I lived in NYC for years, so I have a real love of the big city and all it offers. But I grew up in a small town.
Moving to the north shore of Boston might make diehard cityfolk blanch, but I felt right at home the second I set foot here in Ipswich. It, like my own hometown, combines the charm of a small community with the urbanity that comes from being a quick train trip away from the city.
Living here has worked out just wonderfully for my photography. Here’s a great example. This series of shots needed to have both a city feel and a leisure aspect. We accomplished both just steps from the studio. And no parking woes!
Priscilla is a fabulous model from Maggie Inc, a real sweetheart to work with! We had a long, lovely day creating these images.
Whenever I am lucky enough to travel, I am inevitably caught up in the perspective shift that comes from a change of surroundings. I think we all are if we consider it. Even expected things, like different sheets on a different bed or the smell of hotel soap contributes to the phenomena.
For me personally, this shift is often the most profound, and most memorable, in the collection of things.
Sorry if that all sounds weirdo cerebral. Let me try to explain.
When I travel, I strip down to the bare essentials to go with. I am easy to addle when I am on the road, and so I find that moving with a simple, logical bag of just what’s needed makes it way less stressful for me to go from place to place. I reach into one of two small bags, in one of two small pockets, and find my phone, ticket and passport. If it is there, we’re set. If not, worry. I rarely worry.
This kind of spartan behavior is in direct contrast to my daily life. I am a bower bird. (click here for bower bird behavior for the uninitiated) If it is pretty and shiny and has some spiritual/emotional/aesthetic/made-up value, it gets a special spot in my ‘bowers’. As a result my home has a lot of places where things are collected and arranged. If you get me. Not messy. Just, well, curated. And think Victoria and Albert museum rather than MOMA.
So. When I travel with my slate clean so to speak, I still curate. I can’t help it. When I engaged in this behavior in my youth, I’d come home broke, with an extra bagful of bizarre things plucked from my journey. Trouble was, they had fit beautifully and significantly in my temporary home but in my actual home they lost much of their vibrant energy. The whole idea of appreciating things by leaving them where you found them grew in its logic, and so I changed my technique of collecting. Every trip now produces a series of images that really have no ‘vacation picture’ value but are treasures to me nonetheless.
Color, energy, connection, attraction. Bower bird in action.
Here in Boston, we’ve had more than the usual amount of snow. The pile outside my door is easily 5 and a half feet and growing. The plow guy comes around daily. I can’t remember what a sidewalk looks like. My daily outfit consists of snow pants.
Never the less, we managed to create a little snowy fantasy for you all last weekend. Using my friend and client Lisa Cantalupo’s designs, and two wonderful and well matched models we both adore, Lisa and I came up with this “Hunt of the Heart” (Working title – I’m lousy at naming things!). We love it. Hope you do too.
Look for a longer note about the shoot day later. For now, just enjoy our story.
I think a lot about taking pictures of people. Makes sense, huh?
Anyway, the interesting thing about that, or at least the thing that I wanted to share with you – is that I while do spend time thinking about the technical aspects of the shot (where, how, with what lights and clothes and stuff), I also spend a lot of time thinking about the person. Actually, I spend more time on that than any other part of the process.
Which may sound weird, but hear me out in the form of a question: What is the one thing that is unique in a portrait? Is it all the technical aspects? Well, honestly, no, not really. There are certain portrait photography techniques that really work well, and most great photographers use them in some way. Is it the clothes someone wears or how their hair is styled? That can help with expressing individuality, but the ingredients listed above are nothing without the binding substance – the one truly unique thing that can never be recreated or replaced – the person, present in the moment the image is made.
So really, everything else is just window dressing. The person I’m going to see truthfully as we shoot – that magical, complex ball of carbon, soul and spirit – is the most important thing to consider, respect and celebrate.
After the appropriate considerations are made, the rest falls into place.
Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and the most fun. These images are from a series I created featuring two brothers – the action words were the inspiration for each little story, and the strength of the interplay between the boys was so compelling little else was needed. Fun, funny and an idea I’d like to play with more.