Wet Plate Journey

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Bronwyn Coffeen and John David Mercer pose for a wet plate collodion portrait on their wedding day in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, July 19, 2014. The 8×10 tintype image was produced using a vintage 1896 view camera with an 1880 brass petzval lens.

The technical journey photography has taken me on over the past twenty years has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve gone from shooting 35mm film on a Canon AE-1 for the Block Jr. High yearbook, to shooting on my first digital camera in high school that had a whopping 1/3 megapixel (yes, one-third of one megapixel) resolution, to clacking away at ten frames-per-second on the latest Canon 1-series digital bodies. While digital technology has allowed me to obtain images that would have been impossible to capture as cleanly on any other format, there’s something about the digital workflow that lacks soul. I can’t hold 1′s and 0′s in my hand. I can’t accidentally drop and scratch a .jpeg file. I can’t smell a histogram.

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Hungry Jack Frost

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Dick Reillo and Stella Jimenez during an outdoor winter portrait shoot, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Special effects were used to create the snow for the shoot, which was done on a clear night.

My good friends Dick Reillo and Stella Jimenez have been asking me to do a portrait of them in the snow for months. While there’s been no shortage of the real thing here in the Chicago area as of late, brutal cold and winds have accompanied almost all of our snow storms this season. With a successful portrait under the real thing looking doubtful, I assured the couple that I’d give them a snow picture one way or another.

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USA Today Basketball Stars

Girls varsity basketball team member Linnae Harper poses outside Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago. Harper, a 5 foot 7 inch senior who plays the point guard position, is set to attend the University of Kentucky in the fall.

When I received my requests to shoot portraits of members of the USA Today All-USA High School Basketball Team, I was given little more than each player’s contact information and a deadline date. With everything up to me (including scheduling the shoots themselves) and no specific look to follow, the creative wheels in my brain started turning on how I could make each portrait unique and polished without necessitating a grip truck in the process.

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Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, Sports on May 20th, 2013. No Comments.

Location Lemons

Gavit High School varsity girls basketball team member Hattie Andrews poses during practice at the school in Hammond, Indiana. The 6’3″ sophomore has been playing basketball since the third grade.

As a lighting designer, one of the best things about location film and photography work is the always-challenging task of transforming an everyday space into an attractive environment for the lens. More often than not, I enter new locations flying blind, having never visited the space before. I never know exactly what I’m getting into, which often causes a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Have I brought enough equipment to light the space, and more importantly, the subjects within? For video shoots, is there enough power? Will I be fighting bright light from windows during a daytime shoot? Can I capitalize on any existing fixtures within the building to create something special in an otherwise bland location?

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