Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Ansel

Ansel Adams spawned a generation of photographers concerned with not only rich black and white imagery, but a deep concern for our natural environment. He was an avid conversationalist throughout his entire life.

Black and white images, along with nature photography, have always had a special place in my heart. Early in my career it was my good fortune to study under one of Ansel's printers. While Ansel printed many of his negatives himself, he also had people he trained and coached in the art of the darkroom. Learning from one who had touched the master's hand was not easy. I remember printing the same negative for weeks before I produced an acceptable print. "Again," was about the only word I heard in that time. At the end of a year my mentor gave me the greatest compliment by saying, "you now print better than I."

It was very traumatic when I said goodbye to silver based photography, leaving behind decades of tradition and craft. I love digital imagery in many ways, but I still miss the acidic smell of the darkroom and the magic seeing a print rise slowly from a blank sheet of paper.

Moonrise over Red Rock, Page, AZ

The following is from the February 20th edition of The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor:

"It's the birthday of photographer Ansel Adams, born in San Francisco (1902) and best known for his black-and-white Western landscapes, many of them shot in national parks. His nose was broken in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and never was set properly. It jutted to the left. As a boy he loved to hike around Golden Gate Park and along Lobos Creek, or out to Baker Beach - a boy who didn't care so much for school, who wanted to become a concert pianist. But when he was 14, his parents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, and that same summer he saw Yosemite for the first time. He went back every year from then until he died at 81. He joined the Sierra Club when he was 17 and became their photographer, publishing his first pictures in the 1922 Sierra Club Bulletin. He supported himself with commercial photography, but he's remembered for his images of the Sierras and Yosemite. Ansel Adams said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nick & Sarah 02.09.08

Nick and Sarah were married Saturday at Bella Sera in Canonsburg. And can you believe it, the weather was almost balmy! What a wonderful way to start the 2008 wedding season! I'll be posting more through the week but in the mean time enjoy the slide show.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Death of the ‘Roid

Polaroid announced Friday they were closing down film production facilities in Massachusetts. The closure will lay off 150 people. In Polaroid’s hey day they employed 15,000 in the state.

It’s a sad day for me. I love Polaroids. The colors are totally unique -- no matter how you shape, twist or manipulate digital you just can’t match it.

You can walk around any street in the world and make people smile with a Polaroid. A Polaroid camera is just one of those “friendly” things people gravitate toward.

I used SX-70 cameras for fine art as well as some commercial assignments. I would manipulate the emulsion while it processed to create series of “mini-Monet” renderings. It was artistic and therapeutic. You just couldn’t have a bad day when you were toying with a toothpick on a Polaroid.

Sadly no one will ever have that experience again. Time marches on.

When I made my conversion to total digital production almost a decade ago I knew the world was changing. I knew many of the things I loved would soon be going away.

Goodbye dear friend, I’ll miss you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cindy and Anthony

Cindy and Anthony were married on November 17th, my last couple of 2007! Their ceremony took place at St. James Catholic Church in Sewickley with a reception following at the Edgeworth Club. Cuttings in Sewickley provided Cindy’s beautiful flowers. Carol Decanini of Carol’s Cakes created one of the most outstanding wedding cakes I’ve seen. It was just stunning!

While the weather was typically Pittsburgh in the late fall – dark, cloudy with a touch of rain, we made the best of it by photographing under a walkway right outside the church. The light was truly amazing!

Nice relaxed natural light portrait of Cindy...

And for Anthony

Together at last (who could tell it was raining!)

Awesome flowers by Cuttings.

Beautiful (and delicious) cake by Carol's Cakes in Center Township

Check out this detail! It was almost too beautiful to eat, but don't worry, it tasted as good as it looked.

The first dance via a remote camera in the balcony.

The dip. Guys, you should always do a dip on your first dance. It's cool and makes for very cool photos. Just don't drop your bride!

The end! And this is exactly why I like to stay to the absolute end of the reception (or beyond). You don't get the whole story when you leave early. This little guy was a real trooper. He danced and danced and danced some more. Finally, he couldn't dance another step. How cute!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rant against "good enough"

Warning, this is a rant. Sorry, I don't do this too often but when it seems right I have to speak up.

What has happened to us? It seems America has become accepting of inferior quality.

Recently, I purchased a new Frigidaire refrigerator from Loews, one of our nations large box stores. This purchase was intended to replace a 30 plus year old fridge that, while still running strong, showed it age with many scratches and dents. I thought a bright shiny stainless steel look would be just right.

To my surprise the new fridge ran louder than my old machine! But wait, there’s more. The fit and finish of this new cooler was not even close to my three-decade box. Sharp, unfinished edges, glue (or insulation) coming out from the seams and handles that didn’t line up were just some of the new “features.”

Dissatisfied, I called the store and requested a replacement (they have a 30 day replacement warranty). Today the replacement machine arrived and I noticed very little improvement. The noise level is nearly the same, although the clunking sound when the compressor starts is thankfully absent. The fit and finish is actually worse on machine #2 than on #1.

Over and over people tell me same thing: “They don’t build them like they use to.”

Why? Why has craftsmanship been replaced with mediocrity? Why do we put up with such nonsense? We should DEMAND better! Better from business, from each other and better from us. We deserve it.

Last week a friend who studied a lot of the “gurus” of business and marketing told me one of the things he learned – when dealing with the public, good enough is good enough. WHAT? Is that really what we’ve come to in this country? Is that were we want to be, what we want to be known for, how we want to be remembered? I don’t think so.

There are times I really do feel like the odd man out. I still do my own picture editing and processing. I design every album spread by hand, without templates or third party designers. I do this because it’s a better quality product. My albums are designed to tell a story from beginning to end. They are not just parking lots for pictures. If no one else notices, I do, and that’s enough for me.

Uh oh, gotta go, my new fridge is making a weird popping noise…

Postscript: I have to say kudos to all the folks at Loews I've dealt with, they have all been helpful, courteous and professional. This rant is not about any individual or even Loews itself. The store is not building these things, they're just sell them.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


To honor the men and women who are serving our Nation in any branch of the Military, now through the end of February I’m taking applications for a complete wedding package.

The package includes:
• e!Session
• Ten hours of wedding day coverage by me
• Online posting of the images for three months
• A 24-page leather bound wedding album
• Your retouched digital negatives with full reprint rights delivered with the album
• I will cover all travel costs

The Rules:

1. One of you must be on active duty or in the reserves of any branch of the Military.
2. Your wedding must be on one of my open dates in 2008.
3. You must be having a full dress Military wedding.
4. You need to send me your story along with a recent photo of the two of you. The winning couple’s story will appear on my blog.
5. The decision of the judges is final.

To apply send your story and photo to me at

The winning couple will be contacted the first week of March.

Good luck to all and thank you for your unselfish service to protect our Freedom.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Autumn-Lynn & Jonathan

This wedding could also be titled under The Best of 2007! Autumn-Lynn and Jonathan were SO much fun. We had an absolute blast shooting their wedding back in October. To help cover all the angles of the day I brought in my good buddy Kelly Crawford.

Without further ado, here's a peek at some of the thousands of shots we made...

And PS. Stay tuned for my Saturday post --


Our lovely bride Autumn-Lynn

Nice relaxed portrait of our groom, Jonathan

It got so emotional saying their vows Autumn-Lynn asked for a time out to regroup

First dance

A toast with lots of tears

Jonathan and his mother dancing... so much LOVE!

A few romantic moments

And a few beautiful details