essay

Otherness and the Fetishization of Subject

A dark reality exists within photography that few photographers are willing to discuss and many refuse to even recognize. In the name of purity, we tend to see photography as a medium that couldn’t -- shouldn’t be able to -- do harm.

A Sad Tale of Photographing in Yellowstone

I just got back from a trip to Yellowstone National Park to test out the Nikon D500, Nikon D5, and Pentax K-1 DSLRs and I wanted to share my experience, specifically my frustrations with visiting and photographing this amazing location, which has been my top spot for many years for photographing both wildlife and landscapes.

Photo Essay: The Longest Train in India

If all journeys are teachers, it may well be that a journey to India is the greatest teacher of all. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God," and it was in search of a new dance that I purchased a one-way ticket on the longest train in India.

Being Near The End: On Photographing a Death

Maya’s calm and thoughtful features hover kindly over her father’s hollowed face. David’s prominent cheekbones are exaggerated by the Chiaroscuro effect of a bare-bulbed lamp. Strings of dark hair frame Maya’s profile in the windowless bedroom. Propped up on an elbow, she is beautiful, yet the role reversal is obscene.

Old Shooters Never Die, They Just Ride Off Into Cyberspace

Nestled at the base of a red rock cliff just north of the Utah/Arizona border, Goulding’s Trading Post offers a commanding panorama of Monument Valley -- it’s every photographer’s dream vista. It also invites travelers, through prominent signage, to visit “John Wayne’s Cabin”. Now, to a sucker for kitschy Americana like me (who also just happened to be moseying through on a recent 1700 mile southwestern photography trip), that sign was magnetic.

The Bloomingdale Trail

It’s a stark divide. In front of me, a man snores softly among a pile of beer bottles, yet somehow manages to sit upright on the edge of a slab of broken cement, not far from the edge of the crumbling bridge I’m standing on. Just beyond the bridge and barely 30 feet below lies a line of townhouses; each easily sold for over half a million. They stand sentinel-like, crowding each other, overlooking an old, unused elevated railroad embankment. Between the snoring man and I lie old rails, overgrown grass, and gravel. To the east, Chicago’s downtown skyline towers over the flat Midwest expanse. Welcome to The Bloomingdale Trail.

Cheese Whiz and Cat Butts: Art is About Communicating

(I won’t lie to you, I have no sources I can cite for the positions I intend to take in this post. These are simply my opinions from having lived on this planet. And, of course, you know what they say about opinions…)

I think we can all agree that photography is an art form. (At least I hope we can, because that’s one of the central premises with which I’m working.) But what, then, is art? Why do we aspire to make it in the first place?

The Decisive Moment is Dead. Long Live the Constant Moment

We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.
-- Henri Cartier-Bresson

We exist on a treadmill of forgetting and anticipating. We labor to preserve what we treasure of our past, even while the present shotguns us with a thousand new options, one of which must become our future. One of which we must choose.

In this maelstrom of time it is hard to be calm; to understand what warrants attention, and what can be ignored. This state of tranquility and presence has been the essence of the modern photographic act, best characterized in the popular mind by Cartier-Bresson's concept of the "Decisive Moment."

Photo Essay: The Final Week of Capitol Hill 60 Minute Photo in Seattle

Capitol Hill 60 Minute Photo closed its doors at the end of last year. Given the transformation photography has gone through over the past decade, it hardly came as a surprise. At its core, the success, survival, and eventual demise of 60 Minute Photo is just another familiar story of a business fighting against the moving current of technology. It’s closure, however, reveals something important, something personal. It represents a shift in how we create and preserve our memories and a deepening of the divide between customer and proprietor.

Self Worth by the Numbers

I used to care. In fact, I used to care a lot. It’s actually sort of embarrassing, in retrospect, how much it mattered to me.