Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gift of Gestures

          Bill Clinton is a gift.

          Yeah, yeah, if you are Republican, that statement probably makes you cringe, especially in our absurdly polarized political climate, but this is not a political comment. Political photography is like any photography making pictures that work. I like any speaker who helps out the process.

          He is a gift because unlike many speakers, even at the national level, he gestures constantly, drives home his points and backs it up with a nice variety of passionate, emotive facial expressions.

          Wednsday night was the first opportunity, 12 years after his presidency, that I've had to photograph him, when he came to town to lend his support to the democrat running for Senate, Rich Carmona.

          It's the first time I've been able to look upon him from the perspective of making an image. At big events such as this, photographers are often more hemmed in, it is more difficult to create a broad variety of images based on moving around to get different perspectives and compositions. You have two choices that are under your control, moving around the small media pen, shooting from the riser and from ground level, and you can change lenses to include more or less information than the previous frame.

          When it is an event at a podium, it is up to the performer to provide a third variable, expression and movement. Pres. Clinton paid in full, providing the variable that really multiplies your visual options.
          You may see more images at Corbis Images.
The gestures are spreading!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Photo of the week, a tribute to Michael Clarke Duncan

He was a celebrity.
We all would like to think we knew him in some way. He seemed like the coolest, nicest most engaging bull of a man with a deem velvety voice made famous in The Green Mile, The Whole Nine Yards, a bunch of animated voice overs and dozens of other roles.
Michael Clarke Duncan was one of the celebrity guests in 2007 at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night, an annual fundraiser here in Phoenix hosted by "The Greatest" as well as David Foster the musical quarterback. Foster pulled Duncan up on the stage as Foster had discovered he was a ringer in in the crowd who sang a tune and directed it to his girlfriend at the time. No, I wasn't even close to the stage, I shot with my 300mm lens from the back of the banquet room at the Marriott Desert Ridge. I never even met him. But it was one of those memorable moments to watch a star who you just really like and whom you feel sad about when you find out that he passed away far too young at only 54.
Rest in Peace Mr. Duncan, we will all miss you and your talent.
BTW, if you would like to publish this image from 2007, it is represented by Corbis:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Photos of the week

     One of the things I love about working in other places is seeing how people work with their environment, do whatever they have to do to make a living and to survive. They always make for great moments of real life in other cultures...

     In Brazil, I came across the bike repair shop where the owner was performing his duties in front of his home on the sidewalk, fixing flats and making other, more in-depth repairs.

     In Cambodia it was the roadside barber, trimming a little boy's hair as traffic rushed by.
It's the wooden bike, or the soccer ball made out of discarded plastic bags and string, making due with whatever they have for work and for play. Its the rich spice of international work when you get off the beaten path and get a glimpse of how others handle life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Photo of the week, Faces of Rwanda

     Dipping into my black and white past, to a profound moment in my career that solidified my pursuit of documenting the work of humanitarians, I'm not sure the last time I showed these images of the Rwandese I'd met while working at the AmeriCares clinic in Buranga, Rwanda in 1994.
     We would only later learn the true depth of the horrors that transpired during the three months that began in April of that year, but I might imagine I could see it to some degree in the faces of the people who received treatment at the clinic and the children who played nearby or called the compound home, temporarily.
     Just before this trip, a long-retired veteran of photojournalism reminded me to "photograph the eyes" and I that advice reverberated in my head as I met these folks and made pictures that have, so far, withstood the test of time.
 Please vote for my collection of my NGO images and help raise my profile in the One Life photography competition at:
To vote, click "collect me" button.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Photo(s)

It's Tuesday, lets head to Armenia today. So, officially this is photo, singular, of the week, but hey, it's my blog so I get to make the rules, right?

So, multiple photos it is!

In 2006 I spent some time in Armenia working for Save the Children where they were helping local organizations relaunch kindergarten programs across the country and, looking after mother and child health and wellness. I spent the week working around the Capital, Yerevan as well as making my way around the country with crew from the Yerevan office (Narine and Asik), past the famous Mt. Arrarat, five-foot snow drifts and a sculpted Armenian alphabet in the middle of nowhere, to document programs in action, the caring people devoted to making the programs happen and the children they serve.

The coolest kinder teacher, Gayane Djomardyan delights her charges with her energy and playfulness in Vanadzor.

Checking on children's progress while other patients wait their turn in Yenokovan.

a moment between friends in kindergarten in Yerevan. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday's Photo of the Week

Another blast from the past as I documented the work of doctors at a clinic in Rwanda in 1994 after the genocide. I knew I needed a dramatic overall image of the clinic compound formed by tents that appear as alien craft, and shot a couple of evenings as insurance to be sure I had it. It didn't hurt that it rained for a but almost every day, producing sometimes interesting skies, and that some of the taller mountains in Africa resided to the north on the border with Congo (then Zaire) to make it a little more interesting. It was the place that inspired me to pursue NGO work as an integral part of my photographic diet.

It seems, these days Rwanda is more peaceful but the Democratic Republic of Congo continued to be fractured by numerous regional conflicts within the vast country. Rwanda was a profound turning point for my career and as a result, later work to me to the same spot on earth in a village known as Buranga, 13 years later in 2007. The kids are actually standing about where I stood, but the landscape is growing back and obscuring the house, just above the children's heads.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photo of the week, Thursday Bonus

Mariah Lopez welcomes her dad, Specialist Steven Lopez home from serving in Iraq with the Arizona Army National Guard 855th Military Police unit who arrived home at the Air National Guard base at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The 114 returning reservists  were on their second tour which began December 2009 and completed over 600 missions throughout Ninewa Province which included training Iraqi police and humanitarian missions. The unit's previous deployment was in 2003 as a part of the original invasion force for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It's been a while since I photographed troops arriving or departing for theaters of combat, but always find the homecomings delightful to cover.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photo of The Week

      As many bloggers do, I struggle to keep posts and therefore your interest in Photographic Adventures regular and frequent, but it seems a tall order sometimes.
     Today, at a friend's suggestion, a no-brainer, really, I begin a photo of the week feature. Between recent and older work, the archives are thick with favorite images that are worth sharing again or for the first time.
      I actually plan to do this twice a week as I think daily might be too much.
      I hope you enjoy. Please be sure to comment when you see something you like, something that moves you or reminds you of some fond experience....
Enough words, enjoy the image!

Love our Arizona skies that regularly produce spectacular lighting. Great images are sometimes within arms reach, such as the incredible July storm the put on a show outside the upstairs deck of the house.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A quick eye

          As you may know, I spend at least one day a month, in a healthcare facility of one sort or another, lighting, documenting, cajoling, and all kinds of other things to make interesting images that tell a story.
          Last month, while walking into the clinic I had never seen, I already had a pretty good, if general, idea of what I needed to do to make this work.

          Much of eye exams usually take place in dark places, so the question was, how to shoot it while preserving the sense of darkness while still inserting enough light to see the important parts. On top of that, the patient they had arranged for me was a 90-something gentleman who would not be able to sit for too long. Our eye technician also had patients waiting.
          I needed to use my simplest lighting, aimed as accurately with their power settings nailed down quickly as possible. Once the subject sat down, I might have one chance and probably just a few minutes to shoot with my configuration. 
          No pressure.
          Setting two camera strobes on stands with radio slaves on the opposite side of the room, one near each corner, I aimed their beams across each other to light up just enough detail in the subjects' faces while leaving a significant amount of shadowing, and without lighting up the room in general, to preserve the feel of darkness. All of this while finding that sweet spot where neither strobe would cause lens flare or throw a shadow in just the wrong spot.
          As the light traveled to the opposite subject's face, it also caught enough of the back of the near subject and reflected just enough off of the walls to soften the shadows without lighting up the room. A little bit of spill also provided a subtle glow on the wall behind the computer model.
          Although I would have liked the time to explore subtle lighting changes by moving the lights, we were already out of time.
          I don't recommend it, but I was truly pleased with the resulting image of the 30 minute shoot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New site!

          If you haven't been to my website in a while, You'd better sit down.
No, really, sit down. At at your machine, I mean.

          You just might notice something different.

          My hosting service, Livebooks, has been in the process of a major revamp to make sites even cleaner, simpler to use for viewers and potential clients and, of course, the pictures are HUGE. Their new code makes my site a "Scaler" which means when you drag your browser window's corner out to make it bigger the photographs move right along with you, so that you may see the work larger than before.

          They have also included more flexibility in the portfolios, a much more visible and usable thumbnail field and, really in every other function. I can't tell you how psyched I am about the new look!

          Be sure to have a look, there are some new portfolios of recent work as well as new additions in the existing portfolios.

          Do like I do, enjoy over a cup of coffee.

          Or, better yet, enjoy with a conference room of your closest art I mean, friends.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Favorites from Healthcare

Rehab from heart events.

      I may have mentioned it a time or five, that I seem to spend a great deal of time in hospitals and clinics these days. Nope not sick, just working hard for a favorite client.

     The more frequently I shoot a specific topic, the more I'm challenged to find something different, while trying to get to the heart of the matter of the message that we want to convey. Sometimes the solution is the lighting scheme, sometimes the subjects will present something during the shoot that you haven't anticipated while preparing with some pre-production brainstorming. It's always satisfying when this leads to a picture that accomplishes the goal, especially when, more often than not, I have to squeeze these shoots into a tiny hole in the practitioner's schedule.

      I have also realized I haven't shown many of these along the way, partly because they are all embargoed until the client uses them.

      Now I can share a few favorites.

Podiatrist and foot health; only had about 10 minutes to make this work...
Vaccine time.

Health insurance Doc and Exec talks about Children's health
Discussing stomach procedures to deal with weight issues.

Exercise to stave off the effects of aging.

Pain management allows 90-something to return to the links.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Meaningful moments

Nah, no fun here....
Intensity of creation.

          Active and telling moments.


          Unique perspective.

          All of these can define some of the key elements of photojournalism. They can also define the most powerful images that tell the stories of the heart of a business in action.

          Such was the case of a recent client, Make Meaning, who opened a store in Scottsdale Quarter to begin their expansion outside of Manhattan.

Dino cake.
 Children and adults spend time in the Make Meaning store, creating. Pottery, jewelry, candles, even funky bath soap and funkier cakes; paint, frosting, glitter, wax, fragrance, glass, fill the bright airy environment with a creative energy that might have even made the photography better. 
Fragranced wax pour.
           So, as they began the life of their Scottsdale location, at their request, I also spent time in their store doing what I do best, telling stories, creating images, documenting moments. Doing what I do for my clients, telling the stories of their business, their clients and their people, showing the action and energy that makes their business what it is.
Brotherly advice
         In my "elevator speech" I tell people that this is what I do. I tell your stories. I show the world what makes your business special. I take that passion, and experience of visual story-telling, honed in publication work, in homes and businesses here in Phoenix, and in clinics and in villages around the world, and apply it to bring out the best of your stories.
Always find a way to use a perfectly good mirror!

The important process of selecting jewelry parts

See what my kids came up with?!
Loves her job.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Republican stimulous package for photojournalists

My favorite image of a candidate from two weeks of non-stop political coverage in Arizona.

From the bleachers, watching the faces of adoring fan
    Usually I fall behind on blogging when not much is going on. There’s been too much of that in the last few years.

     Lately it’s for a better reason.

     Between client work and national politics focusing in on Arizona, I have been gloriously busy. I cannot express how wonderful it’s been to be shooting often and shooting consistently, more interesting, well composed images in the process.

Yup, politician and a baby.
     In politics alone, the candidates presented almost daily opportunities for a couple weeks. To me, it was a stimulus plan for photojournalists. It afforded the opportunity to change and improve my approach from one event to the next, to get past to podium picture, and find the human moments that surround a campaign. It allowed me to better explore the landscape and anticipate what might an image look like by going the extra mile and, say, swimming against the stream by climbing the bleachers while supporters descended to shake hands at the rope with the man of the hour.

     It allowed me to make more unique images.
The throng is spun in the CNN Spin Room by Rick Perry speaking for Newt Gingrich.

     In the first three images above, such thinking led to an elevated  position that allowed me to move parallel to Mitt Romney and watch the faces as he interacted. It also led me to the end of the bleachers, next the corridor by which he would exit, for a different look.

     It may not be the first time we have seen that angle, but with a goal to find a view that my colleagues had missed, I made an image from that event that was copied only by a single television photojournalist.

Even the journalists are a little excited to interact with the candidates.
The scrum is a part of the scene too, so, of course, a photograph.
    By the time the CNN Arizona Debate rolled around, I was ready for the main event. Okay, so the main event was a television program and as such, would only allow us the first seven minutes to make photographs at the edge of the stage.

     That done, we sat in the media tent, transmitting photographs until it was over. Only then did the real work of the evening begin. One candidate and numerous candidate spokespeople waded into the media scrum of the CNN Spin Room to, well, spin their candidates' performances in front of a national audience. If you didn't catch Rick Perry or Rick Santorum as they entered the hall you very likely were stuck on the perimeter of the crowd of colleagues trying to get a microphone, a tape recorder close enough to hear or a camera lens close enough to make a viable image.

     If I wasn't deep in the scrum so close that I cause a minor injury to a colleague with my lens hood (sorry Jack!), many of us resorted to the modified "Hail Mary,"  using cameras' live view functions to frame a photograph while holding the camera at arms length over the fray. For that matter, at this sort of event, even the mosh-pit itself made an important moment in time sort of image.

Overall, it was two weeks of great production that makes me remember why although I pursue much more commercial photography these days, I continue to pursue photojournalism, to cover important events making engaging, story-telling photographs in the process. 

Reaching over the crowd to make the closeup while getting the entire flag that is draped out above Romney's head.
President Barack Obama also campaigns in Phoenix at Intel, after his State of the Union speech.
A moment in the crowd
Romney fan club at Mesa Amphitheater.
On air with Fox News, for a little different look.
Rick Santorum enters the stage for the big debate.
"Lets get ready to RUMBLE!"
Thanks to the crane operators, avoiding yet another indoor photo of a president with a row of flags behind him.
John McCain speaks for Romney after a win in Arizona.
A Romney volunteer gets a positive response while drumming up support at the phone center.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Time with the families

Whew, December was a crazy month! 
In addition to a heavy diet of political news and client-driven visual story-telling (more on that in the next blog), I spent some quality time with some families making beautiful images of some wonderful personalities.
With little comment I wanted to share a few images from an evening with Mike and Amy and their little ladies, a morning with Randy and Terri and their lovely daughters and a few frames from a shoot that although was postponed due to a delayed star, still presented an opportunity for a few natural light moments of Susanna and Dylan's personality-filled toddler.