Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Fine Art of a Good Wandering ~

Seems this has been a particularly creative period for me, and I think it's because I've taken the opportunity to get out more to just look at, and appreciate, the world around me. The more I unwind, re-wind, and meditate, the more the world opens up to me in ways I hadn't always recognized before. When I was searching about for a topic to post, Whitney made the simple suggestion to write about our walkabouts, post some pictures, and muse idly about the results. Wandering, you see, is a simple act, and photography, a simple path.

When I can, I travel with my digital camera gear: a good Canon DSLR and a couple lenses. I'm a photographer and I like my tools. But quite honestly, the most creatively liberating device I own right now is my trusty little iPhone. It's always with me, so there's no excuse for not looking at the world with a critical eye for the beautiful things, or the interesting things, or the challenging things, and making a picture. I don't worry about its limitations compared to my professional equipment, because I'm really only interested in seeing something and sharing it online. But having said that, may I point out the picture on the left was taken in Watkins Glen NY least year, with my iPhone, and I have no quarrels with its image qualities.

Wandering can just as easily be a state of mind, and I think that's the real heart and soul of creativity. A couple months back I was in the studio preparing for a portrait client who had to reschedule at the last minute. Instead of being disappointed I was quite happy to find an entirely new creative opportunity with some of the season's first tulips.

But in the end, we wander to go places and see things. No one exemplifies this better than my wonderful brother Jim, a wanderer, a healer, a craftsman. Few photographers inspire me as much, and I'm enjoying the results of his long hike in Arizona to the Wave.

Daniel Boone once said "I've never been lost. I have wandered about a bit confused as to my whereabouts from time to time, but I've never been lost".

Neither have I.

Happy Trails,


Thursday, April 4, 2013

40... And Counting ~

We count down our time in decades, I guess because we have ten fingers. This is what I'm counting down now. A simple reflection: It was in the spring of 1973 that I apprenticed at a portrait studio in Cheyenne Wyoming, and am proud to look back on a career in professional photography that has spanned, for better or worse, these four decades.
Thousands, certainly, of portraits; many hundreds of commercial assignments, and more weddings than I care to count. But what I remember most clearly are those first couple years at that studio, living and breathing photography every hour of every day, and acquiring the skills and techniques that I would continue to hone in studios and darkrooms for many years.
Mercifully, there aren't many pictures of me from those days, but of the few I can still find (and admit to) this one by my friend and classmate Terry McCarthy is the one I most enjoy sharing. And that was my dad's Nikon Photomic F.  That was one sweet camera!

My own humble little possession when I began was this Nikkormat FTN and a plain old 50mm lens, which I bought used in Casper Wyoming for about a hundred bucks. I think I must have run a million rolls of film through it; in any event I completely wore it out and gave it an honorable retirement. I was addicted to Tri-X (and Edwal FG-7) along with venerable Ektachrome 64.

We had large-format cameras of all sorts at that studio, and medium-format ones as well. All these were new and wondrous to me, portals to incredible worlds of art and creativity. Eventually I saved up all my nickels and dimes and bought this Mamiya RB 67 and a couple lenses.  I had that baby for years too, and even wore that one out. I guess I'm a little hard on my gear, but then again, these are tools, not art objects. I sometimes wish I still had them, but it's mostly digital now and that technology has taken my career to entirely new places. No regrets.

Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat! Photography has taken me to fascinating places, to meet incredible artists, and work with wonderful people.  And it brought me here.

My favorite writer Douglas Adams once wrote, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I intended to be".

Amen, brother.

Let me know what your great memories are!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Have iPhone, Will Travel ~

Here's a project that has captured my time and my imagination. Call it what you will: Found Art, Street Expressionism, or what my friend and business colleague Dave Carsten calls it, POV art. Point Of View. Indeed, it is how you look at it. Just some peeling paint? Graffiti on a trash bin?

What I do know is this, that yes: beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but you have to look for it and see it.

This is why our smartphones have become a valuable expressive tool; even though we're photographers, we're not always carrying our cameras around. Heck, when I was apprenticing in the studio so many years ago, I did carry my trusty Nikkormat with me everywhere. I couldn't shoot enough, and every spare dollar I had (depressingly few, but I was all of 21!) went to ensuring adequate supplies of Tri-X and Kodachrome.  I did this less and less as the years went by and other worldly pressures began to bear down.

So now I'm inspired, by my trusty iPhone and my inspirational friends, to get out again to look, to see, to be immersed. My studio partner Whitney, as usual, is a motivating force to be reckoned with. And our mutual friend Bryan Welsh, from Moments In Time Photography in Hillsboro Oregon, has definitely kicked us both into a higher gear. Besides being a considerably talented photographer, Bryan is also an impressive motivator and public speaker. Whitney turned us on to #finding_inspiration, an Instagram hashtag, as a place to find and submit our iPhone pictures. You should check it out.

We've used our blog posts as ways to suggest photo challenges (and my apologies that this site was down for so long) and I offer this one to you as well. It has no end time, no prizes, but it's the biggest one yet, and one that I will give to myself every day:  Get the heck out there and look, see, feel, live, and ... take the shot. Share it here or on Instagram. 

It'll make you feel good, and we'd definitely love to see what inspires you.

Later, amigos!