The Importance of Trying New Things

Visiting The Mediterranean I’m not a landscape photographer. I’m much more comfortable photographing people. Landscapes are challenging for me because it’s hard for me to capture the enormity of what I see. I have to select which part I want to put in the frame. However, I admire landscape and architectural photography, and when I travel I experiment and give myself the opportunity to learn and make mistakes.   In September I went on a Mediterranean Cruise and visited Italy, Greece, Malta, and Turkey. I used the time to experiment with landscape photography, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself to get the perfect photo. I simply wanted to use the time to break out of what I usually photograph.   My biggest fear as an artist is making a mistake. Striving for perfection often prevents me from stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things. The reason I’ve grown to love travel photography is that I don’t consider myself a travel photographer, so it’s okay if the images don’t meet my expectations. There is something therapeutic about picking up the camera and exploring new places.   Every place I visited felt magical to me, but, if I […]

Tattoos: Art for the Masses

  Body of Art Even though I’ve always appreciated body art, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the world of tattoos. While interviewing people for my tattoo book, I developed a deeper appreciation for tattoo artists. Reality shows and social media have done a lot to share the work of these incredible artists, but sometimes these platforms glamorize the industry. I learned about the sacrifices these individuals make to be a part of this industry and community. For example, I never really thought about the fact that they have to work very different hours than most people. In order for them to be available to their clients, they have to work when most people are off work. That means weekends and long nights. Sometimes they have to miss out on family events and vacations. Sometimes their marriages suffer because they have to spend long hours at the studio. Despite these challenges, however, these tattoo artists remain passionate and dedicated to their work. They continually push themselves artistically, and they create amazing art for the masses.   There’s also another aspect about tattoos that I’ve learned to appreciate since studying this burgeoning art form. Over the past […]

My Top Five Favorite Places to Photograph

In the past, I’ve been very grateful to other photographers who have shared locations they have used for their photoshoots. Location shoots are a lot of fun, but they do require some planning. For me, I’ve always looked for places that offer a variety of different looks. I also wanted to find locations in different parts of the greater Phoenix area, so that I could more easily accommodate the models or clients. So without further ado, here are my favorite places to photograph. Downtown Phoenix     I have say that Downtown Phoenix is my favorite place to photograph people. There are so many cool graffiti and other textured walls that make for some awesome backgrounds. Since there have been a lot of construction and changes to the area, I do scout the location before a shoot. For example, there was a really cool graffiti wall and, shortly after I did a fashion shoot there, the art had been painted over. The area that these photos were taken were around Roosevelt and 5th street. This is one area where I haven’t really worried about it being too crowded because there’s a few blocks of nice photographic spaces. If you’re creative […]

Concert Photography: Heavy Metal vs. Classical Music

My first foray into photojournalism was concert photography. Because I was a heavy metal musician for many years, I got assigned to a lot of metal concerts. These were some of the toughest assignments because heavy metal bands like to create an ominous, theatrical atmosphere with red, purple, or blue lighting. It took me a while to adjust to such low lighting. Even though it was a challenge, I still enjoyed the process and in the end I became a much better photographer.   Recently, I was hired to photograph the East Valley Youth Symphony. From a photographer’s perspective, this environment is very different from rock n’ roll and heavy metal. At a rock concert you have the photo pit and three songs to get all your photos. However, with the symphony, you have seated guests and the musicians sit close together. Being discreet and quiet is of utmost importance. Most cameras make a noise when the shutter is released. This means you don’t want to shoot when the music is really quiet. Following a dress code is also important. Wearing black or dark colors is advised so that you don’t stick out and distract the audience from the performance. […]

Robert Capa: Photographer Profile

Whenever I interview someone, I usually ask them about their greatest influence. You can learn a lot about a person from their influences. What qualities attract us? How do these individuals shape our style, workflow, methodology, and etc? Maybe this influential person is someone in our field, or maybe it’s someone we know well.   I had been involved in photography for a few years before I had learned about Robert Capa, but when I had watched a documentary about his life, I became fascinated with the way he worked, his courage, and his incredible talent. Capa was a Jewish Hungarian photojournalist as well as one of the founding partners of Magnum Photos cooperative. As a young man, Capa witnessed the violence that was consuming Europe. He was part of a generation that watched Spain fall into civil war and Hitler rise to power in Germany. Capa was undaunted by the danger all around him. For example, during World War II, Capa parachuted with American troops where they were dropped into Germany. Hundreds of paratroopers died and Capa could have easily died with them, but it never stopped him from capturing footage of the war. Because of Capa, we have a glimpse […]

Project Zodiac

Every year since I was a child, my mother bought Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar. Besides being interested in astrology, my mother referred to the calendar to know the dates for cutting our hair. For example, if you cut your hair on the full moon in water signs, which is Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio, it’s supposed to promote thickness.   Several years ago, I became friends with a woman who studied astrology and even worked for the renowned Mountain Astrologer Magazine. Through my friendship, I gained a much better and deeper understanding of astrology. I learned that it involves much more than our sun sign, which is the sign we’re born into. I love talking astrology with other folks. When I decided to embark on this photography series, my two main goals were to use models that were actually born in the sign they were portraying and to create my own interpretation so that I wasn’t merely replicating the imagery that I’ve seen so many times for each sign. Of course, like with Gemini, which I have pictured above, there are some elements that I had to include. Gemini is about the two sides of the coin, the twins. However, Gemini is […]

Themes

I enjoy all my shoots, but I particularly had fun with this one. When I first mentioned doing a photo series for the 7 Deadly Sins, a lot of people told they thought it was over done. In some ways they’re right, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could come up with my own interpretation, despite the fact so many people have put their own stamp on this theme. This photoshoot was Gluttony, which involves an excess of food usually. I got the inspiration for this shoot from an old Gwen Stefani video called “Luxurious.” There’s a scene where Stefani is lying on colorfully wrapped candy. I loved the colors and the concept, and so I adapted it to my shoot. I certainly did get weird looks at the store when I picked up bags and bags of candy. Though I bought quite a lot, it still wasn’t enough. During the shoot, I made sure to arrange the candy so that I would be able to go back into Photoshop and clone the candy so that the entire background would be covered. The editing was a little more difficult than I thought it […]

Tattle Tales: Victor

Even though I have completed my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I still like to collect stories of people and their ink. I met Victor while he was working for my parents. Of course, I immediately noticed the art on his sleeve. It’s no surprise that  Alice in Wonderland is one of his favorite movies. However, one thing that I was surprised to learn from my conversation with Victor is how tolerant religious communities have become in regard to tattoos. Victor is very active in his church, and he has not encountered negativity towards his tattoo. During my interview with Victor, I came to realize that tattoos give people the ability to keep their artwork and memories with them no matter what. In the past year, we’ve seen horrific environmental disasters affect many cities all over the country. Sometimes, in a matter of a just a few hours, people lose everything that they own. People with tattoos don’t have to worry about losing the art on their bodies. As tattoos have become more mainstream, our idea of art has evolved. Art is no longer exclusive. Art belongs to all of us.

Cathy Rankin

I have had the pleasure of working with Cathy on a few shoots. This shot was taken during a shoot where we were trying to get as many different looks in one session. In just a few hours and using only natural light, we were able to get many different looks. Being resourceful is an important skill as a photographer. I chose to shoot at my parent’s house because their backyard has interesting walls and lots of greenery, which is rare in Phoenix. Overall, the shoot was a success and we both had a lot of fun.

Superhero

A couple of weekends ago, I had the honor of photographing for the band Superhero at the W Hotel in Scottsdale. Superhero often performs at major corporate and charity events, playing some of the best music from 80’s through today. The band was absolutely great, but the lighting was a definite concern for me. There was very little lighting on the singers, and a large projector screen silhouetted the musicians because there wasn’t enough light in front to balance the screen’s brightness. Because I’ve photographed so many metal bands who play on dark stages, I knew how to handle the situation. Besides adjusting aperture, ISO, and, shutter speed, the other thing that I do in this situation is wait for appropriate moments to capture a good shot. For example, I knew it was too dark to get any kind of jumping or quick movement. Instead, I waited for those moments where the musicians held a pose or weren’t moving too much. A lot of concert photography is making the most out of the situation. The lighting isn’t always going to be ideal. The venue may be so crowded that it’s hard to capture a shot of the band without fans blocking your view. […]