I usually do an end-of-year retrospective of my work, but this year I am running a little late. But it's not really TOO late, is it? So here, without any excessive wordiness, are some of the things that I was involved with in 2017. I hope it is fun to skim through!
I got a mini-education in the art of crafting wood, or maybe just in the kinds of woods that are used. John Welch, of John Francis Designs allowed me into his studio a couple of weeks ago to photograph him and he enthusiastically explained to me, the clean slate, about some of the exotic hard-woods that he uses. I had no idea that some trees have a dark part and a very light part in the trunk!
Ok, back to talking about John. He recently moved into a larger space. It is flooded with great light from the huge Western Avenue Studios windows that face onto the Pawtucket canal. But let’s go directly to the photos! These are a mix of digital, medium format color film (Portra 160) and black & white film (Ilford HP5), all with window light.
You can visit John on Western Avenue’s First Saturday Open Studios, or you can go Like his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/johnfrancisdesigns
Jeweler Robert Williams was kind enough to let me photograph him a few Saturdays ago in his Lowell studio, for my artist series. I learned that day too that he also makes high-end flutes - I think he said he is a master silver caster - in Boston, which he told me is where the best flutes are made. What I do know is that he makes amazing jewelry and is a super-nice guy. You can see a few of his pieces on his web site (http://www.rawjewelers.com), as well as on a video done by Howl Magazine here: https://youtu.be/_HfMrKg2FD4
His studio is at Western Avenue Studios, in Lowell, Massachusetts - Studio 208.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of welcoming Kenya back to my studio for a solo photo shoot. If you follow this blog, you may recognize Kenya from a fashion shoot that I did last year for Humanity, a boutique in Lowell, Massachusetts. Here she is with the whole team. (Kenya is the second from the left.)
Our recent shoot was one of my self-assigned shoots, meaning that it wasn't a fashion shoot, per se, nor a portrait, but rather my opportunity to do some creative lighting, posing and using materials other than digital cameras; things that are not always possible with commercial clients. So here's what we came up with. Thanks Kenya!
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.
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
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.
So what do you say when another photographer who you respect asks you to create their portrait? You do it, of course! Thaddeus Miles, who happens to live in the next building, asked me to do just that. I was incredibly flattered, and immediately asked if, rather than a fee, I could be paid with a print of one of his photographs, and if I could make some photos of him that were beyond what he was looking for.
Thaddeus is an amazing photographer. Quite a while ago he began one of those 365 projects that some photographers embark on (note that I said “some”… I have never had the discipline...) in which they shoot something every day for a year. Well the last photo in his blog is day number 977! See his work here : http://thaddeusmiles365.wordpress.com
A couple of his other passions are his Hood Fit initiative and his Men of Color Photoshoot, the first phase of which took place last week. Check out both on his blog, and here as well: http://hoodfit.org
Thaddeus was actually trying to get a new photo of himself for “an award”, as he phrased it. That award, which is no small thing, and which will be presented to him today, October 28, 2014, is called the Lilla G. Frederick award, named for Mrs. Frederick, who helped found and then served as the President and Chair of Project RIGHT, Inc. (Rebuild and Improve Grove Hall Together), which presents this award. Congratulations Thaddeus!
Thaddeus emailed the press release the other day, which appears below, after the photos.
I am just privileged to know him and extremely happy to have had the opportunity to photograph him for this blog.
Subject: FW: Thaddeus Miles will be presented the Lilla Frederick award on October 28, 2014
(please distribute to the appropriate contacts and have those interested in coming, to contact me regarding tickets at 617.541.5451.x102)
You are invited to join Project RIGHT at its annual dinner and celebration on Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 from 6 PM – 9 PM at Russell Memorial Auditorium (70 Talbot Ave, Dorchester). Project RIGHT was formed in 1991 and organizes residents and young people on addressing public safety and quality of life issues while improving access to resources and positive opportunities in the Grove Hall neighborhood.
This year, PRI is presenting Thaddeus Miles, MassHousing’s Director of Public Safety with its Lilla Frederick award. Mr. Miles has been responsible for launching several innovative violence prevention initiatives and partnerships that has made a significant difference in the Grove Hall neighborhood, the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a whole.
Mr. Miles launched the Grove Hall Multi Unit Housing Initiative that comprised of tenant associations, Boston Police, property owners, management companies, security companies, MassHousing and community organizations that has successfully addressed public safety issues in these apartment buildings. Mr. Miles helped to found the Grove Hall Youth Outreach Connection comprised of Project RIGHT, several Grove Hall Tenant Associations, MassHousing, Boston Police and Lilla Frederick Pilot Middle School which has received significant funding by the Charles Hayden Foundation to increase the youth outreach worker and prevention capacity in the Grove Hall neighborhood. Mr. Miles has also provided ongoing training for a variety of Grove Hall representatives to understand both the community impact of violence and the toll of trauma, but also to address the personal toll that occurs upon us.
Being an innovator in challenging the barriers and disparities facing Grove Hall and other neighborhoods, Mr. Miles launched HoodFit, a community led movement which focuses on bringing out the most positive attributes of community building, health and wellness highlighting the mind, body and soul that shows us day by day on how to overcome issues such as trauma. Mr. Miles also founded “Think Big Dream Big”, a youth driven initiative to jumpstart young people on the journey to a positive future, the fulfillment of their goals and dreams.
Much like the late Ms. Lilla Frederick (Devon Street resident and Project RIGHT’s Board President), Mr. Miles goes block by block, identifies problems, takes actions, doesn’t take no for an answer and achieves results. They both go out of their way to avoid publicity or self promotion, but they rather just do the work to make changes that systematically improve the lives of residents and young people.
If you have any questions, or wish to come to Project RIGHT’s annual dinner and celebration, please contact Michael Kozu, Community Coordinator (email@example.com and 617.541.5451.x102).
Back in February of this year, Carolyn, of Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen and I had fun cooking and shooting several dishes for the current issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine (March/April 2014). Actually, Carolyn does the cooking and food styling, and I do the shooting and eating. You will have to go out and get a copy to see the recipes and read the article, although there is one on-line at the MVM website here!
You also might want give us both a “Like” Facebook…
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!