Category: Portraiture

A LEGEND NEVER DIES

Posted by – August 16, 2011

When an automobile accident left Max Starkloff a quadriplegic at age 21, his family sent him to a rural nursing home where he quickly concluded, “This is no way to spend a life.”  He then began to conceptualize the idea that a disabled person could live independently.

This is my portrait of Max.  I worked with him when I had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of creatives to promote Paraquad, the organization Max founded.  Among its many successes, Paraquad helped push passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Max was a relentless crusader and tenacious watchdog for the disabled.  He met with three standing US presidents in an effort to promote barrier-free access to businesses and homes.  Max’s tireless efforts helped St. Louis become the first city in the country to install lifts on city buses.  Due in part to his efforts, St. Louis also built wheelchair-accessible sidewalks, improved general accessibility and provided parking for the disabled.  Max also helped promote assistive technologies and employment opportunities that help people with disabilities fully participate in society.

Max’s immortal soul left his broken body on December 27, 2010.  He was known for what he could do — not what he couldn’t do — but he never wanted to be considered a hero.  So I’ll just say he was an extraordinarily ordinary person whose accomplishments will live forever.

DEFIANT WE STAND

Posted by – April 16, 2011

Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers took control of four commercial airliners, and the world was changed forever.  No American will ever forget what they were doing the moment they heard the news.

I was in the studio getting ready for a shoot. The subject was Ralph Archbold, a reenactor who has spent his entire career impersonating Benjamin Franklin.  He arrived about the time the plane hit the second tower.  After due deliberation, we decided to proceed with the shoot, and he was incredible.

The irony was lost on no one.  On that horrific day, photographing an actor who so closely resembled one of the Founding Fathers was an experience none of us will ever forget.  It was our attempt to find some solace by channeling a true visionary and pivotal player in American history; it was our defiant statement that America would continue to go about its business of creating and building the future.

In a small way, we felt a historical connection to the indomitable American Spirit.


PREFERRED SEATING

Posted by – April 1, 2011

Soon after moving to St. Louis, I discovered “The Muny.”  For the uninitiated, The Muny is also known as “The Municipal Theatre” in Forest Park, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre.

Toting a bottle of cheap wine, we’d arrive early so we could sit in the free seats. Summer after summer, The Muny entertained us with its perennial parade of classic musicals, and consequently, I unexpectedly became fond of show tunes.  (Don’t tell anyone.)

This photo, however, has little to do with that.  It was shot from very expensive box seats and later photo-composed to insert the actors in the foreground.  The show that night was “Singin’ in the Rain,” and yes, The Muny made it rain onstage.

It was part of a campaign to raise money for, of all things, new seats.

Rock Star

Posted by – March 7, 2011

We photographers often are lucky enough to get to take pictures of important, famous people and places, flashing our VIP passes to access the inner sanctums of celebrity, fame, elite business, science and technology, and cherished history.  I admit, it makes you feel special. But as photographers, we also have rewarding opportunities to get to know real people, people like Ronnie.  Ronnie works hard.  He’s doggedly tenacious.  He has dreams, and he busts his butt to make them come true for himself.  Ronnie is incredibly successful at our most-important job, being human.  He’s a rock star.

WORKING CLASS HERO

Posted by – November 16, 2010

As a group, I think we photographers are pretty lucky to be in our profession.  Most of the individuals we photograph for annual reports or magazine articles have accomplished something unique, and interacting with them is almost always very interesting.

For example, here’s a portrait of a man who works on barges that move commodities on the Intercoastal Waterway. He’s an integral cog in the vast industrial machinery that keeps America competitive in the global market. It’s challenging and dangerous work, but I found him to be warm and engaging, and my goal was to capture those qualities in this image.


Local Color

Posted by – July 13, 2010


Recently, while in Scottsdale to photograph key management and top performers for AT&T, I had the chance to grab some local-interest shots.

It’s my understanding both the cacti and the cowboy light up at night.

Barge Worker

Posted by – April 12, 2010

Barge workers live an intermittently nomadic life toiling on the noisy, dirty, and very dangerous “river trains” that push massive tonnages of grain, ore, coal and other materials up and down treacherous rivers like the Mississippi.

When I was on assignment in New Orleans for the energy company AEP, I wanted to create a portrait of a barge worker that was emblematic of the inherent dignity of honest labor for an honest purpose.  Notice how this barge worker has a calm, confident sense of whom he is.  He’s as authentic as the river itself.