April 10, 2018

You ever get a call from a friend who wants you to come to their office because they’ve “got something for you”, and you go and they hand you a Leica M camera? And you get to keep it?!

That actually happened to me last week.

I walked out of the office holding the camera in box. At the elevator, my car a few levels below, I was so stunned I hit the UP button.

I’m still in shock.

This friend has done so much good for me and my family. I could never repay the debt, even before they handed me a Leica.

My deepest, heartfelt thanks!!

March 9, 2018

I started a post a couple weeks ago as I started a two-week binge of photographing high school basketball games. I had been editing photos from February tournaments from the past decades and realizing the many shortcomings in the typical newspaper photographer (a slur) approach to basketball. The idea I took going into the first game is that I would create an algorithm for covering the games, a system that would maximize the odds for creating memorable work.

The initial algorithm didn’t survive the first game, and I will eventually finish that post with more detail. But building on the idea that there would be an algorithm for how to photograph a basketball game (what lenses you use depending on the score, time remaining, etc.) – I’m learning a ton from looking trough my work, photos that are both below and above average –

And thinking back to early in my career when it was easier to stand out visually – and people would say they could tell which photos in a mediocre small daily newspaper were mine.

This, then: Why not create a visual style guide? It’s something that is already wired into my approach, after years of professional experience. But how could you define, in writing and systems and equations, a way to photograph that produced the most interesting work?

For example, couldn’t you say that in photographing a

wait, not that,

couldn’t you work out a style

just like writers use the AP Style Guide to have standardized grammar and naming conventions, a photographer could take common situations and create an approach that was repeated and adhered to (while at the same time improved upon after each use).

Common situation: head shot or close portrait of single speaker, interview subject, etc.: Fill frame with face, lighting where possible, crop from top of head instead of chin.

“But everything would look the same.”

But if it was interesting, and excellent.

More on this coming, as it all processes.

March 6, 2018

From Lens Blog this morning, a fantastic piece on legendary photographer Ralph Gibson (link below):

“I wanted to make photographs you could look at for a long period of time, photographs that were not ephemera, photographs that were made to last and could support a great depth of content,” he said. “That’s the opposite of working for the media.”

As I’m continuing to edit the photos from my career, these words ring very true. Closing in on mid-March I am realizing that a lot of photos are making it through because I’m thinking about the people in the photograph, and the idea that somehow they will find it, it will part of their life’s history, or something like that. But then, these aren’t always great photographs.

The answer might be to create a sub-category of photograph that denotes less important work, and then lower the visibility of that content.

Is the project a portfolio or a retrospective? Should it be expansive or select? I’m leaning toward select in many cases.

It’s becoming clear that if 2018 is the year I get everything posted, 2019 will be the year I refine the edit.


Here is a fun question – if you were coming out of some kind of drama situation, which of these two outcomes would be preferred:

A) you get everything you want, but feel a lack of respect.

B) you don’t get everything you want, but you feel respect.


February 10, 2018

“Let’s just pretend it never happened…

and what would we create?”

—Kathleen Hanna. The Punk Singer..

February 5, 2018

You are a creative, a photographer, a writer, a producer of content. My thought is this:

Last night I photographed a local event where a lot of really cool things happened. Women gathered and over the course of three days, learned to play instruments, write a song, rehearse, and put on a live concert.

I met and photographed a lot of great people, unique characters, tender moments, and really, high points in people’s lives.

Let’s use that scenario as a setup to my thought.

As I was editing the photographs, I found myself saving several photographs of certain moments (even though there was always a clear “best” shot). I also found myself saving mediocre photos because they might have been the only one I had of a certain person I met. I was saving those mediocre photos not to ever show anyone, but in case I might someday cross paths with these people again.

My thought is this – when editing photographs I should be thinking, Is this photograph worthy of having my name under it?

In other words, and less narcissistic, I should only be showing work that is excellent.

But the thought, Is this photograph good enough that I will put my name under it, seems like it could be a clarifying rule for editing.

Most photographers mentally attach their name to every photo they take. My thought with this entry is that I will reserve that designation until the editing phase, at which point many and most of the photographs I take will never receive my name on them. They will be destroyed in an effort to keep my body of work as strong as my abilities will allow.

In continuing to edit my archive of decades of photographs, it is apparent that my work,

Enough about me and my work. Use this for yourself.

This thing I’ve just created. Is is excellent? And if not, why would I ever put my name on it? Why would I ever release it into the public?

Nike (I know, I hate Nike).

Vans doesn’t release every new shoe design they come up with on a daily basis. To myself in year’s past: Why do you post every photo, every attempt at greatness, that you make?

It’s now part of my editing process – the question: Is this photograph good enough to have my name under it?

January 31, 2018

I stopped in on a photo exhibit the other day. Amazing portraits done in some sensitive situations. One thing missing: the photographer’s name.

Later today there’s an event for the exhibition. In the event announcement on the venue’s blog? No mention of the photographer’s name.

And here in my writing, something missing because out of my control: the photographer’s name.

A travesty.


January 30, 2018

You need to take on projects that are

It’s become

Big projects. Taking on large tasks. That is where I have ended up. Do something every day for a year. Completely remodel the web presence, removing (deleting) content that is weak. Adding content that is strong.

Every day I am posting photographs from the past thirty years of that day. Which means I’ve got to edit at least thirty days of photographs daily. The January edit is complete, the posts soon to be live.

Biggest lesson in all of this, one month in, is to walk away when it stops being fun.


The most beautiful thing one of our children’s teachers said to us the other day, “We want our children to thrive.”

Yes. Anything that gets in the way of that will be eliminated ignored.


I watched the film Faces Places yesterday. If you give in to this film, and are lucky, you will be brought to the verge of tears by the beauty of everyday humanity and a love of creativity. Such goodness in this film.


Photos from January 30th

January 16, 2018

If my wife’s job went like mine today, she would have spent most of her day teaching to an empty classroom. Teaching – like still giving the lessons that she’d prepared – to empty seats. She would have been talking all day, with no audience.

Soul crushing.

January 3, 2018

Thinking a lot about an offhand comment someone made about templating making things all look the same. The trade-off is productivity. Templates save a lot of time. But true, you need to use the saved time to continually refine and improve the template, and develop the next version.

My version – build a template or workflow and immediately begin producing product.

The alternative – talk a lot.


Sad to see a bunch of design work I did last year go unused today in a huge news story. And the response when I point out that it could still be used was, “see what we can do.”

Didn’t I just barely resolve to stay positive?

How do you, in a positive way, address a mistake, or point out an improvement?

The answer can’t be to swallow your concerns/ideas and not say a word, even when you’re on vacation all week and aren’t necessarily interested in logging in to fix something.

How do you say nothing when your work is thrown on the floor and ignored? You really shouldn’t. The realization is that more and more, um, that’s about all I’m going to type right here…


Thinking of moving everything back to a WP multisite config. Maybe.


I also started thinking about this year’s UNPA contest. Never mind that we still haven’t announced last year’s winners. Never mind that last year was full of drama. Never mind that I had planned to follow a friend’s advice to walk away from the gig and not “take that kind of sh*t from anybody…”

I was thinking this morning that, in my 2018 positivity, it would be easy to stick with it and put together a crazy cool photojournalism competition where everything from entry to judging was transparent.

I’m always about to walk away or run a marathon.

Hard to give up 17 years of tradition that recognizes the best work in the state.

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