Feeling it

We as creators want to create. I'd argue that finding a tool that makes the process enjoyable is as important a part of creating an image as the objective quality of the tool. Like Dorothy Gale (from Kansas!), as far as I'm concerned there's no place like home– or in this case, my first "real" camera. I've owned almost every kind of camera out there, from Leica to Mamiya to 8x10, but the classic SLR best fits how I naturally "see" the world. It's the tool that I kind of forget about when it's in my hand. Currently my Sony a7 with vintage Canon FD manual focus lenses gets me as close to the intimate experience I'm looking for as anything I've found, with the fewest amount of distractions.  I just purchased a new (20 year old) Canon FD 35mm f2 that joins my FD 50mm f1.2 and will probably soon be joined by the 85mm 1.8.  They are all small, unobtrusive, and relatively cheap. While they may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, so to speak, they have a certain feel that just gets me to my happy place.

Here are three of the first images I've made with the 35mm f2. (Yup, the kids.)

All images are full frame, straight outta camera with only color temperature adjustments made in Lightroom, with the exception of #3 which has some vignetting. These are all shot at f2 with the camera in Aperture priority.

And a few oldies but goodies with the Canon FD 50mm f1.2...


Arne Sorenson for Worth Magazine

It's been awhile since I've posted (drat! I promised myself that wouldn't happen!) so here's a quick PDF "tear sheet" of a recent shoot I did of Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott worldwide for Worth Magazine. I'll update with pics of the printed magazine, once I have them.


It was a fun shoot and the hospitality at Marriott HQ was appropriately fantastic. We got a few set-ups in in the 20 minutes or so we had to shoot. Mr. Sorenson was gracious and I was impressed about how much he knew about... just about everything!

Big Thanks to Pamela Shavalier for the call, and if you ever need someone to fly aboard a private jet or make some pictures at an exclusive island resort, I can do that too!

Boston Portfolio Reviews

I just came back from a 2 day portfolio review trip to Boston. I had worked there for almost 10 in the 20-otts (I think that's what the kids are calling the years between 2001 & 2010 these days) and it's always amazing to see what's changed and what hasn't.

(Spoiler Alert: The roads. still. suck.)

The Boulvevard Artists portfolio reviews though, were pretty fantastic. I met and possibly offended many incredibly smart, attractive, witty, sweet, kind, and nice smelling art directors from the likes of  Adam&Co, Arnold, Draper, Fidelity InvestmentsIsobar (go 'cuse!), Kor, PJA and more. I also met and re-met the competition whose books kept my jaw dropping. Robb, Cory, KC, Ken, Ryan, et al, are amazing photographer who are creating images that I aspire to.

I lugged THREE portfolios there covering a range of what I shoot for both work and pleasure. (a book of "one-offs" covering work corporate, editorial and institutional work, one book on The Learn Project, and a funky brand new one on kids and science housed in, what else, a Trapper Keeper!) Stephanie Menuez did a fantastic job with the pacing and the flow of each book. I was able to show one or several to each reviewer and the transitions between books just made sense. Everyone admired the spreads and I got a few "oohs" on the full pagers and compliments on the color. (Yes, me, color!) I wholeheartedly recommend Stephanie's services. 

The other highlight of the trip, aside from dining at B&G Oysters with Robb, was buying my first ever jean jacket, seen here tossed oh so carelessly on the driveway.

a late 1960's LEvi's (the capital E is apparently important) reproduction model 3 in indigo.

Can I rock this jacket? It's too early to say, but I'm sure gonna try. 

To Meet Interesting People and Find Myself in Unusual Places.

When aspiring photographers ask me how they can become professionals, I start with the same question, "Why do you want to be a professional photographer?"

It's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer. But in my experience it's helpful to know your own motivations and why you would want to subject yourself to the agony of trying to earn a living doing something that you're passionate about, in a cut-throat, crowded field where someone else is always willing to do a job for next to nothing. What will sustain you when you're doing the bidding? Your taxes? The grunt work?

For me it's simple. I became a professional photographer to meet interesting people and find myself in unusual places. Not for the love of the art form, not to shoot women in bikinis, not for dreams of winning a Pulitzer. It's simply the selfish desire to rub elbows with and learn from fascinating people and experience places most others will never see. I work hard on the product, but I always try to enjoy the process.


Playing Hooky

My wife is on maternity leave for just a few more weeks so we decided to play hooky on a brisk Thursday afternoon and check out the National Aquarium in Baltimore. If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest it. Ticket prices are pretty steep, but if you're local you should consider the family membership. It'll save you some dough and supports a good cause. 

Sam (currently 2 1/2 months) had a limited experience there, having slept through most of it in the free baby carrier that the aquarium provided. He kinda looked like this Emerald Tree Boa. -->

Alex (almost 4) was a bit more adventurous and ran from tank to tank. He had his favorites, which included NEITHER of these two:

Big Scary Shark. (Latin: sharkus nightmarus)

Freshwater Crocodile

But, he's a trooper and had a great afternoon. And, since I wasn't working, I had no problem not getting the appropriate captioning information. If anyone knows the names of any of these, let me know in the comments!

For the gear heads out there. All the images were made with a Canon 5Dmk4 with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART, except for the emerald boa, which i made with an iPhone6 and the Snapseed app. They were processed in CaptureOne. I turned up the crunchiness a bit, to compensate for shooting through 2" thick aquarium glass.

Science is Messy.

Last year I was fortunate enough to shoot my second book in the Try This: series for National Geographic Kids with super author Karen Romano Young.  While I can't show any of the pictures from the book until it's actually published, I decided to shrug off "real" work on this rainy Tuesday and do some quick images of some of the things we did, post mortem. Science is messy and involves breaking as well as creating. Here's to wreckage.


Acadia Institute of Oceanography

After finishing the shooting for Try This: Extreme, my second National Geographic Kids book last summer (see how I name-dropped right there?) I had something of an epiphany: I really like photographing kids as they learn and explore. Witnessing kids tackling a problem and solving it (in often unexpected ways) is really fun. The experience of shooting both books reminded me of my two summers at the Acadia Institute of Oceanography in Seal Harbor, Maine. The experience had a huge impact on me– not just because of what I learned, but because of the kids I met, the music I heard, and the overall experience of getting out of my small world and exploring a larger (and wetter) one.

Reflecting on all of this, I contacted Sherry at AIO in the summer of 2016 and arranged to head up there to make some images. I was surprised at how it still seemed so familiar—the ping pong table, the salt water tanks, even the tie-dyed shirts! It seemed like very little had changed about the program in the 25 years or so since I had been a camper there. I don't know if the lack of cell phone reception in the area kept most of the modern world at bay or if it was just that the camp philosophy that I remember—relying on your intelligence and observation rather than technology, has held true. However refreshing, this anamnesis presented a challenge right off the bat. Was I photographing kids doing science or just documenting a mirror of my own childhood?  I only had a few days to shoot, so I was worried about tackling too much and coming up with an incomplete story.

In the end, I kind of punted. I decided to pursue the science/learning aspect of the camp, and only document the lifestyle, more personal side of the summer camp experience as it came up. I figured that I could always revisit camp in a year or two. The idea of poking around tidal marshes, climbing mountains, and snorkeling on the most beautiful coast in the world? The things I do for my job.

You can find many images in the Learn and Explore section of my website.  Here are a few other favorites showing the more personal side of camp.