Thursday, June 2, 2011


The British Virgin Islands. If you've been there, I really don't need to say much more. Just recently I had the incredible pleasure of enjoying much of its beauty while circumnavigating the island of Tortola on a 43 foot catamaran.

For a very long time now I've had a dream of piloting a sailboat around the islands. Any islands would have been fine, but now that I've seen them, the BVI takes the cake. Well, my dream came true last week. Alongside my father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and my wife and our oldest daughter, a voyage was launched.

Let me describe the mood. The weather was perfect. Wind blowing about 15 knots, easy seas, and a light overcast. The provisions were managed, the beer was cold, and Buffett was playing over the speakers. Our lines were cast at about 10:30 AM and we were off. With my father-in-law at the helm, The Batida was underway and within minutes under sail power. Our trip had begun.

For six days we had incredible sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and good times as a family. We experienced new culture, great locations, gorgeous reefs, perfectly clear water, and wonderful food. It was a trip of a lifetime. A dream come true like no other.

Normally this might be where I leave you and say thanks for reading but there's one more personal note to add. The water is where I feel closest to my father, a man that spent over half his life in the Coast Guard and on the world's seas. He died when I was 16. Though we did spend some time together on the water, I never had the chance to sail with him. It's something I regret.

So as I took the pilot's wheel the end of our last day, I thought of one thing, my father. I steered The Batida home the last few miles and I heard his voice. I listened carefully as he directed me to the docks. Our trip had been a successful one and the last few miles were an incredible gift.

Until next time Captain Carroll, if the course is hard, still steer.

And now I'll say thanks for reading. Have a great voyage.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A 'Typical' Day

Recently, someone asked me what my typical work day is. The question came in the course of a casual conversation with a person I’d just met. She has a talent for photography, so when I told her I was a Producer for a local commercial photographer, she was interested in finding out more.

What IS my typical day at work? It’s a question that usually brings a laugh from me. Not an easy question to answer. I’ve tried answering it a few ways. ‘Well, each day is different.’ Or... ‘The great thing is that there really isn’t a typical day.’

But neither of those answers really answers the question properly. They usually suffice as answers in casual conversation, but like I said, this person wanted to know more. So during this recent conversation, I recounted what I had done that day for an upcoming out of town shoot. Researched photo assistants, stylists, and equipment rentals in Seattle for an upcoming shoot. Booked an assistant and a stylist for a shoot. Reserved hotel rooms in Seattle. Acquired a Certificate of Insurance for an equipment rental. Looked into taxi & public transportation vs a car rental in Seattle. Began a production book/job sheet for the shoot.
And then there were the couple of other projects I was just beginning to estimate and the one I was wrapping up and billing.

While the tasks I performed that day are tasks I do often, it’s stretching it to say that it was a typical day. The most typical thing about it was that I was juggling a few projects. Spending part of my day on one shoot, switching gears to another, and then back to the first. Some
people go to work and have a very typical day in every sense of the word. They repeat tasks over and over. Or they deal with clients or customers in the same manner day in and day out. While there are tasks that I repeat daily or weekly, there are so many more tasks, conversations, places, and people that are different every day or every week in my work. It’s a refreshing challenge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slowing Down

As we all become more digital and we begin to use more tools to speed us about, I think we're loosing sight of what's important. Slowing down, though, is a conscious decision that takes some effort. Smelling the roses first takes finding the roses.

I may be preaching to the choir on this one but here I go: Slow down please is my message today. Look up and say hello to the person in front of you. Stop texting. Stop tweeting. Stop Facebooking. Just stop. Say hello to your children, to your spouse, to your mom, to your dad. Just say hello.

Okay, the preaching is over. How do we slow down? How do we stop even if it's for 2 seconds? It's tough, I know. We all have deadlines and we all have so much to say. Oddly enough, when I sat down to put this entry together it was not meant to be a message about slowing down and what ties me to this message will be odd to you for sure.

As I drove around today looking at locations, meeting with my producer, grabbing lunch, picking up my daughter and my taxes, I discovered that I was going a lot slower. Want to know why? Because I was driving a new car. That's right, a new car. Well, new to me. Why slower? Because this morning, after much debate and consideration, my good friend Michael Brawely decided to finally part with his 1977 Mercedes 240D. Let me tell you, it moves methodically.

And as I drove around to run these errands I noticed that I was present. I had the windows down to enjoy the great weather. I didn't pick up my phone to check email or even to text. I just drove. Maybe that's what life really is supposed to be like. Maybe that's what life was like in 1977. I think that's the ticket.

So this is my request to any of you that read my BLOG. Join me in slowing down and if you see me tooling around in my new 240D, please don't yell out HEY MICHAEL BRAWELY.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And now, a word from Rosemary

Rosemary has been working as my producer for nearly 5 years now. She joined the team after working at The Light Factory as their office manager and events coordinator. She's been a natural addition to the team here and has grown to be so much more than a producer. Let's just say without her I'd likely need 10 calendars, a couple of bookkeepers, a digital tech or two, and a bunch of interns.

With all that said, it's time for us to introduce her to the BLOG as an occasional contributor. I look forward to her upcoming posts and can't wait to have a view from her perspective.

These are a few images of Rose hard at work. As always, hope you enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Latest Travels

Just last week my crew and I, along with an art director, headed to DC. What a trip. My previous visit to our nation's capitol was about 6 years ago. It was a road trip and with every road trip there are special moments. A friend and I found ourselves touring monuments at 11:00 o'clock one evening. The first thing that grabbed us, no trouble parking and no lines. We roamed through the Lincoln memorial, around the Capitol steps, and visited Pennsylvania Ave. Other than the eerie alone feeling we had, we were blown away by how each monument stood out in the darkness with incredible lighting. Let's just say, I took a lot of pictures.

On this most recent trip, things were very different. First of all, I was there to work. There was scouting to do, logistics to manage, and crowds to control. Scouting was easy; we rented a cab for a couple of hours. Logistics, also easy. We were told by the Office of Public Information (tax dollars at work) that we could photograph anything we wanted to, as long as we shot from the sidewalk. Crowds? No way to control this, so I just didn't try. Two out of three ain't bad.

All in all my shoot went well. More on that in a latter post. For now have a look at these images from my time scouting and roaming around. DC is an amazing place. Please take time and visit. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yes, I have a new hobby

If you're a commercial photographer, it's likely that your hobby has turned into a career. This is true for me. One day I'm just playing around with a camera I purchased for 10 dollars at a yard sale, and the next moment I'm doing it for a living.

Well, not exactly. It's been about 30 years since I purchased that Yashica Mat 124G from the yard sale, but it feels like yesterday. The journey began that day and slowly photography became my passion. From shooting for my high school to studying at The Art Institute of
Atlanta, photography became my life. During late nights in the dark room with only the smell of fixer and really loud music to accompany me, I honed my craft. I was hooked the first time I watched a black and white print appear magically in the developer. Now I'm 99% digital and I have to tell you I really miss those times.

So, onto my new hobby, sailing. From the moment I was asked to crew on a J24 in The Key West Annual Regatta until today, I have slowly become a sailor. With the guidance of a few great guys I have learned the difference between a casual day on the lake and the feeling of 8 foot seas, racing within arms length of 20 other boats. Intense moments that make sailing what it is to me.

In the past few weeks the crew and I have been training for The Charleston Race Week. Never before have I been exposed to so much instruction and brutal repetition. From tacking to flying spinnakers I have found new muscles. And let me tell you, they ache with joy. There is nothing like it. I have to only hope that by April all the hard work pays off and we show well in the waters off of Charleston, SC.

I want to thank my fellow crew members Michael Brawley, Joe Corriher and Paul Zarbatany for all their patience and leadership. These guys are my friends. Here's to ya. Here's to ya.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Year of Attorneys

It's been an intense beginning to the New Year. Travel, productions, horribly cold locations, some of the best food I've ever eaten, and of course shooting.

The year started with a contract to photograph 12 attorneys in 12 different cities over the course of 12 months. The portraits that I'm shooting will highlight an attorney per month selected by LexisNexis for a BLOG created to honor attorneys in the US who do great work.

So far I've photographed three attorneys. One in Wilmington, NC, one in frigid Rochester, NY, and one in Botson, MA. The story goes like this: an attorney is chosen by LexisNexis by the 5th of every month. I'm notified and I have until the 15th to deliver an image. From notification until shoot, my producer and I do Google scouts, interviews with the attorney, phone meeting with the art director, and booking of assistant and stylist. Once we have a few concepts and location ideas, we book travel and head to the shoot a day early for live scouting and final location selection.

We've been fortunate to find some great locations. For the most recent shoot, in Boston, we had the pleasure of shooting in the Boston Public Library. This was such a gift. We nailed the location about 12 hours before the shoot time. Much thanks to our new-found friends at the Boston Public Library.

These are a few of my picks from the shoots. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet Summer Memories

This past week looking out the studio windows there was an insane amount of ice and snow.  Blinding and cold.  Summer was far from thought.  Well, until a client was kind enough to send me a printed piece from images I shot back in August.

My team and I spent 4 days documenting owners of Bennington Boats for use in their 2011 brochure.  Bennington makes a high end edition of what's best known as a pontoon boat.  These vessels are far from your typical pontoon boat, they are just the opposite. Bennington uses the finest aquatic materials and technology to build a pleasure boat like no other. These boats are fast and comfortable. An industry leader. 

As I looked through the brochure, thoughts of winter quickly subsided and the warmth of the summer sun and summer wind filled my head and heart.  Memories of long days riding around Lake Norman on floating party decks took over and all of a sudden I heard in the distance Jimmy Buffett and a blender.  Thank goodness for this short reprieve from my least favorite season.

Take a look at a few images from the series and take a journey with me back to summer and back to the warmth of a days past.  Let's all go to a place where the only ice is the ice in frozen concoctions.  Enjoy and stay warm!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow. Round 2.

As Carolinians, we are just not used to all of this snow.  I'm not sure if the powers that be got the e-mail, but we like a little snow once every other year and we like for it to come and then go.  And go quickly.

Obviously our request hasn't been accepted.  Here we are in the midst of our second snow storm in a matter of weeks.  Roads are icy, grocery stores are packed, kids are restless, and I'm indoors, just eating.  How in the world will I ever get out of the holiday mode of snacking and then snacking some more if I can't get out of the house?

I need to mountain bike.  I need to go for a long walk with the dag.  I need to swim. All this in good time I guess.  So for now, I'll work and be happy with the slightly pudgier Mike.  Speaking of work, thankfully I work from home.  My commute takes me all of 10 steps downstairs to my office.  The light is gorgeous, the furnace is one wall away (=  warmth), and my kids have decided to take naps.  Perfect time to BLOG and catch up on my to-do lists.

Item 1.  Write thank you cards.
Item 2.  Find a location scout in NYC.
Item 3.  Post images from last snow.
Item 4.  Call my mom and wish her a Happy Birthday, one day late.

The list goes on.  Let's take care of item 3 right now.  Hope you enjoy.