Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Conductor Never Looked Down Upon the Trapeze Artist

In an elevator in the Washington State Capitol building I was once asked by a gun-control lobbyist client if I would have accepted the same job from a pro-gun lobbyist.  My answer to her: Yes.  Business is business right?  Well, it's a bit deeper than that.

We all possess the capability to judge others; it's a part of our human psyche, whether for better or for worse.  Some people despise hunting, others religion, just as two examples.  But there's always another side to the story.  Someone who hates religion may not realize the good deeds a particular church does for their community.  One who despises guns may not witness the actions of a responsible gun owner, as he works to start a responsible gun ownership class in his hometown. 

I'm offering no defense of these individuals, this is not my purpose.  I'm merely stating that in this
world of the 24-hour news cycle, with bad news thrown at us daily, we are quick to pass judgement
on others, knitting a blanket of dogmatism without considering the particular individual involved.  Our current nationwide political division is evidence of this separation - our failure to recognize that we are a country composed of many individuals with different interests, different drives, and different ambitions.

Furthering the human race is the goal and it takes all types of people with all types of interests to get us there.  To quote Helen Reddy from 1977's Pete's Dragon, "there's room for everyone in this world."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Elephants Never Judged One Another

Judgement shows itself in many forms.

I've seen many examples of judgement in my life, from something as simple as the way someone doesn't approve of the way another is dressed to the disapproval of a same sex kiss.  Judgement, or in some cases it may be referred to as bigotry, is prevalent in our society in more ways than we might notice, and these judgements all come from the same place in our minds.

There are people who are racist.  There are people who are prejudiced.  There are people who don't like anything different and offer vocal disapproval.  We can probably all think of someone we have met that fits this description.  Maybe a contractor in your home, tearing apart a wall might say something like, "Whoever built this house didn't know what the hell they were doing."  Or a business lawyer might say, "He went to Cornell?  If he didn't go to Harvard then he won't get a job here."  These are all judgements based on prejudices and we all deal with them everyday; some of us more than others unfortunately.

The same holds true for photography.  As photographers (pros and amateurs alike) we observe each other's cameras - don't try to pretend that you don't.  We're curious about what they're using and sometimes we make a judgement upon them based on that observance.  Why?  Well that's a deeper psychological question that you'd have to ask your therapist.  But we don't have to pass judgement on them as we might.

Let me elaborate.  My father was a professional photographer and shot with a Nikon FE - a camera that was considered a "semi-pro" film camera of the day (1970s and early 80s).  Why didn't he use a higher end camera?  Probably because that one did exactly what he needed it to do (occasional magazine shots) and nothing more.  As a photographer, amateur or professional, it doesn't matter; if it works then it works.  You might observe someone using a 5D MkIII or a 1DX around town or at an event that you're attending.  This might be because they need this level of camera for this or other work or it might be because someone told them that they they need a certain level of camera to be considered a "professional" so that's what they bought.

This is where prejudice comes into play.  Just because someone uses a six thousand dollar camera doesn't necessarily make them a better photographer.  The proof is in the pudding.  If that camera helps them capture that pudding for their clients then they need that camera.  If they're just using it because they were worried about being judged by others for not using a top-of-the-line camera then they wasted their money.

Images speak for themselves.  Use your best judgement when purchasing equipment.  Only buying what you need or what you think you might need in the near future is the best investment.  Anything more and you could just be throwing your hard-earned money into traffic.

Friday, May 12, 2017

It's All About You

As a photographer there's nothing conventional about creating photographs of people.  Sure, traveling and photographing exotic locales and far off jungles is probably both challenging and rewarding, but capturing someone's face in just the right light and with just the right expression inside of a studio is something that I can't help but love doing.  It's one thing that makes photography enjoyable to me. 

Portraiture for me isn't just about taking someone's photograph.  It's creating a moment in time of their person, their self, of who they are or who they want to be at that exact moment.  Capturing that image doesn't have to be complicated and you don't have to try to see into their soul.  I don't enter a session looking for that one perfect image; I don't overthink it.  Looking too hard for something can make it too difficult to find.  Instead I follow the advice I give to my clients: relax, have fun... because this is all about you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

To Each Their Own and a Xylophone

I grew up, as many of us did, admiring large framed nature photographs displayed on walls - beautiful images of mountains illuminated by beams of pink and purple gleaming down from above, or of a babbling brook, white as a cloud, floating along a forest floor.  As I came of age, from my early teens through my twenties, I tried to emulate these photos, trying to capture the lush color and sweeping landscapes that had so long garnered my attention. 

Then at one point, I stopped trying.  Not because I didn't think I could achieve what I had seen in those photos and not because I didn't like photographing nature, but because I realized that I'm a much better photographer with a live and animated subject in my frame.  I had spent so long trying to recreate something that others had done that I lost my direction as to what I really wanted to create for myself.

We are all artists.  Some of us use a sketch pad and a pencil, some a saxophone, and some a camera.  But within each type of these arts there are sub-genres.  What a xylophone is to a gospel choir, landscape photography is to a headshot, each variations of a similar art with far reaching differences - alike, but nowhere near the same.  It was hard to learn that I was much better at one type of photography than another.  But once I learned what I liked, I never looked back.  I've found that it's easy to marvel at others art but much harder to embrace your own.  

So it's not that I don't admire the mountains... I just don't photograph them anymore.

Friday, August 28, 2015

It's Just Another Day

Fridays were meant for fun.  There's a certain release experienced with the end of a work week that I still experience - even though you don't technically get a "Friday" when you work for yourself.  Nevertheless I still revel in the work that I did during the week and frivolously look forward to the weekend that I know is coming.  One where work can wait.

This weekend is a little different.  This is the first Friday after my wife has departed for grad school. No longer having her in the house is taking some time getting used to.  Things are more quiet, more simple I suppose.  Peanut may be having a bit harder time than me adjusting to the new living situation but it's not easy for either of us.

Work helps keep my mind busy.  I'll be traveling to see my wife this next weekend and will be doing some commercial architectural shooting through Oregon on my way back.  Looking forward to that.

And to seeing my beautiful wife reunited with my beautiful dog.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Shangrila is a Lick Away

Summer is like a giant lollipop laced with lsd that you take lick every day for 3 months.  The sand, the salt, the sun, the smiles - the high never really goes away.  

Summer as a young kid, I remember: Summer!... Wake up, go to the beach, hunt lizards, run through the woods, find the top speed of your friend's new go cart, explore the quintessential meaning of fireworks, experience the true pleasure of having absolutely nothing to do (an experience you won't actually appreciate until much later in life).

Those early years of summer make an imprint on our psyche and never go away, even after we become adults - summer means fun.

In summer there is redemption.  Even with our busy lives, meetings, deadlines, we find time to make a little extra time for summer.  One might be forgiven if they thought they were in heaven.  Even if we know that it, like the lollipop, will soon be gone.

Here Chad, with gaptooth abandon and a twinkle in his eye, explains what summer is all about.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waste Not Want More

We all have things we don't use anymore – old furniture, clothes, computers, televisions, cars. Sometimes these things depart our lives almost as quickly as we acquired them.  We use them to their fullest then donate them to charities or thrift stores or recycle them in hopes that they find a new life.

We hope they find a new home helping others, as clothes to help keep a child warm from the night, as cookware to allow someone who couldn't afford a pot to make soup, or as material to be recycled as a new product.

Somewhere between this cycle of donation and delivery is a purgatory.  And nowhere is this better illustrated than in a junkyard – acres of used material goods all fully instilled with our shining hopes for a better life and a new home.  We hope that they find their destiny.

But we don't really want to know if they don't.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Road Trips and Long Sniffs

I road trip often for work and I while I do make every one worthwhile, the trips I most remember are the ones I take with my family.

Here Caroline and Peanut stretch their legs after a long trip across Oregon.  I don't remember who asked to stop, Caroline, the dog, or the bus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's Not Like Chocolate

You never know what you're gonna get.  Forrest may have said it first - but he wasn't speaking about cameras.  I own several 35mm film cameras that alternate in my bag for my shoots along the west coast.  Each offers its own take on a specific photograph.  I like to think that this was the vision of the designer, not the fact that each one is over thirty years old.  Either way, age builds character.

I always book an extra day for sightseeing.  Or in my case, viewfinding. 

Here a trolley beckons you to San Diego.  From San Francisco.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Equilibrium at the Equinox

The changing of the seasons always makes me take stock of my life.  Analyzing my goals for the next few months, thinking of what I'm doing and where I'm going, things I've achieved over the past season.  Above all though, I think of my friends.

Here Michealene throws a frisbee for Prudence far down a windswept beach.