Photography is a unique art - one that often garners criticism for being a 'lesser' art. Photographers merely capture what's already there - simply seeing something, snapping a frame, and calling it art. In many ways, objections are well-founded. I began pursuing photography without really knowing I was doing it at first... merely 'capturing' moments and places as I went about my life. It was others' responses to my photographs that kindled my desire to improve and refine the end result - and my understanding of the distinction between mere picture-taking and artful photography began to develop. I had been capturing life for quite some time, often with very positive responses. I spent time with professional photographers and fellow amateurs, a lot of time reading, and even more time experimenting on my own. Over time, my work has evolved - often lacking in some of the refinements of truly professional work, but always growing and improving with each new shoot.
Model & Portrait Photographer
Though a large portion of my work focuses on inanimate objects and buildings, I greatly enjoy working with people as well. But as with urban exploration photography, model work takes a certain motivation - and too often, I just don't see it. If everyone's already seen it, I'd rather not shoot it - a pretty girl in a bikini against some graffiti off Goodman Street, for instance. A few photographers inspired me instantly from the beginning. John Larkin, Joe Sotelo, Michael Hanlon, Jason Wilder, and Carl Smith have all served as often-silent mentors - professionals who consistently create excellent work without any hint of 'corny' or 'overdone.' But whereas they all photograph models regularly, I tend to work with a small handful every year. I work with models who inspire me - of whom photographs automatically occur to me while we talk. I rarely work with total strangers, and find my best results have come from working with people I've gotten to know. My approach varies - from beautiful and soft to gritty and dark - based on a range of factors, but consistently falls into one of only a small handful of overall styles.
I've learned that the best model work feels natural, not posed. Every shoot should have a purpose.
If you'd like to work with me, the best way to begin would be to introduce yourself.
Over the years, I've also developed a taste for urban exploration, or "urbex," which has shaped and further refined my style from its beginnings...
Beauty In Decay
So many of my friends and family have seen beautiful, exotic places. I can't profess to have scaled a mountain in New Zealand, nor have I sipped wine at twilight in Paris. I've never seen the pyramids or the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean. But within the relatively circumscribed area of the state of New York, I have seen some truly epic places and things. Their stories are very often more interesting than tales of lands afar - these places are in our proverbial back yards, and their history is ours. Alone and with others, I've explored and photographed underground tunnels, hotels and resorts, industrial complexes, commercial buildings, homes, and illicit toxic waste dumps... all within New York.
This photo was taken in 2011 at an abandoned Catskills resort called Grossinger's - one of the most beautiful places, even in its demise. Here and at so many of these sites, a combination of moss, rusts, and mold covers nearly every surface with often-brilliant surreal colors. Moreover, the post-apocalyptic appearance is in many instances only a hint of the feel and atmosphere of an abandoned site. These are more than buildings - real people's lives revolved around them, and therein lies the bittersweet side of the pursuit. Sometimes, a site is abandoned only because its use has run out and a new one cannot be found. Unfortunately, this is rare - more commonly, a site is abandoned because its owners carelessly contaminated it, often while accumulating debts and liabilities that eventually put them out of business. Rarely do these stories ever come to a true narrative - instead, but for a scant few, they are looted and their legacies forgotten, but for a scant few. I seek to discover beauty in the destruction and decay - and, while taking photographs that defy our common understanding of what New York State looks like on any level, I'm also gathering and preserving these complex stories. Perhaps at some point, they'll begin making their way into the framework of a book...
To some, it may be relevant that I'm a Leo. In many ways, I live for others' entertainment and edification. My early urban exploration photographs were intended literally to "show" others what I'd seen... the decay, the toxic waste, the fire damage, and what Mother Nature does to man's creations after he abandons them. Over time, though, I've come to fashion a kind of art out of the effort. There's not much of a market for post-apocalyptic photo prints, but I don't shoot for the money.
I try to shoot these buildings as realistically as possible because tomorrow, they may be gone - and too much history has already gone so grossly unrecorded.