Projects from the heart…
Well I guess you all can tell by now that if I make it sound like I will be keeping up this blog bi-weekly, I really mean every few months. I have to be honest here, I am really just letting down myself. However, I will not spend much time writing this blog from negative-ville. All is well and I have some great stuff to share. It has been more then a few months since my last post, and because of encouragement from a few individuals who will remain nameless (Jason, David), I have been inspired to get this blog moving again. I have been in a constant state of cleaning up and organizing the last 6 months or so, so hopefully as that happens I will be able to easily post more frequently. I digress…
I am going to keep this some what short, and to the point due to the fact the coffee shop will be closing in 45 mins., and I know myself… once I get home I will not feel like writing more tonight. So come on Coffee!!! Kick me in to high gear on this wonderful Friday night!!!
The main subject of this blog post… Wonderful, amazing, inspiring people, that I have met in these last few months through jobs, walking the streets, and volunteering for amazing non-profit organizations. My first case in point Ashley Poland. I ended up meeting Ashley because her boyfriend (Andy) who owns his own web development company (notebookmedia.com) hired me on to do some photos for promotional stuff. Andy happened to ask me if I wouldn’t mind taking some extra photos of him, and his girlfriend who happened to be in town. He then filled me in on the fact that Ashley has cancer, and that she was going to be in town getting treatment that weekend. He told me that he would really love to have some nice photos of them together, as well as some just of her. Well, there was no way I would pass that up, so I told him I would most definitely do that. Meeting Ashley was truly a wonderful experience. I know it sounds super cliché, but she really made me think about life, the people I love, and most importantly the idea of constantly being positive. It is no secret that Ashley is going through a hard time, but you would never know it if you were talking to her. She seems so happy and so full of life. Hanging out with such amazing people like those two (don’t forget, Andy was most certainly awesome as well) really made me remember why some of the shit in my life is really not that important, and that being a positive person is a very important, if not the most important aspect of life. I truly believe this, and try to remember and put this into effect everyday. Ashley, I admire you and your strength very much. I wish nothing but the best for you in your life, as well as for you Andy. You are both super amazing people and I feel so fortunate to have met the both of you!! I would also like to thank my wonderful assistants, Lissa Brian and Codey Garaux for helping me out. In particular for standing out in the freezing cold with no gloves, and for the mad sprint back to my car. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!
Now we hit the streets!!! I don’t have a ton to say about this series of photos because it is very much the beginning, yet I still wanted to through a few up and talk about my invisible/ street portrait series. I am really working (slowly) on two separate, yet very similar projects right now. One being the continuation of my invisible series, which is photographing individuals that are homeless, in an environmental portrait fashion. The other being a simple street portrait series that I am doing for really no other reason then to get out there and talk to random interesting people. I am not going to go into huge depth on this one just because there is not much to say at the beginning of both of these projects. Rather, I am just going to show a few of the portraits.
The one thing I did want to mention is the idea of how I am approaching this. Not that this is new by any means, but I am doing these portraits with a portable strobe, with my buddy/lighting assistant Bob, carrying it on his back, and then attaching the light and soft box to a boom. Other photographers have done this before, but I do feel it’s not quite the norm. I feel most “street photographers” tend to only use natural light. Which don’t get me wrong, I think that is amazing, and you can never really beat natural light, however, I just so happen to prefer the studio lit look. I prefer the light quality and like having more control by doing it this way. Again, I simply use a portable strobe pack, that is carried in a backpack by my buddy, using only one head with a soft box, and typically a soft grid to light my subjects. Really a very simple but effective setup. Thanks Bob-O!!
The last little project I want to tell you about was my experience working with Flashes of Hope (flashesofhope.com). Working with them had very much the same type of effect on me as I had while photographing Ashley. Flashes of Hope is a national non-profit organization that has photographers around the country, volunteering their time to go to hospitals and photograph children/young adults who are battling decease. Some people are too sick where they can’t even leave the hospital to get a family/individual portrait, or in some cases are so busy with other things that they really just don’t have the time, and since they unfortunately have to be in the hospital so much we (FOH) bring the photo shoot to them. Like I mentioned earlier, photographing people who essentially have life threatening diseases and yet still stay so positive and so joyful, is truly a remarkable thing to see, and to be able to be in the presents of that. I felt so lucky to have met some amazing people in the process.
A super special thanks goes out to my friends, Stephanie Kinder and Jaime Giembusz for helping me out with the Flashes shoot. They are really why the shoot was such a success, and why the kids had a wonderful, enjoyable experience… which at the end of the day was our main objective. Thanks ladies for the amazing help!!!
If you would like to donate to Flashes of Hope, go to Flashesofhope.com where you can find a donate section on there website. I really believe in this organization and hope everyone gets a chance to check them out.
Although these 3 projects are not huge commercial, editorial, or advertising jobs, they have a lot of meaning to me, and I would hope to the people I am photographing, and to me that has a much larger impact on me and my work. The last few years I find myself getting more and more excited to talk to practically anyone and learn about who they are and what their life is like. Whether it’s a hard life or a life more typical, I find what people say to be very interesting. I have learned more about different directions I might want to take some of my work in the past few months, and then I think I have in a while. Because of these recent projects, and people I have met along the way I know I will put even more effort to work with some more non profits, locally as well as abroad… starting with a trip I will be taking to Uganda this May to work with the Poultry Project as well as TASO. Working with these organizations has been something I have wanted to do for a long time, and now after constant delays I will finally be traveling to Africa to work with some NGO’s (Non Government Organizations) that I feel are doing wonderful things and really making a difference in peoples lives. I am planning on doing my best to post a blog entry every other day while there (but we will see how that pans out), so please keep up to date with my trip there. I know this will not only be an amazing experience for me as a photographer and probably even more so as a life changing journey.
The last thing I have for this somewhat lengthy post is just to mention some wonderful friends of mine and links to their sites….
- Whitney Traylor, is a great friend of my who now lives in New Zealand, who will tell you that she doesn’t really consider herself a good photographer, yet one look at her work and you will know that is very much not the case!! She has such a creative spin on everything she photographs. Be sure to check out her wonderful images from New Zealand on her blog.
- Darren Hendrix, who is a dear buddy of mine from school. He currently lives in Seattle and is just KILLING IT with his fashion/life style photos!!! This kid one day said, “ I think I am going to start trying to shoot some fashion-ie stuff”… and about 3 months later he had an unreal portfolio. This guy is all around amazing!!!
- Laura Webb, is a Cleveland based photographer who is really making a name for herself here in Cleveland. I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to help her from time to time. She has her own unique creative style whether she is shooting music, fashion, commercial, editorial, etc… All around an amazing, inspiring person to be around!!
- Jessica Scranton, who I had the pleasure of working with when she came to do a shoot here in Cleveland. She is a Boston photographer, and is by far one of the coolest people I have ever met!!! She has done work all over the world, including NGO work over in Africa, which particularly interested me. It’s not very often that you meet someone for two days, and feel really inspired by them, but that was definitely the case with Jessica.
- Jeff Downie is hands down probably the best fashion photographer I know in Cleveland. He is also probably the hardest working photographer I have ever met. I hope one day to have half as much talent as this guy has. Not only does he have unbelievable images, but also he has such a way of making his subjects feel so relaxed, and so comfortable that he is able to get images that no one can.
Even though I have much more stuff I could share right now, I am going to stop here. I have much to plan, and much to do before I leave for Uganda on May 13th. I am going to try and get one more post up before I leave, but if I don’t…. I’ll post from across the pond.
Thanks everyone for your continued support in everything I do. It is always much appreciated!!