Category Archives: photographers

Back in the saddle…

| currently listening to: Divine Invasion, Trans Am, Liberation, 2004 | LINK

the photography:

It’s been exactly 3 years, 3 months, and 1 day since I left my position as Staff Photographer and Staff Photo Editor at Cars.com. A lot has happened in that amount of time. I will try to list them briefly here in no particular order:

– Archibald (Archie) Brian Fitzsimmons Merritt was born
– I’ve helped launch 4 new vehicles for Subaru of America while traveling to Iceland & England
– My photography helped launch a ton of Sharpie Products since 2012
– Hefty and Reynolds Consumer Products have used my lifestyle photography extensively
– I shot multiple photographs that were included in Doug Sohn’s Hot Doug’s The Book
– I’ve discovered less hair on my head and more gray hairs within the amount that is left

I guess it could be worse.

I started this blog as an outlet years ago to broadcast the work I was creating that did not have a place to live. It was a landing for any photo projects, fine art, and non-Cars.com photography that I started and wanted to show off. I named it “I am a working artist…” because I wanted to relate to people that being an artist in the real world meant that many times your creativity needed to take a back seat to your production and technical expertise.

Unless, of course, that you are being bankrolled. That would be awesome.

I strive to reopen this part of my career. This blog will once again stand as a creative outlet, a portal, a creative abyss, a photo dump…

Make art. Make Art. Make. ART.

the music:

TRANS AM.
I have followed this band’s career since the late 90’s when two musician friend’s introduced them to me during my last few years of college. The bass, guitar, synth, drums, midi-triggers attack of this three piece intrigued me to no end. I have always want to make as much noise as possible with other musicians in the same way that these three friends do it. Sebastian is also one of the best drummers I have ever seen. Period.

unique portraits

| currently listening to: Radar Gun, The Bottle Rockets, Brooklyn Side, 1995 | LINK

the photography:
taking photographs is a process. i don’t think anyone would argue with me on that point. and it’s process that is constantly evolving. i can boil it down each portrait session i have worked on to the simple dialogue between subject and photographer. as the photographer, i engage the subject on many levels and rely on my personality, my body language, and my conversation to create the right environment for the subject to feel any number of emotions that i want them to evoke. the more photos i take, the more i refine these conversations so that i can (essentially) get the subject to feel the emotion i want them to feel for the final picture. nine times out of ten i want my subjects to feel relaxed and calm but every now and then i aim for sexy and seductive, angry and sad, mad and unhappy. it all depends on why i’m taking the photo in the first place.

lots of times, great photos are the karmic explosion known as ‘dumb luck’. but hey, as a photographer, you had to be in the right place, at the right time, with your camera to your eye, AND with your finger on the shutter. it’s never really cut and dry but you can give yourself the best advantage by knowing how/where/and when those moments are going to be captured.

the more photographs i take, the more i learn about myself and my personality. looking back throuhg my nearly ten years of getting paid to take photographs, the more people i meet and shoot, the more i catch a glimpse of how i act and react to strangers and friends alike. each portrait sitting is a lesson in manipulation and control, in creating a sense of comfort or a sense of uneasiness depending on what reaction you are looking for from your subject. if you know what outcome you want to achieve, then you should always be ready to set the subject in motion to get there. sometimes, it’s a strange ride.

each shoot is a learning experience. i’m not the photographer who blows through 15 head shots in a day so my favorite question to ask myself after a shoot is, ‘what would you have done differently?’. to be completely honest? i answer that question a dozen different ways every time. ‘i could have asked the subject to move slightly this way’ or ‘i could have chosen a different lighting technique’ or ‘i could have dropped my point of view about three inches to hide that gigantic forehead’. bottom line: photography is a business where i will never be completely satisfied with every shoot. i AM a perfectionist in my head but i MUST BE a realist in my output. the client wants it one way, their budget allows for it to be a different way, and it’s raining out, so make it work (thanks Tim Gunn…). as long as everyone is happy with the final outcome, i have done my job and i can lay to rest the over-amped OCD voice in my head. or i can at least drown it in beer.

the music:
when i was 17 years old i couldn’t decide if i wanted to be in Uncle Tupelo or The Bottle Rockets. it was a toss up between the band that would define the great mid-90’s movement known as ‘Y’all-ternative’ (Uncle Tupelo) and just another band from the St. Louis bar scene that kicked total ass (The Bottle Rockets). amazingly, i never got into either as Uncle Tupelo famously imploded and, well, The Bottle Rockets are still an amazing bar band from St. Louis. but my goodness does this song rip. 15+ years into their career, the Rockets still get up there and extend their brand of midwest grit to our ears. love it. bob yer head. raise a shot of jack. enjoy.

taking over at lunch, flickr style

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Ball and a Biscuit, The White Stripes, Elephant 2003, | LINK

the photography:
another day, another Flickr meet-up. sigh. i will never get tired of meeting and chatting with this interesting group filled with interesting people, who are all interested in the same sorta stuff i am. there is nothing better for the soul than meeting like minded people and eating crepes. hallelujah!

this is my second time having lunch with this crew and it’s really been fun getting to know people and their work. sometimes when i get some free time while i’m sitting at the computer, i’ll peruse various pages of their photography and catch up with what the peeps have been up and who’s talking to who and who’s photographing who. it’s a great visual representation of what these photographers are doing and what they are finding artistically interesting.

i could look at photos all day long. the act of photo browsing is pretty wonderful and if i didn’t spend so much time editing my own photos, i would spend all day flipping through photos. here are 5 (.5) reasons why i find looking through photographs (specifically) on Flickr so cathartic and ediucational:

1. i really enjoy seeing what other people are doing with their cameras and their free time. these particular searches sometimes end in fits of jealousy but at the very least, looking through photos of someplace i want to be invigorates me and gets me out the door with my camera strapped to my shoulder and a granola bar in my pocket.

2. i get to see where my fellow contemporary photographers (professional and amateur alike) in the city of chicago are finding the gritty gritty. i like the gritty gritty and so do a lot of the people i follow on Flickr. urban decay is gorgeous. say that five times fast… gritty gritty… it just sounds dirty. now picture tom waits saying it… awesome.

3. i love to see how different photographers take portraits. from the kid on the street shooting strangers with his new DSLR to the woman who photographs herself and her husband on the train with a point a shoot, portraits come in all shapes and sizes, and colors. i love checking out what people will do while having their picture taken. i also love where people decide to take portraits. i take notes on the stuff i like about other people’s portraits and i try to remember to reproduce certain bits and pieces when i create my own work.

4. it’ always fun to see how people set out to do photography projects. i personally have spent almost a year working on my own 50 portraits project. best stuff on Flickr? self-portrait projects. especially the 365 self-portraits (1 a day for a year). there is nothing better than looking through hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of photos of the same person to see how the photographer (and the subject) changes it up (to beat the monotony) or keeps the shot the same especially when said person is on their 8th year of taking one photo of themselves every day (that doesn’t actually happen but you get the idea). so much interesting work being done here… lots of great ideas and plenty of bad ideas too. it’s a virtual how-to and how-not-to in one set.

5. and finally, i just love reading people’s comments and thoughts about photographs. sure, it’s easy to leave the essential “Great shot!” or “Sweet!” or “First!” but i love it when people start to converse in photographic terms with meaning and insight. it’s great feedback not only for the photographer at hand but it’s also great for readers to converse in the conversation as well. fun (and sometimes humiliating but mostly fun!).

Special Reason (or reason #5.5). every now and then you get to see something truly exceptional, emotionally driving, and knock your socks off fantastic. then you copy down everything you like about the photograph and you try to grow out of your photographer’s shell and make your next female model drop the top of her dress just a little lower, you ask your next male model to make that dark sinister face a little more believable and disgusting, and you push your boundaries of comfort as a photographer to make yourself and your art, that much more productive. sigh…

if you look closely, you’ll notice the photos are with the new Canon 5D MKII body and my same old 28mm. a rather splendid combo if you ask me…

the music:
this record has been listed on almost everyone’s “end of the century” essential-to-own record list which, to be completely honest, has become a boring way to wave your i’m-just-as-meaningful-to-america-as-lester-bangs-male-phallus about to see who has the biggest one (the winner of that contest = no one, you all lose). this particular white stripes record deserves all the credit it receives, don’t get me wrong as i tend to rant when prodded with a stick, i’m just upset that making a definitive list is the only way to prance about and posture your “manhood” in the music press. that’s right, i’m looking at you pitchforkmedia… lame.

the white stripes have always been known to take traditional blues and push the boundaries. ball and a biscuit is their ode to the old timers and the forefathers. it’s also jack whites homage to the screaming distortion pedal and tube amplification. in the beginning, this song just fingerpicks midlevel hum hum and reverb that builds to a squeeling, pedal stomping, guitar olympics that could just as easily define white’s guitar playing style if only we could imbed MP3 files into the dictionary. the fact that meg actually keeps time (i mean really truly actually keeps a standard 4/4 beat) throughout the entire song is not lost on me. the lyrics are old world, the guitar sounds are all jack white, and the drums are meg’s best slowed-pace-bohnam bass drum and snare. i love this song. love it.

flynn avenue, burlington, vermont

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Green Doors, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, s/t, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
so this thanksgiving 2009 was much like any of my previous thanksgivings, it was mobbed with nephews, 4 generations of merritts, good food, great company, talk of babies, two different sit down dinners, and 1 happy dog waiting for us at home at the end of all the hub-bub. as i look back on thanksgiving ought-9, i see it as the end of a chapter in my life as it was the last thanksgiving for both my wife and i as a couple. the 2010 thanksgiving will mark our first as a trio. as baby merritt’s due date gets closer there will be lots of chapters closing and new ones starting. it feels absolutely wonderful. lots of “firsts” on the horizon, lots of ’em.

but more about this years thanksgiving in a later post!

PHOTO WALKING WITH A FRIEND: after traveling through 4 states already in 2 days, we finally arrived home at my parents house for 72 hours of some much needed r and r. i decided to take the opportunity to sneak out on a photo jaunt with an old friend who just happens to be a great street photographer whether he is in his hometown of burlington or roaming and clicking the streets of his former hood, san francisco. trevor is known on the interwebs as @roamandclick on the twitter and his personal photo website Roam and Click is quite fantastic. trevor also is a flickr-ite and can be found here under the moniker, [ bones ] : Flickr

i reconnected with trevor via facebook after 10 or so years of not seeing each other. he was heading into chicago and wondered if i would be up for a drink. since it was st. patrick’s day, i figured, what the hell. this was four years ago and we have kept in touch ever since. we’ve had our ups and downs as individuals but the connection trevor and i share is focused (pun intended) primarily on our love of two things: photography and urban decay. AND we both grew up in the same small town with the same group of 100 kids and we’ve both since travelled the world and seen the sights. last saturday we decided to tackle photos and urban decay. it was a blast. for the record, trevor is a Nikon guy. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

the photos are from just off of flynn avenue, in burlington, vermont. locals should know this area as the first magic hat brewery was located just around the corner. as usual, the lens is the trusted 28mm f1.8 and we hit the train tracks at the perfect golden hour of dusk. it was breezy and cool but not yet winter. you could smell the wood stoves in the air but you didn’t need a scarf. perfect weather for some photo walking with old friends. salt sheds, railroads, trucks, and dirty old buildings were provided by the city of burlington and it’s inhabitants. sigh.

the music:
lowell is a guy i grew up with who is making the scene in new england as what northern country twang means. he’s a heart-on-sleeve songwriter who delivers his brand of northcountry alt rock with a voice of gold and a cracking back up band containing some of burlington’s finest musicians. it’s a recipe made in “Wilco” fan heaven. go and check them out if you can and if they come to the midwest, you’ll see me in the front row.

THREE SIDE NOTES: i once worked for lowell’s dad as a house painter, lowell and i played high school lacrosse together, and his punk band in high school once opened for my ska band in (redundantly) high school. fact.

flickr meet up at coco’s

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Hanging On A Curtain, Morphine, Like Swimming, 1997, | LINK

the photography:
i met a bunch of fantastic people yesterday at a flickr meet-up at coco’s southern style soul food. it’s quite a place and with the right people, it can quite easily be overrun. amazing.

it also helps when you are all holding cameras and gabbing about where you are, where you were photographing on your new posts, what your screen name is, and how meeting people IRW (interwebs slang for “In the Real World”) makes complete sense most of the time and that interwebbers (twitter folk, flickr heads, and facebook friends) tend to be a pretty cool bunch. this chicago flickr crew is no exception. with the newest in new social technologies and media outlets being created and implemented all over the net, like minded people are finding it easier and easier to congregate in a southern fried kitchen on the 400 S block of Clark with a bunch of sort-of strangers to talk about camera gear, photos we liked, why fried lobster might be overrated, and to explain what we all do to make money to spend on camera gear.

the social media outlets have also given us (as artists) a great place to connect and network. instead of sitting through industry nights at the local Ritz Camera where you would sit through an amateur lecture on how to light and photograph your great aunt Bertha’s WWII bed pan so it can be sold on eBay, you get to sit down and enjoy a lunch of fried goodies and chat with people like they are human beings, not just consumers. it’s pretty sweet. thanks to the select few who put the group together and to all of those who showed and to those i didn’t get to talk with, we will find time to do so at the next crossroads.

it’s nice to meet such a talented group of people without egos. cheers.

here are a list of links, from their flickr handles, to the gathering via different points of view. a good time was had by all:
Thee ErinPhuleJoem500Chicago ManSFMoeChapendraMerlinsMan

the music:
morphine defined underground music to me when i was in high school. how could such a great band with such an interesting musical lineup (trio of two string slide bass, baritone sax, drums) who made such incredibly accessible music never make the big time? they did everything right. they even scored a hip and well received underground piece of cinema (their record, Cure For Pain was used as the back drop to the disturbingly weird coming-of-age-inside-a-disintegrating-marriage-incestual-broken-leg-mowing-the-lawn-flick, Spanking the Monkey). as far as the business was concerned, wasn’t there just only one direction to go from there? well, the ideal path is to sign a record deal, become major rock stars, make hit records, make it with groupies, etc. this scenario only plays out if your lead singer and central song writer does NOT die onstage in Italy after signing said recording contract and before the groupies and money. Mark Sandman will be missed dearly in the musical world. the Boston music scene will never quite be the same. go out and buy their records. your money will be well spent.

annual holiday sale

| currently listening to: The Bradley, Further Seems Forever, The Moon is Down, 2002, | LINK

the photography:
i belong to a collaborative arts gallery located in the ravenswood art corridor on the NW side of Chicago. last year we created an annual holiday art sale to help offset some of the bills associated with running a store front art gallery. this year, as a group, we’re gonna make us some magnets to sell. my 8 designs are located up above. for the most part, they are chicago themed. i wanted to mix humor with chicago with holiday greetings. i may have missed the point on a few but hey, i think they’re gonna be pretty sweet. 4″ x 4″ fridge magnets couldn’t be cooler. expect buttons to be made as well. sweet. as we get closer to the date, i’ll make sure that everyone knows when and where (we might be moving spaces… gasp!).

one of the major partners in my collective is a photographer by the name of Emily Grimes. through the years she’s mastered many things photography including (but most certainly not limited to) Holga film photography, mid-west farm photography, “growing up southern belle” photojournalism (which can NOT be faked), and now, hip hop/rapper/gangsta photography. oh yeah, you read that one right. Emily is a dear friend and a fantastic artist. her new blog is up at Emily Grimes Photography. please go and check it out her various sites, you’ll be really happy you did! gosh darnit, she’s got a book coming out for criminy’s sake? Emily Grimes = the real deal. god bless her for inspiring me by showing me that it’s possible to stretch out of your photographic comfort zone to make some really great art.

on that note, tomorrow is a big day for me. i’m aiming to shoot some glamour styled photos for the 50 Portraits Project. Niki has gladly volunteered her modeling services and we are gonna paint the town red. dresses, bars, buses and a laundromat shoot that i’ve wanted to do since i graduated college. it’s gonna be epic. stay tuned…

the music:
oh my, what’s my problem? emo? even worse, floridian christian emo fronted by none other than Mr. Dashboard Confessional himself, Chris Carraba? oh yeah… umm… this record, it’s a vice. in their defense, this 3:02 minute song might be one of the 10 best pop songs written in the last decade. it’s true. screw what pitchfork says. this song slays.

i’m gonna go and brush my teeth, this song is too sweet.

photo crew or posse or something

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: We’ve Got a File On You, Blur, Think Tank, 2003, | LINK

the photography:
so i’ve got this posse. and in this posse are two dudes who know how to use their cameras. and let’s just say it’s not really my posse. it’s probably more joe’s posse. moe and i are more privates than lieutenants. i digress. there’s three of us and for the first time, we went on some sort of photo/manny’s deli/chinatown/south loop walk about with our cameras. it was rad. here are their flickr sites. check em out. MOE and JOE

the only reason i think it’s joe’s posse is because he’s tougher than moe and i. it’s true. he was air force, moe was navy, and i, well, i played long stick defense on a mediocre public high school lacrosse team which is to say, i’ve really never been to boot camp. so for lack of a better hierarchy, the posse is joe’s. we went out with one thing in mind, to photograph the bejesus out of the south loop. we ended up talking as much as we took photos so i guess we kinda succeeded and kinda failed. either way, it was awesome.

photos here are with the 28mm again (i just can’t quit you!) and most of them were taken down in an abandoned, filled-in basement of a building that had been destroyed. it was probably the coolest urban destruction site i’ve ever found. if i ever wanted to film a post apocalyptic thriller about the decline of rice production and it’s affects on the shanty towns that relied on the it set in downtown chicago, i would film it there.

SIDE NOTE: have you been to manny’s deli before? you should really go if you haven’t and you live in chicago (or if you would like to go when you are visiting chicago, please call me. i am always ready for manny’s). it’s pure corned beef fantastic with a side of love and latkes. mmmmmmmmmmm. visit their website HERE.

the music:
blur’s last studio album (and first without graham coxon) is spotty at best. there is one song from a jeans commercial, one from a car commercial, and then there is this beautifully spun, one minute and two second punk ditty on the atrocities of government and it’s over arching power-hungry secret service/big brother policies and polices. it’s awesomeness bottled into jangled fuzzed out guitars that get to the point right away. crank it. sit back. be blown away.

photogs and twitter part 2

| currently listening to: Girls On Film, Duran Duran, s/t, 1981 | LINK

the photography/internets part two:
twitter to me is a meeting of the minds where ideas can flow and friends can chat and people can show off what they’ve been working on. sure it’s an addictive way to spring your life onto old friends who haven’t seen you since high school graduation (sorry kids, i know i’m scary like that…). but it’s also a place to learn from seasoned veteran photographers and aspiring amateurs alike. for photographers at any level, the learning curve is never complete. practice does indeed make perfect but perfect keeps moving ever further out of reach with each photo you take. twitter, along with some tutorial style blogs and Flickr, allow for an open conversation about everything from the technical aspects of photography (lighting, cameras, lens’, editing, etc.) to the overarching creative techniques (styles, manipulations, cropping, etc.).

these days being a photographer doesn’t mean that you have to lock down all of the information you have accumulated through the years and store it away so that your favorite and most loyal assistant can abuse it and drag your name through the mud after you’ve retired. these days you can broadcast knowledge in 140 character snippets. sure, the market is being saturated by amateurs posing as professionals and vice-versa but the competition/posturing should inspire you to pass on what you know so that people can actually learn the trade instead of just speak it. i personally think it’s a great idea. i love spending hours looking at photos, the good and the bad. my best piece of advice for photographers is this: if you’re interested about getting better and learning more? go down to your local photography center and sign up to take a class. it’ll be worth your while. and lest we forget…

every great photographer takes a bunch of shitty photos every shoot.

so what is my favorite lens? well, let me tell you. i have 2.

lens 1:
for most of the week i work as a staff photographer for cars.com. most of my job revolves around documenting every car that comes into the office for review. i spend a lot of time in and around auto shows, new car launches, manufacturer tours, and proving ground tests so i see my fair share of metal shiny objects under crippling lighting conditions. to get through the day? i rely on the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM zoom lens. when i am looking to document the outside of a car, i shoot between 50mm and 70mm so as not to distort the proportions of the exterior (the photojournalist in me says “don’t distort proportions when documenting”. it’s fine in an artistic realm). for the interior, i make sure to use the lens across it’s range with wide dash shoots captured at 24mm and the fit and finish close-ups of the glove compartment at 70mm. it’s a fast lens that’s durable in various lighting situations and contains just enough range to keep my foot zoom to a dull roar.

lens 2:
when it comes to shooting portraits (a personal fave of mine and how i spend much of my time shooting photographs when not around cars) i like to grab my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. fast, light, and with just the right balance of “i’m not trying to scare you with this camera in your face but i am trying to get you to make the perfect reactionary stare”, this lens is what i carry around with me even when i don’t have a camera on me. that way, if i’m trapped at work i can plop it on my camera body there. and if i want to walk the dog and some kid walks by with melting ice cream down his front? i won’t miss the shot because my camera body at home is always ready to be used. and let’s be honest. i tweeted this the other day:

@IDMPhoto: going out w/camera w/50mm prime. 50 f1.4 is the OG lens.
Twitter | Website

the first image is a collection of 81 photos i took of the all new 2009 Cadillac CTS-V. one heck of a car. 6.2L 556hp engine. basically a 4-door Corvette. not for the light at heart. 12mpg to boot. all photos taken with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM.

the second image is from a recent shoot with Markely. notice the man off frame left and the people just to his left shooting photos. there’s nothing more fun than watching people point their cameras at something (in this case, the bean in downtown chicago) and clicking away. ah… poetic. captured with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.

the music:
what better way to write about the current state of photography than to listen to the former current state of pop music. my love for duran duran’s music is almost skin deep. sugary pop from england was shoved down my throat by an early babysitter who looked and acted every bit the part. she had spent a couple of years living with her father in london and when she moved back to the states (southern minnesota to be exact) she brought with her simon le bon’s hair style, nick rhodes’ grimmace, and enough swagger to fill any one of the taylor’s shoes. so it is with great head bobbing and no guy-liner that i listen to this record. sigh. to be in 2nd grade again and have a choice to listen to the dead milkmen or duran duran. as my brother always said back then (and probably today as well), “Twisted Sister sucks!” indeed.

photogs and twitter part 1

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: F4.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip, Fully Completely, 1992 | LINK

the photography/internets part one:
photos are from the californian coastline on an awesome day.

the last couple of weeks I have been delving into the interwebbing version of a 7th grade dance, better known as, Twitter. all jokes aside, twitter is a great resource for photographers of all ages, abilities, and professional prowess’. the folks i have met recently are from all over the world and from all over the united states. we have been unified under one shutter flag as twitter has tied us all together in a jumbled mass of photographers trying out ideas, learning from each other, and just plain chewing the fat. for years as an artist i have been trying to find a group of like minded people who i could share an evening with and talk about what works, what doesn’t, where to shop, what gear you like, which lights are suited for which jobs, and above all, asking the inevitable question, “do you like my photography?”. this may sound like the perfect meeting of minds but i always felt like this group was meeting on Tuesday nights in the local VFW hall, sipping on Schlitz and talking about how the death of Polaroid is much more substantial and hard to deal with than the death of negative and positive film.

so after years of searching (albeit sometimes very slowly) boston, raleigh, and chicago, finding mostly jaded artists and galleristas hell bent on kicking your art to the curb, i have found a great place where I can present myself guilt free. long gone are the days of “hey, i know so and so, i use such and such, and oh my goodness, you don’t own one of these?”. just sit down and join the conversation. it feels great.

amongst the photographers i sought out to chat with, i asked a simple question:
what is your favorite lens and why? (actually 2 questions but phrased as one)

i asked this question because I love to hear what gear people love and why they love it. different photographers utilize different gear for different reasons and i absolutely love talking about it. twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with so it is interesting to see how people responded. here’s what I received.

@JamesHowePhoto: Favorite lens, Olympus Digital Zuiko 7-14mm (2x crop factor). Really like the ultra wide angle.
Twitter | Website

@hdconnelly: I use a 17-55 and a 50-200 – I hear I should get a prime lens but just haven’t done so yet. I’d love to see the article!
Twitter | Website

@photojack: without hesitation. canon 50mm 1.2. best glass in arsenal. tack sharp. a low-light lifesaver. killer for selective focus.
Twitter | Website

@PickupTrucks: Canon IS L 24-105: simply a great walkaround lens
Twitter | Website

@nofx: my “all time fav” lens would be Canon 24-105 f/4L. The most versatile and practical lens of all canon line up.
Tweet #2:
@nofx: Canon 50mm f/1.2L sharpest portrait lens. This lens adds life and emotions to the pictures.

Twitter | Website

@photosip: Canon 50mm f/1.4. It’s fast, good workable focal length, light, and I love using primes for their sharpness.
Twitter | Website

@whoisariston: Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR – Awesome range, amazing versatility, excellent optics…all around fantastic lens.
Twitter | Website

@JeffCamPhoto: nikon 50mm f/1.8 is my fave among lenses I own now. Small, light, sharp, fast. One day the 50mm f/1.4 will be my fave.
Twitter | Website

@NicholeAudrey: I love the wide-angle for the distortion but I can’t say I have a favorite. I guess it depends on what I’m trying to achieve.
Twitter | Website

@BellaValentina: Thx! So far the 105! SUPER sharp & fast! Love it for weddings for the macro/detail work as well!
Twitter | Website

@thewindypixel: Hmm tough ? – 4 ppl the 85mm f/1.4, 4 interiors 14mm f/3.5. Dream lens 45mm f/2.8 PC-E. If I had to choose 1 forever?! AI-S 28mm.
Twitter | Website

@zosokun: my fav lens so far has to be 35mm 1.8G AF-S DX NIkkor. So compact. fast, and the fov is nice. and the bokeh is lovely.
Twitter | Website

@annemariecarson: Toss up? Crop sensor=Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 and full frame=Nikkor 85mm f/1.4. I <3 superwide aperture for low light and narrow DOF.
Twitter | Website

@KringLerner: Karen here: My fav lens was my fix focus 24mm which I named Dolores. Now I use a 24-105mm which I like too.
Tweet #2:
@KringLerner: Joel and I were in a mixed marriage. He shot Canon; I shot Nikon. I still have my Nikons, but when I’m digital, I use our Canons.
Twitter | Website

@theshutterclick: My 24-70mm L f2.8 is my fav. spends the most time on my camera!
Twitter | Website

@jeffcrossphoto: Fav lens?! I would probably have to say my 17-40mm f/4L or 24-105mm f/4L (both Canon). Can’t wait to see the results from your ‘?’
Tweet #2:
@jeffcrossphoto: The Why?! The lenses are super sharp and very WIDE with minimal distortion…
Twitter | Website

@fleurdeleigh: AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8 VR. Makes ordinary more artistic.
Twitter | Website

@bradleyspitzer: I really enjoy shooting with the Canon 35mm 1.4L lens. It allows a comfortable amount of interaction with my subject. And the images rock!
Twitter | Website

@radnauseum: the default one that came on my d40?
Twitter | Website

the music:
the tragically hip have been in and out of my constant listening rotation throughout my 16 year love affair with the canadian band. i first heard “new orleans is sinking” one day in the car with my dad. we were riding to something hockey related (game, practice, etc) and we were in the 1988 volkswagen rabbit that my parents had bought off of a uvm student who needed the money. since this was a college student’s car, the stereo had been upgraded to a blaupunkt tape deck and receiver. it was kicking. hearing the hip on such a small powerful setting (small being the operative word as a VW rabbit is about the size of a VW bug back in the day) made me want to buy their music. and to this day, i still do. i have missed a few albums as of late (don’t worry, a band that’s been making music for 20 years is bound to miss a few shots) but i keep going back to the good stuff. this song? it’s the good stuff.