Posted on March 13, 2013
Last fall, I was hired by talented musician Michelle McAfee to shoot some publicity photos in support of her (then) upcoming album Float. After discussing the concept, negotiating, scheduling the shoot, scouting, a bout of food poisoning, and re-scheduling the shoot, we managed to pick a day with a 90% chance of precipitation. Fortunately, our day was the 1 in 10 where the weather forecast was completely wrong. We did have some gusty breezes, but not only did it not rain, the sky was a mix of sun and cloud and the temperature was pleasantly warm. Michelle and I, along with her friend Melissa Mitchell (a talented musician in her own right) hit four diverse locations in close proximity that afternoon, and came away with all the shots we needed and then some.
Michelle used the photos for the inside and back of the CD cover art, as well as the album poster, and her press kit. Here are some of my favorite images from the shoot, as well as pictures of the CD cover.
Posted on January 21, 2013
I am very excited to announce that I will be moving my office and talents to Cleveland, Ohio, starting in March. I’ll have a new mailing address, but my phone number and email won’t change, so you’ll still be able to get hold of me in the usual ways.
When my wife Perrie and I visited Cleveland in January to find a place to live, I had a couple hours to walk around downtown with my camera and just a 50mm/1.8. Here’s a bit of what I saw. I’m starting to learn my way around but I can’t wait to get back there for good, to get to know the people, explore a new part of the country, and make new pictures!
Posted on January 9, 2013
Following on the success of last year’s Critical Revue night, Pauline Zonneveld and I are proud to bring the event back for another go.
As photographers, the most important marketing tool we have is our portfolio. You know the portfolio is supposed to be the best of the best images you’ve ever made, but how do you know which those are? What order should they go in? Which image is bringing your book down? Or is your portfolio any good at all?
These are questions we all ask ourselves every time we look at our work. Critical Revue 2 is your opportunity to get open, honest feedback from people who know what they’re talking about. (It’s also a good excuse to meet/socialize with your fellow photographers!)
We are grateful for the support of our sponsors: Plywerk, the coolest, eco-friendliest way to mount and display your work, built right here in Portland.
And Pro Photo Supply, the best camera store and rentals department around.
The idea is based on something Zack Arias did in Atlanta. Basically, email Matthew your digital portfolio or body of work, show up at the studio with a chair and beverage, and listen and learn as the panel of experts critiques the work. The work will be projected for everyone to see, and the whole audience will hear—and learn—from what the critics have to say.
This is not about pixel peeping, or even deconstruction of individual images. The idea here is to look at a body of work and evaluate the body as a whole: what works, what doesn’t, why, and how it can be improved.
Zack’s rules apply:
The work will be reviewed by a panel of people who know what they’re talking about: photographers, producers and photo editors. This year’s panel includes Troy Wayrynen, photo editor for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver; George Olson, former Director of Photography for Sunset, and current board member for Northwest Center for Photography and iWitness gallery; and Shaun Mendiola, Art Director for Mutt Industries ad agency. The panelists’ opinions are their own, of course, but they’ve been around the block and their experience covers a wide cross-section of the image creation business.
We need your work! If you want to submit work to be considered by our panel here’s what you should do:
Space is limited—please “join” this event on Facebook.
Posted on January 4, 2013
It’s a good exercise to look back, periodically, at your work. The start of a new year seems to be the natural time for that, so here, in no particular order, are my 10 favorite portraits from 2012.
I love photographing people in their own homes, because the home really is a reflection of its inhabitants. Many of the portraits in this post fit into that category, but this portrait of Judy Donovan is a particularly good example. Judy is the Vice President of the Beaverton Historical Society and a descendent of several of the city’s founding families. The assignment was to make some photographs in front of the “museum” she is building in her backyard, but as I walked through her house to get there, I saw this room filled with historical artifacts and knew it would be a good location. So, after we’d done some photos out back, I asked if we could do one in the living room. We made several nice frames here, but what made this one stand out is the Mona Lisa smile Judy gave.
Pepe Rafael is such an outlandish character, it was hard to go wrong on this shoot. I had asked the singer/performer to wear whatever he might on stage. When I arrived at our meeting place in the Pearl District, he wasn’t hard to find. We just popped around the neighborhood, stopping to make pictures in a few locations. I didn’t have to work too hard to get good stuff, but I particularly like this picture because it shows how his outrageous character goes all the way down to his toes.
This is a bit of an odd shot of cooking/nutrition instructor Jenna Alexander. We did the shoot in her kitchen, which was in the midst of a remodel—the cooking area was finished, but the eating area was not. This was pretty much the only angle that was going to work. Most of the photos were “happy/fun” shots, which were what the assignment called for, but for this one, she just gave me this look that took the image in a different direction.
Laura Niemi is the program coordinator for the City of Portland’s community gardens program, where people can pay a small fee to grow things in a plot at a city park. We shot this at one of the newest community gardens, in Ed Benedict Park, which has a series of raised-bed gardens intended for seniors or people in wheelchairs. What I like about this picture is what you can’t see—the grey, drizzly day we shot it on.
My shoot with author Marianne Buchwalter might be my favorite of the year. In fact, there were two portraits from that shoot that I really love—the picture above and one of her in front of a large bookcase—and I could barely choose between them for this post. I’m still not sure I made the right choice. But this portrait just brings together a number of elements that just work: Marianne’s engaging pose, the books, the bust (of her as a child), the monochromatic background—and, by the way, more lighting than is obvious.
This shot of the band Milagres was part of a personal project that is still a work in progress. I wish I could claim credit for dressing these guys in five different single-shade tops, but that was just what they were wearing at the time.
This portrait of tin can artist Jim Tessier breaks just about every rule I know—the subject is centered, the background is cluttered, and the light comes almost directly in line with the lens. And yet, I think it reveals more about the man (or at least what I saw in the hour or so I had with him) than the action shots and portraits I made of him working in his spare bedroom.
I would dearly love to share this photo of musician Michelle McAfee shot for promo materials and cover art for her upcoming album. But it hasn’t been released yet, so I have to be patient. What I can tell you is that, after a couple hours of shooting (thankfully in sunshine where we expected rain), everything came together—concept, a found prop, lighting and pose—to capture the feeling we were looking for. I can’t wait to see how it looks!
This portrait of bird photographer Steve Berliner was made early in the year, standing in a place where both of us would normally be up to our knees in water. I was a bit nervous trying to photograph a photographer, but his comfort with the process made allowed me to capture an image emblematic of the birder in his environment.
One of the last portraits I shot in 2012, this picture of wheelchair-bound artist Carol Johnson made me sit forward in my chair as I downloaded the session from my camera. For me, it truly seems to capture the woman I met that day: the concentration and determination to make her art with her one useable hand, a bit of whimsy in the rainbow kite mounted on her wheelchair, and perhaps a sense of isolation in her condition. I couldn’t hope for more.
Posted on November 20, 2012
I often write here about the fascinating people I get to photograph, but Pepe Rafael really stood above the others. Pepe, leader of the band Pepe and the Bottle Blondes and member of several other groups, is a natural entertainer. How’s this for a resume: after quitting school at 13 to work as a welder, then training in boxing and ballet (interrupted by a year and a half of mandatory military service), the native of Madrid emigrated to New York in his early 20s to seek his fortune. He started his career with various dance companies on the east coast before taking a job with the Oregon Ballet Theater in 1992. He’s been based in Portland, performing with a wide range of ensembles, ever since.
I had no idea what to expect when I met Pepe in the Pearl District on a hot, sunny day in early September. I’d asked him to dress as he might on stage. He wasn’t hard to find. Resplendent in a red and black torreador’s outfit, beret and thick-rimmed glasses, Pepe was happy to pose in several locations around Tanner Springs Park and Jamison Square. While there, we (well, he) caught the eye of a video crew who recruited him for some B-roll footage for a reality show they couldn’t name for a major network they couldn’t name, filming in Portland at the time (I can neither confirm nor deny that it might have something to do with this).