Writer and jazz musician, Dominic Green, was one of the most delightful people I've had the good fortune to photograph – a mix of self-deprecating good humor, wickedly keen intelligence (he studied English Literature at St. John's College, Oxford), and a fount of wonderful anecdotes about his theater-bred family and colorful musician friends.Read More
I recently had the good fortune to photograph brilliant Jackie VanderBrug, co-author of Gender Lens Investing: Uncovering Opportunities for Growth, Returns, and Impact.
The subject of her book is fascinating: women today are an enormous force in the global economy—as successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives and family breadwinners. Yet gender-based violence, the absence of women's legal rights and the persistent wage gap stubbornly remain. This paradox creates an unprecedented and underexplored opportunity for investors. This is the first book of its kind to examine, in depth the advantages of integrating gender into investment analysis. While other books speak to growing numbers and influence of women, Gender Lens Investing moves from economic trends to financial strategy.
Jackie was looking for a portrait that conveyed her extensive knowledge base of her area, and conveyed a strong, smart presence. We worked with different backgrounds, lighting, and expression to nail the image she was looking for in her new book.
Photographing mystery writers is an absolute delight; I get a little tingle of happiness when I'm contacted by an author who delves into the deep dark depths of the human psyche to create their stories. Recently, I photographed Ray Daniel and Anne Macdonald, both wonderful writers and human beings, who are members - and in the case of Ray, the president - of the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, New England chapter.
When photographing a writer of this type, I try to avoid the obvious cliches, but infuse a subtle tinge of drama and gravitas through lighting and positioning. The goal is to create an author photo for book jacket and publicity use that tells a visual story about both the book and author in a beautiful manner, inviting their readers to get to know both them, and their books, better.
A table spread with photographs and a fishbowl in front of me, three seven-foot banners dwarfing me from behind, I prepared myself to meet hundreds of writers over three days at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel with a 50/50 mix of exuberance and uncertainty. This scenario lay before me earlier this month when I had decided to take a stab at being a sponsor/exhibitor (party of one) at the Muse in the Marketplace writers' conference organized by GrubStreet, one of the nation's leading creative writing centers (and where my show, the Boston Authors Project, resides). My expectations were fairly low-key; connect with writers, and see how I could help them prepare their book jacket and publicity photography for their upcoming releases.
In truth, I wasn't sure what to expect. I generally work with folks one-on-one, with the exception of gallery openings and speaking at events, so I was equal parts hesitant and excited to take this on. For the first time, I had put together a fishbowl-type of raffle for an author to win a portrait sitting, which was a lot of fun and led to a full fishbowl (won by the lovely Kelly Ford - expect a blog post of Ms. Ford in the soon future). There were photographs in place for people to pick up and examine, a large screen with a slideshow of author images for attendees to peruse, and the requisite marketing materials (livened up by the fabulous faces of past clients).
The wonderful thing about authors as clients is that they uniformly have interesting lives to draw from; at the Muse, I met writers who were art historians, writers who were vets, writers who were professors, writers who fundraise, and writers who work at bookstores. Fiction writers, poets, business writers, all who had come both to get inspired and to learn the intricacies of how to get a book out into the world. While many of the folks I spoke with were from the Northeast, I met a good handful who had certainly gotten their frequent flier milage in - some from California, the Midwest, one from Ireland, all happy to take in as much as they could in three days.
Many of my conversations revolved around the following points:
- Are you a writer? (Not really, unless maintaining this blog counts. And academic articles.)
- What made you want to photograph writers? (Answer: here.)
- Jokes with the punchline being that I only photograph people who hate to be in the spotlight. (It's mostly true!)
- Tell me about how the publicity process works when a book comes out. (I did, very happy to help with that, as it can seem a bit overwhelming, especially to newly-published authors.)
- Where are the photos you create used? (Book jackets, book publicity, editorial/magazine use, webpages, social media.)
- Do you photograph anything but portraits? (I specialize just in commercial/editorial portraiture.)
- Your work is beautiful (Thank you - who doesn't feel good about hearing that?!)
Some of the highlights of my time:
- Seeing beautiful artwork by an author/collage artist
- Reconnecting with past clients and current friends, like the glorious Lara Wilson and Rita Zoey Chin (who also spoke about the essentials of dialogue and is one of the kindest human beings on the planet), and the super-delightful Whitney Scharer
- Stopping by the panels of distinguished writers Jennifer Haigh (Topic: Building the World of the Novel - who is also lovely and a fantastic writer - check out her newest novel), and new-to-me writers Anjali Mitter Duva (Topic: You're the Boss! Taking control of your book promotion plan) and Crystal King (Topic: How to use social media for self-promotion and not be annoying) - though sadly I couldn't stay long, as I had to get back down to the exhibitor's room
- Buying books at the Porter Square books table, run by the delightful and wickedly funny Robert Smyth
- Getting hugs from GrubStreet staff and friends like Eve Bridburg and Sonya Larson, who with Christopher Castellani did a wonderful job running the event
- Making connections with the other vendors - I kibitzed with the beautifully-named Jana Van der Veer from Lesley University, and Jenn Scheck-Kahn of GrubStreet and Journal of the Month
- Eating matzoh behind my booth as I finished out Passover in the most crumbly manner possible
All-in-all, it was a delightful way to meet some fascinating people! I slept well afterwards, too.
From the first e-mail I received from Sarah G. Ross, PhD, I knew I was fortunate enough to meet a kindred spirit. Sarah's delightful and wicked sense of humor, quirkiness, and warm humanity made her a joy to photograph, as well as an honor due to her impressive background as an academic and author in early European history at Boston College,
Given her background, Sarah was looking for an academic/author portrait that placed her in the Gothic architecture at Boston College; the more Gothic, the better, said Sarah. She also requested dramatic light, which I was happy to deliver. Much of her work follows the everyday life of past European artisans, and it was only fitting that the imagery, in a nod to her subjects, would be infused with art and beauty.
With my assistant, Tim, we kept an eye out for archways, textured stone, and stained glass to frame Sarah's portraits, and Boston College's campus did not disappoint. Our only sadness was that unlike Oxford University, the inspiration for BC's architecture, there was a sad lack of gargoyles on campus. We joked that should we do another shoot, we would have to install stealth gargoyles somewhere - perhaps the BC version of a MIT-like "hack."
Despite our sad lack of gargoyles on campus, we found a surplus of beautiful locations to shoot, and as the sun and rain came and went, got some gorgeous moments, with some help, as needed, by strobes and our voice-activated light stand, Tim (who is a retired historian himself).
Sarah now has a collection of images to chose from to use for her professional needs, whether it be a speaker bio, author photo for an upcoming book, or for online professional use on her academic blog. All in all, this shoot was delightful from start to end, and I look forward to following Sarah's work in the future!
Mark John Isola, a writer and English professor hailing from both Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, contacted me recently to photograph him as he had recently finished working on his first story collection. Fascinating work, his new book explores the social within the sexual to consider the reflective, romantic, and randy aspects of human experience.Read More
Despite the breezy tone of my title, I have to say that new author, Neil Hayward, is one of the most charming gentlemen I've met! He recently contacted me as his new book - "Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year" - was coming out in May, and his editor sent him my way to create the imagery for his book jacket and his promotional material.
Hayward, a rather educated Oxford/Cambridge-educated scientist and consultant, decided to take a year off and attempt what’s known as a “big year” — seeing as many different kinds of birds as possible, traversing the continent to do so. He managed 749 which made him the North American bird spotting champion. And prompted him to write a book, as well.
When he came my way, what could I do but take him outside? We had a lovely day in terms of clarity, though it was brutally cold, which Neil took like a trouper, eventually becoming rather blue in the process, but certainly game to try new landscapes outside.
We also shot in the studio, playing with strobes and ambient light, to get some beautiful headshots. Though as much as I love my studio, I have to say that the field trip outdoors felt necessary and true in order to capture the spirit of Neil's big year.
A Netherlands-based publication, Filosofie, entirely dedicated to philosophers, recently contacted me to photograph Adam Sandel, PhD, a Harvard lecturer in social studies and rising star in the philosophy world. The art director of Filosofie was looking for portraits for an interview-based article for their November edition of the magazine, and gave me a lot of creative freedom to create a several images that highlighted this young professor whose new book was shortly to be released in Europe.
Sandel, son of noted philosopher Michael Sandel, also of Harvard, was a joy to photograph. Filosfie's interviewer was running a bit late, so I photographed a bit of the interview while I waited.
Once the interview was complete, I shot Adam both indoors and outdoors on campus, using several different lighting techniques, first in the ambient light, and then shooting to create a virtual night in order to separate Adam from the background.
Adam was infinitely patient as I tinkered around with several lighting set-ups (my assistant's car sadly broke down in one of Boston's innumerable tunnels, so I was flying solo). Adam beautifully coped with me dragging him to different setups, turning and twisting him around, with a lovely personable sense of humor and a quiet thoughtfulness as he answered my questions and quickly adapted to each physical and lighting environment. A lovely afternoon all around, and I even finished on time for him to make a family dinner!
Last week, I blogged about Manuel and Joe, two men I photographed for BNY Mellon and PFLAG, to showcase portraits of members of the LGBTQ community in order to raise awareness about Pride Month. Peter Tenggren, my contact at BNY Mellon who asked me to create this small group of work, sent me the below picture of the portraits, (printed by Bob Korn Imaging) now settled in the first of its four traveling stops throughout the Boston area for the month of June. I thought I'd share with you all the images, and very importantly, the words behind each person photographed, below.
The Pride Project
I’m delighted to work with BNY Mellon and PFLAG, as a proud ally, to present this collection of five portraits of vibrant members of the LGBT community in honor of Pride Month. With each photograph, I worked to display the humanity, warmth, and intelligence of the person pictured; to show both their inner world as well as to document each person’s features, relationships, and character. Part of the process to create these images was to get to know what was important to each person, and to create a safe and warm environment so that each man and woman pictured would feel at ease to truly be themselves. My goal with each person photographed was to foster a genuine friendship and alliance enabling the viewer of the portrait to feel as though they had somehow already known the person in the photograph. As a portrait photographer, storyteller, and former psychotherapist, it is vital to me that each portrait creates a narrative and sense of recognition between the viewer and the viewed.
- Sharona Jacobs, June 4, 2015 www.sharonaphoto.com
The Pride Project
Amy and Lori, 2012
Archival Digital Pigment Print
20 x 30 inches
“This portrait was taken hours before I married my best friend. It was amazing to have one of the best days of my life documented in such intimate and lovely detail. To me Pride is confidently walking down the street, holding hands with my wife while pushing our 18-month-old twins in their stroller. In the past 20 years my Prideful life has shifted from bar-fueled weekends to Saturday Gymboree outings. What hasn’t changed is me going about my out life in the most honest way possible.”
"Pride is raising our children to know that Different doesn't mean Lesser. Differences are a good thing and we should always try to embrace what is different about ourselves and others. Our family might look a little different to some people, but it is full of love and laughter and both the family we were born with AND the family we chose."
The Pride Project
Archival Digital Pigment Print
20 x 30 inches
This portrait of Mark was taken the day Lori and Amy were married, and he and his partner hosted their celebration. Amy: "There’s the family you’re born with and the family you choose. Our chosen family includes two of the kindest, most generous people on the planet who opened their home to host our fabulous wedding.”
The Pride Project
Robin Lippincott, 2015
Archival Digital Pigment Print
20 x 27.4 inches
Robin: "I am a writer of literary fiction and nonfiction. I have two books coming out: Blue Territory: A Mediation on the Life and Work of Joan Mitchell (November 2015), and Rufus + Syd, a young adult novel co-written with Julia Watts (Spring 2016). I am also the author of the novels In the Meantime, Our Arcadia, and Mr. Dalloway, and the short story collection The 'I' Rejected. My fiction/nonfiction has appeared in over 30 journals, including "The Paris Review," "American Short Fiction," "Fence," "Memorious," "The Literary Review," "The New York Times Book Review," and others. I teach in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University. Simply put, pride means having the self-respect to be fully myself.”
The Pride Project
Manuel and Joseph, 2015
Archival Digital Pigment Print
20 x 26.5 inches
Manuel: "We are constantly making each other laugh. A common scene would include me talking about my day, but in Sofia Vergara's voice, followed by Joe bursting out laughing with his eyes shut, probably thinking to himself, "I hope this is only part of today's show, and not what I actually signed up for!" The roles reverse when Joe starts walking around the kitchen imitating a praying mantis while re-enacting a scene from Isabella Rossellini’s, "Green Porno" (which we went to see on our first Valentine). But life is not all about laughter and smiles. With our highly sensitive and introspective personalities, we often find ourseleves having to support and uplift each other, especially after reading one article too many about some form of injustice in the world. In this higly curated society driven by selfies and social media, we are proud to show all sides of our love, from laughter to tears. And as Milennials, we are thankful that we can safely show this connection outside of our private spaces (even if Joe sometimes shrugs off one too many of my PDAs)."
The Pride Project Joseph, 2012
Archival Digital Pigment Print
20 x 30 inches
Joe: "I have an innate fear of photographs. Perhaps it's from a youth deeply concerned with judgement and being misunderstood. Or perhaps it's because I've spent my life seeking out difference and broadening my knowledge, skills, experiences, and connections into the multi-faceted person I am today; I feared a portrait could not distill this. Yet Pride, for me, is an inversion of that fear. It is acceptance, celebration, and love for the diversity both within and outside ourselves. And it is in this light that I couldn't be more proud to show--at least an aspect of--our selves and our love.”
A few months ago, I posted about the Shalon, a cross-collaborative professional creative group formed between myself, an author, an artist, and a filmmaker. Inspired by the concept of 18th century French salons, we decided to meet monthly to discuss our goals, be accountable to one another, and brainstorm ideas. The three menfolk of our group suggested the name based on the first three letters of my name. Being an independent creative professional can challenge the most stalwart of creative souls, and this group helps keep all of us focused and productive, both creatively and from the business standpoint. I hope that this, and future interviews with fellow independent creatives will inspire and support those of us making a living with our art. In that initial post, I mentioned that I'd be focusing on the Shalon-ers individually so you can learn a little more about them and their work. This week, I interviewed our resident writer, Robin Lippincott, the author of the novels "In the Meantime", "Our Arcadia", and "Mr. Dalloway", among many other published works.
Hi Robin, and thanks so much for speaking to us about you and your work. Could you tell us a little bit about you and your work?
Robin: I am a writer of literary fiction and nonfiction. I have two books coming out: Blue Territory: A Mediation on the Life and Work of Joan Mitchell (November 2015), and Rufus + Syd, a young adult novel co-written with Julia Watts (Spring 2016). I am also the author of the novels In the Meantime, Our Arcadia, and Mr. Dalloway, and the short story collection, The 'I' Rejected. My fiction/nonfiction has appeared in over 30 journals, including "The Paris Review," "American Short Fiction," "Fence," "Memorious," "The Literary Review," "The New York Times Book Review," and others. I teach in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University, and am also an avid film/museum/gallery goer, as well as a frequent walker in the city.
Sharona: How did you first venture into writing?
Robin: I first got into writing as a result of grief, not death but loss, as has been true for so many writers—one long, hot, long ago summer in Central Florida, where I grew up. Van Gogh's letters to his brother, collected in Dear Theo, and Anne Frank's Diary, were seminal aspects of my aesthetic and moral education that summer.
What are the greatest challenges in your work, and what helps you overcome them?
Robin: The greatest challenge in the work itself is simply getting it right, and in creating something that's beautiful and true. And then there are the challenges that occur at the intersection of art and commerce, at which there's most always a collision: sometimes it's only a bump or a scratch or a dent; at other times the vehicle is totaled. In both cases, you've just got to keep at it, teeth (sometimes) gritted.
Sharona: Whose work do you admire or influences you?
Robin: The list is long. I consider Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence as my literary parents, with Emily Dickinson as a great aunt, and from there it's largely the great minds and/or stylists (the writer's writers), as well as a few Southern writers, whom I most admire. Here's a shortlist: Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, John Berger, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, James Baldwin, Elizabeth Hardwick, James Salter, Grace Paley, James Schuyler, Toni Morrison, Renata Adler, Michael Ondaatje, W. G. Sebald, Anne Carson....
How is the Shalon, or meeting in other creative professional groups, helpful to you?
Robin: The Shalon is invaluable to me for several reasons. First, I believe the artistic pursuit (and the life that goes with that) is best and perhaps only really understood by other artists; in my experience, non-artists just don't/can't fully get it. And so I receive meaningful emotional support, both generally and also specifically. And I also get ideas and inspiration, and stimulation, as well as direct, inside exposure to the work of artists working in other art forms.
Rachel, a British-born blogger and writer, came to me looking for sophisticated and warm portraits that reflected her thoughtful and insightful nature. As part of her business, Rachel often speaks throughout the world about wellness and confidence, and wanted her images to represent her personality and presence accurately.
Like many writers, Rachel feels best when her words represent her thoughts, and put her faith in my hands that the images would also communicate her personality. Delightful to work with, Rachel also has elegant features and expressive eyes which were a pleasure to photograph. I was so pleased to have worked so beautifully together with Rachel to create headshot images that communicated her charm and compassionate soul.
Jane recently came to me because her first book of poetry was about to be published by Finishing Line Press, and she was looking for a book jacket photo that represented both her and her work.
She explained that she was looking for a quiet, contemplative image that would accurately represent her keen mind and curiosity, as well as the warmth of her personality. I learned that we both enjoy photographs that showcase honest, "in between" moments, conveying thoughtfulness and a investigative process, so her images needed to capture that sensibility. In addition to writing poetry, Jane has been a professor of psychology and department chair for many years, and meeting her and getting to chat with her was such a treat for me - I always relish the opportunity to chat with those who worked in psychology, as I did for several years.
To suit Jane, I shot against a lighter neutral background, and bounced light to create a delicacy and softness to her imagery. She has incredible green eyes, and we chose an outfit in a mossy green both to highlight her features, as well as to pull in the earthy quality of her new book, "First Mud."
Her book is available now through Finishing Line Press.
Today, I learned about the passing of one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, from a particularly nasty variant of Alzheimer's Disease. When I heard that he had died, I felt the loss keenly, in that particularly odd way that feels both deeply personal, and somewhat bizarre, given that I hadn't really known the man in the here-and-now sense of the word. I had been reading Sir Pratchett's books since I was an adolescent, and since he was an extremely prolific author, I avidly consumed his new work nearly every year, as excited to get my hands on his new hardback novel as others my age were to go to the hippest of concerts or shows. So much of a person goes into writing a book; there is a reason that writers sometimes call their books their children. In that sense, I felt I knew Terry, or at least his wry outlook, quite well. Witty, insightful, and wise, Terry's work was not only an escape, but also an entry into the sharp observations of a brilliant satirist that helped me see everyday life through a wiser pair of eyes.
Mr. Pratchett's work, as well as countless others, informed the way I saw the world; as a small girl I was terribly shy, and felt at least as tied to the characters I met in stories as I did in everyday life. In my early childhood, I shared a room with my eldest sister who was profoundly affected by Down's Syndrome and associated medical conditions, and I wanted some answers about life from day one. Books became my portal to understanding, or at least the first glimmers of it. From C.S. Lewis to Anne Frank, Lewis Carroll and P.G. Wodehouse, it was in the act of reading that I became a keen observer of people and their stream of thoughts and emotions. I learned strength and transformation from the stories of Frances Hodgson Burnett, courage from L.M. Montgomery, and history from Sydney Taylor. When I struggled with understanding human nature (Pratchett), or finding meaning in the chaos of growing up (Viktor Frankl and Elie Wiesel), I delved into a book, both for solace and for answers.
As I grew older, I used my camera to explore human nature, and still later did my graduate work in counseling psychology, to find more answers. But it all started with losing myself in the printed page. As a photographer, we're told in schools and seminars to photograph what you know. We are to ask ourselves, "What brings meaning into your life? What draws you in, and what transforms you?" So for me, choosing my preferred subjects was just a matter of looking for my own axis. And it was also a way of saying thank you for all the wisdom I'd gained from my childhood idols (thank you Madeline L'Engle, Willo Davis Rogers, Robert Heinlein), to the written voices that instructed me on how to counsel (Carl Rogers, Aaron Beck), and to those that brought me a smile when the day had been awful and I simply needed a good yarn to regain my faith in humanity (Neil Gaiman and Pratchett, Good Omens). Now, reading aloud to my own daughter allows me to transfer that love and knowledge to the next generation (J.K. Rowling, thank you for many warm evenings of sharing your magic with my family, each of them chiming in with their own take on your beloved characters).
Now that I've been photographing authors for about five years, I can also tell you that authors, as a group, are a joy to partner with - people of substance, with rich inner lives, often wickedly funny. Many of them (but certainly not all) have an introverted sensibility which I bond with, because the challenge I most enjoy is bringing the insides of complex personalities to the forefront of an image. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to work with a some of the great minds that are creating today's stories - many of whom I have, or will create visual stories about in this blog in the months to come.
So, perhaps this is my love letter to the storytellers, as well as my explanation for why I do what I do. Thank you, especially, to Sir Terry Pratchett, for your legacy. You, and your stories, will be so missed.
Image credit: Terry Pratchett photographed by Chris Balcombe
Katrina McCarty, who moonlights as a blogger in addition to her 9-5 policy/legislative work, contacted me because she wanted a portrait that captured her character as well as her writing conveyed her thoughts. She had seen my Boston Authors Project work, and wanted her headshot to convey her persona with a similar artistic sensibility as the Boston author portraits. No fake smiles, no staged setups, no unnecessary props. She just asked that I bring the essence of her personality to a photograph simply and elegantly, which I was delighted to do!
What I loved about working with Katrina was her wry, understated sense of humor leavened with a wicked soupçon of sarcasm. Just a tiny quirk of an eyebrow brought an entirely new meaning to a sentence and I had a terrific time working with her, laughing during the entire session. Yet Katrina also had a wonderful earthy warmth about her, and there was a lovely sense of comfort just being in her presence. I felt that bringing both these sides to her personality would be key in creating a three-dimensional portrait.
In this final image, I admit was going for a bit of Mona Lisa-style sarcasm/mystery, using Renaissance painting-like lighting techniques to convey the slightest hint of a smirk. Working with writers is one of my favorite challenges because there's so much subtext to their personalities, and bringing that richness to a photograph is one of the great joys of my job.
Kelly Link's new book of short stories, "Get in Trouble", came out out February 9th, 2015, and in honor of her well-recieved work, I thought I'd focus on her photo shoot from last fall. Kirkus Reviews wrote of her book, "“In stories as haunting as anything the Grimm brothers could have come up with, Link (Magic for Beginners, 2005, etc.) gooses the mundane with meaning and enchantment borrowed from myth, urban legend and genre fiction."
Kelly, a warm, gentle, and thoughtful person, was just a joy to work with. She, and her friend and fellow writer Holly Black, drove from western Massachusetts for to be photographed the same day, and we alternated between my studio and the beautiful Robbins Library in Arlington, MA. Kelly and Holly are close friends, and we all collaborated together on the shoot, both in our research and the details. Both women write in the fantasy genre, and they had developed a firm friendship after meeting at a writer's convention and discovering they lived close by.
Kelly's work, along with some of the other imagery I've taken of her, has been mentioned recently in Wired, Salon, NPR, the LA Times, and The Stranger, among many other media outlets. Congratulations, Kelly!
A few months ago, four creative friends came together to create a super-powered creative group. Inspired by the concept of 18th century French salons, an artist, an author, a photographer, and a filmmaker decided to meet monthly to discuss our goals, be accountable to one another, and bounce ideas off the others as we go through the creative process, each assisted by the caffeine of their choice. The three menfolk of our group suggested the name based on the first two letters of my name, rather enjoying being clever with their words. Being a professional creative can be lonely and isolating at times, so having a group of like-minded souls creates some substance in what can sometimes feel like a vacuum. I've collaborated with each gentleman on various projects, but I'll just give you the bare bones in this post. So without further ado, let me introduce you to my team of creative superheroes. In the future, I'll be focusing on them individually so you can learn a little more about them and their work.
First is Brad(ford) Johnson, a kind-hearted and creative artist who resides in Somerville, MA, and plays with the boundaries between photography and painting. You can check out his work here.
Next we have the exceedingly talented Robin Lippincott, a writer and the author of the novels "In the Meantime", "Our Arcadia", and "Mr. Dalloway", among many other published works.
And finally, the filmmaker of our group, John Neely. John has worked in documentary filmmaking and non-fiction TV for over a decade for film, television, museums, and corporate clients. He also produced the short film about the opening of my Boston Author Project.
And there's me!
I recently collaborated with the lovely and insightful writer, Daphne Strassmann, in creating a shoot that represents feeling stuck creatively. Whether a writer, artist, or photographer for that matter, every creative person has faced their inner well running dry. This shoot evolved as Daphne and I were having coffee together, and she mentioned being mid-transition both literally and figuratively, and how it had affected her work; half her house had no furniture in it due to moving and construction, along with other significant changes weaving through her work and her family. All these disruptions in her external life had affected how she moved forward with her memoir.
Something about the way Daphne described her empty rooms called to me, along with what was happening in conjunction with her life, and I wanted to capitalize on that while photographing this very thoughtful person. I felt really excited as she described her empty rooms. So, as I arrived at Daphne's place in Brookline, MA, I was delighted by the raw structure of the space as well as the feeling of only slightly ornamented emptiness I found.
Only minimally draped furniture, and just a few odds and ends decorated the room, as Daphne took her place in it. Only her glasses and the notebook she used for her note taking were well-used items. I had Daphne either gaze at me our out the window as I worked and tested, noting her body language as time went by, and noticing when she didn't react to me any more, as I blended into the unheeded draped furniture surrounding Daphne, only calling quietly to look towards me occasionally when she had settled into her own thoughts.
[embed]https://vimeo.com/110148643[/embed] This short film by John Neely documents the opening of the Boston Authors Project, a permanent photographic exhibition of author portraits at GrubStreet by portrait photographer Sharona Jacobs, which took place on September 12, 2014, and includes interviews of the authors who were photographed for the project. Each black and white image, some measuring up to 40", includes snippets of each author's work, as well as the photographer's observations of each shoot.
Featuring photographs of and writing by: Steve Almond Rita Zoey Chin Nicole Terez Dutton Regie Gibson Anthony James Pablo Medina Rishi Reddi Jane Roper Mako Yoshikawa
Of the project, Sharona says: "Writers are the perfect muse; they have a rich inner world, excel at communicating, and have interesting and varied life experiences to draw upon. The Boston Authors Project developed organically with GrubStreet; I had been photographing writers as a personal project for several months when I noticed, again and again, that a creative writer I was photographing was involved with GrubStreet as a teacher or student. Collaborating with such a great hub of fantastic writers has been a portrait photographer's dream come true."
Printing by: Bob Korn Imaging http://bobkornimaging.com
Film by: John Neely, documentary filmmaker http://neely.tv
Robert Howard, author of Brave New Workplace, approached me because he was hoping to update his author imagery. In addition to writing about leadership and the workplace, he has recently also written a memoir that integrates literary criticism, another area of expertise, and wanted his photographs to mirror his professional growth.
Because of his new ventures, Bob needed to update both his more traditional headshot, and also wanted a more creative portrait that reflected his new ventures. I shot at his home in Newton, MA, so we could create environmental portraiture that was meaningful to him, and also shot a few updated headshots that he could use for his work in technology and leadership.