The Fine Art of Visiting

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Perhaps as a result of my semi-southern upbringing, I enjoy visiting. No special occasion is required. You only need the desire to stop by and spend some time with friends and family. It’s a time to catch up on the week. Talk about the events of the day or share information on common acquaintances.

It’s understood that visiting is not a formal occasion. No one is going to wait on you, though visiting often involves food. To underscore that point, the best kind of visiting takes place in the kitchen.

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At the farm, visiting often involves sitting near the wood stove, enjoying its warmth. Debbie and the farmer will be there. So will Sarah, the farm’s official ambassador and mouser.

As the wood pops in the stove’s woodbox, the kettle steams and the conversation ebbs and flows. Laughter punctuates the stories told and comfortable silence gives time for thought and reflection.

Visiting may be an art, but it is not pretentious. It’s democratic. Anyone can participate, even you. Go visit with someone you know and polish up those conversation skills you’ve let become rusty.

Making Sorrow


Back in December, I met a young woman at the wedding of some friends. A month later, I received a cryptic text message – Are you interested in a new project? Never one to turn down something interesting, I said: “Sure, what do you have in mind?”

I soon learned that her long term relationship had ended and that she wanted me to photograph her while she cried. She saw the project as a cathartic opportunity to get the pain out of her system. My first thought was – What a terribly emotional and painful thing to do. My second thought was – What an amazing opportunity to shoot some very powerful images.

We discussed our vision of how the results would look. Dark. Black and White. Stark contrasts. We decided that the location would be her home. I brought a single light and stand as well as a backdrop. She provided a small chair. I thought the simplicity would focus the viewer on her expressions, making their experience profoundly emotional.


She had a fear that when we started shooting, she would not be able to cry. However, she had a stack of old post cards and love notes that quickly stirred up the pain inside of her. Crying was not a problem at all.

As a photographer, I was focused on shooting. As a human being, I was very cognizant that just in front of me was a woman in pain. I kept reminding myself that I was there to shoot and not comfort her. She wanted to get those emotions out of her. In the end, when she was emotionally spent and we were finished with the shoot, I did give her a hug.

That’s it. That’s how I shot the most gut wrenching shoot of my career. I am glad that I did it. I am honored that she asked me to be her photographer.

Would I do it again? Yes, I would. Becoming better at what you do often means leaving your comfort zone. It means taking risks and learning from the experience. This was one of those opportunities. I would do it again in a heart beat.

New Year’s Eve Ball

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Once again, I spent New Year’s Eve at the ball in South Charleston, OH. Once again I struggled to focus and capture motion in the dim light. And, once again, I had a wonderful time.

New this year, I managed to stay up til after midnight and toasted 2017 with champagne. Though dancing took it’s toll on some, everyone was up at the stroke of twelve to dance some more.

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Music on the Farm

There was a lot of music on the farm over the weekend. The fun started on the back porch and ultimately ended with a cake walk in the big barn.

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Unfortunately, the rain was steady all day long and the crowd was small. Still, we managed to have a great time. I actually like when the music is officially over, but the musicians hang out and continue playing on their own. Playing for each other and themselves.


Contrast is one of my favorite elements of photographic composition. Even a beginning photographer can create wonderful images with good light and contrast. I was recently asked to comment on the contrast that I use in my images. Specifically, How do I use contrast with the intent of creating a viewer experience.

Here are some examples that might be helpful. However, these examples are limited to my work. You may make use of contrast in other ways that allow you to tell your own visual stories.

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I use contrast to draw the viewers eye. When I want them to focus on one portion of the image, contrast can do the trick. The contrast can be between light and dark, colors, patterns and many other differing parts of the photo.

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Sometimes, I use contrast to eliminate the distractions of the background.

Coke Bottle Blues

I use contrasting colors to emphasize a pattern or to break it up.

Lanier Sunrise

I often use more subtle contrast too add atmosphere to a scene.

Night House

I use contrast to add drama to the image or suggest a story to the viewer.

Belle's Locks

Contrast can bring out textures and patterns.

Wild Phlox

Sometimes contrast can simplify a scene and allow the user to see the beauty of simple forms.

I hope these examples help to explain how I regularly use contrast. How do you use contrast in your work?

Light as Subject

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Typically your subject is a person, a scene…something physical. You use the light to contrast your subject from the background or to enhance its form.

Then there are those wonderful moments in which you see the light and tune out everything else in the scene. The light becomes the subject. The light may take the form of a single ray, or the contrast of light and shadow.

Find some light & capture it.