Zoom Multimedia-Dor Hadash

Congregation Dor Hadash ‘bring in’ their Torah scrolls parading through Squirrel Hill to their new location at the Tree of Life synagogue.

This multimedia piece is the first I’ve created with the Zoom h4n digital audio recorder. It is a combination of still images and natural sound collected during the parade. A challenge for the new process is working out how to collect audio and take pictures at the same time. Each activity should be conducted separately so that sound quality does not suffer. The sound of the camera is prominently recorded on the device and can be detracting to the story. At the same time what is happening visually needs to be photographed. The quality of the photographs doesn’t necessarily suffer because audio is being collected. However, the reverse is not true, the audio will suffer because of the sound of the camera shutter. This can be resolved by miking the subjects, though this is not always possible or practical in news situations, such as this one. The two independent media, when combined need to be supportive of one and other and both must support the narrative.

PPNS at Pittsburgh City Council


Point Park News Service students, both photojournalists and writers, sit in on a session of Pittsburgh City Council. During the session the students heard public comments concerning the Jordan Miles police beating case. City residents are given three minutes to express their view points to the assembled council during the open comment period at the beginning of each meeting.

The students, in their role as journalist, used the visit to gain an understanding of the processes and procedures of how democratic governments operate in order to provide accurate information to news consumers.

Justice Through Journalism

Justice Thru Journalism

© 2010 StartPoint Media, Inc www.startpointmedia.com

Pittsburgh artist Daniel Bolick exhibits "Resurrected After Exoneration," a portrait collection of men exonerated for crimes they did not commit. The exhibit will open Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall Gallery.

A gala to benefit the Innocence Institute will be held March 24th, 2010 and will feature author John Grisham. For more information call the Innocence Institute at 412-765-3164 or visit their blog at: innocenceinstitute.org/

Ohiopyle State Park and the Argus Brick


Ohiopyle State Park received over 50 inches of snow throughout February. Much of that snow remained while I attempted to hike to the Cascade Falls along Meadow Run. Hiking through the snow proved to be impossible, a good set of snow shoes should have been in order. I was forced to stay at often visited features where there were cow paths worked into the snow leading to them.

During the trek I tested out an old Argus C3 ‘Brick’ that is part of my camera collection. I wanted to strip down the process and get back to the roots of my photographic existence. I wanted to travel lightweight and use the simplest tools I had to capture the morning light….

Re-invent Yourself


Last week I attended ‘Jump Start Your Business’, an ASMP program presented by photographer Judy Herman. She presented information designed to motivate, inspire and promote creative thinking about your photography business. During her talk she discussed her 20 year career and the number of times she has had to reinvent herself to stay creatively fresh and in business. She cited at least four reinventions of her business.

This got me thinking about my own business and retrospectively about my own reinventions. At the start of my tenth year in the photography business, I see at least three reinventions of my business.

When I started as a photographer I was a full-time newspaper photojournalist. This opportunity allowed me to grow as a person and to develop my style as a photographer. I soon discovered that I wanted to expand in my role as a photojournalist. I had aspirations to work at a major market newspaper. I quit my job, moved back to Pittsburgh, started graduate school and started working in my business as a freelance photojournalist in earnest with the goal of eventually finding a staff position.

This was Reinvention One.

All of the opportunities and networking I endeavored in graduate school lead to other new and exciting challenges including commercial photography, architectural photography and photo education. Grad school fostered networking with public relations professionals, other newspaper photographers and editors outside of my current circle. It also provided my entree into photography in higher education where I had the opportunity to teach photojournalism and photography. With this development, I left freelance photojournalism to pursue public relations photography and work on personal photographic projects.

This was Reinvention Two.

Currently, I research, learn and teach new photographic technologies, like the GigaPan, understanding how they can be used to report and communicate. I’ve leveraged a personal project into a book, Our State Parks, an exhibition and speaking engagements.

Reinvention Three is underway.

The lesson I learned from Judy Herman’s presentation is to continually look for new ways to be creative, recognize and execute new opportunities and possibilities that differentiate you from the crowd….and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.

How are you re-inventing yourself?

Steve McCurry and My Kodachrome

“Some photographers carry so much gear to prepare for every photographic eventuality that they can’t even move. Not me. I carry one camera, one lens and a bunch of cards in my pocket. I am great at only one thing.”

Steve McCurry, a photographer for National Geographic made this statement during a recent presentation at Malone University, Canton, Ohio. He got me thinking about the way I carry myself as a photographer.

He shared his inspiring images and stories including his most famous photograph ‘Afghan Girl’. He also lamented the end of Kodachrome and discussed his plans for shooting and exhibiting images from the last rolls off of the production line. Kodachrome ceased production in June 2009 and will no longer be processed after December 2010. A documentary will be produced about the end of the film and will feature McCurry’s images. The final Kodachrome images will be exhibited at and donated to the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.

His talk inspired me to do two things. The first inspiration is to lighten up! I’ll be carrying only one camera while doing my documentary work. I’ve already been minimizing the gear that I carry, but now I will change my mindset and focus on the elements of documentary that I am good at, rather than feeling guilty about missing ‘something’ because I don’t have the right gear. The second inspiration is to live as if it is now or never. Kodachrome is going away. It is now or never. This is my last chance to photograph Pennsylvania’s state parks with Kodachrome. I may be the last person on the planet to do so….

Where have you drawn inspiration from lately and what do you plan to do with it?

Non-Profit Organizations and Photography, The Relationship


Including photography and the visual record as a component to any non-profit grant proposal is essential. It is good for the organization and good for the photographer.

When used effectively, photography is a key element to assessing the effectiveness of the grant. In addition, great images will demonstrate a methodology of how to replicate the outcome of the grant for future recipients. The photographs will act as the grant’s proof of outcome in terms easily understood by contributors, donors and the general public.

Spring Theater Presentation

In addition to the assessment value of the photography, the images will provide public relations uses in a two-fold manner. The first being value would be directed at the organization receiving the grant. Those images will be used for fund raising campaigns, news releases and archive. The second is for the foundation providing the funding. It would give the foundation access to professional images of their money at work. Image uses could be contracted and budgeted for at the time of proposal to include uses such as capital campaigns, print, web or other marketing.

The competitive nature of foundation grant writing requires expert skills and experiences. Why, when big dollars are at stake, would you skimp on the permanent visual record and not send a professional to document? An organization must have a collection of compelling images to continue to raise money. People buy (or donate) based on pictures. When a portion of the budget within a grant proposal is earmarked for professional imagery the expectation of obtaining free or discounted photography disappears while the expectation for excellent photography increases. There is a budget and a great return on the money will be shown when hiring a professional. Gone are the days when an organization can simply send employee, a non-photographer with a digital SLR, to capture snapshot images to include with a grant proposal, a professional proposal needs professional compelling imagery.

Father Ryan Arts Center

Some benefits for the photographers include ownership in the overall project, input in directing how resources are used in terms of images, provide an additional and visual perspective to the overall project. A photographer, by not simply acting as a contractor but rather as an influential, responsible and important member of the organization the value and worth of the photographer and the imagery is elevated.

Working out the contractual arrangements in advance allow the photographer to protect their copyright by providing compensated, exclusive or non exclusive uses to the organization for specified lengths of time. The upfront agreement allows the creativity of the documentary photographer to capture the compelling and selling imagery with no reservations. This is a place for the professional documentary photographer.

Batik, Butterfly Gardens presentation

Snowpacolypse 2010

This past week was spent snowed in. Nearly 24 inches of snow fell on Pittsburgh during a two-day snow event dubbed ‘Snowpacolypse’. Half the week was spent at home alone with the kids, while my wife was stuck in Nashville at a social media confrence. During the week I made it into the village only once to run a few errands and take a few pictures. The snow made my everyday scenery take on an alpine appearance. The isolation of the storm required me to make good pictures close to home and sometimes from within the home, like the Gigapan featured above. The challenge was to create differently than the routine to help quell the mounting cabin fever. You can see more images from ‘Snowpacolypse 2010’ here.

Max and Andy

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”~The Shining.

Our State Parks Virtual Gallery

The opening for the Our State Parks: Western Pennsylvania exhibition is tomorrow, Firday, Jan. 29, 2010 6:30pm-8:00pm at the Father Ryan Arts Center 420 Chartiers Ave. McKees Rocks, Pa. If you want a preview of the exhibit or you can’t make it check out the virtual gallery GigaPan here.

In addition to the opening I will give a short talk about the exhibit, take an opportunity to thank a few people who were integral in making the book possible and sign a few books.

The exhibit will be in McKees Rocks until February 27 and will move on to Mercer, Pa. in April. Location to be announced.

The exhibit is free and available for display in public places. Please contact me for more information.

The book Our State Parks is available for purchase here.

Non Linear Photojournalism


Dr. Illah Nourbakhsh speaks to Point Park University photography students at Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. The lab developed and produced the GigaPan robot.


The Point Park University students, enrolled in the Specialized Photography course, will use the GigaPan as a tool of reportage. This is the first university level course dedicated to the exploration and production of non-linear photojournalism.

GigaPan images produced during the class will be compiled and edited for use in GigaPan Magazine.

3D Photography

anaglyph test

Do you have 3D glasses?

This anaglyph was created with two images combining the perspective from the left and right eyes. The two images are combined with the very simple program 3DJournal and exported as JPEG. With an inexpensive upgrade, the small dots covering images created with the free version will disappear.

This is a fun exercise, but used sparingly may have certain practical applications.

You can check out this very easy and free software and tutorial on 3D photography from 3DJournal.com.