Saturday, July 30, 2011

the last farmers

In 1987 I began to document some of the small farms in my county  - a personal essay that I called the "SE Corner Project."  Included in that series was a photograph of my Aunt Mame, holding an old hand colored image of the homestead where she & my grandpa were raised.  Another was an image of Jim Bloom cutting tobacco on his father's farm.  Mame, Pat Bloom and the tobacco are gone, but last summer those photos inspired me to restart the project and now, a year later, three of the stories are about to reach a wider audience in the August issue of Cincinnati Magazine.  Marvin Cutter, Loren Huddleston and Earl Dawson were gracious enough to share their memories of farm life with me and, with you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Photographing people can be difficult.  Cartier-Bresson often took the easy route - shoot without being seen.  Bill Allard stayed with his subjects for months, sometimes years, to capture the full measure of their lives.  Because the end goal of advertising photography is different than editorial work (selling a product as opposed to telling a story) the use of 'models' is often necessary to communicate a client's message.  There are advantages to hired talent - they come with lots of clothes, time, makeup and ideas about how to play their part.  The downside - they always look like models.  I've found that putting 'real' people in natural situations yields better results.  It might take a little more work, but it usually pays off in the end. Thankfully, my friends at French Lick & West Baden feel the same way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Photographing at West Baden last night and early this morning reminded me of another photo shoot, one that I have stored away for days just like this.  My friend & fellow photographer David and I were working in Jamaica at a resort when we discovered something we had known about, but not really considered - humidity.  Cameras & lenses do not like to be taken from inside a/c to outside heat.  What happens?  They 'steam' up, and stay that way for some time.  In Jamaica, we would put the camera gear on our porch each morning at 4 am, knowing that when it was time to use it at 7 everything would be 'decompressed'.  The first image was taken at Dry Hollow last night, after my equipment had been out in the July air for 25 minutes.  The 2nd, shot this morning after 40.  The only thing missing is the beach.


In every photo shoot it's important to look for the little things - the details.  Going in, you never know what they might be or where you will find them.  Take these two images from the West Baden Springs Hotel - shot at the end of each session, before packing the gear and moving on to another location. Insignificant shots or 'signature' photos?  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a new view

There are some great vantage points in West Baden Springs.  Start with the inside of the famous dome, move along to the gardens & then take a short drive up the 'mountain' to the Pete Dye Golf Course - a view made famous by gangster Al Capone.  On the way up, a new spot has been carved out of the Indiana limestone revealing more of the Hoosier hill country.  Complete with shelter, Amish built Adirondack chairs, two lakes and a swing - what was once the exclusive home of native white tail deer will soon be shared by all.

the night shot

It's pretty simple - know what time the sun sets & where; have a tripod, a small level and start shooting after the sun is down. Quit before the sky turns black.  Choose f16 for star bursts and long exposures for tail/head light trails.  f16/13 seconds/10:00 pm/ July 18/the casino @ French Lick.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the shared moment

To me, photography is a solitary pursuit. I find decision making easier that way.  There are times, however, when sharing a viewpoint with someone else is rewarding.  Take the photo of the flats boat blasting up the river for an early morning rendezvous with tailing redfish.  My friend David & I, working on an advertising shoot, had scouted the location and set our tripods side by side.  We had about 15 minutes to get a good photo - one that looked just like this.  And the motorcyclist at Mid Ohio - Maggie & I took that shot.  Two cameras with different lenses, passed back and forth at the same corner - & one of us nailed it.  Sharing photographs is natural, but sharing the process can be special.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

street fair

In June of 1973 I returned from six weeks of living & studying in England to a country that was still entangled in Vietnam and was just starting to hear the word 'Watergate'.  The UK I left was one of reading Hamlet, seeing performances by the Royal Shakespearean Company, eating & drinking in pubs, traveling by train through Beatles & Van Morrison country, camping in Scotland - the home of my ancestors, and delays - caused by constant IRA bombing threats.  After unpacking my gear in Columbus, I worked my way south to meet up with a girlfriend from Hanover College and on my third day back in the US, I found myself standing in the middle of a street fair in Louisville, Kentucky surrounded by artisans selling wooden boxes, dulcimers, tie-dye clothing and the music of James Taylor.  I used to think that it truly was a different time, like the song says - a time of innocence.  So imagine my surprise when I got the same feeling again - like catching a long forgotten scent or sound, when I went to the Hyde Park Farmer's Market last Sunday with Elise.  It was all there - the sights, smells, music and energy of 1973. Looking back at the past can be deceptive, life softened through the lens of time. But, like whiskey aged in an oak cask, our memories can be revisited and savored over & over.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

dr. duffy's front yard

Sometimes in life & photography the choices we make are 'spot on' and other times, not.  Tonight I had the option of watching the Aurora 4th of July Fireworks from the Indiana side of the river or photographing them from the Kentucky shore.  Luckily I picked KY.  If not, I never would have met Dr. Duffy (not his real name), seen his home (in a beached boat), or accepted his invitation to join the largest party of the year.  Duffy leases the land that was once the Aurora Ferry Landing and is working to make the beach front into an entertainment facility.  His energy is infectious and I have no doubt that he will be successful, and that I will return again. The view from his front yard is spectacular.

Friday, July 1, 2011

unsafe at any speed

That's what Ralph Nader told us in 1965 about Chevrolet's Corvair Spyder.  His book & testimony before congress changed the way Detroit built cars - and spelled the death of Chevy's sporty little model.  And now, around a bend in State Road 56 sits the object of Nader's wrath - for sale.  The owner tells me he is too sick to keep collecting things, so the Covair is on the block, along with a Studebaker Avanti and a boat.  Who knows, this little coupe may outlive its drivers & its critics.