Is photography an art? So that leads us to the question, “what is art?”
Art leads you to a new perception, to a new way of seeing, of thinking. Can photography do that? Most certainly it can, at least in my humble opinion.
Since my youth on our dairy farm, I wandered around with a camera whenever I had a free moment. If I didn’t have a free moment I would steal one just to be out with the camera. We had plenty of chores on the farm, but since there were many of us, I always had subjects for portraits from our very real life.
I liked to walk alone a lot, or, I should say, I loved to walk on our fields, along the river bank, through the woods, accompanied with our dog and even some of our cats. I sat by the river and occasionally was visited by a hesitant fawn or watched the otters play in their own form of Splash.
After graduation from high school, where I served two years as photographer for the year book, I decided I wasn’t ready for college yet. So I traveled. My sister and my brother-in-law were in the Peace Corps in Liberia, Africa, so I saved money for a ticket to travel there. We lived in a small jungle town where nights were accented by drumming from various points of town to keep us advised of safety. An occasional jungle cat would come to the edge of town but the smoldering fires kept them at a distance.
I learned that I didn’t like to kill chickens, I much preferred eating them. I learned that people are the same everywhere. I had my one friend, but because language was an issue, we might sit in a tree near the house for hours finding a way to communicate about our families, our life, our interests. We had a little spider monkey that used to hold on to my ankle as I went about my day.
I did have a camera then, but getting film was not an easy thing in our small town, so I ended up with very few images to show after my return. I had planned to stay for some time, independently, or indefinitely. Until I came down with malaria. That changed things for me, so I traveled (once I was able) to Europe with my sister and brother-in-law where as it was predicted, the cold winter weather got me back my appetite and I began to recover.
I lived on the East Coast of the US for awhile, then traveled again: along the coast to Florida; Northwest Territories in Canada; California, Arizona, the Grand Canyon. Then, across the big water again to South Korea where I lived for nearly two years. When I returned, I finally made the decision to go to art school and study photography seriously.
What did that get me? It led me to a very interesting life. I continued to travel and eventually began to work in travel, writing about my trips along with the photographs I took. That led me to Mexico. I was already traveling here as often as possible, but my first time to Puerto Vallarta, I was totally enamored. Walking along the Malecón that very first day, I knew I had come home.
And so I’ve been here now over 26 years. Before I became established as a photographer, I worked as an English teacher. That opened the doors to me to some of the people here who are still my friends. I worked in the local and international media for awhile, primarily for magazines, covering cultural events and more in Puerto Vallarta, while traveling as often as I could for travel magazines.
There came a time when I realized to really put down roots here, I had to take certain things more seriously: my family life; the language; the local culture and people. Enough of travel already! (Well, not totally. But it is true that since my daughter was born eight years ago, I have only left Vallarta for travel, even work, a limited number of times.) Last summer she and I took our first serious trip together, to Mexico City, which she truly fell in love with…I see more travel in our future.
That brings me to today
I love photography like I always have. It was in my veins as a child and shows no signs of changing lanes. I love to shoot weddings. Love is what makes the world go ‘round. This cliché works for me. Every wedding is my favorite, every couple is the couple I fall in love with. There is nothing like being chosen to be there to capture one of the most amazing events of anyone’s life. I do a secret ceremony (well, not a secret anymore) for every couple when I send the images: that every time they look at the images, which I expect to be a very long time, they will remember how happy they are on this day, their very special day, when the entire world was there to witness their love. (Even when it’s a private wedding, just two on a beach, with no witnesses except myself and the minister, the whole world is here as spectator. I can guarantee that, it is always magic.)
Another love of mine is photographing residences. I say residences, but that also includes any type of property from a large traditional hacienda with acreage to a chic urban studio right here in town with a focus on rentals. I love seeing living spaces. I can see the designer, whether I know him/her or not, and the way they handle the style of living they have envisioned for their client. I love staging, especially for rentals, to show how to enjoy the condo: where to have morning coffee, where to enjoy a cocktail to watch the sunset, where to have dinner when friends are invited, where to retire with a good book with a glass of wine. Or water, if that fits the bill.
If the shoot is for an architect or designer, they will usually be on-site with me to follow the process. I show them how I see the areas, and allow them to indicate any special item that holds sentimental value to the owner. I frequently hear the story of the owners, while not always meeting them. It is always a happy time for me.
Many of my regular clients are realtors who book me to sell the property. It is always an honor to be chosen in this town where we are home to many photographers. I do my very best not only in shooting but in post-processing to give every condo, every villa, every casa its best face forwards.
And events…in addition to the big events, such as weddings, I love to cover birthdays, anniversaries, renewal of vows, quinceñeras, baptisms, first communions, retirement parties and other celebrations. Anytime you want images to remind you of this special time, this special day, contact me and we can sit down to organize what works for you.
I love covering cultural events, and while these events are not usually for paying clients, I do it because I love the varied culture of Vallarta. September is the month of the patria, with a big parade on the 16th to celebrate independence day. But a couple days earlier, on the 14th, is the Day of the Charro, with one of my favorite parades of the year. Just can’t miss seeing everyone from the world of horses in their parade dress: the elders, who have been around for many decades, to the young’uns who are just beginning, and were probably in a saddle before they could walk. And the favorites for many are the Escaramuzas, the amazing women who not only ride horseback sidesaddle but move across the field in charreada style while never blinking an (lovely) eyelash. My heart is always moved by the kids who barely can walk and are already headed into their future.
Since the establishment of Teatro Vallarta and other proper venues, I love to shoot cultural events: dance, song, and other spectacles. There is something so amazing about theater…and my chosen spot to shoot is always backstage. Those who have contracted me might have been surprised by my request to shoot backstage… but they are never disappointed by the images I can capture there.
Did I mention that I like to be invisible?
My images are not about me. They are from a place that is connected with the fluidity of the universe, of light, of love.
When someone comes to me with a project, we take the time to sit down to talk about how the eventual result is visualized. Then it’s up to me to get the images to do that.
For example, when Kimberly Larue talked to me about doing a slideshow…we decided we’d like it to cover the over five or six years that we’ve worked together. I keep my images always on file in DVDs or external hard drives. But after so many years, I have hundreds of DVDs and numerous hard drives. And have discovered that hard drives have a more limited shelf life than the DVDs. After a couple of days, I had compiled the images of our various shoots, both on location and on stage as well as backstage, in action and posed. I put together a “draft” in the form of a slideshow to use images from our first shoot together with dancers on Playa Conchas Chinas to later productions at Act II. The subsequent slideshow was part of the virtual Gay Pride events in Puerto Vallarta.
Another recent project was one for DavannaYoga where Anna Laurita, my amazing yoguini maestra asked me for images from the over nine years that I have been shooting for her. It took more than a couple of days, not only to go through to reload all the images, but also to choose from all of them my favorites…so many images of so many wonderful magnificent yogis over the years. How could I not love them all?!
Other projects have been focused on a venue for events, like, for example, what we’ve always called the bullring, where they used to actually have fiestas bravas before they were outlawed in Mexico. I’ve shot a number of villas for events, with setup and staging, even models when called for, as well as the chapel at Hacienda San Angel when it was used for weddings. Some clients have preferred the beach as a backdrop to event staging, especially for weddings or anniversary events.
In recap, let me know first of all what it is you’d like to project, the image you’d like for the market that is yours. If you’re not sure, we can talk about options to give you time to think about options. If price is an object, not a problem at all, I am used to working within strict budgets.
Call me. Let’s talk!