Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Tell your kids to get into photography as a hobby— it will insure that they will never have enough money to get into a drug habit...


"The process of photographing is a pleasure: eyes open, receptive, sensing, and at some point, connecting. It's thrilling to be outside your mind, your eyes ahead of your thoughts."  ~Henry Wessel

Sunday, September 22, 2019


It’s easy to get carried away— you’re bitten by the photography bug and before you know it you’re shooting every day. Problem is, you’re shooting the same subjects in the same places and making lots of virtually identical images. We’ve all seen it. The Flickr accounts full of flowers, sunsets, food, the girlfriend... if you find yourself stagnating as a photographer or if you feel a sense of dread when you leave the house holding a camera, leave the camera behind. Forget the fear of missing a photo. You won’t. And if you do, it’s not the end of the world. Spend some time with your family and friends (or alone, if you’re an introvert like me). Recharge, refocus, and you’ll be a better photographer with fresh eyes when you’re ready to shoot again.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


Retouching is not a lie, nor is it cheating– it's been an inherent part of photography since the beginning. Can it be taken too far? Of course. Is it deception if it's done well enough that the viewer can't tell? No. Not disclosing your methods is as old as art itself, and is common to every art form. I've seen arguments against retouching since I started working with film thirty years ago, and the arguments against it got more vitriolic with the advent of digital. I don't feel the need to write about or defend the practice anymore that I just have, as I think it's a moot point.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Lee Loo La

In the now nearly 200-year-old history of photography, there have been many different movements and genres, and while each successive one tended to try to invalidate previous ones, in the end, all of them are completely valid and still hold interest. They all figure into the history for good reason. Even the lowly selfie amateur snapshots (whether from a Kodak Brownie or an iPhone) have and/or will get their own scholarly books to anoint their place in history. The lesson to be learned? If anyone tries too self-righteously tell you that whatever genre you're doing is rubbish, you can tell them where to stick it...


I love photographic prints; I love viewing them; I love making them and I love sharing them. There are certain qualities to a great print that simply cannot be accomplished when the image is viewed on an electronic display (and sometimes vice versa, I should add— color images can greatly benefit from the glow of a screen). It’s well known that photographers have been printing less and less over the years. Part of it is because they don’t need to, and instead, simply distribute images online through communities. This is inherently built into the current crop of younger photographers coming up these days. They understand Polaroids, but they don’t understand labor-intensive prints. They don't understand the point. Of course, not all are of this mentality— but I have definitely noticed that many are. It used to be that prints were the ultimate end process for a photographer. It seems odd that, in an age when the technology to make superb prints in one’s own home or studio is within reach of almost any photographer, so many choose not to. It's so weird to me. Objective qualities aside, it should also be mentioned that the satisfaction of seeing your own print materialize in a development tray or rolling off a printer exactly as you intended it to look, is among the most satisfying experiences that a creative photographer may have. Here is a tangible thing made by you, encapsulating your vision, emotion, and skill; something to present to others with pride and with the knowledge that it is unique and touchable... to keep for the rest of your life, and even (perhaps most importantly) pass on to a future generation.


"I am very sad that some designers are still using real fur when the fake alternatives are so effective and so easily obtainable." ~Twiggy


I always get great images in bathtubs. The warm water is a natural relaxer— Calgon, take me away. When the water turns colder, the goosebumps turn on. The details that I look for, despite that I'm being a bit cruel...some more warm water and the cold is quickly forgotten. Wash, rinse, repeat.


"I'm a big fan of wearing old, vintage slips and stuff as outdoor wear. I got a pair of these little silk bloomers. I think they were even considered underwear in the '40s. I wore them as shorts the other day."  ~Zoe Kravitz

Saturday, August 31, 2019


I shot this the week of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, but I just finished working on it today. I've always been a huge fan of the hippie chick look, but honestly, I rarely find a model that has that perfect vibe & look going on. I guess that I just live in the wrong city— I definitely would find more models like this in Portland. C'est La Vie. Ajaye had really long dreads, but she had to cut them off because they were giving her back problems... then she had a short pixie cut for a while, but now she has long care-free hair. The hair and the peace tattoo, plus that she has the right expressions— she makes for a perfect hippie chick. I have to do more of these before she changes again...

The Kiss by Auguste René Rodin

I shot this at one of my favorite haunts— the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. The combo of one of my favorite sculptures and great lighting (museum lighting is often too bright & even) made for an easy shot.

Dessa & Jonny

This is actually a few years old, but I've never posted it. It reminds me of The Kiss by Rodin, which I shot recently and will post next...

Sonia & Dessa & Iris

I've shot the "hair in the face shot" so many times that I wouldn't want anybody to count. They usually look too "not quite right", if that makes any sense. That might be just me, for someone else might say that it's nice to see me loosening up... anyway, here's a few that I like.

Christina & Kellie & Donna & Jess

With the exception of suspensions, I regret spending as much time as I have in the past shooting with a white backdrop. With the suspensions, I feel that it gets rid of the unnecessary distractions, therefore keeping things elegant. With some of these, I actually tried black backdrops first, but too much information disappeared into them— the white gives everything a nice pop and a sense of depth that black was missing. Otherwise, in retrospect, the white backgrounds feel kind of soulless. They also feel fake, like a fashion shoot— which is what I originally got those types of backgrounds for. They still represent, for better or for worse, my past work.


A (very) small window into a cutters world. I've photographed quite a few that have engaged in self-harm. Although I tend to be rather interested in the personal psychology of those that I work with and often ask questions, cutting is something that really bothers me (I can't relate) and I don't typically go there. Just like that my subjects typically look introspective but not depressed— that's not a coincidence. My genuine interest here is aesthetics... I like marks that are thoughtfully carried out while having a rhythm & order. I've seen so many scars that are as chaotic as perhaps the thoughts that made them. I've tried shooting those, but I never pick them in an edit— probably (definitely) because they really bother me. Everybody has different limits as to what they can look at, and while images like this please me, I can understand that it might bother someone else.


The Delights of Familiarity. When you use the same few lenses, you get used to them focusing the same way, and the aperture ring moving in the same direction, not to mention knowing what kind of image you can create with them before you even attach them to your camera. It’s the same with the camera. Put another way, more familiarity leads to fewer obstacles, and there’s far greater fluidity in the whole experience— something I greatly value in making photography an immersive and rewarding pursuit. I’m definitely guilty of going through phases where I'm in camera tester mode, rather than true photographer mode... where I'm doing a shoot that is probably compromised because I'm testing a different camera out, only to find that I'm not really comfortable using a said camera. What I mean by that is that I use a particular camera because I'm at least slightly (if not completely) making it a fetish object, rather than using my tried-and-true equipment. My confirmed and proven equipment isn't hip & cool, but instead completely reliable for getting the job done. I find that using equipment that you’re so familiar with it almost becomes invisible is the best equipment to get the best images. Knowing how your camera and lens will perform in any scenario— where shooting becomes a meditative, almost zen-like experience of seeing and capturing each image. While I typically appreciate the experience of trying some really cool new or vintage camera out, I tend to ultimately treasure the comfort (and the results) of the tried-and-true.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


"There aren't any rules for good photographs. There are just good photographs."    ~Ansel Adams

Monday, August 19, 2019


A photographer can make an infinite number of prints from the same negative— but while this is true in theory, it is in reality, typically false. It is paradox that in a medium that is capable of producing quality prints in large numbers, the yield of prints per negative is often just one or even zero. Very often a print from a negative is the only one in existence, which would make it no less unique than a painting. Photographic prints, unlike etchings and lithographs, seldom have numbers. The photographic negative does not wear out, so the only reason for numbering would be to purposely create scarcity and market value. This may be desired by some dealers and collectors, but not so much by the creative artist...

Saturday, August 17, 2019


"Wherever there is light, one can photograph." ~Alfred Stieglitz


"It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera... they are made with the eye, heart, and head." ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Friday, August 16, 2019

Tali De'Mar

A Short History of Photography: First it was monochrome, then there was color. First, it was to document, and then it was a fine art as well— although in retrospect it was always a form of fine art, as the very first print is in an art museum. First, there was film, then there was digital as well. The End. Seriously— it can really be summed up this simply, without a hint of a smirk. Also, it feels to me as if its history is mostly wrapped up just as music and painting is. Well, at least there is most likely much more history in cinema and television to look forward to...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Miss Kacie

This is definitely more fashion and pin-up oriented than anything else here, but I really like this new version. A little bit of grit added to my usually more polished pin-up stuff.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Every once in awhile I create an image that sets a personal bar for myself as far as what I want to achieve. This image sets a bar for being messy and gritty— while still genuinely flattering the model, and even being quite sensual. I usually keep about a dozen of these images floating in my head, constantly thinking about what I need to do in order to rise above that bar that I set...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Now, this is what I was talking about— a level of abstraction that is just enough to confound viewers enough, but they can still sort of know what they are looking at. It's a macro shot of skin texture, about a square inch worth of an undisclosed body part. For me to know, and everybody else not too! To be honest, both the model and I probably forget exactly where on the body this is... and it doesn't really matter.

Monday, August 12, 2019


Staring to edge into abstract territory, but a little short of what I've been tending to aim for– I think that just about anyone can tell what is what. I prefer it when I can have people guessing...

Saturday, July 20, 2019


In the beginning, and for years after, I often thought about how I was going to impress viewers with my photography. Eventually, I decided that I only needed to impress myself because that is all that really matters in the end— and if I achieved that, then everything will fall into place.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


In a time where digital photography makes color ubiquitous, black & white photography seems like a curious anachronism. Yet black & white stays with us and remains relatively popular. Color film went mainstream in the 1930s with the introduction of Kodachrome & Technicolor, but black & white has stubbornly persisted not only in newspapers but also as an expressive outlet for many photographers who choose to shoot photojournalism, weddings, portraits and more by converting color digital files to black and white. But is black and white a gimmick? Given that humans see in color, is converting a photo to black and white an act of self-importance? A way to make an image appear to be more significant than it otherwise might be in color? To engage in a debate of whether black & white or color is better is probably a waste of time— both have their merits, and preference is ultimately subjective. Obviously, I wear my preference on my sleeve with my body of work here. I'm definitely not going to write a self-righteous manifesto on the superiority of monochrome, though. All I will say more on the matter is that it seems very appropriate for the work that I'm doing here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Timaree & SaraWithoutAnH

"It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera... they are made with the eye, heart, and head." ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, June 9, 2019


While I have always been mostly a perfectionist when it comes to many of the technical aspects of photography, I am typically not a pixel peeper (although, sometimes I am). A complimentary definition of a pixel peeper would be a digital photographer who magnifies images to critically evaluate image resolution at the pixel level. A pixel peeper could also very well be described in derogatory terms: a snobbish photographer who erroneously believes that the worth of a digital camera is determined solely by having the most megapixels, and/or the latest and greatest sensor. Pixel peeping has its place, but an image technically perfect down to the level of each individual pixel will still look terrible if it is poorly composed, or contains a boring and/or lifeless subject. It has its place, but it is the least important to me in the hierarchy of details. The majority of the work posted here is also represented by a portfolio of prints that are only 4 x 6 inches— at that size, it really wouldn't matter if I shot them on a half decent digital camera from 2004 vs a brand new 100 MP medium format camera. I feel that the smaller print size is a good size to intimately handle and view the work, and they are kept in a larger hand-crafted wooden box with a linen inset that makes them kind of jewel-like. The way that I arranged the lighting of these shots is something that, for instance, I value over the quality of the camera, since if the lighting was crappy you would easily note that even in a 4 x 6 print... everything is relative.


This image is not new— I shot it about a dozen years ago, although I just tuned it up a tiny bit. This image was important to me personally, as it was a definitive turning point where I knew what I wanted to achieve in my aesthetic going forward. It ticked off all of the boxes... showing real skin texture with razor-sharp focus, yet depicting movement in the softer bokeh areas; detail in the lighter areas, but mystery in the darker ones; gripping, twisting and body tension as opposed to static posing (later adding facial tension and mood to that); realistic sexuality as opposed to romanticized; realistic messy hair as opposed to perfectly coiffed (later adding bruised, scratched or scarred skin as well); compositions that look like they want to bust out of the frame. I thought that this was one of the strongest images that I had shot so far. This is one of a handful of past images that I tend to think of when I'm shooting, as a guide to what I'm currently trying to achieve.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tali De'Mar

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."  ~Margaret Mead