Martial arts students outdoors
Miles, Gopal & Prahlada on the Chenango River in upstate New York
         A few weeks ago I made a much overdue trip to upstate New York to visit my sister-in-law Susan, her husband Rick and their son Evan. Evan designed my new logo, business card and mailer and in exchange I shot new images for his dad’s martial arts school. In particular they wanted new photos to promote the youth karate program.
Karate student
       We decided to shoot in nearby Ostinango Park. We got there half an hour before the kids arrived so we could scout the location. While the park was very nice, it was too well groomed for the timeless look I was after. Walking toward the edge of the park through the trees I could see the sparkling waters of the Chenango River. In the middle of the river there was a small island covered with vegetation and surrounded by river rock with a shallow stream flowing through the middle. That was the location I wanted but I wasn’t sure I could convince the others, especially the kids, to do a stream crossing. The water was only up to my knees but the current was swift. When the kids arrived they all watched as I made the first crossing carrying my cameras and lenses in a backpack and holding a flash mounted stand in each hand. When I got to the island I turned to see everyone rolling up their pant legs and getting into the water.

Senesi Evan

Senesi Evan of Triple Cities Marshal Arts Academy


         Once we were all assembled on the island I had the kids stand in the shallow stream positioning them so the sun was to their side and slightly behind them. I then crosslit them with a bare Vivitar 285 on manual at full power to over power the ambient light. I used a 17-35 lens on a Canon 7D. The Exposure was 1/250 @ f/11 with an ISO of 100. Sensei Evan and Sensei Rick directed. 

     Big thanks to Tommy, Gopal, Prahlada and Miles for putting up with the heat, sharp rocks, bugs, water crossing and me! 

Here’s a link if you’d like to check out their website: 3 Cities Martial Arts Academy

Martial arts students
Miles, Prahlada, Gopal & Tommy

I’ve kept this to myself for many years, now I feel the need to get it off my chest. What better time to come clean than just before the holidays and the start of a new year? My very first paid photography gig was photographing children with Santa Claus.Yes, that’s right, don’t make me say it again.

I had just graduated from high school and got a job as a salesman at Malloy’s Cameracade in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I was a good salesman, real good, I had Nikon F2’s, Canon AE-1’s and Minolta SRT’s flying off the shelves. I enjoyed the job and was told by my boss that I had a future with the company if I wanted. I thanked him, but told him I wanted to be a photographer and I planned on going to art school in the fall.

One day, just after Thanksgiving, The Manager of the local grocery store, Foodland, came in to the store and asked my boss to recommend someone to take photographs of his customer’s kids with Santa. My boss pointed to me. The job paid $50. Not having any real negotiating skills at the time I accepted his offer. Remember this was the late 70’s, by today’s standards that’d be about $5,000.

That was then, today he would have just posted the job on Craigslist, offering no money but saying things like,  “It would be a great addition to your portfolio” or “Wonderful opportunity to network with parents who could hire you to photograph their children during other special occasions.”What a difference a few decades can make.

I shot the job, got a check. Not only was I paid but I also got face time with the “Big Man” himself,  I even sat on his lap and told him what I wanted for Christmas. I have a picture to prove it but it’s for my eyes only. Santa did not disappoint, that year I found a  Canon FTB under the tree on Christmas morning.

Happy Holidays to all.