Finding Your Photographic Vision #1: Heroes

In light of the massive number of gear reviews and how-tos on YouTube, I felt like making a short vlog focusing on developing a personal vision.  In Part 1, I tell you about some of my own photographic heroes – Sebastio Salgado and Ralph Eugene Meatyard- and how they influenced some of my own work.

Maryjane / Bar Fashion

These images were “round 2” with Portland model Maryjane McLain, which is to say, the second time I got to work with her in the last 6 months or so.  We had access to a dive-y bar which all kinds of psycho stuff written on the walls, and it was a complete blast to shoot amongst the bar patrons and in the creepy, ratty basement.  I have been a recent admirer of the South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord who have a similar rat-like vibe thanks to their frequent collaborations with photographer Roger Ballen; it’s not quite the same as shooting with a stylish Maryjane but you can see where some of the influence comes from.

Maggie at the Petrified Forest/ Painted Desert

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve always had a problem: I live in the Southwest- surrounded by exotic, beautiful environments like the Painted Desert- but it’s just far enough away that it’s not feasible to take a pro stylized model with me to shoot out there.  Enter my daughter Maggie, who at age 8 has been in enough of Daddy’s shoots in her lifetime to finally get styled and shot way out amongst the petrified wood.  Hair and makeup done by her mom/ my wife Vesna Miller.  We’re going to make this a routine thing- once a month- with the goal of building up a youngster to be an ultra stylized look.

All images done with Fuji X-T2 and either the 35mm 1.4 lens or 23mm 2.0 lens.

Preview: “Capturing the Face – A Guide To Creative Portrait Photography” Kindle e-book

Capturing the Face cover

October 16 sees the release of my first Kindle e-book, “Capturing The Face – A Guide To Creative Portrait Photography”, via Amazon.  It’s structured around the 10 components that I believe are key to making artistic images of people:

  1. Your subject

  2. Location

  3. Styling

  4. Compelling concept

  5. Lighting

  6. Image capturing method

  7. Post production

  8. Formal visual art considerations

  9. Paperwork

  10. The X factor

These elements are all vital pieces to making something magical and I’ve found each worthy of deep exploration in Capturing the Face.  I know what it’s like to do a shoot and end up with one or more of these elements overlooked, and as years have gone on, I’ve learned how to make sure each one is addressed so I get personally satisfying results.  In the coming weeks I’ll put up some snippets of these chapters.  Capturing the Face: A Guide To Creative Photographic Portraiture is 44 pages, $2.99, and available for pre-order right now.

Valentine’s Day Special – Baby Revisions

Maggie's Birth 072808_93-Edit

A photo contest for baby photography had me revising some of my images of my daughter Magdalena in her first few months.  These were shot in 2008, edited 2015.

Maggie's Birth 072808_94

This year I’m finally organizing my daughter’s photos into a cohesive set of images.  She’s just one of those people who seem suited for black and white, or at least my relationship with her seems suited for b+w, or maybe I go b+w since most of her clothes are ridiculously colored things that

Maggie's hand

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Inspiration + Influence: Dan Winters

Note: this was originally written in 2010 on my previous blog.  I still love Dan’s stuff though!

image by Dan Winters


As I venture into portraiture I am looking at some of the big modern names in that field– Dan Winters is one of the most accomplished portrait photographers around.  In a recent interview on the Candid Frame, he talked about his history and of working with basically no real setup and no assistant, doing whatever he could to cut costs, and also how portraiture was the one avenue of expressive photography that would pay the bills and be creatively satisfying.  It’s the kind of stuff I need to hear these days.  I think stylistically, some of the images on his site where 2 vertical 4×5 images are paired to make a standard horizontal image seem like something I may try as I burn through the rest of my 4×5 film.  Dan is an illustrator as well as a photographer and I really appreciate the dual skillset that I hope to blend in my own art.

image by Dan Winters


Keeping it simple in B+W with Sierra + Briana

Most of my favorite photographers are black and white portrait guys- Sebastio Salgado, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Richard Avedon being the first 3 that leap to mind.  I definitely gravitate towards b+w portraits in the fall and winter months.  Where I grew up in Nebraska, you’d have weeks of gray skies that sucked all hope out of the universe; in the Phoenix metro where I live, you merely have cold that seems at odds with how bright and clear the sky is.  I still feel gray in these seasons.Sierra vogue

The image above was shot early October 2014 with my frequent collaborator Sierra McKenzie in Seattle.  It was all natural light, a 35mm Fujinon lens (50mm equivalent on a DSLR) on the Fuji X-E1 before I upgraded to the X-T1.


This image was done with my Nikon D700 in February 2013 with model Briana Rambo.  It has similar qualities as the Sierra image.

There’s a lot I like about this image and the one below (and believe me, I don’t like everything I shoot or bring to completion) and it’s worth breaking it down.

Simplicity- it’s one subject and no clutter to the background, just patterns within the foliage/ wall to support the subject.

Tonality- there are a wide range of tones with each element- hair, skin, eyes, leaves, jacket- defined separately

Emotion- the model isn’t blank or fake.

Makeup/ hair- all done by Sierra in her photo, which is superb, but it also helps keep a shoot feeling low-key.  I’ve done shoots recently where someone on set expected instant publication or other great things, and it doesn’t work like that, so the smaller I can keep a crew the better.  The Briana shoot utilized a wig but makeup was done by Briana.

Timelessness- I think it’s hard to place when and where these were taken.  One could say bangs like these are reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s, but I’ve met so many modern people with that hairstyle it seems like it could be any time.

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.