© 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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    June 7, 2019

    The eyes, they say, are the windows of the soul. The portals, the doorways, the access points through which we feel a human being. There’s something about the shape of them, the way they set off a face. We can tell in an instant the demeanor of the person we’re looking at. We can sort of see into their heart. How does this happen?

    It’s more than just mood. You can certainly gauge a person’s mood. But it goes deeper. You can also assess their intent, their goodness, they’re stability. People often say to me “I can’t do photos until I lose some weight.” But it’s not your belly I care about. It’s not your arms. All I want to see is your eyes and their size doesn’t fluctuate. You’re born with the eyes you will always have. That’s what I want to capture, that childlike look in your eyes.

    I understand that you want to feel good about yourself/your body. If you don’t it will show in your photo. But fat doesn’t matter. Confidence does. All you have to worry about is being your authentic self. Sh...

    March 28, 2019

    If there’s one thing I believe in as a photographer, one guiding principle I turn to again and again, it’s that seemingly chance occurrences and juxtapositions are every bit a part of the process as light and composition. You never know what you’re going to discover. And the more control you have over the elements of a photograph, the less this important part of the experience shows up.

    It’s scary to trust that you will find the light, find the right background and be handed such a perfect setting as say, this, above. But in my experience 95% of the time the universe, or God, or you could call it luck, arranges things so that it all works out.

    I believe in serendipity like I believe in gravity. It’s a mysterious force that always works. It works in regular day to day life and for sure in photography. I have taken far too many pictures to have not noticed its effects. When I do portraits on location (outdoors and not in an office) I often discover amazing and meaningful things waiting for...

    March 13, 2019

    He was a stranger that day. He just walked up to me and asked if I could take his picture. We were in Chinatown. It was my birthday. I was doing free portraits for my friends, or anyone who would show up in Chinatown. And I loved him instantly. He was so open, so willing. He trusted me before he even knew me. He used to live in Chinatown, he told me. This alley was familiar to him. He was comfortable and relaxed. A perfect subject for a portrait.

    The perfect subject for a portrait is a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. A perfect subject for a portrait engages me as if I were an old friend. A perfect subject for a portrait is not afraid to get close, to be emotionally intimate. A perfect subject for a portrait feels totally comfortable in their own skin. You don’t have to be perfect but it’s helpful to be aware of these things. All you have to do is be yourself, the way you are with your family and friends. Treat me as a family member. Treat me as a friend.

    A portrait session...

    March 1, 2019

    It’s 2019 and we don’t use our portraits to adorn our parlor walls anymore. Portraits are not about vanity, or the preservation of the familial line. They serve a different purpose now. They are how we introduce ourselves to the world. This hyperconnected world. This is how we do business. This is how we court one another, both professionally and romantically. I see your face before I ever meet you. In general. And when I see that face an impression is formed.

    What is it that you wish to convey? I ask almost everyone this question. What do you want people to take away from your photo? Confidence, approachability, competence, friendliness, strength, compassion, authenticity. Those are the answers I hear most often. And when I hear those words I say “Okay then. Embody that. Summon it.” Because I can’t bestow those qualities on you. I’m just a mirror. You’ve got to glow from the inside out.

    Just be yourself. Take a deep breath and just be. It’s actually very easy. Look at me like we are the...

    February 22, 2019

    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...

    February 8, 2019

    I don’t like to post images that look like ads. But I am still trying to figure this out, using social media to promote my work, to engage people, to find new clients. I often worry that I’m not doing enough, not reaching out enough. I don’t like self-promotion. But it’s difficult, being your own sales and marketing team. And it’s hard to be subtle and show restraint when your very life depends on the hustle.

    I’d like to think that my work speaks for itself, and it does, to a degree. But it’s a whisper. It’s a low voice in a sea of shouts. Slow and steady wins the race, they say. Be patient, they say. It takes years to build a business. Is that what I’m doing? I didn’t think of it like that six years ago when I embarked upon this crazy dream. I just followed the breadcrumbs, and crumbs they were. But I hustled gigs, and people helped spread the word, and I’m still in the game. For now.

    My goal has always been to create portraits that you’d stop and look at. I wanted you feel something. I...

    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 22, 2019

    People assume I’m some sort of poet or artist but what I really love to do are team photos - portraits of people who work together. I’ll do your About Us page, your speaker bios, your LinkedIN photos, your C-Level execs.

    About Us is more than words. It better be. You’ve heard the axiom show, don’t tell. You can say whatever you want about your people but if it doesn’t show up in their photos it will ring hollow and people won’t care.

    About Us conveys the spirit and energy behind a brand. It’s supposed to make people feel like they know you. You want perspective employees to visualize themselves there. And potential clients to want to know you. About Us is your own zeitgeist. It has to feel good.

    I can help you feel good. I can help you exude joy. I can help you to capture that energy that lets people know you’re the real deal.

    For the NPM shoot (of which the above photo is a representative slice) I was working with a generic conference room. But it had good natural light, good northern exp...

    January 18, 2019

    Tell me what you think. Tell me how you relate to the world. Don’t mince words. Life is too short and too dangerous for that. By dangerous I don’t mean deadly. We live in a time of hyperbole and outright lies. Not everything is as it seems. But this is not the era of falsehoods it is the era of truth. Those who are honest, and real, and vulnerable, are the true leaders we look to, we must look to, to save us from ourselves.

    In my photographs I seek the truth. It’s that simple. I want to see people as they really are. All I ask is that you come as you are and embody your authentic self. Can you look in the mirror and love what you see? Can you look at all the other faces around you and feel the same? I’m not talking about your family and friends. They are easy to love. What about the person in front of you at the stop sign? What about the woman ahead of you on line?

    That’s my approach to this. That’s my technique. We both show up honestly and recognize ourselves in the other. And that’s w...

    January 17, 2019

    Metaphors drive understanding. Through metaphor we don’t just see our connectedness, we feel it. For Marshall here, the metaphor is the river. Running rapids in a kayak. I don’t have to be a kayaker to understand that. I just have to have a basic understanding of rivers.

    What we do in the office and what we do outside of it are not two different things. Despite what Marshall says, the line between those two places is not as hard as it might seem. I get what he’s saying. Each has its place. But there is much in common between the mentality required of each. Survival is not the dire binary of life and death but there is a certain danger, a certain seriousness, the office shares with the river.

    But that’s not the point. We can tell much about this man by how he looks at the world and spends his time. This profile is more than just a picture. It’s a glimpse into how he thinks. And that’s the whole point of these ODEs (which is what I call these story portraits). I’m interested in how a perso...

    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 11, 2019

    We can’t possibly know what’s going on inside a person. But there’s a whole universe in there, an entire lifetime of experiences and feelings. Looking at a face is like looking at a distant galaxy through a radio telescope. Something is there. But what?

    To some degree we are mysteries to one another but we are more alike than we often believe. We may be galaxies orbiting in our own universes but we share so much. We are here together, on this planet, breathing the same air. We have arms and legs and hearts. We have mothers and sisters and sons. We eat food, drink water and sleep. We love and despair.

    My portraits celebrate that. They are an attempt to recognize one another as individuals, but also collectively as people. I mean, this is not something I think about while taking photographs. I don’t think about the meta purpose. I focus on the person. But I see each as a planet recognizing that we’re all spinning around the same star.

    I know that I’m just looking at the surface, below which...

    January 10, 2019

    The other night I was watching The Sopranos and there was a scene with Hal Holbrook where he plays a scientist who, while watching a boxing match, tells Tony (Soprano) that the two fighters in the ring are an illusion. We’re not separate entities, he says, we’re all together, in a soup of molecules. There is no distinct individual. We’re waveforms. Everything is everything.

    I think about this a lot. I’ve always believed that everything is connected, beyond metaphor. Literally. Each of us is a thread in a vast fabric. Holbrook’s character goes on to say, we exist as individuals only in our consciousness.

    Photographs seem to further this illusion. They seem to support an objective reality. They serve to reinforce our perception that we are entities, islands. Is it possible that over the last decade or so we’ve grown more distant from each other because of social media and the over-reliance on the so-called objective reality of the photograph?

    I have said before that it’s possible for a phot...

    January 9, 2019

    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...

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