2014 Atlas Air Annual Report Cover Photo

2014 Atlas Air AR
2014 Atlas Air Annual Report

Recently I had the pleasure of working with the design department of Atlas Air Worldwide to produce the cover and several inside images for their 2014 Annual Report.  Looking forward to doing more work in the future.

Professionalism and the Opportunity to Rise Above

No matter what your chosen career, your area of expertise, there is a certain level of competence you are expected to demonstrate.  Among the qualities closely associated with the concept of “professional” might be consistency and where appropriate, creativity in performing ones particular skill set. Often referred to as being “in the groove”; that place mentally where one simply performs without thought, instinctively. I first heard a professional basketball player speak of “being in the groove”, then a downhill racer. It’s a sensation familiar to many accomplished athletes.

Last week I attended a talk by Dr. Michael Caldwell, Dean of Fine Arts at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Caldwell is a concert pianist and between 1984 and 1992, he participated in a governmental cultural arts program traveling internationally to third world countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In each country Dr. Caldwell gave performances attended by local dignitaries, ambassadors and diplomats.  The idea was to provide an opportunity for these individuals to come together for a cultural event rather than the usual State diplomatic meeting.  In a social setting there would be the possibility for development of personal relationships with their counterparts allowing deeper understanding in official meetings.  I’m probably over simplifying the program but as I understood, this is essentially the anticipated outcome.

Throughout the program, Dr. Caldwell did not travel with his own piano. He was provided with pianos at each destination. He carried only his tuxedo. This naturally begs the question about the quality of the pianos Dr. Caldwell found in each of these distant and less developed countries. For example, small African countries might not have the perfectly tuned, well kept Steinway that a concert pianist was accustomed to using. Dry desert air might have a less than desirable affect on the wood of a piano. And in fact, that was very true; he mentioned one particularly memorable program where the instrument he used had wooden foot pedals. I’m no musician, but I gather concert grand pianos normally have brass foot pedals.  A hitch in Dr. Caldwell’s routine. And this is where his talk became more interesting for me; Dr. Caldwell began to speak about being a “professional” and what that means. Quite simply, he spoke of that anticipated level of expertise, of a fine performance delivered consistently at a high level…then he added…”With the occasional ability to ascend to unlimited heights.” I loved that last part. That resonated with me.

That sums up quite nicely what I look for as a professional… high level ability delivered consistently and when the stars align, the ability to go with ones gut and sore to unbelievable heights.

There is nothing like being “in the groove”.

Happy Valentine’s Day

valentineOne of my favorite images from Bali.  I’ve been waiting for Valentine’s Day to make use of this beauty.  Makes a terrific card for someone special.

Background info: everyday in the Hindu religion, people make offerings.  These are usually small arrangements of flowers placed outside their doors. Larger offerings of fruit and flowers are taken to the temples.  This image was a water bowl covered in petals and deliciously fragrant.

And So It Begins….

Oak, bark
Sunlight on Oak Tree Bark

I grew up in cotton farm country. When I was very young, 5 or 6, I would wake at dawn, get dressed and leave the house. Alone. Hard to imagine allowing a young child out alone that early today, I guess it was another time. I would wander around the fields doing nothing in particular, just looking. Probably tossing a few rocks or dirt clods at nothing in particular. We had a big drainage ditch about a quarter mile behind our house. No standing water usually, certainly not running. Enough puddles to get a small boy muddy sometimes. There was a good-sized, lone oak tree by that ditch. I recall vividly the way the early morning sun would rake across the bark of that oak. The warm edges created by the sun light, the extreme texture of the bark. I remember too the way the sunlight painted the tall Johnson grass blades with the same golden edge glow. I also recall my blue jeans being wet though from the morning dew and being covered by grass seeds. Maybe I should ask my mother about removing all those seeds before washing my jeans.

Perhaps that explains why I became a photographer. My early exposure to dawn sunlight, “golden hour” as we photographers know it. Whatever it was, I’ve never lost my fascination with natural sunlight, shadows and that golden edge. Four or five years later I had my first black & white darkroom.