The District v2


The White House with it’s fence that LOOKS formidable from close up, but not so bad when you step back. I like this perspective.

So I’m in Washington for a shoot, a good shoot, a rambling, flowing shoot that wanders for several days from the inside of the district to the edges of the Virginia countryside.

I’m staying in a hotel in Georgetown, close enough to the heart and soul, walkable. Just where I want to be.

I love this town.

“You’ve never lived here,” my friends say. True enough. And I always visit when it’s warm, so it’s hard for me to imagine the gripping cold on my thin hands as they try to reload the Leica, or in this case the Blad.

I love this town because it feels like something is going on. Always. I’m an outsider, a complete outsider and because of this I have a special skill. Naivety. Everything is new. Everywhere is new.

Visitors mass in front of The White House. When I first started shooting here I think this street was still open.

Standing on the street corner in the early morning light. A guy next to me in a tan trench coat, dark sunglasses and the butt of a cigar wedged in his teeth. If I’ve ever seen anyone who looks more like a spy I can’t recall. He must be playing a role? Or perhaps he is a spy, just not worried about looking like one?

I always stay longer when I come to this place. If the assignment lasts three days, I’ll stay four or five, just so that I get some time alone.

And when I say alone, sometimes I am alone, walking solitary, but other times I’m surrounded by tourists, by visitors, hundreds if not thousands of them, but I still feel alone because I’m in work mode. I’m walking yes, but I’m LOOKING. And when I look I can simply disappear.

I can stand in front of them and it is as if they can’t see me. With the Blad I’m looking down and holding it low, so I don’t exist in some ways.

There is much going on. There are many unhappy people, some display their wrath with fire and others with quiet.


One of the many protesters near The White House.

I have the Blad and the 80mm, which is what I’ve done 99% of my square work with. Very inexpensive. Very standard. Vanilla. Black and white.

Framing with square is different from any other method. I sometimes have difficulty switching from the square to the rectangle and then back. In some ways, like any other technique outside the standard 35mm rectangle, the square is a gimmick. It really is. It looks different, so there is a tendency to try to get away with things when using it. I’ve done it. I try not to.


A lone, quiet protester who emitted the most peaceful vibe.

The air is thick, hot and very humid. The temperature hovers near 100 degrees. The cameras are hot in my hands and the light has totally gone. Totally. I seek shade and dark places, not because I can’t take the heat but because those are really the only places I can make a picture in this light.

I walk for hours.

My pants are wet with sweat, my shoes are squishing around a little bit. I love the heat, but I walk with the cameras under my arm to try and keep them as cool as possible.

The monuments are a big part of the city, and yes, they have been photographed millions of times. But not by me. And even if I had photographed them before, I would still go back to them every time I visit the city. Not just for images, but for the reason they were placed there in the first place.


The Washington Monument with Delta 3200 and luckily a bit of cloud cover.

Languages. Voices from all over the world are around me, here to see the same thing I came to see. This place means a lot to a lot of different people. In some ways I think this city is nearly forgotten by many Americans. My family never went when I was growing up. Politics cover this place in a residue that is hard to penetrate if you are bothered by that kind of thing. I’m not.


Inside The Lincoln.

I shoot a roll of color in 35mm and keep framing and snapping with the Blad. I walk the entire day, shooting about three rolls of 120. I can see the images in my head. They are not particularly great “”moment” images, although a few are, but they are a recording of my time in this place at this exact moment, something the spy could use to retrace my steps.

The light is still bad and it limits me, but this is nearly always the case. I look for the strange places where I can work with the splintered light. And then I wait for the sun to sink, for the light to get direction and then I pounce once again.


A message left by a wishful individual.

As the day comes to a close I angle back toward the hotel and dry clothes. I empty my pockets out on the bed and count my take, something I always find exciting. What did I get? The not knowing is what I love the most. The trip home begins in the morning.

A Sense of Place

My aunt and I share the same birthday, so I always try to call her on the day.

She recently had a book of poetry published. The poems came to her in a “moment of clarity” and suddenly began to flow through her. She wrote them down, thought of self-publishing, but decided to try one mainstream publisher who quickly gobbled her up. I am thrilled for her.

But something from our conversation really hit home. It was that “moment of clarity.”

You see her moment happened when she was holding her granddaughter, and watching her grandson as he roamed and ran. It wasn’t as if she was sitting alone in a darkened room, meditating with flute music. She was in the midst of things, which is what made me stop and think.

They say we all have a “powerspot,” or a place that we subconsciously relate to. “They” being educated people like the college professor that explained the “powerspot” to me.

I agree with this. I have several. One happens to be the drivers seat of my car. Another is the seat of my bicycle. And my other “powerspots,” they vary, move around.

But when I land on one, my best work emerges. Always.

It is during those moments of pristine clarity when, I think, our true creative being emerges. We find the focus we need, we find the second layer of the project, or the third, fourth or fifth. And suddenly, your vision becomes as clear as your moment.

Currently, one of my “powerspots” is where my mom lives. I only get there once, maybe twice a year, but each time I’m there I always manage to find a moment of clarity. And when I do, I make pictures. I make these pictures for no reason other than to make them. I have to.

And what these particular pictures seem to do is give me a sense of place, of being, without really showing where I am. They are like fingerprints, inspired by nature, perhaps a return to my youth. I make them each and every time I go, and I’ve found them more and more interesting over time.

I feel an energy in these images, a respect. I’m not sure anyone else would feel it, or should feel it, but I’m curious about that.

I actually printed one of these, large, roughly 30×30 and it sits framed on my mom’s mantle, above the fireplace. It’s odd to see it, then look out the window and see the real object. There had to be something that alerted me to photographing this object, and then print and frame this object, and then have my mother hang it. There had to be an unknown force. At least it feels that way.

I think the key to these moments is not necessarily the work that is made directly from the experience, but rather the realization of what happened, that you had this moment, you could feel it, and in some ways experienced a creative breakthrough.

At first I thought these images were not really “mine,”, but now I think, perhaps they are “my” work. Maybe they are leaving tracks for me to follow. A warning? A suggestion?

An Old/Young Friend





Fun Alert:

You might recognize this one, as I have photographed her many times in the past. Often times people ask me what I like about photographing kids, and the answer can be complicated, mostly because there are many things I like.

In this particular case, I had not seen this little one for some time, and the best part of the shoot was the first five minutes, when I wasn’t shooting, but rather was just talking with her.

I must have been sleeping for the past 40 years because I’m still shocked at how fast kids grow.

Just spending five minutes, not shooting, just catching up,hearing about her side of life is, for me, really fascinating. She has a sister as well, so I’ll be posting some pictures of her in the coming days.

These images are with the new Sony Camera, the A900, which is a very nice camera, with a fantastic assortment of lenses. But in the end, the best equipment is the gear you never have to think about, the equipment that simply allows you to connect with what you are doing. If you are thinking about, or looking at……….your equipment, you are not thinking about or looking about, what you SHOULD be thinking about and looking about. Know what I mean?

These were all shot with fixed lenses. I don’t use zooms. Although if I did use zooms, there are few stellar options in the Sony lineup, including a Zeiss or two.

This shoot was so much fun for me, and I hope it was fun for the girls. I feel being able to do this is a complete luxury, one which I never take for granted. Being allowed in to see these little people becoming big people, and just listening to what they have to say.

It never gets old. Only we do.