Category: Corporate Image

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.”

STICK TO THY LAST

Posted by – January 25, 2012

According to legend, the old idiom, “Stick to your last,” originated with Apelles, a painter in Ancient Greece.  As the story goes, a shoemaker found fault with one of Apelles’ works, saying the shoe was incorrectly portrayed.  When Apelles rectified the mistake, the cobbler then pointed out an error in the leg, thus elliciting from Apelles this-now-infamous admonishment: “Shoemaker, do not go above your last.”

Usually, “sticking to what you do best” is sage advice, however every business has a life cycle — birth, growth and maturity — often followed by “death” in companies that fail to adapt to change.  Nothing epitomizes this more than the demise of Eastman Kodak.  “Big Yellow,” the once-revered photographic giant, has fallen into chapter 11 bankruptcy.  By the way, a “last” is by definition, rigid and inflexible.  Draw your own conclusions.

No person or company wants to be considered “over the hill,” but when you do come to a hill, you either go over it, around it or backwards, or you stop altogether.  Conquering a hill often involves substantial investments in time and financial resources; in fact, just moving forward requires continuing to learn and grow.  Some people and some companies just don’t have that in them, and Darwin’s theory eventually rules the day.

Awhile back, I originally created the accompanying image for Texas Boot Co.  It was intended to epitomize and glorify hand-made craftsmanship.  I shot it on the large-format color transparency film, Kodak EPP.  I later “re-purposed” it with advanced contemporary techniques, employing a hi-res drum scan, multiple layers of textures and Photoshop CS 5.

Ever onward, over the next hill.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Posted by – October 14, 2011

This “portrait of light” was taken at of the Saint Louis Central Library.  It was originally shot on large-format transparency film and received no digital embellishment.  The enchanting “play of light” occurred naturally and was particularly enhanced by sunlight reflecting from a church across the street.

The Central Library was built around 1912 and is an excellent example of the stalwart work of renowned architect, Case Gilbert, who also designed the Art Museum and other installations for the 1904 World’s Fair.  Gilbert’s Central Library is one of hundreds funded by Andrew Carnegie, renowned philanthropist and funder of over 70% of the library communities throughout America.

As you may know, Carnegie was an entrepreneur who made his fortune in the steel industry.  Ironically, particularly with respect to this photograph, Carnegie inscribed the motto “Let There Be Light” on the first library he ever built, in his hometown of Dunfemline, Scotland.  Although Carnegie’s libraries were constructed in a variety of styles, they all had two unifying characteristics: a staircase symbolizing the elevation one gains through learning and a lamppost conveying enlightenment.

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.

BRIGHT IDEA

Posted by – July 18, 2011

This montage shot pays tribute to “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” Thomas Alva Edison, the third-most-prolific inventor in history. (Geek Alert: the montage was accomplished using five view cameras set up in the studio, moving the film holder from set to set, layering the exposures.  I also utilized in-camera-masking, gaff tape, gobos and incantations to the gods of benevolent serendipity.

Edison’s many inventions, such as the phonograph, the motion picture camera and, most notable to me, the incandescent light bulb, continue to influence life around the world.

Light is essential to how I make a living (“photography” actually means “writing with light”). It is my master and I am its willing servant. So I’m acutely aware that familiar tungsten light bulb is due to be phased out in the US by 2014, making way for more energy-efficient alternatives.  In addition to saving money the new “bulbs” are supposed to lower greenhouse gasses.

What was once considered to be a stroke of genius now seems destined for the scrap heap of history.  They tell me this is a good thing and it probably is, but have you ever tried to snuggle down with a good book in the glow of a florescent tube that resembles an ice cream cone?  The cyan transmission does drive the darkness away, but it seems to chase the romance out of the room, as well.

What would Edison think?  History gives us a clue: he would have re-invented the light bulb decades ago, using the same perseverance and ingenuity that enabled him to invent the light bulb in the first place.

Fear not the future.

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.


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.


RED SKY AT NIGHT

Posted by – November 2, 2010

My client wasn’t thinking about that old couplet when I took this shot at the bustling Port of New Orleans.  He was too busy talking about large shipments of American soybeans that had made their ways down the Mississippi from fields in Illinois, and now were headed for the Panama Canal, the South Pacific, and eventually China.

I don’t really understand the complexities of global commodities, and I’m pretty sure the guys who work these ships don’t read much poetry.  But I do know how to read the sky, and this one was a photographer’s delight.

How Not To Bid A Photo Shoot

Posted by – October 5, 2010

This shot redefined the term “big photo shoot” for me — 20 miles underground via a labyrinth of meandering tunnels in a century-old mine owned by Mississippi Lime.  Sight unseen — make that SITE unseen — I bid the job by referencing the client’s existing brochure, but they neglected to mention one itty-bitty detail: the ambient lighting depicted in the photos had been removed years ago.

So my team had to schlepp in truckloads of equipment: diesel generators, miles of power cable, and every cinamagraphic light I could get my hands on.  But it wasn’t until we were all ready and “good to go” that I was reminded there was no need to hurry, because there were a whole two hours before the daily detonation of two tons of dynamite.