Model: Divani IG: @theedivani 

Hair: Ashley @alstyling

I’ve been doing model tests at my studio every Monday for the past couple of months.  It’s a creative endeavor with no real endgame.  Usually, I don’t know how I’m going to shoot the model(s) until I get to the studio and meet her in person.  I’ve been experimenting with light, props, wardrobe, posing and anything I can else that comes to mind at that moment.  Sometimes I shoot with a full team -hair, makeup, styling and nail tech.  Other times it’s just me and the model.  It’s about being creative. It’s not about seeing how many people I can bring into my studio for a shoot.

I created a hashtag on Instagram where all these images are grouped. It’s #ModelTestMonday. I’m curious to see how many different shots I can create over the course of the next 6 months or so.


I’m back from LA -one of my favorite places.  Actually I’m back from both San Diego and LA.  I went to SD to photograph a great artist named Michael “Monstro” Amorillo.  He’s currently working on a children’s book about a sea monster who can’t swim.  I’ll post some images of Michael in a future post.

Los Angeles was the main destination.  And the main reason for the trip was to train BJJ at 10th Planet.  The vibe there is so cool, and the head instructor, Eddie Bravo, is the closest thing to a rock star that you’ll find on a jiu jitsu mat.  I always feel like I’m home when I’m training there.  I put my daughter into classes at the Gracie Academy in Torrance.  The quality of instruction there is second to none and she really feels comfortable there. I  wish we had a kids jiu jitsu program of that quality here in NYC.  I might just have to start my own…

We also made a stop at the Leica gallery.  Nots sure why.  I own 2 of their bodies and several lenses. Not much left for me to buy from them at this point.  But there is that Monochrom -an $8,000 camera that shoots black and white only.  My wife was looking at an exhibit of black and white portraits shot with shallow depth of field.  She asked why I never shot her that way.  I told her, I don’t own a Monochrom and maybe she should get me one 😉

Knowing that wasn’t likely to happen, I asked to borrow the camera from the gallery for a few minutes.  I created the B&W shots you see here a few minutes later.  

Beauty Test Shoot with Ella and Kylie

Model: @kyealexis | Model: @banella | Fashion Stylist: @desyreenicole | Nails @tiana_hardy | Makeup: @beautyqueensandco | Hair: @alstyling

The model in the first 2 images, Ella, wasn’t originally part of this shoot.  She was only there as a friend of the stylist.  When one of the agency models cancelled at the last minute, I drafted her into the shoot.  She had never done a shoot before and was understandably nervous. I explained to her that she needs to accept the fact that she belongs here in front of my camera.  Often you see a model’s comp card and decide to book her.  When she arrives, she’s not what you expected and you’re only shooting her out of obligation.  If someone drafts you for a shoot right there on the spot and you aren’t even a model, then you have to appreciate the reality that you do indeed belong there and you’re not being photographed out of some sense of obligation.

The second model, Kylie is from Wilhelmina (Miami).  As you can see from the final image, she’s packed and ready to go South.

I’ve been trying to add a manicurist to all my tests lately.  Nails have become a big thing over the past couple of years.  Also trying to experiment a bit more with color.  For the past year or so, I’ve done most of my studio work on white seamless.  Channeling my inner Avedon, I suppose…  But lately I’ve been going back to a little color in my lighting.  Still can’t seem to make myself pull out a roll of pink or red or blue seamless from the closet though.

So many great little moments happening all around you on the subway.  You just have to be focused on finding them.

The art of being invisible to you subjects.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years.  Although I must confess, it would be easier if I were using an iPhone. Shooting with a manual focus Leica isn’t the most discreet approach one might take to shoot strangers.

More from the streets and subways of New York.

Visited the African Burial Ground National Monument with my wife and daughter for the first time a few days ago.  I really respect the people who protested against the city just building over the burial ground when it was first discovered years ago.  Often it seems easy to dismiss anyone who is outside holding a sign and screaming, but sometimes when you look into it you realize that protest is a vital force in keeping cities, governments and people on the right path.

My daughter has hijacked the Nikon J1.  She’s comfortable carrying it around for the day.  Something about it being white is appealing to her, I think.

The close up image of my wife is taken by my daughter with the J1.  The profile pic was taken by me using the Leica M9.  I really love the way some of my Leica lenses flare when you shoot into the sun.

The second of my “Why We Create” series.  This one was easier than the first since I already had an abundance of images of Mitch Jackson.  I’ve worked with him for years, documenting his process of publishing his first novel, “The Residue Years”. This video features some images taken in Portland, OR where Mitch read at the prison where he had previously been incarcerated.

I also added some black and white images into the equation this time.  I’m enjoying shooting those on the Fuji XE1.  It’s a poor man’s Leica for sure, but it’s doing OK along side my M9.  My favorite part of this video is where Mitch reveals that his mother was a bit upset by the character in his book that is based on her.  Mitch really dug deep in writing this first novel.  I’m excited to see where he goes next.

Bye, Bye, BET.

I was the house photographer for BET’s 106 & Park TV show for 3 years.  The workload was insane, but what a wonderful shooting opportunity it was.  I shot over 800 images per show and I often shot 2 shows per day.  And, I would edit these 1,600 or so images at the end of the day while still at BET and upload a final, captioned take of around 300 total images before I went home each day.  It was mentally exhausting, but so much fun.

As long as I created the images BET needed -(the hosts with the guests, and the guests alone on set, being the most important) I was free to pursue the shots I was seeing on and off set.  My tool of choice was the Leica M9 but I sometimes used the iPhone with a fisheye attachment as well.  I may have been quite the spectacle, juggling 2 Nikons, a Leica and an iPhone fisheye on the crowded set, but my choice of gear consistently allowed me to create new and interesting shots each day, even though I was shooting what was essentially the same subject every day.

My tenure at BET ended when Getty Images took over responsibility for photographing the show each day.  Despite my love for shooting on that set, I was really glad for it to end.  I think 3 years was the perfect amount of time to have spent there.  Getting back my free time to focus on other projects was a real blessing.