Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Changing directions: a lesser photographer*

For the last several months I’ve been contemplating a new direction, with the result that several days ago I listed essentially all of my camera equipment on eBay. Tonight, it’s with mixed emotions that I watch the clock tick down on the auctions. One way or another, it gets real in about an hour. 

I have decided to close my part-time photography business. I have a lot of reasons, some of them potentially very important to me, though if I’m honest, I’m not sure which ones will stand the test of time. Some are personal and some I'll talk about. Ask me in a year and I’ll let you know how it’s working out. But for now I’m going to be spending my time a little bit differently. 

I am beyond grateful for photography, for my wonderful clients and the experiences we’ve had together, for the opportunity to be part of so many wonderful experiences. I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished together. There are a ton of things I’ll miss, but there are also a ton of things that I’ll be able to do better. I’ll get a bit more sleep, be a bit more present with friends and family, have more time to devote to my "day job", and have more time to be healthy.

Those of you who know me, know that “less” really isn’t in my DNA. I’m going to continue to make and share photographs, hopefully more freely and joyfully than ever, with a much smaller and more mobile kit. I just won’t be doing it for money. And who knows, I might even have more time to write, blog, and generally mess around just for fun. I hope that the things I’ll have time to do better will outweigh the things I’m giving up. 

I will write about this a little bit more, soon, but when I’ve got a bit more perspective on the whole thing. I always wished I’d had more time to write about and share photography, and with any luck I’ll have time to do that. I’ll also share the new kit when it arrives and hopefully enjoy learning many new things. 

But for now, the first auction just ended. if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got stuff to box up.

*If you’re interest in an amazing little e-book about simplifying things, check out "A Lesser Photographer" by CJ Chilvers. It wasn't the reason for the changes I'm making, but it's part of how I know it'll be ok. ;-)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

High Points - Wedding on the summit of Mount Rainier

As 2014 draws to a close here in the next couple of weeks, I've been thinking back over the events of the year. Probably the single busiest year in my life, there was still time for some adventure.

In late July, several friends and I teamed up for a go on Mount Rainier. This year's climb was epic in every possible way, which I should take time to share in more detail later. But one thing that really stood out was the great experiences had with other climbers along the way.

The evening of arrival in Camp Muir is fun time to relax and prepare for the day(s) ahead. Climbers often gather on the rocks looking over the Muir snowfield and watch dusk fall over the expansive view offered by Muir's 10,000 feet of elevation. On Monday night, after setting up our tent, melting snow and making dinner, we made our way over to the loose collection of climbers enjoying the view and made small talk. There, I met Drew and Jessica. Their group's plan was to stay in Muir overnight, move to the Ingraham Flats the next morning, then head for the summit Wednesday morning. Though we were skipping the move to Ingraham, our plans otherwise roughly mirrored theirs.

As we talked about the days ahead, I learned that Drew and Jessica were planning on getting married the morning of their summit climb. My goodness, what a great plan! I always bring a camera on these adventures and I couldn't resist inquiring as to whether they had a photographer along. Unfortunately, one of their climbing buddies, their shooter, was detained and would be joining later, probably too late to document their big morning. Despite my usual (and standing!) reservations about shooting weddings, this was an opportunity that couldn't be missed - they'd want pictures of their big day and I could not resist the chance to be involved. We agreed that if we were on the summit at the same time, they'd allow me to make some pictures.

The next morning our group waved to theirs as they packed up and headed to Ingraham Flats. We busied ourselves with the matters of camp, rest, and preparation for the summit day, generally preoccupied with the task at hand. I'd be kidding, though, if I didn't admit I spent a little bit of time figuring out how to approach shooting my first wedding in this incredible but unforgiving environment, if the opportunity arose.

Wednesday morning around midnight our group roped up and headed out. After six hours of climbing in the dark, we hit the crater just as the sun's welcome rays crept over the rim.

After six hours of climbing in the dark, our group crossed the rim of the crater, dropped our packs and headed for the summit. 
It was a gorgeous July morning on the summit of Rainier.
 After we spent a few minutes congratulating each other and taking photos, it was time to head back down. On even the most comfortable morning at the top, there simply isn't much time to waste. These mornings don't happen every day, so I spent a few more moments savoring the view as my group headed back toward their packs for some refueling for the descent. Just as I headed down from the summit I ran into Drew and Jessica again. We chatted briefly and I re-iterated my offer to make some photos for them - that sounded great, they said (I think, anyway, as far as I could hear over the icy breeze!). I was sensitive to my intrusion on their big day, but hoped they'd be happier to have photos when they returned home. We all headed back to the summit where the wedding commenced.

The happy couple exchanged vows in the presence of their climbing party, one of whom served as the officiant. 

I don't know how many couples have married on the summit of Mount Rainier but I can tell you several things: it hasn't been THAT many, and the couples involved are AWESOME. ;-)

The rings. And bare skin, which I can attest was not a comfortable thing. 

After two days of climbing, Drew and Jessica clearly hadn't forgotten what they were there for. You have to love love! 

Yes, THE kiss. 

The happy couple. If this is the only "walking down the aisle" shot I ever make, I'll take it.  
It was cold and windy and I couldn't hear a thing of the ceremony, to be honest, but from what I can tell everything went off without a hitch (wait, that's not quite right, I'm pretty sure there WAS a hitch! Get it? ;-). We exchanged congratulations again and while they savored their moment I headed back to catch up with my group and begin the descent.

My climbing team takes a break just as we returned to Camp Muir from the summit.
We all ran into each other again on the descent from Muir to Paradise and then parted ways. Several days later Drew emailed me. I uploaded pictures for them and he reiterated what a great trip it was and the amazing support of the climbing community on their big day. A great day, great trip, and great beginning for Drew and Jessica!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I'm going to do some more food photography this next year. Walking by the local cupcake shop this morning sparked an idea and suggested a great way to spend the afternoon! Can't think of a tastier sort of product photography. What happens after the shoot? Well, we're gonna need some more cupcakes... 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Haleiwa morning

Boarding at HNL. Leaving you with this morning's image from the harbor at Haliewa. Aloha.

Token Sunset

Last evening on the North Shore. This is my fifth trip to Oahu in the last 18 months. Yeah, rough, I know. But you know what? Until this trip, I bet you I didn't take 48 hours off to relax, total, four trips combined. This time, had a scant three extra days, which felt like hitting the lottery. All that, and you think I'd have been fired up. Right? So much to see, so many photographs to chase. For a guy who likes nothing more than to go, it was GO TIME.

But this evening the sun was getting low and I just wasn't feeling it. Had a great day. Up at 5, watched the full moon set over Waimea bay, enjoyed sunrise on the beach (latte in hand, natch, and lemme tell you they make some bad-ass coffee here at the coffee shop in the Foodland in Pupukea), swam in the ocean, biked most of the North Shore, visited the Thursday market. By 5pm I was just ready to be done, you know? But Suzanne, God bless her, pointed out (as only someone that knows you, better than you do, can do) that we weren't finished. Deep inside I knew she was right. Hell, my conscience was screaming. There are certain things, no matter how you feel, certain things you don't miss. When you're 2500 miles from home, no matter what brought you there, if there's a breeze in the palms, if the sun is setting into the ocean, well, you gotta show up. 

The late Galen Rowell put it more succinctly"You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either."

But by now you get the point. There are No Token Sunsets. 

So we went out. Got to the beach with, like, two minutes in hand. Fortunately I already knew the first, safe shot. See where it goes from there. 

Here's the shot you expect. Sun hits the horizon, all warm and fuzzy. Get it. But move on.
Sun's down. But you're not done. Frame up something simple. Warm up the white balance, crush the blacks and keep shooting. (Note: you don't need more dynamic range, you need less. But we'll get to that another day.)
Always dig a little deeper. You can decide later if you regret it or not. I haven't decided yet. That's ok. Just push. (That's your cue, btw, to fire off in the comments and let me know your favorite.) 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

North Shore evening

Spent the day hanging out on the N. Shore of Oahu. Unbelievable breakfast burrito at Kono's, strolled a lovely but surprisingly photography-unfriendly garden,  visited Clark Little's gallery, dinner at Cholo's. Then caught the sunset on the beach. 

Wonderful surprise to meet Kuhina, a 250 lb adult male Green Sea Turtle, resting on the beach. He is fortunate to be watched over by Malama na Honu.

Kuhina contemplated returning to the sea, but instead elected to hang out with the rest of us on the beach and enjoy the sunset. It was an excellent choice.

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 WestVet Intern class shoot

Every year, typically on a long June evening, I try to get the WestVet Intern class out for a shoot. Typically we head downtown Boise, but this year we did something different. The group this year is really outdoors-y and took me up on the idea of shooting somewhere along the river. One of the great things about Boise is the opportunity to get a really "outside" feel just a few steps from town, and we took full advantage last night. One of the things I love about shooting in the evening is that, for better or worse, the light changes fast! It's a great opportunity to shoot natural light, strobes, all the lenses, the works. We pulled together several different shots and I hope the group loves them.