Punks on White - United Blood Fest 2019

A couple years ago, I set up a white paper background at The Middle East Club, in Cambridge, MA and made portraits of the attendees of America’s Hardcore Fest. Done in the tradition of Richard Avedon, setting up a white background in open shade and using that incredible even light to make the subject pop against a blank canvas. That shoot had a couple of limitations: it was December in Boston, so there was only a few hours of daylight, it was cold, and the paper was fairly short.

This spring I was finally able to continue to project at United Blood Fest in Richmond, VA. I loaded up some HP5 in my Mamiya c330 and hit the road. This time, I planned ahead and brought a 7ft roll of paper and scouted a good location on the side of the building. Plus, since it’s April, I had many more hours of daylight to work with.

So, shout out to Avedon, Drew Carolan (who assisted Avedon and photographed punks at CBGBs in the 80s), and all the students of the white background.

Notes from a very long drive

A few weeks ago, I drove up to Philadelphia for a portrait shoot for a band. Raleigh to Philly is a very uninspired 7ish hour drive, almost entirely up I-95. Unless you tell the GPS to avoid highways that is. Then it becomes an 11ish hour drive through the swamps of rural eastern North Carolina, up through the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia and then through the Delmarva Peninsula. It’s much longer, but far more interesting trip.

I loaded up on podcasts and set off with no time goal in mind and a plan to stop anywhere that looked interesting. I brought my Leica M6 and Holga 120 Pan loaded with HP5 and, for the first time in a very long time, loaded up some color 35mm in my Bessa R4M. The color is waiting to be developed, until I build up a bigger back log. Lets dive in.

Memory and the landscape of the South


Oakdale Village, Jamestown, NC

Lydia’s Bridge, Jamestown, NC

Greensboro, NC

Woods behind parent’s house, Jamestown, NC

Thermonuclear bomb burial site, Faro, NC

I’m draw to the landscape of the South for what it holds, takes, gives, and the history behind every part. All the horrible things that are directly tied to the land of the south conflict with how rich and abundant the land is. The land holds ghosts and mistakes as easily as it gives life to agriculture and industry. I’m drawn to sites like Oakdale Village, where the land is reclaiming buildings from the cotton mill town built there in the early 20th century. The Jamestown overpass where the ghost of Lydia is said to be, a long standing local legend that holds some truth, is a constant reference point in my memory growing up there. The land swells with rain and trees can no longer stand up to increasingly severe storms in one part of town, and in another seem to have remained unchanged for 30 years. And finally in eastern North Carolina, a thermonuclear bomb sits buried since a 1961 accident under a stand of trees in the middle of a farm. It’s a wild place.

Gone back south

And suddenly nearly 6 months have passed. Rachel and I are living in Raleigh, North Carolina. We headed down here at the end of December. It’s been 10 years since I’ve lived in the south, and now that I’m back, I’m turning my camera onto the places that stick out in my memories of growing up here. Places I was obsessed with as a kid due to ghost stories and folk tales, and places where the unending alterations of time and technology are either apparent or seemingly absent.

I’m still honing in on process and approach, but so far 4x5 and pinhole have played a big role along with the precious few packets of Polaroid Type 55 that I lucked into at an estate sale back in the summer. So far I’ve been around Raleigh, finding Cry Baby Lane, and near Siler City to go to the Devil’s Tramping Ground. More places around North Carolina are on my radar soon!

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Old Newbury Bonfire 2018

The town of Newbury holds a bonfire of the areas discarded Christmas trees each January. The town gathers in a snow covered corn field at Tendercrop, enjoying a carnival like atmosphere for the evening until the local volunteer fire brigade ignites the 30 foot pile of discarded Christmas trees. It's really quite a sight.

2017 Portrait Recap

In February of this year, 2017, I set a little goal for myself to shoot more portraits. Friends, bands, strangers, whoever. I'd been looking hard at Irving Penn (some of his work had been up at Lesley College, in Somerville, Mass), Richard Avedon, and Diane Arbus.

Penn and Avedon's highly considered, slow, meticulously crafted portraits have always resonated with me. The attention to light, pose, and care in how the subject allowed themselves to be portrayed is incredible. Equally incredible though is Diane Arbus' character studies of folks from far outside the norm of society. Her photos have immediacy and drive, like she couldn't be bothered to deal with intricate studio fussiness, so she threw a flash on her camera and went out searching for interesting faces.

My goal was to just focus on making portraits, in either approach, and figure out the best way to shoot either with as small a set up as possible. This ranged from finding white walls to serve as blown out backgrounds, taping white paper up in open shadow, to shooting outside of clubs with a small light kit.

It's been a fun year, with some pauses for travel and commisions during the summer. But after this past weekend, where I taped up some paper outside of the America's Hardcore Fest matinee show, I think it's time to collect everything for a look and to serve as a jumping off point for more work next year.

For technical freaks, these were shot on the following: Hasselblad 503cx, Mamiya C330, and a Toyo-View 4x5, all on HP5 and all souped in Xtol.

Herritage Flowers

A few weeks ago I spent a cool and misty morning out with my friends Dre and Sarah lending a hand, or getting in the way, at a plot of land just north of Boston. Here Sarah tends to several rows of a larger urban farming project dedicated to her passion for growing flowers and floral arrangement. Sarah and Dre prepared the garden for the coming season and began the process of planting seedlings while wild turkeys looked on and cool spring morning gave way to a balmy early summer afternoon.

Emma and George for Ashely Rose Couture

Emma Ruth Rundle and George Clarke of Deafhaven took time out of their busy touring schedule during their stop in Boston to work with Ashely Rose Couture on a super fast, down the wire, shoot. Featuring some newer pieces from Ashley, make up by Paula Pedrosa, and jewelry pieces by Burial Ground, we shot in the upper balcony area of the Paradise, a long standing Boston rock club. 

I've been shooting Deafheaven's and Emma's show for years, so it was a fun change of pace and challenge to create much more structured portraits to feature both the intricate clothing and jewelry and their striking personas. 

Boston Women's March for America

175,000 people gathered on the Boston Common, Saturday, January 21st. Standing, marching, and organizing together in a sea of people; they came to protest not only the newly elected Donald Trump, but also the fact that it's 2017 and women across the nation and planet are still faced with a daily battle for their rights, equality, safety, and autonomy.

Shooting with Ashley Rose Couture

Last week I shot some with the awesome Ashley Rose Couture. Michelle Dugan modeled two of Ashley's creations and her makeup was done by Denekia McCoy-Scarbrough.

Ashley's haunting designs can be seen in the pages of Vogue and Juxtapoz magazine. 

Check them out: