Workin’ can make you stiff. Not workin’ can make you stiff. Exercisin’ or not exercisin’ can make you stiff. Sleepin’, couch potatoin’, computerin’, road trippin’ and insults can make you stiff. Being made out of concrete can make you stiff, too. Why are workers called stiffs? Some sources say it’s because people who work uninteresting, low paying jobs get stiff at the end of the day. They are tired. Maybe it means they are getting stiffed by their employers. Then […]
It’s Mighty Joe, the gorilla. He used to be called George when he was at a go-kart track in Wildwood. He was not well cared for, his feet having buckled under him in a storm. Not a very dignified existence. Larry Valenzano, a gas station owner used to pass by him and George reminded him of his late son who was a body builder and was known as Mighty Joe. So Larry bought George fixed him up, transported him across […]
I always though cicadas were just big, goofy insects. They don’t seem too bright, often bumping into things and crash landing with a surprised and slightly vacant look. But, I’m way off. Totally wrong, misinformed, entomologically ignorant. They are among the smartest insects in the world with an I.I.Q. rivalling such brainy bugs as the Madagascar toe jam beetle and the Asian rough-bellied lizard mantis. They aren’t great flyers when they first emerge because they need a little time to […]
Who says plants can’t move around. There are sticks that can walk and are aptly named. They are called walking sticks (not to be confused with walking sticks). They have legs and everything (so they can walk!). Maybe they aren’t a plant. OK, they aren’t. They’re animals. Just like us. Well maybe not exactly like us, but close. Our skeletons are on the inside. But plants do move. They extend themselves. Ever see a poison ivy vine that climbed a […]
An abandoned self-car wash, a big puddle and a bright white fence on a clear sunny day. I wander around often to see if I can find photos. They are always all around so it is just a matter of seeing them. Sometimes it’s the subject that’s the subject and sometimes the whole scene is the subject and the way it stimulates the viewer’s eye.
Maybe clearing a sidewalk isn’t a test of character but then again, maybe it is. During the fall, I met Steve out in front of the Art Yard’s Residency clearing leaves not only from the yard and sidewalk but also from the gutter along the street. No one else does that. Come the snows of February and I find Steve applying the same level of thoroughness. Instead of just digging a narrow footpath, he clears the entire sidewalk including the […]
I was rolling down 611 in Nockamixon, PA, one autumn day and there besides the road was a simian salesman beckoning me. He was seeking my attention and I was happy to oblige. It looked like he was selling a yard. I didn’t really need a yard, plus I figured it wouldn’t fit in my car so I ask for a photo instead.
It started with a Facebook message. A friend sent me a post about a photographer in Tennessee who spent an afternoon photographing her neighbors who were locked down. He suggested it would be a good project for Frenchtown. I thought it was a great idea and jumped on it, naming it The Porch Portrait Project. The project ran for about a week and 60 families took part, dogs included (and a few cats). The first step (after coming up with […]
This is my long form “About page.” A micro-memoir.
I was born here on earth and have lived here pretty much my whole life (except that one time in college). I’m a boomer, old enough to remember some stuff during the sixties and young enough to have missed the draft. It’s good to be here, now. Life is interesting and full of growth.
I’ve always loved taking pictures. It’s both an art and a profession for me. When we were little and turned 10, my folks bought each of us kids a Kodak Instamatic. I was excited to get mine after my brother and sister got theirs.
I specialized in photographing pretty much anything that was visible, from nature to people. My first formal portraits were of my 5th grade classmates. I also did a lot of pet photography. It was only one pet, though, my dog.
By high school I managed to get my hands on a 35 mm camera and built a darkroom in the basement. I soon learned that if you were on the newspaper or yearbook, you could get free film and paper which was great. I also got lots of assignments; clubs, sports, student life and portraits
The best part about assignments is that you are photographing with a purpose. You use your skills to get the best quality and your creative juices to get shots are cool and tell the story, that serve the purpose. The majority of my work has always been for others to see and to use. I’m reluctant to call myself an artist. I’m a photographer,and when I do my best work, it rises to the level of art.
I followed the scientific side of my nature when deciding what to study in college and earned a B.S. in environmental technology at Florida Institute of Technology. We did a ton of field work which was great. I love science. It’s all about careful, objective observation (just like photography).
While in college I hopped on the yearbook staff, became the editor-in-chief and pretty much earned a second degree in photography.
Producing a book every year was always quite a project. I know I spent a lot of time shooting, cranking out prints in the darkroom and laying out pages. I was the project manager and totally accountable. If I did not do my job it wasn’t just a bad grade.
It was awesome. I loved it. Doing photography, managing project and producing books was rewarding and satisfying.
Fast forward to life after collage and a full life. I initially spent a few years working for newspapers and then became an environment consultant while running a wedding photo business on the weekends. I had two thriving careers.
Being an environment consultant taught me a lot of discipline and project management skills. It also kept me at the leading edge of technology, which helped me keep my photography business up to speed as use of computers grew, the Internet emerged and we migrated to digital cameras.
Having a consulting career as an anchor was perfect for growing a family. My wife and I built a home in the county and raised two girls who’ve both become scientists in their own right. The world certainly needs good scientists.
Being part of a company and having health and disability benefits came in quite handy when I was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002. Treatment was brutal, but successful and I can now say I’m a veteran of the war on cancer. Scarred but still kickin’. It slowed my down for a spell but I never stopped shooting.
After 20 years of the duel careers, the consulting side slipped away in 2008 during the great recession when I was happily laid off. By that time I had opened a studio in Frenchtown and was shifting from weddings to business photography. Launching a full time business at the beginning of a recession took dedication and commitment. You either make it of you don’t.
Upon becoming a full time photography business I joined several chambers of commerce, a BNI networking group and Frenchtown’s Business and Professional Association. I quickly learned the value of being part of the business community. It is very rewarding. We are all in this together.
For my part I started a photography group, conveniently called The Photographers Group (photographers.group). We meet monthly and do projects together to document our world. Our most recent project was called Hunterdon Retail. 50 photographers participated in photographing locally-owned retail stores in Hunterdon, exhibiting their images at the Red Mill Historic Village and creating a historic archive of all the images (over 400). It was a collective effort to benefit the photographers, the local businesses, the Red Mill and to grow awareness of our group.
My role as a business photographer is also mutually beneficial, to support myself and to communicate about my clients. To tell the world their stories with high quality photos and video. To create images that generate a positive emotional response on the part of the viewer
One of my favorite films is a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi . Jiro is a 93 sushi master who embodies the spirit of shokunin, the mastery of one’s profession. Jiro’s highest purpose is to get better at making and serving sushi and he is already one of the best sushi chefs in the world. I watch the film often.
I expect to be doing what I do indefinitely, as long as I have a camera and client. Just like Jiro I want to get better at what I do and share it. I even keep a camera in my pocket at all times and constantly look for photos to shoot an process. Practice, practice, practice. The better I get, the better my photos will be and the more my clients and I will benefit.