Unnatural Light

From the beginnings of my aspirations to be a “photographer”, I always considered low-light and night photography to be sort of my go-to genre. The very first photograph I took that I really felt was “good”, the first one that made me feel like maybe I was getting a hang of what I was doing, was a long-exposure shot I took in Arkansas outside my tent in the middle of the night (it’s on flickr here, if you’re interested). Though I’ve branched out a lot since then, available-light photography is still very near and dear to my heart. So recently as I’ve been thinking a lot about the “professional” or “commercial” work I do it starts to occur to me that I do very little photography these days just for the sheer enjoyment of it, which is a real shame. So I decided to get back to my roots and head out after dark with my friend Matt, a camera and a tripod. Here are some of the results.

Abandoned drive-in movie theater on old Route 66 west of Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

Abandoned building, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

That last one came out looking like something from a horror movie or something, which was totally unintentional, but I like it.

I was inspired to write one blog entry every day in February by my friend Erin — you should check out her blog (and amazing photography) here.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope you get everything you asked for and eat so much pie you can’t see straight.


Bridal Session: Natalie

Brides are quite possibly the portraitist’s dream.

When you shoot a wedding, it’s all about capturing moments in time: memories, details, cross-sections of day where a million tiny (and some not-so-tiny) things happen almost all at once. As a photographer you’ve got to be on top of the situation; you’ve got to get good shots, and you only get one chance. This is the rush of wedding photography: you’re part portrait photographer, part event coordinator and part photojournalist. It’s great fun, but there’s also something to be said for taking things a bit more…slowly.

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A Summertime Wedding

There was a time in my life when I didn’t enjoy shooting weddings. I thought there was too much pressure, that they were too hectic, stressful. Now? I find them really enjoyable. I enjoy each one more than the last.

People make a big to-do about making sure everything is just right and goes according to plan, but what a wedding ends up being about is the moments shared between people. Parents and children, life-long friends, people very much in love. The beautiful things about weddings are almost always the ones you could never plan for.

Photographing a wedding isn’t just about knowing which events need to be captured. Sure, there’s a “list”: the kiss, the first dance, the cake. But it’s also about finding those little moments, the ones often happening when nobody knows you’re watching.

For me every wedding has an overarching theme: people in love, people being happy. Photographing a wedding is all about capturing those happy moments.

Congratulations to Josh and Natalie, and thanks for letting me be a part of your big day.


Tonight I’ll be making the trip down the turnpike to give a talk at IgniteOKC. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Ignite, here’s a little info from the website:

Started by Brady Forrest, Technology Evangelist for O’Reilly Media, and Bre Pettis of Etsy.com, formerly of MAKE Magazine, Ignite […] speakers are given 20 slides, each shown for 15 seconds, giving each speaker 5 minutes of fame.

I’m giving a talk entitled “The Power of Visual Communication: Together, We Can Rid the World of Comic Sans” tonight at the Lyric Theater in OKC. I’ll be talking about how sloppy and thoughtless our communication has become in modern society, and giving some tips about what everyone can do to improve the quality of their own visual communication. Here’s a teaser:

The event sold out only hours after tickets were released, but there will be a live stream of the event and all talks will be posted to youtube later on. You can bet that, barring any really bad screw-ups, I’ll be posting said video here on the blog just as soon as it’s available.

Award-winning Filmmaker? Apparently.

This was my second annual submission to Living Arts Tulsa’s 24-hour Video Race back in February. We took the prize in the Experimental category.

Mostly did this one with Shane Hood of Tepera|Hood design (with additional help from a couple of Matts who don’t have websites) using a combination of Legos, Playskool people, found objects, fishing line, electric motors and stop-motion animation.

Check out my other video work here. Enjoy!

New Stuff All Around

I’ve moved the site onto a new WordPress installation so things might look a little odd while I iron out the details. I’m running WordPress 3.0, which means exciting new features and more stuff to learn. What you see here is my very first (and very much work-in-progress) theme for WP3. As it stands, it supports:

  • Custom header images
  • Custom background colors
  • Article Images
  • Custom Menus

with plans to add

  • Custom post types (in my case a custom portfolio display)
  • Custom post taxonomies (not so much because I need them as I want to learn how they work)

so yeah. That’s all good and quite geeky; just thought I’d get the technical stuff out of the way.

Practical Typography: Volume One

I started thinking about this concept over a year ago, writing disjointed thoughts on typography in my notebook instead of taking notes in my “Services Marketing” summer class. My realization was that since high school I’d been using Courier New for every academic paper I’d written (and after spending two years as an English major this was quite a lot indeed). The advice came from an insightful high school English teacher, and I’ll explain his reasoning a little later. What’s important to know is that despite constant skepticism from classmates when I tried to give them the same advice, I never received any negative feedback from a professor. Sure, there are those who state outright, often in the syllabus, that students are to use a certain font, usually Times New Roman, at a certain size. But these were generally the exception, not the rule. In probably 90% of my college classes, across several majors, professors had no objection to size 12 Courier (on a Mac I’d be Talking about American Typewriter Std). But why is this important? Well if you’re an upstanding, rule-abiding student who enjoys writing as many pages as possible in response to your required reading of Babbit in Business school, it might not be. If, like me, you’re always looking to do the most good with the least effort, then read on.

The fonts I’m talking about here were designed, essentially, to emulate typewriters. In this respect they are perfectly acceptable for the purposes of academic, or for that matter any serious, writing. The term monospaced refers to the uniform spacing of letters, numbers and punctuation. This is unique among monospaced fonts. Your standard serif such as Times New Roman has varying amounts of spacing dependent on the letter in question; for instance, the letter “i” gets less space in the horizontal direction than, say, a “w”. In this respect there is a sense of unpredictability with these fonts, as a word with more slender letters will take up less than a word with a lot of wider letters. But why does this matter? Because monospaced fonts are both consistent…and take up more space. Consider the following example:


Courier New on the left, Times New Roman on the right. Both examples use the same 50-word sample set in 12pt type leaded at 15pt. Note the difference in length. And this is simply over the course of one (very short) paragraph. So we can see right away that using a monospaced font has serious advantages in situations where a certain page-length is required. Is it cheating? Maybe, but I don’t think so. But just in case, after using this method for more years than I care to divulge here, I formulated a succinct justification should the need arise (it never did). Essentially, and this is the bit I gleaned from that insightful high school teacher, this format (double-spaced, of course) is considered standard “Manuscript Format” when submitting any piece of writing for publication. This has a lot to do with cleanliness: If a publisher sees identical manuscripts, the emphasis is on the words rather than the fonts. You can say a lot with a font, but one could argue that with a typewriter font you’re simply saying “I’m writing something”. Additionally, the wide spacing allows for easy markup and proofreading.

This whole length-manipulation technique played well into a style of writing which served me quite well for the entirety of my college experience: say a lot with a little. “Trim the fat” as it were. So you need a ten page paper? Write a ten page paper with Times New Roman. Then set it to a monospaced font…suddenly you’re going to have fifteen. What now? Start trimming. What you’re left with afterward, in theory, is nicely distilled. Whoever reads it isn’t going to get the feeling you were drawing things out to take up space, they’re going to get the feeling you’re getting right to the point.


Sitting down to write this post, I asked myself where I go for inspiration. I guess my first inclination, as always, was to make some kind of list. But what would this list look like? Websites, photographers, designers…books? I arrived at the conclusion that inspiration necessarily comes from all around me. There’s no one place I go for inspiration. But that doesn’t really make for an interesting read, so I made a list anyway.

So, what’s inspired me lately?

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford, Nickolas Muray for Vanity Fair 1929

Vanity Fair: The Portraits

I received this book as a birthday gift last month. It’s a truly amazing collection of images documenting a century of modern society, by many of its most iconic photographers (and a few of my personal heroes) including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibowitz and Edward Steichen. I love taking pictures of people, this is no secret. I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of that lately, but I’m working on it (see my previous post). It seems to me that if you want to do something well, you study the best. This book showcases some of the finest portraits from the last century, and thumbing through its massive pages is awe-inspiring.

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer

This film has been praised as the anti-love story and dismissed as a hipster romantic comedy, but I think what I liked about 500 Days of Summer is how it defied categorization. It had moments of genuine emotion alongside lighthearted comedy (and even a dance number). The film didn’t claim to be something it wasn’t—I think the opening narration says it best:

“This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story.”

But I must confess: it takes more than an enduring story for a movie to truly inspire me. 500 Days took it to the next level with an interestingly jumbled chronology—which in some movies proves confusing or disorienting—and tied it all together with a very slick design. The feel of those interstitial spaces was more reminiscent of information graphics or user experience design than simple movie titles. The design of the movie is what made it work. And it worked out quite well, in my opinion.

Kansas City (on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)


Though something tells me everyone already knows that. In addition to the epic (and previously blogged) trip to California this summer, we also took a summer-ending road trip to Kansas City over the Labor Day weekend. It was awesome. Just long enough to be relaxing and see the sights, short enough to keep things cheap and simple. The problem with me and travel, however, is that the more I do it…the more I want to do it. Not to mention the fact that every time I visit some place other than Tulsa, the less I like Tulsa. But that’s not inspiring, so it doesn’t belong on this list.

So tell me, where do you find inspiration?