Portrait of Rana

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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.

Cindy Rae

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The cloud, the stillness that must part
The darling of my life from me;
And then to thank God from my heart,
To thank Him well and fervently;
From “On the Death of Anne Brontë” by Charlotte Brontë

On August 29, Cindy Rae, friend and colleague, died from a short but brutal fight with cancer. Our friendship and professional relationship spanned almost 3 decades. The world will seem a little less without her in it.

I had just started my photo studio when I met Cindy. She was working for a modeling agency as an instructor. She brought many of her classes to my studio in downtown Minneapolis. She was an excellent make up artist working in the commercial, advertising, corporate, fashion and film industries. As you can tell she got around. Cindy was well known and highly respected.

We worked together on many personal and commercial shoots for years. Whenever I had a shoot that required make up Cindy was my very first call. I could depend on her to deliver high quality in a very professional manner.
Some of you may know this but a lot really don’t – a make up artist is more than just that. On the set a really pro make up artist is a collaborator with the photographer. She is the person who soothes the subject during make up. She is the second set of eyes during the shoot, catching fly away hairs and make up touch ups. She also contributes aesthetically through out the shoot. Working in so many studios as she did, Cindy was the most valuable make up artist of all to me.

As I wound down my career as a commercial photographer we worked less and less together. However she would have me shoot an annual Christmas family portrait for several years in a row.

In recent years we saw less and less of each other, talking on the phone now and then and of course liking and commenting to each other on Facebook. It brightened my day to see her posts.

The last time I saw her was at a Starbucks. We had coffee and visited for a couple of hours.

Cindy not only worked with me and befriended me, she supported me during ups and downs. Whether it was about drumming up business or personal issues. She would always make time for me. She made me feel she believed in me. I don’t think I could ever repay all the goodwill she showed to me.

Like everyone else I will miss her terribly and regret that I didn’t make time to see her more often in recent months. Her exuberance, commitment, kindness, respect for me as an artist and photographer and her friendship will live forever in my heart.

I spoke about my trust with Cindy. Cindy honored me with the trust to take a prenatal photo when she was pregnant with her first born, Luke. I have never seen a woman wear her pregnancy so beautifully.

Cindy, you will forever have a special place in my heart!

Noire image of a woman lit by venetian blinds

Noire Moment – Michelle

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Noire image of a woman lit by venetian blinds

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.



Portrait of Zimmi

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In 2004 I went to Stockholm, Sweden  for a very short trip. A friend of mine, Mercies May, concocted a way to get me there on the cheap for a weekend. I left on Thanksgiving evening and was there till the following Monday.

I met Zimmi during my short trip through Mercies. Both of these guys were/are performers but Mercies was working with Zimmi (or Simon as Mercies liked to call him) to help him with his career. My contribution was to take some urban images of Zimmi that he could use for promotion.

As I recall, Zimmi had lost his entire family and had to flee Uganda when he was very young. He came to Stockholm and was taken in by an aunt. Uganda is a multi-lingual country. Zimmi could speak his native Ugandan language, Swedish and English very well. In fact everyone I met in Sweden, immigrant or not, could speak multiple languages could speak beautiful English.


About the Images

Mercies found a really cool looking futuristic subway tunnel which offered some very good reflections, The lighting was challenging so I had to shoot with a tripod and at a high ISO.

Zimmi - B&W
Zimmi Tunnel
Zimmi _ vert



Portrait of Rachael Olson

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Rachael Olson

Rachael Olson

Rachael Olson

Rachael Olson topless

Rachael Olson topless

Rachael Olson topless


Sometimes I think I am a very lucky guy. I chose a career, vocation, that probably would not make me rich but would allow me to meet people and go places I would otherwise have not if I had chosen differently. I have been invited into inner corporate sanctums to do portraits of bank presidents. Judges chambers to do portraits. Even farms and industrial sites.

Every one of these opportunities were terrific unique experiences.

Another way I am lucky is in who I get to meet and photograph.

Being even a semi-competent photographer allows one to ask or be asked to take portraits of a wide variety of people. It also provides a pretext for asking interesting people to sit for a portrait.

I met Rachael Olson when I was asked by City Pages to do a picture of her band – The Blue Up?, with whom she often performed shirtless. She was pretty fearless.

After that shoot we ran into each other, kept in touch and developed a friendship. At some point I asked her to sit for a portrait. She was game.

I don’t remember too much about the session except it was just her and me. She did her own make up, which was preferable because she knew her look better than anyone I would hire. I didn’t know this at the time, but in talking to her recently, this was one of her first professional photo shoots. True to her character she was fearless and generous, giving me signature Rachael Olson experience.

Rachael is now known as Ana Voog, an internet celeb and artist. From wkipedia: On 22 August 1997, Voog began a webcam project named anacam. Besides a view into Ana Voog’s personal life, anacam also incorporated performance art and visual experimentation. Daily activities such as cooking dinner, vacuuming, and hosting visitors fill out the non-interactive periods on anacam. Other activities on the webcam range from chatting with cam-watchers, playing music, and ornate performance pieces involving household items.

About the Images

There isn’t much to say about these photos except that they were shot on film and I used a black background and a medium softbox on the light coming from camera left. This simple set up allows me to not have to think about light technicalities and concentrate on my subject.

Portrait of Sonya

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I met Sonya when she was a young dancer at Minnesota Dance Theater.

Sonya is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, inside and out. She has a very free spirit and is very challenging at the same time. I was happy for her when she moved to L.A. but bittersweet about the end of our artist/model relationship.

We began our artist/model relationship in the waning days of film photography. Money was a little tight for me at that time and restricted how much we could shoot together. This was our first digital photo shoot. The experience was not much different from shooting film. However I felt freer to shoot as long as I felt was needed – no restrictions on counting rolls of film. I still lit my set as if I were shooting film using a hand held meter.

This image has the essential look from Sonya that inspires me so much. It’s restful, pensive and piercing all at the same time. She really knew how to deliver to me on set. A rare thing to find that in a subject. That is why she is one of my favorites.

Stephanie – Another Great Shoot

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My Friend and My Muse


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.