Genevive and I met up with some new friends on a rainy Sunday in the Gunks, a classic trad area in the Hudson Valley of New York. They had come up with the plan to hang silks from Disco Death March, an off-width roof in the Trapps. I couldn’t help but bring my camera along, and I’m glad I did. @mntnbug showed us how it’s done!
We had to take advantage and play around on the silks as well. We got the safety knot that kept us from falling to our deaths.
I tell photographers who ask me for advice they need to be shooting personal work as often as possible. If there’s a company or industry you want to get work in, fill the holes in your portfolio with the style you want to shoot (not just what you think will get you hired. Companies want to see fresh takes). It’s been a second since I’ve taken my own advice. I spent the summer in Chattanooga, TN and I was struggling to be inspired to shoot: I missed the expansive landscapes of the western US. I wanted to be building my auto portfolio, but couldn’t see past the dark & depressing tunnel of deciduous trees.
I decided I had to make something happen and come up with a solution, and the answer I came up with was water sports. I need to be able to show people recreating in their adventure vehicles in places I am not as inspired by as the west. I put out a request on some social media groups and got connected to Priscilla Brown in Bryson City, NC who had a new Ford Ranger, using it to move her full size raft around to the many rivers around the area. I scouted a location on the upper Nantahala and everything came together.
I didn’t have an assistant for this shoot, so I had to have Priscilla’s boyfriend, Baker, drive my Passat wagon while I hung out the back with the hatch open. I wish I had BTS footage of the drive – I made a makeshift seatbelt out of climbing gear and kept my feet on my bike rack. Worked like a charm and was totally safe…
To get the final shot of the Ranger next to the river, I put my tripod on the roof of my car, Ansel Adams style, triggering the camera with the Canon app and firing a Flashpoint XPLOR 300 in a Glow octabox all around the truck.
I have a tendency to not take photographs of the place where I live. I recently broke through that in Chattanooga, flying my drone for a bit, then photographing the beautiful downtown area. I haven’t been shooting for myself enough recently, I’ve been busy with UXUI design. Time to get back on the making stuff train.
For the last several years I’ve been trying to move my work in the direction of automotive lifestyle, which blends my love of outdoor active lifestyle photography with commercial photography. I am already out in these amazing locations, shooting with talented athletes that live the lifestyle these car companies are selling with products like the Jeep Wrangler and Subaru Outback. I’d been setting up personal shoots whenever I had the opportunity with vehicles like the Toyota Four Runner and Ford F-150 Raptor.
In February, I received a call from a production company that last minute needed a stills photographer for a RAM Promaster shoot in Austin, TX, and said that my automotive lifestyle work had stood out to them, even though they couldn’t remember where they found my website. Regardless of where they found it, through Wonderful Machine or another photographer search tool, I was excited to not only work for this brand, but I currently lived in a RAM Promaster for the last two and half years! The client loved this tidbit and chatted at length with me about my experience.
It’s always an interesting, double-edged experience working as a stills photographer on a commercial video production set. On one hand, the production is massive and almost all of the difficult problems are taken care of, the talent and set design are perfect. On the other hand, I’m struggling with the video crew to get enough time to jump in and take my photos before they wrap the scene – and these big crews work FAST! The moment the DP says they’re finished the grips start tearing down lighting and moving everything before I get a chance to get my shots.
I also got to experience working from a Russian Arm Car (now called a U-Crane car [Ukraine] for where the factory was) for all of the driving sequences. Observing the U-Crane car driver, the Arm operator, the DP running the gimbal, and the subject car stunt driver all working seamlessly together using an unknown technical language was pure magic. The DP would say one word and all four separate parts of the machine would move in perfect unison.
It was amazing working with Trevor Hill and Daisy Cutter. Can’t wait to work with them again.
Last fall, I was headed to City of Rocks, ID for a tourism shoot and was asked to produce and shoot a campaign for Mountain Hardwear. I was blown away by the landscapes in City of Rocks, which turned out to be an amazing location for the varied needs of the shoot. Friends connected me with the perfect talent for the project from Salt Lake City and all the pieces fell into place. It was great working with Chey Smith and Steven Frederick, and as always, Genevive went above and beyond as my assistant, PA, driver, and fire-runner.
The weather forecast for the day of the shoot wasn’t great. On our scout day, we had full sunshine, making everything look perfect. We had to deal with every type of weather for the shoot, clouds, wind, rain, hail, and bright sun. It actually ended up making getting different looks for the large amount of Mountain Hardwear clothes possible! The rain shots became some of my favorite from the day.
At one point, we were tearing down the tent and a violent rain squall came rushing in, almost taking the tent, Chey, and a lot of our gear with it! Luckily, Chey avoided being carried into the sky holding onto the tent, and we took shelter in our cars waiting for the worst of the storm to pass.
I have to share Genevive’s commitment to getting us a raging fire for the shots. The firewood we had was a little wet and was hesitant to start. We did get it started while Genevive went to another campsite to ask for some flames, but she came running back yelling, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” I’m glad I turned around and captured this!
This fall I was asked to work on a project I was very excited to do: shoot a campaign for outdoor apparel brand Mountain Hardwear (click to see the photos on their site). The client selected Utah’s Uinta mountains for the location and used their ambassadors for the talent. This was a 4-day shoot, two days in the mountains and two in the studio. We shot in three different locations in the mountains over the two days, waking up at 3:30 to get the summit photos from Bald Mountain. The collaboration with Mountain Hardwear’s creative team was super fun, and I’m looking forward to more shoots with this great client!
We were shooting in an alpine environment, especially on the first day of the shoot, and anything can happen at high elevation. We had to wake up at 3:30am to get to the summit of Bald Mountain before sunrise. When we were a couple hundred feet short of the summit, a storm squall rolled in, spitting lightning and hail, and we decided to call that part of the shoot for everyone’s safety before a frame was captured. But the squall passed after 15 minutes and before we’d gotten too far back down the trail, leaving us with amazing, tumultuous light. We watched as other squalls passed within a few miles of us, but we were in the clear for the rest of the day. Stormy weather can be a blessing in disguise because you get much more interesting photos than on a bluebird day.
One of the benefits of living in a van is that when plans change you have everything you need with you. Last weekend, we were all set to go to a climbing area near Vail, CO, but when we were about halfway there our buddy had to bail. So we pulled off the side of the road and looked at our options. There was an area nearby that could entertain us for a day, then we decided to extend our trip for a few days and go check out Independence Pass. Genevive had never been, it’s one of my favorite areas in Colorado, and it was going to stay much cooler than lower elevations (It was in the upper 90’s in Denver, but it stayed in the 70’s in the Pass).
I call this Rock
Independence Pass is beautiful for a multitude of reasons, but on this trip, I was pulled towards the Grotto Day Use Area, aka the Ice Caves. I hadn’t checked out the cascades before, and I’m glad I did! It’s an incredible series of waterfalls. We got there right after sunset, so the light was fading quickly. I took advantage of the low light to do some long exposures of the moving water.
When I woke up the next morning the light was looking too good to not try to get more photos. I used a 6 stop ND filter to allow me to shoot with slow shutter speeds even in the bright morning light. I love both looks, but I think shooting slow shutter speeds in full daylight makes for really dramatic and interesting photos with the bright highlights that usually don’t exist with long exposure water shots.
On the way out after a few days of exploring several new-to-me climbing crags at Independence Pass, I saw this S-Curve with perfect light hitting it. I turned the van around and waited till a nice vehicle came around the corner.
I always love driving up through Independence Pass. It’s what I always dreamed Colorado would be growing up in Indiana.
I started a road trip before all of Covid-19 craziness began in this country, planning on ice climbing in Cody, WY; skiing in Jackson Hole; skiing Snowbird & Alta; skiing in Tahoe; then making my way to Los Angeles for portfolio reviews with NYCFotoworks-LA. I was hoping to setup some shoots along the way, focusing on automotive lifestyle, but by the time I got to Jackson Wyoming, things had started to get weird.
In a last ditch effort to try and make something happen, I saw a shiny white Ford F-150 Raptor at a trailhead and approached the owner. Ross was psyched to get photos of his truck, so we went searching for a snowy road.
I had him drive his truck, spinning the wheels in the snow, past me closer than he thought was comfortable, but I kept telling him to get closer. Finally we got the right amount of throw in the perfect framing.
I wanted to get a bit of a different angle, put on the 70-200 and had Ross do a few more laps. When he threw the backend into the embankment blasting through the snow, I knew we had the perfect shot.
Tools: Camera: Canon EOS R Lens: Sigma 35mm Art f1.8, Canon 16-35mm f4, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS v3
I’ve been a bit behind on editing my personal work in the last year. So….here’s a post that’s about 15 months late. Utah Landscapes. I took a road trip with my girlfriend last November and December, living out of her Honda Element (Hotelement). We spent a bit in Indian Creek, Red Rocks (Las Vegas), Lime Kiln, St George, then made our way back to Colorado through the deserts of Utah.