Artist's Statement

In conversation, people sometimes find me to be distracted. They think I am not paying attention to them, but they are wrong. I am paying attention to everything. I see the swarm of bees in the tree at a bend in the trail when I am 200 yards away; I see the sun starting to come out from the clouds, and realize that soon there will be a pleasing but transient play of light and shadow; I see the bird as it flits from covert to covert; I see a person's or animal's face, and know the emotions that flicker by can be frozen in time... Everything is a photograph—all I have to do is look. And I am always looking. As a computer scientist, I spend countless hours in my head. As a photographer (and musician), I spend time in my heart.

Portrait photographers usually compose their shots as a combination of lighting, setting and pose—instructing their subjects to sit "just so." Yet when I photograph animals (and children), the subjects are either wholly uncooperative or completely unaware of my mission. The lighting is at the whim of sun and cloud, and the pose is not mine to command. Rather than be frustrated by the lack of control, I delight in ever-changing opportunities. In time, my subjects reveal their personalities to me, so that when I take their pictures, I try to capture who they are, not what I imagine they should look like. I take the pictures that are presented to me. I accept my subjects as they are. A portrait is as much about process as it is about the final product.

I've been a photographer since I was 10 years old, when my father bought me a Kowa SETR on sale (he loved to hunt for bargains). For the next 35 years, I shot everything with a 50mm lens (30 of them with that scarred Kowa, 5 more with a Olympus OM-10), and in May 2003, I bought a Fuji-Pro S-2 digital camera with a Tamron 28-300mm lens. Oh, the luxury! I no longer had to frame pictures with my body, I could use the lens! In 5 months of "occasional" photography, I shot over 3,800 images. Then my camera was stolen. I felt like a part of me had been amputated.

I quickly replaced my S2, and have since upgraded both cameras and lenses, first to a Fuji S3 Pro, then a pair of Fuji S5 Pro, and most recently a Nikon D7200 with a large selection of lenses and lights. Most of my studio shots were taken with a 28mm or 35mm prime lense, but photographers will appreciate that most of my published images of birds were shot hand-held in low light. The Tawny Frogmouth, for example was shot at 300mm at f/6.3 (that was "wide open" for that lens), and hand-held at 1/8 sec. The basics I learned with my old Kowa have served me well...

I now also shoot the occasional wedding and bar mitzvah, some journalistic events, nudes, and formal sittings with studio lighting and backdrops. But always (other than perhaps to get people to "skootch in a little"), I take the pictures that are presented to me. I shoot the wedding you had, not the one your mom wished you had. Even if your teeth are crooked, I make sure I find a photo of you smiling, because your smile is you. And if your children don't sit still, I'll just take pictures of them running around, because they're kids, and that's what kids do.