As a photographer, it is necessary to analyze what is really going on below the surface and utilize lighting that communicates this mood, feeling or message.

These well-toned muscles are the result of many hours spent sweating and grunting in the humid, odorous high school weight room.  Flat lighting would not do the subject justice since it would minimize the lines and curves of the muscle sets. Give credit where credit is due by adding a back light to accentuate the hard, strong look and portray a more dramatic image.

Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, Alien Bee lights with umbrella bounced left of camera and through a softbox from behind subject and to the right of frame. Converted to black and white with bronze god Kubota Action added.

Is the image perfect? No. I am never totally satisfied with an image and always analyze to see what I could have done to improve it. I’d maybe add two back lights from each side and one front flash a little to one side. Or, add a little fill with a large reflector to bring a little definition to the torso. Hmmm…

Homeless not helpless

Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
Mike Yankoski

Netflix recently added the documentary Tent City, USA to its selection list and I happened to watch it.  Very interesting take on the homeless people living in this temporary community in Nashville, Tennessee. A major flood forced them out of Tent City and they had to scramble to find a new place to live.  Interesting that the group enforced rules of behavior to allow residents to stay in the community. It appeared that they had developed their own support system by looking out for each other and helping provide whatever they could to aid and assist their neighbors without judgement.  They all were cognizant of the fact that most were there due to poor decisions made in the past along with lack of employment, but remained hopeful to move forward toward a better life.

My only question is how any of them were able to purchase cigarettes and why would you smoke in front of the camera. It certainly didn’t help their cause. Other than that it was a very informative documentary showing the homeless as real people with skills, abilities and compassion for other human beings.

Homelessness is not unique to the United States:

spain2013blog-1030064  Madrid, Spain

spain2013blog-1030201Madrid, Spain

Chicago-1050681Chicago, Illinois



Living on the subway, Chicago, Illinois

Home is where you make it

 “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”  ~ Irish Proverb

We hop through the Chicago Blue Line train doors and look for seats.  I glance over to a solitary figure in the corner back seat.  He makes eye contact, gives a smile that shows his missing teeth and gestures that I may sit in the seat next to him.


I am usually chatty and he is, too.  We immediately engage in lively conversation about Chicago, the sites to see, etc.  He is a wealth of information as to free events going on in the city. My goodness, I must be sitting next to the Good Will Ambassador of Chicago!

As our conversation continues he volunteers information about himself.  He is 60 years old, spent five years in the Air Force, moved to Chicago with his parents at age three and lives on the Chicago subway train system. Yes, this is what he calls his home since it is much safer than the homeless shelters.  He says that a 60-year-old man is a target on the streets and in the shelters, so he feels safer on the train.

I ask my new friend, Nate, about his family. His parents both lived to their mid 80’s to 90’s and his mother died from Alzheimer disease.  We have this in common so our conversation never lags. He entertains me with stories of his mother’s forgetfulness which I can relate to.

Nate shakes his head and laments the fact that so much food is wasted in America, but it’s to his advantage if good food is thrown in a dumpster or somewhere that he can retrieve it.


I am aware that Nate is working me for a handout, but that’s O.K.  Interesting conversation, information about the sites and events in Chicago, and a little insight to another world that I am fortunate not to have experienced.  Maybe he isn’t homeless and it’s just a scam, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  I give Nate some money and a cold bottle of water and he seems genuinely appreciative.  He has his eye on a pork sandwich from a vendor he knows, that is a good value and lets me know that the cold bottle of water I gave him is such a treat.

We arrive at our stop and the train doors open.  We say our goodbyes and walk through the door, continuing to play the role of tourists.  Nate, on the other hand, stays on the train hoping another nice tourist hops on the train and finds a seat next to him.