Sam's bar mitzvah celebration is this year so we took some photos for him and his family to have. It started off as a headshot session but then I realized how good Sam was in front of the camera so I couldn't help but let him do his thing.
Here's the story of how I got to take portraits of Ben Sollee:
I emailed him and asked him.
He said "sure".
I met him at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC. We shot a few portraits.
We walked down to Coco Cinnamon Coffee Shop and he bought me an espresso. I said "thanks". We shot some more portraits.
I did a long portrait of Ben. (click here to see that)
Ben and Jordon did their sound check inside of Motorco.
Afterwards, Ben and I walked up the street and did one of his "City Single" videos for their next show in Charlottesville, VA.
He gave my wife a t-shirt. She said "thanks".
My friend Austin Trotman dropped by Durham the day after he wrestled in the U.S. Olympic Trials in wrestling. We got to enjoy a cup of Durham's finest coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon and make some portraits.
I'm currently producing a documentary on Austin. Support the film here.
This was such a special shoot. Holly and Kevin are the parents of Max who I taught for 4 years at an art school in Durham. Holly contacted me about doing the very first couples shoot of her and her husband Kevin. After a ton of re-scheduling, we finally did it!
Blake plays for numerous bands but his favorite is Spirits of the Red City. You can see Blake playing here with them on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert entry that the band submitted.
I got to spend some time with Blake before and after shooting musician portraits of him at Full Steam Brewery in Durham, NC.
5 things I learned from spending time with Blake:
1. He was the valedictorian of his college.
2. He works with pre-k students
3. He is funny, passionate and extremely intelligent.
4. He started his music career by playing on the street
5. He won't stop smiling.
My goal for Blake was to portray him by seamlessly meshing my urban portrait photography style with his free, deep and fun-loving spirit.
This shoot took about 3 minutes and I did it in the front room of Full Steam Brewery in Durham, NC.
Here is some urban portrait photography during the recent snow in my darling town of Durham, NC.
Last month I was encouraged by some local talent. Candice Torian.
Candice is launching a startup that helps folks that are new to the Triangle transition to our area smoothly. It's called the "The Newbee Network".
I couple of weeks ago I posted a photograph of my daughter. She was naked and holding her favorite stuffed bunny. I had an older gentleman tell me that I was treating her badly and that I should not have posted the photo. I responded by saying "feel free to not follow me then". He un-followed me. I took down the photo only because I was worried that my "algorithm" would be affected if he clicked the "I don't like this" button on Facebook.
I should've kept it up. I was scared.
I was reminded of this incident as I read a column by William Tolbert: Excluding veteran teachers from significant pay raises a brilliant move by NC lawmakers.
I taught with Will at Durham School of the Arts last year.
He is an artist. A writer. A smart person.
This piece has made some teachers in North Carolina very angry. I'm not one of them.
Why don't most artists make art that challenges someone's current thoughts?
Why don't most artists make art that causes some sort of shift?
Are we scared of making people angry, or worse yet, losing credibility, or worse yet, losing money?
As artists, if we don't take risks like Tolbert, then we are setting ourselves up for an early plateau of mild, un-impactful art. I predict that our lives would be in a similar state if we did this but I won't venture anywhere near that idea to find out.
LESSON LEARNED FROM TOLBERT: make art that moves, not that comforts.
here are 12 of my favorite portraits from this week. just in cased you missed them.
Travis Family Portraits.
Visiting Johnson City, TN.
From Jacksonville, FL.
As an unostentatious, low-born portrait photographer it's fairly difficult to get people to your actual website due to low SEO rankings, lack of popularity and the simple fact that I'm pretty new at all this.
One of my goals is to have my "audience size" and "page visits" increase from month-to-month.
I've met this goal for the past 5 months.
Sometimes though, I post portraits on social networks that never get to my website therefore those of you who follow my blog faithfully don't get to enjoy them.
So in an attempt to address these important issues I'm going to try and create a post like this once a week.
Let me know you're out there. Leave a comment please!
If you missed my last blog post on how much I freaking hate the holidays along with some art. Click here.
Ok I don't HATE the holidays. I just made that the title so you would click on my blog post.
The holidays are a hustle for me though. From November through December it seems like I am bombarded with people who want portraits.
For their mom. Their boyfriend. Their cat.
I love getting paid to make portraits. It's what I do and I enjoy it so much.
But sometimes I just want to have the freedom make something that doesn't involve boundaries or clients .
Since I made it through the holidays I've commenced some new projects that I am doing for the sheer enjoyment of it.
One project is known as the "cinemagraph".
It's basically a very complex and well-thought out animated GIF. Some of these were shot with video while others were done using a "stop-motion" photography technique.
After I shoot them I deconstruct the frames in photoshop and then add some voodoo.
On Christmas morning my wife and I got up and ascended her parents farm in the mountains of western North Carolina. As we left I reached for my camera and she said "please don't take any photos of me. I don't have any make-up on". I said "ok".
As we walked up the mountain the light got better. I convinced her to let me shoot some portraits of her. I told her that I wouldn't post any of them.
We reached the peak of the hill and the sun showed itself. I asked her to stop just as we passed a tree that created a delightful shadow through the woods.
That's when I got this portrait.
I have posted this portrait pretty much everywhere and have put it in my portfolio. I had permission.
LESSON LEARNED: Be tenacious and pushy.
This was the most amazing and best urban portrait photography session of all time for me.
Beth Ann is actually my cousin and an incredible artist. She is an aspiring conductor, educator and an all around creative person.
Her style, tenacity and noiseless expressions captivated me during this portrait session.
She is actually the first person that I've shot that can pull off an "eyes-closed" portrait.
Check here out below.
I had the chance to shoot with the Kings while I was home in the mountains of NC and TN a couple of weeks ago. This holiday shoot ended up with a nice urban feel with some solid portraits.
This was a first for me to be able to shoot models. I think I'll do more.
Here are some of the photographs that were taken from this shoot.