Documenting Life and Hope

places-5This photograph was taken at the National Aids Memorial Grove in San Francisco.

The Memorial is located in Golden Gate Park, but is a little bit hidden in a quiet forested area.  The original idea for the grove was conceived in 1988, by a group who envisioned a serene place where people would come to remember.  Main construction on the site began in 1991.

In 1996 the President and the US Congress approved the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act, providing the grove the same status as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

At the heart of the grove is the Circle of Friends, documenting those whose lives have been touched by AIDS, those who donated to the grove, those who have died, and those who loved them.

Visiting the grove is a  solemn, yet peaceful, experience.  On this occasion there were flowers left in the centre of the circle, and the couple you see in the picture.  I almost felt like I was intruding, but it also felt right to take this photo.  The scene seemed to say we miss you to those who are gone, that we are there for those who are sick but still with us, and the whole memorial speaks of hope for those living with the disease.

Camera Speak:  D80, shot in Aperture Priority most likely.

The World Passes By….

I shot this while visiting Seattle.  This gentleman stands in front of The Cheesecake Factory,  and is there every time we visit.

We had a wait to get in for dinner, and I watched as what seemed like a thousand people walked by this gentleman and didn’t even acknowledge his existence.  It was like there were two realities happening at the same time right in front of me.  Very sad.

My daughter wanted to give him something after we left, and hopes he enjoyed the spaghetti we gave him.  She’s young, but has a good heart.

Camera Speak:  Shot with the Fuji x100s, which I keep in aperture priority mode / auto shutter speed / auto ISO when I am street shooting.  In post I applied a bit of a 4 corner burn to draw the viewer’s attention to the gentleman in the centre of the image.


Different Perspectives

portraits-18Robert Capa once said “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”    Photography courses, books, schools, etc will often tell you to “fill the frame”.

I experimented with this principle a lot last year.  This portrait of Jenine was one of the results, and is one of my favourite images of all time.  She is beautiful, and pushing in and filling the frame really shows this in my opinion.

Camera Speak:  d80, shot at f/7.1, Lit with two softboxes (camera left and right…. you can see the catchlights in her eyes).

For this portrait of the ever so awesome Jenny, however, I wanted to create a sense of power.  The leading lines of the dock drew my eyes into the centre of the image, where we put Jenny in a strong stance.


Camera Speak:  d7000, shot at f/8 at 1/320th.   This underexposed the sky and saturated the blues a little bit more.  Jenny is lit with a bare, handheld SB flash that is camera left, pointed directly at her face.  I had one of Jenny’s friends hold the flash.

Push in close and fill the frame, or use the surrounding environment to draw you in to the main subject of the photograph?  What are you trying to achieve?