Monday, October 29, 2012

Splendid Moment

Shelby Cavallaro Thompson
Highland Park Presbyterian
Dallas, TX

Had an opportunity to photo witness the union of Shelby and Jon at Highland Park Presbyterian. Now I am trying to recreate what transpired. That's what a photographer does with his photographic two dimensional piece of history.

After viewing and selecting this image, I wondered how best to tell the elements of the story. As I was shooting the image, this idea came to me. Shelby's mom, Laurie mentioned out loud that she didn't have a bridal portrait. It seems that the bride was very self-conscious and didn't see what the big deal was. Not only was it her wedding day, but Shelby looked absolutely stunning in her regal gown.

It took most of yesterday to work on this image. I even placed a call to a Photoshop guru, Katrin Eismann, to help me with issues with shadows. In the end, after experimenting, my decision was to create my own style. The results, I feel were both dramatic, dreamy, and bold.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

From My Perspective

Wedding Pageantry Fit for a Princess
Highland Park Presbyterian
Dallas, TX

Last week was hectic to say the least. At the beginning of the week, I was chasing leaves and waterfalls, by the weeks end, I was perched on a church balcony positioning myself for a different kind of landscape. Either way, I aim to photograph and archive what is beautiful and add a third and fourth dimension of my feeling. It's my way of reaching out to you the viewer. I want you to feel the same as me if not more.

Shelby & Jon
Some feel that the job of wedding photography is thankless. I think that if its left to up to the point and shoot photographers who just happen to have a camera, it is not only thankless but meaningless. The value lies in the experience and sentiment placed during the post production process. Images about emotion must convey it. It's not just about getting the perfect exposure and sharp detail. The real details are in the intangibles.

For nearly a half a century, I've left room in my heart for passion, romance, and feelings. These elements define who I am as a person, husband, and a friend. My photography conveys what my words otherwise cannot.

Like I learned years ago in my latin class, I still feel, amor vincit omnia. Love truly does conquer all. For some "love changes everything."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scenery Change

Saguaro Trinity
Ballantine Trailhead
Maricopa County, Arizona

Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

Can't say most love change or for that matter embrace it. However change is a part of life, we change, life changes us, we age, the world spins, seasons change, days change, the world changes. Change accompanies us in life. To some extent its the seasoning that makes life different and stimulating.

When you travel in the desert the changes are drastic and exacerbated by the contrast of light and shadows. Instead of noticing the green life, we notice the shapes of landscapes, rocks, and sparse vegetation. We notice the distant because we can see clearly for what appears to be endless miles. As a photographer, we notice life changes.

There's no doubt that the changes facing me are more of what I want out of my life. What I want to experience through my senses. How I want to live each last breath that I have. I want to chronicle it and  jam my life full, no regrets. 

In the movie the King's Speech, the stammering sovereign struggled to find his voice. He knew and felt in his soul that he had something to say. That inner struggle is something I can empathize with. 

Finding one's voice is the most difficult and most meaningful thing in this life. At that point, the point where and when you find it, your life feels complete and full of purpose and meaning. My photography aids me in expressing my voice, my passion, and my feelings towards a life I want to completely experience without fear but with with enthusiasm and joy for each day that the universe provides me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day Of

True Love
Shelby & Jon
Highland Park Presbyterian Church

Was asked to shoot a wedding party after the wedding ceremony. In most places the assignment is not difficult but at this venue, photographers are not allowed to setup their camera gear in advance of the shoot. Had it not been for my good friend Carl Nastoupil, I wouldn't have been able to have completed the assignment in the allotted time. Had to set up off camera flashes, portable batter packs and stands all within minutes after the wedding ceremony. 

True Love
In Black & White
It's very stressful and few know what the photographer has in mind. You have to create on the fly and pray that everything works just right. Of course nothing ever works just right. Equipment fails, flashes wont fire, assistants don't show up, people move, and blink, and little kids wander off before the final shots are taken. You control very little other than your patience. All the time, you are thinking, composing, and praying for an outcome that meets both your and your client's expectations. The clock ticks, it doesn't wait for you.

If there are re-do's you must get it done now. There are no second chances and no room for error. You are the professional, you must get it done. No excuses, you have to deliver a product that will be archived a life time. This is it. Get it done and don't look back.

Did you get it? Oh, you have a couple other suggestions? Not a problem. "It's your day. I am here to serve you to make your day a memorable one for you and your groom and all of your family and the wedding party too." We laugh in between the frames and flash fires. "Oops we missed it. Who blinked? Let's try again."

"Can you shoot a shot of our hands placed on the Bible? It means something to us." Our vows are sacred you know. Yes, I understand let's compose this quickly. I have something in mind. My assistant follows me intuitively and sets up the lights. "Let's try several different angles. We are almost done."

"Oh...the entrance of the bride and groom do you think we can get that right? The church didn't want flash entering into the scene during the ceremony. Do you have any ideas?" 

"Yes, let's recreate the scene." My assistant follows me on cue. Flash in hand, we set up the shot we rehearsed prior to the wedding. The exposures weren't coming out exactly right. The lighting was now different. I make last minute adjustments and fire my shots. This will have to work now.

Time does not wait. I look down at my iPhone and note that its time to end our session. The church clears and the sexton busily cleans up. We still work, disassembling camera gear and stands, taking inventory of equipment, and wiping all the sweat off of our brows. Lots of work. Lots of satisfaction.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kent Falls

Kent Falls State Park
Kent, CT
No visit is complete to the Connecticut Berkshires without traveling along picturesque Route 7 and visiting the Covered Bridge in Sharon, CT and observing the 250' cascade at Kent Falls State Park in nearby Kent. Like a good tourist I paid homage to both on my journey. Yes, I became a tourist something I never had the opportunity to do while growing up in Connecticut.

Guilty as charged. Who could however resist the charm of this cascade. The opportunity was all mine to enjoy the solitude in front of this natural shrine. It was an opportunity to commune with nature and to enjoy my own morning devotion.

The universe has always spoken clearly to me through nature. I don't feel alone when I absorb what it yields. It shares with me the same timelessness it has revealed to those before me human and animal alike.

This day, I stop and contemplate what flows before me and what will continue to flow. Someday, I will drift in the water and flow on past the brooks, streams, and waters and on into the endless sea. With good fortune, I will have had the opportunity to enjoy it all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hometown Odyssey

Highland Lake Hideaway
Winsted, CT

My hometown odyssey to Winsted, CT always fills me with mixed emotions. It's as if I am reading Dickens' Tale of Two Cities all over again. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time." My town fills me with a tremendous sense of confusion and compassion.

It remains one of the prettiest places in all of New England. A town nestled in the foothills of the berkshires and surrounded by natural beauty. But it's also a town with a sad past and an even sadder future. It's void of hope and its young people leave at the very first opportunity they have. In essence the future alludes them.

A Gated Community
Mason Silk Company
Winsted, CT
By the time we were teenagers the last of the major industries were shifting production south to avoid both the union demands and to escape environmental legislation. By the early 70's, we were in the final phases of the industrial exodus.

Here's how our town's industry was once described: “Typical of New England cities of this size, Winsted has its share of industries, and manufactured goods bearing a local trademark are shipped to all points of the globe. Gilbert clocks, woolen products of the Winsted Hosiery Co. and the New England Knitting Co., electrical appliances made by the Fitzgerald Manufacturing Co., Jewell Manufacturing Co.’s wood articles, scythes, tools and similar implements turned out at the Winsted Manufacturing Co., and Winsted Edge Tool Works, the Mason Silk co’s thread, wire fashioned by the Sweet Wire Corp., Dano Electric and Hudson Wire concerns, the products of Union Pin and American Knife companies and name tapes of the Stirling Name Tape Co. are noted commodities.” 

Son Chief Electric
Winsted, CT
The companies that once pumped life into this berkshire community remain empty shells with no prospects for tenants. Those that could leave left and those left behind commute to other cities. It's all gone now. The industry is gone and so is the infrastructure that provided the tool and die makers and the machinists. What is left are a few fast food stores that dot the main street, a community college to help you leave the town, and stops lights to try to slow you down on your way out. It's a shame. A beautiful place that could be so much more, I wonder if anyone cares enough to bring it back.

My father and mother worked in these factories. In fact dad worked two jobs, one in New Hartford at Amseco, and in Winsted at the Mason Silk Company. Mom worked at the Old Gilbert Clock shop before they shut down and then finally at Son Chief Electric. I've memories of all of this and they remain vivid.

The decisions that large corporations make impact us all. We need to combine our resources and figure this all out again. Too much is at stake. People like me had to leave a beautiful place to chase a living. I suppose that makes me a contemporary nomad, and an industrial age bedouin.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Room School House

Little Red Schoolhouse:
Winchester Center, CT
Headed back to Connecticut after a fruitful trip in the Catsklls. A strong wind and rainfall killed most of the color this past week so the colorful scenery was noticeably absent.

Drove up to Winchester Center in search of photographic gold. Found this one room old red schoolhouse. There was nothing special about it other than the opportunity it gave its children. Someone in that town even back then was a visionary.

Actually came back to the schoolhouse several times during my trip. I was drawn to it by the simple architecture and the vision of making dreams come true.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Meditation at Platte Cove
Near W. Saugerties, NY 

Spent a long day today outdoors in and about Palenville, NY. There's something special about the roar of cascading water. With a very short span of time nothing seems to matter to me. Time slips and all I think about is about the image directly in front of me. It becomes a positive obsession. Nature woos with its sense of tranquility. 

For the moments behind the viewfinder, I am somewhere else. Nothing else seems to be significant. Nothing really matters. Time is mine frame by frame and I control how much. I choose to expose myself to the element of time. With my camera, I manipulate not only the composition but time and exposure to light. For a few moments, I control the elements of my own destiny. It's all a matter of time.

What was once my adversary is now my friend. If I use it wisely, I can create smooth silky streams of white water that relax and soothe souls. Streams that we can dream about that provide endless destinations. It's all their within my grasp. So I choose to create the world I dream about and the one I feel. 

My two dimensional images take on new meaning as I play with the element of time. The creator and viewer both slow down. We see and we feel what we see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More To the Story

Celebrating Life
Lidia Dalida
Plano, TX

Been studying all of the different intricacies of belly dance. It seems that the best way to learn is by observing the details frame by frame. The more I look the more I notice. It's so important to capture all of the dance in the image.

My job is more than the just what a two dimensional print has to offer. My goal is to introduce a third dimension one that actually brings the image to life. Something that makes it personal and touches the viewer.

If I could I would even introduce music into the equation so that the experience would be more complete.  Now I find myself listening to the same music that these dancers are working to choreograph melodies by Mario Kirlis. As you listen to the melodies you note that not all of the pieces are full of drums but rather lyrical romantic tunes that are more about unrequited love and dreams. As you listen to the music the choreography becomes easier to picture.

To the discerning belly dance aficionado the Egyptian forms of dance are better accompanied by the longing tunes of Mario Kirlis', Little Baladi or Awal Suhur rather than what we visualize by Shakira's Ojos Asi. The Egyptian form of belly dance leans heavily on the side of deliberate and exotic. The story telling is more deliberate and enunciated by the body and hand movements. Hopefully, these images of my friend, instructor, Lidia Dalida help tell the story.

Visit me at

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Age Doesn't Matter

Dancer: Rivkah Sultana
at Lidia Dalida's Hafla
Plano, TX

Some people have been wondering why I've been photographing belly dancers. Simply, its because I enjoy witnessing and archiving the choreography which transcends all ages, sizes, and races. It's not a fetish. For me it's the same fascination that Toulouse-Lautrec had with the theatrical life of Paris. There's more to life than simply watching people live it on television. Why not experience it.

Belly dance and its participants not only enjoy its movement and costumes but they also enjoy the embodiment of a pass time which practices inclusion. You can feel good about yourself without stigma or harassment about your body type. If you can feel the music and can allow yourself to be in the moment, chances are the music will move you to dance and lift your spirit and the hips will follow.

While at the Hafla, I noticed the diversity not only in the audience but on the dance floor as well. The spectrum was broad. It made viewing the event even more fun as I looked to see how each participant regardless of age would interpret their dance.

Miranda Mejia
Each participant finds a way that they can channel the self expression. In the movements and in the melodies, they are afforded a different voice, another way that they can be heard. Their bodies become art by virtue of the choreography they select. It's mobile form of art defined by human flesh and bones. The dancer becomes art.

My fascination with the dance has to do with the sensory overload of capturing all the details, shapes and composition during the dance. The canvas initially starts cluttered with audience and perhaps reflections. Within a scope of time, I try to crop within my viewfinder the art of the belly dance. The surrounding are not studio perfect. There's clutter that under ideal situations would not exist. My focus becomes even more imperative to capture the details that comprise the art.

For those of you involved with the passion of belly dance and reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I am available for professional portrait sessions and other events. Please visit my wesbsite at .  Feel fee to contact me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Belly Dance Builds Confidence

"Hafla" at Lidia Dalida's

Stepping Out
In an era where size and age matters and where youth is preferred to maturity, belly dance offers women of all ages and sizes to be seen and heard. Beauty cannot be measured by just size, skin color, or circumference. Genuine female beauty should be measured by the degree of self-confidence within their own skin.

As a male, father (of both daughters and a son), husband, and brother (of two "mature" sisters), I can appreciate women who are beautiful in more ways than one. You see, bubble gum chewing youth is replaced by knowledge and warmth and insecurity is replaced by the wonderful confidence that they've matured, raised a family, and still can be attractive both outwardly and inwardly.

The belly dancer is not only aware of her own body but she is able to overcome the stereotypes that an obsessed society imposes. She is exposed to minute criticism of her appearance and body. However, these women learn to transcend that criticism. The beaming confidence that follows is absolutely amazing to me. There's no room for the faint. Your body is exposed as is your heart.

New Me
As you know, I love a story and storytelling. One of my readers made a negative observation about belly dancers. You know the typical comment about waistlines, curves and rolls etc., but it really showed how little they knew about this dance discipline and muscles used. Truthfully, it's a different kind of muscle tone because of how they are used and trained. Regardless, women do themselves an injustice with those comments. Woman should not be so harsh with other women. This is hard work both physically and mentally. The beauty of belly dance it includes and not excludes women of all ages, cultures, and size.

Having Fun
No sooner had I digested the negative comments, when one of my dancers informed me about how proud she was and how she wanted to see her new images of herself. She had a major accomplishment and she wished to share it with me. She lost 100 lbs over a period of two years. During that time, she danced and exposed herself to criticism. I witnessed her dance and all I could think about was her confidence and smiles both during and after her performance. So to the women in my life, family, and circle of friends. I encourage you to just be you and let whats inside of you simply be and surface. Take pride in simply being you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dance Trio

Russian Bellydancer: Telling Stories

Have been still working on my bellydance series and trying to understand the nuances of the dance. In the process, part of my discovery has been that the dance is truly universal. It has an international following among passionate women who enjoy the art of bellydance and self expression.

Puerto Rican Dancer:
As a photographer, my role is to convey the artistry of bellydance and to move my audience, not only by hip sways, but by capturing the hundreds of details found during the performance. Those unfamiliar with the dancing may think that it's simply about scant clothing but its truly more. It's about beautiful costumes and the celebration of the exotic over the erotic. This is not about taking off clothing or exhibitionism. Its about art and how it moves and can move you.
Vietnamese Dancer:
At any event, Hafla,  the audience witnesses the diversity which the dance both embodies and embraces. You do not have to be of Arabic descent to enjoy it. You will vicariously get caught up in the pleasure of the women who dance and train their bodies to absorb rhythms and drum beats that may have once been foreign to them. 

It's the arts, visual, musical, and dance that provide us with purpose and enjoyment. The presence of the arts unifies us under one common blood type. That blood type lends hope to idea that we have more in common than we have differences.

No I am not taking images of exposed skin but rather I am capturing exposed emotion. Feelings are part of my passion for the art of photography. Conveying emotion on a two dimensional surface is my challenge. To this extent this project has enabled me to comprehend the experience of the dance from both spectator and dancers' perspective. My conclusion is simply this if I had to choose between dancer or spectator in life, dancing would always win out.