been assigned the task (by the Obama Administration) of finding out what happened to that 400 billion dollar TARP give away in late 2008 and early 2009. It seems noone had bothered to ask. As nothing is simple for anyone with strong moral compass in Washington DC, he is ruffling feathers in many different government neighborhoods. He is a very low key, nice guy. He is, also, very busy.

Neil graciously gave us a two hour window. The art director and myself scouted early in the morning and pulled off 5 situations. I like working fast … things don’t get too fussy. My assistants tell me their worst nightmare is me with time on my hands. No problems here.

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