Saturday, August 9, 2014

Desert Forest

I'm writing this post after the fact, as I'm no longer living in Tucson, Arizona.  This was the last photography project that I completed prior to leaving.  Tucson really is full of surprises, none more unexpected than the forest landscape that emerges from the mountains that border the city.  While Arizona is one of the hottest and driest areas of the country, a gain in elevation is all that is needed to cut through the desert landscape and reveal a forest of towering trees.

I was able to spend a weekend on the summit of Mount Lemmon, a 9157' peak and was constantly struck by the stark beauty of this world.  Trees grew from the dry ground and although the green was expansive, a view from the top showed how quickly this growth dropped back towards the desert valley.

Despite the trees, this forest could never be described as any type of Eden.  The desert was always too close, encroaching at every opportunity.  Lighting storms that frequent the summit had reduced many of the trees to greyed scarecrows, whose shriveled limbs appeared as if rain had never brought life through their bows.  These corpses seemed a constant reminder of the harsh life below, perhaps even a warning, as if the desert was kept at bay only by the lack of oxygen.

There certainly was no lack of sunshine at this elevation.  In fact, at times even though the temperature was less than in Tucson, the height of the peak was noticeable as one felt the gain in proximity to the sun.  It felt as if it was resting on your shoulders throughout the day, forcing the visitors of the park to take cover under any shade the trees could provide.

 As with most things in the desert though, the transition from daylight to dusk is more magical than in most any other part of the country.  All the inhabitants breath a collective sigh of relief as the sun makes its retreat from the daily onslaught that is desert living.  The beauty that comes from these sunset hours can only be explained as the sun congratulating those who have not perished on a battle well fought, while the colors emitted breath a beautiful warning of the harshness to return at next dawn.

To view the rest of this series please click here.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Freighthoppers and Lunch with the Homeless

I didn't know what to expect when I set out to photograph some of the travelers - some would call them homeless or vagabonds - that often can be found on 4th Avenue in Tucson. What I did find though challenged any preconceived notion that I might have had about those living on the streets.  I believe the general opinion of those without homes and means is that they are dirty, unhappy, riddled with addiction and hopelessly lost.  What I found in my brief encounter with a group of five travelers can only be summed up as happiness and beauty.

I met this group of travelers in front of the local Goodwill store and as they asked for some money for food, I decided to enter their world and facilitate some photos by buying them lunch. Fifteen dollars bought some turkey, tortillas and cheese and they agreed to have lunch with me. What then happened challenged the first assumption of all homeless being filthy. While these people were covered in dirt from riding the rails as their form of transportation, each of them went into the Goodwill restroom to wash their hands prior to eating. Then, as we began to talk, I realized that this group had in fact freely chosen to live this life without homes and that they were, overall, extremely happy to be living and begging on the streets. Smiles and laughter were much more common than any complaints.  One traveler in fact, was heading to California to meet his newborn son and couldn't hide his pride in the fact that he was a father.  Even their pet dogs seemed to relish the freedom of this lifestyle, despite not knowing were they'd find their next meal.

While this is only a single meeting out of millions of homeless around the country, and that my short encounter is not indicative of these people's entire human experience, it did help me solidify the idea that a book should not be judged by its cover. Not all homeless have addictions, or are hopelessly dirty, just as not all those with comfortable jobs are happy.

For a more comprehensive look at the lives of those riding the rails as a form of life, I recommend that each of you follow this link to Mike Brodie's incredible work.

For my full online portfolio please follow this link here to visit

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dessert at Food for Ascension Cafe

I recently created some images for a local cafe in Tucson that specializes in vegan and gluten free food. As I work to finish my MBA I can't help but be drawn to restaurants who are progressive and are creating really healthy food. I'm not vegan, so I'm not referencing that directly, but simply stating that I respect those who are concerned about what goes into our bodies as our fuel. Everyone has to eat and so many in the United States make choices about their food that can be based off of information that may not be correct or in their best interest. These decisions have lead our country to a place where so many are getting sick and the rate of diabetes, while already high, is growing at five percent every year. Because of this, whenever I get a chance to help out a restaurant that is dedicated to health and well-being, I get really excited.  

The Food for Ascension Cafe is located just off of 4th Avenue in Tucson, AZ.  They source local food and when possible grow their own.  The desserts looked absolutely delicious and really are a great option for those who are looking for foods that may fit their dietary restrictions.  

Above is an image of their home-made truffles.

Above is an image of their blueberry and lemon-vanilla ice cream. I was lucky enough to try this after the photos before everything melted and it was amazing.

The last image from the Food for Ascension Cafe. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Me Gusta Explicar - Juan from Huacachina

I recently spent a month in Peru prior to attending business school and have wanted to share some of the stories of the people that I was able to meet and photograph along the way.  My very favorite encounter happened in an oasis town named Huacachina where I met Juan, the “man who likes to explain.”  Huacachina is an oasis straight out of the Middle East, except this is Peru.  It sits about two miles outside of Ica, and is surrounded by miles of giant sand dunes.  I arrived planning to stay for two days, and ended up hanging around for four. 

I met Juan on the afternoon of my first night in town.  There is a walkway with restaurants and shops that surrounds three-quarters of the lagoon, and Juan sits at the far end, where the sand engulfs the sidewalk.  He works building and renting sandboards, and has been doing so for the last 19 years.  I took a couple of photos of him working, and he called me over, telling me that I looked like a person who would be interested in hearing a story.  I spent the next hour with him, listening to him describe ruins named Choquequirao that are larger than Machu Picchu, but listed in few guide books.  He said, “me gusta explicar,” which translates to “I like to explain.”

I asked him if I could bring my girlfriend the next day to hear another story.  He told me that if I came he would tell me of the time when the waters of the lagoon used to be red and yellow from the minerals that seeped in through the natural spring.  When we arrived he described a time when Peruvians believed that the waters had leading powers, and even through the sulfur would sting their eyes, people would come to bathe, hoping for a miracle.  It all ended when the adjacent city of Ica grew and tapped the spring that fed the lagoon.  The waters are now pumped in artificially and most tourists who come are international.  He spoke of the magic of Huacachina, which remained for me, but had waned for him as time had passed.

I’m not sure of all the reasons why I am drawn to people like Juan and the stories they tell.  I do know that I feel a deeper connection with any place I visit through the people that live there.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Aurora - Enviromental Portraits - 4/2/11

Meet Aurora.

This is the second in a series of environmental portraits meant to celebrate the girl next door, and how beautiful she is in her own surroundings. Emily was the first to pose for me, and she introduced me to Aurora who was also willing to sit for the project. Aurora works as a costume designer and splits her time between New York City and upstate. She was working on some gigantic wings for a client and was just finishing the project when I arrived. Feathers were everywhere.

I was able to capture some photos of her and her project and then some portraits. I'll look to post additional photos of her in the future on a new blog dedicated to this project. I hope you enjoy the theme and comments and questions are welcome.

This amazing old thread spool case with some of her materials in it.

Portrait while Aurora puts up her hair.

Aurora sitting in the downstairs section of the house in which she works, tape measure draped around her neck.

Great afternoon light. Cool shadows. Beautiful model. Nice image.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Half Hour in Ireland - 3/29/11

This past week I traveled to Ireland for work (not photography related) and amid my busy schedule of meetings, flights and not so much sleep I was able to spend about a half an hour walking through the small seaside town of Crosshaven. I was lucky enough that the person I was meeting in Ireland, Caroline, was willing to drive me around on the way to the airport or else I wouldn't have seen much of anything. The village was exactly how I pictured it would be from my mental image of Ireland that has been constructed over the years of watching movies and seeing pictures.

I think my favorite memory of the entire trip though, was the smell of cow manure as we were getting off the plane in Cork. The airport only has five gates and is nestled amongst farms. So instead of the smell of concrete or gasoline, I was greeted in Ireland by the smell of farms. Then, my cab driver, who spoke in an accent so thick I had to fake understanding at points, had no problem squeezing in his, and the city of Cork's, entire history in the ten minute ride we shared together. When describing the economic troubles of Cork and the 14% jobless claims, he only said that he had to believe in the words of his parents, "The apples will grow again, they always do."

This photo, I think, describes some of the changes in Ireland. The man seems to be a quintessential Irishman, with his glasses, tweed cap and newspaper. He seems to belong on a small lane in a small village but here is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a city that perhaps has grown up around him instantaneously.

My favorite. Many of the roads in Crosshaven were one only one lane. The double yellow line suggests that at some point these were two lane roads that houses covered when they fell from the sky.

Power lines are everywhere. So are TV antennas.

The Irish have the best pub signs. Each is a work of art.

Great lines and geometric shapes.