I love to run.  And, I love shooting running.  But, I hate seeing images that are forced or posed.  I hate images that have been lit with too much strobe that it leaves them artificial.  But, most of all, I hate fake running.  

 

To get a good image of runners, they need to run.  They need to warm up, open up their stride for a while, and then run through the image.  It takes framing, and it takes takes, lots of takes.  To get the right stride, the right hand grip, the right thought going through their mind.  I want the runner to run, to float, to think about what they think about when they run.

Here’s a comparison – look at someone’s portfolio of portraits.  Often, in every image, you will see a person with a flat expression, simple, plain faced.  Some argue that an image cannot be art if the person is smiling.  But, to me, an image is not a portrait if it doesn’t capture some emotion, some thought, some moment.  I don’t want to see a scan of someone’s face.  Yes, there are aspects of a good portrait that include the environment, the clothing, the lighting and the time, but to be an excellent portrait I want to see something in the face, some connection, something going on.  

Shooting a runner, I still want it to have an element of portraiture.  I want it to be a time, a moment, a feeling, not simply capturing clothes on a person in a particular position.  I want there to be something more.  Get the lighting, get the location, get the clothes, get the timing with the model – have all that down, and then … get the person.

And, not just anyone.  A non-runner doesn’t run the same as someone who runs runs.  It seems wrong – just tell someone to run.  It’s running, anyone can do it, right?  But think of it this way, have you ever watched a swimmer swim – then, watched an average Joe go down the pool?  It’s different right?  The stroke, the elegance, the ease of movement – you can see it.  Running – same.

Go run.

African american woman trail running

 

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I received both Silver and Bronze in the Sports category in One Eyeland’s Black and White awards.  

I ranked #5 in the US – that’s pretty cool.  

 

The winning images were from my Ballet work En Pointe.

Robert Houser's award winning photograph of a ballet dancer en pointe photographed from below.

En Pointe

 

Check out all the winning images [here

Seeing Blindness – a photographic project [more images]

The opening exhibit of Seeing Blindness happened this week at an event for Genentech in San Diego.  

 

 

This started when I met a blind man.  He was a runner.  In fact, he did triathalons.  Yes, how?  The first day I met and photographed him, we spent the entire day together.  I met his kids and learned about his work.  He told me about his time in the Marines before he began losing his vision.  In the afternoon, he took me to the trail where he would run — on a bright day he could see the edge of the concrete path and would run alone.  We then went to pool where he put on a belt with bungy cords and attached one to each lane line.  He swam, in the same place, never moving but constantly swimming.  From underwater I could see him smiling.  I held my breath, and photographed a blind man, swimming.  

It stayed with me.  Until then, every blind person I saw was a blind person — nothing more.  

I would see the cane and have an urge to help, I’d argue with myself for a moment, and we would both move on.  I have met many people who help raise and train seeing eye dogs, and the whole idea just makes you feel good — just the thought of the dogs.  If you saw a golden retriever walking with a person with sunglasses on the street, that same feeling would return.  The dogs.  

In speaking with blind people, you often hear that they feel invisible out in public.  If they have a cane or a guide dog with them, people see those – the tools.  We do not see the person; we see the affliction.  

There are so many sight challenged individuals with amazing stories and accomplishments, but I did not set out to point my lens at stories of strength against adversity.  We would see the affliction, and then the accomplishment.  We might walk away feeling good, heart-warmed about what someone else did against all odds.  But, we still would not see the person.  

We would see only the end, not the journey.

This exhibit is focused not on stories, but on the individuals — the faces of blindness.  See the people.  

Who are these faces?
What do they do?
Is blindness all the same?
How do they see?

As a part of this project, I have photographed dozens of individuals with all different types of visual impairments.  Some have lost their sight on the battle field, some have rare conditions, some have never been able to see well, while other’s have lost their sight over a period of time.  See.  Learn.

Artists and Scientists as Partners invited me to partake in a symposium last month entitled Beauty in the Space of Medicine and Art.  “By considering beauty beyond our visual, auditory, and tactile senses, we discovered a deeper universal definition of beauty and co-created and experienced moments of beauty and truth. We also explored and experienced how beauty inspires healing.”

Facing Chemo – photographed at Brown University ASaP symposium 2018

As part of the event, my Facing Chemo project was displayed for a week and in the afternoon program I photographed a woman undergoing chemotherapy.  I did the shoot live in front of the audience and described the process as I went.  The main themes of the event were:

  1. The discovery of beauty in unexpected places
  2. The power of art to heal and create community

That wasn’t hard for me to work into the lecture because it’s exactly what became the main thrust of both my work with Facing Chemo and the other exhibits I’m creation with Facing Light Foundation.

Videos and interviews from the event here.

Seeing Blindness – a photographic project

A lawyer arrives on set.  I say hello and reach out my hand.  He says three words.  

I don’t say anything, then I ask “Two miles from Revere Beach?” (a beach just north of Boston). Shock on his face, he pauses to think, “That’s about right, maybe two and a half.”

It’s where he grew up, not where he is now, not what he doing now and certainly not what he’s worrying about now.  Connection, solid. Shooting starts.

People say, ‘if you are really quiet for a moment and take it all in, you will see more.’  But what if you can’t see?  

Last month I was shooting a young blind woman for a personal project.  Over the course of the morning I had photographed a number of runners who had lost their sight from various disorders or combat.  However, this woman was different.  I could see immediately that she had always been blind.  I saw it in her hands, the way they moved across the table I had set up for her.  Her fingers were reading her surroundings, urgent and inquisitive.  

It struck me because that’s how I work.  While it’s part of my nature to be hyper observant, I constantly force myself to be aware of every cue that will lead me to a closer connection.  It could be an accent that brings to mind a place, a picture hanging on a wall [like at this shoot], a glance toward a window, or a sentence cut short.  

While I may not be the person you want to notice the unmatched baseboards in your living room, you do want me to be the one reading your subject.  

“You read braille,” I said to her.  Her hands settled.  

 

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Thank you, APA, for selecting my Facing Chemo Project to the member’s gallery today:

 

http://gallery.apanational.org

 

 

 

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new personal project for FacingLight.org

 

For the 4th year in a row, we headed off to Moab to shoot fitness and fashion with Title Nine — shooting Fall amongst the red rocks and aspens.  

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