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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

A Family Album, a While in the Making….

Jul 31

In Friends at 8:09am

Donald Blake holds Cayus, Deidre Dean’s new baby. Shot on July 27th, 2013.

I understand a popular phenomenon is the concept, or game, of degrees of separation. It posits that in this ever-shrinking world, we are all connected in surprisingly close ways. True enough, I imagine. But, as a weary photog, I rejoice in the simpler connections that pictures I’ve made of people along the way provide. A lifelong family photo album, if you will.

I started photographing Deidre and Donald years ago. Unlike many photogs, who understandably search for the new face, I am often content with those who are familiar to me. The trust that has built over time is not to be ignored. Nor is the ongoing inspiration that can fill my imagination, and my lens, with people I know and love.

“D,” as I refer to her, is a one woman Cirque du Soleil, a performance artist who has regularly been able to physicalize my somewhat bent imagination. (I wrote the Cirque comment once about her in a book, and she has embraced that as a wonderful compliment.) Donald, the Moses of the Southwest, has become my lifelong friend. On the occasion of my recent birthday, he and his honey Mary Jo gave me a necklace with a silver eagle, with embedded Arizona turquoise. Donald said to me, “Joe, you have the eye of an eagle, and I want you to have this.” It instantly became one of the treasures of my life.

So it goes. I started making demo portraits of these two when I started teaching at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops. Over time, I became fast friends with the model community there, and, in between teaching stints, they’ve become a staple when I have some measure of commercial work, an idea for a book picture, or a wacky portrait notion I might want to experiment with. In turn, they would call me. D once rang me up and said, “Hey, wanna shoot me? I shaved my head!” Those sessions, with D having been cast as a prisoner of war in a small indie, became part of a book project. 

Donald ended up on the cover of a book, Sketching Light, after a five minute demo portrait session in pre-storm conditions in New Mexico.

D and I wandered through the New Mexican forest, after the fires a couple years ago. One of the things you don’t worry about when she is in front of your lens is range of expression.

Donald, aka Moses, helped me engage in a bit of whimsy with a speed light.

And now Deidre’s a mom. And, as luck would have it, she knows this photog who’s always up for doing a baby portrait. 

Technically, the pictures above are simplicity itself. Virtually all of them are one light portraits. The B&W baby portraits are done with a 74″ Elinchrom, with a D800E setup for monochrome and a 5×4 aspect ratio. Donald with the church, and D as a prisoner are both done with an Elinchrom beauty dish. D in the forest is lit with a shoot through version of a Lastolite 8 in 1 umbrella, on a paint pole, with speed lights. And the wind whipped portrait of Donald is a small Elinchrom strip light.

Neither of these folks would have ever come in front of my lens were it not for the friendship of Nerissa Escanlar, who has, for many years, been the liaison between the workshops and the model community in Santa Fe. She is moving on now, to Washington DC, where no doubt her tireless energy and decency will straighten the whole mess there out.

Friends, and pictures. A family album, built over time. More tk…..


The Estimable Mr. Harvey

Apr 2

In Friends, history at 3:59am

Saw Dave Harvey the other week, at GPP in Dubai. We’ve known each other for a long time, but, as is typical amongst traveling shooters, we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Maybe it’s just the way of photographers, we’re close in spirit, if almost never in flesh. We picked back up like we had seen each other yesterday, recalling immediately a legendarily drunken, depressed conversation we gather occurred between the two of us at least 22 or so years ago. It was at a bar in a sad Days Inn in upstate NY, spitting distance from Eddie Adams’ barn, and Dave and I commiserated and bitched about the business at hand. Everything sucked, everything was getting worse, there were no assignments, and the magazines we worked for were going down the tubes. Read the rest of this entry »

Just Stand Next to Moose!

Mar 15

In Friends, In The Field at 12:35pm

Wanna be a good landscape shooter? Just stand next to Moose Peterson at his next workshop. There was just this recent story that popped up in the New York Times, something about waiting for light to hit this waterfall In Yosemite. If it does, just right, it’s called “firefall,” and it is a coveted picture amongst landscape afficiandos, at least some of whom go around, collecting these famous vistas like ball cards.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Pro’s Pro

Dec 3

In Friends, history at 1:02am


When I was growing up photographically, which was a long time ago now, achieving the distinction of being a professional photographer was just that, a distinction. It had the aura, just a bit, of a degree, hard won after years of training and tribulations. It was attained by a relative few, and I have to imagine many folks, given the daunting aspects of forging a career and sustenance via the alchemy of acetate, wisely chose not to pursue it at all. I have always likened the career path of the photog of that era as a country road traveled by a hardy few, which the digital revolution has now replaced with a multi-lane superhighway, traveled by many, at a high frame rate. The dawn of shooting ones and zeros threw the door open, I believe in welcome fashion, to many, many folks, and image making now takes place at a feverish rate.

But, being of a certain age, I guess I remain somewhat rooted in tradition, and thus continue to celebrate the value and worth of the truly professional photographer. It’s a tough thing to do, and it tests the durability, patience, skills and fiber of those who choose to engage it in full blown fashion. When I was coming up, if someone was referred to in reverential tones, as a “pro’s pro,” it was high praise indeed. It meant the individual in question could do anything with a camera. Ken Regan was one of these. Read the rest of this entry »

Much to be Thankful for…..

Nov 22

In Friends, Fun, Thanks at 5:21am

This picture, despite the somewhat disastrous consequences for me, and my camera, when all 330 pounds of Nate Newton hit the water of the pool that I was actually in, floating sort of underneath the diving board, always brings a somewhat reflective, rueful, and at the same time thankful smile to my face. After all these years, and tons of really ridiculous sagas in the field, stemming from the alternately frustrating, fruitless, heartbreaking, satisfying, thrilling roller coaster of seeking to make a picture, I still have a camera to my eye. The adventure continues.

To all who occasionally stop by the blog, many many thanks. There is so much to be thankful for in this amazing world. And while the above is not exactly a “Thanksgiving Day” photo, to be sure, perhaps it will have a bit of resonance for all those who might be gathered around a table for a while today, and then gathered around a TV, engaged in the popular American mix of food, family, and football.

All the best to all….here’s to more leaping, bounding, splashing adventures still tk….