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".
here are 12 of my favorite portraits from this week. just in cased you missed them.
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.
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.
I met Jonathan Oliveau while I was literally running to my car trying to get back to Durham, NC in time for my wife to take our car (side note: last year we traded our 2nd car in for a bike). Anyways, he was the first person I met as I pulled into his farm-style home in Julian, North Carolina.
I was there for a fashion shoot with some models and his wife happened to be one of the make-up artists for them.
As I talked to him I could tell he was creative, ambitious and a dreamer. He wore this wondrous hat that I couldn't help but covet portraits with.
After I finished the fashion shoot, I ran into his home and asked him to grab his hat and leather jacket if he was willing. He was.
Lesson Learned: trust your gut and don't be afraid to ask people for what you want. Sometimes people need courage.
This past week I took a break from other folks and turned the camera on myself with another self portrait photo shoot.
I shot these at 930am-1030am and positioned my screen to create the interesting angle of the sunlight coming through the window. Honestly I didn't plan this. It just happened.
Shot with 50mm lens at 1.2 . Edited with VSCO FILM 06. Mostly Porta.
Please leave a comment below on which one is your favorite!
Last year on around Veteran's Day I revealed some of my photos from my tour in Iraq during the 2005-2006 Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since then I have made myself a bit more vulnerable to the world by revealing that I have borderline personality disorder and addressing some of my deepest issues.
When I was "over there" I had a really toxic relationship with one of my superiors. This partly caused by my inability to empathize and partly by the rigid culture of the U.S. military.
I recall "exchanging words" on numerous occasions with this guy calling him names that I won't write here.
On the last patrol that we went on he got hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) and is now a vegetable (I recently heard that his family and doctors "pulled the plug" though).
I cried a lot when this happened because I couldn't take back what I said and did to him.
I recently discovered that he was actually in a "traumatic brain injury" treatment facility here in Durham, NC where I live.
I considered visiting him but I was pretty scared.
LESSON LEARNED: Life's really short. Don't be mean to people.
Click here for My Issues With Veterans Day Part 2
I approached this gentleman in Durham, NC and asked him if I could take his portrait. He was leaning against a back alley way watching the pedestrians stroll by. He seemed disconnected. I also felt somewhat disconnected and out of place because I wasn't really interacting with the subjects that I was taking portraits of.
After I asked him if I could take his portrait, he began to tear up and proceeded to tell me that he moved to Durham after Hurricane Katrina. He told me he lost everything. I was initially confused as to why he was telling me this but I quickly understood that he was simply recognizing the connection that had happened by me approaching him and he was moved enough to tell me the story that he recollects the most.
LESSON LEARNED: Don't just take portraits. Get the story then take the portrait. In post-processing I was able to choose the portrait that seemed to communicate the man's story most effectively because we had a short conversation before I took the portrait.
We all have struggles. We all wish things were different sometimes.
The thing that makes us special is our passion to connect with others. The goal with all of my portraits is to somehow connect human beings.
Here's the problem though.
I use photography to disconnect myself from others sometimes. It's very easy to be the "the guy with the camera" and not have to talk to anyone. I often use photography to create a barrier between myself and social situations. As someone who continually struggles to keep my emotions "under control" this is difficult especially as a photographer.
This is my biggest struggle with photography.
The interesting thing is that since I have been shooting more portraits of people, my ability to connect to others has increased. I am able to talk to others with less anxiety. I can give an authentic smile to someone and I can leave a shoot with a sense of fullness having met my goal of not only connecting other humans, but also connecting myself.
LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes the thing we are scared of the most is actually the thing we need the most.
October is finally here. Enjoy these portraits from a beautiful day in Durham, NC!
I was walking around a trailer park shooting photographs in Boone, NC a few years ago when I saw three young girls and starting taking photos of them.
They approached me and asked me if they could take some photos with my camera. I was obliged so I quickly handed my camera over to the older of the three girls. She began shooting the other two girls.
Then one of the other two girls took the camera and began to shoot the older girl.
and then this image happened.
LESSON LEARNED: Don't underestimate other people's abilities based on age, social status and race.
Recently I was featured on Broken Light Collective's gallery. They are an organization that enhances "the lives of people living with or affected by mental illness through the use of therapeutic photography".
I have been waiting for an opportunity to share this part of my life and I feel this will do.
I have Bipolar II. Bipolar II is a more mild form of the commonly heard of mental illness, Bipolar I, that results in depression and mania.
This has actually been one of the catalyst to my quite successful creative life according to "The link Between Bipolar Disorders and Creativity: Evidence From Personality and Temperament Studies." (2010) by S. Ketter Srivastava. A study from Karolinska Institute in Sweden also shows that families with a history of bipolar...were more likely to produce creative people.
Yay for me. Right?
Well yeah kind of, but I will tell you this:
I do struggle everyday to keep it together. My family, health, job, creative projects and the like continually fill my mind with energy and daunting taxation.
Photography, and being creative in general, has been my prime source of therapy.
As you enjoy my photos understand that they are not just photos but they are an extension of me, my thoughts and a lot of times they're not happy.
Recently, one of my favorite photographers, Jeremy Cowart, was asked to do an interview with only one question asked: "What is the single most effective marketing tactic you use to grow your photography business?"
His response: "I wear my heart on my sleeve"
enjoy my heart guys.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge contacted me a while back and explained that they're coming out with a new album (Snapshots) in February of 2015 and that they would like me to shoot the photos of the album cover.
The next weekend they came down to my darling town. Durham, NC.
You can download the album "Snapshots" here on iTunes. Snap shots has an incredible array of songs and lyrics. I highly recommend you get this album when it's released. Expected Release: Feb 17, 2015
You can also check out Darin and Brooke Aldridge's tour schedule here.
Hair and make-up artist: Kathryn Trivett-Maya
I had to shoot my beautiful girls today in the backyard before we headed out to enjoy the first weekend of Fall!