My business card says
Writer, Photographer, Musician – Artist…*
…and when you follow the asterisk to the bottom, there’s a note that says:
*…and I’m going to keep telling that lie until it comes true.
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Here we will talk about the “photography” part of the triad.
My first camera… well, it wasn’t a camera at all. My father was an an avid amateur photographer, and we had a darkroom in our house in Rumson NJ. I think I was about 5 years old when, trying to emulate him, I drew some pictures on a strip of paper, rolled it up, put that inside a yellow “Kodak” box, punched a hole in top and showed it to my father and said “look, this is my camera.”
At least, that’s what I remember. Memories tend to be fungible of course.
So one way or another photography has been a factor in my life for as long as I can remember. When I first went to Hollywood to work in the TeeVee industry in the 1970s, some of the first jobs I had were as a photographer. I followed Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White around Disneyland one time, but can’t find any of those photos now.
I picked it up again in 2003, when I got my first digital SLR, big clunky Nikon D100. It was not long after that that it finally dawned on me that photography was an actual craft with skills that could be learned and I started taking courses at Nashville State Community College. I might have learned a thing or three along the way…
Follow these links:
Portals of Stone
…is my primary ‘passion project.’ For reasons I am at loss to completely explain, I am drawn to the medieval ruins of the United Kingdom. In the past few years I have been fortunate to spend several weeks total in Scotland and northern England, and have spent as much time as possible chasing the light through various ruined castles and abbeys. When I am in these locations, I feel the pull of time and space; After I got home from one such trip in the spring of 2013, I tried to find a way to convey that sense of timelessness in the images I was processing. After a bit of trial and error I landed on blending y photos with starscapes from the Hubble telescope (which are all in the public domain). The result is Portals of Stone: Blending the ancient and ruined with the infinite and eternal.
Castles and Abbeys
These are the ‘the less photoshopped’ versions of the photos I’ve made at the locations where the ‘portals’ also opened. There is still some processing involved, but not to the degree seen in the “Portals of Stone.” Some people like the more ‘natural’ images better than the ‘Portals’ stuff.
And then there is the more conventional stuff, like…
The Joy of Making Music
There are a lot of challenges to shooting musicians in live performance – starting with the fact that most venues are very poorly lit, even if the lights seem bright from the stage. Add to that the fact that (most) performers are in constant motion – and that often their facial expressions are less than ideal when frozen for an instant – and it becomes a real challenge to capture the fraction-of-a-second that freezes a performer in their moments of bliss. It takes a lot of patience had keeping the camera at eye-level through the whole performance. I’ve been pleased with some of the results, and the rest will live forever only “on the cutting room floor,” so to speak…
Shooting while musicians are making records can be fun too, and usually involves working with the natural light in the studio (also usually pretty dim). I’ve been fortunate to spend time in the studio with some of Nashville’s top talent, particularly while working on The 1861 Project with people like Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and John Anderson. For the past year, I have been using cameras with completely silent shutters, so I can actually be in the studio during vocal recordings, etc. and not leave any traces on the tape.
Portraits and Fashion
I can’t say that I have done a lot of formal portrait photography. It’s a very specialized field, and frankly I find piles of rocks easier to photograph than the average squirming human. I’ve been doing more of that kind of work lately, and I’m pleased with the results and the models seem to think I know what I’m doing even if I’m making it up as I go along (which, come to think of it, is the definition of ‘creativity,’ no?). Some of my portrait sessions have led to…
I can’t say I’ve done a lot of album cover shoots, but some of my work has found its way onto several CD covers, backs, and insides. I did all the album cover art for The 1861 Project (just the photography, the actual design work was provided by Cronin Creative) which meant traveling to a lot Civil War reenactments from 2011-2015, from which I produced a collection of…
There is something truly compelling about the dedication of the men and women who travel the country to reenact important moments in American history like the great battles of our Civil War. These “living historians” often assume the persona of ancestors who participated in those battles, and try to be as authentic to the period they are recreating as possible. There can be some hardship involved – like wearing a wool uniform in 106º heat at the reenactment of Bull Run/First Manassas, but that just goes with the territory.
Events, Weddings, etc.
I’ve supplied the photography coverage for several Podcamps, Barcamps, and other tech-related events around Nashville. And then there was the Wedding in Portlandia – when the wedding party rode their bicycles to the Justice of the Peace for the ceremony, assembled in a bar to celebrate after, and then hosted a big party for all their friends in a Portland neighborhood park. Formal weddings can be a very high-pressure kind of situation, but I’ll shoot an “alternative” wedding any day…
One More Thing:
I don’t know where else to put this on my own website, so Imma just gonna put it here: In addition to all the above, I am also the proud owner of a bright, red, 1949 Chevy pickup truck – you know, the one with those big, rounded tear-drop shaped fenders. The truck was my gift to myself when I sold songs.com back in 1999 and I’ve had it every since. It’s a year older than I am. It makes a great prop for photo and video shoots. Check it out at 49chevy.com.
That’s probably more than anybody really has time to look at, but if it’s not enough, the whole portfolio is online at