Seeing as yesterday was Mother's Day, I had to include my mom in this project. She has supported me through every crazy idea I have had... from my long haired, punk rock guitar days, to dropping out of college to travel across the country, to starting my own business and getting married, she has been believed in me the whole time. Thanks mom! Much love, and I wouldn't be who I am without you.
Ive added a new assistant to the SLP team, and thought I would intro him via the 52 Portraits project... Everyone, meet Jack! He is headed to film school in the fall, but will be working with me in the mean time. He's been a huge help so far, and its nice having another trust worth set of hands around when things get hectic.
Tim, pre hair cut. Someone once told him he could be a Hollister model... or so he says. Sorry for the late posting. Its been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, and just realized I hadnt been posting these!
Of course I would include my dog in this project (Not sure how he beat my wife!). He's a pretty good dude, and got a weeks worth of snacks to make this picture happen. Thanks for not peeing on the seamless paper buddy.
Ruthie, the other half of 22|44. She didn't know she was going to get her photo taken until about 30 seconds before it happened... but I guess thats what happens when you show up to a studio.
Brittany is literally always smiling, and its pretty infectious. She's a great producer, and when things get chaotic, you can always count on her to be positive and keeping things moving forward. Aside from being an awesome producer, she has created her own fashion line called 22|44 you should check out. Thanks for being part of the project Brit!
John is the owner and biologist behind Alluvian, a skin care company that makes its products largely from ocean based ingredients like seaweed, salts, and other minerals. He is currently in the process of building a new site and asked me to do some photography for it - ranging from product/still life sets to some lifestyle and portrait scenes. I love working with people that believe in and are passionate about what they are doing, and John is no exception. After we got done shooting last week, I asked if he would mind lathering up in front of the camera with some of his shave cream for a portrait.
My Uncle Ned is this weeks subject for the 52 Portraits project. We spent a lot of family get togethers jamming in his basement on one of the coolest guitar collections you could imagine. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Instead of letting it define his future in a negative way, he has decided to use it as a tool to both strengthen others with Parkinson's, and educate people on the topic. A series of events led him to join a program called Rock Steady Boxing, where boxing is used a tool to literally fight back against Parkinson’s. You can read more about the boxing program, and my Uncle’s story here.
Growing up, my summers were often spent going on day, or occasional weekend trips with my grandparents to go fishing. These afternoons at various fishing ponds were often followed up with some cookies my grandma would bake for us while we were out. There are dozens of hilarious stores, great memories, and zero notable fish caught from these trips, but they did inspire my first short film. I wrote this project out last summer, and shot right before my Grandparents headed to Arizona for the fall and winter. I wanted to put it out a bit sooner, but have been so busy with client work and travel that I just couldn't find consistent time to really sit down and get into editing and colour.
Most of my film work to this point has either been advertising or interview/b-roll type stuff, and while I enjoy that, wanted to write my own short out and start exploring narrative work. I picked up the Black Magic Pocket Cam last summer (admittedly an impulse purchase), and it ended up getting used as a B cam on some of the filming we did for Peoria's tourism campaign. We were all pretty impressed by how well it handled some scenes, and how seamlessly it blended in with our RED footage. After that experience I decided I wanted to shoot an entire project with it, and really push it a little harder to see its limitations, and just get more familiar with the camera in general. Over all the writing/shooting process was a tremendous learning experience for me. It was a challenge to make the story work, keep it interesting, and give it the little bit of humor that my grandparents poses, with only 1 spoken line in the entire thing. I also directed and shot the whole thing, which can be challenging to keep your actors doing what you need while also being stuck behind the camera. Thanks to Jordan, Austin, and Rob for helping in various ways, and my Grandparents for bringing the story to life!
My friend Ty - coffee connoisseur, people lover, all around great guy. Ty is also an owner of 3030 Coffee (like Dan below). As I have observed him working over the past few years, I am always impressed by the respect, dignity, and positive attitude he shows every customer who walks in his store. Thanks for being part of the series man!
Dan is a co owner of my favorite coffee shops, and over the past several years of going there on a near daily basis, we have become pretty good friends. Dan has always had a pretty cool beard or mustache combination, so I thought it would be fun to include him in the project. We shared a couple beers, chatted about our favorite taco places, and came out with this image.
"You know that huge fish hanging on the wall in your basement?"
"Think about the moment you landed that thing."
"You know I caught a bigger one once, but I let it go... man it was huge."
I met Collin when he asked me if he could purchase a print from my Wyoming series. He plays in a relatively popular band from the area, so I knew who he was, but we had never talked before. I loved his dreads, and asked if he would be up for letting me take his portrait when he picked up the print. He's actually lounging sideways in a chair for this photo. Its been interesting learning how to adapt situations to best suit a subject while still accomplishing the end goal and keeping the images consistent with the project. Thanks Collin!
*This article was originally written for the Apex blog, run by Jeff Woods. It's not as much of a photography post as it is a personal life post on my past, my goals, and how I lead my life and business. Thanks for reading.
At 27, I am just beginning to fully understand what it means to be a leader. There are various aspects of my life that demanded that I be a leader in some capacity, and others where I have chosen it. My father died when I was 15, and as the oldest of 4 kids many people started me that I was the ‘Man of house’ and that I needed to not only be a leader for my siblings, but strong for my mom. I took this as seriously as anyone that age probably could have, and there where times where I both lived up to, and fell short of that demand. I attended Columbia College in Chicago for photography, and dropped out after my third year based on the decision that more debt would hinder my travel dreams and ability to keep living costs low when I wanted to become self employed. In 2013 I started my own business, and became fully financially dependent on it within a year. That same year I also purchased my first home, followed by getting married in 2014. Through all of these phases of life, there are a few constant things I have observed about leading that I really believe will carry me forward.
Big Picture Focus - Lead for the long haul. As you take on projects, jobs, or personal life responsibilities, don’t get so wrapped up in the immediate that you lose sight of your long term goals. Just as a good architect wouldn’t put together a bunch or random rooms to see if it functioned as a house, you need to approach everything from a standpoint of how it fits into your long term goals and values. As a leader this sometimes just means saying no to a project, even if you feel guilty for doing so. It can also mean trusting and empowering someone else to manage and take ownership of a task so you can focus on other things. There will always be some projects or responsibilities that are required of us that seem to make no sense at all. When I am in these moments I try and learn whatever I can from them so that my other areas can at least be strengthened through what I experienced.
Quiet Leadership - I will admit that in a social situation I can be the crazy that likes to have a good laugh. When it comes to the things that are important to me and pursuing my dreams, I tend to be a quiet leader, and let what I am doing speak for itself. There are times when It is necessary to be vocal and confident in what you are doing, but your actions almost always make a bigger impact. There is always going to be someone louder, flashier, and trying to hog whatever attention is available. Trying to compete with that will only leave you depressed, and will just distract you from actually accomplishing anything. Leading with your work and not just your mouth is a lot harder. Its definitely the slow path, but when the others run out of things to say, you'll have accomplished something worth sharing.
Enabling Leadership - This type of leadership can take many forms, be it submitting to your spouse, confidently trying out something new that an employee thinks of, or just not being that person that has to have the last word in a social conversation. I personally find surrendering to others the hardest. I am a very calculated thinker, and often map out every outcome of any situation beforehand. Letting others make a decision even if its not the one you would make is such a powerful way to show that you value someone and trust them. From doing this it has also taught me that different isn't always wrong. Better is often relative, and sometimes being willing to let an employee or peer do something their own way can be such a valuable learning experience and trust building experiences.
I find it interesting that Leadership and its value is almost always tied to the corporate world, and almost every example you hear about is from a business leader. I understand it, because people want to emulate and learn the success of others, but there are so, so many more areas of our lives where we are often called to be a leader but the opportunities tend to go ignored because their may be no financial benefit to them. The most rewarding moments in my life have been when I have let go, and just enabled the people around me with my best energy and commitment. The past few years I have had the honor of helping friends start businesses, become freelance creatives, and land big projects that didn’t always have a direct benefit to me. It was about helping others reach their potential, realize their dreams, and grow as well. Those experiences are priceless not only from the relationships they have formed, but from what I have learned as well.
I admire John immensely. There are few people on this earth who selflessly care about others at the capacity that he does. He is in amazing leader, father, grandfather, mentor, and pastor, that always has a newfound energy and passion for every person he meets or talks with. Thanks for letting me photograph you!
My friends daughter 'Fluff' has had big hair as long as I have known her. Ive always thought it would be fun to shoot a portrait of her, framed by her own hair, and this project gave me the perfect reason to.
Creating something is one of the most rewarding experiences a human can have. There is something magical about experiencing what you have envisioned come to life in the physical form. Digital photography is probably the quickest pay off in the creative process. Technology has largely automated the technical aspect, and software allows us to easily correct a lot of mistakes. Unlike a painting that may take months to complete, or a song that may take countless hours and other people to help write and record properly, the amount of time it takes between picking up a camera to getting a few dozen likes online is pretty minimal. That statement isn't at all intended to take away from the many years and thousands of hours that many masters of photography have spent refining their craft. I’m also not here to argue wether photography industry has been financially weakened because of this, but rather, has our potential creative joy been robbed because of it?
The more time and energy we invest into something, the more satisfaction we will experience from it, with that satisfaction being specifically derived from the creative act itself, regardless of someone else liking it or not. If the value of what we are creating is ultimately defined by the immediate response of others, we are robbing ourselves of a truly fulfilling and lasting creative experience. The question we should ask ourselves when picking up a camera isn't "what can I get from it," but, "what can I give to it.” What would it look like if we shot our own way, searching out what our own voice and contribution to photography could be, rather than following Instagram and Pinterest recipes? How do we interpret and perceive the world around us, and then project that back out through the camera. How are we viewing the camera as our blank canvas to carefully and purposely create our masterpiece with, rather than a paint by number guide to having a popular Facebook page? When our view as creatives shift to “what can I give,” how we approach the creative process changes drastically, and in turn, our creative fulfillment becomes greater through the process.
Last summer I had the honor to help direct the new tourism TV spot for the City of Peoria. My friend TJ is a creative director and writer, and was approached by the City Of Peoria to create a tourism piece for the city. We worked together to come up with concept, script and locations, and after approval from the City, we shot the piece below, along with several other videos focusing on new business and residential growth in Peoria. It was an insane schedule that spanned 8 solid shooting days (plus 2 auxiliary days for landscapes, or city events that happened outside of the shoot schedule), nearly 30 locations, a crew of 8, plus talent, and 2 emergency room trips. Super thankful to the City of Peoria for Green-ligting this project, and to everyone who worked on the shoot. Looking forward to the next one!
Mike has become such a good friend and mentor to me over the past couple of years, so I knew I needed to photograph him for this project. I don't think I know anyone who can simultaneously work so hard while also leading an awesome family the way that he does. If man cards were a real thing, your face would probably be on them Mike.
"I can't be serious very well."
"Thats ok, this is just about showing off who you are."
"What should I do?"
"Why don't you look over at your husband..."
Kacy Lehman, for week number 3 of my 52 Portraits project.