To ring in 2019, I traveled to Arizona with my family for a little work, relaxation, and sightseeing. I followed the weather and knew there was a possibility for snow, what I experienced on the drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon was unexpected. Nearly a foot of snow on the road and often whiteout conditions made the New Years Eve drive quite the adventure. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon several times, but never after a significant snowfall, and the breathtaking experience of walking up to the rim becomes otherworldly. Photos never represent the size and power of the Canyon, but some snow helps make the photos a bit more impressive.
While working on the all-new Disney on Ice production, I was asked to create another round of athletic portraits in the style of previous years. Unlike years past, I went in without a confirmed concept or a set time to create. Before the cast and crew set off to begin their cross country tour, I was given a few hours on a Friday morning to work. I’ve always found it amusing that this performance on ice is manufactured in the Florida heat. So for fun, and a bit of irony, I built a frozen pond in the blazing sun and brought the skaters outside. With the help of 96sqft of plexiglass, 3/4 inch plywood, 500 pounds of sod and a machete, a frozen pond was created.
For the second time this summer I was given a job on the other side of the pond, this time Glasgow, Scotland. It was a week-long shoot, capturing all sorts of photos for a new international Disney on Ice show. I will share a project from the shoot later this year. I stayed an extra week and my family joined. We drove to Isle of Skye and stayed in a house that was on the edge of the earth, experienced some of the most incredible landscapes, and counted thousands of sheep. We spent a day and night at Loch Ness exploring castles and looking for Nessie. Then finished the trip with 3 days in my new favorite city, Edinburgh, where we experienced a football match, a hike to the top of the world and some delicious eats. I took a ton of photos over the week, here are a few.
I travel for work often, usually to places I've been numerous times before and almost always in the USofA. So I was pretty happy to get a job in Paris. It was overnight shoots photographing dinosaurs, which was kind of amazing in itself, and I hope to share the project sometime in the future. It did give me a few hours in the afternoons to take in the sights of the city of lights for the first time. I took the metro and walked everywhere, trying to experience as much as I could. The summer light in the city is beautiful, here are a few touristy street scenes I grabbed with my mirrorless camera.
Back in April, I shared a story and some photos from a family camping and personal project expedition. After a couple of months of pondering the background photos and concept, I’m finally sharing the outcome. I decided to let my 2-year-old style the shoot and for the most part direct it. He wanted to wear shorts and no shirt or shoes, just like he does every day. He wanted feathers, because he's into birds, and according to him the feathers in his headband are that of a "Cactus Wren" and "Emu." And of course, everything had to be red, his favorite color.
I created a large set with matching light and had him run through it as he would if he was outside for some scenes. I’d ask him to imagine there were lights or rainbow, or pterodactyls in the sky to capture his expressions.
I added a light flare to all the images representing the light, something I am both literally and figuratively chasing. The rainbow was digitally created, and the very bright light trace was from a night shuttle launch I photographed years ago.
A few months back I decided to attend the Palm Springs Photo Festival again this year. Life had been a little harder than normal and I needed a way to recharge my creativity and get a little motivation. I noticed that one of my favorite and inspiring photographers would be teaching a workshop and I had to take it. It had been 10 years since I had worked for Stephen Wilkes, and getting to spend a few days with him was more than exactly what I needed. The festival in its entirety was perfect, inspiration is back to 100%.
About this time last year, I came up with an idea and concept for a shoot with my son and dog. The time in which I can shoot this concept is limited, so I really wanted to get working on it. A month ago I booked a campsite in eastern Washington and crossed my fingers that the weather would be warm enough to sleep outside. The plan was to shoot different scenes around the area at different times of the day. The forecast leading up to the trip was for a chance of rain, which was fine, different weather makes for different photos and diversity is what I wanted. Except, it rained and rained and rained for 3 straight days. The sun never showed its face until the last evening. I managed to capture a few different scenes and will either try again or work the concept into what I captured, stay tuned...
After a busy summer that carried over into a busy fall and the holidays, a little downtime this winter is much appreciated. One thing my family enjoys doing when we have a little extra time is visiting our northern neighbor, British Columbia. Snowboarding in Whistler, and sightsee in Vancouver always makes a visually inspiring trip. And yes, taking pictures can actually be relaxing if the situation is right.
In anticipation of the upcoming winter Olympics, the PR team for Disney on Ice wanted to show off the strength and athleticism of their performers who are usually obscured by their elaborate costumes. The client wanted to utilize the vast negative space provided by the ice, and photographer Geo Rittenmyer added his own touches to their concept. He took advantage of the existing high key feel of the ice and created soft backlighting that subtly cast their shadows below and added an extra dimension to the open space. Incorporating fog into the scene enhanced that feeling of depth and instilled the picture with an additional sense of movement.
Politics have always played into my conceptualizing, but never as much as in 2017. I personally have not been heavily affected by the current social and political situations, I just think the amount of information that all of us are surrounded by is influenced by politics and social reform.
The Happy Blue Year concept was born with the idea of changing the word “new” to “blue” and making a punny title "Happy Blue Year". To me, the idea of blue had two different meanings. First, to describe the sadness which was felt by many people in 2017, and second, to signify the hope that the “blue party” would be fighting back in 2018. The model had to be a young professional woman standing strong in her beliefs and her desire for social change. But I also went with a bright and fun style and lighting setup to reflect my wish that the next year be strong, inspired and jubilant. Wishing you all a Happy 2018!
This was one of those jobs that you really try to get to be part of, not for money or notoriety, but so you can be the coolest dad on the street. I got to take my 2 year old son to the Sesame Street Live show and photograph him meeting all of his favorite monsters. I still don't know who was happier, him or I.
Earlier this summer I traveled to New Orleans to continue photographing unique content for the new Marvel Universe Live show. The routines and acrobatics of the performers in the show are simply amazing. On the last day of the shoot, we needed some portraits to capture the strength and talent of the athletes in the show. I didn’t have much time and needed to utilize what was on hand from earlier shoots. Knowing that I would need to shoot wider to capture the movement of the performers I decided to create a very large set. I hung a couple 12’x12’ solid backgrounds, put up 4 Profoto monolights with grid spots and gels and created essentially a 50’x50 background to work with. Placing key light’s on the sides with a couple large softboxes and a fill from the front with a giant shiny parabolic and this is what was created. You can see more from this series here. If you’re a Marvel fan or just someone who enjoys live entertainment, I would recommend seeing if the tour comes near you.
24 hours before the event, I was still undecided whether the long drive there and even longer drive back to see the totality was feasible. I decided to leave it to faith in a coin toss, and the eclipse won. I quickly packed my camera bag, grabbed some camping equipment and put all of it and Buksnort in the truck. I picked up a couple friends and set out on the 6.5hr drive to the Umatilla National Forest in Eastern Oregon. We arrived late Sunday night, drove a couple miles back into the forest and found a clearing with lumpy ground below and the Milky Way above. When we awoke in the morning, the sky was clear, and the location was perfect. We made coffee, packed up camp and waited in wonder. Then totality happened, and is was a truly ineffable experience, something I left needing to experience again. Guess I’ll be heading to Texas in 2024.
A few weeks ago I noticed that I still had a $200 travel voucher that was expiring soon and decided to use it and check off my 50th state. I packed up the family and we flew north for a weekend in Girdwood, Alaska. The ruggedness of Alaska stood out to me immediately, the size and vastness was breathtaking. This trip was supposed to be a relaxing getaway, in fact, I only brought one camera and a couple lenses with me. But with 16 hours of daylight and so much to see, I left the weekend feeling like I needed a vacation from the vacation. Here are a few of the photos I wasn’t planning on taking.
I unplugged with some family on the Olympic Peninsula last week at a picturesque resort. The Kalaloch Lodge is a collection of little cabins situated on a bluff over the ocean. Each cabin contains a wood stove for heat and electricity to run the lights & refrigerator but, no TV's, no wifi, and almost no cell service. The beach in the evening was something straight out of a Hollywood film. The dense fog made the world feel as though I was in a frame of tungsten film. The smoke and fires on the beach looked as though the set was lit with CTO gels and fog machines. With the ever changing weather, peaceful tides and active wildlife, it’s safe to say I look forward to a return trip.
When I was in Hawaii back in February, I was taking photos primarily for stock, and for demonstration in the stock photography course. One of the less productive activities was a visit to the Dole Pineapple plantation. Granted, it was trip for my one year old to ride a train, but I did feel rather defeated in accomplishing any stock photos at the location. While looking back the photos I did discover a couple pretty good backgrounds that I could use to make a successful photo. I made up a story of about the pineapple moguls daughter coming back home for a visit and turned it into a photoshoot. I found the perfect model to play the role of “pineapple moguls daughter” and photographed her in my studio, mimicking the sunshine from the day and incorporating Dole pineapples and this is what I turned the plantation visit into:
While being inspired in Palm Springs, I sketched out a few photo shoots I wanted to complete this summer. One of them was a character portrait of a very pregnant friend. The idea was to illustrate the old saying “ready to pop” and I had a few different ideas on how I wanted to do this. Once the friend was on board to participate,I chose an all red set and the concept of using popcorn to illustrate the idea. While prepping the shoot, I noticed a friend's pregnant wife on his instagram and thought, why not use the other idea i sketched out, bubbles! Never thought I’d have two maternity shoots in my portfolio, but I love them both.
Hair and Make up by: Kristina Grohs
One of the things I miss about living in NYC is the photo community, I was always around other photographers, editors, and creatives. Having someone look at your work and inspire you was easy, it was just a part of life in the city. Since I’ve been away from it for a little while I decided to attend the Palm Springs Photo Festival. A fellow photographer and best friend had been attending the festival for a few years and thought it would be worthwhile for me to attend. She was attending again this year so we decided to rent a house for a week and bring both our families down for a little work, play and lot of inspiration. Thanks PSPF, I’ll be back again.
As you know from the last couple post, I was preparing to teach a course on stock photography. Well that course happened, It took a month of planning and it was over in a day, pretty much like any of my photoshoots. The week before the course I did an in the field shoot at Carkeek Park in Seattle that was recorded and included in the course. It was fun to be out early in the morning taking some pictures and sharing what I was doing and thinking. Below are a few of my favs from the preshoot. All in all it was a great experience, I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and hope to do it again sometime. Check out CreativeLive and my course if you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate stock into your workflow!
In what has kind of become a tradition, I spent a winter/spring week in Hawaii. For 3 of the last 4 years there has always been a reason to venture to the islands. This year there were several reasons. I needed to get some stock photos for the class I am teaching in a month, so I brought a friend/model with me...I also needed some sun with my family. We went to Oahu to visit friends who have a 2 year old so we could meet her and introduce her to our 1 year old. My son fell in love with her and more importantly, I was able to grab some incredible shots while hiking, beaching and enjoying island time.