I had the opportunity of photographing world renowned bluegrass musician Byron Berliner at his Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Guthrie, Oklahoma for the April issue of Oklahoma Living Magazine. I met writer Hayley Leatherwood in Guthrie and listened to Byron tell stories of playing with people such as Earl Flatts and Lester Scruggs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Ronstadt and a host of other famous musicians and actors. The best part of the shoot was when Byron would grab a fiddle and start playing – something he did without much prodding. Dang he was good!
“Would you like to photograph the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for our March 2017 cover?”
I got that question on a phone call from Anna Politano, the editor of Oklahoma Living Magazine. I could think of a lot of answers to THAT question, all of them basically indicating HECK YEA!!!! I would LOVE to photograph the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Every single photographer in Oklahoma would love to photograph, or already has photographed that magical place.
But it gets better.
I get PAID!
Hot diggity dog!
Actually I have photographed the Wichita Mountains for many years and have a huge archive of images. But Oklahoma Living has a very specific cover look they like and I didn’t have anything in my archives to quite fit the bill. So Anna twisted my arm (yea right not much twisting required) and made yet another trip. I left my home in Edmond at 4 am in my Chevy Silverado and arrived at the wildlife refuge well before daylight, hoping to catch a magical sunrise with the buffalo. Although the sunrise wasn’t magical, the refuge is alway magical and very photogenic. I got plenty of new pictures for my archives and a great picture for the cover and inside magazine story. In addition Anna used one of my stock photos of Guthrie, Oklahoma for part of the story.
All in all a totally fun assignment. Some assignments are better than others, and then the best ones are when I get to photograph things I already love and get paid for it!
Late fall 2016 I was hired by Drum Magazine to photograph Steve Drozd, lead drummer and songwriter for Oklahoma City based Flaming Lips rock band. My assignment was to capture several unique images of Steve Drozd for the cover and inside opening story for the magazine, along with extra “add-in” shots of live performance drummers Nick Ley and Matt Duckworth.
After coordinating with my editor, we decided to shoot the portraits at the Flaming Lips’ warehouse in downtown Oklahoma City. This multi-colored building is known as “The Womb” and is used by Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne as a place to display his art. Like many Oklahoma City photographers I had photographed the outside of this unique building, but had never been inside. I was surprised to find that it was mostly used as warehouse space to build props for the band. In addition, they used it as an office to produce Flaming Lips videos and design merchandise for sale on tours.
My wife and I took in north central Arkansas in May and I wrote a feature story about our trip for Thunder Roads Magazine. My photograph of my daughter Emily Mathews made the cover. For this story I used my Sony A7R full-frame mirrorless camera. When riding on my dirt bike, I need a camera that is small, light weight, durable, easy to carry and that still offers high quality wide angle lenses. I like to shoot wide angle and a full frame 35mm camera like the Sony A7R allows me to shoot at wider angles of view than a cropped frame sensor camera. In the past I would sometimes carry my Nikon Df camera, but even though it is one of the smaller DSLR’s on the market, it is noticeably bigger than the diminutive A7R and difficult to tuck away when riding dirt bikes.
I chose to carry a 28 F2 and 50 1.8 lens on my Sony – high quality primes that take up very little space. I usually kept the 28 F2 on the camera and carried it in a small camera pouch that I zip-tied to my dirt bike chest protector. This way I could easily pull to a stop on my bike, grab my camera, and snap a shot, without needing to pull the camera out of a backpack or tail bag. Not to mention that carrying a camera in a tail bag is a recipe for disaster, since the butt-end of a dirt bikes on rough roads is a very shaky ride.
The quality of the A7R was outstanding and the full manual controls were easy for me to manipulate, even with gloves on. I HATE touch screen controls since I often work in dirty, dusty, wet conditions and touch screens are just not all that reliable or easy to operate in adverse weather. I don’t feel the A7R or the lenses are as durable as my Nikon gear, but they are durable enough if I carry them strapped to my chest where they don’t get bumped around, and the flexibility of having a full frame camera with full manual controls and high quality lenses far outweighs carrying around a digital point and shoot camera.
This was my first story shot fully with my A7R but I doubt it will be my last. While I still plan to continue using my Nikon gear for most of my work, I expect the A7R to see more use when I need to go small, light and fast.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph Amy Downs, an OKC bombing survivor, for a story in Oklahoma Living Magazine titled “Finding a New Normal”. Writer Dana Attocknie tells a moving story about Amy, who was in the Murray Building when the bomb went off and was trapped under a huge concrete slab for several hours before being rescued by firemen. Amy went on to change her life after the bombing, and now is an avid bicyclist and runner. I was able to photograph Amy at the OKC Bombing Memorial and in front of the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City. She has an infectious personality and was quite fun to work with.
Want to be inspired? Do yourself a favor and read the story —> Finding a New Normal