- Live In Concert
- Our World
Today is Colorado Gives Day. A non-profit near and dear to my heart is Colorado Youth at Risk. Colorado Youth at Risk (CYAR) provides high-quality mentoring with community support to help youth make positive life choices, complete high school and prepare for a productive future. CYAR works to fulfill its mission using the following core values: integrity, community, possibility, awareness & commitment. Unlike many other youth/mentor organizations, CYAR uses a model of one on one mentoring with a year long pairing of a youth and mentor. What we have found is that what our participating youth are in dire need of is an interested adult, listening, and someone that doesn't give up on them. Committing to this "showing up" is key. In exchange, the mentors (I have done this and worn other hats for CYAR as well) get remarkable training they can use in all their relationships and throughout their lives. The community you share with the other mentors, volunteers, staff and youth will live on for the rest of your life. Some of the most remarkable people in my life that I know, are from being a part of this organization. These photos are from the amazing "Launch Course" which kicks off the year. This exercise helps youth break through (literally) what is holding them back, which is written on the board. Breaking this board, which the majority of youth and mentors alike, start out thinking impossible, is a metaphor for what is possible and also breaking through limiting beliefs that hold them back in life. That's just one of a myriad of transformational experiences you and your youth will explore. I highly recommend being a part of this community yourself. Please reach out to me to see how and where you may best fit in and make a difference. And for my out of state friends and colleagues, today especially, is a great day to donate the always needed funds. Doing so TODAY before 11:59pm will ensure CYAR gets the full benefit of the $10,000 matching pledge. Please click here to donate. Many thanks and happy holidays!
A few years back I created what would become a classic Red Rocks concert photo. I am happy to share that the photograph was selected to be included in the the new coffee table book Red Rocks, the Concert Years, put out by G. Brown and Colorado Music Hall of Fame. He will be spinning stories and signing the book tonight, 7 p.m. at The Tattered Cover on Colfax. I hope to see you there! Here is the story of how this photo came to be. Australian supergroup The John Butler Trio was in town. A perennial Red Rocks favorite, they played an intimate show the night before at the Fox Theater in Boulder which I photographed. The next day I was feeling a cold coming on, you know that feeling? When things start getting scratchy, energy flags.. I was looking forward to a cozy night at home resting. Then the phone rang. It was the lighting guy from Red Rocks who also does the Fox lighting. John Butler's management had just had the "UH OH!" moment realizing a fantastic Red Rocks show was going to happen and they had no one lined up for some amazing Denver concert photography. So I got the call. Not too keyed up honestly, to haul out to Red Rocks not feeling well, I had terms. Payment! Check. Four VIP passes for some friends (darn sure wasn't going to drive myself lol!). Check. ALL ACCESS, all night. Check. Ok, we're on! The last one, ALL ACCESS, was really key. Normal protocol for a photo pass, is first three songs, no flash and maybe you get to hang for the show. This protocol is fading more all the time as artists' "handlers" get more and more uptight about images. Kind of crazy with all the cell phones you see, taking crappy quality photos that end up all over the place. I arrived at Red Rocks, and how nice to be treated with such respect as an artist! I was allowed to crawl all over that place, including the stage. I never bothered going in front where all the other shooters were for their restricted time and access. As a result, I got some of the best concert photographs I've taken, ever. And the band and management concurred. This particular shot was literally at the very end of his last song, taken from stage right. A moment that needs no explanation. Perfection. John Butler himself regards it as one of his very favorites. Stay tuned for more from this show and other concert faves from over the years.
On April 11, 2008 a dream concert shoot finally happened: I photographed B.B. King, the king of the blues! Over the years I have been blessed to photograph so many of my favorite bands and become known for my Denver concert photography. But not all of the performers bear the mantle of honest to goodness legendary status. I had always hoped for the opportunity to document in my own style, this amazing patriarch of the blues. Hope isn't always enough to make your dreams come true. So when I heard the king was coming, I had to make something happen. He wasn't getting any younger! I had by now made some connections in the industry so I reached out and one thing led to another which led to getting B.B's manager's phone number. Somewhat to my surprise, permission was granted and just myself and one other photographer were in the photo "pit" on that night at the Buell Theater. This was a pivotal night for me for another reason. It was my first time shooting something that truly mattered with a digital camera. I was a die-hard film fan. I still love it and miss it being the mainstream medium of the day. But that night, I was advised our time shooting King may be quite short as old school bluesmen usually let their band warm up the crowd for a tune or two. Not knowing what kind of light we were going to have or how much time, I decided to pull out my new digital camera as with that, I could change my ISO setting in nearly an instant. I was very pleased with the results and during the course of just one song I made several shots that rank among my favorites. This shot here is one of them, capturing that great joy B.B. King always exhibits when he gets to play the blues for a live audience. The detail, colors and latitude of digital capture had finally come around to my exacting standards.
Fashion photos for print work is definitely up there as far as what a lot of photographers aspire to do with their careers. This kind of work can afford travel to beautiful locations and the opportunity to work with models who can definitely make your work easier. Depending on their level of expertise and their ability to know themselves and how to "work it" for the cameras, working with a professional model can make for a very smooth session. I did this shoot a few autumns back, in Hollywood and Malibu for a designer I met in Denver who was in town for the big Western English Sales Expo that coincides with our famous National Western Stock Show. She invited me to L.A. for the session. The first half of the shoot we did at her Hollywood Hills home. It was (of course) a lovely and unique place to do photography. I was really lit up with excitement and creativity that was contagious and the shoot went great! The designer, Marrika Nakk, was thrilled - so much so, she requested I take the models to the beach (oh, I suppose..) and make it happen without her. She was in extreme pain having recently broken her arm. She flipped with joy when she saw the results. Several of the shots are represented in this ad she ran with my images. We now enjoy a great friendship and I look forward to returning to California for more work soon!
Wouldn't it be great if life gave us many more "aha!" moments? Those moments of "this is the right thing to do," be it choosing the right home, car, date, life partner or career? Career - that's a biggie. I was blessed with such a moment when I decided to choose photography (at least for a year) while also considering a career in law. I went to college and got my degree in marketing. That qualifies you for a sales job, of which I had several. Coming to terms with the fact that jobs aren't all that great, I was in search of my career. Well, why not go back to school? Law intrigued me. So I took the Kaplan Course, passed the LSAT, got accepted into the school of my choice, took a breath, and then was confronted with my creative side and outside observers who said "Why not be a photographer? You have way more than a passing interest and talent." Hmm... I guess if others were making a living doing that, so could I! So why not do it? I'd try this out and have law school to fall back on. Well, that was the "aha" moment. I immediately began answering the "What do you do?" question with "I am a photographer." Wham...I started getting inquires left and right for jobs. I hadn't even begun my photo training with my guru Heinz Richter. I knew enough to get in trouble, but also to seek coaching from the master. Often! But I definitely possessed the eye and the gift for this craft. This image stands to this day as an "aha" moment/image. My first paid portrait session, and an image that to this day remains one of my favorites (and many other folks' as well). It was even requested and sold at an event at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. I still have it on my wall to serve as something of a talisman. I hope one day to track this young man down (now no doubt in his twenties) and recreate this timeless shot!
Memorial Day is always a special one for me. In fact I consider it the most precious of the "secular" government declared holidays. It is for me as spiritual and soul-moving as Christmas and Easter (sans Santa and the Bunny). Yesterday I was able, through the gift of my travels and cameras, to have a solemn remembrance and reflection at Omaha Beach and some of the other Normandy beaches. Particularly moving is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. On June 8, 1944, two days after the landing, the U.S. 1st Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils. From this view, I am at a loss for words at the thought of human carnage and death that colored this sand and water red seventy-two years ago. As the clouds parted on an impossibly heavy overcast day, and this rainbow shone, I am reminded that good does conquer evil in the end. Thank you to everyone and their families who sacrificed on these beaches to bring peace to Europe and the world. Thanks to all who sacrificed through the ages and continue to do so to this very day, to keep our nation and way of life free and alive!