Some fantastic work from my students

One thing that's been keeping me busy lately is teaching. After hosting classes in video production for several years here at Columbia College, they finally gave me the class I've wanted to teach for a while, ART 285, Intro to Photography.

This is a challenging class. In addition to the basic principles of photography, we teach students how to process black and white film, printmaking in the traditional darkroom, digital techniques AND we study photography from an historical perspective. The textbook I selected for discussion is Susan Sontag's On Photography, but we also read Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment, and a selection of modern photography articles on the Internet. 

I'm literally teaching them everything I know about photography. There are always students who hang around after class who want to learn and discuss even more.

Here are a few recent shots from them:

A great car shot from Murphie

Photos by Angie (top), (from left) Morgan, and Sarah.

Photo by Annelise

Photo by Taylor.

Another great one from Murphie.

I look forward to seeing what they come up with as we enter the second half of the semester.


Single Roll Stories: Branchville, October 5, 2013

I'm trying something new... well not really new, but different for me at least. I like the concept of the single roll story -- using a single 36 exposure roll of film to make a cohesive set of images. Using film in a limited amount really forces one to think about compositions and the specific shots.

For this series, I found myself at my childhood home. I was struck by how much had changed, just in the last few years. The lush, dense woods behind the home are now gone, torn out to make room for presumably more housing. Once upon a time, we thought there was a pond back in those woods, but the curtain has been pulled back. All that exists where the trees once stood is a plain of sand, as lifeless as the crust of the Moon.

There are other changes too, ones that remind me of my own mortality. Ultimately we continue moving forward whether we like it or not, in life and perhaps even in death.

These images were shot on Tmax 400 film.


Bugging out

After being inspired by some recent "nocturnal macros" from my buddy Stewart (, I decided to use my 100mm macro lens for something a bit different from the wedding rings I typically photograph with it.

I can't even look at these images without my skin crawling!

Cicada Husk

Garden spidersOrb WeaverGiant Garden SpiderI have to admit, macro photos are challenging to get right. The depth of field is an issue, and simply stopping down the lens past f/16 doesn't always make a sharper image thanks to diffraction. I light with a single diffused flash, held on a cord close to my subject. I'd like to try adding some ring flash for additional fill.


Prayer Walking with Pastor Goat

It's five minutes to eight o'clock on a Saturday morning. The Shed is full of men this morning, drinking painfully acidic "trucker coffee" and preparing for "Man Time," a weekly devotional and discussion group. A bag of Hardees sausage biscuits circles the room and spirits seem high, as this particular group of Christian bikers plans to head to Winnsboro later in the day to shoot video for their website.

Pastor "Goat" seems unusually restless, even tormented this morning. Known in the circle as the "Yuppie Biker" for his choice in sportswear and high-tech gadgets -- an iPad sits in front of him and he's wearing a voice-activated Bluetooth link with a bright blue blinking LED -- Goat is the assistant pastor for this flock. He wants to get the group out walking the streets today and spreading the word. It's known as "rolling prayer" or "ghost riding" but Goat prefers to call it "spiritual warfare."

The group departs Man Time and by 11 a.m. is standing on the main street of Winnsboro. The media team is setting up a camera and testing microphones. Goat seems at odds with this endeavor and announces to the group he intends to "prayer walk" instead of help make the video. Another biker joins him as they head in the opposite direction, past faded storefronts and abandoned buildings in search of people who need help.

Barely a minute has passed when Goat approaches a resident, introduces himself and gives her a "Blood of Christ" pin from the stash in the side pocket of his leather cut. The red glass pins are a signature device for this group and they reportedly passed out more than 500 of them at a recent bike rally. The woman is grateful and gestures down the street to "a dark area" that needs spiritual help.

Effortlessly, he continues walking. He claims he's guided by the holy spirit, and before lunchtime Goat has prayed with half a dozen residents. 


Mindy and Micah

Photographed my little sister's wedding last weekend. The wedding was in Lane, S.C., with the reception at the nearby Venture Plantation. The bridal portraits were shot on the University of South Carolina Horseshoe back on a cold, windy day in March.

I've had the honor to photograph many weddings for friends, co-workers, strangers, friends of friends, both of my sisters, and even my grandmother when she re-married. I started doing weddings back in the late 1990s when we still used film. It's always been a side-job/hobby for me, and it's never been about making money. But I feel like I've reached the point where I need to step back and focus on my personal work.

So this is my final wedding, and I'm glad it was my sister's.