A brief history of my photographic career, starting as a photojournalist in Marin in the 1970''s
My first studio, San Rafael, California 1978
I started out my photography journey profoundly influenced by the F64 Group vision, and I learned and used the Ansel Adams Zone System with medium format cameras, starting with a used Mamiya twin lens reflex camera and moving to Hasselblad and the Mamiya RB 67 after a few years. I always shot with a tripod. In college I became a darkroom assistant and honed my Black & White processing skills, and though I did some color work during my time at SF State University, where I graduated with a BA in Art, Photography Emphasis, I did not move into color photography until I started shooting professionally in the late 70’s.
While I was never a view camera shooter, I always respected those that were willing to lug those cameras around and to deal with the large format film. Edward Weston, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, and of course Ansel were profound influences in my early work, some of which is displayed in the Photojournalism Gallery that showcases images done for the Marin County Weekly Pacific Sun, many as cover illustrations.
Working mostly on feature stories for this liberal, muckraking paper I considered myself a portraitist first, and a photojournalist second—rarely shooting sports of hard news events. A few exceptions to this included the 1980 Democratic Convention in San Francisco, a number of marathons sponsored by the Sun, and the 1982 flood. While I did use some 35mm imagery using Nikons, most of my work was done using a Hasselblad. I also did all of the darkroom work for the paper out of a small darkroom in my home in Tiburon, then in San Rafael, from 1976 to 1984.
From 1984 to 1997 I owned and operated commercial studios in San Rafael and Cotati, focusing mostly on business related work like architecture, brochures, and head shots, but also branching into family portraiture and weddings. During this time I co-founded the Professional Photographers of the Redwood Empire with 16 other photographers from the area, and the monthly critiques produced valuable lessons in professional portraiture and provided a wonderful sense of comeradery. Around 1987 I became the newsletter editor for this group, producing it monthly with an Apple Macintosh Plus computer. I was truly enchanted by this amazing technology, where someone like me with no previous computer skills could learn what was then called desktop publishing and produce a good looking product with nice looking fonts and photos. I was hooked!
In the early 90’s I traded photography services with a guy from Silicon Valley for what (at the time) was a screaming fast Macintosh 2ci computer with a Radius monitor and Photoshop 1.0, Illustrator and a few other programs. This put me on a digital path that has profoundly influenced my photography ever since. In 1995, I became fascinated by a new thing called the World Wide Web, and I had my first web site developed in that year. As the site was being coded I sat behind the developer and watched how they used HTML to render pages, and after a few classes at the local Community College I added web design to the services I offered. In 1996 I founded a Wine Country destination web site called Weddinglinks.com, one of the first searchable databases for event-related services, and I evangelized this new display medium for photographers to all that would listen.
From 1997 to 2000 I worked with Robert Pierce Studios in Santa Rosa as a photographer, where I developed and managed the youth sports and wedding departments and photographed high school seniors as well, honing my portrait chops further. During this time I was influenced by Robert’s gorgeous and highly stylized artistic style, which in many ways reminded me of my F64 Group days. In 2001 I opened a portrait studio in Glen Ellen with Melania Mahoney, a beautiful Wine Country small-town location, where we specialized in family portraiture, wedding photography, and high school senior photography.
In 2003 I read a book by businessman and environmentalist Paul Hawken called “The Ecology of Commerce”, and this sparked a long journey into environmental advocacy and eventually to a change in career. I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the Sierra Club in 2006, which led to an advisory position with Solar Sonoma County in 2007, which led to participation in the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy in 2008. In 2009, on a lark, I decided to join a “Green MBA” graduate program at Dominican University of California, where I graduated in 2011. All this time I was still running a full-time studio—definitely one of the busiest times in my life.
For my capstone project I co-wrote a business plan for a biomass energy facility for the Sonoma Compost Company that also produced a soil amendment called biochar, and I have been working helping to develop and promote the biochar industry ever since through the Sonoma Ecology Center and the Sonoma Biochar Initiative. I started working for the Ecology Center in 2015 while still running the studio part-time, and due to Covid 19 I closed the physical Studio location in 2021, now devoting most of my time to promoting regenerative agriculture as a project manager specializing in biochar.
I love photography and still document the projects I am involved in, and I will always love photographing people. I am available for selective assignments as my time allows, so if you are interested in booking me please email me at [email protected]. I know many beautiful locations in the North Bay and beyond, and hope you enjoy looking through my work.