Inez and Oscar

I had a blast getting together with Melissa, Daniel, and Victor to help them welcome Inez and Oscar to the family! This family will always have a special spot in my photographic heart---they were my first "real" clients when Victor was a newborn. Time flies and Victor is certainly enjoying being a big brother.

Melissa, Daniel, and Victor

Melissa is a law school friend who, along with her husband Daniel and their adorable son Victor, just moved back to Minnesota after a stint out West. We met up earlier this fall (hard to believe this was only a few weeks ago, it's all tundra now) at what I consider a hidden gem of Minneapolis, Boom Island Park. Grassy fields, a playground, the goddamn Mississippi River, and a great view of the city skyline. What more could a photographer ask for?! It was after this shoot that I decided that my Fuji X-E1 was perhaps a touch slow for capturing little kids running around, but Victor stood still long enough (or I got lucky) to get some memorable images. I also shot a couple of rolls of medium format film through my trusty Hasselblad.

One cool family. I'm glad they're back in the Upper Midwest.

My First Photo Shoot

Okay, so I haven't been doing photography all that long. Four years? After taking classes in high school, I didn't really get back into it until I started law school. I don't know, I guess I needed a distraction from studying? As you can probably tell, I've never really specialized, like all the how-to photo blogs tell you you have to do to get any clients or sell any prints. And maybe I would make more money if I became a photographic specialist, but that would really suck all the fun out of it. Back "then," which was about three years ago, I never really considered taking photographs of people. Until then, I had been "specializing" in the time-worn photographic subjects of the inanimate persuasion---buildings, trees, rocks---and sometimes all three at once! 

This is the story of my first photo shoot. And, like many things, it was unplanned. Rachel and I were having brunch with our good friends Priya and Stephen. I brought my camera along (a Nikon F100 loaded with Kodak Tri-X, for any who care), like I usually do, and after eating, I asked if they wouldn't mind me taking a few pictures. I didn't really know what to do, so I just kind of followed them around a bit and took a few frames. But once I developed the film and scanned the negatives in, I was hooked. From that point on, animate objects became fair game!


When I was thinking of ways to kick off my new blog, I thought, "What better topic to address than evolution!" No, not that kind of evolution. But, rather, my evolution as a photographer. If you ever want an excuse to cringe, take up a creative activity like photography, make something, wait a couple of years, and then go back and look at it. The image below was one of my early favorites. In fact, it was made during one of my first photographic excursions; I didn't even have a camera---I was borrowing my friend Priya's. Anyway, long story short, I was in the right place at the right time and caught the city at sundown right after a big rainstorm. Everything was glistening and new and I was just a dummy with a camera.

2011 edit (left), 2014 edit (right)

The saturation slider in Lightroom definitely got a workout for the original 2011 edit. And honestly, it's not that it's necessarily a bad image, but my tastes have evolved in the years since. The image on the right was edited using Lightroom 5 and VSCOFILM02 this morning, 2014.

Little things that I notice now:

  • On the 2014 edit, the bricks of the bridge are less smeared due to noise reduction (the image was shot at a low ISO, so little/no need to crank up noise reduction;
  • Higher contrast on the 2011 edit blocks out some of the darker areas, along the bridge and in the skyline---the buildings are less defined;
  • Saturation/lack thereof.

One more example, just to kick this blog off right.

Mickey's Diner, 2011 (top), 2014 (bottom)

Mickey's Diner is another example of a change in the way I edit. My style was definitely...louder than it is today. 

Anyway, thanks for tuning into my first "On Photography" blog post. Between posts of new work, I hope to sprinkle in some pieces on my workflow and evolving style. Until then.

- Joe