A New Adventure

St. Paul's Cathedral

Where history meets modernity, St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Millennial Bridge

I like to think of life as a series of adventures, some are longer or more interesting than others, but adventures they all are none the less. I guess in some ways I’m an adventure junky or something.

4 years ago I moved back to the U.S. after living in Russia for a few years. After getting married and a Masters degree, my wife and I find ourselves on the biggest adventure we’ve ever been on. When we moved back to the states, we new it was not a long term move. We knew we’d be moving back and it was just a matter of time. We now find ourselves living and working in London, England as international photojournalist. Pretty exciting stuff.

I now find myself wanting to get back into the habit of writing out my thoughts and sharing them. This is quite a challenge as so often I feel like my mind is moving from one thing to the next rather quickly, but it is a challenge I am accepting and working to fulfill. So here’s to another adventure together!!!


Unexpected adventures

Why is it that whenever things are really falling in line something always goes awry? Yesterday was a day for that big hiccup. Every trip seems to have one and they aren’t always that big of a deal. This one was threatening to put a big dent in my work flow for production.

I spent the morning yesterday walking all around Prague, Cz. getting some b-roll for a video I’m working on for this project. I came home and started to edit, with the plans of going back out in the afternoon to capture some stills. When I started to dump the files, I was shooting on a JVC xdcam and having the ease to just dump the files (this eliminates the “capture” time because you are just transfering the .mov files to your scratch disc=much faster work flow) is great, except that the software I was using didn’t want to recognize the footage.

This led to an afternoon sitting in front of my computer rather than out shooting. I called a friend on a media team here in Prague and he came over and we both spent the afternoon working on this glitch. After a few hours we had worked out a patch and it was time to head out and get stills while there was still daylight. Instead of capturing stills though, we sat in Wenceslas Square as I processed everything to Natalie and tried to come up with a way to make all of this work. A quick side note, my wife is a great listener and she is also a great sounding board for ideas.

After dinner with some friends, we got back late and I put a few things together to test everything and make sure we were on track for starting (the rest of the team gets here today and the project gets started). Everything worked and I was able to get to bed about 1am. Hiccups happen, but God provides through them.

Looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the team today and getting started with everything.


Ostrava view The weather is beautiful here in Ostrava, Cz. I’m sitting in the sunshine and enjoying a nice peaceful afternoon. We got to the Czech Republic a few days earlier than the rest of the team coming in for the JetSet trip, and we have been able to meet up with some old friends in Prague as well as visiting a friend in Ostrava along the Czech-Poland boarder.

I have been working through Adobe Premiere CS5 and learning as much of its tricks and features as I can before starting our project on Tuesday. It’s going to be an exciting and eventful next two weeks and I can’t wait. There will be a lot of filming as well as capturing stills; editing all of this together and getting it on the web as needed. I look forward to sharing as much as possible with you all over the course of this project.

Missing in Action – but not really

babyRight now I am in the middle of planning for an international photojournalism trip. My wife and I leave next week for Prague, Czech Republic. We will be there shooting a project for a few days as well as visiting friends, then we will travel down to Budapest, Hungry for a few days to finish the project. We will finish our time back in Prague before heading home. It’s going to be two and a half weeks of non stop fun.

I am in an interesting place right now in my life as I am working on a M.A. in Intercultural Studies, trying to maintain photography and not having much time for anything else. At the same time, I have gotten to do some great shoots over the past few months that have been challenging and rewarding in so many ways.

The last time that I posted here I was talking about photographing children, it still isn’t something I have much experience in, but over the past few months I have had the opportunity to learn more about this. Recently I shot some Easter pictures for a family of a two month old. It was challenging and fun all the same.

My photojournalistic mind and background creates a challenge for me, I struggle with posing. I am more comfortable with the position of capturing what is happening and documenting a story through it. I find it more difficult to have to situate my subject and pose them. Now make that subject an active two month old and the world of possibilities comes alive. I love a challenge.

So I mentioned going back overseas. We are super excited about getting back to Europe. We will be working with The Upstream Collective, an organization geared to connect U.S. churhces with Europeans. We will be covering the media aspect of the trip compiling both stills and video. The trip will consist of several conferences we will be recording as well as doing a live webinar. We are super pumped about this trip and I invite you to join us in prayer as well as following along with us. More info on how you can follow along with come in a few days.

For more info on the trip check out Jet Set Vision Trips and The Upstream Collective

The Process

Heritage Farm days farm festival
Life is full of processes, some we know about, others happen and we only see the products. In my life I have spent a lot of time learning about what is going on behind the scenes. I find the process for a particular event adds a uniqueness to its product and that many times we are moving through life so fast that we are missing out on the key factors that are making our lives what they are.

The reality is that most processes go unnoticed, we just breeze through life enjoying things without regard to how they were produced. Take for instance a car, how much work, creativity, design and production goes into a car that we will drive for thousands of miles? How often do we think about that?

Growing up I was always the analytical and inquisitive in the family (I get this from my dad), never satisfied with the simple answers when I knew there was something more. I would look at a bridge and study it to see how it was put together, or I would take apart a computer to learn about it’s configuration and components (I dissected a Commodore 64, luckily I got it put back together). I think this is what attracts me so much to photojournalism.

Photojournalism is all about the process. It’s about putting the pieces together to share with the viewer what you are seeing, to share about the how of something in order to relay what is happening.

I love Autumn, the colors of the trees are changing, the air is cooling, winter is coming and its American football season. Recently my wife and I drove over to Boone, NC for a fall festival and fair. It was such a great time. The mountain air was clean and crisp, the sun was shining and the people were warm and inviting. We had a great time.

While there we came across a woman who was making Apple Butter in a kettle. It was quite a long process from start to finish. I stood there watching for a minute, taking it all in, then started looking around and seeing what all went into making it. The process was extensive, washing and peeling the apples, cutting them, soaking them, then cooking them for several hours while constantly agitating them.

I am always looking out for what the process is behind something, for me that is where the true story is. In photography, especially in photojournalism, we must be looking beyond our subject to see what the process has been to create this moment, many times the process will be more of a story than the moment.

Is photojournalism really dead? I mean really?

After reading the August 1 post “For God’s sake somebody call it” on EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK), I decided I would chime in on the whole death of photojournalism.

OK, I will concede that print media has given way to digital media and this has greatly changed the way that things look. Print journals and magazines no longer have the draw that they used to, mostly because you can go online and read the same piece of media for free or a greatly discounted price, but why do we say that it is dead? Can we not just say that the face of journalism and photojournalism has changed? Why dead?

Death has such a negative connotation to it, it makes me think of cemeteries and funerals. If journalism is in some cemetery somewhere then I believe that we have missed something big. Media will never die, in fact the trend is going in the opposite direction, it is growing daily. No, it doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago, but neither does society.

No one would look around and says well we don’t look like we used to so society must be dead, rather it is noted that society has changed. The tastes of culture have changed, and therefore the delivery of journalism to that culture has morphed into what fits the needs of the recipients.

walking down street during May 9 parade Moscow, RUMy first thought when I hear the statement that photojournalism is dead is to question, are there no more pictures to be taken, or stories to be told? Have we covered everything? Are there so many people with cameras now that we no longer need some who can take quality pictures and use them to tell a story?

As long as people and societies exist, there will be photojournalists who capture and document their daily lives and activities, using their craft and vision to tell compelling stories through media outlets that connect with millions of viewers across the world.

I will concede on one other point and that is that the mass population of the world with cameras has created some challenges for photojournalism as a trade, but by no means has it destroyed it. Yes it creates competition, and yes sometimes someone will choose to go with a cheaper less qualified photographer therefore hurting the market, but I will give it no more power than to simply hurt.

The reality is that those of us who work hard at our craft and chase our vision, wrestling it to the ground, only to have it escape again, is that we must be ever adapting to the changes in media and journalism if we are to remain relevant.

The only way or reason that photojournalism is dead is that photographers and journalist have chosen to ignore the changes around them and dug in their heels to hold onto things as they have been. Allow it to change, change with it and see where it will take you.

Who knows, you might even like it there.

(photos in this post were shot on a medium format twin reflex Lubitel camera during the May 9 festivities in Moscow, Russia 2009)

Church photography – somewhere between portraits and photojournalism

guitar pedal boardRecently I was asked to do some photography for my local church who is putting together a new church directory. Church directories are kinda like High School yearbooks, most of the time they are a mix of candid/action shots and then you have pages of the portraits. Being a photojournalist I am much more excited about the candid and fun shots.

I have been spending the past few days capturing shots from the various activities that go on within the church, and I have learned that it has been quite enjoyable yet challenging at the same time. I went in thinking photojournalistically (that’s not a real word I know, but it sure sounds good) and was surprised to find that the people I was photographing, especially the kids, would many times stop everything they were doing just to get their picture taken. Although really fun, this destroys the “story” that you are putting together as a photojournalist.

I don’t have much experience in doing just plain portraits. I look at it and I see the art and the style behind it, but as I was just discussing with a mentor yesterday, it’s a whole different skill set and art than photojournalism. The technique is different, the story is different, the composition is different, so how do I get the photojournalistic shots when everyone wants their picture taken, don’t they know they are ruining my story?

So on the fly I’m having to adjust my story. I’m capturing now a great mix of action shots with some classic still life/portraiture shots. I am really excited for how the shots have come out and I have learned a lot through the process.

Sometimes it’s easy to get focused on the task at hand, or in this case the story we are trying to tell. I remember one time while I was still living in Russia, we were out on a photo shoot in Siberia and the story we thought that we were going to get was simply not coming together. We sat together one night in our hotel room and started to see how we needed to change the story to fit the material that we were getting. That was the case here, and it is the case in so many situations in life. The images we thought we would have just don’t come and we have to adjust on the fly to make it work.

Isn’t that a testament to a good photographer though, being flexible and well rounded so that the project still comes together?