Off the reservation

I don’t want your money.

Not the most profitable way to run a business.  But if I were to take people’s money they would probably expect something in return.  Therefore I would have to create pictures I don’t necessarily want to create.  (Hence the particular image…’confined and restricted’.)

confined beauty

model: Lydia Martinez

That has become unacceptable to me .  I love to shoot, and I love changing those shots into my style of art.  With that and learning new skills to create with and teaching others what I’ve learned, I’m following what I love most in life.

We all hope there comes a time in our lives where we can do what we love and not one other thing…well, except taking out the garbage maybe.  I’m there.

Someday I hope to be good enough with my art that people might want to put it on their wall.  Or other photographers use it for inspiration for their own work.  I’m working on a body scape book so maybe I’ll generate a little income from that.  But frankly, the joy of knowing someone is enjoying my art is infinitely more important to me.

For the models and hair stylists and makeup artist and designers who have and will be working with me, thank you!  Without your talents and ideas my art would be very limited indeed.  Thank you all and I hope we work together for many years to come.  I assume you are wanting the same outcome…art.

The other part of photography I truly love is showing others what I may have learned that may enhance their experience.  One on one workshops are amazing and I love the personal sharing that comes with that.

So, bottom line is…

If you come to me and want a family shoot, or a baby, or a dog, of senior pictures, or a wedding, or your gold fish shot, don’t be offended if I thank you for thinking of me but I decline.  It’s not personal, it’s just not what I do.

I hope you all get to that point in your life where you can let your heart lead you to your joys and leave logic and the need to make money behind.  Meanwhile, if you have any ideas for creating some art with me, most certainly chat with me about it.  THAT is what I do!

Have an amazing life!!

Slight course correction

The life of an artist is constantly changing.  Art is a reflection of feelings and desire.   Those are required to create art.  The art created under yesterday’s sun was wonderful.  But today the air seems fresher, the flowers more fragrant, and the sun just a little brighter.  Art will change with the new day.

I started doing photography as just something to do after I retired.  I fell in love with it, and I sucked at it.  Then I started playing, learning, enjoying what I could create, and everything started changing.  It’s not just something to do anymore.  It’s something I HAVE to do!  The joy of sitting back after a special shot comes to life and feeling it stir my heart is like a drug.  A runner’s high.

Some might say I still suck at it.  Don’t care.  I love it.

But, as I said, the life of an artist is always changing.  My love for the art is over powering any desire to do photography that others want.  I don’t feel I have to do weddings, family pictures, or any of the ‘typical’ photography.  I just want to create.  Make my art.  Learn.  Excel.  Grow.

So, don’t be shocked when I turn down the opportunity to shoot, even for money.  If it’s an artistic project you are bringing to me I’ll have a rate but at least I’ll be loving it because it’s art.  If it’s anything else I do know some of the best photographers in Arizona and can get you connected for what you want.

That leaves me to my final point.

If you want to model for me.

To be totally creative requires a model or models that are totally comfortable with everything.  Looks that are not flattering, or pretty.  Dark, bright, colorful, black and white, implied, nude, no makeup, outlandish makeup, whatever comes to mind or what idea is being created at the time.  So, if you are someone who enjoys my art and wants to be a part of it, keep in mind that I expect you to be comfortable with whatever we need to do for any given concept.  It’s always classy of course, but I need a canvas that has no limits.

It’s okay, go into the light!

Before we were born we saw light.  It was pink and out of focus, but it was there.  We’ve had light all around us and for most people it’s all about being able to just see in the dark, or it comes from the sky, or we flip a switch and we can see.  It’s as natural as breathing and we take it for granted the same way.

Photography is all about the light.  All photography uses it…great photography manipulates it, paints with it, makes us see what the photographer, what the artist, wants us to see.

IMG_8176-1It could be as simple as a black photo with a hint of an eye showing.  It often uses light to draw lines with the shadows to bring out a shape, a form, or lack of one.  Light is the essence of the art of photography.

If it’s a bride we can wash her in warm pastels or put a baby in beautiful sunshine.  Endless options.

When I have the opportunity to share my knowledge of photography I always show how everything I do revolves around the light.  Studio lighting, location lighting for day and night, and playing with the light in all situations.  I often find myself stepping back and wondering just how I can use the light I have to make this into an interesting picture.  It’s not like a math problem to me.  There are no rules.  Actually, there are plenty of rules and I break them every chance I get because I ignore them.  Knowing your lights, modifiers, and gear to a degree where you just know what they can do is all you ever need.  I light a subject with my gut more than my brain.  What is going to make the shot just crawl off the page and grab you by the ears!  Okay, maybe not that strong, but keep your eye on the shot and wonder.

So many people take pictures that are, well, just pictures.  Selfies, but using a photographer.  Sorry, but yuck.

If people look at a picture and they are moved by it.  If they wonder what the person is thinking in the picture.  If they feel what the subject is feeling then I think it was worth the time, the thought, or gut, that went into it.

When someone sees a picture I’ve taken of a nude or implied subject and the response is ‘that’s hot’ then they aren’t seeing what I intended at all.

I’m thinking that great photography is broken down into two groups.  People who know how to use the light to paint an amazing picture with their camera, and those that know enough about art to appreciate it for the art that it is.

If you are a photographer – know every aspect of lighting.  Period.  And you will be amazing!

The perfect picture?

One day I was driving along and the phone rang.  I pushed the button on the steering wheel and said “Hello?”.  (that still sounds so scifi to me)

The person on the other end introduced himself as a fellow photographer and how he was calling to help me out.  I’d posted something somewhere about how I figured out a little quirk in Lightroom and passed it along.  He’d obviously read my answer wrong and was planning to help me out of a problem I wasn’t having.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to see and hear how others practice photography and I still appreciate that he took the time to track down my number and call.

So, he starts in with camera settings, light meter readings, how to arrange the lights, and goes on and on about how to set up a shot.  He kept inserting the line “I’m sure you do it this way” and then went on some more about arranging the lights and getting the sun at the right angle and the best times to shoot.  Then he got back into measuring the light to the nearest quarter fStop and speeds.

He went on for about 5 minutes without really stopping to ask me any questions.  He was telling me what he assumed I already knew and practiced I guess.

I waited and listened.  And drove.  Everything he said was completely right.

Then he finished and it was quiet.

I said, “Would you like to know how I do it?” and he replied, “Sure!”

“I wet my finger, stick it in the air, look to see where the shadow falls, and then do what feels right for the shot I want to get”

14 - 1-2

Neat chart. Great for learning how it works. Learn it well and it becomes like muscle memory and it all just works.


He seemed a bit shocked that I ‘shot from the hip’ and didn’t do all of the required steps to get the perfect picture.

My idea of a perfect picture isn’t one like the camera sees, or even one I see with my eyes.  It’s just ever so slightly surreal or different that it’s not just a picture anyone else could take going down a check list.  Nothing wrong withthat of course…great work is produced that way and I’m not knocking it.  I’ve tried it and it just didn’t work for me.

Of course I rely on my knowledge of the camera.  I know what ‘most’ of those buttons are for and how to get the camera to do exactly what I want it to.  And yes, there is a light meter IN the camera, and yes I USE it for example.  But everything else is gut feeling.  I know what the lights going to look like at various angles, with a certain lens, I know how the exposure will look with the balance of speed and fStop a certain way.  Not just text book ‘know’, but I can feel it.  The camera becomes an extension of my thoughts and the flow of light is all I think about.

If I wanted a shot that looked dead on life like I’d do all of that technical stuff. I’m more of a shoot from the hip kinda’ guy I guess.  It takes a while to really ‘feel’ your camera and lights, but it’s a real joy to me when I meet a new friend (camera) and get to know it deeply.

I’ve had some photographers tell me that it’s great to get the picture perfect right in the camera.  I agree.  But I haven’t found a camera that takes the picture the way I consider perfect so it’s a combination of gut feeling and then seasoning the shot in post production.

I do think knowing how it works technically is very important.  To many people THINK they can become great photographers without bothering with fStops and shutter speeds…whatever they are.  I think shooting from your heart makes for a beautiful picture.  You need to understand your equipment intimately, to get what you really want from it.

This, of course, is a blog, and my opinion.  Not what’s right or wrong.  Season to your own taste.  Always.

Creative juices…with pulp

Being moody doesn’t make you an artist. But almost certainly an artist will be moody. And by artist I mean anyone who creates. Writers have writers block, painters may sit in front of a canvas for hours just staring. Closer to home, a photographer may sit and stare at their last shoot and can’t see anything they want to edit.


On good days the juices are flowing, planets are in line, wine is just the right year, something. Something clicks and you wake up and can’t wait to get to it. Paint flies on the canvas, words flow like water, or Photoshop is so busy your computer fan is on high. The problem is, we can’t control what days will be creative. We can’t put a finger on the trigger for the same reason we can’t control or really predict the weather. A lot of things can stop the juices and other things give it a fist full of pulp to give you special days.

The thing that keeps me sane during the down times is knowing it happens. It’s not the end, it’s how it works. Of course you should worry because, as we all know, if you worry about something it never happens.

I have found that the best way to come back strong is to accept the down days and go off to do something that’s mindless or at least not creative in the same way as my photography.  This is often when I come up with new ideas.  Write them down for a juicer day.  The more I accept those days the stronger the creative days seem to be.

I also have plenty of my favorite images hanging on the wall or popping up on screens to remind me that yes…I’m a creative…maybe just not today.