I was pleasantly surprised to find out that three of my photographs have been selected for inclusion in the upcoming Focus Philadelphia book and that my photo of  Wynn in his beekeeper outfit won third prize! That’s a bronze right? Though I have had images included in previous Focus exhibitions this is the first year I’ve won a place on the podium. When it comes to contests I remember the line from Glengarry Glen Ross, ” First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is,” you’re fired!”

As you may have read in my previous post Bee Box Inspection my wife and son have recently taken up beekeeping, which led me to begin The Philadelphia Beekeepers Project. All of the photographs in the series were shot outdoors and depict beekeepers tending to their apiaries but for this portrait of Wynn I wanted to move indoors to control the lighting and use a backdrop to elimanate any competing elements.
 My objective was to capture Wynn’s new persona, that of a competent and capable steward of bees and to illustrate how an outfit can transform the subject that is wearing it.
 What I like about the image is the juxtaposition between his stoic expression and the geeky outfit. I say geeky with all due respect, beekeepers even refer to themselves as “Beeks,” a contraction of beekeeper and geek. It is their cross to bear and they bear it proudly.  I too wear one of these goofy suits when I’m photographing near an open hive.
There are basically three type of hats commercially available from beekeeping supply houses, the pith helmet, the wide brimmed floppy hat or a dome hood. I’m considering starting a side business offering novelty beekeeper hats. How about a bowler or tophat , maybe even a stovepipe, you get the idea. Any angel investors out there? If so just leave your info in the comment section and I’ll get back to you pronto.
Congratulations to Matt Stanley, first prize and Gene Simnov, second place and to everyone else who made it into the book. You can see more images at Focus Philadelphia.Thanks to this years judges Jamie Leary, Nathaniel Stein, and David Winigrad and to the ASMPhilly Focus committee.


          A few months ago I had the pleasure of photographing Charles Branas for Penn Medicine Magazine. Dr. Branas is a professor of epidemiology and is director of Penn’s Cartographic Modeling Lab. He has been conducting research demonstrating that cleaning up and greening vacant lots reduces violent crime.
            I was asked to photograph him alone in a vacant lot, with members of his staff in the cartography lab and to shoot a basic headshot. I had about a week before I had to deliver the photos so I scheduled three separate sessions rather than try to shoot everything at once. I decided to do the headshot first as it would require the least amount of co-ordination and it would allow Dr. Branas and I to get to know each other. In addition I could learn more about his work, discuss the vacant lot shoot, and scout the lab.
            I met Dr. Branas at his office and after moving some furniture I set up a backdrop, two lights and a reflector. We talked about his research as I shot a series of fairly straightforward headshots that could work for the feature but were generic enough to be used for other purposes as well.
            While I was setting up I couldn’t help but notice a large laminated map of Philadelphia hanging on the wall. I knew it would make a good backdrop not only visually but content wise so when I felt I had a good selection of headshots I asked Dr. Branas to sit in front of it.  As the map was laminated placing lights in front of it was out of the question so I used a strip light off to one side and had Dr. Branas turn toward it.  A white wall opposite the strip light ,provided just enough fill that I only needed one light.
            While I’m sure the other headshots will be used somewhere the above photo was used full page as the opener. For my own reference as well as your consideration, here are some takeaways from the relatively simple session.
Shoot what your client asks for first, then shoot what you want.
Study the work of other photographers. The morning before the shoot I had watched a video of Joe McNally shooting portraits with a strip light.
Leave room for type. Like an art director once told me, “Frame it the way you want then back up.”
If you have the time and the creative freedom, why try to cram everything into one session?

Feel free to leave a comment if you can think anything else.

Click to see more of my healthcare photography


            Back in July of last year I posted about my trip to Upstate New York to photograph for The Triple Cities Martial Arts Academy’s youth program. You can see that post here, “Karate on the Chenango. Just so happens I did two other shoots that day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Though successful, they didn’t garnish as much attention as the Karate Kids. No surprise, it’s hard to beat kids looking badass. While sifting through job folders from the past year I rediscovered the other sessions and decided to share them here. I’ll start with the last shoot first.


          Sensei Rick needed a new headshot for his social media marketing campaign. What I like about photographing headshots for friends is that you can play around more than you could with say, a corporate C.E.O. or a busload of lawyers. I broke from my usual corporate headshot lighting formula which consists of a medium softbox, a reflector and a gridded backgound light. Instead I used an 18” Dynalite beauty dish for the main light, which was boomed over the camera.  For fill I used a Photoflex medium softbox directly behind me. Two small Chimera strip lights were placed on either side of the background paper and pointed back toward the subject for edge lights to separate him from the dark background.
            Rick and I have been friends a long time so I had no trouble getting him to look natural.  I was seeing this Morgan Freeman kind of look and just went with it.  When I was confident we had plenty of usable headshots, I asked him to put on the Anakin Skywalker pod helmet. His son Evan, was having a yard sale the next day to raise funds for a trip to Ecuador. The helmet was with other yard sale flotsam in the garage that was acting as my temporary studio.

           What I found interesting about this series was the juxtaposition of the silly helmet and goofy goggles with Rick’s dignified demeanor.
          After the shoot Rick and I agreed we would try to convince Evan not to sell the helmet. I don’t know if he kept it or not, but a least I have this photo.



Larry Bodine of Larry Bodine Conservations

Larry Bodine of Larry Bodine Conservations, Ambler, PA


I have know Larry Bodine of Larry Bodine Conservations for a number of years. I met Larry while photographing antique furniture for a local dealer. Larry would clean each piece and make repairs as necessary before I photographed it. I had photographed at Larry’s shop before. The Dealer wanted me to photograph Larry and his two employees working on furniture only he wanted close up shots showing only hands using tools. I did grab a few shots for myself but my primary concern was getting the images my client needed. Once again this project was the catalyst to me taking the photos of Larry that I wanted to make. I went so far as to photograph him not in the workshop but in the attic instead.
My approach to the shot in the attic was more traditional than the first two shoots with a couple of twists. The main light on Larry was an overhead clamp light with a 100-watt bulb that was already in place. I just tilted up a bit to light his face. I liked the abrupt fall off of the light but the rest of the scene needed fill. I set up a Dyna Lite pack and single head in a three by four foot softbox. I covered the head with a Full CTO gel to match the color balance of the worklight and placed the light directly behind me for a soft on axis fill I new that the light source was large enough that even though I was standing directly in front of the softbox enough light would still fill in around my subject. I also opted for double diffusion by hanging a white, translucent, shower curtain in front of the soft box. I metered for the work light only and adjusted the power of the fill light by looking at the display on the camera while shot.  Larry was looking directly into the camera for most of the shots but I liked the one in which he was looking away, almost as if he was lost in thought.
Larry was happy to receive some new photos of himself as he is finally having a web site built to promote his business. He realizes that the younger generation is using the Internet to find the services they need.