Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nice to be back!

Mail order catalogs are piling up on my dining room table, the kids are asking "when are we putting up the Christmas tree"? and it is dark and cold outside. Must be December.

I've had a pretty busy year despite the crazy economy. Other than taking huge hits on my retirement fund (retirement is rapidly becoming a non-option), things have been pretty good. I've been busy doing commercial assignments for great clients like, Alcoa, Federated Investors, King Pharmaceuticals, PNC, and numerous editorial clients.
Also, I had a busy summer shooting senior portraits that took up the slack for a traditionally slow time. Been traveling a lot for both assignments and personal matters.

I traditionally look back at my business this time of year and try to figure out what went right and where I made bad decisions. Been this way for nearly 30 years so I guess something must be going right despite ups and downs in a very rocky economy.

I have a couple of more assignments to complete before the year ends. I'm working on a project currently with King Pharmaceuticals that has had me traveling around the country, shooting a CD cover for the country band, The Stickers, and working on some private portraits. Doing all this while trying to help my son get his college apps in, guide him working on his industrial design portfolio, basket ball games, fencing matches, family Christmas travels, Christmas shopping and on and on...I like being busy.

I'm going to post some pictures in the next few posts that reflect what I've been shooting since August and I hope to get a few posts in before the year is out.

Friday, August 1, 2008

How to prepare for your portrait shoot...

It's been too long since I last posted...I've been very busy this summer shooting assignments for Federated Investors, PNC, and Alcoa along with many high school seniors.

For the seniors who haven't yet booked time, the clock is ticking! Get it done now before all the craziness of your senior school year start up. Check out information on and call or write for pricing info!

I shot some fun stuff this past week with a couple of seniors who wanted to show the sports they were involved with...
Patrick is a hunter so we HAD to shoot some outdoorsman photos along with the typical jacket and shirt combos for the yearbook. He also brought a ton of hockey equipment and uniforms that had an odor that is STILL burned in to my nostrils.
I know he laundered the stuff, but the newer manmade fabrics just hold in odors that will bring tears to your eyes!
BUT...we made some really fun hockey photos that I know we are both proud of and it was more than worth putting up with the stench :-)

Sean is into baseball, so I photographed him at a ball field.

It's important when thinking about your senior photos, to ask what you do for hobbies, sports, music, etc. If you let me know AHEAD of time, I can find really great locations that are appropriate and realistic. The better you prepare and communicate with me the better your photos are going to be. I am used to working quickly and making things up as I go, but if you don't bring the proper wardrobe and props, it is hard to make really dynamic photos that show you off. I really love it when my subjects are very involved, ask lots of questions, have ideas, and call me. I don't consider it a pain to answer your phone calls, but rather helpful for me to give you the best job possible!

The two photos are sepia black and whites of Sean and Patrick. Sean's photo is a bit esoteric for a senior picture, but I shot that photo for ME. The color versions looked great as well. But I like the simplicity of black and white when there are many elements to the photo...

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: You have to devote yourself TOTALLY to be successful at it.-Elliot Erwitt

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Senior Portrait Session with Kelly

Just a few out takes from a senior portrait session...If you haven't booked time yet for your portrait session please be sure to do so soon! August and back to school activities will be soon all consuming. Early bird gets the worm. Don't put off till tomorrow, what you can do get the drift...

Also...a shout out and thanks to A. Robert Scott, Publisher of the Pittsburgh Point Magazine, for his recent comments about my book: Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait. He writes, " Over the years I've seen many books and photos of Pittsburgh, but these really appear to be some of the very, very best."

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them. Anyone I know, I photograph. -Annie Leibovitz

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chocolate Labrador photo

I don't generally photograph animals for the same reason I haven't shot many babies...I simply don't have the patience to deal with things that can't talk back to me! As I was headed off to the coffee shop this morning, my good neighbor Lisa was walking her dog, Maddie, and told me a really cool truck was parked on the street. She thought having the dog in the truck bed would be a good photograph and I agreed. So I lifted the dog into the bed took a few frames and that was it! Of course Maddie wanted to be anyplace but the truck bed, but I got what I needed. She is more comfortable dragging stuffed animals and fire wood around the block when Lisa walks her, but she was cooperative enough.

The truck was a beautifully restored 1946 or 1947 International Harvester. The only reason I knew this was that I drove one when I was in high school. My dad had found it sitting in some front yard out in boonies along with broken down washing machines, lots of tires and rims, a few riding lawn mowers, and pair of crutches. You get the scene, right? So he paid about $200.00 for it and we drove it sputtering home with big grins on our faces.

We put new points,spark plugs, and a change of oil in the flathead six engine, and used it for a beater to haul fresh cut firewood out of the woods. A few months later, Dad gave it to me to drive when I was senior to get back and forth to school and soccer practice. It was one fun vehicle. Always the visionary, I was way ahead of the custom truck trend that started years later!

After he said I could keep it as long as I maintained it I went to work on it (or at least as much as one can do with a vehicle that was new 10 years before I was born!) I first set it outside to warm up in the summer heat and then using a can of shiny black RustOleum paint, I brushed the new paint on. It wouldn't have been worth paying someone to spray the paint, cause the paint job would have cost more than the truck! I then hand painted a beach scene mural on the dashboard which was all the rage in the 70's, put down orange shag carpet on the plywood floor that covered the long rusted out metal floor. Some adhesive pin striping from the car parts store and chrome paint on the 16" wheels and I was stylin! The truck topped out at about 50MPH. However it was geared super low, and could climb back roads and go off road up steep banks like a Tibetan sherpa. It was great for keg parties that were held out in the woods and always got me back reliably and safely. The truck was actually made from REAL steel, none of this "fuel saving pressed tin" that is in today cars and trucks. The front window was hinged at the top to ventilate the cab and a lever was under the dash that opened a hood scoop to let more fresh air in to occupants. It had a 6 volt battery (located under the seat) and it started by turning the key and then pushing a starter button that was located on the floor. A lot of kids made fun of me in the school parking lot for driving such a beater, but I had a line of girls (and guys) who always were looking for a ride in it and the experience of riding in something as old as that truck. I don't remember the truck ever breaking down or leaving me stranded. My sound "system" consisted of a portable cassette player (mono) wheezing out Foghat, Zepplin, Mountain and Bachman Turner Overdrive!

Just like one never forgets their first love, your first vehicle will remain forever etched as well. I promise my next post won't be so "nostalgic"!

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: When I have a camera in hand, I know no fear-Alfred Eisenstaedt

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A legend passes on...Ode to Froggy's

I'm sorry to report that I learned this week of the passing of Steve "Froggy" Morris, owner and proprietor of the former popular First Avenue watering hole, "Froggy's". Though the tavern closed many years ago, the death of Froggy closes a chapter in Pittsburgh that probably won't be ever opened again. Just about every designer, art director and more than a couple of photographers called Froggy's their place of doing business on Friday nights and at lunch time. I spent many enjoyable evenings talking with clients and others in the advertising business. What was interesting, was that by and large we never spent much time talking about "the business", but spent more time getting to know each other on a personal basis, learned about our families and extended friends and learned about life as we grew up through the years. Martinis and beers were downed, a little lamenting over the "good old days", but most of all a positive outlook for tomorrow and A LOT of laughs. Once I took a photographer friend of mine visiting from NYC in on a Friday night. He thought I was the mayor of Pittsburgh and was stunned that I knew so many people and shook so many hands before we even reached the third floor. Of course, Froggy was one of the first to greet me when I walked through the door...That is just the kind of place that Steve built...My NYC friend, simply wasn't used to seeing that kind of friendliness when he walked into a bar in Manhattan.

Froggy always welcomed everyone where he maintained his post at the round table once you got in the door. The bartenders and wait staff were the best in the business. Unlike most places where staff turn over happens on a weekly basis, the staff at Froggy's worked there for years. That in itself, is a tribute to how Steve Morris treated his employees and customers. Those familiar with his place knew that on Friday nights the three floors of the old building would be hopping. The joke was the older you got, you started hanging on the lower floors, either because you couldn't walk up the steps or you might look too pervy checking out all the beautiful young women who hung on the third floor and rooftop deck. In any case patrons from 21-81 all hung there and all got along great. Since the tavern closed, nothing in PIttsburgh even has come close to the ambiance that Froggy's had. Maybe I'm getting a little older, or maybe people just don't care to enjoy conversation all that much when they have texting and email, I dunno...but I'm a little sad that little piece of heaven doesn't exist downtown anymore.

Froggy, I wish you a great after life. Somewhere I know you are watching all of this with some amusement smoking a cigar and drinking a cocktail. I look forward to seeing you again and get a martini glass chilled for me :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Senior Portraits, Book Reviews and assorted photo ramblings

It's been awhile since posting. I've been pretty busy recently with an assignment from PNC and a number of senior portrait sessions. The phone has been ringing with students who are tired of the same old looks from traditional portrait and wedding studios and they are looking for customized and photos with a slight edge. I've really been enjoying working with the kids and the cool thing about it is that even the boys (who never want their photos done) get caught up in the session and actually enjoy themselves and my working style. My working style is loud music rocking the location, working quickly, getting Mom involved in the process by holding a flex fill reflector, and just trying to have as much fun as possible! The photos I'm getting have been great and if this trend continues, I can see myself opening a small boutique type studio for the retail business. I'm learning more about the retail business every day and it really differs from the commercial circles I'm used to running in.

Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait has just been reviewed by Pittsburgh Magazine, July 2008 issue in a glowing and positive manner. Here is an excerpt from the review by Hattie Fletcher wrote, "...You know, I actually have seen all these things, and some of them I wouldn't even call all that pretty. But gosh, Bolster makes them look terrific!"
As a professional photographer I have spent a career working hard to make the non pretty...pretty. So I am pleased with her assessment of my talents!

ASMP Pittsburgh chapter sponsored a talk by former Chicago photo rep, Carolyn Potts last night about the changing world of commercial photography and giving examples of why it is so much tougher these days to communicate with art buyers and to get assignments. Much of the well presented lecture was stuff I already knew, and it could have been useful to have examples of photographers who have adopted and are thriving (if they exist!) As a lecture and seminar junkie, I still always find at least one tidbit of info I can use down the line and that is why I spend time and money to attend those things. In fact, her energy inspired me to write this blog which I have neglected for a couple of weeks! You have to listen with a skeptical mind but yet be very open to new ideas of thinking. Since many of the programs are sponsored by vendors there is usually a soft sell of their products which I don't mind too much as long as it doesn't go overboard. After the seminar it was nice just getting together with fellow shooters at a Sanremos Bar pounding down pitchers of beer and discussing our businesses, our frustrations and our dreams. I, for one, intend to remain focused, positive and will continue to learn and explore all areas of photography. I remain confident that the next "BIG" idea is just around the corner!

These photos are from a recent shoot with high school senior Liz. They were made on an extremely hot and humid day, yet she and her mom hung in with me, worked hard, and we made some stunning photographs! Thanks Liz and Denise!

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you're not out there, you'll only hear about it.-Jay Maisel

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


If you can make it out Thursday night, June 12th try to stop by and say hello! I'll be doing a combination book signing for my book, Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait and giving a free photo workshop and presentation on ideas on how to improve your photography and take better vacation photos. I'm looking forward to sharing a wealth of information and am hoping for lots of questions from the audience, so make a list (or even bring some of your pictures for critique and review) and head on over to Barnes and Noble in Cranberry, PA. I'll be there around 6:30 and will be speaking about 7PM. I'll be looking forward to meeting you!

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: A good photograph is knowing where to stand-Ansel Adams

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time for rockin the basement!

Just got my copy of Professional Photographer Magazine today. I was featured in an article about how I deal with the pressure of executive and upper management photos (quite well, actually :-) The article was very positive and the magazine goes out to over 20,000 professional photographers who belong to the PPoA (Professional Photographers of America) which is the largest photography trade organization in the United States. The article was written by Ellis Veener, an Atlanta based photographer whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago. The article features photos I shot for PNC Financial, Mellon Bank, Computer World and the United States Chess Association. Thank you, PPoA and Ellis for highlighting my work, career, and philosophies!

Since I speaking of executive portraits, what a better time than this to show rock and roll pictures! These are photos of a garage band called, Fiction on Fire. FoF allowed me to hang out with them and I shot a couple of concerts, backstage going ons, and my favorite... practicing in mom and dad's basement! I just loved the shag carpet, low ceilings, beer posters and advertising on the walls and a velvet painting (not seen in these photos...maybe I'll post more later) Sadly, the band broke up not long after I photographed them but I was thankful for the time spent with them and I'm sure our paths will cross again.

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: I am always mentally photographing everything as practice-Minor White

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Time for another post

Well, this post is LONG overdue... I don't understand where the time goes to. First off...

I'll be doing a book signing and photo workshop at Barnes and Noble in Cranberry, PA Thursday, June 12th at 7PM. I'll be talking a little about the making of my book, Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait and then giving a presentation that will help
photographers take better vacation pictures, use their camera better, and get more keeper photos. It is especially geared to photographers who simply would like to take better pictures and who are having trouble understanding what all those funny little buttons are on their camera. Please come out and say hi. The event is free and will last a couple of hours. And...they have cold air conditioning!

The two photos I've posted for this blog were rejects that didn't make the book for whatever reason, but photos I like.
They were shot at the Pittsburgh Zoo PPG Aquarium and the Scaife Gallery at the Carnegie Museum.

I've been quite busy both personally and business wise the past couple of weeks. Business has started picking up again and my senior portrait side is preparing for what looks to be the busiest season yet. I've also been attending a number of conferences and seminars that deal with the retail side of photography and how successful portrait and wedding photographers run their businesses. It is a whole different world and approach than what I've spent nearly 18 years learning and practicing in the commercial world. That side of the business knows how to make money and from what I have gathered many seem more interested in making money than shooting pictures.
Nothing wrong with that, but really different from what I learned where you have to eat, breathe, sleep photography 24/7.
For many portrait studios, it is a 9-5 job and I can tell that many of the successful shooters don't spend a whole lot of time after hours worrying about how they are going to make their next great photograph. I guess actually having a life outside of photography works for some people, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd be one of them. I do have many interests that isn't photo related, but in the back of my mind, I'm always shooting, even if it is just my imagination. This is something that photographer Jay Maisel calls doing, "visual pushups". I started doing them as a photo student where I would walk around guessing what a camera exposure would be and then taking a light reading with a meter to see how close I was. I actually got pretty good doing this! I'm also the weird guy you see walking down the street looking through two hands held close to my face (as cropping L's) framing up shots. At some point, I just quit caring about how crazy I looked because of my passion for the visual.

Another wonderful thing happened in May...I finally recovered from a ruptured/herniated back disc injury that I have had since last July. I wouldn't wish that one on anyone. Being in constant pain effects your personal life, work, and emotions. I worked through the injury the best I could and am so thankful I cleared the last hurdle towards well being.

My kids got of school for the year on Friday. My oldest, Mike is looking forward to attending Carnegie Mellon University Design School for the Pre-College program this summer. My youngest, Tyler will be in his first fencing competition since taking up the sport earlier this spring. College tours, vacation, and bass fishing is all on the horizon for the summer along with a bunch of portrait sessions and maybe even a little weed pulling around the house if I get ambitious (doubtful)!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: The satisfaction comes from standing next to 500 photographers and coming away with something different.-David Burnett

Friday, May 23, 2008

Orphan Works (again) and Dick Dale follow up...

John Herrington, a Washington, DC photog, posted this on his blog recently. It make for good reading and helps bring to light the problems the Orphan Works Bill could bring if allowed to stand as is. If you haven't written to the politicians who are driving this, please take the time to do so. Actually phone calls and faxes are the most effective way of being heard in DC.

On a better note, I wrote a few days ago about Dick Dale and his fight with cancer. Dick sent me a personal email the other day and tells me he is done with chemo and radiation, which is great news! He still has his humor and says that we can rest as, "he is still on this side of dirt!" If you are a fan, be sure to drop him a note. He can easily be reached via his website.

I've got a lot of other things going on right now, but I'm too busy to write about them or post pics. Catch you all after the Memorial Day break...And a huge heartfelt thank you to all you vets and servicemen who make our way of life possible!

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, leaves the viewer a
changed person for having seen it. It is in a word, EFFECTIVE-Irving Penn

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

another Orphan Works opinion...

From yesterdays New York Times by Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Stanford University. Folks, this is a REALLY bad idea and I hope that there will be enough public outcry to scrap this ugly legislation and start with a clean slate if needed. On a professional photographers forum that I participate in and follow closely, one photographer made sense of this farce. When another poster pointed out that passage of this bill equates to being caught stealing from a store, you would only be responsible for paying for the item, Editorial Photographers (EP), Brian Smith wrote: "Excellent point, however it's actually worse than that...If you use the store anology, Ophan Works means IF you catch someone stealing your work and IF you pay the legal costs to take that infringer to court and IF the court rules in your favor, THEN you can collect the cost of the item they stole." Please contact your state representative to voice your concern immediately!

Photo Quote of the Day: You have to be ready for luck-Neil Leifer

Monday, May 19, 2008

Say NO to Orphan Works

There is an undertaking currently going on in Washington, DC that will seriously undermine professional photographers ability to earn money and to control the use of our images. It is a called the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works act of 2008. The bill was originally introduced to make it easier for people who had images and could not find the photographer to lay claim to the images and use as they see fit. Museums, universities, and libraries, baffled by current "Fair Use" exemptions in the current copyright laws have been afraid to use things in their archives for fear of being sued eventually by the photographer or copyright holder.
This is a very complicated issue to run through on my blog for it's mixed readers. However, if you are a professional photographer or artist the new bill will greatly effect how we control our images, will devalue our work, and most importantly puts the onus on the creative, not the people stealing your work to prove they violated your copyright. Unfortunately, having your images registered (which EVERY creative should be doing) will not totally protect you.

I urge all of you to please educate yourself on this pending legislation and to write letters to your Senators opposing this bill.
You can learn more about Orphan Works HERE.

Photographers who belong to professional organizations such as ASMP, APA, SAA, EP and PPoA should contact their organizational website for sample letters and best way to contact their representatives. If you don't belong to an organization, this will still effect you, so please act today!

Photo Quote of the Day: "You don't take a photograph, you make it"-Ansel Adams

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Book Cover

This image was from a stock production I shot a few years ago. I shot originally on Velvia film and Polachrome black and white as well. It has been used many times and another version of this shot appears on one of my business cards cropped much tighter that represents my people/lifestyle photography.

In other news...I learned today that I will be speaking to the Pittsburgh ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) about the making of my book, Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait. I'll be presenting my experiences of the book publishing world and will also be examining self publishing and various cost effective venues that are now available to photographers for making short run books. The lecture will be in September, so stay tuned and I'll keep you posted as details emerge...

Photo quote of the day: People say photographs don't lie...mine do. -David LaChapelle

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Environmental Portrait for American Bar Association

This is a photo of a political refugee from South America made at LaRoche College in Pittsburgh.

In other news today, Barnes and Noble in Cranberry Township is firming up plans for me to give a lecture on taking better vacation photographs along with a book signing for my book, PIttsburgh: A Photographic Portrait in June. I'll keep you posted here as soon as the date is set. Also be on the lookout for an article featuring my corporate portraiture in Professional Photographer Magazine in June.

Quote of the day: Keep it Simple-Alfred Eisenstaedt

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lifestyle photo and quote of the day...

I ran across some really great photo quotes the other day...I think I'll start passing them along regularly to my blog readers for inspiration and reflections...
Don't shoot until you feel it in your gut-Lisette Model

Friday, May 9, 2008

Get Well Dick Dale...

I was saddened to recently learn that one of my all time guitar heros, Dick Dale, recently was diagnosed with a re-lapse of rectal cancer last month. Dick who almost single handedly became the father of heavy metal and surf guitar rock in the early 60's has had an amazing life.
He became popular by playing louder, faster, blowing up Fender amps, and rocking the house down at just about every place he played. His music was the staple for surf movies in the 60's and Dale was every bit a California Surf legend. He is a true renaissance man who no doubt will have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
At 71 years old he flies his own plane, has a place in the California desert complete with airstrip, has a zoo full of exotic animals, and unlike most rock and rollers doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs. He is truly a man high on life and up until last year his energy level performing in concert would put "youngsters" half his age to shame. Dick's career received a huge boost in the arm when his song, Miserlou, was featured in Tarentino's Pulp Fiction. Since then he has toured steadily, and his music has been used as soundtracks in numerous television commercials and has enjoyed a strong following of surf music fans who lovingly refer to themselves as "Dick Heads"

Up until a few months ago he was still touring and blowing out eardrums with his speed playing, heavy reverb and Fender Strat which is wound tighter than a duck's ass...He is currently undergoing another round of chemo following surgery and according to his webiste, hopes to take some time off in Hawaii to do a little surfing and heal as soon as he can. Dick..I wish you nothing but the best. Your music has meant a great deal to me and I can only hope to have your energy when I reach your age. Take care of yourself, beat the demon, and I look forward to seeing you again when you hit the road!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Family picture...

Portrait of my youngest son who recently has taken up fencing. I've decided it's a great sport if you are participating and not so much if you are a spectator. Anything to get him away from the xbox...

I also learned yesterday that my oldest son, has been accepted at Carnegie Mellon University Design School Summer Pre-College program! We are very excited about his bright future!

Make it a good one...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Environmental portrait

This was photographed for local NBC affiliate TV station, WPXI awhile back. It's a photo of Jack Etzel who had a home handyman segment. I built the set on a sound stage at WPXI studios. A couple of two by fours, a roll of insulation, some drywall and electrical components is all it took. Originally shot on 6x7 Velvia Film with a Pentax 67. I stumbled across this while pulling photos for Professional Photographer Magazine for an upcoming article about my location portraits.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What kind of camera should I buy?

I get asked this question CONSTANTLY whenever I'm on assignment or just from friends and relatives. Unfortunately, I usually mumble something like, "unless you are willing to spend at least $1000. on a digital camera, stick with film". This comment isn't meant to be contrite, but my experience is that people get really fed up with shutter speed lag when trying to take pictures of their kids and fido. The moment is generally long gone by the time the shutter actually activates. Couple that with the fact that I REALLY dislike photo equipment, and there are better resources than me to ask about cameras. People see me lugging tons of equipment to a shoot and think that I know everything there is to know about every camera on the market. I shoot professional Canon equipment with professional Profoto lighting equipment. This stuff I know about...I also know most people aren't willing to drop $8,000 on a camera body. If you are, let me know and I will highly recommend what I use. You WILL be happy with the image quality :-)

I heard about this camera on a forum last year and if I were in the market for a point and shoot, I'd take a serious look at this:
Ricoh Caplio GX100 The camera retails for $519.00.

Happy snapping!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Elmira Star-Gazette article on my book...

John Cleary, writer for the Elmira Star Gazette newspaper wrote a small article about myself and my book, Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait for todays Sunday paper. The article can be read here: Star Gazette Article

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Louisiana Riviera...

Here is a photo of my future retirement home. Not sure if my wife wants to join me, but the way the photography business is going, it might not be an option :-) It looks cheap, but it's probably worth 300K...:-) Location, Location, Location...

Taken somewhere on the Gulf coast between Port Arthur, TX and New Orleans, LA after two days on an offshore oil rig for Michael Baker Engineers. Fujichrome Velvia with Canon EOS-1n.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

High wire act AND some love from Professional Photographer...

This was shot while I was on assignment in Puerto Rico for Mylan Labs. I was shooting a new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that was under construction. I was on a roof top doing "poor man" aerial photography, when I noticed this scene taking place a few blocks over. I shot it with a 400mm lens. The job is not for anyone who is afraid of high voltage or skittish about heights. Watching the worker prance around on high tension tower was fun. He certainly didn't show any trepidation about his job and moved swiftly about the structure. I'm sure the safety belt he was wearing helped add that extra sense of security.

I learned today that Professional Photographer magazine will be featuring me in a profile in their June issue. With a little luck, I'll get the cover as well. Too early to tell, but I'm excited about being profiled by Ellis Veener who wrote the article on how I approach executive and upper management portraiture. I gave them 18 portraits to pick from for the article, so it will be interesting to see what images they like the best. Professional Photographer is the official magazine of the PPofA (Professional Photographers of America) which is the largest and premier photo organization in the United States that advocates for over 19,000 member professional photographers. I am humbled to be featured in a magazine for an organization that has some very talented members and I hope my work and story inspires!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Congratulations Danica!

Those who know me , know I'm a total gear head and a huge motorsports fan. I've been particularly thrilled that American open wheel racing has finally buried the hatchet between ChampCar and the Indy Racing League. A quick primer, ChampCar went bankrupt and the Indy Racing League has aquirred the assets and we now have just one open wheel racing series for Indy type cars. The sport which was once the greatest racing in the USA took backseat a number of years ago to NASCAR due to infighting, huge egos, super expensive equipment and testing and loss of major sponsorships. Those of you who follow this sport, understand that my comments here are very simplistic and short. Let's just say to keep things simple, open wheel racing in the United Stats is bound to get better and will see the glory days that were long lost in the nineties...It will take awhile, but myself, and fellow race fans have a lot to look forward to!

Auto racing is the sole reason I got into photography. As a kid I used to go to the races at Watkins Glen. Formula 1, Can Am, sports cars, Formula 5000, and Trans Am races were my love. I saw photographers standing trackside shooting the sport, and thought to myself, "what a great way to make a living..." And that is all it took for me to get interested in cameras and shooting. I even photographed a few races, but discovered that lugging huge telephoto lenses around all day in 90 plus degree sun while walking miles to cover every angle of the track really WASN'T fun. The biggest thing I hated was that you actually see little of the race while you are working to shoot it. It's kind of hard to explain, but trust me, most serious spectators knew more about what was happening than the photographers covering the race.

So this weekend Danica Patrick, the IRL poster girl finally won her first IRL race in Japan and deserves a big "way to go!"
She has been under huge pressure to win since she has been in the big leagues and though she has clearly shown herself to be competitive, had yet to win and there were too many nay sayers about her abilities. I've never been a huge Danica fan, but have always felt she had talent and her competitive spirit and drive finally paid off this weekend. It's tough for ANYONE to win at this level in sport, so kudos for the first WOMAN to win in US Open wheel racing, and now hopefully the media will get off the Danica Mania kick (doubtful) and get back to covering ALL the deserving drivers and teams who work so hard to get to the top. I'm sure you'll be sick of hearing of Danica by the time the green drops at the Indy 500 in May. But despite what us hardcore fans think, the new Danica Mania Pt. 2 will be good exposure for our sport in bringing new fans, media coverage and more money into the sport we all love.

Here is here winner circle interview from Saturday at Motegi Ring: Danica Patrick wins at last.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's keep with the spring flowers theme...'s sunny, the robins are chirping, and I put my screen in my storm door today! Makeup by Patty Bell. Photographed with Fujichrome Velvia 120 film with a Pentax 67.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ode to 3-M Scotch 1000 film

I used to shoot this transparency film back in the day that was rated at 1000 and then push it a couple of stops...The film had grain the size of a golf ball, but was really beautiful as you could see each grain and the color within the grain itself. One wouldn't normally use this type of film for beauty shooting, but this was a test done with makeup artist, Patty Bell and model Jenny Cramer. Patty is a fantastic make up artist and a ton of fun to work with it! We always have such a great time getting crazy, doing stuff we generally never get a chance to do with our clients, and we aren't afraid to make a mistake here and there in the search for something unique...
In case you are wondering, we did shoot normal transparency film, as grain generally doesn't show off the makeup artist's work as good as a finer grain film. But, I still liked the grain version the best. The Scotch 1000 film became so scarce before it went out of production, I had to order it directly from the factory in Minneapolis. I had a ton of it in my fridge. This week has been sort of a "blast from the past", as I recently had a need to sort through thousands of returned stock images from my now defunct agency. There is a LOT of really great stuff, now I just need to figure out what to do with it all...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Signs in the Southwest...

A couple of whimsical signs that I photographed a number of years ago in New Mexico and Arizona...
These photos are really old.  How do I know that?  Because the "Thing" sign that advertises bull horns and velvet paintings also is advertising regular gas for 1.12 a gallon!  Ahh...the good old days...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Senior Picture time is getting closer!

I've been quite busy preparing marketing materials, package pricing, and senior picture updates to my website: seniorpics  The senior portrait session season will start soon mostly because the weather gets warmer and so many of you want photos done outdoors.  I'm really psyched for the Class of 2009 and I've got A LOT of really neat tricks up my sleeve so you'll be certain to have a unique look and photos you'll be proud of many years after you graduate.  I've seen way TOO MANY yearbook pictures that look cookie cutter and to be frank, it should be an embarrassment to have your photo look EXACTLY like 6 other seniors in your class.  After all, if you showed up to the prom and 3 other girls were wearing YOUR dress, I don't think you'd be a very happy camper!  Unfortunately, this happens all too often when photographers either refuse to shoot different locations, fail to listen to your requests, or simply aren't creative enough to photograph you in an interesting manner...I mean come many fences and waterfalls can one photograph before burning out?   I don't have anything against waterfalls or fences, but at least move the camera and change a lens once in awhile to get something DIFFERENT!!!!  Now to be fair to other photographers, not all Seniors are willing to put the time in for great pictures(and you GUYS know who you are :-)  Making great Senior pictures is a two way street.  Photographers need to have their seniors have an open mind and be willing to experiment and spend a few hours to get great shots.  However, if a photographer isn't willing to work his/her hardest to get those once in a lifetime shot, you are being short changed.  Cheap photography is easy to find, but quality lasts forever and costs less in the long run.  I WANT to work with seniors who consider their portrait session a TEAM effort, and I have YET to find a senior who has more energy than I do once the camera starts clicking!

If you are presently a junior in the Avonworth and Quaker Valley school districts, plan on receiving direct mail offers and promotions within a month or two.  I HAPPILY shoot seniors from ANY school district, but concentrate my marketing efforts currently within this area. Nothing against you great seniors from other districts...I would love to get a call from ANY senior, regardless of school district and have the opportunity to make you look as good as you can be! If you don't get any mailing please just give me a call or shoot me an email and I'll get all the info to you right away!

Friday, March 28, 2008

USS Bolster-A Naval ship that carries a proud name

The great thing about the internet and Google is that you constantly come across things that inspire, educate, and cause thought.  Last night while checking on my web stats and SEO I somehow stumbled upon this little gem...The USS Bolster, US Navy Rescue and Salvage ship.
The ship that is 213' long was built by the Basalt Rock Co. and launched from Napa, CA on Dec. 23rd, 1944.  Wonder if it was christened by a nice cabernet instead of champagne?  The vessel served in WWII, Korean War, and in Vietnam.  It was used to rescue battle struck ships, pull barges, and used for deep sea recovery with divers for salvage operations around the world.
Though the work wasn't as "glamorous" as the big gun ships and aircraft carriers, the ship and crews were awarded numerous decorations for performance in battle situations.  The ship was put out of service on Sept. 24, 1994 and resides currently in Suisun Bay, California.  Efforts are being made to rescue the rescue ship and turn it into a museum.  Details, photos, and video can be seen here.  I'll be anxious to ask my dad, who served in the US Army in the Far East if he ever came across this ship while he was stationed there, since the time frame and geographical areas would have been the same.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to yet determine who in "my" family this ship was named after ;-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New B-52's FUNPLEX CD out TODAY!!!

My NYC bud photographer, Brad Trent reminded me today through his daily song of the day emailer that the B-52's after 16 years finally have a new CD out. I gotta tell you, I've always been a huge fan of these crazy party kids from Athens, GA and this new release sounds just as fresh as they did in the 80's when I listened to them on Long Island radio station, WLIR and wore out cassettes listening to them on my state of the art Sony Walkman while roller skating around Central Park. Kate, Cindy, Keith, and Fred are still at the top of their game and already the Apple iTunes store reviews gives the new release 4.5 out of 5 stars! The CD kicks off with "Pump" and just keeps getting better and has a couple of live recordings of the classics, Private Idaho and Planet Claire. This ones gonna be big...Pull out the lava lamp and start dancin....

On another front...a big THANKS to PittGirl for posting a write up on her blog: The Burgh Blog
giving a shout out mention about my book: Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait
Check out her writings about all things Pittsburgh!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Senior portrait...

This past week I've been putting together marketing materials for my other business, a senior portrait studio. I've really enjoyed photographing seniors during the slow summer months and the business continues to grow. Photographing seniors has proven to be a great supplement to my commercial business which has changed now that I no longer have an active stock agency licensing my work. What is fun is that the assignments aren't really much different than the typical editorial assignments I get. I enjoy photographing people in unique environments and customers looking for a "different" style of senior portraits are always thrilled with the locations, posing, and results I give vs. a typical wedding/portrait studio where photographers shoot 20 frames and have lights bolted to the floor or ceiling. Even my fees are typically higher than the average editorial shoot and I have very appreciative clients. One woman was moved to tears when she saw how her "little girl" was all "grown up" and how beautiful I made her look. Complements like that usually don't come from my commercial clients, and adds fuel to the creative fires that are smoldering in my brain.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reasons to consider UPS as your freight provider...

With women who look this great and have such friendly smiles, why would you choose any other shipper? The uniforms look nice too! As if you hadn't figured it out, the uniforms probably won't be seen on your block anytime soon... :-( The uniforms were designed as prototypes by fashion designers for Fashion Week in NYC. My client, UPS asked me to photograph the runway for six upcoming designers. As a Fashion Week sponsor they also held a fun party after the show and models mingled with guests and sales staff and showed what imaginative designers could do to make "Big Brown" look better. Don't you think they look fab?
Of course, many of the UPS workers who were on hand for the festivities HAD to be photographed with the leggy models!
One man, who shall we say was "vertically challenged" thought he might look funny with a model towering over him, so we improvised. A fun time was had by all on 7th Avenue!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Heavenly Fishing Boat...

Miami, Florida. Looks like a "Corona with a squeeze of lime" moment...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Annual report portrait

Portrait of an IT worker photographed for King Pharmaceuticals, New Jersey. January 2008.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Avonworth High School Fashion Show and Tea

Liz and Wade tango the runway at yesterday's Junior Class Fashion Show! The Juniors were stylin large in this annual event to raise money for the junior class. Thanks to all the parents, show planning committee, student models, and junior class advisor Nicole Levis, who donated their time and auction items that contributed to a great and fun event!
I had a blast photographing the event for my son's class and photos have been posted online for review and/or purchase.

I feel truly blessed to have kids attending a school district where people care and students get great support not only from the school staff but involved parents as well!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meeting the man with the "Right Stuff"...

Awhile back I had the pleasure of meeting Gene Kranz the former NASA mission control flight director on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space launches. Being a certifiable space race history nut, the chance to meet and shoot Gene was a very exciting assignment. Boise Office Products had hired Gene to give a motivational speech to their sales staff and customers. I was on hand to shoot the event and the "meet and greet" shots. Gene was very gracious and answered lots of questions. Most of you who aren't familiar with the space program, probably remember the movie, Apollo 13. Ed Harris played the role of Gene Kranz who acted very calmly and worked hard with his team to "think the problem through" after hearing that now infamous radio transmission, "Houston, we've had a problem"...His quick thinking and decision making helped save the lives of the 3 astronauts onboard.

I have a huge amount of respect for this Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and what he has accomplished in his life. And though I've met a number of celebrities over the years on assignments, Eugene Kranz is one of the most memorable personalities and someone whom I really look up to. And though I don't dig his trademark haircut, Gene truly has the "Right Stuff" many times over. Thanks Gene, for a great shoot and for your dedicated service to our country!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jenn with Milk...

Studio shoot, with Jenn. I thought milk, plexi, and a white gown would look nice together...Whaddaya think?
Have a great weekend!