All Roads Lead West

There are times when a client will ask me to photograph "location" or "destination" images in order to help sell the location of their property. Rarely are the destinations as beautiful as what the American Southwest has to offer. Other than the ubiquitous pool shot on the actual property, landscapes become obvious points of interest for the lens in this part of the world. This was a rare pleasure.


I Shoot People In The Face With A Canon...

...A Canon camera, that is.
(shot recently in Charleston, South Carolina)

For me, it means being able to offer my clients the best images in any area of photography. I am confident I can provide a great product, and my work speaks for itself. Having the ability to shoot both architecture and lifestyle is a great advantage for hotel, resort and real estate clients.

And they are two aspects of photography at which I can confidently say I'm very good.

To all clients and potential clients:

Yes, I'll shoot your architectural needs or your lifestyle models, but keep in mind that being able to combine those shoots into one package, have it done well and delivered on time not only saves you headaches, it's cost effective (and who isn't concerned about cost these days?)

Plus, I've recently started to shoot HD video for clients as well. More on this topic later. It's all about being able to adapt. Isn't that Darwin?



Earlier this month I had the pleasure of collaborating with an incredible makeup artist, Michelle Gonzales and Dana Deggs, a young but talented model who has a very bright future ahead of her in this industry. The concept was simple, bright colors that pop off the screen...like visual candy.


Raw Talent

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being the official photographer for the Sushi Masters Competition held at the Alliance Francaise de Miami.  As a lover of sushi myself, I was amazed at the creations these chefs came up with.  I thought I'd share a few pictures of the event.

If you've ever seen Iron Chef on television, it would give you a good idea of the atmosphere and the type of exciting event this was.  Four master sushi chefs;  Nestor Espartero of Sushi Bistro Ocala, Tareshi Kamoira of Tokyo Sushi, Toshi Furihata of Moshi Moshi and Hiro Asano of Abokado Sushi, competed against each other and a 45 minute time-clock.  The results then go to a panel of judges where modern style, presentation, technical skills and taste were judged.

Toshi Furihata of Moshi Moshi claimed the $2,500 prize and will now compete at the finals in Los Angeles.


Wedding Photographer?

What do you get when you take a seasoned architectural photographer out of his element and place him in the world of wedding photography?  I'm not quite sure, but everything turned out amazing!  I've been trying on my photography hat in different arenas lately.  Professional wedding photographer is the latest.

Last week I had the opportunity of creating some great images on a very special day for Anne-Marie and Ryan.  They were both incredibly easy and fun to work for and they gave me free reign to shoot in any way I wanted.  When does that ever happen?  

Thankfully, more and more wedding photography is steering away from the stiff, contrived and overly composed.  It's becoming much more documentary and editorial in feel.  Something I truly appreciate.  The way I see it, why not shoot a wedding this way?  After all, it's a day of celebration and should be documented as such.

So, anyone need a wedding photographer?



Mobile to Mobile

I can officially say that something has come full-circle in my photography career.  During college and for part of my 'Senior Project', I photographed mobile homes.  That is, I photographed the very front-ends of them and arranged them in a grid form, much like Bernd & Hilla Becher.  The idea sort of took on a life of it's own.  To begin with, I was shooting with a Hasselblad, which has a square format.  The subjects themselves were square and the grouping on the wall when hung for gallery space was also square.  Another strange thing (pointed out to me when I finished the project) is the fact that the total number of images was 81.  All arranged in a square grid.  9 across.  9 down.  It's the number 9 that apparently has numerological significance (I'll leave the reader to research).

Last Spring while on location for a client in Virginia, I was asked to photograph a mobile home.  Truthfully, it's actually a camper.  Close enough.  I figured I had genuine experience shooting this subject so I was rather excited by the challenge.  So, pulling from both the artistic and advertising sides of my brain I came up with the above shot.  It was photographed pre-dawn, it was very cold outside and I had to use my rental Buick as a prop.  The moon in the shot was not planned.  Just a gift.


Safety First - Miami Style

If you thought the Art Deco buildings on Miami Beach were the only great architecture to be admired (besides the bikini-clad bodies), then you should get your feet sandy and walk along the white sand of South Beach.

The colorful lifeguard stations were designed by architect William Lane after Hurricane Andrew devastated much of Miami Beach.  I think their unique character, design and color reflect the various influences of Miami, as well as the importance of great design in everyday life.


Selling The Destination

On several occasions I've been asked to capture "location" images.  Something to help sell the destination.  In this case, I was asked by my client to capture images around the city of Las Vegas.  As anyone who's stepped foot in Vegas realizes, it can easily become a photographers candy-bowl.  Whether you're shooting architecture, people, journalism, weddings, editorial, stock;  it's all there for the taking.

Since we hadn't secured a license to photograph inside the casinos, the sidewalks made a great public space for setting up a tripod.  This action alone could still land one a fine or two, depending on the police officer's mood that night.  However, we decided if we were approached by Vegas's Finest, we'd play dumb tourists.  Luckily, we were not hassled.

Funny, you can photograph anything with a camera strapped around your neck but once you have an assistant and a tripod, you become a threat.

The great thing about these types of assignments is that the client benefits greatly by having access to stock photography that's already licensed specifically to them.  It also gives me an opportunity to venture out and be creative in a foreign city.  The opportunity to add to my stock photography base for future use and sale is always a pleasure.


The Wright Way

When you think of Frank Lloyd Wright, the first thing that pops into your head is probably not "Florida". In 1939, Dr. Ludd Spivey, who was then the president of Florida Southern College, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to come up with a design for a small vacation home in the Las Olas Isles. Dr. Spivey was already very familiar with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright because he had earlier commissioned him to design and build the entire campus of Florida Southern College. Coincidentally, the school does not offer a degree in architecture but is actively trying to restore and preserve some of the aging buildings.

In May of 2006, I received a call from Lori Twietmeyer, then Art Director at HOME Fort Lauderdale Magazine. The project was to photograph a scale model of a home Frank Lloyd Wright had designed. It was the model of the Spivey home.

Really? You want me to photograph a Frank Lloyd Wright design?
Yes, I want the job!

I remember first seeing the scale model and wondering how I would duplicate the look of the sun. As I looked at it under the flourescent light of HOME's office, it became clear that this wasn't going to be as easy as I had planned. I could easily set up a single light with some bounce to fill in some shadow but I still thought it would just look like an aerial view of a scale model. Not interesting.

I decided the model needed some life. Enlisting the help of Lori and the publisher of the magazine, we carefully carried the model (about the size of a small dinner table) up onto the roof and into the sun itself. Since I needed a clear view of the sky without obstructions, the resulting image was shot from the top of 2 stacked tables and a tall ladder. I also decided to utilize a very selective focus on just the house, which I think adds to the look of it being 'real'.

The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society recently contacted me about an upcoming exhibition of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Florida connections. They wanted to use the image for promoting the event. I gladly sold them the usage rights and I'm honored to have my own small connection to the great architect. Opening night is February 6, 2009.


The Baltz Influence

You never know when inspiration is going to hit you.  You can't really force it.  It just has to happen and the rest is up to us to do something with it.  I like to think of myself as an artist first, a commercial artist second.  However, in order to eat and clothe myself, I've found commercial work much more monetarily satisfying.
In 1974, a book was published called "The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California".  This became the basis of inspiration for a series of work I produced during college.  I knew there was some irony and detachment in what I had been photographing. Bland subjects like doorways, industrial buildings and suburban landscapes were my center of attention and I would elicit strange responses when I told people I was going off to photograph an industrial park. It wasn't until the work of Lewis Baltz was recommended to me that it really clicked and came together.  I suddenly found my inspiration and I knew there was probably at least one other person on the planet who might appreciate my efforts.
In 1975, Lewis Baltz was one of 8 artists selected for an exhibition at the International Museum of Photography called "The New Topographics:  Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape."  By studying these styles, I began to come up with my own visions.  Instead of focusing on the buildings within the landscapes, the buildings themselves became the landscape, often focusing on a single wall.  Already stark and cold subject matter to begin with, these industrial buildings became the perfect palette for me to distill a three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional one. 
Working with my Sinar 4x5 camera, every image was highly intentional.  As anyone who's worked with large-format knows, there's nothing spontaneous about it.  Each exposure is highly planned and produced.  Every image became more about the lines of the building and more minimal as I progressed.  The images I made during that time are some of the favorites I've ever produced.  Who knew you could make cool art in an industrial park on a Sunday morning?  Thanks, Lewis.  I'm getting inspired again...


The Grassy Knoll

Knoll has been manufacturing and reproducing timeless furniture design for the past 71 years. So, when commissioned last summer to photograph the new showroom and office space on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, I jumped at the chance. The project was to showcase the space for LEED certification with the U.S. Green Building Council.
One of my main concerns as a photographer was the use of fluorescent lighting in order to achieve the LEED certification. If you ask any photographer (or anyone with eyes that work), fluorescent lighting is about the worst lighting known to man...and camera. Not only does it look green to film or digital exposures, it robs one's soul. It's terrible. Please do not switch your incandescent bulbs those squiggly, mercury-filled-soul-stealers. This is a plea!...more on this subject later.
The new showroom is on the 17th floor of what was originally the Southeast Bank on 200 S. Biscayne Blvd.. Coincidentally, Florence Knoll herself helped design the building, something I wasn't aware of at the time. And, despite my concerns about the fluorescent light, only a minimal color adjusting was needed in the final processing of the images. Perhaps Knoll just designs fluorescent well too?