Courtyard’s Courtyard

The Complete Lack Of [Explored]

It’s amazing: if you build a community place, a community will form, even if it’s a transient one.

Over the summer, we stayed at a Courtyard hotel – nice place, pool, convenient location, etc. And, as the name says, it had a courtyard in the middle of the hotel with picnic tables and trees and little walkways. Our hotel room had a porch that looked out on the courtyard.

The whole thing caught me off guard. Hotels, as I had experience them, were private places, where noise was kept down and you rarely saw the people in other rooms. But a courtyard? Where you could see people? Whoa.

And what do you know, people gathered there. A family brought a six pack of beer outside and sat on the picnic table to chat. People strolled by on their way to the pool. Kids ran around and played kickball. It was like being back in college, only with a more diverse crowd. It was great. We sat on the porch and watched the whole evening take shape.

If you build it, they will come, the saying goes. In this case, it was true. The evidence was gathering in front of us.

That made me think of the “courtyards” I’ve encountered in my online life: Twitter, my old Apple Newton blog, photography groups.I would still rather chat with someone in person about their (or my own) weird hobby. The nice thing about the Web is, you can have both in-person courtyards and online meeting places to talk about what interests you.

Make a gathering place, and like-minded people make a community. If you’re generous and open, those communities become stronger and closer.

Especially if you bring a six pack.


Jon + Amanda

As I’ve said, I don’t do weddings unless (a) I know you and (b) I like you.

That’s why I was happy to capture Jon and Amanda’s wedding a few weeks ago. Amanda and Jon are family, and their small wedding in my dad’s backyard was intimate and lovely.

Photography can be an awesome gift to give – longer lasting than cash or a toaster oven. Don’t be stingy with it.


For Every Season

Thoughts That Steer Us

Matt Thomas has great things to say about accepting and adjusting to seasons:

More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock.

Here in the Midwest, we’re experts at seasons. And I definitely pick projects and to-do items that reflect the time of year. Winter? Get outside and shovel, and a few photographer interviews. Spring? Yard work and thinking ahead to summer projects. Fall? Finish up projects, enjoy a shit ton of apple cider, try roasting some acorns, etc.

Maybe I’m a creature of habit, but the seasonal routines are very comforting for me.

Start the crockpots full of chili, folks. It’s autumn.

(via Austin Kleon)


Shop and Enjoy

Wind-Blown Sunrise

With the release of my new book (thanks for all the kind comments, by the way), this might be a good time to mention that my photo print store is open – even if I don’t give it much love.

I’m on Society6. They make the whole process easy, and give you lots of good options at a reasonable price.

Photography isn’t about making money to me. It’s about making work and sharing work. I get requests often enough that my store becomes an easy way for people to buy my pictures.

Shop, and enjoy. And if there’s anything that’s not up there that you wish was, please let me know.


Lost and Found

Go Through the Changes

My Canonet is missing.

It could be stolen, or it could be lost. But it’s gone. The camera, and a roll of film with 20-ish exposures from my 365 project.

What a bummer.

That means most of September is missing. Maybe a bit of late August. Lots of sunrises and foggy mornings – those magical times when photography is so fun this time of year. The light changing, the leaves falling, the hot days and cool evenings.

It could be that I left my little rangefinder in my front seat, and then left the car unlocked overnight, a prime opportunity for a wayward thief. Or it could be that me, the absent-minded photographer, left the camera sitting somewhere out of sight, waiting to be discovered again.

The point is that I can’t leave the 365 half finished. No, I’ll load a roll of Lomo into my Olympus and keep going, and try not to pine for those lost photos from earlier this month.

Lost, or found, I have to keep going.


Under Peruvian Skies

Twenty years ago today, Dream Theater gave a name to the music I loved so much as a kid: progressive.

With Falling Into Infinity, they made an album that was also approachable, with a touch of metal, and it became one of my favorite albums of all time.

It’s supposed to be their “accessible,” radio-friendly album. That’s probably what helped me pick it up so easily. And then jams like “Peruvian Skies” here, with its crunch and twists and turns, sealed the deal.

A memory: driving up into the Black Mountains of Arizona, on my Route 66 road trip, with Falling Into Infinity as the soundtrack. Me looking over the edge into the desert void, wondering if I’d make it to the other side and on to California, with “Hell’s Kitchen” blaring and keeping me sane. Magic.


New Routines

Settling into the new house, here six months after moving in, means doing things in different ways than before.

Mowing the lawn? It takes half as long now. My commute? About 20 minutes shorter. Moving into town, we have time in the morning to let the kids sleep in a bit before taking the boy to school.

We take walks like we used to, just around a more suburban setting. We play out in the yard, as always, it’s just that the yard is not as big.

Little things, here in there, that I’m still getting used to.


Photo Book Now Available: #abandoned

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I made a thing.

Seeing as how my musicians portrait project is on hiatus, I’m releasing my new photobook, #abandoned, a collection of urbex and abandoned photography from the past few years, all taken on my iPhone.

Better to ship something than nothing, right?

#abandoned is a simple 8″ square softcover book that includes 30 images of abandoned houses, factories, and farms – mainly in south central Michigan.

Although I’ve largely retired from urbex photography, I felt like I had a few more projects in me. One of them was to make a photobook of all my urbex adventures, but keep it to mobile photography. I’ve made plenty of photos using my “big” camera, but my iPhone is always with me, even when my DSLR isn’t. The photos are all of high enough quality to make a modest book. On Instagram, I’ve had a few people ask me to make something like #abandoned, so here it is.

I wanted to keep it simple and affordable, so I’ve posted the book on MagCloud for order. It’s $15.

My style, such as it is, comes in large part from my explorations in abandoned properties. There came a point where I was both shooting urbex locations and developing my creative voice. I feel like a lot of these photos come from that combination of recklessness and light chasing, and are a good representation of the kind of work I do now.

Order your copy today, and please let me know what you think.