Photographers, or maybe just this one, have trouble talking about their work. So today, I am instituting a series of no-comment blog posts because I am not sure that I need to say anything about specific photographs. And yes, I know, these are words. So next time it will be wordless. Today I am presenting some images of several artist friends, Dug, Maxine and Barb & Samantha, the latter otherwise known as The Muddy Girls. As always, comments are very welcome!
Back in early August I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Natalia Wróbel, Polish-American artist, by way of California, in her Somerville studio. As you'll see from the photos, her large paintings only make her studio, the setting for her portraits, that much more beautiful. You can see more of her work at her web site here: http://nataliaswrobel.com/home.html
It has been far too long since my last blog post, although I think I say that every time I blog. That has to change! I have quite a backlog, so I will start with this month’s Merrimack Valley Magazine, the September/October 2015 issue.
Probably the biggest production shoot that I worked on for this issue was the fashion shoot, Enduring Essentials. This was shot, on location, on Jackson Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, where there are all sorts of great things happening, not the least of which are Mill No. 5, Appleton Mills and the Lowell Community Health Center. This two page spread was shot in the doorway of Rosie's Cafe, which is just around the corner.
There’s also a feature about fashion designer Darby Scott, who worked on the fashion shoot. We did these shots in her beautiful North Andover Studio.
I also accompanied writer Will Courtney as he tried out Chuck Raffoni’s Broga class. As an aside, my wife Amy and I had an excellent yoga experience with Chuck just last evening, in the same yoga studio in Tyngsboro. I am a total newbie, but Amy is a yoga practitioner and commented on what an excellent teacher Chuck is!
Next up was an interview with the Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s new Artistic Director, Sean Daniels, conducted by the inimitable Dean Johnson. Amy and I are regulars at the MRT and it is off to an amazing start this year with Benjamin Scheuer's show, The Lion, that we were able to catch just before its run ended.
And finally, we have the higher-ed leadership scene in Lowell pretty much covered with my photos accompanying articles by Will Courtney and Emilie-Noelle Provost.
Two months between blog posts. Not good. I have been busy (lame excuse), but also have been shooting quite a bit that cannot be shown here until it is published elsewhere (better excuse). I have been doing a little traveling in the way-back machine lately though, having purchased a scanner and some film. I hadn't shot film in several years and it is definitely a reality check. I am hoping that, like a painter's medium, it will have me think a little differently, both when I am shooting and in preparation for a shoot. I know, blah blah blah..show me the pictures.
I resurrected my 35mm camera and took a couple field trips...So here is a bench, some grapes, and a couple of guys on bikes. Did I mention that I am not a street photographer?
With a little help from eBay, I made some new friends in Japan and Korea. In the process, I bought a monster of a medium format camera. It creates negatives that are 6x7 centimeters. Here is my photography colleague Jack Holmes; world traveller, great photographer and all around nice guy!
Ok, one last gear-head thing... I bought a mono-rail 4x5 view camera recently too. I am headed off to a workshop next week, but I hope to start, or restart, a series of portraits of local artists when I return, and use both medium and large format. So watch this space.
Now, in no particular order, here are a couple of publication tear sheets, some shots from UTEC's Sweet 16 event, the Summer Kickoff of the Lowell National Park, the Grand Opening of Ani's boutique, Humanity, and an actress headshot that I did for another all around great person, Christa Brown.
The current issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine (May/June 2015) features a couple of pieces that I worked on that include a few people or places that are close to home, all in different ways.
Having moved to downtown Lowell last year, my wife Amy and I have become frequent visitors to Mill No. 5, a very eclectic destination in an old textile mill, (No surprise there!), with small shops and not so small events. Made in Lowell, a new initiative founded by Tobias Marx is located in Mill No. 5, and was started to “cultivate a movement to transform communities”. Tobi is incredibly passionate about the organization and its possibilities. Here is their web site to learn more: http://www.madeinlowell.org. Liz Michalski's story is well worth the read. You can find it on-line here: http://www.mvmag.net/?p=15211
Another piece is on a resurgence in local radio. I was really into radio when I was a kid. My father would build electronic things from discarded parts, at the kitchen table, using an old brownie pan as a chassis, after having sketched out the schematic from scratch. Seriously! But a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to snoop around 3 radio stations for this story, one of which was WXRV (The River). It is housed in the old WHAV art-deco studios where, if I remember the story correctly, my father actually worked as an engineer, probably right after the war. Seeing the old, discarded turn-tables and tape decks, one can imagine the old-days of radio and the live performances that occurred there. While that station still has a wall of CDs (for backup), and The River does host live performances, all three stations that I visited now play streamed digital music day to day.
This story is a natural fit for writer Dean Johnson too. Dean is a Sunday nighttime fixture on WBZ radio.
And back in early April, when the snow was actively melting, we took over the Stonehenge Inn & Spa in Tyngsboro, MA, for a Couples Spring “Peek” Weekend fashion shoot. You may recognize Christa Brown, one of the models from a shoot that I did in my studio last year, and whose writing was recently featured in Seventeen Magazine.
This was a fun day. This piece is on-line too (http://www.mvmag.net/?p=15233). Thanks go to the rest of the team too. It was a real group effort: writer and style editor Alyson Aiello, Yolanda and Stephen for their creative direction, Regina for her hair and makeup work, and for Christa and Joel for looking marvelous!
The cover of the current, March/April issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine features a photo that is pretty different from what I usually show off. Although I have done lots of nature photography in the past, this was actually shot at an herb farm, while on assignment for the magazine. I just happened to see that butterfly and started shooting. I could tell you that I had set out that day to get a great butterfly photo and waited hours in the bushes, or I can just fess up to the fact that it was a “happy accident”. No, let’s go with the vision of me in the bushes in camouflage. Sure.
I am actually writing today to talk about my photo essay in this issue. Last year I was asked to become a member of the Advisory Board of Lowell’s Angkor Dance Troupe. Being asked was certainly a great honor, but it also gave me much insight into the troupe, it’s organization and the dedicated people who make it work.
There has been a lot of great coverage and documentation of the dancers, and the troupe as a whole, but I wanted to create a series of photographs that documented what goes into making the troupe function and how it creates a safe, culture-preserving, artistic outlet for young dancers from a very young age through adulthood. I really think the best way to see the essay is in print, and the magazine is out now, but I wanted to also present some of my other favorite photos here.
For Facebook users, there is also a set of shots here on the magazine’s page:
In addition to all of the people who made this work, I especially want to thank Tim Chan Thou, the troupe’s Program Director, and his daughter, Linda Sopheap Sou, the Executive Director, who were so gracious and helpful in giving me free access to the troupe's rehearsals and performance preparations.
And I don't want to forget to express my appreciation to Master and Artistic Director Phousita Huy and principal dancer Samnang Hor, for taking the time, as did Tim and Linda, to come into my studio for some formal portraits to add to the piece.
Yes, I know, the snow is two feet deep as I write this. But how about something totally different than wall to wall coverage of a snowstorm in New England in January?
Last week, photographer Kevin Harkins and I had our annual lunch. We do gossip about everyone so fear not, you probably were mentioned. Every couple of years we have started to create new headshots for each other. Frankly, I like the younger ones of myself, but Kevin is very persuasive, so we shot new ones. I am getting the full Platon treatment on mine and those will be coming to my web site soon.(Platon is a photographer. Born with only one name apparently. Look him up, or click here: http://www.platonphoto.com/gallery/portraits/movies--television/robertredford/)
Anyway, it was a cloudy Massachusetts afternoon in January, and the north-facing windows of my studio provided a distinctly cool light, which was great. Kevin has already blogged with some photos that he shot of me (thanks Kevin!), so here are mine of him. Take special note as to how different Kevin’s shots of me look, in spite of their being shot the same day, in the same studio, with the same lighting gear. (Hint: it’s not about the camera or the gear)
And take a look at Kevin Harkins’ web site here: http://www.harkinsphotography.com
It may be raining here as I write this, but it was sunny in the studio last month when I was joined by Ani, from Humanity Lowell, a cool little boutique for women on Merrimack Street, my style collaborator Grace, as well as Christa and Monika who clearly lit up the studio with their modeling talents.
We are looking forward to better weather here in Massachusetts that will be allow for another shoot, this time out on location. Watch for our work here in a few short months. Hmm…maybe another studio shoot is in order before then!
This month, David Iverson’s piece on The Last Safe & Deposit Company, on Merrimack Street in Lowell, in the Merrimack Valley Magazine, will soon be at news stands. The club’s owner, Steve Perez, AKA D-Tension, had me show up early so that I could get shots of him and the club before the band started and the crowd appeared. Come to the back door, he said. If you haven’t been there, the front door is no less disguised, but be persistent and note that the club is downstairs and shares its entrance with Sweet Lydia’s, another downtown Lowell institution. The Last Safe & Deposit Company is uniquely Lowell, and inspiring, to mangle a marketing phrase. Do check out the article in a week or so when it hits the street!
Stop me if I have said this before, but I really find the many end-of-the-year lists very tiresome. So naturally, I thought it would be a swell idea to do one myself and to review my year for you. Mine will be exciting though. Really! There will be lots of local interest, beautiful people, amazing food... Ok, so you're bored already... I will get right to it. Enjoy!
Oh, and Happy New Year!
I enjoyed photographing and profiling several other authors, artists and artisans this year for the Merrimack Valley Magazine too. Clockwise, from the top left in this group, is one about author Holly Robinson, shot at Plumb Island. Next is ceramic artist Yary Livan, shot at his studio at Western Avenue Studios, in Lowell, MA. And last, I spent a morning learning about the coffee roasting that Rosie's Cafe does, also in Lowell.