If you’re unfamiliar with the Santa Fe Workshops, it’s one of, if not the, longest running photography workshops in the US. They started in 1990 and have had some of the most renowned photographers in the industry teach there, including Albert Watson, Joyce Tenneson, and Frank Ockenfels 3. The format of the courses is especially unique, given that it’s a 5-day course where the students and the instructor are together learning and shooting, from sunup till sundown.Read More
For the past couple of years I’ve begun drifting away from the literal and heading for the lyrical. I am finding myself easily bored with well-lit (and even colorful) images. I find myself longing for the qualities a painters brush stroke brings to a portrait. I have experimented a great deal with using multiple exposures or projectors to add layers of texture and distortion to my images. Though I made images I was happy with, they didn’t feel like they were close enough to where I was wanting them to go.Read More
I recently read the short story, “The Machine Stops”, written in 1909 by E.M. Forster. In the story he lays out a dystopian prophecy wherein humans live under the earth’s surface (the surface is no longer inhabitable) in pods barely larger than themselves. They get everything they need through the machine, including sustenance, entertainment, and communication with other people around the world. Remind you of anything?Read More
I was recently enrolled in Sara Lando’s online photography course, The Support Group for Lazy Photographers. Though she has been teaching the course for many years, this was the first time that she offered it in English. I immediately signed up, excited at the thought of what she would compel me to create.Read More
This past month I have begun working on a new series, the working title being Strata. I am dealing with obscuring my subject by shooting through a range of different materials. Though I am still early on in the exploration and not sure how exactly it will evolve, my goal is to capture the nature of humans at a spirit level, rather than make portraits of a specific person.Read More
I can think of no better element in a photo shoot than creative freedom and trust. I had precisely that in my shoot for Barron’s last week in Atlanta. Annie Chia, the photo director, sent me a handful of photos of music groups such as Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, and the Velvet Underground as direction for my session with the three investments consultants. The shoot was already off to a great start.Read More
Photography is light. The term comes from the Greek words for “light" and “drawing". But I’d argue that equally important to light is its opposite, dark. Without darkness, there would be no concept of light— nothing to which you could set light apart. Personally I am someone who spends a lot of time focusing on the darkness. Though some might call that unhealthy, in my opinion it makes it that much beautiful when I happen to encounter light.Read More
I shot the above portrait of model/photographer Helena Martin in 2014. At the time, I was so proud of the mood that I had created with my lighting and post processing that I included the scenario in my book, Studio Anywhere. When I look at that shoot today however, all I see are information-less shadow areas and matte blacks, and I cringe.Read More
I have photographers regularly email me, asking for advice on how to make a living doing photography. Aside from the obvious things like assist other photographers or work on building your network, I always say if there isn’t work coming in, make work for yourself. I’m talking about self-assignments.Read More
As a portrait photographer, the thought of creating a balanced composition with your subject, pose, and background is no easy task. Once you factor in the added layer of color, achieving balance in an image is even more tricky. If only there were some kind of system that could be used to determine how much color to use in a composition to each balance…Read More
Here are a few portrait studies that I’ve shot this past week. I’ve really been into shadow and subtlety of light/pose lately (and apparently black and white). I am largely known for my bold use of color, but creating quiet, muted moments is just as important to me as a visual artist— the yin as opposed to the yang.
As of late, my need to explore studio lighting has waned. I still have the drive to create, but I find myself at a place where I am uncertain how to proceed. Light exploration no longer alone satiates my creative needs. There’s no more mystery in the discovery for me. It’s time to push my limits again. I need to get outside my head and my go-to techniques. But how does one simply pull themselves up by their artistic bootstraps? I need something to force my creative hand.Read More
I began shooting flat-lay product photography for the Queens-based menswear boutique Aimé Leon Dore, this past December. The brand is known for their impeccable taste and attention to detail (meaning I really had to nail it). It was largest and most technically challenging shoot I’ve undertaken. Though it’s not the most creative work I’ve produced, it pushed me further than I’ve ever been pushed, and I am super proud of what I (and my stylist and retoucher) pulled off.
Hey guys. This morning I woke up and deleted all my social media. My Instagram, Twitter, and personal Facebook accounts (I deleted my Facebook business page a year earlier), all gone. I ghosted from the party. As a small business, it’s a bold move (if not insane) to walk away from such successful pages (I had over 60,000 followers between the three platforms). But I had had enough, and here’s why.Read More
This was my third time teaching at Gulf Photo Plus and my second Photo Week (since February 2018!). It’s always a whirlwind of a week, teaching five workshops in seven days, but super rewarding. Here are a few images that I took throughout the week. I can’t wait until next time.
On my last day in Dubai, I made a trip out to Al Madam, a ghost town that has long been overtaken by drifting sand. Though it is a local photographic cliché, it’s one that I was excited to experience. Instead of relying on strobes, which are my go-to, I decided to light everything with reflected sunlight from a piece of broken mirror that I found outside one of the homes (thanks to my assistant Seth for wielding the shard). It made the shoot feel more organic and immersive for me.
I have been teaching at Photo Week in Dubai all week. Yesterday I got a day off and attended a workshop led by Italian portrait photographer Paolo Verzone. It was not only great to see how someone else leads a workshop, I really enjoyed being a student again. Paolo knows his light. My largest takeaway was how he uses mirrors to reflect sunlight. He taught me that you can bounce sunlight a thousand feet and it’s still as bright as a strobe. He was bouncing sunlight through windows and lighting a subject inside a building, often diffusing the light with a crumpled trash bag (talk about Studio Anywhere). If he’s traveling to a shoot in another city, his first stop after leaving the airport is a grocery store to pick up a cheap mirror.
On my next day off from teaching, I went out to shoot with Abby (a model from one of my workshops), with a newly purchase mirror in-tow. I left my lights back at the hotel, opting to hunt for light. Whenever I found a spot that lacked the light I needed, my assistant Seth was there, mirror in hand, to fill it in with sunlight.
Shelby is one of my favorite people to photograph. She always brings so much emotion to shoots. Going in to a session, I never know what we are going to make. She brought a few black and white garments with her, as well as the idea of making a tear shape on her face. I experimented with projecting a few different images of water drops on her face, but didn’t like the result. I decided to change it up, making simple shapes like circles and lines, which I projected on to her face.
The image of the dot pattern was a bit of a happy accident. During the shoot my laptop was tethered to a projector, with my image files open in Photoshop. For that setup I decided to black out a portion of the file, leaving her nose and mouth unlit by the projector. The fact that her pupil lined up with the dot pattern was serendipitous. When we looked at the back of the camera at the end of the shoot, we both gasped.
When it came to post-processing, I wanted to give the feel of Ming Dynasty porcelain (white and blue patterns). Ultimately I decided to push the whites to more of a peach color.