I think of these photographs as big city grit. The people and the buildings are perhaps my favorite scenes to find. I ache to capture people going about their days amid a noisy cement city. I am also drawn to the trains, steel, and mix of old and new architecture that one finds in bigger cities. It was in Chicago and San Francisco where I first noticed how we are often alone and together at the same time.
Trees are how I got started with this latest phase of my photography. As a kid, I used to draw them over and over, never getting the branches quite right. When the ease of the digital camera came along, I would go to the woods near my house and photograph the same trees on different days and in different light. I love trees' changeability and how in winter they are still quite beautiful in their twisted and stark ways. I like how trees are different depending on where you are. I love how they hibernate and are then reborn. Many of these pictures were taken in a forest preserve that runs throughout Chicagoland. The giant sycamores stand in southern France. Some of the scary ones with wild branches live in New Orleans.
This series is about people, beaches, sun, and sand all taken during the height of late spring or summer. Lake Michigan is in a lot of them from the vantage point of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. There are shots from southern France, Arkansas, and Iceland too.
Green is everywhere if you'll just look and can mean many different things. Green means naive and gullible, sickly-looking, and laden with envy. It also signifies spring, protecting the environment, vibrant strength and vigor. These greens were taken in Chicago, Iceland, Michigan, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Scotland.
It's hard to write about the sun because it comes out all cliche. So I'll say this: Another way I got started with smartphone photography was to point the camera straight at the sun just to see what came out. I'd filter the results with different apps and look for what I call the keepers. "Is it special?" I would ask myself each time. If the answer was no, I'd delete. The sun is what makes photography possible. And every second of every day affords a new capture. You just have to find it and then make it work.
I've always loved Magritte, Escher, Dali, and Man Ray because their photos and art were disorienting and interesting. Max Ernst's work also intrigued me because he made me understand in a way I had not before the ruins that the two world wars left behind. I am especially interested in trying to incorporate surreal elements into the cityscapes I love so much.
Water is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, but it is also an essential reflector of light, not to mention cloud maker. Here it is captured as rising, falling, blinding, turbulent, blue, green, boggy, and smooth like glass.
One of the things I love about the sky is that it changes constantly, which means that there's an endless opportunity to get a new shot that's both different and the same. Dawn is different than noon, and noon is different than dusk. And sometimes it's rainy and other other days are cloudless. And if you can take a picture of both water and sky, then the reflections provide a whole different opportunity to capture something beautiful or odd. Add in mountains or hills or islands, it gets more interesting. These landscapes and seascapes are what our ancestors saw and what millions after us will see if we don't wipe ourselves off the planet.
Southern France is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Montpellier, where we stayed, has great food and light, and people are willing to help you even if you are terrible at French. Vegetables taste better in France than in the States. Sycamore trees are everywhere, and the mix of really old buildings and modern-day bustle is somewhat surreal.
Iceland is magical, especially in May when tourist season has not peaked. The sun never completely sets, and the days are warm and bright enough for sunscreen. The greens are really green in Iceland, and the black volcanic rock is stark and jagged. If you are lucky and get up close and personal with a glacier, you'll find that it sort of emanates a cooler temperature. And there's a lot of mist from roaring waterfalls and there are hundreds, maybe more, of cold salmon-filled streams. The country is surprisingly small, and when you learn its history, you wonder how anyone was able to survive the winters. Astronauts trained there before they went to the moon. And because of the darkness in winter, perhaps, many believe in elves and other magic.