Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pigs and Sharks

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

- Police Chief Martin Brody

I'm spooked by sharks - period.

What can I say... other than I've watched way too many "Shark Weeks" with my boys.

So, when I was working out the details of the shoot, and the creative director smiled and told me that "it looks like you're going in the water"... the only thing I could say was - "lovely."

The ocean would be cold, that's for sure. I'd probably be a few hundred yards from the shoreline and in deep water too.
Sharky conditions - am I right?

Well, of course not and I probably sound like a damn fool for even suggesting so.
But nevertheless, fears were subsided when my younger brother (who surfs more days than not in San Diego) told me about an article he had read which stated more people are killed by pigs than sharks.

Sound advice from a twenty-four year old.

By the time this shot was highlighted on our shot list, my mind was free from this nonsense and I was ready for the task at hand. We left the resort in a Zodiac at sunrise and proceeded to capture beautiful stills and pieces of video footage too - amid migrating whales to boot.

There is something to be said about having a healthy imagination.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Henri said it best

"To photograph is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."

- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Some wonderful feedback here - which derived from an image that was created during a project for a resort.

There are times in which I'm too close to the nuts and bolts of my work and fail to possess the objective perspective that a fresh set of eyes inevitably do. Reassurance is usually just around the corner and if I'm lucky it arrives when a client not only is blown away with the results, but tells me so too.
In this particular case, the creative director was ecstatic and told me that it was "the most poetic image he has ever been associated with."
It would be fair to say he went nuts.
Personally, I have strong doubts about it being "the most poetic..."
But I'll take that compliment, because I love the image too.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Perfect Storm

"No photographer is as good as the simplest camera."

- Edward Steichen

So I'm on the roof of this old grandstand in Shelby, MT when all hell breaks loose.
I am perched on the edge of the roof with my wooden field camera on my tripod. This camera has been around the world with me and I decided to bring it along during this trip for posterity... just to keep things interesting.
Knowing that I am drawn to inclement weather, the boredom of the bluebird sky in front of my lens didn't phase me at all.... as the horizon at my back was dark and ominous.
I was more than happy with the hand I was holding as past experiences were whispering all of the possibilities that might unfold.

This year's Marias Stampede was scheduled to begin in about an hour, which would be about the same time the weather would be coming out of the gate. Staying optimistic, I decided to hunker down (besides, I'd already shot a couple of polaroids and those babies are hard to come by).
Time passed, the light grew dark... and when the wind kicked in I found myself scrambling into the shanty attached to the top of the grandstand.
It was on old announcers booth, probably twenty years past it's expiration date. It was in there that I found myself surrounded by pigeon shit plus a significant collection of potential shrapnel - should the wind open the place up.

As I finished securing my gear, it seemed as though someone hit a switch titled "lightning" - and then threw another titled "downpour" for good measure. The two large speakers on the rooftop started making static laced sounds and immediately lightning and concurrent thunder was above the arena.
That's when I decided to leave the coop.
With a cloud of feathers in tow, I high stepped it out of the shanty, flew across the rooftop and zipped down the wooden access ladder in record time. As I bolted out the door, I managed to take one picture on the fly with my handheld.

I landed safely on the upper row of benches and into the throws of hardcore rodeo fans plus a Hutterite family working on an early round of beer.

I'm still not sure who was more surprised to see who.

Thinking back now, I see about fifty of us under that old leaky roof. We were clinging to the concept of safety in numbers and wore smiles on our faces too.

That storm continued north and George Strait's "Blue Clear Sky" played overhead. I took that as my cue to head back to the roof where my gear was safely cached.

I went through the motions again... recomposing, focusing, cursing at my dark cloth as it flailed in the wind.
Loving every single moment.

By the time the barrel racing started,
I had scoped out the rider that would be perfect for the image already exposed in my mind. Seeing how the passing storm provided me with a truly epic backdrop, I decided to expose a sheet of film as a passing train entered my composition.
It was a one second exposure and it just so happened to capture a bolt of lightning in the distance.

My heart skipped a beat and visions of Frederic Remington's "Stampede" came to mind as I visualized the merging of two images.

And that's how it all played out at this year's Marias Stampede.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity
to create, to overcome, to endure,
to transform, and to love...”

- Ben Okri

It's a word that has been associated with my work more than once and I sense it's also a word that most people would want to be associated with too.

So when a recent assignment asked me to create authentic moments of individuals being portrayed as patients and doctors, I jumped onboard.

In the world of photographing authentic moments in the lives of people, it's
primarily about casting, casting...
And when you nail that aspect of a production, you're halfway there my friend.
Upon receiving the green light from the agency, I knew my first course of action would be to call my favorite casting director,
Doug Mangskau at Eastside Studios.
It's always a pleasure to work with people who love what they do and are great at it too! Once again Doug nailed it and we dove into the shoot with a wonderful selection of talent - each one being a total pro.

My crew and I shot stills and motion of numerous situations throughout the course of several days - some choreographed and some improvised. When a few of the situations unfolded on the monitor, I found myself thinking about previous experiences in my life and sensed the same feelings from several of the people I was photographing too. It was definitely easy for me to tell whose life had been touched by cancer and whose hadn't.

During my shoots, I try to keep my job in perspective. But with that being said, we created moments when our "patients" were actually close to tears.

It was all authentic.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Real Deal

“Success is doing what you want to do, when you want,
where you want, with whom you want and as much as you want.”

 - Anthony Robbins

I had the pleasure of working on an assignment the other day in Southwest Montana - a project that took place on a ranch in the town of White Sulphur Springs.

Entrepreneur Magazine had asked me to photograph Sarah Calhoun, the founder of Red Ants Pants.
They were looking for candid moments of Sarah in natural setting.

I had heard good things about Sarah and The Red Ants Pants Music Festival so I knew this assignment would be a treat.  Low and behold, she proved to be the real deal... an absolute pleasure to photograph and I hope to do it again one day.

If you ever find yourself in White Sulphur Springs, I would encourage you to stop by the Red Ants Pants shop and headquarters.
You can check 'em out here - 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Something About The River

"Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes open. I am awake."

- Wallace Stegner
"Crossing To Safety"

There is something about the river that draws me in.
And it's true that some of the most reflective days of my life have been spent standing in the middle of one. Because when you find yourself there, waist deep and surrounded by all of the elements... there's nothing like it.

It's hard to pinpoint my attraction to it as the constant movement and fluctuation of the surroundings captivate me.
The course of these elements are in synch with our lives - they're non-stop, everchanging and full of purpose too.
But unlike our own lives, the life streaming above and below the surface is much simpler - and pure.

So there you have it.

Maybe that's where the attraction lies.

These days, I find myself talking about fly fishing more than actually doing it - and that's okay.
I also find that my mind can easily land itself in the ideal setting - though in the past.
It's out in the current to be sure... still in sight of the trees and among the eddies too.

Where I see it drifting alright...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ivan Doig, Finishing Well, Courage... and Serendipity?

Last year, I found myself in Montana - literally.

I had spent ten days there – discovering new places, finding inspiration, shooting more work and visiting with longtime friends.  I ended up on a journey thru a region that was new to my eyes – although it was familiar to my mind from reading the novels of Ivan Doig.  His stories will take you into towns such as Valier, Dupuyer and White Sulphur Springs.  They are poetic and extremely visual, so you can imagine how wonderful it was to find myself spending time in this part of the state.  Two of the nights were spent in White Sulphur Springs – where I hunkered down in the comfort of simple lodging under a big ominous sky.

It was there that I would stare into that big sky and wonder about the reality of relocating to Southwest Montana.  It would be a courageous move to be sure and it didn’t take me long to realize that the timing was about as perfect as it would ever be if we were going to do it.
Perfect at every level you can imagine.

Relocating to Montana has been on my radar for close to 25 years.   Having my wife and kids onboard with the idea was a huge blessing. I told them that all five of us have to be in agreement, or it was a no-go.  So with that, five thumbs were held high in the air and we started the process.

Bozeman is where our new roots would take hold – that was a unanimous decision early on.
We researched neighborhoods, schools, churches, amenities, organized sports, the library, and volunteer opportunities too.

My wife and I spent countless hours late at night... scouring properties on the ipad.  It’s where we came to realize what was possible and what wasn’t.  Several trips to Bozeman helped whittle down our choices - and we sealed the deal shortly after the New Year.

The following five months were an emotional roller coaster that will stay with me forever.
About every imaginable high and low were a part of my life.  I found that important relationships gained strength while the weaker ones dwindled further – which was reaffirming.

The concept of finishing well became a big part of my life - it's something that I attribute to one of my closest friends.  He’s a man with more wisdom than perhaps any other person that I have known (and an example of an important relationship in my life gaining strength prior to us moving).

He had sent me an email during this past spring and I’d like to share it with you as I found his words invaluable.

“Hi Eric,
A thought struck me after I left. It was the idea of "finishing well."  Sometimes, it's easy to get so far ahead of ourselves that we forget to attend to or appreciate the things that are right in front of us.  You obviously have many things to do before you go.  But know that those things aren't just a means to an end (such as getting you to your next destination), they are part of the journey in your life.  And if you do them well, you will take pride in a thing well done.  Perhaps enjoying something each day, in part, means keeping in mind the idea of "finishing well."  Not like it's an exam or a test… but as an organic part of your life. Because if you are occupied with the idea of finishing each thing you are doing well, you won't have as much time for other things such as worry.  Worry can keep us from feeling genuine emotions such as sadness, which is something we need to feel.  And, when it's time to go, you will be proud of what you have left behind for others and what you have prepared for yourself and your family too.  The losses you are feeling are normal: leaving places with memories of your parents, your family and friends, and your neighborhood too.  But wouldn't it be interesting if one of the things you "enjoyed" were giving yourself permission to feel loss, sadness or even cry.

So how's that for a paradox:  you could enjoy, or at least feel OK about feeling sad... if you needed to feel sad. Because after all, feeling these emotions help us grow, particularly when they're where we are right now.

They're part of being authentic…” 

I’m all for being authentic - and for surrounding myself with authentic people too.
So thank you for that email Pat - I will always appreciate your friendship.

And so what does “Serendipity” have to do with all of this…?

It happened last June 19th to be exact - as I was headed to bed one last time as a California resident.
We would be rolling for Montana in the morning.  Our goodbyes had been said, logistics handled and in short, we had finished well.

I was getting ready to shut down for the night, when an email came into my phone.  It was from a photo editor out of New York who happened to work for a well-known publication.  She expressed some nice comments about my work and wanted to know if I’d be interested in photographing an assignment the following week…
in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

Serendipitous?  Perhaps to many.

But in my heart and by having a strong faith, I knew it was bigger than that.

It was a nice start for things to come.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Best Time of our Lives

"There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters."

- Wallace Stegner
"Crossing to Safety"

Summer is here.

Always arriving in a hurry too.
And then before you know it, out the door she goes - which it will inevitably leave open.
It's the season which instilled my fondest childhood memories.
I pray for the same thoughts to hold true with my children... and it seem to be unfolding right before my eyes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Sandhills of Nebraska

Just finished up a project that I shot in Nebraska. Feeling fortunate in that I came home with some new personal favorites.
The elements were alive & ready for the taking.
The wind, sky & prairie were definitely inspiring & I now understand why Hwy 2 is so revered.
There is much more to be captured there...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ain't Nothin Wrong With Meat & Potatoes

Imagery from a "meat and potatoes" project that involved five different images to be used in a campaign.
On a creative level, it might not have been the most rewarding assignment for the creative team and myself... but nevertheless, I feel fortunate for the wonderful opportunity and the people that I was able to collaborate with.

"Well, goddamn it, a fella got to eat...."

- John Steinbeck
"The Grapes of Wrath"

So with that in mind, I'd like to share some imagery from a previous assignment where I was asked to capture artistic images of almond blossoms in California's Central Valley - Tom Joad country.
It was one of those projects in which my vision was trusted by the powers that be. The imagery was well received and the creative director asked me to return to photograph pistachio blossoms and pomegranates.

Take a look...

".... and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."

- John Steinbeck
"The Grapes of Wrath"

There is definitely something on the horizon... as I sense it's arrival.