Posts Tagged ‘photos

03
Aug
10

Favorite horse photos, recent shoots

I’ve posted this gallery to show some of my favorite images from past commissions and assignments.  Some of them have been chosen, some not, but they all appeal to me for one reason: I believe they reveal the essence of the horse I am photographing.  There are a few selections from the farms I’ve visited, as the energy and creation of the farm is an integral part of the experience you share with your horse.  Photographing the surroundings allows me to depict a more nuanced view of your daily routine.

I hope you enjoy the gallery.  If you are interested in having images created I will be in Santa Fe, (New Mexico), Flemington, (New Jersey), Kiel, (Germany), Devon, (England), Florence, (Italy), Sao Paolo, (Brazil), and points in between in the coming months.  I’d love to hear from you.

14
Feb
10

glow….and Happy Valentine’s Day

As I type this I am struck by how awkward the word glow looks.  Yet the quality or attribute of glowing in a photograph is anything but awkward.  I’m talking about subtlety…not a plug-in or technique.  I’m not anti-plug-ins, the truth is I have very little knowledge of or experience with them.  But I’m talking about recognizing something in the light and tone of shapes and moments that translate into glowing photographs. This morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with my son in a favorite spot here in Seattle.  As is my habit, I photographed the setting.  A fleeting glance at the display told me that I might have a nicely glowing photograph.  It’s not a prize winner, but it is a sweet reminder of a glowing moment, and a reminder too, of many other happy moments in this spot.  And when I started to gather a few photos for this blog post I was struck by the happy memories that each called forth.  A coincidence?  No.  I feel very strongly that when we are in a glowing mood…the energy attracts the same.  We see how we feel.  It’s just another variation of my belief that we photograph as we are.

I’ll be back this week with some ‘serious’ photographs…but for now, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Wishing you lots of glow for your day, your life, and your photographs.

17
Jan
10

the editing process

I am engaged by photographs that elicit an emotional response.  I want my own photographs to meet that standard and yet I realize that it is totally subjective.  What one viewer finds sorrowful or joyful will likely be different from another’s view.  But still, if we (as the photographer) are moved by a scene, a moment, or an event then it is likely that our audience will catch on to something that pulls them in.   So the question for me, when helping clients or friends edit their work, is this: Am I engaged?  Am I taking some extra time to really see the photograph or is it a ‘one look’ photo, a photo that might be graphically stunning but is one-dimensional? What are you trying to communicate as a photographer?  Anything? What is your point of view?  Do you have one?  Or is it simply a picture of  a pretty scene, thing, event?  What does the photograph say about you, the photographer?  Are there clues or is the mystery part of the appeal?  In short, to paraphrase Sam Abell: Is it involving? 

Of all the challenges to creating a successful or engaging photograph, among them lighting, technique, composition, setting, and gesture, the communication of feeling is for me the most important. Here is a small gallery with a wide array of subjects for you to critique. 

A note about Sam: Over 1,000 people attended the opening of his new show, Amazonia, at the University of Oregon on Saturday, January 16th.  Sam, along with the wonderful Danish photographer, Torben Nissen, spent months in the headwaters of the Amazon and came back with compelling, thoughtful images that tell the story of one of earth’s most precious resources.  I hope you’ll get to see the show.

16
Dec
09

Road Trip, part 2

The most viewed images from the first road-trip post are the horse images…. so I thought I’d post a few more of my favorites.  The inherent beauty of the horse makes them marvelous subjects and it also makes it easier to create  a successful photograph.  But there are challenges as well.  I am terribly discerning with my horse photographs because I know what the correct postures are from an equestrian viewpoint, and I’m looking for meaningful gesture from a photographer’s viewpoint.  Then I want good lighting, dramatic lighting even…..and the last component must be the essence or the soul of the horse.  This is a tall order, but having access to Debra and Dominique’s farm makes it possible to have some success.

Visiting the farm is like going home for me.  My stallion, Fol Amour, lives there now to enjoy his retirement in his first home. He’s the old man of the barn now at 26, and while still active and working it is bittersweet to see him aging. I am just beginning to photograph him. I don’t have an answer as to why I haven’t been doing it, seriously, for all these years. It’s a regret that I must live with.  

Generally, I am happy with this group of images.  I was able to produce a couple different types of images in the midst of action and changing light.  We were there for less than two hours before we had to begin our trek up the coast.  But of course that bit of modest success fuels the fire to return!

17
Nov
09

knowing your subject too well?

In my last post I mentioned that in order to photograph your subject well you must know it deeply.  But knowing my subject too well became a challenge.  Upon my return from Europe in the summer of 2006 I was deeply frustrated photographically.  I had spent the previous four months photographing in France, Italy, England, and Holland, and then had a magical trip on a yacht up through the Southeast Passage in Alaska.  The visual feast of having something new and exciting to see for virtually every second of every day had dulled my senses to the familiar.   I turned back to my books for inspiration and a new subject.  This statement, from Ernst Haas, changed my thinking in an instant:  “I am not interested in shooting new things, I am interested to see things new.”  

I am not overstating it to say this sentence changed my life.  I went out that evening  to see things new; things (my home town) that I had such familiarity with that I could tell you when a certain flower or shrub would bloom in a particular back yard, or when a building was last painted, and didn’t it need painting again?  There is value in knowing something so well, I suppose it’s the meaning in the phrase “my home town”.  Shepherdstown had been my home for 44 years at this point….and with the arrival of Ian and Jessica, my family had called Shepherdstown “home” for six generations.  I never could have predicted that I would move, or move all the way across the country to Seattle…but that summer, my last summer in Shepherdstown, taught me that I can photograph wherever I am….an exotic locale or from my elevator each morning….and see things new.

05
Nov
09

Grace and creative inspiration

After PorterEphemeral, yet the impression is lasting and grows in strength as time passes; this is how I recall moments of Grace.  The experience of having recognized an extraordinary moment, and then created an image that communicates the essence of what I saw, fills me with the inspiration to continue to seek those moments.   Grace is subtle, fleeting.  We must cultivate awareness in order to be ready when it appears. 

In the fall of 2008, while teaching with my buddy Rick Holt in the Poconos of Eastern Pennsylvania, I created my favorite photograph from that year.  We started at 5 that morning in order to catch the mist and fog if we had a bit of photographer’s luck.  It was still quite dark upon reaching our destination but I knew there were photographs to be made in the coming pre-dawn.  Walking slowly along the lake shore I could see some outlines of slender birches and then I could make out some gleaming yellow leaves.  I walked a bit further, but within 10 minutes I had come back to that spot.  I could feel a photograph calling.  When I returned I noticed there was just enough light to refine the composition and illuminate the mist that was lying densely in the woods behind.   Stillness fell upon the scene, the leaves held their breath, and I made a number of exposures, experimenting with and refining the framing.  The whole episode might have lasted 5 minutes, but the strength of purpose, confidence, and gratitude that I experience from that time has sustained me through the last year.  

I’m anxious to write more about visual literacy and how we, as photographers, can expand our abilities by caring for the vast store of imagery that has been given to us by the Masters of painting, drawing, sculpting, and photography.  Perhaps you’ll tell me about your favorites?

28
Oct
09

Horses, photography

Ultraje

Top Iberian, a gorgeous magazine from Spain that chronicles the Lusitano and Andalusian horse, is publishing a feature story about me, including a number of the horse photos that I’ve taken in the last several years. The editor, Katharina Braren, asked me in the interview to describe my connection with horses, as a strong connection, in her words, is evident in the photographs.  This is a subject that is central to who I am as a photographer so I was happy to discuss it.  As a full answer will take more than two paragraphs I am going to post it over several days.

The quality, or act of being that is awareness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  I’ve written and thought about this for nearly two decades.  Curiosity at a young age is a good start, but true awareness begins with an examination of who we are.  For me, this time coincided with when I met Dominique Barbier almost 20 years ago.  Antoine de St. Exupery describes friendship in this way:  Friendship is born from an identity of spiritual goals ~ from common navigation toward a star. If that is so, Dominique and I have seen many galaxies together.  Our discussions about the horses and training quickly turned to developing awareness and knowing what energy we were bringing to the horse whenever we were in contact.  By beginning to peel away ego and expectation, I found a greater partnership and acceptance with my horses.  Please understand, this took some time and a great deal of effort.  Effort in the sense of bringing forth work from the heart…not just working AT something….it had the quality of working TO something and each step was a revelation.   This approach naturally spilled over into all the layers of a busy life (raising children, running a business) and while there were many setbacks, there were real moments, periods of peace and acceptance.   How does all this relate to photography?  That will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.

24
Oct
09

Photographs in our lives

Two photos today:  the first is a much loved picture in our family album and the second is my favorite photo of all time.  I suppose it will always be.

We all keep our family photographs for the obvious reasons of nostalgia, family bonds, humor, longing, history, love.  But I think that Photographers (meaning working pros and perhaps serious amateurs) fail to recognize the importance of continuing to make these images.  I’ve been thinking of this as I have been working on a project of gathering images from family members and combining them with anecdotes into a volume that will be printed.   What has struck me so profoundly is that I can’t remember a single thing about the ACT of making the photographs that I’ve contributed.  I can’t remember the camera I used….how/when they were developed….it’s as if I was totally absent in the mechanical process.  Oddly, I can tell you everything about every image made since 2005 (when I became a ‘serious’ photographer).  Do we feel the weight of needing to make a photograph rather than just recording a moment? Are we then separated from the experience and does that separation reveal itself in our work?   Are we more or less present when recording moments in our own lives?  How do we eliminate the distinction, or should we?

A far better writer and photographer than me has lived this theme.  Sam Abell often lectures on The Photographic Life.  If the opportunity arises for  you to hear a lecture, take a class, or pick up one of his books, don’t miss it.   As that Great American, Arthur Meyerson once introduced Sam……I give you the Dalai Lama of photography:         www.samabell-thephotographiclife.com

My last point:  when I asked my now 25 year old son what he would like for his birthday, he said “a copy of that photograph of Jess, Will, and me, in Florida at Uncle Charlie’s…you know the one….it’s my favorite photograph of all time”.

22
Oct
09

Early lesson

Alain Briot, noted Southwest photographer and founder of www.beautiful-landscape.com said to me “sometimes you can make a beautiful image in this bright sunlight”.  We had been walking all over Chaco Culture National Park, in JULY, and we stopped by this doorway.  It’s not in one of the big ruins (Casa Rinconada or Pueblo Bonita) it’s an outlier, perhaps Wijiji.  The point is this:  drop your preconceptions.  Learn to see like your camera sees….and experiment.  Magic happens.

Native American culture has played a large part in my fantasy life since I was a young child.  Wearing moccasins to school in West Virginia was a little odd, but I just wanted to BE what I thought an Indian was.  For a long while my exploration was limited to reading and combing through photography books (Edward Curtis for Native Americans).  Beginning in 2004, coinciding with the first serious pursuit of photography, I went to explore the Southwest.  It turned out to be a marvelous affirmation of following your heart.  Combine bad timing (leaving a landscape business in high season), really hot weather (105 degrees in the shade), and throw in a total leap of faith to contact Alain about private study, and BINGO:  New Life Path.Portal

22
Oct
09

Why the blog when so many are available?

We photograph as we are.  If that statement is true, then I am determined to grow as a person/a soul/an individual in order to become a more engaging photographer.

I’ll post images, invite comment, and solicit your thoughts about how you are growing as a photographer and from time to time I’ll comment on all the things that help me to grow:  books, movies, music, experience, life.




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