Tag Archives: Portraits

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Mom … in context of Dad

On the same note as the previous post (Past and Present) but in the extreme, photographing family in any other than a candid context has  always been a challenge for me. I call it the “photographing your mother syndrome”.  I tackled the problem  a few years ago with some success, but without the clarity of purpose I know to bring to it now. More recently, my wife Marni requested portraits of our two youngest for her birthday. I will always go for a candid, authentic feel; but I wanted a more formal result,  so I grabbed them off the beach, took them into the studio and shot with window light. They were amazing subjects, took direction beautifully, and seemed to enjoy the attention … which all came as a surprise to me … having expected a good deal of late afternoon pushback. My son Harry, age 11, mentioned that I was talking to them in an unfamiliar way … and I realized my professional self had taken over, I had gone into “the zone”. It is not a persona I want to bring to these relationships with any frequency … but it was interesting, to me anyway,  how clear the distinction had become.

Harry & Margaret

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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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Making History … Portraits

Every few years I photograph the outgoing President of the Academy of Arts & Sciences. The picture ends up on a wall documenting presidents of the last 230 years, starting with an engraving of John Adams (1779). As most of what I do is published and chucked, it feels significant to me to have created something for the historical record. Some recent contributions to that wall have been Leo Beranek (Sorry Al, he knows who founded the internet) and Dr. Emilio Bizzi ( a distinguished neuroscientist).

I got a call a couple of years ago from a portrait painter and acquaintance of mine to collaborate on some work he had been commissioned to do. We eventually worked together on portraits for Alan Greenspan for the Fed (see bio), Gov. Tom Ridge, and Hon. Michael Chertoff, both for the Dept. of Homeland Security. I am always amazed and humbled by good painters. The plasticity of their process, the extraordinary melding of craft and opinion, and the granularity of decisions, makes taking a photograph seem like a walk in the park. My goal was to take some pictures that not only worked for the painting, but that worked for me as well. These photos, in a roundabout way, acquired a similar historical significance for me as those above. Somewhere in the paintings, hung forever in the corridors of government, will be my photographic DNA.

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Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, MA

Kids

Everytime I visit this place I come away amazed … amazed at the irrepressible spirit of children … amazed at how seemingly intractable social problems can be mitigated with such simple solutions. I am sure it’s not perfect, but this place is all about respect, compassion. and understanding in the service of hope and possibilities. I always come away renewed.

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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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Lots of Docs

Simple concept, nice design, and a production level these folks were not really used to (what do you mean makeup?) I tried to keep things loose and the space open.

 

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