© 2014 The Light House
     

    Be content with what you have;

    rejoice in the way things are.

    When you realize there is nothing lacking,

    the whole world belongs to you.

    Lao-tzu

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    January 24, 2019

    Men, if you’ve already made the decision to get your photo done (for social media, dating sites, LinkedIN etc.) there are a few things that will help you get the most out of the experience. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of portraits and here’s what I’ve found to be the best way to prepare for yours.

    1. Choose a photographer whose portfolio of work you admire, someone who inspires you, someone you think you can get along with. It’s like choosing a doctor, bedside manner counts. Communication between you and your photographer is not just verbal. You’re looking for chemistry.

    2. Choose a location that resonates with your personality, and preferably offers a variety of textures and lighting ‘zones’. In the example above we chose the Golden Gate Bridge, which gave us many options for spontaneous ‘scenes’. The environment will seep into you, and enhance your on-camera personality.

    3. In terms of wardrobe go for a classic, timeless look. Solid colors, clean lines, a well-fitted style. W...

    January 16, 2019

    There are so many facets of us that no one image can capture our nuance. And that’s what we’ve lost lately, that nuance. Everything is so facile, so black and white. But people aren’t like that. We are each a rich and complex fabric woven of experiences and dreams.

    When I first envisioned this concept that I call ODE, I imagined that each person was a mosaic, a stained-glass window. I would take many photographs and choose a representative few, combined with written content I gleaned from interviews with them and their family and friends. The end result would be a tapestry of images and words that created a fair portrait of who they are.

    That’s what I did with Marshall Guttenberg. Although I have done dozens of single-image ODEs since then, his 9-panel ODE is the closest I have come to what I envisioned. This is panel number 9, in which we pulled a quote from The Alchemist, one of his favorite books.

    I’d like to do more like this. The idea was to post them all over social media and the we...

    January 15, 2019

    A company is made of people. It is the people who define the brand. If you can feel the passion, feel the zeal, your connection to that brand will be authentic. You can’t believe in a logo. You believe in human beings. Sometimes that begins with a photograph.

    I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph brilliant people at companies large and small. From start-ups to industry leaders I’ve played a small role in capturing the magic behind the brands.

    My specialty is in corporate portraits. About Us pages. Speaker bios. It doesn’t matter the size of the company. All that matters is that the people love what they do. Because that passion can be captured. In fact, if it’s real, it can’t b contained.

    I specialize in portraits. Not so much headshots, but authentic, real, true photographs that capture the essence of a person. I'm especially good with people who don't like their picture taken. The process of a portrait involves a conversation. The result is a natural photograph. I don'...

    January 8, 2019

    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...

    January 7, 2019

    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.

    ...

    December 26, 2018

    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...

    December 21, 2018

    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...

    December 19, 2018

    A photograph is a portal through which we may enter the heart of another human being. It is a glimpse of something that cannot be fully conveyed in an instant. It’s not the whole picture. It is not something that can even be seen.

    Auras, and energy and chakras sound like hippie talk but they are just words for the ineffable quality of a mind attached to a living body. They speak of things seen and felt beyond seeing. I wish I had a word for that feeling, the feeling that you are in the presence of something alive and wise.

    That aliveness, that vibrancy, is all I hope to capture and it usually comes through, though not always as dramatically as in the portrait of Jonah above.

    Light is important. Backgrounds are important. But what really matters is the connection between me and you. Maybe that makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t know me. But if you allow me to take your picture you will. You won’t know the details of my life but you’ll know the kind of person that I am, you’ll know kin...

    December 11, 2018

    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...

    December 10, 2018

    Do I want to meet this person? Is their photograph asking me to sit down and talk? I’ve said before that a good portrait beckons interaction. If, after seeing your photo, I want to meet you then that is a success.

    An effective portrait is the beginning of a conversation. It’s an unspoken invitation. I can read it in your face and in your body language. I can see it in your eyes. I want to feel welcome to participate in your life. That’s the intention you need to set and the message you must convey.

    I say ‘need’ and ‘must’ but I only mean that in a way to suggest that you consider the results you want. To think about what you hope to communicate. An effective portrait starts there. Who is your audience? What do you want them to feel?  I am approachable. I am intelligent. I listen. I suggest that it’s as simple as that.

    December 6, 2018

    Your profile photos say something about you. There’s the obvious, the physical part, and the not-so-obvious subtle energies and vibrations that reach out beyond the screen and make the impression.

    This part is the real you, the you beyond form, and it derives from your heart. It’s the most important aspect of a photograph yet it’s unseen, and difficult to describe. Your beauty lies not in your hair, or your skin or in your bone structure. Your beauty is inside you.

    In order to capture that you have to set an intention. You have to decide to reveal it. The right light, the right composition, and a sensitive photographer enhances this reveal, but it’s in your control.

    Getting your photo taken is not like getting a massage. Something isn’t done to you. It’s more like a dance lesson. The photographer leads, but you have to take the steps. You have to want to dance. When there’s an unwillingness to dance, it shows.

    I suggest approaching your next photograph this way. Even if the photographer is...

    May 10, 2018

    It begins with an image. And the location we choose is almost always an intuitive guess. In my mind it has to have some thematic relevance but also offer an opportunity for interesting curves, texture, shadows, light. The photograph I ultimately select says something about the person, but it also acts as a palette that will contain a story.

    Taft here had just graduated high school and was going off to college back east. And we wanted this to be a tribute to her spirit and to her life. Just below the surface we see more. And only through one’s willingness to explore, to want to know, can we truly absorb a story. Here she stands, exuberant, above the city that helped make her who she is. She’s wearing the cool pants she made. And she’s ready to take on the world.

    This ODE is dense. There’s a lot to explore here. Some words are large and thus easy to read upon first glance, others are small, requiring further exploration. This is intentional. I have always imagined ODEs as interactive maps...

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