The West Village. NY, NY.
Ahhh, the portrait. It is the most intimate experience for both artist and subject. I always feel an enormous privilege and sense of responsibility when someone allows me to really look at them. To probe around for that inner fire and vulnerability that makes them remarkably human, and remarkably beautiful.
These portraits were taken in my studio with strobes, and are presented pretty much straight out of the camera. I limit photo retouching to fixing color cast and contrast, masking the unexpected blemish, or removing lint that didn't get picked up during the styling. My goal is to create beautiful light in the studio that illuminates a subject's best features and personality during the shoot, rather than spending hours retouching images in Lightroom or Photoshop afterwards. The more retouching, the less truthful the image.
Each of these images took about 45 minutes to capture. The first 15 minutes are about getting comfortable with the environment. The next 15 are about sampling a variety of moods and postures. The last 15 are about freedom and fun—going where the energy takes us. It is usually when things are beginning to wrap that subjects really let their guard down. This is also when we tend to get some of the best, most accessible images—because there's nothing left to lose.
These images are from a shoot I did as part of a larger narrative project for a new venture fund in Silicon Valley. In thinking about the needs of their prospective Limited Partners (LPs), the most important need was trust in the people who would determine how the fund's money would be invested. There's no better way to communicate the spirit of an individual than through candid portraiture.
The team invited me to the table as they debated some of their investment decisions so that I might capture the Truth that was unique to them. I love these images for their honesty in how they portray the essence of each of the partners—their thoughtfulness, their depth, their conviction.
To round out the LP narrative, we created a unifying set of individual portraits that brought to life the individual personality of each team member.
After two years of shooting with a bulky DSLR, a friend invited me to spend the day with his Leica M8. A single shot changed my life. I had been trying to capture the exact color of the sunrise on the brick building across Hudson Street in the West Village in NY and I could never get my camera to replicate it, even when shooting in manual mode. With the M8, I got it with one shot. By the end of the week I had packed up and traded in all my gear to start over with my first Leica, an M9.
I couldn't wait to travel with my new gear and chose Buenos Aires as my first seeing adventure—what better place to capture living color? Toward the end of my trip, I was walking back to my hotel when I passed a framing shop. I was entranced by all the straight lines, hard edges, and 90° angles, and amused at the sight of the framemaker in the middle of it all—he, too, was all lines and angles, from his limbs to his hair to his eyeglasses. I continued past the shop, but with every step I felt the growing weight of regret for missing this opportunity to photograph something that spoke to me. So I summoned up the courage to go back.
I was still new to the rangefinder and my Noctilux f/1.0 lens, and wound up shooting everything wide open, which means the edges are a bit soft. But I love the color and spirit of these images. The last photo is my favorite — it's of his hands. I had already left the shop and the idea popped into my head. I'm so glad I went back (again). This is the final shot of every session with an artist or artisan — a visual tribute to their most vital tool: their hands.
In early 2015 I was fortunate to work with some of the smartest people in the world—the New Thinkers and Great Thinkers at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, MA. The online learning team was leading an ambitious effort to create a series of TED-inspired talks and "Charlie Rose" style interviews featuring their faculty. The talks were based on forward-thinking research produced by their tenure-track faculty, and the interviews engaged select tenured faculty whose decades-long passion, perspective, and inquiry led to breakthrough ideas that have reshaped — or are reshaping — the world.
Throughout the project of helping them distill their ideas into more broadly accessible narratives, whether delivering an 18-minute talk or interview, these brilliant minds also gave me the opportunity to photograph them in portraits and "behind-the-scenes" footage for use in their stories.
MIT Sloan has generously made their stories and interviews available to the public. Click here to enjoy them.
Upon meeting and photographing the Framemaker, a new world opened up to me while I was staying in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires — the world of artists and artisans engaged in the conceptualization and fabrication of things. Objects of intrigue, reflection, and beauty that would one day find themselves in the daily lives and rituals of another.
A mix of metal, man, animal, and machine. This blacksmith invited me into the stables while he worked. [a quotation about art, artisans, man, animal, machine]
Commerce restaurant. The West Village. NY, NY.