Fine art photos of Houston' s Skyscrapers

Is a picture of a building to the credit of the photographer, or the architect?

I’ve struggled with this question. It’s the same problem I have with taking pictures of a sculpture or fountain.Should I get the credit for a creative photo, , or should the creator of the photo’s subject be the hero? Can I claim credit for someone else’s art?

If someone took a picture of one of my pictures, is it my art or theirs?

There are ways to avoid this problem of pure documentation, all of which involve some added input from the photographer. Dramatic weather, unique light and shadows, creative composition or additional composition elements to name a few.

So during the winter of 2018/2019 I explored Houston’s architecture with an aim of avoiding pure documentation of any single structure. The images juxtapose two or more buildings while at the same time avoiding street-level noise of people, cars and lamp posts. I also tend to avoid the tops of buildings. This simplifies city-scapes into their simplest shaped and lines. Perspective becomes illusive as it is sometimes difficult to tell which building faces which direction. Sometimes the buildings are lined up in such a way that they almost look like a new single structure.

Even in a city as large as Houston, there are finite pairs of buildings that can be photographed in this way. Even so, I don’t think I am anywhere near a complete set.

Below are a few examples from this series of images ‘Dueling Towers’. Fine-art pigment prints using high quality metallic paper are available for collectors - contact me for more information.

Portraits of Dominika

Dominika is an extraordinary violin player and teacher. She also plays as part of the Axiom Quartet and the Dancewict-Doucet Duo.

For this portrait session we took some close up shots of Dominika with her 19th century violin. This was a hybrid session using a digital camera and a large format camera (the Intrepid 4x5) using black and white film.

Portraits of Sergio

I love meeting people with curly hair like mine so I can bombard them with questions on how they deal with it in the mornings and where they get it cut.

Sergio’s portrait session resulted in some great social media head shots and some full body shots that wouldn’t look out of place if he was interviewed for a magazine.

This was a hybrid film and digital session using a Hasselblad 500cm and a Canon 6D mark 2.

Using shadow barriers to anchor a viewer on your photograph

How can you hold someone's attention on a photograph? What about making barriers to stop them from leaving?

Photographs are not often studied for long periods of time by the casual viewer, but I think if you can hold someone's attention for 5 seconds rather than two, the image is somewhat victorious.

Many things can grab the viewer's attention - story, metaphor, gore, et-cetera - but in this post I'd like to talk about figuratively bouncing the viewer's eye back into the picture as it is trying to leave.

Lighting this portrait from the left, and having the sitter gaze to the left also, I’ve tried to prevent the viewer from prematurely exiting right, even if it is for a fraction of a second.

Lighting this portrait from the left, and having the sitter gaze to the left also, I’ve tried to prevent the viewer from prematurely exiting right, even if it is for a fraction of a second.

  • Light sources from camera left create shadows on the right so that the eye reads across the image and the shadow returns the eye to the left side.

  • If a person faces left, the viewer follows their gaze back across the picture. If they are facing right it is almost like the viewer can skim across the picture and has permission to exit the right side of the frame.

  • Bouncing the eye back into the picture is also the purpose of a matte in a frame - that is why wide mattes (relative to the picture) are desirable rather than simply filling the frame just with the picture. It provides a wasteland the viewer must cross to exit, and they may decide to return to the picture by force.

I find this theme interesting because it implies the direction a subject faces, and the position of the key light are not at the photographer's whim, but are best kept constant to capture the attention of a viewer. Of course, the converse is also useful - you may want a rapid flow of the viewer’s eye from the left and out over the right side of the frame.

There are plenty of examples dating back to renaissance paining. The lighting on the Mona Lisa is from the left and her eyes take you back left. Read across Caravaggio's “Calling of St Matthew” and you’ll find Jesus pointing you back left from the shadows. Those painters didn’t leave anything to chance - every minutia of the picture is intentional.