Biography

cropped headshot

I have had an interest in art and photography my entire life but had little opportunity to pursue those interests due to financial and time constraints.

By profession, I am a mechanical engineer with a degree from Johns Hopkins.  I worked for Black & Decker / DeWalt for 37 years in a variety of roles.  For the last 23 of those years I was in charge of New Product Concepts.  It was my job to create New Product Concepts and present them to management as well as managing innovation in general.  I have several dozen US and Foreign patents and have written a book about innovation (Innovation’s Missing Link) based on my experience at Black & Decker.  It is available on Amazon.com.  Among other things, I worked on the Drill that was used to take core samples of the moon.  Black & Decker’s role in the Apollo Missions resulted in the development of rechargeable batteries which make all out modern communications devices possible.  Personally, I designed many of the world’s first battery powered Power Tools.

One of my many roles at Black & Decker was Test Technician and later Test Engineer.  In this discipline, accurate record keeping is paramount and photography is often involved.  Over the years, I did some extremely high speed photography in order to analyze the workings of some very sophisticated mechanisms.  In brief, we would cut a hole in the side of a power tool and film the internal operation while the product was being used.  Because frames per second could be related to the operating speed of the mechanism, we could analyze the operation in extreme detail.  I worked with both film and digital high-speed cameras over the years. 

Apart from understanding the operation of the cameras used, control of the environment and the use of artificial lighting were critical to success.  In the normal process of recording test results, very detailed closeup photographs were used to document procedures, test equipment used, failure modes, wear, surface finish, metrological structure, and any other visual data that might be relevant.  Our test department had a well equipped photo studio and I used it extensively.  I also learned a lot about photography from our corporate photographer who was in charge of the lab.  Besides helping us with documentation, he also took photos for the annual report and any other corporate need. 

In 1981, I got my first 35mm camera - a long-time goal - and began taking more artistic photographs.  A few months after I got the camera, I took a week of vacation and spent it taking landscape photos along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive at the peak of the Fall colors.  It was the first time that I went to a location to plan my photo shoot the day before actually taking the photos.  One such photo was a sunrise image along a hillside path on a misty morning in late October.  Soon after the trip, I had three of the images blown up to 20 X 30 and framed.  They were an important part of our home decor for over thirty years.  When I had the photos framed, the owners of the frame shop asked if I would let them sell numbered prints of my photos.  Rather than asking the obvious question - “What is a numbered print?” - I just said no.  Had I understood at the time, I probably would have been a professional photographer years earlier. 

Though I didn’t jump on the opportunity presented, I did continue to take numerous photos at parties and weddings and often gave prints to friends.  This interest helped me to hone my skills for candid portraits.  When I traveled on business I always found opportunities for photographing the local landscape and when visiting foreign countries the exercise became one of photo-journalism.  As a result, I have had the opportunity to develop many types of photographic skills.

I have a friend who was taught photography by his father and had grown up working in a darkroom in his home.  He constantly urged me to develop my own film.  He said that a good photographer can do more in the dark room than behind the camera.  I now know and understand the truth of that statement but never had the interest in working with toxic chemicals or investing the time to learn the trade.  The advent of digital cameras and Photoshop changed all that.  Now more can be done on a computer screen than could ever be done in a darkroom.  Ansel Adams and other great film photographers stuck with B&W photography precisely because there were no darkroom techniques for color film that allowed the degree of control that they had with B&W film.  Photoshop is the digital equivalent of the darkroom and handles color images just as easily as B&W.

A lot of people have heard stories about how Ansel Adams would plan an image for days or weeks but then take only one shot.  Many people interpret this as meaning that his great images were produced with a single click of the shutter.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, Adams often spent months or even years refining and improving an image in the darkroom.  Friends who have seen some of his original photos next to his most famous images, have told me that the transformation is astounding.  In many cases the original looks like a throw away image.  It was Ansel Adams’ VISION that made the final image possible.  Like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of marble to reveal the David that was hiding inside, for Adams the photo was merely the raw material  from which a work of art could be extracted.  It is this same perspective that defines a fine-art photographer and guides my efforts.

I now live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and spend a great deal of time in the field.  Like the masters, I plan my images and spend hours or days waiting for the right conditions.  Even when I get a great shot, I often go back time after time in pursuit of an even better image.

SAGA Cover 

War Dance  (first image on the “People” page) was featured in the SAGA Open Exhibition and the publication displayed on the left.

SAGA - Sedona Area Guild of Artists - is an association of professional visual artists from the greater Sedona Area.  Members must be juried in. 

 The open exhibition was juried by Jerry Smith, Curator of the Phoenix Museum of Western Art.  Art was submitted from 8 categories of visual arts - painting , photography, sculpture, etc.  Only  35 items were accepted for the show.

Vision

Living in Sedona is an incredible experience for any photographer.  There is no such thing as “typical“ here.  Every time I set up my camera, there is something unique about the lighting because of the time of year, time of day, and current weather conditions.  Nothing is totally predictable and the surprises are often awe inspiring.  Also, the lighting often brings attention to things that I hadn’t noticed before or something has happened in my life that causes me to notice something new.  I often end up spending more time on the unexpected opportunity than on the image that I had planned for.  This is partially because the planned image has been taken hundreds of times in my mind and I know where I want to set up the camera and when the lighting is likely to be optimum.  The spontaneous shot on the other hand involves quick thinking, instinct, and mastery of the equipment.  Sometimes the light only last a few seconds.  Success depends on quick decisions properly executed.

If you walk around Sedona and visit shops and galleries, you will see very similar photos of famous locations wherever you go.  For example, the view of Cathedral Rock from Red Rock Crossing is the most photographed spot in Arizona.  That is significant when you consider that we also have the Grand Canyon.  There are a number of these spots that are imbedded in people’s memories.  These images are the way that people remember their trip to Sedona.  That fact in itself justifies all the photos that are seen around town.  On the other hand, it is nice to see the occasional image that is not the same as all the rest even though the subject matter is the same.  This is the image that I strive for every time I activate the shutter.  Although I live here and am frequently on the trails, I am still often awe struck by the beauty of this place.  It is that feeling of awe and the joy that it gives me that I try to capture in my images.

It is also true that most photographers in Sedona are landscape photographers and rarely photograph anything else.  As you can see from this website, I don’t limit myself to any particular subject matter but strive for images that inspire me.  When this happens I get a physical sense of excitement that I hope is conveyed through my work.  As a corporate innovator I was limited in the ways that I could use my creative abilities.  They had to be in line with corporate goals and objectives.  In my photography I have the opportunity to follow my joy rather than the limitations of a business model.  The opportunities are unlimited.