Five Fab Fotos

Five Fab Fotos with Susan Angstadt, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Many of you may remember that our friend Susan was featured in “Five Fab Fotos” last year and now she has just started a new blog titled “Reading Revealed“.

Here’s a little bit from her “About me” page:

I’m a photographer at the Reading Eagle. I grew up in Spring Township, moved to New York City for 14 years, and now have lived in Reading, Pa., for the past 12 years.

With this blog I photograph the people of Reading and get to know them by having them answer one intimate question about themselves. I ask questions such as:

  • What is your greatest achievement?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life?
  • What was the first thing you thought about when you woke up this morning?
  • What is your greatest struggle?

Looking forward to some great posts!


Meet Susan Angstadt, Staff Photojournalist for the Reading Eagle:


I grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania – in the backyard of Amish country – and have worked as a photojournalist at the Reading Eagle newspaper since 2001. After earning a degree in film production from Hunter College in New York City, I studied photography at the International Center of Photography, also in NYC. My love for journalism started while living in the Hasidic area of Williamsburg Brooklyn where I was fascinated by the culture. This was further enhanced by a class I took at ICP called “documenting a community” where I went to Columbus Park in Chinatown nearly every day for weeks to document the people who practiced Tai Chi or played poker. As a photojournalist I have won numerous awards, including four Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors awards. In my spare time, I enjoy photographing anything cute and furry, older…

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Five Fab Fotos with Tony Fiorini, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet Tony Fiorini, Freelance Photographer:

tony fiorini

I started taking pictures in college where I worked for The Pitt News, the student newspaper for the University of Pittsburgh. In the fall of my junior year I studied abroad with Semester at Sea, a program where you sail around the world on a ship and visit 12 countries along the way. While at sea you take college classes, and when in port you explore. It was a life changing experience. I took an advanced black and white photography class on board and knew this is how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, making pictures. That is where I fell in love with photojournalism.

I started at the Reading Eagle in 1996 and was there for 8 years. I learned a great deal from the wonderful photographers on staff at the Eagle. In 2004 I left the Eagle and became the staff photographer for Semester at Sea on their spring 2004 voyage. From the day I left the ship in 1994 had been wanting to go back. It was again a life changing experience.

In 2006 I was hired on as the staff photographer for The Catholic University of America in Washington DC. It was a great job providing the university with any image they would need. My work was used online and in print by all areas of the university.

I met my wife who at the time was a post doctoral scientist at the Carnegie Institution and when she got a teaching job at Yale University we moved to Connecticut. I became a freelance photographer, shooting mostly events at Yale and doing more and more weddings. I also look after our 3 year old son and 3 month old daughter.

What I miss most about not working in a newsroom is the camaraderie of the photo department staff. I like working together with reporters, editors, and designers to tell a compelling story, I do miss that but have settled into a wonderful life of occasional freelance work and playing with matchbox cars.

For more info:

Check out his Instagram here


1. Flag – I made this image in October, 2001. There were American flags everywhere and I had seen this effect somewhere. There was a flag painted on the side of a garage and I was able to drive up close to it and shoot the rain drops with the flag on my car window.


2. Crash – I just love the expressions on the kid and cops here. This was after a motor vehicle accident and this was found in the car.


3. Pope – When working for The Catholic University of America the new Pope, Benedict XVI came to the United States for an official visit. One stop was Washington DC and campus.


4. Water – Women line up for water in a rural town in India.


5. Hands – School girls hold hands while singing in a township school in Cape Town, South Africa.


Five Fab Fotos with Jon Williams, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet Jon Williams, Outdoor Sports Photographer and Filmmaker:


Jon’s passion for photography and video comes from his father’s influence as a professional photographer (Jeremy Williams) and he grew up surrounded by cameras and photos. The combination of this and living on the North Wales coast inevitably led to a love of outdoor sports and landscape photography which feature heavily in his portfolio.  Jon graduated from the University of Bath in 2010 and has since done various work for companies including Apple, Red Bull, Sky Sports and N-Photo Magazine.

All Photos © Jon Williams

For more info:

Jamie Cliff Drop

1. I took this photo of Team GB snowboarder Jamie Barrow on a University ski trip to Val Thorens in France. He was only 17 at the time and a rising star in the world of snowboard racing. We happened to be sharing a room on the trip and I could tell that he was not only a great snowboarder but he had a real passion for pushing his limits. I think Jamie liked this photo as we have been working together ever since and the projects I have done with him have really helped shape my career.


2. This is a photo I took of my younger brother Harry riding his mountain bike in North Wales where we grew up. I was very lucky to grow up here and I spent my childhood mountain biking and climbing in Snowdonia. I am at my happiest when I’m in the mountains, doing something active and ideally capturing it with my camera!


3. This is my dad, Jeremy, when he was about 25, holding his first SLR camera. He worked as a professional photographer for most of his 20s in London and I grew up surrounded by his cameras and photos. My dad particularly likes the technical side of photography – having a real understanding of the camera’s settings and the way it works. This appreciation for the technology behind photography has rubbed off on me and I’m proud to say I’m a big camera geek!

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.54.56

4. In late 2010 I’d graduated from University and was working in Australia as a forensic psychologist, doing photography only as a hobby. Whilst I was looking for an upgrade to my old Nikon D100, I came across this video of Chase Jarvis road testing the new Nikon D7000. I was instantly hooked on Chase’s YouTube channel and it’s fair to say his videos changed my life. Within a few months, I had bought the D7000, quit my job and was following my passion for photography and video.

5. My latest video was the biggest and craziest project I’ve worked on so far – I filmed snowboarder Jamie Barrow setting the world snowboard speed record with electric jet engines on St Moritz Lake in Switzerland. I filmed the majority of the video with my Nikon D7000 showing just how impressive the video mode is on this Nikon DSLR camera. The video has gone down very well on the internet thanks to some major websites picking it up and I’m really hoping it’ll mean I can continue to make these fun and interesting films in the future.

Five Fab Fotos with Carlos A. Moreno, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet Carlos A. Moreno, Photojournalist:


Moreno, who specializes in editorial, documentary, corporate, fashion, product and visual journalism. His photojournalism work has been published and syndicated in The New York Times, The Rockefeller Foundation,, the Associated Press, the Bay Area News Group, and others. He is based out of San Diego, and lives near the U.S.-Mexican border. He travels all over California, parts of the U.S, and Baja California, Mexico for assignments, as well as for commissioned work. He is always open to new clientele. When he is not pursuing his own personal work or new freelance clientele, his day job is being a staff photographer at Designer Studio INC and teaching private digital photography classes over the weekend.

For more info:

There are many images in my short career that have had an impact on how I work as a photographer.  None as vivid in real time as the story of the Abdullahs that I shot three years ago. I still recall the time I had met the Abdullah family outside their home, where I eventually would visit frequently, at a Santa Clara motel where traffic passed and bystanders where few and far between. They are covered in dirt and taking a load of metal parts in their hotel room with a shopping cart. No one noticed it around them, the amount of items they had collected. So I decided to see for myself. In the beginning I was seen with suspicion by them and was allowed not much to photograph. So I decided for two months not to shoot a thing and get to know them first. As time gave way to trust in me, as I to them, the realness of their lives began to show. I was given an entry and a way to begin to explore my own dealings in long form photo documentary story telling. It would take three years to get to this point. As I documented their life, I had no idea how much they would impact mine by listening to their story and seeing first hand the tough, happy and quiet moments of their daily comings and goings. Only after, by shielding myself with my camera, did I see how close I had become to their story. How through them, I felt their vulnerabilities and noticed the intimacy of my work increasing. A goal I had wanted to achieve for the longest time as a photographer. It was and has been my objective as a photojournalist to capture intimate moments that said something about people. Moments that perhaps we overlook. Especially now with everyone always keeping their eyes glued to their mobile screens everywhere they go. From the Abdullahs story, Picking up the Pieces, five images flash before me as I remember their story vividly.  All photos © Carlos A. Moreno


1. Denise, who was going through the dumpster picking up metal and computer parts. As I was shooting, all I could see was the Hawaii Warriors hoody she had on. To anyone it seemed like a regular sweater, to me the simple “warriors” name on the back said it all. Denise is a warrior in battle to survive. I truly believe that moment captured it for me. The essence of whom she is as a person and mother.


2. Another was also a picture of Denise with her son Shadeed, playing with him. It was a lighter moment and a gentle side you didn’t see of Denise frequently. Her job toughens’ her, that you rarely see it when she is out pulling out copper wiring and metals of recycled materials.


3. The picture of Denise washing the family dishes at their bathroom sink; because their room is so small, as she fights tears, it was a hard picture to take. It was an unguarded moment from her, a symbolic gift to me as a photographer. It encompassed the hardship Denise faces as a provider and mother. Never having enough time to care for her own needs.


4. The image of Mahir staring somewhat off into space as he is dissembling some wiring somehow spoke to me as I shot the image. It tells of a man lost, possibly looking for answers and dumbfounded at the situation. The irony of once being a computer engineer and now taking computers apart to recycle them. Just barely making ends meet.


5. Finally the image of Denise looking out a window, as soft light hits her face and dark shadows surrounded her, left an impression to me that the darkness was symbolic of the situation. Her calm expression in the light hitting her face, spoke of hope to me. That they would make it somehow, regardless of the odds. That they wouldn’t be homeless, that maybe they’d escape their recurring circumstances. I hope they do. This is why I felt a strong need to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund an exhibition for the work and have the capacity to fundraise to allow a chance for their story to be told. I hope once we have funding for the exhibition, I might be able to sell the exhibition prints and give most of the proceeds to the family and to a charitable organization that focuses on poverty in the Silicon Valley Area.

Kickstarter campaign:


Recently, I have found out that the family In the story were evicted from the motel they were living at and I am unable to locate them at this point (they have no cell phone or digital footprint from what I can tell to contact them, I went to the motel myself and found no one but the manager who told me that she had evicted them), which complicates our funding process and time of exhibition. We need their permission to exhibit the photographs since they are going to be sold at the gallery for sale and for their benefit. So my team, the gallery and I decided it was in everyones best interest to postpone it until we can locate them. I feel very strongly not just about the story but for the well being of this family, so I have decided to ask for help in locating them. I have already spoken to some local charities and homeless organizations that will be posting info about them in local food banks and shelters. My assistants, and I, will be going to their old stomping grounds and figuring out if we can get any clue on their whereabouts. I ask any local investigators and/or reporters in the Silicon Valley / Bay Area who are willing to help me track them, to please contact me at

Due to these unforeseen events, some of the sponsors who wanted to support this project have opted out for now, to hold funds, which therefore have affected out ability to get funding to what we needed from our Kickstarter campaign. Since Kickstarter’s take all or none approach for funding is pretty clear, we will lose what we have collected to fund the exhibition, which therefore will unable us to fund for printing of the images, to sell them in order to get any proceeds to the family. I feel, again, that my priority now is to find the family and see that they are first and foremost safe. Find them, get their permission and once all this is established, get a new fundraiser going. This time our team plans on launching our own fundraising website dedicated to the project, so we can secure funds for exhibition without a middle man. I ask those who have donated, as well as sponsors, that once all of it is settled to please take the funds you have pledged to us on Kickstarter to the our new site. That way the money will get used for exhibit, whether the outcome of funding is reached on the fundraiser’s end time or our own terms.

Five Fab Fotos with Stan Fleming, Jr, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet Stan Fleming, Jr, C.E.O Photographer at XL-Images:


Stan Fleming, Jr. has been into photography for the the past ten years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that he decided to get more serious with his hobby by turning his passion into a profession. That’s when the idea of XL-Images finally came to fruition. Since then, he has expanded his portfolio to include everything from weddings to live concerts to boudoir sessions.

For more info:



1.  The Neelys.

I have known James dating all the way back to my days at The Principal Financial Group. Back in the days when the company had went on a mission to up their minority presence and was hiring minorities in droves. I had never seen so many Black folks migrated from the south for one company in such a short amount of time. Now how many of them are still working there is another story altogether. You just don’t go from no real winter weather to horrible constant cold for three months straight and think everything will be peachy. Man, I got sidetracked on that one quick.

What I meant to say was James and I initially connected on the basketball court. There were a group of us from work that would come in on Saturdays to play on the court that the company had in one of their buildings. That eventually evolved into playing one night a week at a local church that hosted pick-up games in their gym. Then that eventually evolved to the same group of guys getting together a team to compete in a weekly Urbandale league. That was years ago and I only keep in touch with a couple of guys from those days. Erik being one and James being the other.

Honestly, I probably would have lost touch with James also had it not been for his interest in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Every time we would have events, he would be in attendance showing his support. He would later take that to the next level by pledging the grad chapter….ooops…I mean by participating in the intake process to become a member. Which brings us up to date with how I ended up doing his family photos.

This was once again an instance where I knew both the parents of a family but none of their children. I do recall seeing a couple of the boys at one or two of our past Black and Gold Scholarship Balls. I just couldn’t remember their names. And honestly, I barely remember their faces. Is it just me or do kids seem to grow rather fast at their age? They can look entirely different from one year to the next. But it didn’t matter that I didn’t know them as well as their folks. They certainly had the welcoming personalities of both Bridget and James which made them easy to work with as well.

As for the dog? Well this would be only the second time I had done a shoot with family pet. When James asked me if it was okay if they bring Prince, I insisted on it. Primarily because I had always wanted the opportunity to do another shoot with a family pet. Also because I wanted to see what a dog named after my favorite R&B artist looked like. Not surprisingly, Prince was very well-behaved. He even took direction well as you can see here.

I really could have chosen any number of poses from this session as a contender. These folks were creating classics with every click. One of the poses of the boys looked like it was the promo for an upcoming sitcom. One of the poses of James and Bridget looked like it belonged on a Hallmark greeting card. But this one just always stood out to me. It’s easily because of Prince stealing the show. All I did was call his name and he gave me that look you see. Fortunately, everyone else was ready to go at the same time and the rest is history.



2.  The Ball

Every year, our Zeta Kappa Lambda graduate chapter has a Black and Gold Scholarship Ball in the city of Des Moines.  It’s a black tie affair held every February to help raise money for minority scholarships as well as honor those students who have won them.  To say it is a marquee event would be a major understatement.  Folks look forward to the event annually.  It’s not often that you get see such a diverse mixture of individuals young and old getting together dressed to ‘T’ for a good cause.

For the past couple of years that I had been going to the Ball, I had gone as a guest.  Those would have been the two years that XL-Images was in existence.  So I still broke out the camera and got some shots while I was there.  Mostly to get some another type of genre for the port.  But also to help out the frat so they would have photos to display for the event.  Although there was always a paid photographer there, he didn’t have quite the same eye as someone like me.  I made it a point to move around all the different parts of the Ball to get the full picture of formal to party.  It was something a little different that I brought to the table.

Come this year, I had already moved to the DFW area.  I could have went as a guest again, but I figured it was time to take a shot at being the lead photographer for the event.  I knew that it meant I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the event as a guest but I was fine with that.  Besides, the enjoyment factor was still there.  It was just a different aspect.  All the grad brothers are working the event in some capacity.  Although it is hard work, I doubt you’ll find a single one who will tell you they don’t have a good time.

I did something different with my role as the photog than we’ve done in previous years.  There was no set up of a plain backdrop, strobes and drop cloth to serve as a makeshift setting for on-the-spot pics.  I could have easily done that though.  Gotten the printer and provided the photos right then and there with no editing at all.  However, the churn-and-burn format was not my style.  Never has been.  Never will be.  Instead, I provided higher quality photos and made them available online for order.  Sure, folks couldn’t get them the night of, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Every year, the chapter presents an Alpha Award of Merit.  This is a prestigious award given to an individual who has an impressive history of being involved with the betterment of the local community.  This year, it was Mary E. Dominguez Campos.  I’m sure there are probably more than a few DMI folks reading this who are very familiar with her.  I personally was not, but that was just further proof that I needed to do a better job of connecting with the elders in the community.

One thing I have always prided myself on was making sure that my portfolio includes a wide spectrum of all ages.  Sure, it’s definitely heavy towards the younger crowd.  That just happens to be the group that enjoys taking photos more.  But I will go out of my way to get some good photos of senior citizens.  They always have such purposeful looks in their faces from just their everyday expressions.  And if it means that the only time I’m able to get photos of those folks is at events such as this then so be it.  It’s still very much worth it.

This shot was captured just as she was going to the podium to accept her award.  Initially, I was going to get just a random candid look of her walking there.  However, as I got in position, she stopped and looked at me.  There were no words said at all. She just flashed that distinguished smile at me.  The instant I clicked, I knew that photo was better than any candid moment that I could have captured of her.  More than that, I instantly knew that it would be the best photo I would take all evening.  Clearly one of the best of the year as evidenced by its appearance here.

3. Rajaa
Do you ever have that one person that you know where you can’t remember how you met them but you’re glad you did?  That’s how it is with Rajaa.  I do know that I met her on The Book, but can’t remember how.  I want to say that it was because I saw her on my friend Kevin Brown’s page.  Kevin was a guy I had done some shoots with in the past.  He hung out with other model types so I already knew many of his friends, but not her.

What struck me about Rajaa was how her look was a combination of two of my favorite celebrities:  Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.  Now I should probably qualify that by saying that I am referring to classic Lauryn Hill.  The Lauryn Hill was the peak of her success in the late 90s with the inimitable cd “The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill”.  Back when she was normal.  Not the Lauryn Hill now who when she does show up in public is bound to look a little crazy and a shadow of her former self.

There’s probably something else that needs explaining that has been inferred in a few of these posts but hasn’t actually been mentioned.  Any photog and/or model reading these would have picked up on it, but not the average person.  That is that I will occasionally do shoots that are known as ‘TF’ shoots.  It stands for “Trade For”.  It is normally done when an established model and established photog want to collaborate for a shoot.  Rather than one paying the other, they trade.  So neither is charging and the session.

The purpose of a TF shoot is it helps out both parties.  Both the photographer and the model get new photos they can use to better their portfolio.  Usually it is done so one or both of them can try out ideas that would add some diversity to their portfolio.  That diversity would hopefully then lead to more business when potential clients see that style.  At least that’s how it is for me when I do it.  I will try to find folks that have a look and/or style I haven’t shot before.  That’s how it was with Rajaa.

The difference was that Rajaa wasn’t an established model.  Honestly, it is hard to find those types in the Des Moines area though.  At least the ones that are willing to do TF shoots.  They either will just flat out refuse to do TF shoots (meaning they want to get paid) or they can’t because of some contractual obligation.   Sure, there are exceptions and I had been fortunate to get some of those too.  But I usually had my best luck when I found those folks who didn’t travel in those normal model circles.  Plus, when I shot with one of the non traditional model people, I get a chance to showcase someone that the photog and model community hadn’t seen before.

With Rajaa, I was very fortunate to get an individual who was not a professional model per se, but certainly knew how to work it like one.  She was quite reserved and quiet in person until it came time for camera action.  Once in front of the lens and it was go time, she was able to flip that switch.  She could hit poses that were picture perfect with very little to no direction.  Each one even better than the next.  To be fair, I rather expected that to happen based on a few of the selfies I had seen from her.  But you still never know.  Some folks are fine taking pictures of themselves then freeze up if it ever came to an actual photo shoot.  That wasn’t the case with Rajaa at all.

This shot almost didn’t make the final cut of my edits with her.  I was once again using the gridded stripbox with a black backdrop.  I had a beauty dish in front of her to get an even light.  I wanted the stripbox to provide a rim light of sorts on her right side.  However, I had positioned it a little closer than intended.  I snapped and came up with an almost ethereal glow off to her right.  Had she been doing any other type of pose, it probably wouldn’t have worked.  But the expression on her face and her positioning seemed to work perfectly with that light.  I didn’t change a thing.

Now there’s an old saying that goes “The only photographer I’m trying to be better be is the one I was yesterday”.  Although I do subscribe to that, I still find myself subconsciously seeking the approval of other photogs.  Especially those that have been in the game longer than me.  I take it as the biggest compliment ever when I post a pic and a photog who I highly respect “likes” it.  That lets me know I’m doing something right.  At least on that particular photo.  This capture of Rajaa got a few of those type of likes.  Day made.




4. The Thing.

I’m not sure when the whole levitation photo craze started becoming a “thing”.  I’m pretty certain it has been around longer than this year.  It just seemed like this year was when I started seeing more of them popping up.  There was talk of it in the IMPC group on The Book which inspired me to try to delve into it.  I just needed to find the right person to pull it off.  And the right scenery.  Well who better than my two sons that are always plenty animated?

This particular location wasn’t actually my first choice.  I had an entirely different idea in mind but it required a much gloomier background.  Which also meant it had to be more overcast.  Not nearly as beautiful a day as this was.  However, with Elijah’s busy schedule, I have to take what I can get.  I can still do the other idea I have in mind later.  Who knows…it may even make the Top Captures for next year if it materializes as well as I have it pictured in my mind.

This spot is a lake not far from my place.  For my Des Moines folks, it reminds me of a smaller version of Gray’s Lake.  It’s got the little walkway around it where you can always find people out getting their morning, midday and/or evening exercise.   It even has paddle boats that people can rent.  Although I don’t see those used very often.  Probably because they’re in the shape of Godzilla-shaped swans.  Well that and the lake is not really that big so it’s not like you’re going to get much scenery if you go out on it.

Even though this shot only has Elijah in it, I took quite a few different combinations with both him and Gabe.  One of my favorite being a shot where it appeared as though they were floating toward each other as they were reaching out to touch fingers but not quite touching.  It looked like it should have been a scene in the movie “Chronicle”.  The reason I chose this one was because of some of the comments that were made when I posted it.  I wasn’t sure if people were being serious or if they were just naive about how the shot was accomplished so I wanted to provide some type of clarification.

As you can see, Elijah looks like he’s in the midst of falling.  Someone who is not versed on Photoshop (or with just simple photo editing in general) would look at that photo and think that it was done the natural way.  That Elijah jumped from a higher point and I snapped just as he was getting ready to hit the ground.  But common sense should tell you otherwise.  Look how close he is to the ground.  Look how his body is positioned.  If he really fell like that, that impact would have been VERY painful.  Most assuredly would have resulted in an injury of some sort.  Do you think I would post a picture that caused my son injury?  Plus, the expression on his face clearly indicates that he knows he is no danger.

I was on the fence about whether I should divulge how I as able to achieve this capture.  It’s really not a secret at all.  Anyone can go online and figure out how it was done.  How many folks actually will though?  I’m guessing not many.  I won’t go through the whole process so I can at least maintain some semblance of secrecy.  Just know that there was no movement required on the part of the talent (the word commonly used to describe a person who is the subject of a photo).  The idea is to have it appear as though he is, but the less movement that takes place, the better the shot works.  It all comes down to the editing to make the entire thing come together flawlessly.  That’s the part where I would like to think that I really shine.

When I first seriously started taking photos a few years back, my editing skills were severely lacking.  NO way I could have pulled off something like this.  I didn’t even have any actual software.  No Lightroom.  No Photoshop.  It was just Microsoft photo editor that came with my computer.  So there was very little post-processing that took place and it shows in the early work.  I eventually stepped up my game and became semi-proficient with both LR and PS.  I realize I’m still probably only using the tip of the iceberg for both of those can do.  I know more than the average person yet not as much as an expert.  However, for someone as anal as I am about how my photos look, that learning process is more than welcomed.




5. JT (aka Bane)

I had the perfect idea for a Halloween themed shoot this year.  Had the person all picked out for it and everything.  Unfortunately, the vision I had for it had to take place in Des Moines.  Which meant I had to have all the travel arrangements worked out AND the talent would too.  Because they had moved and weren’t in Des Moines at the time either.  Yes…I know it would have been so much easier to do all that right where I already was in the DFW area.  I just didn’t have the connections at that time that I do now.  I’m all good come next year though.
Things fell through with my road trip that was scheduled to take place two weeks before Halloween.  Then again with the weekend before Halloween.  By that time, it was too late to do any type of theme.  I had all but given up on doing one at all.  It was killing me too because I was seeing my FB contacts posting pictures of them in their costumes.  Some of them would have made INCREDIBLE shoots.  Especially the one I saw from one of my friends in NC (even though that road trip was even more out of the question then the DMI one).  Then I came across my very own frat brother.

I had collaborated with JT in the past when I was looking for a specific concept.  He was another example of my frat helping out and being supportive of XL-Images.  A couple of years ago, I realized that I didn’t have any captures of anyone with a motorcycle.  I had just started getting into “Sons of Anarchy” at the time when the idea came to me.  I knew a few cats that were in a MC (Motorcycle Club) but JT was the first one that came to mind.  For someone who didn’t do the whole modeling thing on the regular (or ever, since I was his first shoot), he pulled it off without a hitch.

It had never dawned on me to do a superhero– or in this case, super villain –themed shoot for Halloween.  Primarily because I thought it would be a little too close to the whole cosplay fascination that I’ve seen springing up in several places.  I am personally not a fan of it at all, but to each their own.  I’m certainly not going to knock someone else for their hobby just because I don’t get into it.  I just personally feel it wasn’t the type of ‘modeling’ shooting that I wanted to get into so I stay away from it.

When I saw JT in his Bane costume, I immediately began having visions of different looks I could do in it.  Most of them involve the use of my favorite type of light set up which is a sole gridded strip box.  The Bane look was MADE for that type of lighting.  The only thing that could have made it was better was if I had done some on location ideas I had.  Like a shadowy alley.  But again, I didn’t know what to expect with unpredictable Iowa weather so I played it safe with the studio.  I think it turned out quite alright.

Now I know some of the real comic book/hero geeks (like both of my sons) will say that this isn’t the real Bane.  Not because he’s a brotha of course.  The reason being that he’s not the one from the comics.  This interpretation is the one made famous in the last Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises”.  I personally preferred the big screen adaptation.  Mainly because I wasn’t feeling the whole Mexican wrestler mask.  I did like how he was more brute strength in the comics and not near as intellectual as the movie version makes him; however, the more I watched Tom Hardy playing him, the more I liked an intelligent Bane.

JT as Bane was just flat out insane.  I was skeptical he would even go along with it since the shoot was well after Halloween.  I should have known better.  He had no problem with it.  Maybe because it gave him another chance to showcase his physique?  I’m not mad at him at all.  If I was constructed like that, I doubt I’d own few shirts.  But Frat brought just the right amount of broodiness that I thought he would.  So much so that you may notice a similar framing on this one.  Yep…another XL-Images Signature series addition.



Five Fab Fotos with David Peterson, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet David Peterson, Freelance Photographer and Two-Time Winner of the Pulitzer Prize:
I have been a photojournalist for over 33 years, beginning my career at the Topeka Capital-Journal. For 30 years I was a staff photographer and special projects photographer for the Des Moines Register. I recently left the newspaper business to freelance.While at the Register I won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first in 1987 for Feature Photography for a photo essay on Iowa’s Farm Crisis. The work was done with the help of a Nikon/NPPA sabbatical. I shared in another Pulitzer in 1991 for Community Service for a story about a rape victim. Seven of my photographs were included in the entry. Other accolades while at the Register include two stints as judge for Pictures of the Year, White House News Photographers contest judge, three times Region 5 Photographer of the Year, and numerous other local, regional and national awards.I have worked on several book projects, including Baseball in America, A Day in the Life of Ireland, 24 Hours in Cyberspace, The Power to Heal, One Digital Day, America 24/7 and America at Home. I am currently publishing multi-media projects for Drake University and other local clients in the Des Moines area. I am also working on a sports book about the Drake Relays to coincide with that event’s 100 year anniversary.
Photo by Ansel Adams

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.  Photo by Ansel Adams

1. Ansel Adams – As a neophyte photographer, I wandered into a small gallery in Kansas City in 1972 and discovered the magic of photography through the eyes and genius of Ansel Adams, who had a series of his most famous images on display.  As I stared at the images in front of me, I wanted to walk inside of the framed photos and discover the secrets that Adams had learned over the years, but knew it wasn’t quite that easy.  To that end, I bought all of his books that unlocked some of the technical aspects of his famous “zone system”, and began to understand how important this discipline was to the creative process.   As a young photographer, this gave me a wonderful base from which to begin my own photographic journey.  Adams remains one of my early in inspirations.

Photo by W. Eugene Smith

2. On the opposite end of the photographic spectrum was W. Eugene Smith, who brought the art of photographic story-telling to another level.  Smith’s message-driven photography, told through the heart of a saint and the eye of an artist, guided me to the wonderful profession of photojournalism.  Smith’s seven photographic essays, which appeared in the pages of LIFE magazine, were the benchmark for newspaper and magazine photographers world-wide.

Photo by Brian Lanker

3. Brian Lanker preceded my days at the Topeka Capital Journal and was a photographer who stood out on a staff of great photographers.  Lanker, along with Smith, changed how I looked at photos.  Much like Smith, Lanker combined a minimalist eye with content-driven visuals, always able to communicate in a deep, meaningful way.   His images were nuanced but powerful, hammering home the themes and messages that he intended.  Lanker continued to be a force in the photojournalism world after leaving newspaper work with his stunning book “I Dream a World”, which featured a series of portraits along with interviews of the most influential black women in America.

2014© Copyright Rich Clarkson — Clarkson Creative Read more about this meeting here.

4. Rich Clarkson – Rich was my first mentor, and taught me much about sports photography – a specialty of his which brought him many Sports Illustrated covers.  I was Rich’s “grip” on a two week trip in 1973 when we covered a series of track meets for Sports Illustrated.  Rich instilled in me the importance of doing things the right way, and was a stickler for detail.  Rich set a high standard for sports photography at the Topeka Capital Journal where he was the Director of Photography and my first boss.

Pears in a windowsill, National Hotel, Moscow From the Sam Abell book ”The Life of a Photograph”/courtesy Sam Abell  Read more about this image here.

5. Sam Abel – Of all the photographers who have graced the pages of National Geographic Magazine, Sam Abel is my favorite.  I had the privilege of judging the White House News Photographers contest with Sam one year, and got to know the man behind all of his wonderful images.  Sam is the rare photographer who can provide intellectual context to his work.  Listening to Sam talk about photos opens up a new door of understanding.   His style is simple, using mostly natural light for his color photography.

Five Fab Fotos with Eric Black, A Visual Conversation with Imaginative Professionals

Meet Eric Black, Owner/Creator at Revolver Underground:

I guess you could call me a Jack of all trades…at least in the music industry it seems. I started singing when I was very young. My dad always had the radio on to a local country station so I was brought up on country but soon found rock music and have been a fan ever since. I like all music as a whole, however. I’ve been in bands since I was 18 and my current band MortalRising is an acoustic-driven rock duo.A few years back I started a booking and promotions company that booked mostly venues in my home town. I also DJ’d at a local rock station and hosted as a VJ on occasion for BalconyTV (www.balconytvnashville) and For The Record for a while in Nashville but I had my first taste of radio in mid-2008 at a privately ran station in Iowa where I hosted a spot on Saturdays. The station had a local music show and I started thinking about that and how awesome it would be to have Indie bands from all over the globe heard. In 2008 that concept was born. I call it Revolver Underground. February of 2013 marked the shows 5th year. During which time the show has been syndicated on several internet radio stations in the US and UK: reaching 100,000+ listeners a week, an artist roster of over 300, and heard in 70+ countries/territories around the world. Revolver Underground is quickly becoming a major source for Indie artists worldwide to get their music heard.
1. This photo was taken on the plane heading back from covering the Grammy’s. What an amazing event! My radio show Revolver Underground partnered with BalconyTV Nashville. This was also my first time doing interviews period. Why not jump into the fire right?
So many memories with this photo! From the time we landed to the time we left it was non-stop videos, interviews, pictures and editing! A LOT OF WORK but so much fun!

Photo by Vince Lambert,

 2. This photo was taken by Vance Lambert. I spent 2 years with dreads. I’d never had them before. There are natural and chemical dreads. I tried both but chemical seemed to work best. It’s like a perm times a thousand. Having dreads is a process and usually frowned upon by most people. However, I am not most people. If you take care of your dreads they will stay clean and look amazing! You can’t slack on them though. If you do they will look really nappy and gross.  I had just moved to Nashville with my band MortalRising due to being in the top 4 of a talent search contest. They not only liked our sound but they also liked our look. Had such a great time sporting these! I no longer have them but they WILL be making a come back very soon!
3. I took this photo on our return to the mainland after visiting Catalina Island in California. If you ever get the chance to visit you shouldn’t hesitate.
I was invited to cover a film festival where Sharon Stone received the Stanly Kramer Social Artist Award. I had to get there a few hours early due to the ferry departure times so I had the opportunity to explore the island and all it entails! Everyone was so laid back and nice. Just happy to be on the island. This wasn’t just in the tourist spot of the island. I talked to a few locals and they said they loved it there. You’re about 45 minutes to an hour out from the mainland if you take the fairy. You don’t have to deal with the smog and busy lifestyles of living in Los Angeles. I can see why all the stars frequent this place! My wife and I were seriously contemplating moving there while we were on the fair right back. Something is always happening there but it doesn’t seem to have that busy feel. People are just simply having fun. This is a great reminder of my time spent in California!
4. I had many opportunities to attend all kinds of events. Red carpets, VIP parties, mansion parties, movie premieres, CD releases, etc. This picture is of Joan Jet. She was kicking off the Sunset Strip Music Festival on Sunset Blvd! She was opening up the festival that night at House of Blues with an award ceremony and live show! I grew up listening to her tunes and reading about her but never had the chance to actually meet someone that had such a big influence in rock music! I consider her to be a music icon. Her show was spot on! From her stage presence to her vocals to her crowd interaction, I was impressed! She still has it!
5. I know this is a pretty plain picture but it means a lot to me. This was one of the first events I did after moving to Los Angeles. It was for The World Networks website launch at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in LA. You can see it’s simply a piece of paper taped to the ground. But what you don’t see are the other pieces of paper surrounding it. Revolver Radio is short for Revolver Underground. This is my independent music show that I do every week.  For me to see this paper, where I’m supposed to stand on the record carpet was huge! I’m standing next to big names in media! It was a turning point in my own life but also the life of my show! Someone thought that it was good enough to have in the mix with all the big dogs! From this point on I was added to many “lists” that got me into many amazing events! I took pictures of A list celebs and rockstars! Went to many parties and VIP events and gained a lot of experience as a photographer. Oh..and for the record. I’m not a photographer. But I do play one in real life.