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.

IMG_0003.PNG
IMG_0004.PNG
IMG_0005.PNG

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.

DSC02752.jpg
DSC02759.jpg
DSC02903.jpg

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.

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.

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. 

Life in Paris: A Personal Project

Sam and I temporarily relocated to Paris late last year. During that time, I decided to take a sabbatical and focus on photography and exploring the city. Needless to say, it was one of the better decisions in my life. I spent every waking moment with a camera in my hand which resulted in a feeling of peak creativity, a better understanding of how my photography is evolving as well as some of my strongest photographs to date.

When we returned to the States, I spent several months and countless hours reviewing and selecting photographs and journal entries in order to create a coffee table book titled A Life in Paris highlighting my Parisian observations and experiences. I sent the first copy off to print while we were in Africa last month and I received a copy a few days ago. The quality and final product completely blew me away and the more I print my photographs, the more I realize that it's part of the creative process - especially in a world of pure digital photography where photographs end up on a web portfolio and the RAW negatives die on some hard drive.

Below are a few photographs of the final product and A Life in Paris will not only be an incredible reminder of the time we spent living in Pairs but a reminder of how important it is to shoot personal work and explore larger passion projects. For select photographs from the book, please reference my previous Paris posts.

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, and Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OOS.

2015 Year in Review

The end of 2015 leaves me with a strong mix of emotions as well as the challenge or grappling with the realization that another year has come to an end so quickly. I'm overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude as I look back on all of our travels this year, but at the same time, I carry a sense of sadness knowing that this will most likely be the best year of travel in our lives. To put it simply, we've had one hell of a year... And, I may finally understand what Mark Vanhoenacker meant about constantly finding yourself in new environments. 

"Place lag, unlike jet lag, may get worse with the passage of time. A huge proportion of our memories relates to the most recent minutes, days, or weeks of our lives. So the first days in a foreign city, even as our bodies begin to adjust to the new time zone, fill our minds with the accumulating incongruities of a new place, displacing the presence and immediacy of our now distant homes. The world gets stranger by the hour." - Skyfaring

For starters, we travelled south to San Miguel de Allende and learned what it truly is like to live in Mexico, away from all the spring-breakers and tourists of Cancun or a Playa del Carmen. A few weeks after returning from Mexico, we headed to the Fart East with our first stop in Tokyo where we enjoyed some of the most amazing food and hospitality from the Japanese people while checking off the number one item on my bucket list. From Tokyo, we took a bullet train to Kyoto where we experienced the amazing bamboo forests and Buddhist temples. From Kyoto, we travelled back to Tokyo via bullet train and flew directly to Beijing where we learned to live without the internet for a week and leaned in to our adventurous side when it came to food and navigating the massive city. 

A few months back in Chicago, we traveled to Napa Valley and Sonoma for our one year wedding anniversary. Northern California holds a special place in my heart and this trip further solidified that feeling when we spent an afternoon tasting some of our favorite wines on the Matthiasson family farm. We traveled back from Northern California and packed our bags for Paris. As I write this, I still find it hard to believe that we ended this year with a temporarily living arrangement in Paris, France (not to mention taking a sabbatical). I couldn't think of a better way to end the year of international travel by taking time away from work and living life in Paris with my best friend. 

And, I should note that up until this point I haven't even counted the number of weddings, graduations, funerals, baptisms and family or friend commitments in between each of these trips. Like I said in the opening, I'm filled with excitement and gratitude as I recount our experiences from this past year. While I feel it may be the most traveled year of our lives, we have a strong foundation for the years to come. 

Up next, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Then on to Australia and New Zealand.

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

Paris

My wife and I recently returned from living abroad in Paris, France. We ended up moving to France this fall for Sam's career. She was selected as a top candidate for her talent exchange program. As for me, I decided to take time away from work and focus solely on exploring the city with my wife and my camera. Our flat was located in Batignolles which is part of the Seventeenth arrondissement just northwest of the center of Paris. We ended up in the Seventeenth because we wanted to live away from major tourists areas and really gain a deeper understanding of what it's like to live in Paris. We also wanted to live with the Bobo's (also known as Hipsters) of Paris.

For starters, I can't explain how beautiful and inspiring Paris is as a city. It's architecture, history, food, wine, art and its people are truly unique and, despite all stereotypes, friendly. While living in Paris, I made it a point to capture enough moments and journal entries to create a coffee table book for our home. I wrote every morning while enjoying a cup of coffee at Café Kitsuné and then headed off to explore a new arrondissement and create photographs. The coffee table book is a work in progress at the moment and this post is the first step towards scanning and processing both my journal entries and photographs. I hope to have it complete later this winter and will share a few images when its complete.

Our time in Paris was definitely a highlight in our lives and I can say without a doubt that we were able to see the city in a way that can't be done if you're simply visiting for a few weeks. Our trip was my first and I know for certain that it won't be our last.

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