Braddock Carnegie Library

This set of photos represents some work for a good cause, the Braddock Carnegie Library, the first Carnegie library. In the one hundred years since its founding, the library’s grand stone structure stills stands at the heart of the Braddock community. At the same time the library, like much of Braddock, needs a boost. These images will represent the underutilized spaces tucked away on the third floors of the Braddock Carnegie Library in a grant application for rehabilitation. There are two studies, and two unfinished round rooms that have become collections of random junk from library history. Many of the furniture items are from the mid-twentieth century or before. There is a functional gymnasium, printmaking studio and computer lab, though there is no elevator in the building making accessibility difficult.


The library also contains a miniature version of the Carnegie Music Hall, it is often referred to as an acoustically correct model for the Carnegie Music Hall in New York City. The circular peaks at the top of the library are accessed by a series of wooded ladders lifting the rare visitor to the bell tower. The view from the bell tower over looks the borough and the United States Steel mill that that once provided the livelihood for the community. Check the library website to find out more about Braddock and the library.


From the Archive: Pittsburgh International

I’ve been thinking about capturing motion lately as it relates to photography. It is binary. There are only two options. There is either motion or there is none. Another binary about motion is where it occurs. It can only be the subject or the camera in motion. Combining the codes gives the photographer exactly four options when composing an image with motion. The real skill and art in capturing motion comes in the prediction to what degree the motion is emphasized in an image. It gets even finer when that emphasis is finessed and used as a statement to communicate an idea as well as evoke a reaction from the viewer.

Mexican War Streets


Sometimes when I work downtown the scenery becomes a bit mundane, time for some visual diversity. For a colorful retreat with my students, I headed to West Park and the Mexican War Streets neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.


There the tops of the city skyscrapers are juxtaposed behind a delicate yet dense growth of evergreen trees and a manicured pond. Across the street are row after row of bright, colorful and intricately detailed Victorian homes. Each one is unique from the next, though the neighborhood is uniform and authentic to historic standards. A nice diversion from the usual scenery around campus.

Coffey Way

Coffey Way

Early in each semester, I take my students on a photo walk through the alleys of Pittsburgh. For many of them this is their first time in a city environment let alone the first time in an alleyway. The alleys in downtown Pittsburgh are neat, tidy and bright canyons behind the bustling business districts. During the day the alleys are inhabited by people on the move often looking for a shortcut between the streets. As the high afternoon light falls in between the buildings it creates an interesting dynamic light as it passes through overhead wires, fire escapes and other vertical structures. It gives the students the opportunity to see and photograph light and an opportunity to explore their neighborhood in downtown Pittsburgh.

Wings Over Pittsburgh 2010

Wings Over Pittsburgh

For the past several years the Wings Over Pittsburgh airshow has taken place at the Pittsburgh International Airport 911th Air Force Reserve Base just a few miles over the hill from my house. The two day airshow ends each day with an acrobatic flight of the Air Force’s Blue Angels. During the two or three days prior to the airshow the Blue Angels practice over the Ohio River valley and invariably over my house. Their practice provides the resident of town a preview to the show. Many of my neighbors and I sit on our back porches for the ‘private’ airshow. We laugh, we cover our ears, we build excitement for the kids in the neighborhood, we take pictures with long lenses taking advantage of the annual low fly-overs.

Untitled from StartPoint Media on Vimeo.

We’ve often going to the airport to see the static displays but we have never stayed for the acrobatic show, we always though the practices were enough. This year my sons were old enough to appreciate the noise and spectacle of the event. They wanted to see fighter jets up close, so we went.

Max, Andy and friends go to Washington

Max and Andy Go to Washington from StartPoint Media on Vimeo.

I recently took the family to Washington DC. It was Maxwell and Andrew’s first trip to the nation’s capitol. They wanted to see where the president lived and were enamored with the metro and the fact that Abraham Lincoln was 16 foot tall! The day wiped them out, but they saw and learned many things. Now they have established an interest in the people and structures of government that they often see on the news. It is their first lesson in media literacy and it’s relationship to society.