Wrapping Up 2012 – Part Two

"Final M3 Selfie"  -  Fargo, ND

“Final M3 Selfie” – Fargo, ND

Where did we leave off?

Oh yes, when we last saw our hero he was leaving Fargo, North Dakota, and setting off for a summer job unlike many others. He had been to England and Portugal, and had finished the academic semester in Fargo. Now, back to the action…

Summer Job

This project grew out of my summer spent with the US Air Force. As a reservist, I report for duty one weekend every month and an additional 15 days each year. This summer, due to a shortage on the base, I was tasked for an additional 100 days over the summer months, and I planned to create a body of work representing the time spent there, documenting the daily comings and goings. Using a compact film camera, I shot roll after roll of film as I worked and traveled throughout the country.

“Summer Job” – Minneapolis, MN

“Preparation” – Denver, CO

“Red Light” – Provo, UT

“Cold Weather Issue” – Minneapolis, MN

If you are interested in more of the project that I worked on over the summer, or to see the complete selection of images and the book that was created, you can do that here. The project was something different for me, and helped me to learn about creating, starting, finishing, and editing a project. The photographs, in their finished form, tell a story that many people do not see and do not have access to. Photographically, it was a great learning experience for me.

Twin Cities

Following my time in Fargo, ND, and the summer spent working with the Air Force, I moved back to the Twin Cities. I spent time with family, back in what I consider to be my hometown, doing the things that I enjoy here.

“Transaction” – Minneapolis, MN

“Watching” – Minneapolis, MN

Enjoying life, and relishing the little visual moments that I came across…I realized that it’s the little things that sometimes make good images.

“Family” – Minneapolis, MN

“Topless” – Saint Paul, MN

Anna Maria Island

The small island on the Gulf coast of Florida has been a destination for my family for decades. This year, I brought my recently-acquired Hasselblad to see if I could force myself out of my comfort zone and shot portraits, and used the square format, to see what I could come up with.

“Hannah” – Anna Maria Island, FL

I learned that despite varying format and equipment, I still see the world in a certain way. As a result, I take a certain kind of images. This was reassuring to know, as it tells me that I am–slowly, but surely–developing a personal style of photography. Or maybe the style has always been there, just under the surface; now I know how to tap into it and I am more finely attuned to recognizing it.

“Approaching Storm” – Anna Maria Island, FL

“Untitled” (from the project Floridians) – Anna Maria Island, FL

The annual tradition, in which my family descends upon a small resort for the last week in July in the scorching Florida sun, returned for it’s (for me) fifth successive year. My family has been going the same week, to the same resort far longer. It wasn’t until this year that I began to see the place in a new light, visually. A new project–which I am tentatively calling Flordians–began to take shape, though this project is far from finished. It may not even be fully conceptualized at this point, but the seed is germinating in my mind at this point, and I’m interested to see where it goes in the future.

Saint Paul Cathedral

The second major project I finished in 2012 was my long-term project dealing with the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Named for the saint, and not the city in which it resides, the cathedral was an inspiration to me when I needed some last year, when I started shooting it. Not initially intended to be a long-term photographic project, it evolved organically as I continued going back time after time to make images of it, and in it.

“From Above” – Saint Paul, MN

“Directed” – Saint Paul, MN

“Holy Cards” – Saint Paul, MN

To see the full set of images I selected, go here.

Final Word

And so, the annual review is done. I recapped some of the best, and some of my favorite, images of the year. They didn’t all make the cut, since I decided to organize this not strictly along the basis of single interesting images, but rather thematically.

“Self-Portrait” – Anna Maria Island, FL

After re-reading much of this post it appears rambling, and without direction; it is being pulled in many different directions, going many places (both physically and artistically), and unsure of its purpose at times. Perhaps that sums up the year more than anything I could say. This was very much a year in flux for me, unsettled and in transition. It was also rich and rewarding, stimulating and invigorating.

To follow that theme, here are a few of my favorite other images that I didn’t group thematically for one reason or another.

“Window Light” – Lisbon, Portugal

“The Eye” – Saint Paul, MN

“Lake” – Grand Marais, MN

So that’s it. My grand review of the year 2012.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Questions, comments, and critiques are always welcome around here, so take the time to place one in the comment field below.

Fargo Archive

“One Stop” – Fargo, ND

I was going through some old shots today and stumbled on a quick set I thought I’d post. These are from Fargo, North Dakota this past winter, and all shot with my MInolta CL, which I no longer own. That was my first rangefinder camera, and started me on the path that I am now, to a certain extent. It was a nice camera, but more of a starter-camera or a backup camera than one’s only camera; the meters are notorious for going out and are now impossible to repair as three decades of repairs have depleted the supply of parts. It’s very small, and well designed for the most part, save for the bizarre film-loading process which I didn’t like. Other than that, it was a fine camera. I’m glad it was my first!

Family Mealtime – Fargo, ND

Weather, and other things, have been keeping me busy lately and posts have suffered. I have been shooting, but I have a bag of about 30 rolls of film that needs to be sent out at some point so that I’ll have something new to post. Until then, keep checking back for more on the blog!

I’d also love to hear some thoughts on the new look of the blog–do you like the layout? Is it better or worse than the old layout–and why? Thanks for your input and feedback!

“Lunch” – Fargo, ND


Happy Anniversary

“Beach Love” – Florida, 2009

I wanted to take the time today to wish a happy anniversary to my lovely wife, Megan. Two years ago we were married in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in a small ceremony. Honestly, I don’t think I could have made a better decision.

Thanks for making me the happiest guy around 🙂

“FC Porto” – Portugal, 2012

She has been there with me as we moved to three different states, and have traveled from Duluth to Lisbon. There is no better travel companion.

You and I have been through a lot in the 6 years we have been together now, and married for the last two…

“Injury” – Michigan, 2010

No matter what, you’ve always been there for me, and Max too. We appreciate everything you do for us!

As is usually the case, I’m better at expressing things with photographs than with words…

“Underwater” – Florida, 2009

I look forward to the next years together. Thanks for being my wife and supporting me through everything. Thanks for taking care of me and being there when no one else is. Thanks for loving me unconditionally. Thanks for putting up with my incessant picture-taking, too 🙂

I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

“Mirror” – Minnesota, 2011

There is no better muse for me. Thanks for posing for me for the last 6 years, and I hope you’ll continue to be such an awesome model.

There is no prettier model for my lens.

“Flight” – Paris, 2012

As always, I hope you all like what you see here, and thank you for continuing to return, post after post, to read what I have to say and see the photographs that I post here. It means a lot to have some many folks reading, and it’s awesome to read comments from those of you that take the time to do so. I know that it takes a few extra minutes to log in and comment, but it does go a long way on my end to get the support from the readers everyday.

Thanks to everyone. If you like my work, check out my website, too!


Space & Photography in the USA

“Target” – Fargo, ND


I have talked before about how difficult it is to shoot street photography in Fargo, North Dakota. What I think is a better thing to talk about is not how difficult it is, but how it changes the way I shoot the streets. It’s simply not possible to shoot in the same way I shoot London every year, or the way I shot Lisbon, or Manchester, or any other big city. My year in Fargo, North Dakota, has really made me realize to a greater degree what I already knew: space in the United States is different from anywhere else in the world.

We Americans have a funny relationship with space. We need more of it than anyone else in the world that I have met. Maybe the Canadians are the same way. I spent much of my childhood growing up in Europe, and have traveled from Tokyo to Porto; nowhere else have I encountered a culture so obsessed with size, and with space. Maybe that’s not quite right. The Japanese are also obsessed with it, but on the other end of the spectrum: space is a precious commodity, and they managed to use it as efficiently as possible. In the States, we treat space like every other commodity, which is to say we think of it as never-ending and disposable. Culturally, we have adapted to having space all around us–big cars, big houses, big yards, and big roads. It’s all about space.

Fargo is the extreme example in my experience. Everything is more spread out than most other places, and everyone who is from there has a “personal bubble” around them–the concept of the “personal bubble” is a very American thing in and of itself–but it is extreme in Fargo. Coming closer than a few feet from people elicits stares and nervous glances, making it very difficult to get close to people to shoot the streets. As such, I am forced to change my approach when shooting there. The streets are also generally devoid of people; things are so far apart that driving is necessary for any trip anywhere.

So shooting street photography in Fargo is different. Subject matter is different, and I pay more attention to background, surroundings, and composition that I do when shooting the frenetic, tight streets of London. This set today is from a roll of film I shot in my $20 Olympus XA2 point-and-shoot camera–another argument that the camera doesn’t really matter. It’s what you do with it.