Category: People

TRINITY

Posted by – August 9, 2012

Among the things I love about my career in photography are the many places it’s taken me, like to the northern New Mexico desert, a land where the light is so magical it inspired the likes of Ansel Adams, and every local license plate proclaims, “Land of Enchantment.”

I was there taking this picture of international interns at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 50 years to the day that the first nuclear weapon, nicknamed “The Gadget,” was detonated at nearby Trinity in the Jornada del Muerto desert, Spanish for “journey of death.”

Standing at the obelisk that commemorates the event — 50 years to the minute since July 16, 1945 — was spooky and sobering.  Believe me, the desert landscape set the scene for some deep reflection.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory facility was first created to house the Manhattan Project, code name for the project to weaponize the newly discovered theory known as “the nature of atoms.”  Upon witnessing the successful detonation of the device, the onsite head of the project, Robert Oppenheimer, quoted Bhagavad Gita, exclaiming: “I am  become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

But I think the potential consequences of that day were best summed up by Albert Einstein when he said, “I know not with what weapons WW III will be fought, but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

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.

YOU’LL LOVE THE VIEW FROM HERE

Posted by – August 1, 2011

Motor from Miami down “Avenue A1A,” gateway to the Florida Keys, home to the famous and infamous, pirates and poets, and discover the beautiful bracelet of keys Ponce de Leon first stumbled upon, still dangling in the ocean, barely 90 miles from Cuba.

Proceed with due trepidation through Key Largo and continue south across Seven Mile Bridge (guess how long it is).  Take your time; soak in the scenery, but don’t dawdle too long; you’re traveling the haunts of such nefarious characters as Edward G. Robinson, Bogie and Bacall.  If you should see a bale of ganja washed up on the beach, don’t be tempted.  The original owner, his AK-47 and his twin pit bulls might not be far behind.  The Keys are always a series of contradictions.

Your destination is the same as it once was for literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams — Key West, where drinking is compulsory, fighting and running-with-the-bulls-type acts of bravado are optional and “chilling out” is de rigueur.

When you finally run out of land, stand on the dock at Mallory Square at day’s end, wander among its daily cadre of performing characters such as jugglers, mimes, musicians and fire-eaters.  Reverently observe the sunset celebration as the ocean slowly swallows Ol’ Sol.  Catcalls, wolf whistles and thunderous applause are all proper sunset decorum in the Conch Republic.

Now stroll down DuVal Street in the cooling twilight to Sloppy Joe’s, Margaritaville, or about a hundred other bars and restaurants and enjoy a well-deserved beverage with your new best friends.  Say hi to Captain Tony.  You may even qualify as an honorary Parrot Head.  And when you finally have to leave, don’t worry; they’ll keep the fun going until you return.


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.


JUMPING OUT OF A PERFECTLY GOOD AIRPLANE

Posted by – August 26, 2010


I was jam-packed into a Piper Cub (“Thank you for flying Clown-Car Airlines…”) with an anxious group of other foolhardy first-timers just so I could climb out of the plane when it got to 1500 feet above the distant earth, put my left foot on a small step, hold on to the wing strut for dear life in the rushing wind, listen for the Jump Master to say “go,” and then, let go.

I never experienced such a visceral sensation of fear before then, and, thankfully, have never felt it since.  Five “static line” jumps and one “free fall” was enough skydiving for me.  They kept saying “you’ll get used to it,” but I never did.


Not Just Another Hard Day At Work

Posted by – August 5, 2010

Archive Alert!

It’s a long way to the top in the corporate world — 14,036 feet to be exact if you were in this upper-management group.  I grabbed this shot as these stubborn, triumphant survivors were reaching the summit of Mt. Sherman, on the narrow backbone of the Continental Divide in the gorgeous Colorado Rockies.

An unexpected late-spring blizzard with high winds and altitude sickness had reduced the initial group of 18 that left base camp to just these intrepid six who made it all the way to the top.  (Obviously, the photographer made it, too.)  Their climb was the final event of a week-long trip in which the company encouraged team-building, partnership, and personal excellence.

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.