A friend of mine recently asked me about why I always mention whether a photograph was taken digitally or with film. Especially because film isn’t replacing the photographer’s skill. I thought about this a bunch and realized that film changes the process of taking a picture. Each shutter click costs so much money and film forces you to be more thoughtful about each composition; it teaches you to move on from ideas that aren’t working. I was just reading a really good blog post by a wood worker
and he talks about how “few people have the ability to engage in the making of something.” When I am taking pictures with a film camera, I get more of a sense of creating something. So much has to be working in unison to get shots like these. Juggling all the technical variables in addition to working with another dynamic human being is what keeps photographers coming back to their cameras. This series is from a shoot with Sophia Brawner in one of the Detroit suburbs. We were both freezing but who could’ve passed up huge snowflakes like these.
Sometimes you wake up and everything looks absolutely perfect. I love that we get such gorgeous representations of all the seasons here in Michigan. It took me so many years to learn how to dress properly and now snowflakes like these are such a welcome sight. I hope you are getting out to enjoy the snow this winter.
A photo of Dr. Mona (she goes by her first name) outside Hurley Children’s Center in Flint.
My camera brings me across some incredible personalities. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s name is synonymous with “Flint Water Crisis”—her research blew the lid off the lead poisoning of thousands of people in Flint. She has been interviewed on CNN
about her work, written for the New York Times
, and most recently named one of the Time’s 2016 100 most influential people
. A few weeks after her research findings were announced, I was asked to go to Flint to photograph her for an Inspirational Woman of the Year Award.
Before arriving, I knew I would have just a few minutes with Dr. Mona. However, as soon as I shook her hand, I felt a sense of calm. I’m grateful for her time spent taking portraits amidst a day of her clinical obligations. Sometimes, I have a very small window to tell someone’s story. In the little bit of time we had together, these photos were my impression of Dr. Mona.
I am always looking to capture fleeting interactions between people—the little things we all notice, but forget almost just as quickly. Those passing moments make up most of our lives. This is why photographs are so exciting; they keep us connected to our surroundings, past and present.
This photo captures one of those moments. I was walking around Chicago and saw three friends enjoying cigars. I reached into my bag and got my film camera ready for a shot. As I was focusing the lens, the guy in the middle threw me a peace sign. I took the shot, put my camera in my bag, waved back, and continued on. I didn’t realize the guy was Steve Harvey until the scans came back from the film lab. In fact, if I had known it was him, I probably would have left him alone and given him a break from being in the public eye.
Steve Harvey, if this post somehow makes it across your screen, thanks for being so cool about letting me take your photo, and sorry for interrupting your cigar break. It looks like you had great company.
Brittany walking out into the woods for our shoot and the mosquitoes had just started biting us.
Photographing another person is a creative collaboration. It is easy to think of a very specific image and then create it but the final product is so much better if the photographer and the subject work together. Each person in front of the camera and behind the camera contributes something to the photograph because we all have unique perspectives and we all usually have different realizations of the same mood. The same kind of direction can result is such varied responses from each person in front of a camera. When I start working with people I make sure they know about this shared creative responsibility. Here are a few photos from my latest shoot with Brittany.
Brittany and I found a bog and I am so happy she was brave enough to step into the water. Soon after, I rolled up my jeans and followed her in. I have had a vision for this shoot for a very long time and it was wonderful to make it happen. We were working against the clock because the sun was setting. In addition to that, I had studio strobes and lots of other equipment out there. The bugs were killing us and I still can’t figure out how the bug spray from my camera bag had disappeared. For this whole shoot we had about twenty minutes.
I hope you enjoy the photos.
Kodak Ektar might be my new favorite film. I just got scans back of a few rolls and I am in love with each exposure. The contrasty saturated results of this film also makes it perfect for a Spring shoot.
Lately, I have only been taking one roll with me to shoots and limiting myself to 15 exposures. This is a shoot with Alexa in a little garden.
Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro
Film: Kodak Ektar 100
Lab: Indie Film Lab
When I am working with the 645 aspect ratio, I automatically hunt for symmetry. This bench was exactly what I was looking for.
Alyssa, on a rainy day at the Ugly Mug
in Ypsilanti, MI.
Corporate headshots are moving in the direction of lifestyle portraits and I couldn’t be happier. Most of us interact via social media or emails and those interactions sometimes skip over our personalities. A lot of business also happens over text messages, and quick phone calls. I hope that lifestyle portraiture can fill the gaps we leave in learning about one another. Lately, I have been working with people to take story telling portraits.
Here is one of Alyssa on a rainy day at her favorite coffeeshop.