NYC 2018 Workshop

It’s been some time since I last sat down to write about photography. Since then, Sam and I have traveled to London, Paris, and most recently Brooklyn where I met up with Johnny and Rebecca Patience for their NYC 2018 workshop at the Bushwick Community Darkroom. As for London and Paris, more to come once I’ve finished my selections and edits.

Johnny’s NYC workshop was centered around the goals of better understanding black and white film photography - more specifically, the relationship between exposures and density of negatives along with the importance of your workflow and approach in the darkroom. 

We spent the first day discussing your approach, philosophies behind metering, and spending some time taking photos throughout Bushwick. The second day was spent entirely in the darkroom where we reviewed our negatives, made selections, experimented with the enlarger, ran test strips, and finally narrowed in on our development times for our desired look and feel.

Having shot film for nearly four years now, it’s embarrassing to write that this was the first time I’ve stepped foot in a darkroom. I’ve always collaborated with Richard Photo Lab when it came to my film work including development, scanning, and fine art prints. And, while it sounds cliché, there really is a different feeling when developing your own work. It’s an art in and of itself and left me feeling both incredibly humbled yet inspired.

Needless to say, you can only begin to scratch the surface in a two day workshop, however I left New York City with a new appreciation for both B&W photography and the darkroom. And, the role that it can play in shaping my approach and my work.

All photographs were created with a Leica M6 and the Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Tri-X 400.

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Winter Road Trip

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about my photography, but what I’ve lacked in writing, I’ve certainly made up for with photographs. This year I’ve been focusing on growth, specifically the imperfection and failure of my photography by pursuing a 365 project. I’ve been forcing myself to shoot daily with my Fuji X100F and my Leica M6, but I’ll share more about that project later this year.

Since starting a 365 project, Sam and I continued our winter tradition of traveling to a warm climate. We spent a little over a week this past winter taking a road trip through the desert. We started in Phoenix where we caught a few Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers Spring Training baseball games before taking a few days to drive through Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park. After Joshua Tree, we arrived in Palm Springs for a few days where we enjoyed a beautiful bed and breakfast before driving to Los Angeles to visit my little brother, Michael, and enjoy some of his favorite food spots.

The light and color palette throughout Arizona and California was incredible. Many photographers speak about the light in Southern California and this was the first time I had visited long enough to truly take advantage of it. Each morning was filled with soft and subtle pinks, oranges, and yellows which complement my preference for color film, especially Kodak Portra 400. Mid-day was often filled with an overwhelming amount of white light that forced us to be a bit more creative when it came to medium format exposures. Even modern-day sensors and shutter speeds up to 1/4000 needed to be stopped down. Sunsets and even dusk brought beautiful and deep reds, purples, and blues. Overall, it was a significant shift from having to shoot in the cloudy winter months of the Midwest. 

While we enjoyed our time on the road in the US, the hours behind the wheel gave me plenty of time to reflect on many things including how much we’ve missed international travel, and the need for us to get back at it.

Up next, London and Paris. What's next for you?

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 or the Fuji X100F and the Fujinon 23mm f/2.

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A Life of Travel

As 2017 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on all that occurred with my photography this year including exploring New Zealand, Australia, and sending my first two photo books to print. For those of you interested in seeing some of my New Zealand and Australia work, check out my post from March 2017

I’ve previously written about A Life in Paris, but I spent part of this year revisiting the book and refining some of the edits, layout and quotes which resulted in a reprint. In addition to reprinting A Life in Paris, I completed my second book A Life of Travel which documents the past five years of international travel including select photographs and writing from San Miguel de Allende, Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, Nice, Paris, Cape Town, Kruger National Park, Wanaka, Sydney, and Queenstown

Both of these books required an incredible amount of time and effort but I’m very happy with the final work and it was a pleasure revisiting all of the moments through my photographs and journal entries. I’ve included both cover photos as well as a preview from each book.

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss PlanarT* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 or the Sony A7R Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony T* FE 35mm f/28, Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OOS and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0.   

A Life of Travel  Cover

A Life of Travel Cover

A Life of Travel  Sample

A Life of Travel Sample

A Life in Paris  Cover

A Life in Paris Cover

A Life in Paris  Sample

A Life in Paris Sample

Cooperstown, New York

It's a bit of an understatement when I say I grew up in a baseball family. I spent most summer nights in Arlington, Texas at the Texas Rangers baseball games with my family. And, in addition to summer night ball games, my brothers and I would spend every summer with my dad visiting a different Major League Baseball ballpark (and sometimes visiting a minor league stadium as well). As we got older, moved on to college and in some cases moved to different states, our trips became less frequent. When this years Hall of Fame Class was announced, we decided we had to make one last baseball trip to see the Texas Rangers very own Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez enter the Hall of Fame.

Cooperstown is a sleepy and incredibly charming village of around 1,700 people. I didn't know what to expect when visiting such a small town in Upstate New York known as "the home of baseball", but it felt very east coast, almost Martha's Vineyard-like, unlike many of the surrounding towns. Given the size of the town, we ended up staying about forty-five minutes away in a town called Cobleskill, New York. The two towns could not be more different from each other and it's probably best that we spent our days in Cooperstown. It was an incredible experience to be part of the baseball community that made the trip to Cooperstown. The amount of history in such a small place was overwhelming - museums, hall of fame baseball players, collectors, fans from around the world, basically every aspect of baseball was represented. More importantly, I was so grateful to learn more about the game with my family as well as learn more about all of my dad's favorite players and his baseball memories throughout his life.

All photographs were created with the Sony A7R Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and Sony T* FE 35mm f/2.8.

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New Zealand & Australia

It feels good to be traveling again.

Sam and I recently returned from a New Zealand and Australia where we spent time connecting with a good friend who moved to Australia a few years ago and exploring two new countries on our bucket list. It's crazy to think that our last big trip was Africa which felt so long ago, but this past year has been a bit of a blur to say the least. That said, we were still able to find a few smaller albeit equally exciting trips including Avalon with our family and NYCWLK with Johnny and Rebecca Patience.

We began our trip on a long haul flight from LAX to SYD and spent the next few days in Sydney. With a majority of our New Zealand itinerary focused on the more remote South Island we decided to spend our time in Sydney exploring the amazing food scene and various neighborhoods with Surry Hills being my favorite. We dealt with a lot of less than ideal weather in Sydney, but were still able to enjoy ourselves as well as connect with a good friend who I hadn't seen in several years after she decided to move to Sydney. After a few days in Sydney, we were off to the South Island of New Zealand.

For starters, New Zealand was one of the most difficult locations for me when it comes to photography. Places like Tokyo, Cape Town, Beijing, San Miguel de Allende, and Paris are filled with so many people, so much energy, not to mention different languages and customs. But the South Island of New Zealand has far fewer people and leaves you with nothing but some of the most unbelievably beautiful landscapes for as far as you can see. In many ways, the landscapes and views were impossible to accurately capture in a photograph. For the first time since picking up a camera, I found myself spending less time making photographs and more time taking in the views and the incredible star-filled night skies. We spent nearly two weeks throughout the South Island - from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Queensberry, and Wanaka before flying to Auckland and then returning to Los Angeles. Aside from some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen, the people were some of the most welcoming and down to earth individuals I've met since I started traveling and it was not easy leaving such a beautiful and hospitable country.

Up next, Spain and Portugal in September.

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss PlanarT* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 or the Sony A7R Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony T* FE 35mm f/28, Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OOS and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0.   

Avalon

Sam and I recently took a trip to Avalon, a small East Coast beach town just north of Cape May. I was incredibly excited to visit this particular beach given that Sam grew up vacationing here as a child and I’ve heard about it and their family stories ever since we first met. Avalon offered a relaxing small town experience with beautiful views and long days filled with reading, napping and lounging at the beach.

Avalon was the first trip where I left my Sony A7 Mark ii at home and only shot film. It was an amazing experience to leave behind the chargers, memory cards, and all the other tedious albeit amazing technology that photographers have access to today. That said, brining two fully mechanical film cameras allowed me to be present and experience more during my trip with my wife and our family.

Leaving digital behind for a week was far easier than I imagined it would be and I find that to be a little unsettling. To make things more complicated, the results I got from both my Leica and Hasselblad are outstanding and require only a few minor edits straight out of the camera. I’ll be working with Richard Photo Lab next week to try and have these minor edits handled during scanning so my workflow evolves to just shooting. No edits. My hope is to find a digital workflow that allows me to find similar tones and depth that I find when shooting Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 and while I’ve found an approach that I really enjoy, it’s nowhere near the look of film.

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* f/2.8 or the Leica M6 and the Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400. All images were scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California.

NYCWLK 2.0

After our trip to Avalon, Sam and I took the train from Philly to New York for the second annual NYCWLK in Brooklyn with Johnny Patience and his wife, Rebecca. It was an amazing experience and I’m truly grateful I had the opportunity to meet, learn from and shoot alongside someone I find incredibly inspiring in one of the best street photography cities in the world.

In addition to meeting Johnny and Rebecca, Sam and I had the opportunity to meet other film, digital and hybrid photographers from around the world. This truly was a special weekend for me given my decision to pick film back up last year. And, aside from the creative refinements I was looking for, Johnny was a big motivating factor to making the addition of film to my workflow.

It had been awhile since I was last in New York and I found myself amazed with how large the city is and how little one could actually know about a city they’ve visited numerous times throughout their life. The NYCWLK also happened to be during the September 11th fifteen year anniversary weekend and it was a weird mix of emotion, both for myself and the city. I’ve never experienced such a quiet and somber weekend in New York.

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* f/2.8 or the Leica M6 and the Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400. All images were scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California.

Winter Is Coming

With Fall in full swing, I've started to shift from constantly shooting to reviewing, refining and reflecting on where I am with my photography work. While Fall is still one of my favorite times of year, Winter requires a bit of preparation - especially those months where there's not much to do other than trying to stay warm. I've grown to enjoy winter because it allows me to focus on aspects of photography that don't necessarily require a camera but are equally as important.

Since returning from Paris a year ago, I've continued the overall goal of refining my vision by exploring 135 and 120 film formats as well as printing my work in various formats with the help of Richard Photo Lab. These areas of focus have resulted in significant growth with regard to creative exposure, understanding the nuances between digital and film photography, and understanding the complexities of fine art prints. In addition to learning a great deal, I've finally reached a point where I'm sending portfolio pieces to print as large format fine art prints. The image below is a rough contact sheet of my original selects and final decisions.

Looking ahead, Sam and I will be traveling to Australia and New Zealand in February. That said, one of my goals this winter will be to learn more about the creative process behind Astrophotography (with the help of Ian Norman over at Lonely Speck) given that we'll be spending a majority of our trip exploring the Southern Island. In addition to Astrophotography, I plan on learning more about the technical aspects of digital camera sensors. More specifically - after shooting 135 and 120 film and achieving stunning results out of the camera, I'm interested in better understanding why digital photography images are initially flat out of the camera and how I might be able to achieve more film-like color profiles when shooting digital. 

All photographs were created with the Sony A7 Mark ii and Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8ZA, the Leica M6 and Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2, and the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400. All images were scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California.

Photo Essay: My Livable City

When I first started working at my current design studio, I gave a brief presentation on travel photography and some basic guiding principles for creating more compelling photographs. After my presentation, I was approached by a coworker about an opportunity to write a photo essay for My Livable City around the theme of resiliency.

I immediately thought of both Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico as two great examples of communities that have been resilient in the face of global economic change, tourism and rampant consumerism. Below is digital copy of my first published photo essay. Thanks again to Amrita for the opportunity to contribute.

South Africa

One night over drinks, Sam and I decided that we wanted to travel the world. And, over the past two years, we've found ourselves exploring nearly every continent including a temporary living arrangement in Paris. While visiting Japan was the number one country on my bucket list, South Africa was the number one on Sam's so we decided to plan a big trip away from the brutal Chicago winter and spend several weeks in South Africa. Needless to say, Africa is a massive continent and even though we spent several weeks in South Africa, we left feeling like we had hardly scratched the surface of a country let alone a continent.

We began our trip in the Northeast corner of South Africa, just south of the Mozambique border in Kruger National Park. We stayed on a beautiful game reserve for four nights and spent nearly every waking moment on safari game drives and photographing African wildlife. It's hard to describe the feelings you experience when driving through the African bush in an open-air off road vehicle and pulling up next to a Lion - it's a mix of awe and absolute understanding and respect for who is in charge at the moment. In addition to amazing wildlife photography and observation, we had a run in with a few aggressive African Elephants. As we quickly learned, you're powerless in those situations resulting in us having to sit in complete silence and wait to see if the Elephants wanted to provoke us or move on about their day. Luckily, they chose the latter.

After spending a good amount of time in the African bush, we flew to Cape Town where we spent the rest of our trip. Cape Town has a little bit of everything - from gorgeous wine country to Cape Point views and amazing food and culture. One of my absolute favorite parts of Cape Town is the small community of Bo-Kaap. Everything about Bo-Kaap is worth visiting - the colors, community, architecture and historical significance within a country like South Africa. Beyond Bo-Kaap, the stunning views at Cape Point were worth the trip alone and at the time of this writing, the furthest south we've ever been however this will change with our upcoming trip to New Zealand and Australia. While we felt we only scratched the surface of this country during our stay, South Africa seems like it has a little something for everyone. 

For additional photographs, refer to my South Africa on Film post.

All photographs were created with the Sony A7 Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OOS and Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS.