Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I was trained in photography at a very commercial school.  In what now seems like a deeply vintage mode, I learned to shoot perfume bottles and cereal boxes on a 4x5 view camera.  Huddled there beneath a black cloak, I cut my teeth and squinted at inverted images while learning the basics of food styling and the ins-and-outs of studio lighting and film processing. Innumerable hours spent in the gloomy yellow light of the darkroom, timers ticking.   I learned the trade of photography with classes in Fashion Portraiture and Photojournalism, and while creative, it was very skills-based.  We were taught, in many ways, to be technicians.

Whenever I talk about my training or photography in general, these details come up a lot.  I'm quick to differentiate between my school and those like OCAD, who focus on the art.  I've been hesitant to blur the lines, modest about my own "artistry", likely just a protective mechanism, an odd bit of armour to ensure only my role as technical conduit is expected.

But, surely, I have the temperament of an artist.  And when I look through my camera I see more than f-stops and shutter speeds.  In the weeks since "I'm a photographer," has become a common statement, my pendulum is beginning to swing and I suddenly don't want to be seen as merely a tradesman with an expensive camera.  I want to allow myself a bit of artistry.  Allow the confidence to, in my quiet moments, be one . . . maybe.  It seems so bold to go calling yourself an artist.

But unlike a plumber clearing a drain, I'm attempting to capture something else.  When I take a photo of you, I want you to look pretty, sure, and always standing in great light.  But I also want you to look like yourself. And I'm not just talking about smile lines and age, or a hair out of place for reality's-sake.  When I see you through my camera, I see your spirit, the energy of your discomfort, perhaps, which might tell me something about you.  Or your biggest smile, the laugh between poses.  And it's these things, more than your best angle, I want to see.  

And so, while I always hope to snap a well-composed frame, well-lit and technically sound, I want the magic too.  And that's the part that makes me want to keep doing this.


  1. The fact that you can make Jeff handsome is proof that you create Magic!

  2. good job on the photo of your guy... very, very handsome!

  3. Is that a picture of your grandmother? I think it's my favorite.
    You clearly are an artist.

  4. i adore this one. so much about you in the words and images along with.

  5. really a beautiful post. my favorite photos are the in-between moments as well. love all of these photos you've posted here.

  6. Interestingly I've always thought of you as an artist and your work as art. Even your seemingly most technical shoots are infused with your spirit, your perspective, your artistry.
    It's been amazing to watch and experience your realization of this.

  7. you are so incredibly gifted, and I have always thought of you as an artist! Profoundly impactful, spiritually insightful. Photographer, painter of light with a ridiculously expensive camera. :) Well done!

  8. I am still very much a weekend-warrior photographer at best...but I've had a dozen or so paying clients and it's building up to be a small but fun side business.

    I am CONSTANTLY preoccupied with getting an essence. Sounds simple...right?

    focus? check
    good composition? check
    good exposure? check

    ...but that's just not the whole picture....it's so much more.

    I appreciate your photography alot, because everything you post (and I appreciate that you don't post what you don't like)...has that certain "je ne sais quoi".

    Your work inspires me.

    thank you!

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