Photographing teams, especially game studios, is a great honor. These are nascent juggernauts who build worlds based on dreams. I love world-builders and dreamers, whom I feel a special bond with because I used to be one of them.
Back in the 90's I co-founded two game studios, Drew Pictures and Jinx, and I remember well the feeling of dreaming big and pushing the envelope. There's a special esprit du corps within a small team that is just palpable. And it's infectious. Just being among a team like Ascendant (pictured above) made me feel like I was part of something exciting and important.
Capturing the unique personality of a team through photographs is something I do well. I try and mesh with them, become one of them, while I am with them, and I think I can understand their vibe. I'm not just a good photographer, I'm a good assimilator. I blend in and foster a feeling of e pluribus unum. That's really what a good team is all about. You have many different skills and personalities all se...
Each person is unique, but each person is connected to every other and has more similarities than differences. Without over-stating it (actually without stating it at all) that is what I try and communicate. Without realizing it, I want you to see yourself in every face.
It’s strange how what we notice first about someone are the differences. In an instant we perceive how we are not alike. Those differences are, in that fleeting moment, purely physical. Skin color. Body type. Ethnicity. Age. That is what our eyes are trained to do, that’s what they evolved to do. It seems to me that we could solve many problems if we saw less with our eyes and more with our hearts,
It’s easier to do that when we’re honest in how we come across in something as facile as a photograph. We live now in a world where photographs are ubiquitous. They’re often what we first see of each other now. So they’re important. They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression but I don’t think that’s true...
In photographs we sometimes glimpse that little spark of life in us. There’s something beyond perception, beyond what we can see with our eyes, that manifests. Our more subtle senses pick this up. In some photographs. How does this happen?
I think (and this is just a guess) that when two people agree to see each other something comes through from a realm of spirit. And that something transcends time, generations, form. We live in a time when if we can’t see it with our own eyes we don’t believe it’s true but what of all the truth that can’t be seen?
Not everything can be labeled, cataloged or numbered. Data is fine for stock markets and purchasing trends but can data capture the human soul? They say this is the era of ‘big data’ and perhaps that’s why we seem to be losing that sense of humanity, the sanity of human interaction, that helped us to know each other as individuals.
Maybe I’m probing too deeply for a photography blog. These essays are supposed to be about what sets my photograp...
Presence. That’s what I’m going for. I want you to feel as if you’re standing in front of the person in the photograph. I want them to feel real. I want you to feel as if you could just reach out and touch them. People worry about how they look in a photo but it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel.
That feeling is the difference between a stiff, sterile portrait and one that conveys a true sense of you. Not the whole you obviously, but a whiff of you, a flavor. There’s a certain essence that comes through. That essence is, I guess, spirit, or maybe even soul. I don’t know. I certainly don’t want to over-analyze it, or even think too much about it. But you either feel it or you don’t.
I have found that natural light and natural backgrounds work best. They compliment your natural qualities. I have also discovered that serendipity - chance juxtapositions of texture, color, and light - plays an important role. You just don’t get this in a studio or with a plain, uniform background element.
When I look at a face in a photograph I want to feel the person, get a real sense of their spirit. For this to happen they have to behave toward me as if I was an old and trusted friend.
This person here I’ve known for thirty-eight years so it was easy. There is no barrier between us. He knows how I see the world, and thus trusts me, not just with the camera, but with all the little decisions that have to be made after the photo is taken. People don’t realize this.
I take an edit pass over the photos. I choose the photos that I will show you. I process those photos in such a way as to enhance light, line, texture, skin tone etc.. That’s really the work. That’s the hard part. Taking the photo is only half the job. The other half is editing. It takes longer to edit a photo than it does to take it. When choosing a photographer consider their editing skills.
I look at thousands and thousands of faces. Selecting the ones that convey the right ‘feeling’ is the most important part of what I do a...
I shot all these DBI portraits with a 50mm 1.2. For most of you that means nothing. But do you notice how there’s almost a 3D quality to the photo? Think of the image as a loaf of bread. Only one slice is in focus - the face. The larger your aperture (the shutter, the opening that light enters) the thinner the slice of bread that’s in focus.
In this case his eyes are that slice, which we call the focal plane. The back of the chair, his neck and parts of his collar are all nicely blurred. That blur, which is sometimes called bokeh, is what gives the photo a 3D quality. In the case of a portrait, the face pops out.
Since a person’s eyes are the focal point of your attention in life, as well as in a photograph, this ‘technique’ helps to draw the viewer into the person’s face. When you combine that with good light, interesting texture, and negative space, you are likely to get portraits that are, well, interesting.
I love this effect. It gives me a visceral feeling of presence. For me at leas...
Every day I look through photos I have taken and write about one. This forces me to think about photography. This helps me to remember why I do what I do.
Writing is disciplined thinking. It’s thinking that’s thought through.
Photography is disciplined perception. It’s seeing well-managed.
When I look at a person during the course of a normal day I see but fleeting glimpses of them. I don’t stare and I don’t analyze. I see them, but I don’t really see them.
When I do a portrait, or what some people might call a headshot, I see much deeper. But I don’t just see, I feel. The camera provides an excuse for spending enough time with someone to achieve some level of intimacy. I get to say “Look at me.”, and the person looks.
Even when I’m doing dozens of portraits under time constraints (like the one of Sam above at Twitter) I strive for a moment like this when something human, something timeless, emerges. This is not a person you can sum up in a Tweet. Few of us are. Our resumes and our profiles...
People are sometimes concerned about the background. But it doesn’t really matter. Unless it detracts from your face. You see, we’re really looking at your eyes. That’s the most important part of the photo. So I could do your portrait before a white wall (like the one above). What counts is your presence. Are you present in the moment?
Location can add to the photo. It can help tell a story. It can provide texture, and color and create interesting pockets of negative space that produces an overall effect that is almost painterly. And for some portraits that’s what you want. For others it’s not necessary. It really comes down to what you wish to convey.
Your face is enough. That gleam in your eye. So much is communicated in a simple glance. A strong, memorable portrait is the result of two people setting an intention to create a strong, memorable portrait. It’s just you looking at me. I am the doppleganger for the world. The photographer stands in for the consumer of the image, so he or s...
You’re the beacon. You’re the source. Each person is filled with a thousand suns. I chose the name The Lighthouse to describe people. Almost every other photographer uses their own name. Bob Smith Photography. Sara Jones Photography. And that’s fine. But I realized early on that the photography I do is not wholly my own. It belongs to you.
The photograph itself, the end result, the portrait, is a byproduct of a conversation. I think my portraits stand out because of this intention. My goal is not to capture, but to reflect. And I can only reflect what’s happening in that moment. If we’re engaged, the photograph will be engaging.
I use only natural light, and available backgrounds, not because I’m lazy but because this approach yields compelling results. If you are the lighthouse, I just need to put myself in the position of receiving that light.
I’m not a painter, and I have no training as an artist, but it’s my goal to create a painterly portrait, a portrait that is riveting and timeless...
When you're a hot, fast-growing tech company time flies at the speed of light. Your culture changes, people come and go, and before you know it, it's all just a blur of memories.
Each start-up, as it grows and evolves, develops its own brand of special magic. It's a combination of people, ideas and products that creates a living personality. It only happens once. And every one is unique.
GREE is one of the hottest mobile gaming companies in the world. Their San Francisco office is famously hip and fun to work in. When GREE approached The Light House to ask us to help them capture their culture we took one look at their spacious, fabulously appointed and well-lit office and said 'We're in.'
Last month we shot the GREE annual Halloween party, capturing employees and their families dressed up for what turned out to be an impressive costume contest. Above is the winner for most creative costume.
It's moments like these that we love. because we get to be part of the family...