Try this one

So I was recently photographing a Luxury Condo in Miami Beach. Simple
job. In and out and always fun. As we where out the door, the owner
said, "I wasn't going to have you photograph this bathrrom because I
figure it is impossible to shoot without being seen in the photo."

I love a challenge.


I first have to say this. I don't know how long I have had this
mentality of passion and determination. Was it my family upbringing? a
movie or book I watched or read? a person that helped me by example?
God? All of the above? I don't know, but what I do know is that when
people are met with adversity, they have choices to make. They can
give in and give up or get up and move forward. That said...
It was always a childhood dream to be a National Geographic
Photographer. To be among the ranks of the most highly respected
admired, historical figures who's images will stand the test of time.
Not ever know how it was going to happen, I just knew it would.
I am not there yet!

So when I got the call this afternoon from one of the Senior Photo
Editors at NatGeo, I sent it to my voicemail. I was on an assignment
and did not want to be rude to my client. But when I called back a few
hours later, I was happy to hear that she was simply calling to
congratulate me on my selection to June's issue of Photo Journal.
There will be a one page article about me and the Backyard Project.
Three images will be published and a blurb about the project will be

This is a wonderful day for me. I am not only excited about this
opportunity to get my name in print, but more importantly that it be
of images from a PERSONAL PROJECT!!!
Not only a personal project, but a personal project where I literally
photographed creatures found in my backyard!

How cool is that???
More importantly, What more of an example do you need. This shit does
work. Having a little determination, pushing your internal limits and
then pushing harder. Working on something that means something to you.

Please don't think of this article as if I was bragging, but more
showing examples of someone who is less than 2 years of being out of
the military, moving to a new state, not having any client base and
nothing more than hopes, dreams a very supportive wife and many many
many mentors CAN DO IT!

Why do we subscribe to blogs like this? to get inspiration to use in
our own lives. Well hopefully this little tidbit will inspire someone

Now for the next step. To push harder and find out how to get an
assignment from them.

The life of a passionate photographer continues...

What to do with ALL those magazines

Ahhh magazine subscriptions. I have tons of them. There is a place
that I found that (by filling out a small survey) you get tons of
magazine susbcriptions for free. In the past year I have received,
Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, W, Spin, Maxim, entertainment weekly and tons
more. Not to sound weird, but I typically only care about the photos
in these mags. I love their use of photos and the inspiration I get
from some of the portraits in the ads is awesome. It helps me to find
what clients I want to work for based on the style that they like AND
helps me to start stepping it up a few more notches to have a
selection of images like this in my portfolio so my chances of being
hire next are better.
I do, however read most photo mags front to back. Unfortunately I have
to pay for my photo mags like American Photo, PDN, Digital Photo Pro,
etc. These are a wealth of knowledge and constant training in new
techniques, what's happening in the industry, business ideas, etc.

So what happens when you start receiving all these mags and don't have
tons of time to read them let alone look at the pictures?

Take a day and start cutting.

For the non-photo related mags, I will simply flip through all the ads
and pull out the pages I like. For double truck images, Icarefully
take both pages and tape them together. I generated three types of
themes for MY definition (create your own). Trust me I didn't take
time to create such smart defitnitions. Just what made sense to me at
the time.
One is standard portraits - These are maybe for the lighting and nice
poses, body posture, etc.
Two is Action portraits - I call action portraits. These may be very
heavy photoshop techniques or use of lots of props (fire, water,
action, etc).
Three is Glamour portraits - I would consider these larger than life
portraits. Like Travolta standing in front of an old plane. Simply
lit, but Very well done.
Fourth is Sexy or Couple portraits - These miht involve the intimacy
between two people, the attitude in lighting and the creation of a
moment in front of the camera. Like an Advertorial.

Of course there are elements of the images in each category that can
fit into the other category. IT ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE. Just pick shit
that makes you happy and that you would love to do.

Then create yourself a type of scrap book to where you can go to for
inspiration from time to time. Make a list of all the clients the
photos where shot for and MARKET TO THEM!!!

As for the photo mags. That is tougher. Many of these issue are like
art books to me. I fall in love with so many of the photos in there
and many of the articles are awesome for inspiration as well. What I
do with this is quickly go through and grab the articles that stuck
with me and can be great for reference. For instance, I ALWAYS read
the (r)evolution section in Digital Photo Pro by John Paul Caponigro.
That guy is a true Scient-artist. He is very detailed in the
technology, but an extremely well accomplished artists as well.
Then the same technique with the photos, but I will start to instead
collect the names of the photographers and see what they are doing.
Like Howard Schatz who always seems to have something being examined
and written about.

Don't do this and you will soon find yourself in a mess of mags that
you actually paid for and will eventually through away.
Of course there is one mag I never through away, National Geographic.
I have every issue since 1974 (my birth) and before.

How can cheesy horror flicks inspire others?

One of the absolute most important things a photographer must do is to keep learning. In the past it was a bit simpler. It was all about shooting the image. Nowadays there is more to it. A lot more. No matter where you turn there is a new application for a still image. Video, multimedia, DigiRostrum, etc.
I was recently at the movies and my wife and I just had to see the My Bloody Valentine in 3D. This is not our dad's 3D. This is REAL D. Invented by Lenny Lipton  This new tech is pretty cool. Here is a summary. They film the scene with two cameras side by side like human eyes. Shooting . Then the final product is placed in a machine that projects the movie at 72 frames per second (the same rate the human eye sees), but in sequential order. Meaning the left frame and right frame alternate. The a special silver screen reflects the polarized light to be reflected to the viewer who then wears polarized glasses. Thus things in the foreground appear to leap out.
Now of course we have all seen the old 3D with the red and green/blue glasses. I never liked them because I would get headaches. Especially if your head was titled during the movie. Well this new circular polarized stuff is pretty freaking' amazing. I spent the entire time not concerned about how silly the movie was and more being fascinated by how cool this technique was. NOW I am on a new mission. I am out to find how I can apply this technique to still imagery in a way that will blow people away in a same way it blow's movie-goers away.
My first start was to attempt a stereo photo much like in the old days of having a camera that had two lenses and took two frames right next to each other. I mounted two Nikon cameras and same lenses and had them sync with the flash at the exact same time. Then I had my beautiful partner and wife, Anna, fire off a few rounds from a cap gun for affect. 
Here's the steps from then. Open both frames. Fo the right camera frame select the red channel only. Copy it. Then go to the left camera frame. select the red channel, but this time paste the right camera frame's red channel into it. You will see some red hallowing because of the different perspective. Move the red channel layer over until the foreground is overlapping. Viola, You have just completed your first 1970's 3D movie poster.

Well, of course it isn't totally as simple as that. There is a bit of post work to do and other junk that requires actual math. Heard of the 1/30th rule, Near/Far point factor?
None of that matters though. It is all information that can be achieved freely as I am giving it. I will find out and learn how to do it and eventually be very good at it and then move on while teaching others. Who knows that might spark inspiration for someone to take it to another level.

This month's manual

Fo those who do not know Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua, learn about her. She has a free subscription to a bi-monthly manual. It has become something that always tends to grab and shake me at just the right time. She really is a special person that doesn't have to do this stuff and I am glad to take advantage of her insight and input. Take a look at this months manual on her website (click on her name).

Jacksonville Dragonfly

Here is one of my latest in the backyard series. I happened to be in Jacksonville a few days ago and was freezing my ass off. I am definitely used to the South Florida weather when a temp of 50 degrees gets me miserable. I was walking to my hotel room when I spotted this guy being just as cold. Unfortunately for him, the cold makes these guys very unmoveable. He thought he had a good hiding place, but not from me. I brought him into the room and began shooting. This time, I was experimenting with a clear Gary Fong light sphere. I was hesitant at first, but was pretty happy with the results. I am sure this isn't what Gary was thinking when he made these things. Either way, the dragonfly didn't seem to care and soon was enjoying the warm room. That is until I caught him before fling away and put him back outside. Sorry guy. No more room at the Inn.

Handheld projector by 3M. Very exciting!

Now I haven't actually had one in my hands yet. I haven't seen one or played with it at all. But I can say that the idea of being able to connect a projector to my iPhone and display my image on a wall to a client at any given time is amazing. This to me seems like the next generation of portfolio review. That said, I still need to see if this $400 baby will look good under a dark or subdued light condition, If it looks sharp enough, etc. Even if it is just good enough quality, for the ability to walk into a room and show an art director your images in a completely different way should get their attention. Also to give the impression you are staying in front of the technology instead of behind it. Well, then again the images better be good as well.
Here is a video about the MPRO110. More to come on this.

Curiosity killed the movie manager

I was recently in Jacksonville, Florida and while I was there had a great advantage to talk to a few Navy photographers and hopefully inspire some motivation. Afterwards I invited a few guys to come out and do some what I am now calling 'S.O.M.P. photography (Seat Of My Pants). I may change this term later, but like it for now. It describes the ability to be creative at any given moment. To be prepared at all times to create something on the fly with little help from any other creatives. No planning, no meetings, no permissions, etc. So I took a couple guys out to a local movie theatre that had a bunch of neon lights (for those who know Jacksonville, yes I know about the other one, but there was a conflict on our meet place). 
Anyway, I was teaching how to approach lighting a situation like this, when one of the managers walked outside. He made his way to us through a nonchalant walk to his car and around us. He had a very curious look as to why we were in front of his theater taking pictures. I quickly gave him my non-intimidating happy passionate personality and before he knew it, he was my subject for an environmental portrait. Lit with a Gary Fong Light Sphere (clear). I put a red filter inside to match the neon. I also brought the shutter speed down to 1/6 of a second to get an 'on purpose' motion blur in the background. The flash and f/stop where set to f/5.6 to get him in a good depth of field and freeze him nice and sharp. I used the same exact equipment the students have in their shop. That way  I am somewhat demystifying the final product and giving them the power to go and do the same thing again if they want. The working shot is exactly how we shot the first shot.

Shooting a bar on a Saturday night

Last shots of the day. Again, same scenario as the previous blog
entries. Only thing that was different was the exposure. It was
extremely dark in there, but also colorful so I knew I was going to do
some sort of motion blur. I set the camera on a tripod and my exposure
was at ISO 400, f/6.3, 3 seconds. I prefocused on the girl and turned
the auto focus off. Because it is so dark sometimes the auto focus
will go out of focus and you won't tell. And bseides shooting with a
wide lens and at f/6.3 I had a good depth of field. Becuase there was
no ambient light hitting the subject, she looks very sharp while
during the remaining 3 seconds everything else gets blurred from

Shots from today

All shot with one light attached to a rectangular soft box (look at
last blog entry). With doing something like this there are many
challenges that a person can run into.
1) is the access. That is paramount. What comes into play is a
positive and passionate attitude. Be confident (Salesmanship and
charges is a completely different blog entry).
2) is being prepared for the situation. Sometimes a site survey is
great, but you may not have this luxury and will walk into a room for
the first time and have to leave 5 minutes later with a great image.
3) is the attitude of the subject and their willingness to do things
(Refer to challenges 1 and 2).

working shot

It sometimes slips my mind when doing run-and-gun portrait work like this. But every now and then I remember to take the working shot. Here is one taken this morning of Anna holding an Elinchrom Rotalux softbox with Free light S head connected to a Ranger RX Speed battery pack. These packs are amazing. The light that comes from them is, for lack of a better word, CLEAN. I am always amazed at the difference in quality from when I use other less expensive lights or even Nikon SB-800s. These have been a true companion to my work.

The head is also attached to the pole of a A608B Avenger mini-century stand by Manfrotto. Other poles can be purchased, but I like the fact that I can have a mini stand OR a pole for grip instead of carrying two things. It is light and Anna likes that.

The assignment was to shoot a bunch of store owners, managers, workers in a small town center. I have maybe a half an hour for each shop so I don't have the time for extended set up, styling, make up, prop, etc. That is why I call this, run-and-gun portraits or more like 'fly by the seat of our pants portraits.

Benjamin Rusnak - Better man than me

I met Ben a few months ago. Great guy and wonderful to be around and talk to. We also shared a common mentor with Chip Maury, my Sea Daddy of many years. When I saw Ben today, he told me that his new website was up and running. I saw his old site and was already impressed with his work, but after looking at his new site... all I can say is wow! This guy has seen and been in some of the worst places of the world and has the photos to prove it. His primary client base is NGOs and I am sure they are very happy to have him onboard. He has a way of capturing some amazing story telling and gripping images. 

Check out his work at I look forward to working with Ben in the year to come with future projects in ASMP. Keep an eye out for this guy. 


Another awesome resource from ASMP

Well, I had my first meeting with the board members of ASMP South Florida. It was pretty exciting to see what happens in the discussions and decisions made for the Nation's leading chapter of ASMP. We got some incredible things happening this year and I am excited to be part of them. More to come on that.

Here is an example of how cool being part of ASMP is. After the meeting, I spoke with Chapter President, Matthew Pace, and VP, Jorge Parra about a possible client I was going to meet that day. I explained the details and they took the time to help me come up with a plan on how to approach, shoot, estimate the job. They don't have to do that. That is awesome.

Then to top things off, Matthew sent me an awesome link that I need to share. It is something I know I had visited in the past, but simply forgot in the last year. It is a series of past estimates and assignments from other photographers that they shared with everybody to use as examples of how to do it. I strongly suggest for any one interested in making photography the career to 1. look at this link AND the other resources at ASMP. and 2. Become a member of ASMP! It has to be one of the most INVOLVED organizations out there. Every dime spent on the dues or seminars or anything sponsored by ASMP has been more than worth it. 
Anyway, here is the link

Japanese beetles and the importance of patience

So I was sitting on my back patio enjoying the wonderful So Florida
winter when this Japanese Beetle (don't quote me I still have to
research, but pretty sure) started flying around. He was literally
flying on my arm as if he was begging to be the next addition to the
Backyard project. SO I quickly grabbed him and put him in a cup while
I got my mini studio together. He was pretty colorful, but what I
really wanted was to catch him in flight. What I can say is that I did
my very very best. It was petty funny catching the guy, putting him on
the board and just as I am ready to get in focus, he flies away again.
I think I did this routine about 30 times. What was crazy was a
majority of the time, I would have him perfectly in focus and framed,
but once his shell opened and his wings where ready to start flapping,
I hesitated. All I could think of was my professor at Syracuse saying,
"Well, if you saw the action happen in the viewfinder then we are
pretty sure you didn't catch the moment." It was so true. I would see
this great thing happening and just as I push the shutter, I would
have an empty frame. I managed to get a few frames off, but I want to
work it more. He is still out there and unless the lizards catch him
first, I may try to do it again.

Weston Towne Center

I am currently working on an assignment for a local magazine in
Weston, Florida. I shot three businesses today and will shoot another
four on Saturday. It took me about 30 minutes for each business
(including set up and break down). I used an Elinchrom Ranger RX with
head attached to a strip light. I used a strip light to get a more
directed light to focus on the subject's faces without fall off or
bounce everywhere. Also what it does is create more of a wrap around
the subjects face. Like having a huge softbox, but blacking out the
top and bottom where the light is not needed. Anna (my partner) held
the light slightly to the side and above.
Comments welcomed.

Apple's new iLife ain't for grandma anymore

Much of many photographer's hesitation to get into video has been the fear of learning a ton of new programs. We feel comfortable with the laze fair attitude. There was a statement that used be told to me by people, "A Jack of all Trades is a master of none." Well, I think the trade of video shooting, sound, editing, photography shooting, editing, layout, etc. Is all one trade of being creative in communicating ideas and stories. That said, it is still a tough pill to swallow for a die hard still shooter to do video.

Well, check out iLife '09. Laugh all you want. Watch the video clips and see how freakin' easy it is to do some more than basic editing. I am impressed. 

Watch the video clips at
But of course there is the one other saying that still holds true, "You can't make chicken soup out of chicken shit."

Does this make me green?

Here's an concept. When I was in the military it was hilarious how many boxes of batteries I would go through in a month. Our bosses never saw it as being cost effective to buy rechargeable batteries. One reason was they thought we would loose them. This is a good concept. But after being out of the Navy for two years I can say I have not lost a battery yet. I invested in Energizer batteries simply by choice at the time of buying them. I think it was because they where colored green. Isn't it crazy how we can be slaves to marketing. 
Anyway, If a person where to purchase 20 batteries and a quick charger (rechargers 4 at a time in 15 minutes), they would spend around $100.00 (charger = $33.99 and 5 packs of 4 batteries cost $11.99)
A pack of 20 regular (non-rechargeable) batteries would cost about $17.00. I just checked on Amazon and saw a 24 pack for $16.99

Over this past year alone I can guesstimate I have had to charge my batteries about 30 times. This is usually after editorial shoots or other shoots on locations where I couldn't use my Elinchrom Ranger lights (also battery packs).

So let's do some basic math. If I were to buy a new 20 batteries at approximately $14.16 per 20 (16.99 divided by 24 = .70 x 20 = 14.16) instead of recharging every time. Knowing I have recharged 20 times, I would have spent ($14.16 x 30) $424.80. So when it is all said and done, this year I saved $324.80. Of course the more I recharge on these batteries the more I save. Every time I recharge, I am saving $14.16. GET IT!!!

Another side affect is I am helping the environment by not throwing away tons of batteries (would have been 600 by now). 
Not like that matters though does it? 
Does this make me green?
Oh by the way, The Nikon warrantee on the SB-800s is still good if using rechargeable batteries. It is VOID if you use battery packs other than their SD-8A

LiveBooks taught me another cool thing

I was recently submitting a new web blast through Agency Access to a selection of hopeful clients when I ran into an issue. I have a recent shoot of a Tequila manufacturer from Mexico. I want for the people who click through to see a selection of images from this shoot. Then they can go look at my site if they are impressed. 
What Livebooks offers is for a Client Access area for me to have these images and password protected. But what happens is some web browsers (like firefox) see the long link and strip out the password, Leaving the viewer to have to put a password. 9 times out of 10 the possible client will get confused, close the window and move on. They are too busy to be entering a password.

So to fix this, Jericho Diaz at LiveBooks helped to show a quick way of creating a redirect. 

I am not a web guy in the slightest. I see code as a headache. But when I created a redirect and uploaded it to my page, it worked. yeah!!!

So here is how I did it for those who have LiveBooks (which I strongly reccomend).

First go to this link and download the FREE program for mac called smultron  I don't know what the program is for PC (sorry).

Then click on the + and create a new page.

Copy and paste this stuff

<meta HTTP-EQUIV="REFRESH" content="0; url=XXXXXXXX">

In the spot where it says XXXXXXXX Go ahead and copy the loooong link from your client access area and paste it in there.

The link to my tequila page looks like this.

Then save it and name the file as a simple filename (in my case it was tequila.
Finally log into your livebooks account, go to the ftp section, select Upload as 'any file or folder of files for web viewing', and choose the file you just created.

* Note* The file MUST be named 'index.html' before it is uploaded and then renamed in the FTP to whatever you wish later.

You are then done. Your new link will be

Here is an example. Click on this link and see how it works.

What will happen is the browser will get redirected from tequila to the long web address which contains the webpage and password.

BAM. done!!!  Now you can give a client (or future client) a link to a selection of work without them freaking over the super long weblink crap. It looks simple and if you actually name the link to match your client's name it might even look like you know what you are talking about. 

Pete Souza awarded position as Obama's Chief White House photographer

Congrats to Pete Souza for getting the position as the Chief White House Photographer. It must have been a very large pile of people applying for this job and I am sure Pete was an easy pick. I wish him the best of luck on this historic position.

Here is a link to Pete's web portfolio at

Also read an article about it at

High Dynamic Range made easier (somewhat)

My current portfolio doesn't show much of this, but I assure you the updated portfolio will show this sooooon. I have been a huge fan of HDR when it is done right and am fascinated by the possibilities and future applications as we advance in tech. I always think of the scene in the movie Bladerunner (with Harrison Ford when he was young) where he puts what looks like a polaroid into some clunky machine and is able to zoom in forever and able to see a reflection of someone in the shadows from a mirror in the back of the room. This is coming. 
In the meantime we have a kick ass program called PhotoMatix ( ). It is a great program and (although slow in parts) is pretty user friendly and provides great results.

Here is a tutorial and info about HDR and the capabilities found in Professional Photographer magazine
Here is an example of a pineapple shot 9 times under bracket mode on a D2X and then tone mapped using photomatix

Nice idea for a photo project

I frequent a site called Mulitmedia muse from time to time and came across a video clip of a project by Shaul Schwarz on celebrity impersonators. It ws pretty interesting how a person cn take a concept and just GO WITH IT. It is very apparent Shaul did his research and put a lot of heart into it. It is a stark contrast to other work. Take a look at it at this link. To me, this project
falls into the category of therapy photography. Where you choose something completely different from your current path in order to get sane again. Or as sane as a photographer can get.

Vincent Laforet raises so many web bars

I recently read the article in Photo District News about Vincent Laforet and a recent project for Qualcomm. The Creatives at BBDO provided Vincent with the challenge and he took it and went with it. I can't see anybody else doing this kind of project to the expert level that he did. The combination of his expertise with tilt-shift lenses with video and web created a product that will blow anybodies socks off. I will let the article speak for itself in the challenges and the website to show the results. All I can say is AWESOME. I so want to do something like this with my 1:1 project. Check out the article first at THIS LINK. Then go to Qualcomm's website to see the result. Then take all the limitations you created for yourself and through them out the window. Vincent is a true example of how thinking WAY outside the box is what it takes to be successful today.

You can visit Vincent's site at

JPG magazine shuts down

It was recently brought to my attention that the awesome web magazine JPG Magazine will be shutting down on January 5th. This is a sad moment. JPG has been an awesome resource for photographers and their passion to show new work. I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at some of the most incredible images that may not normally see the outside world. But this is a perfect example of what we face nowadays in this market. Photography, unfortunately, is not just about getting the truth with a camera or showing the world something new that you saw. It is about marketing, business proposals, salesmanship, etc. Just to get people to give you attention so you can finally get to what you want to do; show the world your images.
I wish the best of luck to the managers at JPG and hope this doesn't break their spirit. Hopefully in the future, there will be a new version of this that will get attention AND make money to support it.