Evolution: From Photojournalism to Abstraction


Boston Rock Magazine
Boston Rock Magazine
Desiring to move up a level from the Boston, Massachusetts freelance market, I planned a trip to South Korea.  Armed with knowledge about intercultural communication from my Stanford University international relations degree, I studied the country’s politics, history and culture before I left. I also learned some Korean. 3/85

South Korean Elder
Once in the country, I asked this man in Korean, “Can I take your picture?” “Yes,” he replied, drawing himself up into this expression of pride. It is one of my favorite images. 5/86

Christian Science Monitor
I was not, however, prepared for covering riots. In lieu of a gas mask, I found a bright red smoke hood in my hotel room. While passably functional in minimizing the effects of tear gas, it performed wonderfully in eliciting bystander chuckles. 7/86

New York Times Magazine
I showed the results of my South Korea trip to magazine editors and photo agency owners, before being asked to join JB Pictures. The agency chief Jocelyne Benzakin began securing me assignments from domestic and international publications. 1/87

US News and World Report
I returned to South Korea in 1987, prepared with a gas mask and helmet. I documented history, covering the transition from dictatorship to democracy. 7/87

Newsweek Magazine
I photographed the 1988 United States presidential campaign extensively. Though I felt for Ms. Dukakis, I was excited that my image caught the right mood for Newsweek’s post-election cover story. 2/89

VSD Magazine (France)
Before traveling to the Soviet Union, I once again studied history, culture and politics, along with learning some Russian. My reportage focused on the arts underground and emerging capitalists. There is nothing quite like doing nothing but taking pictures for six weeks. 6/89

Apu Magazine (Denmark)
JB Pictures not only secured me assignments, but also syndicated my photo stories to magazines and newspapers around the world. As with the Soviet Union story, I wrote the text that accompanied this story on a polygamist in Utah. 6/89

Life Magazine
With my teenage classmates at Phillips Academy, Andover, we looked at the work of photographers W. Eugene Smith and Larry Burrows and dreamed of being published like them in Life Magazine. Dreams can come true. 2/91

BioMedical Waste Systems Annual Report
Cracking thirty and meeting the love of my life led me to shift gears into less life-threatening and more lucrative corporate work. There is nothing quite like making an unpleasant medical waste processing facility look sexy for investors. Note the fresh yellow paint. 5/93

State Street Bank
Unlike the often daily shooting pace of photojournalism, the rhythm of corporate work was market, market, market and then a large stressful project.  Dissatisfied by this approach to making a living, I actively began pursuing a non-photographic career. 7/96

Christian Science Monitor
Just at this turning point, an entry-level position at The Christian Science Monitor was offered to me. I jumped at the opportunity and began working as a lab tech, mixing chemicals and processing color film. 2/02

Christian Science Monitor
The position evolved and I began photographing a wide range of subjects for the different sections of the newspaper. 11/03

Christian Science Monitor
I branched out further into photo editing, writing articles and authoring a blog. 1/05


Christian Science Monitor
Deciding that it was time to share my photographic knowledge, I began teaching at Hallmark Institute of Photography. 6/05

Sunrise from the Ridge
Teaching full-time and freed from the dictates of assignment editors.  At first I wondered, “What am I going to photograph?” However, as I found myself experimenting with techniques, the question became, “How am I going to photograph?” 04/07

Christmas in April
Just shooting for myself, without thought of commerce, my explorations continued and deepened. 4/07

Muggy Midtown Manhattan
As it happened, Phyllis Giarnese, a stock photography industry veteran working at Photolibrary, became interested in my explorations. She refers to photographers as “artists.” I began seeing myself in this way. 7/07


Stop Sign Shadow
To shoot this clean shadow, I moved a creeping plant out of the frame. After years of adhering to the photojournalistic code of not altering a scene, this “radical” act constituted a breakthrough. 7/07

Dancing Moon
I captured this abstraction of the moon by keeping the shutter open for 2.5 seconds while jumping up and down. Several days prior to making this image, I had come across a performance project video by Papo Colo in which he literally jumps over a series of fences to demonstrate the unfettered physical and intellectual freedom available to artists. 10/07

Chelsea, New York
One of my teaching colleagues David Frazier developed an assignment for students to photographically recreate a painting. On a field trip to the Williams College Museum of Art, a student and I looked at the German modernist painter Lyonel Feininger’s “Mill in Autumn” and debated how to recreate it with a camera. 10/07

Stairwell
In an attempt to create an effect like the multiple planes of Cubist paintings, I began layering exposures on top of one another. 11/07

Steel Bridge I
I cannot tell you how excited I am about this new direction. 12/07

Snow Steps
Stock photo editor Giarnese encouraged my to add human narrative to my images. I also read an article about the elaborate sets and created realities of photographer Jeff Wall’s work. Seeing this beautiful snow scene, I carefully made footprints before shooting. 1/08

Orange Field
A few days after attending colleague Peter Chilton’s 20th century art survey class, I took this picture without a lens on the camera. A color field photograph, perhaps? 1/08

Water Bottle Lens
Moments later, I used a water bottle for a lens. 1/08

Reconsidering Mt Rushmore
I derive great joy from looking at art and making art at the same time. I created this image at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 3/08

Railroad Bridge II
In my class on Visual Literacy, I maintain that just as you need certain skills to learn to read words, you need certain skills to read images. In the visual realm, light is equivalent to the alphabet. I encourage students to enrich their image diet, as what you look at affects what you see. 5/08

Country Porch
In the process of courting and then signing a contract with corporate art provider Grand Image, Angela Bizzari, the outfit’s art acquisitions manager, encouraged me to shift my work to read less digital, less photographic. At the PhotoPlus Expo in New York, I found some software to move my imagery in this direction. 11/08

Cycles of Life
Along with the many others who have mentored me, I cannot thank Ms. Bizzari enough for her enthusiastic and critical support. 11/08

Branch Embrace
as I set forth / into the day / the birds sing / with new voices / and I listen / with new ears / and give thanks - A verse from a Harriet Kofalk poem. Sometimes I affirm to myself, “May I see with new eyes.” Or, “May I see with new ears.” 11/08

Car LeWitt
After viewing Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective at Mass MoCA, I was inspired to scrape my car window frost in curvy lines, modeled after the precise squiggles of the artists that draw LeWitt’s concepts. The warming defroster lines created and then erased, this spontaneous line art. 1/09

Sunrise from the Ridge II
At Hallmark, where I teach, we are often treated with guest speakers. One time photographer Robert Farber visited and mentioned intentionally overexposing digital images and using high ISO ratings to artistic effect. Essentially, he spoke of breaking the rules. 4/09

Sailboats Racing
Thriving in an educational setting has led me to new creative visions. 4/09

Cycles of Life II
Just the other day, a student came into my office explaining a technique to create unusual planes of focus by removing the lens and then holding it close to the front of camera. While giving this offbeat method a try, I realized that I love taking pictures as much today as ever. Please click here to view my ongoing explorations. 4/09