The last few months has been nothing short of one extraordinary adventure!
I have been through 5 states and 12 countries on 6 different continents.
In reflecting back on it I can’t help but feel like the luckiest guy there is…
To be hired to see and explore, interpret and create in some of the most extraordinary places in the world is nothing short of a blessing. In this 4-month period I feel like I packed a lifetime of experiences and it’s only after I got a bit of a break I managed to start absorbing and appreciating it all.
I’m excited to share more about these 4 assignments as they get published. They all have their own story with a lot of heart and effort from all involved. On this blog I usually like to share some of the thoughts around the images I make, but in this case I believe the below photographs will be way more telling of the travles made and the experiences had. So here’s a brief travel letter from the places I have been the past 4 months…
For a long time I have been sharing what I know about the process of photography and Photoshop.
I graduated from the Academy of Art University December 1998. Not long after James Wood, the director of the photography department, asked me to come and speak to his class about life after school. 16 years later I still do.
Almost every semester I pop by James’ class and share what I have learned about photography and becoming and succeeding as a photographer.
It was flattering to be asked to speak for a class I had taken myself and in the beginning probably the main reason for me doing these lectures. As I kept coming back for this twice yearly visit to my old class room I found this semi annual telling of what I had accomplished since school to be truly powerful in my own development. It became a way of taking inventory and reassessing my work and where it was going…
At times when I did not feel my career was going anywhere and I was doubting myself, my photography and career-choice these visits allowed me to see my efforts at becoming a photographer as a timeline. From this perspective I would always see that I was in fact taking better and better images and maturing at my craft. In this I always found renewed inspiration to keep at photography and elusive pursuit of better pictures.
What was me sharing and giving advice became at the same time the reassessment and evaluation of my own work that in many ways kept me going. What was me giving gave me the tool I needed to succeed…
And so my path to share my craft and process started.
16 years into it, having held lectures all across the US and creating online tutorials, I have to say I love the process of sharing what I know. It not only feels great to see how my story can inspire others, but it truly sharpens me and my craft as well.
It forces me to continually ask “why” I do what I do and brings great awareness to my own process and how to improve upon it.
I never set out to teach but it has been an interwoven parallel through out my photographic career, giving me just as much or more than I have shared.
My latest body of work follows the different stages of the breakup of my last relationship and the resetting my life.
The complete process of creating this series was documented by the guys at RGGEDU.
It’s me taking pictures and sharing my process put together into one.
A combination of me as photographer and teacher and I’m excited to announce the release of this tutorial in the next few weeks…
Below is a great behind the scenes look at the making of the tutorial and all that went into the project.
I get to see a lot of amazing places in my work as a photographer, and at times the effort that goes into putting the camera in the right place is nothing short of mesmerizing.
I have dived, rappelled and jumped out of planes to get the right perspectives. We have paid orange farmers to not harvest their orange trees so that we can take a picture a few weeks later and travelled all the way to Argentina to photograph potato fields. We have chased the seasons travelling southward through the US as leaves turned into autumn colors to capture the last bit of summer foliage and we have crossed oceans to create one image of a lush underground cave, photographing caves in Alabama and waterfalls in Hawaii.
I believe few people outside the world of advertising understand the effort we put into the photographs we take for our clients…
In this pursuit of creating pictures at a specific time, of a specific thing in a specific place I have great help, and in describing these efforts I do say WE as this is truly an effort of many.
A photographer’s right hand, and conductor of this effort, is a great producer who will research, source, plan, arrange and seek permission.
For this assignment, done for GSW, we ended up in the small town of Culpepper, Virginia. Seems simple enough to find a lake, but what if you tie it to a barn which style you only find in certain areas of the country and that again to a vintage tractor?
Then the simple search for a suitable location is not so simple, and I lean on my producer to make it all happen.
It starts with finding the states where this certain style of barn exists, then looking at places likely to have old restored tractors close by with a beautiful lake in the vicinity.
When the general region is decided upon we send scouts out to take images of the barns and lakes in the area. They will knock on doors and ask if the landowners would be ok for us to come by and take a photograph…
The agency creatives, clients and myself will then pick a place, show up, wait for the right light and hope all those efforts and the travel of many will result in the image we all hope to capture….
It’s not one thing but many things brought into consciousness that shape the excitement of creating pictures.
A couple of months back I, through friends, got invited to a castle outside Tuscany. I don’t think any photographer could step into this place and not be excited to take pictures! It was visually stunning and truly inspiring.
As I stand in a place like this and take in the atmosphere I always ask myself about the stories this place have shaped.
Who has been standing at this very spot prior to myself? What did they do and what were they like?
Who would they remind me of? A character from a movie or someone I know?
Would they be a part of a recurring dream or some desire of my own? What in myself would I see in them?
From this mindset visuals start flowing and stories take shape. I then relate these stories back to myself and ask if I can bring my current life into it.
Something current that my heart is engaged in that will compel me to craft new images that has emotional meaning to me.
It then becomes a mishmash of ideas that somehow urge me to manifest them through pictures…
I like how these images stand on their own as both a travel journal and simple emotional context the spaces carry.
The true gift of the time spent there though was what I took home. Both the place and the experience there subtly instigated a change in how I approach my work.
So I can honestly say; I’m inspired!
Inspired by a lot of small things prompted by the experience at an amazing place in the Tuscan countryside.
So what inspires me?
It all does…
What’s needed though to bring it “all” together is a compelling enough instigator which creates a reason to capture or express, and this place in Tuscany was that for me…