South of the Mason/Dix


yarrow - from "some ghosts"
yarrow - from "some ghosts"

driving south through rural pennsylvania you quickly cross over the maryland border and at some point there is a small blue roadside sign that simply says Mason/Dixon line.  there’s a bit of historical significance to that sign and i assume it is there to serve as a reference to those interested in the history of the civil war.  but i always humorously think of it as, “you’re in the south now, boy!”


the end of my journey brought me to the small town of frederick, md where a small group of photographers specializing in fine art figure work gathered to share portfolios, swap prints, and share techniques.  and its funny how certain things happen at certain times and you really feel your connection to this group growing deeper.  as i was looking through the various prints and portfolios left out on the table, two struck my eye immediately.  they were not tradition inkjet or silver prints.  one was printed on foil and another was printed on… well, i wasn’t sure what it was.

 one of the photographers i’ve met before named linda carlson claimed ownership of the prints.  i asked her how she’d made these and when she started to say, “well, there’s a product called inkAid…” i had to cut her off.  during my recent trip to photo plus expo in new york city, i’d spent a bit of time at the inkAid booth talking to them about their products.  it is a liquid emulsion that you can brush onto almost any type of paper or substrate and when its dry, you can feed it through your inkjet printer and get really wonderful results.  you can find the most delicate japanese papers and when you print the right images on it, its just magical.

when i engaged linda and another woman named carol who was also working with inkAid, the conversation just came alive.  i was throwing out problems that i had with making the prints and getting the papers through the printer.  and they were right there with solutions and they so eager to share them!

so now i’m armed with so much of the right information to accomplish a vision i’ve got for the show i plan to do in january!  all the prints for this show will be printed on a wonderful japanese okawara paper.  and as the warm tones of the pennsylvania fall fade to a winter grey, i see a lot of long nights huddled around the printer watching love and warmth spill out the front of the paper feed.

Evil, Evil Men and the Women Who Love Us

So, I’m fortunate in many ways to have the opportunity to have the chance to collaborate with so many creative people on a regular basis. The creativity often come in the form of collaborating with talented models and more often than not, the collaboration requires a fair amount of trust. The model has to trust that you’re going to be respectful, that you’ll portray her in a way that shows her beauty, fearlessness, or edgyness. It all really depends on how your collective mojos are coming together that day.

Lately I’ve been trying to come up with something that will fit into a particular halloween themed art show. Most of the contributing artists are tattoo artists that deal with skulls, demons, and other gruesome subjects on a daily basis. My art typically attempts to convey the beauty of women. So, trying to think outside this box and do something different proved to be a bit of a challenge.

Originally, I thought about working around the theme of, “Never Again.” using stage make up I envisioned a photograph of an angry woman who, although battered and bruised, was determined to never play the victim again. I tried my best to create stage cuts and bruises and then photograph the models in a compelling setting. Although the models were fantastically patient and trusting with my ideas, the rendering often fell flat.

Then suddenly, I found myself in the right location with a model that I’d worked with before and the photo revealed itself to me in an instant. The model was the incredibly talented Lela Rae and she was in Pennsylvania working with my friend Marcus. Marcus was gracious enough to allow me to come out to his place and share some of the time he planned on working wirh Lela Rae. We were all at Marcus’ studio where he has a couple prop rooms built. We had Lela Rae in a straight jacket and face mask and suddenly I had the idea to put her in this fantastically creepy medical exam room marcus constructed.

The shot was all natural light, shallow depth of field, and all creepy. Lela Rae knew it was a dark shot and I could see that little bit of doubt when I asked he to pose in this room with that outfit, bit again, we know each other, trust each other. When emailed her the shot last night her response was, “that’s FUCKING AWESOME!!”

The prints will be available only as an edition of 13 prints, signed and numbered. Each one will be printed on photo rag paper and hand distressed by me, so each one will be utterly unique. If you would like to purchase one of this series for yourself, please contact me directly… people are dying to get their hands on them!

Mwwahh ha ha!!

some ghosts


Carly Erin - Some Ghosts
Carly Erin - Some Ghosts

this weekend i had the opportunity to work with carly erin again.  we’ve been friendly enough to each other on the socializing sites, but it suddenly came to our attention that we hadn’t actually tried to collaborate on making some art in almost a year!

i set up some time at my friend george’s studio here in town and another friend bill from lightphile studios also came along to have some of carly’s time as well.  the wonderful thing about working with friends like this is that we all tend to feed off of each other’s ideas.  there really is no competition, although some of us tend to guard our ideas so that we can come away with something truly unique.

i had one or two solid ideas for working with carly, particularly placing her within the great natural light afforded by the large windows in george’s studio.  but other than that, i wasn’t sure what i was going to do.  then suddenly i had an idea to slow down my shutter speed and give carly free reign to dance about and express herself through movement.  she’s had a lot of dance training, so this comes very naturally to her.  the idea was to let go of the absolute sharpness i’m used to capturing and allow the blur of motion into the photo.  watching what remains, the sally mann documentary, i’d seen her embrace and take full advantage of the fact that her exposures were 1/5th of a second or longer.  some of the portraits she’s done are 3-5 minute exposures.  and they’re beautiful!  so much more so than a crisp, sharp, flashed exposure.

i expected that the results would be good, but carly exceeded my expectation on expressiveness.  i’m pretty sure that this has launched a new series of photographs for me, enough so that i hope to bring it full circle into another book.  look for more in the future.

Drill Baby, Drill!!

In the recent vice presidential debates, republican candidate Sarah Palin exclaimed, “Drill baby, drill!!” inferring that there is lots of oil off the shores of our own country. And this is how they propose to solve our energy problems.

Do you ever think that in our evolution as a species that we will figure out that sucking everything out of the ground that the earth ha to offer and burning it might not be the best way to power our lives?

Wind, solar and other renewable sources along with frugal conservation methods can bring us so much closer to energy independance than more drilling, draining, and burning ever could.

Time to start thinking differently about lots of things and this is a fundamental difference in approach to this problem that proves to me that I can not support this McCain ticket.

sally mann


3 muses, 29 Palms Inn
3 muses, 29 Palms Inn

i recently met ted preuss and had many wonderful conversations with him over the course of a week in joshua tree national park.  at one point we got to talking about the idea of doing a very, “sally mann” styled shoot near my cabin that might involve 2 or 3 models set against the wonderfully rich wood textures of exterior walls of my cabin.  i managed to make the shot with stephanie anne, dominique, and mia and it turned out different and somehow better than i’d expected.  i didn’t quite get the sally mann feel i wanted, but the different skin tones added a depth and dimension that really took on a meaning of harmony for me.

in my discussion with ted about sally mann, he recommended a documentary called, What Remains that chronicles a lot of sally’s work including the seminal collection, Immediate Family.  the film is a wonderful look into the process and thoughts of a photographic artist unlike any i’ve seen.  i am a huge admirer of sally’s work and it is fascinating to see video footage of her working with her children to create some of the pieces from Immediate Family and the journey she goes through to find the next steps in her evolution as an artist.  what to do next, how to maintain relevance, and struggling with what will keep the public’s interest now that her children are not the centerpiece of her headline-grabbing early works is all shown here in vivid detail.

in many similar (and much smaller) ways, i struggle with the same things as i move through my own work.  i feel like i need time to pause, look back on what i’ve done, and evaluate what i have.  create collections of work that speak to an arcing artistic vision and find ways to present this to the public.  the film will have a lasting impact on my work going forward and provides inspiration for the future.

29 palms

its been a fabulous and very intensely creative week of shooting in the high desert of california for the past week.  is it hot here?  you bet it is.  the bullshit about it being, “a dry heat” is a lot of bunk.  its still hot.  most everyone plans to shoot either in the early morning or in the later afternoon.  its not so intense then and somewhat manageable.  there have been a couple mornings when i actually felt a chill while hiking to a destination.

the week really started to feel like summer camp after a while!  well, summer camp with lots of naked people! the inn staff really didn’t seem to mind us shooting in and around the grounds while we were there.  i chose to shoot in the park quite a bit and would often come back to find someone posed near the spring or in the palm trees outside my cabin.  really refreshing to have that kind of freedom to work as an artist.

the inn is actually located at the oasis of mara which are a series of natural springs in the desert.  native american indians settled there and really had a wonderful life.  wildlife would come to visit the spring as a watering hole and the indians could then take their pick of the game for food.  they also used the springs to irrigate crops.  really, the best life in a harsh desert.


Niecy Moss - Joshua Tree
Niecy Moss - Joshua Tree

while i was there, i had the chance to shoot with a lot of models that i normally wouldn’t have the chance to shoot with.  one of my first interactions was with a woman named Niecy Moss.  we’ve had several wonderful conversations in the past about each others’ work.  i’ve always admired her work on community zoe and she’s always told me how much she admires my work as well.  so, it was all but inevitable that we would work together.

she turned out to be a wonderfully creative model and brought a lot of positive energy to our collaboration.  i was saddened to hear that while she was in joshua tree with us, her home was hit by hurricane ike.  she was having a difficult time just getting back home since airports and trains back into Houston were not fully operational when she had to leave.  i will be thinking of her as she attempts to make it back home and hope she makes it back to her family safely.

the high desert

JFK Airport 


JFK Airport

we finally made it out to Joshua Tree National park and the 29 Palms Inn.  yesterday’s trip out of NYC with Rael was a non-event and getting through the airport was a breeze and the flight was great.  Virgin America seems to be a hip airline with seat-back entertainment systems that offered movies, a food menu, and nintendo-style games.  fun, but i had my iPhone stacked up with a couple episodes of the documentary, “When We Left the Earth: The NASA Missions”.  so i watched that instead. 

the drive out to joshua tree was a bit tedious, especially after a 6 hour flight.  once we arrived, however, it was such a relief to kick back and have a couple drinks and re-connect with old friends.  a bit of drinking after such a long day just acerbates the exhaustion though!

Rael - Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park
Rael - Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

this afternoon, however, we decided to head out and scout some locations in joshua tree and i was blown away by what i saw.  there are so many interesting textures and the light was pretty good for early afternoon.  rael, josephine, and i decided to do some test shots right there in the Belle Campground inside the park.  the vegetation is quite varied with almost everything being prickly, pointed, barbed, or thorny. so, when i saw this small patch of soft grass, i asked rael to strike a quick pose.  i really loved the soft texture of this grass and how it contrasts with the harshness all around. 


13x19 inch custom portfolios
13x19 inch custom portfolios

i’ve been waiting a while for these to arrive and yesterday they finally showed up on my doorstep!!

my pal bill at lightphile studios turned me on to this woman who makes custom portfolio folders for photographers and artists.  her name is jennifer mccabe and she seems to be a talented photographer in her own right.  she also makes these portfolio folders that are just beautiful.  the covers are very sturdy, the finish is all silk and she lets you choose from any of a number of different colors for both the cover material and ribbon ties.  i even asked her if we could customize the portfolio a bit by putting a pocket on the inside front cover to hold business cards.  jennifer was able to do this at no extra cost and it looks like it will function beautifully.

for more information, please visit her web site:

finding the moment

Elizabeth - Ithaca Gorge
Elizabeth - Gorges #1, Ithaca, NY

there’s no doubt that Elizabeth is a wonderful model.  she’s easy to travel with, has an incredible sense of humor, and when she’s modeling for me is positively luminescent!  however, one of the key elements to making true art is that you have to put yourself into a space where the defining moments will present themselves.  and you can do your best to be prepared, know your gear, and do everything in your ability to be prepared for it, but ultimately you have to see it and react quickly.  when i think about it, it reminds me of a quote from an old master:

Success in photography, portraiture especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated.  So light, balance, expression must be seen – felt as it were – in a flash, the mechanics and technique being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic. — Edward Weston, Carmel California, March 1922

as i mature as a photographer, i’ve come to realize that certain things become ingrained in your thinking as a photographer.  as you become more familiar with your tools, you learn to see more deeply into your work as you are attempting to capture a photograph.  your brain learns to recognize things it has seen before and translate that into exposure, digital capture, and the myriad of convolutions those pixels will go through when passing through photoshop.  you know what it will look like in the end mostly because you’ve done it before, but also because you know how the tools you’ve got will react to the decisions you’ve made.

that’s what i really love about this photograph.  it was one of those moments.  i’d been to ithaca years ago and love the idea of photographing in the gorges.  and with my recent explorations into figure photography, i wanted to try again with a nude.  i knew these places were magical and when i turned around and saw this mist floating above the water and the look of the trees through this mist, i knew that this was what i’d come here for.  elizabeth was brilliant with her poses and together we created something that approaches the best of what i’ve shot all summer. 

prints from this series of shots are available by browsing through the Summer 2008 Gallery at my web site directly at Elizabeth – Gorges #1, Ithaca, NY.

Waste Only

Rubbish Bin, Suburban Station

It always seems like a good idear to not have to drive into the city, use public transport, and she some gas. But inevitably, when you have to get out of the city late at night train schedules don’t always jive with when Nine Inch Nails decides to end their show! So we narrowly missed the 11:15 train out of the city and now have to wait for the 12:15.

nine inch nails, philadelphia, 8.29.2008

The show put on by NIN was among the best I’ve ever seen them put on. They performed really well and had an amazing set of video displays that actually wrapped around the stage, in front of and behind the band. And the video on the displays often incorporated live feedback from the performance on very abstract and surreal ways.

The performances were spot on and at one point they completely transformed the stage by bringing out a complete set of mirambas, an upright bass and other instruments you rarely see at an aggressive rock show!  they performed some really great selections from Ghosts I-IV with this set and the choice of instrumentation really added a lot to the show.  people that were previously moshing and slamming into each other were transfixed during this part of the performance.

If you have a chance to see nine inch nails this year, I would highly recommend it!!

nine inch nails, philadelphia, 8.29.2008