Life is Great!

It’s been quite sometime since I’ve taken time to write on my blog and quite a lot has happened since last post in November 2015!  First I hope this finds everyone well and that life is good for them.  I know it’s pretty darn great for me.


The year 2016 has been a year of new discovery and new paths for me.  I started out January with a goal of using my 4×5 large format camera to create at least one competition print for 2016.  I had purchased a 300mm portrait lens over the holiday season and wanted to prove to myself that I could indeed create merit worth work with silver and gelatin.  So my first subject of the year was a young lady who is a family friend and also a great musician.  I invited her over to do a series of pictures with her guitars and 4×5 film.

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I loved all of these images, but I could only enter one of her and this is the one I ultimately entered and titled it “Too Cool for School” it scored an 82 at the Professional Photographers of America Western States District Print Competition in March of this year.  82 meant it earned a “District Seal of Approval” and would automatically earn a print merit at the International Photographic Competition in August of 2016.


My other entries from Western States Districts did not fair so well.  I had one other print earn a district seal, but based on critique feedback I chose to break the seal and replace it with a newer image that I had created after the district print competition.  This was a first for me and a gamble at the same time as I was choosing to abandon a for-sure merit in hopes of earning a new merit and possibly a loan collection image.  More on that in a minute.

Since I had achieved the goal of creating a image on large format film and earning a district seal, I set another goal of creating 2 more images on large format film for the International Photographic Competition in August.  I was too afraid to go all in with film this year so I left myself one image spot in my case to be created with a digital camera as a bit of a security peace of mind.  Not that it was guaranteed to do anything, but it had a bit of comfort in knowing how to finish that kind of image for print competition vs a film image.

My parents came to visit at the end of April for my daughter’s first communion and this year also marked my dad’s 90th birthday.  I knew I wanted to create an image of my dad as a vintage golfer, as he’s loved golf for as long as I can remember and it dates back well before I was born.  I also thought he would be a great candidate to photograph with the 4×5 camera.  So I set off to make a few sheets of  only him.

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Then it struck me that I should incorporate my little man (well not so little anymore) along with my dad.  Not only would this picture be something I’ll cherish, but my hope was that both my dad and my little man would cherish something like this too.  So these are a few that I came up with.

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Although I loved the poses of both of these there just wasn’t the story I was after which in my head was about my little man being my dad’s caddie.  So I made one more sheet with the big camera where I had my son hold the golf bag and keep my dad with a single club and titled it “Grandpa’s Caddy” and I had the good fortune of this image not only meriting at the International Photographic Competition, but also for it to go on and be accepted into the prestigious Loan Collection.


The other great thing about this image was I had the opportunity to watch it be judged for the Loan Collection in person, as I attended the IPC Judging School that is held in conjunction with the IPC and by luck was in a room observing judging when this came up.  It was a very emotional moment for me, but I held it together in the judging room – it was very tough to do though!

The other image I wanted to make on large format film for my IPC case was of my friend and CEO of the Step2 program in Reno, Diaz.  He is a huge fan of golf and I’ve had an image inside of my head that I wanted to make of him in studio with some golf equipment for quite some time and now was the time I wanted to do it for one of my 4 IPC entries.  I reached out to him over Memorial Day weekend to see if he would stop by for 6 frames.  I told him it would be quick and with the 4×5 camera all I have is 6 sheets at a time that I can work with as that’s all I can process at a time.  Diaz agreed to sit for me and take about an hour away from a basketball tournament that his son was playing in.  Here is one of the sheets I had exposed of  him.


I liked this image a lot, I didn’t think that his arms were quite right in a swing pose and I had forgotten to put a golf ball in the shot, so it didn’t make a lot of sense for me on any kind of story I might be trying to tell with the image.  However,  I also had made a few images of him seated and resting his arms on the tops of the golf clubs.  I thought that the posture of his arms on the clubs and the low key nature of the image (dark tones) and a confident expression could be a merit worthy image.  The title I came up with was “King of Clubs” and not only did it merit it was also accepted into the prestigous Loan Collection.  I did not get to see this one judged for Loan but I was again fortunate enough to see it judged for merit the first evening at IPC.


This brings us to my 4th and final image of the 2016 print competition season.  I wanted to fill out my case with a baseball player, as I’ve had some pretty good success the past few years.  I also realized that this maybe the last year that I enter baseball players as they’ve had a good run, but its time to change it up in the future to keep things fresh.   It was the morning of the last day to enter the early deadline for IPC and I didn’t have the baseball images that I wanted this year.  So I thought what if I change things up with a  little girl baseball player.  I had to look no further than upstairs to my sleeping baby girl!  I waited for her to wake up then ambushed her by telling her not to comb her hair or take a shower.  I asked her to put on a baseball jersey and dirtied her up with a burned wine cork and put a baseball bat and ball in her hand.  She’s never held a ball or bat in her entire life and was a bit perplexed at all of this.  She had asked me how long this was going to take.  My response was to say “Shut up” – bad daddy points there, but it elicited a great expression and also a few hours of me reeling her back in and loving her up for putting up with a lot of nonsense before she even had breakfast.   Here is that image titled “Queen of Diamonds”


I was very fortunate to have it accepted in to the prestigious Loan Collection making me a Platinum Medalist Photographer of the Year for the 2nd consecutive year, meaning that all four of my entries were accepted into the merit collection and then three of them were accepted into the Loan Collection.

So it’s been a very good print competition season again in 2016, and that success has led to opportunities to share with photographers around the country my thought process of creating them and how I go about it.  I’ll write about the travels I’ve had over the month of August in a future post.  Until then thanks for reading my blog and Cheers!!

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