Film, Digital, Color, Black&White, What now?

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!

Jack Holmes

Jack Holmes

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.

Humanity Lowell

Humanity Lowell

UTEC - Sweet 16

UTEC - Sweet 16



Lowell National Park

Lowell National Park

UTEC Sweet 16

UTEC Sweet 16

Barron's - Fidelity's Steve Buller

Barron's - Fidelity's Steve Buller

Merrimack Valley Magazine

Merrimack Valley Magazine

My Lunch with Kevin

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

A Growing Business

Two of the nicest people you could ever meet also happen to be two of the smartest and innovative entrepreneurs in the area. Lydia and Francey are the force behind Mill City Grows, the Lowell, Massachusetts-based enterprise that is bringing community gardening and urban food production to the city and surrounding area. Their mission: “Mill City Grows fosters food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education.” Please visit their web site: http://www.millcitygrows.org

Back to Francey and Lydia though, both of whom, along with their husbands, are thoroughly invested in the community and its success. I have had the opportunity to follow them around to a few of their projects for the Merrimack Valley Magazine and the Local Farming photo essay that I did last year. Yesterday afternoon they dropped by my studio to pose for some shots at The Big Doors. Please do visit their web site to see what’s growing!

Francey Slater and Lydia Sisson of Mill City Grows

Francey Slater and Lydia Sisson of Mill City Grows


Some of Us Are From Here. Some From Far Away.

I met Derek and Lydia a little over a year ago. I recall the event we all attended, but I don't recall exactly how he and I started to talk about UTEC (United Teen Equality Center), where he was the Director of Workforce Development, and an idea that I had for a photography and film project. The conversation began and the idea grew into a project that lasted throughout the summer. I had an amazing experience meeting and photographing the young people and staff at UTEC, the culmination of which coincided with the Grand Opening of the renovated youth center. I was extremely privileged to have my work shown at the opening.

So what does all that have to do with Derek? Beginning with our brief conversation, the idea began to take hold in each of our minds. Pursuing a personal project over several months can be quite a commitment and at times can be really discouraging. Some days it seems pointless, or the goal seems so far off that giving up would be so easy. An advocate within an organization in which you are trying to work is essential. Derek was the ideal advocate. I never felt like an outsider or awkward to be there. Derek paved the way, made the introductions and prodded and encouraged me to follow-through, to show up and to create.

Now Derek has moved on to become the Lowell Site Director of The International Institute of New England, and most recently, he has announced his candidacy for Lowell City Council. I know that he will bring the same passion and commitment that he has brought to his previous endeavors. 

This installment of the Big Door series and the Basic black and white series features Derek, but his partner Lydia dropped in for the shoot as well. Lydia is an amazing person in her own right, so I will be featuring her in front of the big green doors very soon. Stay tuned! 

People have asked me what this project is all about. It's not terribly profound. I have been looking for local people who are interesting to know, and to see, and to tell a little about them here on this blog, in words and pictures. Mostly pictures. I enjoy the process and realizing results that satisfy me, and I still have a long list of people that I want to invite as this thing proceeds.

Derek Mitchell

Derek Mitchell


I'm Not Really a Magician

At one point, Princess said "You're a magician!". I was flattered at first, but then I realized that the soft box grid that I was pulling out of my kit was velcroed to everything else in the bag and I was pulling the entire contents out. So not so magical after all.

My subject for today, Princess, performs magic with words though. She is really quite a talented poet. I sometimes will ask performers who I am photographing to do what they do in front of the camera. It often creates some very special moments. I was blown away by Princess. A college student, her verse is mature, intense and compact. Her recitation was really quite moving. Her photos speak for themselves. Thank you Princess!


James Knows Community Building

I met James Ostis a couple of years ago, in Lowell, at a Tweetup. At first soft-spoken, James' demeanor belies his drive to change things for the better. Formerly a legislative aid in the Office of Massachusetts State Representative Colleen M. Garry, he is currently project manager for the Lowell Heritage Partnership.

In speaking with him last night before we started making photographs, I was struck by his passion and enthusiasm. I hope he enjoys his photos. I know I enjoyed making them!

James Ostis

James Ostis

This Lovely Evening

He seems to be everywhere that's anywhere in Lowell. Last evening, he was in front of the now famous doors in suite A405. Sovanna told his Facebook friends that he was visiting me "this lovely evening", at Western Avenue Studios to be photographed. A pleasure to work with, Sovanna was impeccably dressed, as always, and ready to be photographed. Here are some of the shots for my Big Door series and my pick for my ongoing Basic series, which are all in B&W, and all done as simply and as similarly as possible in an attempt to really "portray" the person, in the true sense of the word. Enjoy!


Four at the Door

This post makes my fourth submission in my Big Door series, so I think it can officially be called a series now.

In the process of casting for a short video project, which was the same occasion on which I met Obehi, I also met Jacquie, another talented actress. Interestingly, both Obehi and Jacquie are musical, and both are brass players. Her family owns Golden Girl Granola, which is awesome!

I also thought I would reshow the black and white portrait that I did of Jacquie, since I have received so many kind words about it.

Keep watching this space for who will be next in the series!



I have started a new series. It's a personal project in which I am inviting people into my studio for a very specific portrait. The project is called "Basic", mostly because I am shooting them all utilizing a very minimal setup: one light, white background, prime lense, and all shot almost exactly the same way, and all rendered in black and white. The idea is to try to capture something about my subject's personality that has revealed itself to me in my interactions with them, and that I want to try to convey, visually, to the viewer. I want to tell a story in one frame.  

Here are the first five, of many to come, in no particular order.