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Life Through a Lens

January 28th, 2019

Life Through a Lens

A new year calls for a new project. This blog entry marks a turning point in my creative processes. My wife, Connye, and myself have written our lifestyle blog, OurEyesUponMissouri, since moving to central Missouri. Arriving at Lake of the Ozark we found so many little things with which we just fell in love. Mom & Pop shops, be they little cafes off the beaten track, crafters hidden away in the Ozark hills, businesses built by the previous generations and maintained with love and devotion by sons and daughters currently, all caught our eye. Connye, a writer, and me, a photographer, found something that would keep us both busy in the effort. We had no idea how busy either.

Publishing three times a week when we started, we sometimes found a new place to love on Tuesday, interviewed and photographed the location and products and people, developed the pictures and wrote the story that night and published on Wednesday. Needless to say, we were stretched thin some weeks. As the blog grew readership, and the locals came to know us, we would receive tips as to a new little business just opened, or a quirky crafter, and mostly new bars and cafes. People love to read about food and drink. As the blog grew we heard more and more from locals that they looked forward to reading it each week so they could plan their next outing for lunch or diner.

We saw the milestones of thousands of readers according to Google analytics, and felt the pressure of meeting Monday Wednesday Friday deadlines. By the third year we had cut back to twice weekly publication. We also had mined the local countryside pretty well and were having to go farther and farther afield for the gems. However, we were becoming more well known. The food and drink articles gained such a following a large online news service purchased and published a block of our stories in order to kick off their new section on lake dining. Another regional publication offered a regular food and drink column in the magazine.

Finally, at the end of 2018 we ended the blog, OurEyesUponMissouri. It was a natural stopping place. The lack of local subjects that were new and fresh helped us with the decision. However.......the loss of a major creative outlet left me yearning for a regular challenge. Hence, the birth of this blog. I see the world better through a lens. Like all photographers, I look at something, or someone and I see crop marks at the edges, leading lines, negative space, compatible colors, gray scale tones, textures, narratives, and relationships.

All the first rush of seeing the finished product in my mind before the shutter trips is matched by the delicious agony of coaxing the final image from the digital negative in the digital darkroom. Ansel Adams said the negative is the raw score but the performance is in the print. But the final print must be informed by the initial vision for how to shoot that particular subject, be it a model in a fashion shoot, a golden eagle on a fist, or a plate of pasta and a glass of wine.

Even when shooting for a commercial client I am always working on a personal project. Rusty iron and weathered wood comprise a large chunk of my portfolio. Finding an old rusty tractor seat as a decor item when I am doing a real estate shoot is like finding a rare coin while walking the beach. Unless there are pressing deadlines, the first image to be processed will be the personal project shots, the super close-up of the rust, the shot with the sunlight pouring through a window highlighting the texture of the rusty iron.

Seeing the vision come to life. Seeing the end result of the shot. Creating something out of nothing. That is the driving force for artist. I start this blog not as a tool for teaching photography, or LightRoom, or PhotoShop. There are those reading this who are more talented than myself, more skilled than myself, more artistic than myself. I start this blog much like a coffee shop conversation. I start this blog to create a dialog about the act of creation. What drives you to create? How do you bring the vision to life so others may witness what you saw in your mind? How do you match the power and beauty of the vision with the end product? How do you live life through a lens?

People Places Things

December 21st, 2013

People   Places   Things

Although my work includes landscapes, old barns and tractors, tall buildings and industrial machinery, my favorite subject is people. My series of street portraits featuring homeless people became my passion in the last few years.

I invite you to look at the faces of those I have met and spent time with, read about them and think about the underlying common link. All of us are just people. Their circumstances are harsh but their will to continue living, their will to put one foot in front of the other day after day, their will to survive is the same as ours.

We all respond to the same things: human contact, recognition of our humanity and value, a smile and a touch, simple conversation between equals. I challenge you to see them for the first time in your community. Speak and listen to them. Smile and shake hands. Introduce yourself. A few minutes of personal contact is more important than a few coins handed out a car window at the corner.