This is a photo I took when I was in grade school at St Monica’s in Milwaukee. It was the 1970s and every boy was expected to put some time into being an alter boy. No girls were allowed at this time to fill that duty.
It was interesting to be a part of what happened behind the scenes at mass. I am sure there were many girls who were really curious about what went on back there.
This photo was taken from a hallway through a window that looked onto the alter.
Early in my career I was very fortunate to be aligned with extraordinarily talented and connected people. Partnering with up-and-coming magazines and publications, talented makeup artists and unique personalities provided me with a never ending set of opportunities for creative photo shoots.
It also helped that, at that time, downtown warehouse spaces were so reasonably priced that even a rough studio could be located near the heart of Minneapolis. It was easy to meet interesting people by just walking down the street. And that I did.
I met Rana through a mutual friend and colleague. She was a working actress, which I find to be the best subjects to work with. I found her striking.
The most interesting, talented young people move fast. So as a photographer you have to move fast and get them into the studio before they vanish to another city or thin air.
We did two shoots together. This was our first one. I don’t think it was possible to take a bad photo of her. Every frame was good but I found this image to be the “one”. I wish we could have done more work together but…
For all the techies: I used a Pentax 6×7, Plus-x film, Broncolor mono-lights, one with a soft box and one small umbrella – both to camera left.
By now most savvy social media users know that the selfie is not new. What is new is how they are made with new portable technology and how they are seen instantly by so many friends and strangers. The digital age selfie is defined by the capturing device generally being held a little overhead and the inclusion of the raised arm in the shot. Often multiple people are included.
As I stated, the selfie as a form of portraiture isn’t knew. It used to be referred to as a self portrait. Artists and photographers alike often made self portraits. Most famous painters throughout art history made them. Self portraits have been made by artists in the earliest of times but it wasn’t until the 15th century that artists can be frequently identified as depicting themselves as the main subject or characters in the work. Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck of 1433 may well be the earliest known panel self-portrait.
There are many famous self portraits thought history including Vincent van Gough, Edward Hopper and Chuck Close to name just a few. Every artist at sometime in their career makes a few. It is a regular art school activity.
About My Selfie
At age twelve when I first started photographing with a Kodak Instamatic using my own film, the first thing I did was to take a self portrait. An early selfie, if you will. I have made many since then, however I believe this image is my first one.
Watching movies and Tv throughout my life I always noticed strong light and shadow that emanated from windows. Especially light filtered through venetian blinds. I often thought it was funny on Tv shows that had this kind of splash of light from venetian blinds but no reference to a window. Sometimes they would appear in a room that couldn’t have windows. It must have been a lighting designer’s joke to see if anyone was paying attention.
From the very beginning of my photo career as an independent commercial photographer I gravitated to what I then referred to as Hollywood Style lighting. Not for my corporate work but in my personal approach to portraits. I felt that this style. I am returning to that style of lighting but now I refer to it as Noire.
Hopefully in the future I will be able to create images that evoke hazy, dark rooms with streaks of light that reveal the subject matter in a a mysterious Noire way.
This is Michelle. I met her through a makeup artist, which happened a lot. Michelle had a really cool studio full of vintage stuff. At the time I was often carrying a long set of venetian blinds and a faceable spot light to shine through them. It was hard to get believable light if there wasn’t enough room to work. This time it worked out.
About this Image
This was shot on daylight Ektachrome. I liked shooting these type of images with tungsten lamps and daylight film to get a certain warm color. Now, in Photoshop, the image can be desaturated and controlled by me, not a lab.
Having a studio in downtown Minneapolis during the 90s sure had it’s historic moments. My studio at the time was in the Butler North building, 1/2 block away from the Target Center (it was being built during my first year in that studio). There was a lot of urban development going on between new buildings and remodeled older ones. One of the big changes was a so-called blighted block (Block E) was slated to be razed and re-developed. It took almost a decade to get it even razed. Then development took another good part of a decade. There was an historic theater on that block, The Shubert Theater.
The theater was moved from it’s spot on Block E to the next block north on Hennepin Ave. The story of the theater and how it was moved can be found here. Another earlier view of the Shubert from my first studio can be found here.
I had moved out of my studio when the Shubert was moved but I was downtown a lot for business and my daughter’s ballet classes at Minnesota Dance Theater. I got to capture this shot of my daughter with the Shubert in the process of being prepared for what turned out to be the first relocation of a building of this size in history.
Much of the 1990s for me was taken up with being a ballet parent. My daughter was in Minnesota Dance Theater’s school and was eligible to be in the companies’ wonderful presentation of The Nutcracker. As a volunteer parent I had the opportunity to take photos of the students and professional dancers for press release. That lead to some interesting opportunities for great images as well as other opportunities to work with dancers.
There were a few non-Nutcracker shows that I photographed as well.
I feel honored and lucky to have worked with some really wonderful, talented dancers and to be able to work with MDT’s creative director, Lise Houlton.
About the Images
All of my dance shoots were done on film because these were shot before digital was available. This meant anything you shot had to be planned and needed more deliberate intention, including timing. You couldn’t just keep shooting like you can with digital. I used both 35mm and medium format 6×7 to shoot these images.
In the early 1980s I had a photo studio on Glenwood Ave in downtown Minneapolis. My studio was situated halfway between First Avenue (the street and night club) and the Punk Rock night club Goofy’s Upper Deck (2nd floor above the Market BBQ). Being so close to Goofy’s and the Market BBQ I went to a lot of shows and ate a lot of BBQ.
I never considered myself a rock band photographer. Never the less, I frequently brought my camera to shows at Goofy’s. I enjoyed photographing the attending crowd more than shooting the band. Most of the time I had no idea who was in front of my camera. It’s all kind of fuzzy. And shooting slam dancing was a real combat situation sometimes! I wouldn’t know who I got until I developed the film.
Follow up with people I photographed was dicey. No social media or websites meant getting images to people depended on if I ever saw them again. Sometimes people would block the camera with their hand, so I would not take their photo. I respected that gesture. I did not need that kind of problem. Most of the time people I pointed my camera at during these shows were happy to be photographed.
These images are from a Husker Du show … I don’t know what year. It must have been before or after 1983. Again, it’s all kind of fuzzy. And, of course, no meta data on film.
I have more from Goofy’s and other clubs. I plan to post them in the future.
If anyone recognizes who is in any photos I post, feel free to let me know who they are.
One of my early clients was NuVo for Hair salon. The owner, Gina Zaffarano, gave me some very nice opportunities to showcase my creativity. Most of the time we would shoot NuVo’s ads on location but I wanted to do a studio portrait of Gina. I thought she had a Hollywood face. In this photo she reminds me a little of Judy Garland.
My second studio in Minneapolis was in the same building as a hair salon called La Boucherie. My friend, muse and favorite model Stephanie worked there in guest services. The salon was a great resource for me and it helped a lot that Stephanie worked there.
There were two weekly publications in the Twin Cities back then and La Boucherie wanted to place an ad for the salon in one of them. Stephanie had the idea of doing a shoot with me for the ad. I don’t remember having any formal ideas or even a layout. We just did what we always did. I know we wanted a close-up hair shot.
Steph came into the studio sporting a wonderful short cut. I had never seen her with such short hair. It really inspired me.
For this shot I used the natural light from the windows in that studio and a reflector. I used 35mm Tri-x film.
Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis hosted my first professional studio. The building’s number was 14 ½, which sounds magical nowadays, and was nestled on a corner of downtown that boasted storefronts whose vibrant history had faded long before I took up residence. My studio was on the second floor in the middle of the block. The first floor storefronts were only ever partially rented, with a Chinese restaurant, a massage parlor (Hanako’s Sauna) and a hat shop. The rest of the stores were vacant, and the block looked a bit blighted. However, from my studio window one could see a bustling corner of the city. This view is and was the South West corner of Block E, at First Avenue and Seventh Street. On the right side of this photo is the Schubert Theater which has now been moved to Hennepin Avenue. Other than the First Avenue night club (not in the photo), none of the buildings exist anymore. They were razed to build the Target Arena and kick off the development of Block E.