Palm Springs Photo Festival 2015

It's the end of Spring so that means that it's Palm Springs Photo Festival time again!  So much happened that my post is a little later than normal.  I worked with the incomparable Keith Carter this year, there was a wolf, lots of beautiful models, portfolio reviews, late night lectures and parties, and, it makes me emotional even to type this, the last talk given by Mary Ellen Mark. 

Mary Ellen gave a moving talk on Wednesday night of the festival.  She showed a greatest hits slideshow of her work which was powerful and moving.  I've been a huge fan for a long time, but this is only the second time I've gotten to see her speak in public.  The crowd gave her a well-deserved roaring standing ovation when she finished.  She was clearly ill, and her heroic efforts to continue to teach her workshop, speak on a panel, and then stay up to 10pm to give the late night evening presentation were truly admirable.  This was a woman who cared passionately about her craft and about the field of photography.  She was a trailblazer for women photographers and she will be missed. 

Onto a much lighter topic, the workshop with Keith!  Often times workshop instructors are great artists, but they're not great at teaching.  With Keith there was the magical combination of him being both an exquisite image maker AND an articulate teacher. He had many helpful creative exercises, showed work by interesting photographers that I had never heard of, and he had thoughtful insights about everyones work.  

We started the week with a little class time at the Korakia Pensione in the morning of day one. Then moved onto a mini shooting session at a hip private home in Palm Springs, followed by a critique of attendee work, and finally a quick trip to the thrift store to pick up props for the rest of the week.    

Day 2 we went to the spectacular Blue Ranch, an in-city horse ranch in the middle of Palm Springs. We had three lovely models, a couple of horses, and a wolf (!!!) to photograph and work with as subjects.  Although I was there to assist with the organizational part of the festival, with scenery like this I had to make some images of my own--especially since Canon loaned me a 5d Mark iii plus the AWESOME 85mm 1.2!  I want it!  It was very hard to give back that lens and I've been pining for it ever since. 

Day 3 we went out to Indian Canyon.  In all of my years going out to Palm Springs with the festival it was my first time at Indian Canyon. It's like this little oasis just a few miles out of town with groves of palms and a trickling stream running through it.  It was very cool and I will be back!  We had a big group this year (see below) but the last few years I've gotten very lucky with low maintenance attendees which makes my job so much easier!

The festival is a very intimate experience and there are workshops are going on all around the Korakia Hotel.  I got a sneak peek at Ian Ruhter's wet plate workshop in action using his massive camera. Such a cool process to watch!  Also, look at that focus on the 85 1.2, daaaaamn!

The week is filled with long, sometimes challenging days with little sleep and a fair amount of stressful moments. It's also probably my favorite week of the year.  That is in no small part thanks to the many great friends that I have because of the festival.  I am grateful every year they come back and we get to hang out in the desert together.  I get to see their careers grow and our bonds of friendship are renewed each spring.  It's a very special thing. 


Until next year...

DNA Dinners Supper Club

On Saturday, June 28th I photographed a pop-up supper club in Beverly Wood for DNA Dinners.  It was a small, elegant dinner at the home of Debbie Alberts and prepared by chef Alex. Here are a few of my favorites from that night.  

Check out their Facebook page to learn more about DNA Dinners or to register for their next event.


Palm Springs Photo Festival 2014

Another year, another Palm Springs Photo Festival!  I got back last Friday and I've just started to process all of the good things that came from my week in the desert.  This year I assisted fine art photographer Todd Hido in his workshop called "A Method Demystified."  I'm a big fan of his work and was excited to be chosen to assist his workshop.  We started the week with a meet and greet at the beautiful Korakia Hotel. Todd and his studio manager Jena met with the workshop attendees and we discussed the plan for the week.  The weather was great all week and we were fortunate to be able to sit out in the sunshine and chat. The first official day of the workshop was a time for Todd to discuss his work and process.  We brought in a model, the lovely Brooke Lynne, to give a demo on lighting and how to work with a model.  

*All photos shot with an iPhone.  I know, I know, I should have toted around the Canon, but my job this week was to assist and organize, not to shoot.  

Meet and greet at the Korakia Hotel.

Meet and greet at the Korakia Hotel.

Todd talking to the workshop attendees about his work on Day 1. 

Todd talking to the workshop attendees about his work on Day 1. 

Day two was where the rubber met the road.  We all (Todd Hido, 14 attendees, 3 models, 2 assistants) headed out to Bombay Beach in the Salton Sea.  It was very windy and hot, but not sweltering.  Each of the attendees got to work with each of the three models (Zoe, Ali, and Brooke) in the abandoned buildings that make-up about 50 percent of Bombay Beach.  The group made some fantastic images with the girls.  It was nice to see them experiment and grow in their ability to direct and stage the models.  

Day 2: Our vans at Bombay Beach in the Salton Sea. 

Day 2: Our vans at Bombay Beach in the Salton Sea. 

Scenes from the Salton Sea.  

Scenes from the Salton Sea.  

Stephanie and Zoe shooting at Bombay Beach.

Stephanie and Zoe shooting at Bombay Beach.

2013 vs. 2014 The Salton Sea is such a strange, ever-changing place.  The photo on the left was taken almost exactly a year before when I was assisting Roger Ballen's workshop out at the Sea.  The wind, the sun, the transient population all alter the landscape dramatically. 

2013 vs. 2014 The Salton Sea is such a strange, ever-changing place.  The photo on the left was taken almost exactly a year before when I was assisting Roger Ballen's workshop out at the Sea.  The wind, the sun, the transient population all alter the landscape dramatically. 

We spent about 4 hours at Bombay Beach shooting, and then we all headed over to the infamous Ski Inn to grab a cold beer and look at some work.  I can't recommend the Ski Inn enough.  The staff is really sweet, they have a great old-school jukebox, the beer is always cold, and it's basically your quintessential desert dive bar.  While we were there Todd showed some work that he had shot the previous day of Brooke, and then he did a mini-session with Zoe.  There was an old, beat-up piano next to a window that created a timeless scene.  The sun started to set and we headed back to the "beach" for a night shooting demo. 

Todd showing work to the group in the Ski Inn. 

Todd showing work to the group in the Ski Inn. 

Look for our PSPF dollar!

Look for our PSPF dollar!

Todd shooting Zoe in the bar.

Todd shooting Zoe in the bar.

Model shooting model.  Brooke is a great photographer and she had the opportunity to take a couple of snaps while we were out.  

Model shooting model.  Brooke is a great photographer and she had the opportunity to take a couple of snaps while we were out.  

Day three the group went out to Indio to the Western Sands Motel.  The Sands is an old motel that hasn't been renovated in decades.  It was the perfect place for us to work.  Each of the students got more time to shoot with the models and use hot lights if they wanted.  

Day 3 at the Western Sands Motel in Indio, CA. 

Day 3 at the Western Sands Motel in Indio, CA. 

Some of the guys shooting with Zoe by the pool.

Some of the guys shooting with Zoe by the pool.

Ali in the "vintage" motel. 

Ali in the "vintage" motel. 

Todd shooting with Brooke at the Western Sands Motel. 

Todd shooting with Brooke at the Western Sands Motel. 

The last day the attendees got to show the work they shot during the week to Todd and get feedback.  I must say that the images that they created were lovely.  I was very impressed. This was my sixth year working with the festival and this group was by far my easiest, most low-maintainance group. They made my job much easier than it could have been and I am very grateful for that!  

I got to see the magical Duane Michals speak, the weather was manageable, Todd was very cool, I got to see lots of old friends and make many new ones, overall it was another great year at the PSPF!    

A much needed cocktail after a night in the desert. 

A much needed cocktail after a night in the desert. 

Paso Robles Farm to Fork Progressive Tour

Last Friday the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce held its inaugural Farm to Fork Progressive Food and Wine Tour.   The tour was a multi-location food and wine extravaganza of some of the best things the area has to offer.  Proceeds benefit a scholarship fund for local high-schoolers.  I donated some of my images to be used for promotion of the event and they were nice enough to invite me along for the day.  At right is the brochure for the event with some of my work.  It was a delightful, hot, whirlwind day (filled with lots of cool swag), here are a few of the highlights...

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A breakfast of bacon wrapped fig strata, quinoa with apples, roasted rosemary potatoes and chimichuri at the Pioneer Museum was the way the group of 100-plus people were welcomed to the tour. We then boarded buses and headed off to our first stop, Windrose Farm in Creston.  Once there we were treated with chipotle and heirloom tomato bloody mary's made with a local grape-based Re:Fined vodka.  In my book it doesn't get much better than this.  Then, bloody marys in hand, we were given a tour of the farm by owner Barbara Spencer.  Windrose is an organic, bio-dynamic marvel, growing more than 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, apples, squash, peppers, and almost anything else one can imagine.   After the tour the group sat down for a tomato tasting and some lemonade, then on to our next stop...almost.   


I won't get into the details, but there were some bus issues that caused some very uncomfortable time in the sun.  Luckily there was a bottle of water in my goodie bag and my bloody mary was still in effect.  Once a new bus arrived to take us to our next stop we were in business again.  The second stop, Windfall Farm, was the apex of the tour.  A cooking demonstration by cookbook author Brigit Binns while sitting on bales of hay and sipping J Lohr Viogner was just what I needed after the bus debacle.  Even better, we all got a copy of the cookbook which I've been eyeing in local shops for weeks.  


Binns demoed the food which we were to be served later, a pear and fennel salad and a braised short rib with creamy polenta, yum!  The wine continued to flow as we moved onto communal tables for lunch.  I moved on to some Petit Syrah to pair with my short rib and stopped to stroll through the spectacular foaling barn near where lunch was being served.  The group was mostly women and I had a very diverse, interesting bunch of ladies at my table.  After lunch it was time to grab a bottle of J Lohr's premium Hilltop Cabernet, and proceed to our final stop, Pasolivo for a little something sweet.  

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A tour of the olive orchard, followed by an olive oil tasting were a nice way to round out the day.  I enjoyed some local Leo Leo strawberry gelato in the shade, and the tour was complete.  Such a fun day surrounded by people who are doing truly impressive things with their resources.  I am so proud to have become a part of the Paso Robles food and wine community over the past couple of years and it brings joy to see good, hard working people thrive.  

PSPF 2013

Another great year in Palm Springs.  This year it was a bit later than usual and that means that it was HOT!   I was assisting the fantastic Roger Ballen and we spent a lot of time out in the desert shooting in abandoned towns around the Salton Sea. There were 16 attendees in the workshop, as well as myself, Roger, his assistant, Margurite, and another assistant, Heather who was also my roommate and savior throughout the week. We were a large group ambling around the desert in large white vans.   The 4 day class was called THE FINE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER CLASS.  

If you're not familiar with Roger's work you should really check it out.  Dark, ambiguous, and a little creepy, he's made a name for himself with his black and white images, shot on film, and often controversial.  Here's a peek.


All images property of Roger Ballen.

As always the week was inspiring, educational, and exhausting!  Here are some photos from the workshop.

To learn more about Roger Ballen check out https://www.artsy.net/artist/roger-ballen




Elegant Country Dinner and Tomato Tasting at Windrose Farm

On Saturday, September 15th, two lovely events were held at Windrose Farm in Paso Robles, California.  First in the afternoon there was a tomato tasting featuring over 20 varieties of tomatoes.  In the evening there was a farm to table feast paired with local wines from Tablas Creek Winery.  It was a hot summer night, but spirits were high on the farm.  Here are some images from the event and around the pastoral grounds of Windrose Farm. 


One of my favorite parts of the day was simply wandering around the expansive apple orchards.  There are dozens of free-roaming chickens that made themselves at home in the shade beneath the trees.  Windrose is in a unique location in that they can successfully grow both apples (which typically require a cool climate) and tomatoes (which love the heat) due to their warm days and cool nights.  


Windrose also raises sheep on thier property.  They have tons of room to roam about, and lead happy lives hanging out with the dogs in the pasture.  


Barbara and Bill Spencer are the owners of Windrose.  Barbara is seen here talking to the diners about the practices on the farm and what the menu is for the evening.  


Neil Collins (seen at right), the winemaker at Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, paired each course with his wines.  Tablas Creek is known for being a leader in Rhone varietals, which proved to be a great pairing with the menu.  Almost all of the ingredients were sourced from Windrose, and were prepared by chef Clark Staub of Flatbread Full of Life based out of Los Alamos.  You can find out more about Tablas Creek and Flatbread here...




Windrose Farm owners Barbara and Bill Spencer in front of their sheep. 


Flatbread brought out their wood burning oven from which they prepared pizza during the day and used to cook the dinner in the evening.  Chef Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles came to assist with the dinner as well as Kat from Flatbread. 


The day was a great success and I am lucky to have been a part of the festivities.  The Central Coast food and wine community is a very tight-knit group and it is nice to see people who are passionate about the things they create and who value artisinal traditions and quality ingredients. 


Levi's Community Day 2012: San Francisco

On Thursday, May 3rd Levi's held their Community Day In-Action where Levi's employees throughout the world participated in various projects that helped benefit their communities. I had the opportunity to shoot at the Levi's headquarters in San Francisco where they were building bikes that were given to the local YMCA, sorting thousands of articles of clothing to be donated to Goodwill, and sewing canvas bike bags for kids, and many other altruistic endeavors.

Levi's CEO, Chip Bergh (pictured right) helps to build bikes for the YMCA's YBike program.

Later in the day, after the good deeds were completed, Levi's hosted a picnic lunch for the employees who volunteered to help out with the various projects. The rain rolled through, but it didn't dampen the mood of the crowd which was treated to the sounds of Bay Area band Buxter Hoot'n.

 To find out more about Levi's Community Day and their efforts to be good corporate citizens,  click here.

Also the band Buxter Hoot'n was fantastic. Check them out at their website:


Palm Springs Photo Festival 2012


 I love spring!  I get to plant my garden for the summer, my birthday happens, BBQs, sunshine, and the optimism that comes with new beginnings.  It's also the time that I go off the the desert for a week and emerse myself in photography at the Palm Springs Photo Festival.  This was my fourth year with the festival and I'm still trying to process all of the inspiration that I received while I was there.  This year I assisted master photographer Ralph Gibson with his workshop called "Finding Your Personal Vision."  Ralph is fantastic and infinitely quotable.  


Here are some portraits I shot of him (he's got great hands and eyes) as well as some of my favorite Ralphisms...


"The best sound in the world is the sound of a zoom lens being thrown into a swimming pool."

"A photograph is a decision to decide."

"In order to succeed you must have a point of departure."

"A great photograph is an unbroken string of good decisions."

We had a group of great models for the workshop and shot some nudes by the pool of the Korakia Pensione and at a beautiful city ranch in Palm Springs. 


Our workshop was so interesting even Robert Maxwell couldn't help but swim over to watch Ralph critique an attendee's work. 


I feel so fortunate to keep returning to the festival each year where I continue to meet more great people and get reinvigorated to go out and shoot.  


Work to be displayed at Photo LA

Images from the series The Second Sex will be displayed at Photo LA from January 12th-16th, 2012.  I will be in the booth on Thursday and Friday to say hi to everyone and talk about the work.  Photo LA is always a great event with inspiring work from wall to wall.  I'm looking forward to strolling around and seeing what images and artists galleries are promoting this year.  If you're in town please come by and say hello!  More details about the event can be found at www.photola.com

Prints Shipped off to Michigan Exhibition

Almost 100 pounds of framed prints were sent to Adrian, Michigan today for the upcoming After-8 group exhibition.  The images were from the series "The Second Sex" which I produced for my MFA thesis project at the Brooks Institute last year.  I'm excited that the work is getting a new audience.

The show opens on Tuesday, November 8th at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan.

It's actually quite a production to pack up large frames for shipping across the country.  It took me most of an afternoon (including two trips to the office supply store for more packing materials). Don't worry, the frames were packaged much more securely than the images show.  At this point I was just testing box size and determining if I need to go dumpster diving for bigger boxes.  The furniture store around the corner has become a very good resource for my box needs.

All packaged up and ready to go!  There was a catalogue of the exhibition produced.  You can read about the show and see the other artists' work by viewing the Blurb book here.

Summer Shooting!

Katie and I have decided to go our separate ways, and America Eats is now a solo endeavor.  Never the less, the project is moving forward with renewed zeal and gusto.  I shot a Portuguese festa in Modesto, California and had a fantastic time.  Everyone was so kind and welcoming, it was a great event.  You can see more images from the festivities and read about the history of festa on the America Eats website.

Palm Springs Photo Festival 2011

It's that time of year again!  It's the 6th annual Palm Springs Photo Festival (and my 3rd) held from March 27-April 1st in Palm Springs, Ca.  It's a fun week in the desert with friends and colleagues. I will be assisting Nels Israelson in his 2-day workshop called "THE DRAMATIC PORTRAIT: Shaping Light to Create Mood, Enhance Character and Increase Drama,"  as well as a one day workshop on the BUSINESS OF PHOTOGRAPHY with multiple instructors.

I'm looking forward to a week of inspiration!  See you all there!


Nels Israelson conducting a workshop at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, Connect 2011

America Eats Project Off and Running

America Eats: Following Food to Find America project is off to a great start.  Jim Denevan of Outstanding in the Field was generous enough to let us shoot their event at Wattles Farm in the middle of Hollywood yesterday.  Katie and I met some great people and had a lot of fun seeing the 140 guests experiencing farm to table dining.

To follow our journey and see more about the project please go to:



America Eats, Wattles Farm, Hollywood, community garden, Outstanding in the Field


America Eats, Wattles Farm, Hollywood, community garden, Outstanding in the Field, Jayme Burrows


America Eats, Wattles Farm, Hollywood, community garden, Outstanding in the Field, Jayme Burrows