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At Barbara Ackerman’s Studio

I have been photographing Barbara Ackerman’s artwork for a few years now, and until recently I hadn’t seen her process in person. Her work and technique is truly unique, and the colors and forms she creates are fascinating. We did a session the other day at her home studio as she prepares for her upcoming show —Personal Geography at the Burgdorff Gallery, Southern Vermont College. Opening reception is October 13th @ 4:00-6:00 pm. 


Teacher Appreciation—In Fred We Trust


The first week in May has been declared by President Obama as National Teacher Appreciation Week, and tomorrow—May 3rd, marks National Teacher Appreciation Day.

For many of us we can name that one teacher or professor that had a notable and profound influence in shaping our professional lives, and for me there was one professor in particular that inspired me in my work even today—Dr. Fred Johns. Even though I was an English Communications major at North Adams State College and he was a professor of Biology we crossed paths in the campus photo club in 1994. At the time I was still learning the fundamentals of B/W darkroom techniques of exposing film and paper to chemicals and the photojournalism basics of composition and telling a story with an image.

Fred (he insisted we call him Fred and not Professor or Dr. Johns, but many still did) was immersed in all things to do with the Macintosh computer platform and especially photoshop and photo editing software and other beta photo editing sharewares. I took one of his computer graphics classes in 1995 where we scanned our photos into simple photo editing programs and learned to draw clipping paths and create compositions and digital manipulations like solarization and embossing on clunky and slow Apple II machines—and my mind was blown.

Early on he saw the possibilities of the platform and before long with his help we transitioned the school newspaper, The Beacon, from film and prints to film scanners and a 100% digital workflow. Computing power and graphics software for the non-professional user was still in the early days in the mid 90’s and Adobe, Quark and Corel were just starting to make a push into the publishing field.

Fred was like a little kid with a newly discovered set of tools in his smoke-filled and cramped office with its cluttered stacks of books and papers on biology that were quickly giving way to multiple Power Macs and the early versions of Photoshop for dummies books that he would readily share with any student who showed interest. He would give away copies of 3.5-inch floppy discs with the latest shareware or photoshop filter download that he handed out for students like me to try out. Many of the informal “classes” he taught was either in his office after hours or out in the parking lot while he was smoking his ever present cigarettes that ultimately took his life in December 2009. He didn’t teach his knowledge of photography and emerging computer graphics technology for the money or the academic prestige, but to pass on his enthusiasm for the subject onto his students at a time when e-mail wasn’t even widely used yet.

To this day, whenever I am doing a particularly tedious clipping path for a commercial product photo composition or retouching of a portrait or digital reproduction of an old family photo for a client, I think foldly of Fred and how his enthusiasm for photoshop and the Macintosh platform influenced my early publishing and ultimately photography career.

I wonder what he would think of the gadgets and gizmos we have today, no doubt he would be holed up in his office all ours of the night tapping away on an iPad or standing in the parking lot with a smoke in one hand and an iPhone in the other—quick with a grin and positive word preceded by, “Hey Greg, have you seen this new software!”

Fred2 Fred3 Fred4 Fred5


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain (or in this case—camera)

I have been photographing R. John Wright Dolls for a few years now, and I’m always amazed at the level of intricate detail that their dolls entail—each one painstakingly hand-made and painted in their factory right here in Bennington, Vermont. I sometimes shoot at their factory, but mostly here in the studio and John’s wife Susan has the un-enviable task of trying to get them to pose just right without falling over, yet looking animated. We hem and haw about each shot while the hi-res camera sensor shows every flaw in glaring detail under the lights, so we fidget and fuss over each shot. I’ve started photographing them on set and wanted to show a few shots from our most recent session which included the newest and final member, the Cowardly Lion. This past December’s issue of Dolls magazine featured the shot of Dorothy with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and of course Toto.

OZ_Group_022 OZ_039 OZ_040 OZ_041 OZ_044 OZ_045 OZ_047 OZ_050

Photography for the healthcare industry

Demand for quality healthcare is on the rise, and hospitals are expanding rapidly to meet those needs. With that demand comes the increased need for fresh marketing and other press-release communications in either print or electronic formats.

Over the last couple of years my hometown hospital, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, with their affiliated clinics, and rehabilitation centers have given me the opportunity to collaborate on some fun and creative projects. I have enormous respect for these professionals and what they do each day, and I have enjoyed meeting them and finding out more about them and their jobs.

Shooting in a busy hospital setting brings its own set of challenges, from tight exam rooms, to dodging gurneys and IV stands in the hallway as I try to light and compose the shots needed to highlight the subjects. And with any photo shoot, it can be broken down into two aspects—the technical (lighting, composition, etc.), and working with the “models” who are often in their work environment and not used to being photographed and feeling very self-conscious, often with co-workers looking on. I enjoy these challenges, and the process always pushes me to be more creative and elevate my game each time.

These are some recent shots that I will be adding to my portfolio, and look forward to more work in this demanding field.

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Wilbraham United Players presents 1776

Opening night is tonight!

For ticket info go here: http://www.wilbrahamunitedplayers.com

1776_220 1776_246 1776_415 1776_429 1776_507 1776_558 1776_612 1776_726 1776_863For more photos click here:




With the early snow this year, I felt inspired to shoot some foliage 😉


Mend it Better—In the Studio

I just wrapped up shooting my fourth book with Storey Publishing called Mend it Better, with the Author Kristin Roach, art director Alethea Morrison and editor Deb Burns. Kristin is a bright young and creative artist with a passion for sewing and Alethea is an amazing designer and typographer, and Deb and the other editors and proofreaders at Storey double-check everything and get the files out the door to the printer. The week-long shoot in the studio was fun and to see everything come together on the designed spreads is very satisfying. Here are a few sneak peeks behind the scenes and some sample spreads of the upcoming book that will be printed sometime next year. (click on the images for a closer look)

Author, Kristin Roach

Backyard Bugs

One thing I am not is a landscape photographer. To me it is much more interesting to explore the world up-close, and I would much rather get down on my stomach and get a macro shot of a bug or little critter or flower (with a bug on it) and often when I’m mowing the lawn I’ll see a praying mantis or newt and have to stop and run inside to grab the camera. I guess that’s why I was drawn to food photography with the variety of colors and textures and getting in close. Last fall I was mowing for the last time of the season and was thinking I hadn’t seen one mantis all summer, and then I spotted two. My son Colin was eager to get a peek, and the little alien-like mantis’s head would swivel to look at each of us on either side, as if to size us up. We recently planted a butterfly bush and it has lived up to it’s namesake, and was able to capture a tiger swallowtail (looked as if it had some damage, but still beautiful). Then I spotted a luna moth resting on the side of a pine tree and didn’t seem to upset to have my lens in it’s face. Note the small ant on it’s fuzzy abdomen. And just recently found in the archives a Species Antheraea polyphemus – Polyphemus Moth. For info on identifying your backyard bugs, check out http://bugguide.net (Click on the images for a closer look.)

Species Antheraea polyphemus - Polyphemus Moth

Blue-Burning Marsh Bubbles

I have just begun shooting a book for Storey Publishing which will be called,  Kids’ Power!  …  Harness the Sun · Catch the Wind · Crank Up the Power · Take Charge · and Turn Nature’s Forces into Energy, by Michael J. Caduto. When I saw the shot list, the little boy in me smiled, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

The kids who were recruited to participate in the activities have been great and very patient as I try to get the exposures just right, and in this case, to capture bubbles emerging from a funnel into a mason jar.

Michael Caduto gathering the gas from the muck below

I’ve always noticed bubbles emerging from the bottom of ponds and swamps when fishing from a boat or dock, but never realized that it was methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide created from the organic material that was being decomposed by the bacteria in the muck. In this activity Michael shows us how to stir up the gas with a foot while capturing the gas with a funnel and a jar. As the gas rises it displaces the liquid. Then the fun part…

Lighting the collected marsh gas

We got the shot, but then I wanted to capture the full effect in video mode. Click here for the video, and turn up the speakers to hear the kids reaction 😉